Friday, October 26, 2007

Revenge of the Minorities

Moscow police have arrested a gang of three deaf, mute, gay prostitutes after they robbed a client who didn't pay them all the money he owed.


The men, aged 18, 19 and 20, apparently work together, visiting different clubs to pick up punters.

- Russia Today, October 24, 2007

What the...

Gay mafia in America. Gay gangs in Russia.

But gay, mute, deaf prostitute-thieves? Good heavens.

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Crazy Picture!

When you look at the figure, which way is it turning? Clockwise or counterclockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

- The Right Brain vs Left Brain, The Daily Telegraph

I saw it going clockwise and I can’t make it turn the other way! It’s like one of those hidden 3D pictures from like 10 years ago. I always had to struggle with making the figure pop out!

[via The Flog]

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Planned Parenthood's Own Statistics Prove Them Wrong

The Curt Jester posts a link to an article by Bill Beckman, current executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee:

A headline in the October 15th Chicago Sun-Times reads, 'Planned Parenthood is not the enemy in abortion fight.' Such a statement could have come straight out of Planned Parenthood's own marketing plan. Unfortunately, the facts do not support the perception Planned Parenthood wants to create with this marketing message.

In 2006, the Guttmacher Institute (research arm of Planned Parenthood) rated the states on the effectiveness of their state-funded birth control distribution programs. States such as New York and California were rated excellent while Nebraska was rated poor. Which of these states do you think have high abortion rates? Remember, Planned Parenthood claims that better access to birth control will reduce abortions. Well, New York and California are among the states with the highest abortion rates while Nebraska has low abortion rates. Thus, Planned Parenthood's own statistics demonstrate the failure to achieve their claimed results.

In 2005, the Guttmacher Institute, in a study on unplanned pregnancies, noted that 53 percent of women who have unintended pregnancies used a contraceptive method during the month they got pregnant. Of those unplanned pregnancies, 47 percent end in abortion, 40 percent are carried to full term, and 13 percent end in miscarriage. Whether this is due to usage failure or method failure, it shows that artificial contraception is largely ineffective in preventing unplanned pregnancy and abortion.

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Blogroll Additions

2 blogs have been added:

Korean Catholic
The personal blog of Korean (ahem, Byzantine, not Roman) Catholic (aka Jason), whom I had the pleasure to meet in person some weeks back - a good read for anybody interested in languages, spirituality, religion.


Dominus Vobiscum, Et In Spiritu Tuo
Kenneth (a friend and a local Roman Catholic altar server)'s blog.


Agni Parthene: Slavonic Lyrics (Transliterated!)

Αγνή Παρθένε (Agni Parthene; en: O Virgin Pure) is a stunningly beautiful hymn, composed by St Nektarios of Aegina in the 19th century during his tenure as director of the Rizarios Theological School of Athens. St Nektarios liked to compose hymns in honour of the Mother of God to nourish his personal prayer and that of his disciples. It is said that our Lady herself appeared before him, and requested that he record on paper a particular hymn the angelic choirs were about to sing. That hymn was 'Agni Parthene'.

Expressive, beautiful and elegant, this hymn is perhaps the most accessible point of entry into Byzantine chant. One hearing is often enough to set this tune in the mind of its listener, especially with its oft-repeated refrain.

Although sung and performed in many languages, the Slavonic rendition by the Valaam monastery choir (complete with bells) in particular has fascinated and entranced many - both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike - much more so than the other versions. I haven't quite been able to explain why, but I suspect the distinctive style of Valaam chant produces an air of tenderness and supplication unheard in other recordings.

For those who would like to follow the hymn as it is being chanted, I have found the lyrics and transliterated them for your uh, singing pleasure:

Агни Парфене (преподобный Нектарий Аэгинский)
Agni Parfene (prepodobniyy Nekatriy Aeginskiy)

Марие, Дево Чистая, Пресвятая Богородице,
Marie, Devo Chistaya, Presvyataya Bogoroditse
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Царице Мати Дево, Руно всех покрывающее,
Tsaritse Mati Devo, Runo vsekh pokriyvayushchee
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Превысшая Небесных Сил, Нетварное Сияние.
Previysshaya Nebesniykh Sil, Netvarnoe Siyanie.
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Ликов девичьих Радосте, и Ангелов Превысшая,
Likov devich'ikh Radoste, i Angelov Previysshaya,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Небес Честная Сило, и Свете паче все светов,
Nebes Chestnaya Silo, i Svete pache vse svetov,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Честнейшая Владычице всех Небесных Воинств,
Chestneyshaya Vladiychitse veskh Nebesniykh Voinstv,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Всех праотцев Надеждо, пророков Исполнение,
Vsekh praottsev Nadezhdo, prorokov Ispolnenie,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
В подвизех Ты - Помоще, Кивоте Бога Слова,
V podvizekh Tiy - Pomoshche, Kivote Boga Slova,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
И девам - Ликование, и матерем - Отрадо,
I devam - Likovanie, i materem - Otrado,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Целомудрия Наставнице, душ наших Очищение,
Tselomudpriya Nastavnitse, dush nashikh Ochishchenie,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Покрове ширший облака, и страждущих Пристанище,
Pokrove shirshiy oblaka, i strazhdushchikh Pristanishche,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Немощных Покров и Заступнице, Надеждо ненадежных,
Nemoshchniykh Pokrov i Zastupnitse, Nadezhdo nenadezhniykh,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Марие - Мати Христа - Истиннаго Бога,
Marie - Mati Khrista - Istinnago Boga,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Ааронов Жезле Прозябший, Сосуде тихой радости,
Aaronov zhezle prozyabshiy, Sosude tikhoy radosti,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Всех сирых и вдов Утешение, в бедах и скорбех - Помоще,
Vsekh siriykh i vdov Uteshenie, v belakh i skorbekh - Pomoshche,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Священная и Непорочная, Владычице Всепетая,
Svyashchennaya i Neporochnaya, Vladiychitse Vsepetaya,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Приклони ко мне милосердие Божественнаго Сына,
Prikloni ko mne miloserdie Bozhestvennago Siyna,
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.
Ходайце спасения, припадая взываю Ти:
Khodaitse spaseniya, pripadaya vziyvayu Ti:
Радуйся Невесто Неневестная.
Raduysya Nevesto Nenevestnaya.

And if you haven't heard this beautiful hymn, you may listen to it by clicking this link.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

More "Tolerance" from America

"Mom and Dad" as well as "husband and wife" have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, if they choose.

- WorldNetDaily, October 13, 2007

I am surprised - Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, should know better!

"Shame on Schwarzenegger and the Democrat politicians for ensuring that every California school becomes a homosexual-bisexual-transsexual indoctrination center," (Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families), said.

This demand for "tolerance" and "acceptance" is quickly evolving into a new mood of aggressive intolerance against accepted values. Perhaps this is what those who clamoured for "tolerance" wanted in the first place.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

The Beauty of Apostolic Christianity

"Sacramentals should be things of beauty. The soul thrives in an environment of chaste loveliness, harmony, and order. Finely crafted beads invite to prayer. There is no shame in going to God by means of the senses He has given us. The Word became flesh so that we, in our flesh and not in spite of it, might be able to go to God." Don Marco

The beauty of Apostolic Christianity, the liturgy in particular, played a major and crucial role in my move from fundamentalist Protestantism to Orthodox Christianity. The barren intellectualism and severe austerity of fundamentalist Protestant services were bearable, and even vital in forming the basis of my spiritual discipline, but the emphasis on inner holiness, and the resulting stigmatization of any outward show of piety, was an exceptionally repugnant aspect of Calvinism.

Services built around sermons may be intellectually stimulating and instruct much, but they do nothing for inspiring holiness. Indeed, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist should reflect as much as possible, the beauty and glory of Heaven. There, we celebrate with joy, Christ's Passion, and Holy Resurrection.

The words of Prince Vladimir's emissaries after visiting Hagia Sophia in the 10th century come to mind:

"We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendour or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty. Every man, after tasting something sweet, is afterward unwilling to accept that which is bitter, and therefore we cannot dwell longer here."

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Park ee Partsoons!

Glory to God!

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 — A House committee voted on Wednesday to condemn the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in World War I as an act of genocide, rebuffing an intense campaign by the White House and warnings from Turkey’s government that the vote would gravely strain its relations with the United States.

- The New York Times, October 11, 2007

Wednesday’s vote by the US Congress on the Armenian Genocide was one of those rare moments when politicians did the right thing in the face of pressure.

It's about time.

American recognition of this atrocity has been long due:

The House of Representatives finds the following:

The Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, resulting in the deportation of nearly 2,000,000 Armenians, of whom 1,500,000 men and women and children were killed, 500,000 survivors were expelled from their homes, and which succeeded in the elimination of the over 2,500-year presence of Armenians in their historic homeland.

Turkey's response was not entirely unexpected. Turkish president Abdullah Gul alleged that some US politicians had "closed their ears to calls to be reasonable and once again sought to sacrifice big problems for small domestic political games".


Sorry, Turkey! There's no denying the truth.

It is high time that Ankara begin a process of introspection and come to terms with its own tragic past, thus gradually ending its vicious and wasteful (millions of dollars are being spent yearly by the Turkish government) campaign of denial and whitewashing of history.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

50 Years of Sputnik

Engineers, military officials and former cosmonauts on Thursday celebrated the 50th anniversary of the launch of the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik, which marked the dawn of the Space Age and sparked the race to land a man on the moon.

Ceremonies were held at the Russia's cosmonaut training center, Star City, outside of Moscow and engineers were to gather at the Academy of Sciences to recall the events leading up to the Oct. 4, 1957, launch of the spikey, 184 pound (83-kilogram) metal ball that beeped as it circled the globe for some 22 days.

Military officials held a small ceremony to lay flowers at the grave of the father of the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolyov, who was buried with honors at the foot of the Kremlin walls.

The success of Soviet engineers in launching Sputnik stunned the world, and was followed just four years later by another historic achievement - the launch of Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space.

Sputnik galvanized the U.S. government to pour money into space research and technology with the goal of landing a man on the moon - an event that occurred nearly 12 years later.

"Of course speaking just for us specialists (the launch) sparked an unexpected furor around the world. No one expected this, even including our engineers," Viktor Frusmon, a co-worker of Korolyov's, said in a televised comments Thursday.

- Pravda.Ru, 10/04/2007 05:54

As a child, I was hugely fascinated by the cosmos and Man's remarkable attempts to reach even further.

The celebration of the this astonishing feat brings back happy memories; of hours spent over my picture-books on space travel. Sputnik had been one of my favourite satellites - it was not the most sophisticated nor advanced, it was certainly the cutest.

Wow, 50 years ago today. It is amazing how a little metal ball single-handedly jump started North America's science education and space programmes. We've certainly come a long way since then.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Burning Chilli Sparks Terror Fear

You just can't make news like this up:

A pot of burning chilli sparked fears of a biological terror attack in central London.

Firefighters wearing protective breathing apparatus were called to D'Arblay Street, Soho, after reports of noxious smoke filling the air.

Police closed off three roads and evacuated homes following the alert.

Specialist crews broke down the door to the Thai Cottage restaurant at 1900 BST on Monday where they discovered the source - a 9lb pot of chillies.

The restaurant had been preparing Nam Prik Pao, a red-hot Thai dip which uses extra-hot chillies which are deliberately burnt.

- BBC News, Wednesday, 3 October 2007, 12:54 GMT

If you ask me, Westerners would consider most Asian food 'biological weapons' anyway.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Remarkable Story

NOTE: The following article was pieced together from the original Russian with an online translator and my crummy Russian. Apologies for any mistakes!

Almost three years ago, the event shook the entire country: an 11 year old student become pregnant! She has now given birth; the father of the child is a young Tajik named Habib.

Now 14 year old Valya Isayeva continues her studies in seventh grade, while bringing up little Amina.

"I study in the day, coming home at five. I do my homework, play with Amina and then I make supper." says Valya.

Habib now works in construction, and contributes to the upbringing of his daughter. He lives in a working hostel, but visits regularly. He plans to marry Valya as soon as it is legally possible.

Valya diligently works on her assignments.

The young parents with Amina as Valya's grandmother, Antonina Aleksandrova, looks on.

Little Amina is now 2 years and 2 months old.

- Komsomolskaya Pravda, 19th September 2007

Now, this story strikes me as remarkable not because of the young age at which this girl has become a mother, but rather, how this story has unfolded. I do not find a young mother particularly shocking - bear in mind that girls in times past would be married early on to far older men and would probably conceive before the age of 18.

In any other society, most men who impregnate a girl of that age (or any other age for that matter) outside marriage would probably either vanish completely, or cough some money for an abortion before deciding whether to leave or stay. Habib, on the other hand, has decided to act responsibly - by earning for his little family, and seeing them as much as time permits.

That the couple is probably Muslim, and, owing to their culture (especially in parts of the former Soviet Union), have primitive ways is beside the point, however.

For all our "civilised" ways in the West (and societies aping the West, i.e. Singapore), how many of us are willing to display similar maturity and responsibility in the face of such an event?

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Conservative vs Liberal: You Decide...

...which form of politics would best serve the human race:

Conservatives believe in individual freedom and responsibility.
Liberals believe in sacrificing individual freedom for socially desirable outcomes. Liberals believe that one of government's primary roles is social engineering.

Conservatives believe in limited government.
Liberals believe in intrusive government when required to achieve societal needs. (Exception: social-issues conservatives advocate government intrusion on matters of abortion, drugs and pornography.)

Conservatives believe in free markets.
Liberals believe in government controls and central planning.

Conservatives believe that some problems have no solution, that they can only be mitigated at best.
Liberals believe that most every problem has a government solution.

Conservatives are concerned about the production of wealth.
Liberals are concerned about the redistribution of it.

Conservatives believe in equality of opportunity.
Liberals believe in equality of outcome.

Conservatives believe that human nature is what makes us imperfect.
Liberals believe that human nature can be changed and perfected.

Conservatives are nationalists.
Liberals hope for world government.

Conservatives believe in peace through strength.
Liberals believe in peace through cooperation and goodwill.

Mike Rosen, Rocky Mountain News (March 31, 2000)

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