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Christmas Facts

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Every year more than 400 million people celebrate Xmas around the world -- that makes Xmas one of the world’s biggest religious and commercial festivities. In approximately year 300 A.D., the birthday of Jesus was determined to be on December 25, the day that has been celebrated from then till this very day. The celebration on the 25th of December starts with Christmas Eve, the evening of December 24.

The religious festival is originally a blend of pagan customs. The Romans held a festival on December 25 called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, i.e. "the birthday of the unconquered sun.". Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule, held in late December to early January. However, it is uncertain exactly why December 25 became associated with the birth of Jesus since the Old Testament doesn’t mention a specific date of the event.


Maguindanao Massacre

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Maguindanao massacre, also known as the Ampatuan massacre (after the town where the mass graves were found), occurred on the morning of November 23, 2009, in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. The victims were about to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan town. Mangudadatu was challenging Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., son of the incumbent Maguindanao governor Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr., in the forthcoming Maguindanao gubernatorial election,[1] part of the national elections in 2010. Those killed included Mangudadatu's wife, his two sisters, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were witnesses or were mistakenly identified as part of the convoy.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called the Maguindanao massacre the single deadliest event for journalists in history.[2] At least 34 journalists are known to have died in the massacre.[3] In a statement, CPJ executive director Joel Simon noted that the killings, "appears to be single deadliest event for the press since 1992, when CPJ began keeping detailed records on journalist deaths."[2] The CPJ further noted that, "Even as we tally the dead in this horrific massacre, our initial research indicates that this is the deadliest single attack on the press ever documented by CPJ."[2]

Even before the Maguindanao massacre, the CPJ had labeled the Philippines the second most dangerous country for journalists, second only to Iraq

Source: Wikipedia


History of Halloween

Monday, November 2, 2009

History of Halloween, like any other festival's history is inspired through traditions that have transpired through ages from one generation to another. We follow them mostly as did our dads and grandpas. And as this process goes on, much of their originality get distorted with newer additions and alterations. It happens so gradually, spanning over so many ages, that we hardly come to know about these distortions. At one point of time it leaves us puzzled, with its multicolored faces. Digging into its history helps sieve out the facts from the fantasies which caught us unaware. Yet, doubts still lurk deep in our soul, especially when the reality differs from what has taken a deep seated root into our beliefs. The history of Halloween Day, as culled from the net, is being depicted here in this light. This is to help out those who are interested in washing off the superficial hues to reach the core and know things as they truly are. 'Trick or treat' may be an innocent fun to relish on the Halloween Day. But just think about a bunch of frightening fantasies and the scary stories featuring ghosts, witches, monsters, evils, elves and animal sacrifices associated with it. They are no more innocent. Are these stories a myth or there is a blend of some reality? Come and plunge into the halloween history to unfurl yourself the age-old veil of mysticism draped around it.

Behind the name... Halloween, or the Hallow E'en as they call it in Ireland , means All Hallows Eve, or the night before the 'All Hallows', also called 'All Hallowmas', or 'All Saints', or 'All Souls' Day, observed on November 1. In old English the word 'Hallow' meant 'sanctify'. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherians used to observe All Hallows Day to honor all Saints in heaven, known or unknown. They used to consider it with all solemnity as one of the most significant observances of the Church year. And Catholics, all and sundry, was obliged to attend Mass. The Romans observed the holiday of Feralia, intended to give rest and peace to the departed. Participants made sacrifices in honor of the dead, offered up prayers for them, and made oblations to them. The festival was celebrated on February 21, the end of the Roman year. In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints' Day to replace the pagan festival of the dead. It was observed on May 13. Later, Gregory III changed the date to November 1. The Greek Orthodox Church observes it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Despite this connection with the Roman Church, the American version of Halloween Day celebration owes its origin to the ancient (pre-Christian) Druidic fire festival called "Samhain", celebrated by the Celts in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Samhain is pronounced "sow-in", with "sow" rhyming with cow. In Ireland the festival was known as Samhein, or La Samon, the Feast of the Sun. In Scotland, the celebration was known as Hallowe'en. In Welsh it's Nos Galen-gaeof (that is, the Night of the Winter Calends. According to the Irish English dictionary published by the Irish Texts Society: "Samhain, All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season, lasting till May, during which troopsarchaeological (esp. the Fiann) were quartered. Faeries were imagined as particularly active at this season. From it the half year is reckoned. also called Feile Moingfinne (Snow Goddess).(1) The Scottish Gaelis Dictionary defines it as "Hallowtide. The Feast of All Soula. Sam + Fuin = end of summer."(2) Contrary to the information published by many organizations, there is no or literary evidence to indicate that Samhain was a deity. The Celtic Gods of the dead were Gwynn ap Nudd for the British, and Arawn for the Welsh. The Irish did not have a "lord of death" as such. Thus most of the customs connected with the Day are remnants of the ancient religious beliefs and rituals, first of the Druids and then transcended amongst the Roman Christians who conquered them.


Natural Disaster: Floods

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A flood occurs when a body of water rises and overflows onto normally dry land. Floods occur most commonly when water from heavy rainfall, from melting ice and snow, or from a combination of these exceeds the carrying capacity of the river system, lake, or ocean into which it runs.

Where: The Netherlands and England
When: 1099

A combination of high tides and storm waves on the North Sea flooded coastal areas of England and the Netherlands, killing 100,000 people.

Where: United States
When: 1889

The Johnstown Flood, in Pennsylvania, was considered one of the worst disasters in U.S. history. After an unusually heavy rainstorm, a dam several miles upriver from Johnstown broke. One out of every 10 people in the path of the flood died, a total of 2,000 people in less than an hour.

Where: Italy
When: 1966

After a heavy rainfall, the Arno River overflowed, flooding the streets of Florence. Many great works of art in the museums were damaged, as was the architecture of the city. In two days, more than 100 people died and the city was covered with half a million tons of mud, silt, and sewage.


Twilight Trivia

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Learn about the symbolism, origin of names, and other interesting tidbits about Twilight.

* Edward talks about twilight, the time between sunset and full night, as the safest, easiest, and saddest time of day. Twilight is also defined as an intermediate state that is not clearly defined–a clear reference to the vampire's existence in a sort of undead limbo.

* The song by Debussy that is a favorite of both Bella's and Edward's is called "Clair de Lune," or Moonlight. The composer died in Paris in 1918–the same year Edward "died" and was reborn as Edward Cullen.

* Edward's name was inspired by Charlotte Bronte's Mr. Rochester and Jane Austen's Mr. Ferrars. Stephenie Meyer chose Isabella for her heroine because she had picked out that name for the daughter of her own flesh and blood that she never had.

* Edward compares himself to a carnivorous flower; the almost surreal beauty of the vampires helps them lure human prey. There are about 630 species of carnivorous plants, which use five different techniques to capture their food: pitfall traps, flypaper traps, snap traps, bladder traps, and lobster-pot traps.

* There is an actual city of Forks, Washington. It is home to the Hoh Rain Forest, which in turn, is the habitat of the Sitka spruce, the Roosevelt elk, and the Douglas squirrel.

* Spanish influenza (a virus strain of the subtype H1N1) caused a worldwide pandemic beginning in the year 1918. The virus struck by triggering an overstimulation of the body's immune system, a cytokine storm, and found its victims among the healthiest of the population-those with the strongest immune systems. In fact, the Spanish flu was responsible for more American deaths than World War I.

* Bella suffers from a condition called hemophobia, a word derived from the Greek haima (blood) and phobos (fear). Another name for homophobia is hematophobia.

* The name Jasper means "treasurer" in Persian. This name was traditionally assigned to one of the wise men who were said to have visited the newborn Jesus. Jasper is also the name of a gemstone.

* The high schoolers enjoy a beautiful driftwood fire when they go to the beach at La Push. Experts do not recommend burning driftwood in your fireplace at home; the combination of organic material in the wood and the sodium chloride (salt) can produce dioxin, a toxin.

* The Quileute spun long dog hair into warm blankets and wove fine baskets–some of them capable of holding water


Color Psychology

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Do different colors affect your mood?

Like death and taxes, there is no escaping color. It is ubiquitous. Yet what does it all mean? Why are people more relaxed in green rooms? Why do weightlifters do their best in blue gyms?

Colors often have different meanings in various cultures. And even in Western societies, the meanings of various colors have changed over the years. But today in the U.S., researchers have generally found the following to be accurate.


Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black.


Brides wear white to symbolize innocence and purity. White reflects light and is considered a summer color. White is popular in decorating and in fashion because it is light, neutral, and goes with everything. However, white shows dirt and is therefore more difficult to keep clean than other colors. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.


The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.

The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.


The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.


Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in "green rooms" to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.


Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.


The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.


Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.

Colors of the Flag

In the U.S. flag, white stands for purity and innocence. Red represents valor and hardiness, while blue signifies justice, perseverance, and vigilance. The stars represent the heavens and all the good that people strive for, while the stripes emulate the sun's rays.

Food for Thought

While blue is one of the most popular colors it is one of the least appetizing. Blue food is rare in nature. Food researchers say that when humans searched for food, they learned to avoid toxic or spoiled objects, which were often blue, black, or purple. When food dyed blue is served to study subjects, they lose appetite.

Green, brown, and red are the most popular food colors. Red is often used in restaurant decorating schemes because it is an appetite stimulant.


Dove - Evolution Commercial

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reginald Pike's Yael Staav takes us from model to billboard in under 60 seconds in this impressive new spot from Dove.


Global Food Crisis

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Food shortages and price increases spark violence and debate

by Mark Hughes

The 2008 food crisis, which has seen dramatic increases in food prices and food shortages and has sparked riots and political turmoil in a number of countries, took the world by surprise. While the debate centers on identifying the causes and finding solutions, the effects have already been all too clear and are continuing to mount.

Effects of the 2008 Food Crisis

Prices for basic foods such as rice, wheat, and corn have risen 83% since 2005. Compared to the first half of 2007, food prices in 2008 have risen even more dramatically: 130% increase for wheat and an 87% increase for soy. Between March 3rd and April 23rd, 2008, the price for a metric ton of rice rose from $460 to $1,000. This almost doubling in price caused riots in Egypt and Haiti. Other nations (Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Yemen, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Italy) have experienced violent protests in reaction to the increased cost of food staples.

During the summer months, twenty-nine countries have cut back on food exports to ensure their populations have enough to eat. India, Vietnam, China, and more have limited or banned exports of rice. Pakistan and Bolivia have severely capped wheat exports. Kazakhstan has even restricted exporting sunflower seeds.

Causes of the Food Crisis

Increased demand on the food supply has caused the price of food to rise. The numerous contributors to the rise in cost and the reduction in supply include biofuels, bad weather, the historically high cost of oil and transportation, increased demand for meat and dairy, and population growth.


Plant material, or biomass, is used to produce biofuels in the form of gas or liquid fuel. Energy and environmental concerns have helped promote biofuels as a way to replace oil and natural gas. Unfortunately, biofuels seem to be exacerbating the problem of food shortage. Farmers in many industrialized nations, such as the United States, have been encouraged by their governments to switch to growing fuel crops, such as corn and soy. This reduction in domestic farming means food must be imported, which increases the overall cost of food production worldwide.

Natural Forces

Drought in Australia

Australia is normally the second largest exporter of grain, after the U.S. The continent, though, is experiencing an ongoing drought that has been described as the worst in a century. Grain yields have shrunk and many silos remain empty. Australia's drought is a major factor in global wheat stocks being at their lowest since 1979. In fact, many wheat and rice farmers are switching to crops that demand less water, such as wine grapes.


In 2008, 110 countries on every continent (excluding Antarctica) are experiencing widespread drought and desertification. Imagine the fertile, moist soil on a farm turning into the dry, blowing sand of a desert, which is what the term desertification is describing. It happens when the soil has been ruined and can no longer support life.

Overgrazing by farm and herd animals confined by fences is a big contributor to desertification. Fencing restricts the amount of land available for animals to graze, which in turn prevents the soil and plants from recovering after being trod upon and eaten. Deforestation, slash-and-burn agriculture, and the use of trees and plants as fuel have also contributed to the increasing spread
of desertification, especially in semi-arid and arid regions.

Oil and Transportation

The price of a barrel of oil exceeded $100 in 2008. Oil provides the energy needed for farmers to plant and harvest their crops. The more money it costs to grow an ear of corn translates into an increase in the cost to sell it. For instance, energy is needed to produce fertilizer, keep equipment like tractors running, and provide the fuel to transport the finished crops all over the world. Many industrialized nations no longer produce enough of their own food, which means food must be imported from elsewhere. The increase in oil and fuel prices has made the transport of food prohibitively expensive for some nations.

Meat and Dairy

Economic growth in many countries has allowed people to expand their diets, especially in China and other Southeast Asian nations. More and more people have been adding meat and dairy to the menu. Cows must eat more grain in order to supply enough meat and milk to meet demand. For instance, 700 calories of animal feed must be consumed in order to produce a 100-calorie piece of beef.

Population Growth

The human population has grown significantly in the first decade of the 21st century. As of April 2008, the global population reached 6.6 billion people, up from 6 billion in 1999. The increase in the number of people means greater competition for resources.

What is being done?

There is no simple answer to the causes of the food crisis. Biofuels are getting a lot of attention, due in part to the newness of the technology, the use of food as fuel, and whether the march toward switching energy resources over to biofuels is intensifying, if not causing, the food crisis. Rich nations are being asked to reconsider many recently passed laws and policies that promote biofuels as an alternate energy source. The United Nations is also urging rich countries to increase the amount of money they give to poorer nations for food aid. In April 2008, President Bush ordered $200 million in emergency food aid to be made available to "meet unanticipated food aid needs in Africa and elsewhere." The World Bank intends to increase its agricultural lending to Africa in 2009 to $800 million.

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the establishment of a task force to handle the global food crisis. One of the priorities of this task force is to close the funding gap for the UN's World Food Program (WFP) this year. By May 1st, the size of the funding gap had reached $755 million. Mr. Ban also addressed the importance of helping farmers in poor countries who have been hurt by the increasing costs of fertilizer and energy. $200 million is being made available to help farmers in the worst affected areas to boost food production, as well as $1.7 billion is going to help nations in need buy seeds.

Robert Zoellick, the head of the World Bank, worries about nations using export bans to protect their food stocks, expressing that such controls "encourage hoarding, drive up prices, and hurt the poorest people around the world." In March India banned the export of non-basmati rice, and in late April decided to tax exports of basmati rice.

26 million Latin Americans are in danger of being pushed into extreme poverty, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. The bank has implemented a $500 million credit line to increase the amount of support to help agricultural productivity and anti-poverty programs. The Mexican government has also pledged to help offset increased food costs by increasing cash subsidies to its poorest citizens.


Banned Books

Monday, August 17, 2009

The banning of books and other forms of censorship are not new. Since at least the fourth century B.C., some groups and individuals have encouraged the banning or outright destruction of reading material in the name of morality or for political or religious reasons. Here is a list of the most frequently attacked children's books in recent years and the objections to them.

Book : Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Reason:Too depressing.

Book : Blubber, by Judy Blume
Reason: The characters curse and the mean-spirited ringleader is never punished for her cruelty.

Book : Bony-Legs, by Joanna Cole
Reason: Deals with subjects such as magic and witchraft.

Book: The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reason: Offensive language.

Book: Confessions of an Only Child, by Norma Klein
Reason: Use of profanity by the lead character's father.

Book: Harriet, the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
Reason: Teaches children to lie, spy, talk back, and curse.

Book: A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich, by Alice Childress
Reason: Anti-American and immoral.

Book: The House without a Christmas Tree, by Gail Rock
Reason: Uses the word damn.

Book: In a Dark, Dark Room, and Other Scary Stories, by Alvin Schwartz
Reason: Too morbid for children.

Book: In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
Reason: Nudity; Mickey loses his pajamas during his fall in the kitchen.

Book: A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
Reason: A suggestive illustration that might encourage kids to break dishes so they won't have to dry them.

Book: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig
Reason: The characters are all shown as animals; the police are presented as pigs.


The Origin of Teddy Bear

Friday, August 14, 2009

In November 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt and some of his friends went on a hunting trip to Mississippi. After hours of searching, Roosevelt and his group had not come across any wild animals. Finally, the group did track down and surrounded a helpless bear. One of the guides asked the president to shoot the bear so he could win a hunting trophy. The president refused, and news reporters throughout the country spread the story of Roosevelt's kind act.

Not long after this took place, a famous cartoonist named Clifford Berryman drew a cartoon based on Roosevelt 's rescue of the bear. When a store owner in Brooklyn saw the cartoon, he decided to make toy bears to sell in his shop. He asked president Roosevelt for permission to use the name “"Teddy's Bear"” for his toys, as a reminder of the bear Roosevelt had set free. Nowadays, everyone knows these toys as Teddy Bears, but few people know that they were named after President Theodore “"Teddy"” Roosevelt.

November 14 has been designated American Teddy Bear Day.


Holy Places

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Throughout the world are places of special significance to different religious groups. Here's just a sampling of the world's sacred spots.

The Holy Land—a collective name for Israel, Jordan, and Egypt—is a place of pilgrimage for Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

The Ganges River in India is sacred to Hindus. They drink its water, bathe in it, and scatter the ashes of their dead in it.

Mount Fuji, in Japan, is sacred to the Buddhist and Shinto religions.

The Black Hills of South Dakota are a holy place for some Native American people, who travel there in quest of a vision, a moment of peace and oneness with the universe. Vision quests last four days and four nights.

Mount Fai Shan is China's sacred mountain. It is thought to be a center of living energy—a holy place for Taoists and Buddhists.

The Sacred Mosque in Mecca Saudi Arabia, is sacred to Muslims. Muslims around the world face in the direction of Mecca five times a day to pray.

Lourdes, France, is the home of a Roman Catholic shrine where the Virgin Mary was said to appear to St. Bernadette.

Kairouan, Tunisia, became one of Islam's holy cities when, according to legend, a spring opened up at the feet of a holy leader, revealing a golden chalice last seen in Mecca.


Places to See Before They Disappear

Monday, August 10, 2009

Many of the world's most wondrous and beautiful destinations are in danger of being destroyed by a combination of environmental and social factors: a warming climate, pollution, strained resources, bulging populations, and booming tourist traffic. Below are some popular locations worth visiting before they disappear.

Glaciers, Glacier National Park
United States and Canada

Glacier National Park contains some of the most beautiful, primitive wilderness in the Rocky Mountains. There are more than 200 glacier-fed lakes, high peaks, sheer precipices, large forests, waterfalls, much wildlife, and a great variety of wildflowers. However, temperature fluctuations have caused glacier growth and depletion. Ten thousand years ago, the area of Glacier National Park was covered by ice up to one mile below sea level. The latest warm period has caused the number of glaciers to decrease from 150 in 1850 to 26 today. If current global warming trends continue, there will be no glaciers left in Glacier National Park by 2030.

Venice, Italy

With as many as 40 floods per year between March and September, Venice is slowly sinking at an estimated rate of 2.5 inches every 10 ten years. Venice, a city of beauty and charm, was built as a collection of 118 separate islands, relying entirely on a canal system of about 150 canals, mostly very narrow, crossed by some 400 bridges. A severe flood in December 2008 brought renewed attention to Venice's vulnerable state and imminent fate as an underwater city.

The Dead Sea
Border between Israel and the West Bank (W) and Jordan (E)

Known as one of the saltiest water bodies in the world and the lowest dry point on earth, the Dead Sea is fed by the Jordan River and a number of small streams. Because it is located in a very hot and dry region, the Dead Sea loses much water through evaporation, causing its level to fluctuate during the year. However, inflow to the Dead Sea has been greatly reduced by the increased use of the Jordan River by Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians, who have growing populations and increased agricultural needs, resulting in falling water levels. Currently, the Dead Sea recedes about three feet each year.

Mexico City, Mexico

In the past 100 years, Mexico City has sunk more than 30 feet. The original city was built on the site of a former lake—the Aztecs built the city on a series of aquatic platforms, but when the Spanish conquered the city, they drained the lake, causing it to sink. As the city population ballooned and the demand for water increased in the 20th century, the government began pumping much of the city's supply out of the underground aquifer that once fed the lake, causing the city to sink further. No practical plan has been made for the future to provide the 22 million inhabitants of Mexico City with the water they need without destroying the city.

Taj Mahal
Agra, Uttar Pradesh state, India

A mausoleum in northern India on the Yamuna River, the Taj Mahal is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and the finest example of the late style of Indian Islamic architecture. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ordered it built after the death of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The building, which was completed between 1632 and 1638, is visited by three to four million tourists each year. The crowds and air pollution, however, have caused irreversible damage to the building's façade, prompting tourism officials to consider closing the historic site to the public.

Pyramids of Giza
Giza, Egypt

One of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza, located outside modern Cairo, consist of three magnificent royal tombs guarded by a Sphinx. The Pyramids have been a heavily trafficked sightseeing area for centuries, but the pollution and magnitude of visitors has taken its toll on the ancient structures, which are not protected by Egyptian officials. Although camel and horseback tours are now banned from the site, the structures are still difficult to see through the crowds and vendors.

Little Green Street
London, United Kingdom

Located in the center of London, Little Green Street, is one of only a few surviving streets from Georgian England. Lined with about a dozen 18th century homes, Little Green Street only stretches a city block in length, but has survived the Blitz in World War II and three centuries of construction. As a perfect example of Regency London, it has been featured in poetry, photo shoots, and music videos, but today it is threatened by construction. Although an attempt to acquire the property failed in 2008, developers' appeals continue, and the threat of Little Green Street's destruction looms ahead.

Source: Frommer's and Columbia Encyclopedia


World's Largest Known Prime Number

Friday, August 7, 2009

Euclid proved in the 3rd century BC that there are an infinite number of prime numbers. A prime number can be divided only by itself and the number 1. Primes serve as the building blocks for all positive integers, and have applications in cryptography and other fields.

Mersenne numbers are numbers that are one less than a power of two (2n – 1). A Mersenne number that is also a prime number is called a Mersenne prime. These can be found and verified relatively quickly. Before 1952, 12 Mersenne primes were known; with the aid of computers, 30 more have been found. The eight largest have all been found by the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), a distributed network of volunteers using their spare computer power to find the largest Mersenne primes.

The largest currently known prime, 243,112,609– 1, was found by electrical engineer Hans-Michael Elvenich on 6 Sept. 2008. It has 12,978,189 digits.


Mothers of Invention

They say necessity is the mother of invention. But mothers are the mothers of these inventions for kids.


Record-Breaking Foods

Most Noodle Strings: Simon Sang Koon Sung of Singapore really knows how to use his noodle. He made 8,192 strings of noodles from a single lump of dough in 59.29 seconds. That’s a rate of 138 noodles a second.

Largest Custard-Pie Fight: In 2000, 20 people at the Millennium Done in London, England, threw 3,312 custard pies in three minutes.

Longest Bean: Harry Hurley, of North Carolina, has a green thumb—a big one. In 1997, he grew a bean that measured 4.3 ft long.

Largest Ice-Cream Sandwich: At a promotional event in 1998 in Dubuque, Iowa, an ice-cream sandwich was made that weighed 2,460 pounds.

Largest Chinese Dumpling: In 1997, a dumpling weighing 1,058 pounds was made to celebrate the reunification of Hong Kong and China. No word on whether it was steamed or fried.
Most Expensive Meal: No, it wasn’t in McD’s. In 2001, six people in London spent a total of $62,138 on a meal in a restaurant named Petrus. Most of the money was spent on bottles of rare wine.

Largest Breakfast: In 2001, in Taiwan, 23,291 hungry people wolfed down 1,247 gallons of milk and 4,232 pounds of bread.

Longest Sandwich: Created in Italy in 2004, the loaf measured 2,081 feet in length. It was made of 2,028 pounds of flour, 112 gallons of water and 55 pounds of salt. Packed in the sandwich were 1,206 pounds of salami and mortadella, a type of cheese. The super sandwich weighed 34,275 pounds and was eaten by 19,000 people. Now that’s what we call a real hero sandwich!


Corazon Aquino

Monday, August 3, 2009

Political leader and president from (1986 to 1992) of the Philippines. In 1983 she succeeded her murdered husband, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.(A popular critic of the Marcos administration), as leader of the opposition to President Ferdinand Marcos. No one could have imagined that Cory Aquino would become a president of the Philippines.
"As I came to power peacefully, so shall I keep it." Corazon "Cory" Aquino, the first woman to become president of the Philippines, was born in Tarlac on January 25, 1933. Her parents are Don Jose Cojuangco and Doña Demetria Sumulong. Cory was the sixth among the eight children of the Sumulong. Corazon Aquino's children are Maria Elena Aquino, Aurora Corazon, Victoria Eliza, Noynoy and Kris Aquino, her youngest child is a TV and movie personality.
Corazon Cojuangco was born into a wealthy, politically prominent family based in Tarlac province, north of Manila. In 1946, her family left for the U.S. and she enrolled at Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia. She finished her junior and senior years at Notre Dame College in New York. She entered Mount Saint Vincent College in New York City in 1949 where she finished a Bachelor of Arts, major in French. In 1953, she returned to the Philippines to take up law at the Far Eastern University, but then abandoned further studies in 1955 to marry Benigno Aquino, who was then a promising young politician. Cory remained in the background during her husband's subsequent career, rearing their five children at home and later in exile. Her husband was assassinated upon his return to the Philippines in August 1983.
When Ferdinand Marcos unexpectedly called for presidential election in February 1986, Corazon Aquino become the unified opposition's candidate for the presidency. Though she was officially reported to have lost the election to Marcos, Aquino and her supporters challenged the results, charging widespread voting fraud. High officials in the Philippines military soon publicly renounced Marcos continued rule and proclaimed Aquino the Philippines rightful president. On February 25, 1986, both Aquino and Marcos were inagurated as president by their respective suppoerters but that same day Marcos fled the country.
In March 1986 she proclaimed a provisional constitution and soon thereafter appointed a commission to write a new constitution. The resulting document was ratified by a landslide popular vote in February 1987. Inspite of her continous popular support, Aquino faced an ongoing outcry over economic injustice, a problem that was only exacerbated by continuing warfare between the communist insurgency and a military whose loyalties to Aquino were uncertain. In general, her economic policies were criticized for being mixed or faltering in the face of mass poverty.
Aquino children are Maria Elena Aquino, Aurora Corazon, Victoria Eliza, Noynoy and Kris Aquino. Her youngest child is a TV & movie personality.


The Most Dangerous Female Sport: Cheerleading

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cheerleading safety efforts have led to modest reductions in the number of serious injuries in recent years, according to a new report about college and high school sports and cheerleading mishaps.

But cheerleading caused more serious and deadly injuries by far than other female sports during the study period.

Researchers have long known how dangerous cheerleading is, but records were poorly kept until recently. An update to the record-keeping system last year found that between 1982 and 2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, with the vast majority (67) occurring in cheerleading. The next most dangerous sports: gymnastics (nine such injuries) and track (seven).

Today, the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill released its 26th annual report on the topic. The latest figures are from the 2007-2008 academic year for college and high school sports, male and female. The report defines catastrophic injuries as any severe or fatal injury incurred during participation in the sport.

The new numbers are for the 26-year period from the fall of 1982 through the spring of 2008:

There were 1,116 direct catastrophic injuries in high school (905) and college sports (211).

High school sports were associated with 152 fatalities, 379 non-fatal injuries and 374 serious injuries. College sports accounted for 22 fatalities, 63 non-fatal injuries and 126 serious injuries.

Cheerleading accounted for 65.2 percent of high school and 70.5 percent of college catastrophic injuries among all female sports.

The number of cheerleading injuries fell slightly in the 2007-08 academic year.

"Progress has been slow, but there has been an increased emphasis on cheerleading safety," said the study's author Frederick O. Mueller. "Continued data collection on all types of cheerleading injuries will hopefully show that these safety measures are working to reduce injuries."


The Strange Ingredients in Fireworks

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fireworks for the 4th of July are all about light, color and sound. But inside, there are some bizarre ingredients, from aluminum to Vaseline and even the stuff of rat poison.

An ancient mix of black powder, essentially gunpowder little changed from its invention in China a millennia ago, gets each rocket in the air by creating pressure in gas trapped in a tube, or mortar.

Two fuses are lit at once: one to ignite the black powder, and another that burns slower, creating a well-timed explosion high in the sky.

The shells of commercial fireworks contain a powdery concoction of chemicals that produce the bangs and the whistles, as well as the pretty effects. Tubes, hollow spheres, and paper wrappings work as barriers to compartmentalize the effects. More complicated shells are divided into even more sections to control the timing of secondary explosions.

Big booms and whistles come from flash powder. Once used for flashes in photography, it is a combination of fuel-like metal and a chemical that feeds oxygen to fire up the fuel. Different combinations of metals and oxides produce a whole array of sounds.

While ancient Greeks and Romans used bismuth in their beauty care products and coins, chemists add bismuth trioxide to the flash powder to get that crackling sound, dubbed "dragon eggs." Ear-splitting whistles take four ingredients, including a food preservative and Vaseline.

The variety of color in a fireworks show depends on the mix of metals.
* Copper produces blue sparks.
* A mix of strontium salts, lithium salts and other stuff makes red.
* Aluminum and titanium put the white stars in an aerial flag.
* Barium, also used in rat poison and glass making, makes green.
* Calcium burns orange and sodium, yellow.

In recent years, chemists have worked to develop more environmentally friendly fireworks, in part because one ingredient, perchlorate, was found in higher than normal concentrations in a lake where fireworks were shot off, and the chemical is known to cause thyroid problems in humans.

Meanwhile, to light up a red, white, and blue flag, chemists can lay out the emblem's design on wax paper. The pattern you see up in the air, whether it's a smiley face or a bow tie, mirrors the arrangement of the metals in the shell.

Because the flag, or any other pattern, shoots out from the shell as a two-dimensional image, people watching the show from different angles can't always tell what they're looking at. To make sure everyone has a good view, pyrotechnists tend to send duplicates into the sky at the same time.

You can see fireworks before you hear them because light travels faster than sound.

Source: LiveScience


The World's Smallest Robot

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Researchers have built an inchworm-like robot so small you need a microscope just to see it. In fact about 200 hundred of them could line up and do the conga across a plain M&M. The tiny bot measures about 60 micrometers wide (about the width of a human hair) by 250 micrometers long, making it the smallest untethered, controllable microrobot ever. "It's tens of times smaller in length, and thousands of times smaller in mass than previous untethered microrobots that are controllable," said designer Bruce Donald of Dartmouth University. "When we say ‘controllable,' it means it's like a car; you can steer it anywhere on a flat surface, and drive it wherever you want to go. It doesn't drive on wheels, but crawls like a silicon inchworm, making tens of thousands of 10-nanometer steps every second. It turns by putting a silicon 'foot' out and pivoting like a motorcyclist skidding around a tight turn."

Because it makes use of this innovative bending movement and is untethered, it can move freely across a surface without the wires or rails that restricted the mobility of previously developed microrobots. The caterpillar strategy also helped the researchers avoid a common problem in microrobotics. "Machines this small tend to stick to everything they touch, the way sand sticks to your feet after a day at the beach," said Craig McGray of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. "So we built these microrobots without any wheels or hinged joints, which must slide smoothly on their bearings. Instead, these robots move by bending their bodies like caterpillars. At very small scales, this machine is surprisingly fast." To get around, the robot makes use of two independent microactuators – the robot's "muscles." One is for forward motion and the other for turning. It doesn't have pre-programmed directions. Instead, it reacts to electric changes in the grid of electrodes it moves on. This grid also supplies the microrobot with the power needed to make these movements.

This microrobot and similar versions that could be developed might eventually ensure information security, inspect and make repairs to integrated circuits, explore hazardous environments, or even manipulate human cells or tissues.
Source: LiveScience


Invention Allows Humans to Breathe Like Fish

Alan Izhar-Bodner, an Israeli inventor, has developed a way for divers to breathe underwater without cumbersome oxygen tanks. His apparatus makes use of the air that is dissolved in water, just like fish do.

The system uses the "Henry Law" which states that the amount of gas that can be dissolved in a liquid is proportional to the pressure on the liquid. Raise the pressure - more gas can be dissolved in the liquid. Decrease the pressure - gas dissolved in the liquid releases the gas. This is exactly what happens when you open a can of soda; carbon dioxide gas is dissolved in the liquid and is under pressure in the can. Open the can, releasing the pressure, and the gas fizzes out.

Bodner's system apparently uses a centrifuge to lower pressure in part of a small amount of seawater taken into the system; dissolved gas is extracted. The patent abstract reads: A self-contained open-circuit breathing apparatus for use within a body of water naturally containing dissolved air. The apparatus is adapted to provide breathable air. The apparatus comprises an inlet means for extracting a quantity of water from the body of water. It further comprises a separator for separating the dissolved air from the quantity of water, thereby obtaining the breathable air. The apparatus further comprises a first outlet means for expelling the separated water back into the body of water, and a second outlet means for removing the breathable air and supplying it for breathing. The air is supplied so as to enable it to be expelled back into the body of water after it has been breathed.

Human beings have been thinking about how to breathe underwater since they started swimming. This long-held desire plays an important part in one of the first great science fiction novels, Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It consists of a reservoir of thick iron plates, in which I store the air under a pressure of fifty atmospheres. This reservoir is fixed on the back by means of braces, like a soldier's knapsack.

More recently, I distinctly remember an episode of the sixties sf series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea in which a scientist decides that the best way to breathe underwater is to give himself gills. Alas, once equipped with gills, and fully acclimated to life in the sea, Dr. Jenkins and his associate lie in wait outside the submarine Seaview, converting every diver who emerges from the ship into mermen.

And, of course, everyone remembers the scene in which intrepid Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jin don pencil-sized breathing masks to explore the swamp lakes of Naboo in The Phantom Menace. This trick is used again in the most recent Star Wars movie.

Source: LiveScience


Lupon Vocational High School Offers PC Hardware Hardware Servicing

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lupon Vocational High School, Lupon, Davao Oriental offers PC HS to students who specialize in ICT enabled curriculum. This school year is its first implementation of the said curriculum. There are 40 students presently enrolled in the course.
Computer Hardware Servicing provides an excellent introduction to the IT industry and in-depth exposure to personal computers, hardware, and operating systems in accordance to local industry requirements and standards. Students learn the functionality of various hardware and software and best practices in maintenance and safety issues. This course prepares students for entry-level as computer technician positions within various environment.This is aligned with TESDA National Certification Level II.


Sand Sculptures of Michael Jackson

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sand sculptures of Michael Jackson, a guitar and his fedora hat, made by Sudarshan Pattnaik are seen at the golden sea beach for the fans to pay floral tribute to the 'King of Pop' at Puri, India, Friday, June 26, 2009. The 50-year-old musical superstar died Thursday, just as he was preparing for what would be a series of 50 concerts starting July 13 at London's famed 02 arena.

Source: Yahoo News


Father's Day

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day is a day honoring fathers, celebrated on the third Sunday of June in 52 of the world's countries and on other days elsewhere. It complements Mother's Day, the celebration honoring mothers.

In the Philippines, Father's Day is not an official holiday, but is widely observed on 3rd Sunday of June. Most Filipinos born in the 60's to 70's and so on, did not celebrate Father's day but due to being under the influence of the United States as seen on television, the Filipinos most likely imitates this tradition and other American holidays. The advent of the internet also helps in promoting this holiday to the Filipinos.


Top 10 Highest-Paid Athletes in the World 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

1. Tiger Woods
Earnings: $100 million, Sport: Golf, Nationality: American, Born: Dec. 30, 1975
As the face of Nike Golf, Woods has helped create a brand with $600 million in annual revenue for Phil Knight's company. No wonder they named a building for Woods on the Nike campus.

2. Oscar De La Hoya
Earnings: $43.0 million, Sport: Boxing, Nationality: American, Born: Feb. 4, 1973
The Golden Boy has been the biggest draw in boxing over his long career. Revenues for his 18 pay-per-view fights totaled $612 million, the most in boxing history.

3. Phil Mickelson
Earnings: $42.2 million, Sport: Golf, Nationality: American, Born: June 16, 1970
Phil the Thrill's income has surged in recent years as sponsors look for an alternative to Tiger in the golf sponsorship game. Callaway, Ford and Bearing Point write Mickelson his biggest checks.

4. Kimi Raikkonen
Earnings: $40 million, Sport: Auto racing, Nationality: Finish, Born: Oct. 17, 1979
Ferrari made Raikkonen the highest-paid driver in motor sports last year when they gave the Finn a 3-year deal. Raikkonen delivered this year when he clinched the Formula One championship earlier this month.

5. Michael Schumacher
Earnings: $36 million, Sport: Auto racing, Nationality: Germany, Born: Jan. 3, 1969
Formula One's greatest driver retired last year after dominating the sport for 15 years and winning seven championships. During his career, Schumacher earned $650 million in salary and endorsements.

6. David Beckham
Earnings: $33 million, Sport: Soccer, Nationality: British, Born: May 2, 1975
Becks invaded America this year greeted by much fanfare, but injuries kept him off the pitch for most of the MLS season. The bulk of Beckham's income is derived from sponsors like Adidas , Motorola and PepsiCo

7. Kobe Bryant
Earnings: $32.9 million, Sport: Basketball, Nationality: American, Born: Aug. 23, 1978
The possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers trading Bryant promises to be one of the biggest stories of the NBA season. Bryant will have a say where he goes, as he possesses the league's only full no-trade clause.

8. Shaquille O'Neal
Earnings: $31.9 million, Sport: Basketball, Nationality: American, Born: March 6, 1972
Injuries caused the Diesel to average career lows in points and rebounds last season. Injured or not, the Miami Heat still owes Shaq $60 million over the next three years.

9. Michael Jordan
Earnings: $31 million, Sport: Basketball, Nationality: American, Born: Feb. 17, 1963
MJ has been out of the NBA as a player for four years now, but his Jordan brand is still a $500 million a year sales business for Nike. Jordan is back in the league as a minority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

10. Ronaldinho
Earnings: $31 million, Sport: Soccer, Nationality: Brazilian, Born: March 21, 1980
The two-time FIFA Player of the Year has lucrative endorsement contracts with EA Sports, Lenovo and PepsiCo, but Nike is his biggest deal. His current contract with the Barcelona club runs through 2010


Dengue/dengue haemorrhagic fever

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease of humans that in recent years has become a major international public health concern. Globally, 2.5 billion people live in areas where dengue viruses can be transmitted. The geographical spread of both the mosquito vectors and the viruses has led to the global resurgence of epidemic dengue fever and emergence of dengue hemorrhagic fever (dengue/DHF) in the past 25 years with the development of hyperendemicity in many urban centers of the tropics.

Transmitted by the main vector, the Aedes aegytpi mosquito, there are four distinct, but closely related, viruses that cause dengue. Recovery from infection by one provides lifelong immunity against that serotype but confers only partial and transient protection against subsequent infection by the other three. There is good evidence that sequential infection increases the risk of more serious disease resulting in DHF.

DHF was first recognized in the 1950s during the dengue epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand. By 1970 nine countries had experienced epidemic DHF and now, the number has increased more than fourfold and continues to rise. Today emerging DHF cases are causing increased dengue epidemics in the Americas, and in Asia, where all four dengue viruses are endemic, DHF has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death among children in several countries.

Currently vector control is the available method for the dengue and DHF prevention and control but research on dengue vaccines for public health use is in process. The global strategy for dengue /DHF prevention and control developed by WHO and the regional strategy formulation in the Americas, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific during the 1990s have facilitated identification of the main priorities: strengthening epidemiological surveillance through the implementation of DengueNet; accelerated training and the adoption of WHO standard clinical management guidelines for DHF; promoting behavioral change at individual, household and community levels to improve prevention and control; and accelerating research on vaccine development, host-pathogen interactions, and development of tools/interventions by including dengue in the disease portfolio of TDR (UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases) and IVR (WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research).
Source: WHO


Top 10 Most Expensive Schools in the Philippines in 2008

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Below is the list of the top 10 most expensive schools in the country in terms of per unit cost.

Schools Per Unit (COST)

1) Ateneo De Manila University P2,517.03
2) University of the Asia and the Pacific P2,400.00
3) De La Salle University P2,045.33
4) St. Scholastica’s College P1,564.00
5) Assumption College P1,533.00
6) Miriam College P1,486.00
7) Mapua Institute of Technology P1,400.00
8) San Beda College P1,188.00
9) Far Eastern University P1,100.00
10) University of Sto. Tomas P1,072.90


How do people become infected with the A(H1N1) virus?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The virus is spread from person-to-person. It is transmitted as easily as the normal seasonal flu and can be passed to other people by exposure to infected droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing that can be inhaled, or that can contaminate hands or surfaces.

To prevent spread, people who are ill should cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, stay home when they are unwell, clean their hands regularly, and keep some distance from healthy people, as much as possible.

There are no known instances of people getting infected by exposure to pigs or other animals.

The place of origin of the virus is unknown.

Source: WHO


Dayo, Filipino-made Animated Film

Friday, June 12, 2009

The story revolves around Bubuy who has to save his grandparents who were abducted and brought to the strange land called Elementalia, which is home to a host of strange creatures.
Quilao said the animated film is expected to become ready by October or November, a year after production started.

Thanks to digital technology, Quilao stressed that the production cost was a fraction of what Hollywood-based animated films would spend.
Dayo, which would roughly cost over $1 million, is the third full-feature animated movie in the country, Quilao said.

"We're not the first. Ibong Adarna and Urduja, which is set to come out in June, came out before ours," Quilao said. But he noted that Dayo is perhaps the first Filipino full-feature animated film that is an all-digital production.

From the storyboard to the editing, Dayo used digital animation technology. Traditional animation production involves artists drawing the action that would be animated on paper. Quilao said the animation of Dayo was all done digitally, with artists doing digital storyboards from the very start.

"But the drawing process is not automated. It is still drawn. Our technology, however, allows you to directly draw on screen. Thus we call it 'tra-digital' animation," he added.

The voice talents or actors behind Dayo are also Filipino. Filipino directors Peque Gallaga and Laurice Guillen are among the local voices featured in the animated film. Gallaga will be the voice behind the character Nano, while Guillen will play a diwata.

Voices of child stars Nash Aguas as Bubuy and Katrina "Hopia" Legaspi as Anna Manananggal are also featured in the animated film, along with comedian Michael V as Narsi, and actor Johnny Delgado as Anna's father.

Dayo is a production of local advertising company Cutting Edge Productions, which has been doing TV commercials among other projects.



Manila's Churches

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Manila is a city of churches. China has her walls, India her pagodas, her carved shrines and gilded images, but the distinguishing feature of Manila is her churches. She alone, of all the cities in the East, is rich in sanctuaries and symbols of the faith of the civilized world.

Most of the churches now standing are modern in construction, but the restoration were in strict keeping with the originals.

The austerity of the Augustinian seems to hang about the somber shadows of the old church, and the sincerity of life of the great order finds fitting expression in the building of genuine stone with no plaster or make-believe in its construction.

The higher culture of the Jesuit is nobly expressed in the most beautiful interior of all the churches of the Philippines, comparing wel with the carved-wood interiors of Belgian churches. The Gothic of old Sto. Domingo are the purest type of that most striking of all forms of churh architecture.

The oldest church in Manila stands at the intersection of General Luna and Calle Real in Instramuros. The strength of the walls is attested by the fact that it has withstood all the storms and earthquakes which have ruined so many fine buildings through centuries.

The church of the Recollect Order at the south end of Calle Cabildo is probably the next in age, the present buildings having been completed early in the seventeenth century.

The church of the Franciscans is located on Calles Solana and San Francisco. Its architecture is of the Tuscan form, so with all churches of the Franciscan Order. Across the court of the Third Order, with two fine towers and a rare altar service.

Three churches are especially worthy of attention. Of these the Cathedral takes precedence and is the best known of all the shrines of the city. Like most of the other large buildings, the present structure is the successor of three or four predecessor which were destroyed by earthquakes.

The bijou of Intramuros is the Jesuit Church on Calle Arzobispo. It is thouroughly modern in design and execution, and its exterior is destitute of comeliness; but the interior leaves nothing to ask in ravishing beauty of decoration.

One of the most impressive and interesting of all the Manila churches is old Sto. Domingo The exterior, with its embattled towers and climbing buttresses, is stately and massive. The view from the Ayuntamiento is striking, and the old Gothic windows of the semicircular apse have strong ecclesiastical flavor.


Why Rizal Wrote Noli Me Tangere?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

[This letter was written in French, which Rizal knew well. Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt, an Austrian ethnologist, was of Rizal's good friends.]

Berlin, March 5, 1887

My dear friendd:
In your letter you chided me for my silence. You are right: forgetfulness is the death of friendship, but I would like to add that in true friendship, forgetfulness has no place, and this fact I will prove right now. For a long time past you have been wishing to read a novel written by me. you have been telling me that I should write something more serious, more lasting than articles that live only in the pages of the newspaper. Very well; in response to your wishes and letters, I am sendingyou by this mail my novel Noli Me Tangere. "Noli Me Tangere", words from the New Testament, means "Touch me not." The book contains subjects which until now nobody has dared talk about; so delicate are they that they cannot bear any touch. In this book I have attempted to do what no other person has been willing to do; I have tried to answer the calumnies that for centuries have been heaped upon us and our country. I have also descibed our social conditions, our mode of living, our belies, our hopes, our longings, our complains, and our sorrows.I have unmasked the hypocrisy which under the cloak of religion has impoverished and brutalized us. I have tried to show the difference between true religion and false religion, which fosters superstition and uses saintly words to draw our silver, to make us believe things which the true Catholic religion would never sanction if it only knew. I have brought to light evils which have been hiding behind external grandeur and brilliance of our government. I have dwelt at lenght on our mistakes, our vices, faults, and our holy resignation to what we think are inescapable miseries. Where I have found virtue, I have given sufficient praise for it; but I have not not wept over our ills. Instead, I have laughed at them. No one would like to read a book full of tears, and besides, laughter is the best means of concealing pain. The incidents which I have related are true and have actually occured; I can readily give proofs. My book contains defects from the literary or aesthetic point of view, but no one can rightly accuse me of not being impartial.


Twin Born 95 Days Apart from Each Other

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Celeste was born vaginally at full term and was doing well, but her brother was 15 weeks premature when he was born Oct. 15 and is at risk for such neurological problems as learning disorders and mild celebral palsy.

You can imagine these kids 10 years later - "He's my twin but he was born in 1994 and I was born in 1995, three months later!"

Their mother, Simone Keys, has a history of highblood pressure, a heart rhythm irregularity and childhood rheumatic fever. All can complicate pregnancy, and Mrs. Key's pregnancy was further complicated by two fetus.

The hospital's doctors said that 95 day period between the births is the longest in which all babies in a multiple pregnancy survived. The previous record - 56 days - was for twins born in 1953 to a woman with a double uterus.


Bilaans of Southern Cotabato

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Although they belong to the same ethnic group as the Manobos and Tagabili they differ from them not only in the legend creature, but also in language and the design of their abaca clothes. The father has the last word in the family and polygamy among the affluent is quite prevalent. A man can have as many wives as he can afford provided he pays the Sungog-Dowry to the father of the girl. A man is not allowed to marry another until the first wife borne him a child. The first wife is the favorite and she allots the work to others. close bloog relationship forbids marriage.


St. Pants

St. Pantaleone was orginally the patron saint of Venice. His name was used as a Christian name and later for a character in Italian comedy - a tall thin silly old man who wore long trousers. From this character, trousers became known as pantaloons, shortened later to just "pants".


9,000-Year-Old Cloth Discovered

Monday, May 4, 2009

Scientists have reported finding what they say is the oldest piece of cloth ever discovered. It is believed to be about 9,000 years old. That is at least 500 years older than any other ancient cloth found. The cloth was found in southern Turkey near the area where the Tigris River rises. The piece of cloth is about one-and-half inches wide and three inches long. It was wrapped around the bottom of a tool made from an animal horn. Calcium from the horn hardened the cloth. That was what helped keep the material in good condition for so many years. Scientists say the material provides valuable information about the development of early civilization. Weaving cloth is one of the most important inventions of early humans. Scientists say 9,000-year-old piece of cloth gives a clearer picture about the period when humans changed. Researchers believe that making cloth is a skill that could develop only when societies became agricultural. The piece of material found at Cayonu was made from part of the flaxplant. Therefore, scientists believe that people in the area knew how to grow flax.


A Day Lost

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spain introduced the Gregorian calendar into our country. However, until the year 1845, the Philippine calendar was one day behind that of European time. The reason for this error was that the early Spanish explorers had failed to consider the International Date Line, which runs from the North Pole to the South Pole, passing through the Pacific Ocean near the Midway Islands. When Magellan and other Spanish explorers crossed the line sailing westward to the Philippines, they lost one day. They should have advanced their calenday by one day when they reached the Philippines which they did not. It was Governor General Narciso Claveria who corrected the Philippine calendar. On August 16, 1844, he issued an order proclaiming Tuesday, December 31, 1844, to be Wednesday, January 1, 1845. In other words, he advanced the calendar by one day, so that it would be in accord with world standard time.


For Your Information...

* Two thirds of the world's population do not normally use chairs. They sit cross-legged in Asia and squat in Africa and South America.

* About a third of our whole life is spent asleep. This seems to be when the body repairs itself. Although the activities in our bodies slow down during sleep, our brain is still active although we do not think consciously. There are two different kinds of sleep and we usually pass from one kind to the other several times in one night. The deepest kind of sleep is non-dreaming.

* Grammar gurus say the following are redundancies: end result, close aproximity, proceed ahead, brief moment and basic fundamentals.

* The human hand is one of the most sensitive regions of the body with the richest supply of nerves.


Similar yet Different

A muscular child who weighs 100 pounds uses more calories than a flabby 100-pound child with little muscle and lots of fat.


Three Wars in One

The SecondWorld War was thus begun by Hitler. The first steps towards war, however, were taken not by Germany but by Japan ang Italy. But war need never occured had Britain, France and the United States not been too blind, or too self-centered, or too apathetic to act before it was too late. From the First World War flowed consequences economic, social, psyhological and political which produced Bolshevism and Facism, and later the World Economic Crisis. In this crisis Nazism took hold and the Japanese Shintoists turned again to expansion, but the crisis likewise turned the United States to extreme isolationism, and sapped the will and the morale of Britain and France. The period from 1919 to 1939 is rightl named the inter-war period.

The war was three wars in one. The first was Hitler's war against democracy, represented by Britain and the United States, with Mussolini as his by no means happy lacky. The second was Hitler's war against Bolshevism, again supported, though even mre nominally, by Mussolino. The third was Japan's war for conquest and against democracy, which in Asia wore the guise of imperialism.


Colorful Festivals in the Philippines

Monday, April 20, 2009

Festivals are a year-round cycle in the Philippines. Every city, town, and barrio has its own fiesta, either in honor of the patron saint or a memorable event in the life of the community, usually celebrated with flourish and fanfare.

Among the most colorful celebrations are the so-called river festivals. A river festival is featured by a garnish fluvial parade along the river of the town or barrio where the celebration is going on. The center of attraction in the parade ia a gaily-decorated pagoda set on big boats. In the pagoda is enshrined the image of the patron saint of the community.

One of the much-awaited river festivals is the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, held every third Sunday of September in Naga City. Throughout the whole week, people from the Bicol provinces and other parts of the country converge at the ancient seat of Nueva Ceceres to celebrate the blessed event in honor of the Bicol region's patron saint. Nine days before the fiesta, the Virgin is transferred from her shrine to the Naga Cathedral where a novena is offered.

Aside from the procession in Naga's main streets, the finale of the week-long festivities is the return trip of the Virgin to her shrine. Placed in a bedecked banca and accompanied by thousands of devotees also riding in colorful bancas, the Virgin is paraded in a fluvial procession along the Naga River.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia used to be a nipa-and-bamboo affair built by Miguel de Cubarrubias, a Spanish priest, in the seventeeth century. The old ermita later on was recontructed. The present church was built more or less in the same place where the first chapel was constructed.

Another big fluvial festival is held on the first and second days of November in Cavite in honor of Our Lady of Solitude of Porta Vaga. It is said that the image of the Virgin was found by some fishermen floating in the sea and surrounded by bright lights. Ever since the picture of the image was brought to Cavite, a nocturnaal fluvial procession from San Roque Church in Cavite City to Cabuco Beach in Caridad along the Manila Bay area has been observed every year on her feast day.

On the shore where the picture of the Virgin was found - it must have come from a galleon wrecked in a storm as it plied the route between Manila and Acapulco - the fisherfolk built makeshift nipa chapel. This was later rebuilt as part of the old Spanish fort that protected the entrance to what was known then as Puerto de Cavite.

Tradition has it that the Virgin has saved fishermen and sailors who pray to her for guidance during stormy nights. There is also a story of several Spanish ships stranded in the shores of the Bicol region. Without food and water for several days, the sailors began to lose hope until one of them who was a devotee of the Blessed Virgin prayed for aid. Joining the devotee in prayer, the other sailors were surprised when a fresh breeze enabled them to proceed to their destination.

The church in Cavite City was destroyed during the war. When the Japanese occupied the city, they placed the image of the Virgin in one corner; but Father Perdo Larena, the parish priest, requested the invaders to allow him to keep the image with him. That was how it was saved from destruction.

In Apalit, Pampanga, the residents hold a river procession on June 29 in honor of Saints Peter and Paul. The colorful event is performed on the Pampanga river as a ritual to bring in more fish to the river.

Similar processions are observed in Bocaue, Bulacan in honor of the feast of the Holy Cross of Wawa; in Taal and Lipa, Batangas, to venerate the miraculous Virgin of Casaysay; in Guagua, Pampanga, in honor of Saint John; in Tacloban, Leyte, honoring an image of the Santo Niño which was believed to have been found by a fisherman in a box out at sea; and in some fishing towns in Rizal and Laguna.


Complexion: woven together

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In the very old days the physiologists dreamed up some funny and fancy fairytales about this world of ours and its make-up. The Greek philosohper Aristotle taught that the earth and ourselves, too, were composed of four substances: First, "fire", which was hot and dry; second "air", which was warm and moist; third the "earth", which he rated cold and water, these were the four "elements," and Aristotle believed that the way they were combined were "woven together" in you gave you your complexion, and the word "complexion" suggest this idea for it is from the Latin com-"together," and plecto, "braid" or "weave". We still use the word in some such fashion when we speak of the political complexion ("quality," "character") of the legislature. Since the varying combinations of these elements were supposed to affect the color, hue, and appearance of the skin, the word finally took on it s modern meaning.


Filipino Women in the Spanish Period

Friday, April 17, 2009

The position of our women in society, already high during the pre-Spanish period, was further elevated under Spanish rule. Unlike in many Oriental countries and in some Christian countries in Europe, they were never considered as mere chattels and were never used as beasts of burden laboring the fields and on the roads. They were respected by men. If still unmarried, they were strictly chaperoned when they attended dances and other social parties. They had no freedom to study in the universities, to engage in the professions (law, medicine, engineering, etc.), and to mix freely with men. They were, however, permitted by custom and law to engage in business.

The young women were kept in seclusion in home or in school. They were given education in the colegios (colleges) which were exclusive schools for girls and were operated by the nuns. At the colegios they were trained to observe the rigid rules of good mothers. Those young women who had no intention of marrying or who were unfortunate in their romances unusually entered the nunnery and consecrated their lives in the service of God.


Learning Activities for Your Kids this Summer

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just because school's out doesn't mean your kids' minds are on vacation until June. Try one of these for a little brain teasing.

Fossil hunt: take kids to a nearby lake, brook or wooded area and have them search for fossils. You may be surprised by what they uncover.

Nature walk/Scavenger hunt: supply kids with a list of things to hunt for: maple leaves, dogwood bark, a gray rock, a pinecone. Then let them loose for an allotted period of time. Have a special award waiting for the first one to bring back all the items on the list.

Stargazing: borrow a book on constellations from the library and teach kids how to study the summer skies. Make your own colorful maps. Rent or borrow a telescope.

Rainy-Day Fun

When the outdoors are off-limit, it can be a perfect time for kids to:

Try their hand at baking: with supervision, kids can easily knead bread dough, make drop cookies and decorate cupcakes.

Make a sculpture: help kids make their own play-dough, then let them fo to work. Ingredients: 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup salt, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon cream of tartar, food coloring. Directions: Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until it forms a ball (about five minutes). Cool slightly and knead on countertop until smooth. Store, wrapped tightly in plastic, in refrigerator. The dough (unlike the commercial kind) hardens on standing - great for making permanent treasures.

Build housees out of playing cards: make it a contest to see who can build the highest one without knocking it over.

Decorate T-shirts: paint colorful designs on plain T-shirts or sneakers with fabric paint or markers.

Make hand puppets: out of paper bags, paper plates, fabric scraps, buttons and other odds and ends.

Create jewelry: by stringing macaroni O-shaped cereal and buttons on cotton twine or shoelaces.

Design doll clothes: from leftover fabric scraps.

Make puzzles: from old photographs or magazine pictures. Glue the art to sturdy cardboard and cut it into jigsaw- shaped pieces.

Create stationery: Provide blank paper and evelopes, stickers, press-on letters, ribbons, rubber stamps.

Make cards: for Father's day or Grandma's birthday. Supply construction paper, glitter, markers or crayons.

Visit a museum: Pick one that'll suit your child's interests. Science and nature museums are good bets.

Source: Camp Mom Woman's Day


Computerized Bike

SAN FRANCISCO engineer Keith Chilcote invented a bike with a computer-controlled automatic transmission. Superficially, Chilcote's 11-speed bicycle doesn't look all that different from most other bikes - except that it has a small computer display on the handlebars. The computer itself, weighing a few ounces, hides beneath the seat. On the hub of the rear wheel is a collection of 64 tiny magnets that are arranged in a ring as big round as a 45-rpm record.

As the wheel turns, the magnets turn with it, passing over a sensor; the rate at which they pass lets the computer determine how fast the wheel is spinning. With so many magnets zipping past, the computer can calculate speed about 120 times a second, allowing the tiniest change to be detected. Comparing this rate with the gear the rider is using, it computes how many revolutions the pedals are making a minute. Human legs pedal most efficiently at 75-rpm; when the computer notices the speed going above or below that, it shifts gears, it slides all the teeth out a little or in a little, forming a new circle with a new circumference. Each tooth can stop at 11 different points along its track.

There are times, however, when a rider wants to pedal faster than 75-rpm - in the final leg of a race, for example. To keep the computer from interfering at such critical moments, Chilcote is developing a pressure sensor for the rear axle. The sensor monitors the force applied to the wear wheel with each pedal push. If the computer detects that the feet are spinning faster than 75-rpm but that pedaling force is nevertheless increasing, it's smart enough to know that the rider probably wants it that way, and it switches to a sprint program. This program allows pedal speed to reach a dervishlike 82 rpm before finally shifting gears.


Earth Day 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Earth Day falls on Wednesday, April 22, 2009: It's a great time to learn about our planet and how to take care of it!

Learning About Acid Rain

Before beginning this experiment, give children background information about acid rain. Explain that acid rain is just rain that has become polluted. The pollution comes from cars, power stations, homes, and factories that burn oil and coal. Sulfur and nitrogen compounds from the oil and coal turn to acids when they mix with air and water vapors. Acid rain affects trees, lakes, and crops. It also corrodes buildings, monuments, and statues contain calcium carbonate. This experiment uses antacid tablets or eggshells - both of which contain calcium carbonate - to represent a building or statue, and vinegar to represent sulfuric and nitric acids.

Equipment: cup, antacid tablet or eggshell, tablespoon measure, and vinegar

Procedure: Place the antacid tablet or eggshell inside the cup. Add one tablespoon of vinegar.

Observations: Have kids describe what happened to the tablet or eggshell when vinegar to the tablet or eggshell when vinegar was poured over it. (The tablet or shell will break down and disintegrate.)

Discussion: What would happen if the materials were left in the sun for a day or two? In what way is vinegar like acid rain? What affects do you think acid rain has on marble statues? Do people contribute to the effects of acid rain? Follow up by asking kids to think of ways to reduce acid rain.

Variation: Repeat the exercise using chalk, chicken bones, or small pieces of marble instead of the antacid tablet or eggshell. How are the reactions similar? How are they different?


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