Sunday, May 28, 2006
It's heartening to know that at least a couple of humanitarian agencies have already responded, according to this article from Spero News.
Friday, May 26, 2006
My occasional visit to Cute Overload yielded a discovery of this cute photo of a cute puppy (archived in the "pups" category). The little canine looks very familiar, and I remember posting pictures of adorable four-legged creatures not long ago, one of which featured a pup with an injured leg. This is the same pup! Good to see the leg has healed...
Then there's Manolo's Shoe Blog -- a pitstop like no other. Check it out for yourself. On my last visit, I clicked on a link and found this witty piece about flip-flops. Wonderful writing -- laugh-out-loud in some parts, too. Before recommending the link to a friend, I asked him what he thought of the ubiquitous footwear; "flip-flops? what's that?" was the reply. "Frankly, they're tsinelas (slippers)," I said. "Even with the catchy name, the sequins, cutie-cutie colors and other stylized versions, they're still basically tsinelas, like the ones Spartan used to make," I said.
If you've never been a whiz at crafts, like me you can simply marvel at the creativity and imagination of those who are into this kind of art. I've yet to try my hand at sponge art, knitting and other such pursuits; for now, though, I get a nice kind of high from making the rounds of art blogs and sites such as Loobylu (by an illustrator and toy maker from Australia), and My little mochi (blogger blogs from Hawaii). By the way, Loobylu recently started another interesting blog called Kiddley: Everyday ideas for you and your kids.
I've also started checking out Design spotter more often, another great source of inspiration for me.
That's it for today, and probably for the rest of the weekend.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
First, there will be fewer and fewer kids in Russia.
Then, if the trend doesn't experience a reversal, the Russian population will eventually go down to zero.
So serious is the problem that among those that's tops on President Vladimir Putin's agenda is increasing childcare benefits as a way to encourage women to have more children.
Low birth rate is Russia's biggest problem says President Putin
By Gudrun Schultz
MOSCOW, Russia, May 10, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) –Plunging birth rates are the central factor in Russia’s “critical” population decline, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an annual address to the nation, reported the BBC today.
Russia’s falling birth rate is leading to a population crisis in the country, with an annual decline of 700,000 people. Increasing mortality rates and migration are also contributing factors, said President Putin.
Full article at LifeSite
Plus, Mothering Russia, a short commentary which offers deeper insight on the situation.
** Photo courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald
compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving
and tolerant with the weak and wrong.
Sometime in your life you will have been all of these."
No matter which side of the fence you're on, those are good words to keep in mind.
When one takes to heart that he is in this world only because he was given the chance to be born, and that the day will come when he will again be dependent on others as age takes its toll, any desire to kill will eventually be extinguished.
Catholic nurses under pressure to assist abortions
In India, Catholic nurses are under pressure to assist in abortions, according to Siji K. Mathew
Colombian court legalizes abortion -- beachhead for activists in Latin America
Culmination of years of effort by int'l population control groups
Canadian March for Life 2006 -- 5,700 take part
Goal set for 10,000 next year
-- related story on the Canadian March for Life Youth Conference
Oregon trying to figure out high rate of elderly suicide -- Psst "It's your assisted suicide law"
UK euthanasia bill defeated in House of Lords
Sunday, May 21, 2006
A helping hand creates a pancake genius
"How about scrambled eggs?" I said. "Or polenta?"
"I told you," I said. "I am not a pancakemaker. Your mom is. Grampie is. But I can't make pancakes. Seriously."
"Have you ever even tried?" he asked.
"I did try. Well, once. But it was such a big mess, no one could eat it."
Liam blinked at me. "Once? You tried just once?"
I shrugged. "It was a disaster, Liam. I'm telling you."
I was staying with Liam while his parents were off on a little trip, and we were negotiating food issues. For example, the polenta. Liam had been aghast that I'd served him yellow polenta instead of white. He wanted only Parmesan cheese on his cheese sandwich, not cheddar. He liked his cold cereal without milk, thank you very much.
Now I opened the refrigerator. "How about a smoothie?"
"Once is just practice," Liam said in his most reasonable voice. "Trying something once barely counts. You'll never know until you do it at least one more time."
Well, it was impossible to argue with that bit of wisdom straight from the mouth of a 7-year-old. What was I going to say: "Persistence is nothing in this world, Kid. Give up early and give up often"?
Full story at The Christian Science Monitor
To direct attention to Leonardo Da Vinci's other masterpieces, I'm giving Mona Lisa a rest for now. The painting above is titled Lady with an Ermine (c. 1483). The one on the right I first noticed when I saw the movie Ever After (come to think of it, that film somewhat combines fact and fiction, with Da Vinci himself woven into the Cinderella-esque plot). A variation of this painting was done by the celluloid Da Vinci, a portrait of the film's brave heroine, Danielle. Am not too sure of the art work's title but I'd welcome the info from anyone who might know.
Excerpt from the article:
Interest in Jesus is usually a good thing. But what would seem like a golden opportunity sometimes feels like a recurring nightmare. A non-Christian neighbor, co-worker or relative reads The Da Vinci Code and becomes an instant expert on Jesus. Suddenly the Christian is the one being evangelized. "Did you know that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene? Are you aware that the church covered up the true history?"
The Christian tries to refute each outlandish claim only to find the unbelieving friend strangely resistant. Afire with conspiratorial zeal and buoyed by the thrill of discovery, the Da Vinci Code fan is in no mood to listen. The frustrated Christian is dismissed as a hapless dupe or, worse yet, part of the Church's "ongoing cover-up."
Read Engaging Da Vinci Code Disciples at Boundless webzine
Saturday, May 20, 2006
They were young, and come nighttime most of them didn't want to take a rest. They would've stayed up all night (on all three nights) chitchatting with newly made friends, had the facilitators of the Youth Camp for Life not herded them to their respective rooms and insisted they get some shut-eye.
Oh, the young -- brimming with energy! If channeled properly, they can do such great things!
More about the Camp, along with some photos, at Pro-Life Philippines
Garduce makes it triple treat for RP
1st Everest conqueror Hillary hails 3 Filipinos
DVD sniffer dogs battling piracy in Britain
Food for children, jobs for mothers
In Haiti, Sister Rosemary Fry fills empty bellies and nourishes women's dreams of a better life.
Mexican President Fox reverses decision to decriminalize marijuana, hard drug possession
Japan to boost pop culture diplomacy
Okay, that's 5 headlines and not 8! But I wanted to post this entry already and I still couldn't find 3 other interesting enough stories from around the world to add to the list...
Thursday, May 18, 2006
It was funny to think back to such days, but those memories remind me of one thing that is beyond doubt -- that boys and girls are different. And I'm grateful for those differences.
Here are two articles that illustrate and explore those unique tendencies (that some of those natural tendencies may be shared by both sexes sometimes, or that some undesirable traits can and ought to be uprooted, are not really emphasized here).
Post-Mother’s Day Musings 5/17/2006
By Janice Shaw Crouse
Love, sex, marriage and motherhood ...
A woman’s touch, her smile or the light in her eyes can make an Alan-Alda type feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger; or make the Bruce Willis types realize there are better things in life than brawling and bragging.
The phenomenon is summarized with the humorous definition of “woman” –– “a creature who is either making a fool out of a man, or making a man out of a fool.” We’ve all seen it happen: that process that turns a testosterone-driven “boy” into a civilized, mature “man.”
Full article at Beverly LaHaye Institute
* * * * *
The trouble with how boys talk
Mt. Lebanon's list seen as product of 'just say anything' culture
Sunday, April 30, 2006By Mackenzie Carpenter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It may be just boys being boys. Then again, it may be something newer, rawer, more unsettling.
The crudely sexual "Top 25" list of girls at Mt. Lebanon High School certainly reflects the way teenage boys have talked about girls in locker rooms for generations. The list isn't much different from the commonplace "slam books" that mock students for their looks or behavior.
But numerous experts on teens, gender issues and sexuality believe the Mt. Lebanon list is a sign of a more recent phenomenon: a "just say anything" culture that normalizes the trash talk of Howard Stern and "South Park," crossed with the language of ESPN and sports talk radio.
Full article at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Here's a piece related to the post above, titled The Bridge: Chivalry & Tradition--A Black Perspective
** Illustration: The Muscleman (1939) by Norman Rockwell
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Little did we know that the story touched hearts and moved souls from foreign shores that offers to help the family poured in.
Two days after the story was published, another came out:
World now reaches out to unwanted boy
First posted 00:39am (Mla time) May 13, 2006
By Christian V. Esguerra
Editor's Note: Published on Page A1 of the May 13, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE STORY OF THE BABY BOY unwanted by his mother, published by the Inquirer on Thursday, has touched the hearts of Filipinos here and abroad.
Sandin Lee Ruiz would not have been born had Salvacion "Sally" Ruiz, a former housemaid, not offered to adopt him two months before he was due on October 2004.
His biological mother, then 18, had wanted to abort the pregnancy.
By the afternoon of Thursday, the Inquirer had received e-mails and phone calls from readers here and as far away as California, Alaska and Hawaii in the United States, Ontario and Toronto in Canada, and Auckland in New Zealand, offering help for Sandin Lee's future.
Lilia Sevillano of New Zealand said she was "deeply moved" by the child's plight and was reminded of the time when her own family adopted a baby boy, also during a financially difficult period.
Full story at Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Top Ten Da Vinci Code Distortions
By Robert Knight
Dan Brown's murder mystery novel presents a problem for Christians. A 2005 Canadian survey showed that one-third of those who have read the book believe that it is factual.1 The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 42 million copies. The film version starring Tom Hanks is opening on May 19 in the United States.
Serious Christians will see through the many lies and historical fictions that Brown plants throughout the book, but millions will believe that this profoundly dishonest book contains at least some "truth" about Jesus and the church.
The truth is that Brown is peddling one of the oldest known and easily discredited heresies - Gnosticism - and that his claims are refuted by the rich history of Christian writing, beginning with the Gospels themselves and extending to early church figures, such as Ignatius (105 A.D.) and Tertullian (200 A.D.). Brown's claims about alleged clues planted in Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings are also easily refuted by art historians.
If the litany of historic "facts" in The Da Vinci Code were regarded as fictitious, we could ignore them. But Brown himself in several interviews, including on NBC's The Today Show,2 has claimed that the book is factual, and many people without Biblical moorings are being fooled into thinking that they have been given "secret knowledge" suppressed by a corrupt church.
By including so many falsehoods, including the underlying premise, Brown breaks the first rule of historical fiction, according to Paul Maier, the Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University. Maier notes that in a historical novel, readers expect fictional characters in the foreground, but "the reader expects the background to be credible and accurate…. It isn't there."3
For example, World War II novels do not have the Allies losing and the Nazis winning. And Civil War novels do not date the Battle of Gettysburg in 1812. Brown's historical errors make these look like trifles. Here are just a few.
1) CLAIM: Jesus was merely a man, not God. Brown says that the "pagan" Roman emperor Constantine created the "myth" that Jesus was resurrected after being crucified only to help consolidate Constantine's power in his empire, and that the church previously regarded Jesus as a mere mortal (231-234).
ANSWER: Constantine, who converted to Christianity and ended Roman persecution of Christians, convened the Council of Nicea in 325, but only to sort out some differences among church leaders, all of whom believed that Jesus was divine. Constantine is also considered a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church. All early church historians referred routinely to Christ's divinity, death and resurrection, including Ignatius (105 A.D.), Clement (150 A.D.), Justin Martyr (160 A.D.), Irenaeus (180 A.D.), and Tertullian (200 A.D.).4 Even secular writers such as Pliny the Younger, corresponding with the Roman Emperor Trajan, described Christians worshipping Jesus as God Incarnate.5
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul, who wrote during the 50s A.D., provided the first Christian creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5:
"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve."
2) CLAIM: The Council of Nicea defined Jesus as God in "a close vote at that." Furthermore, Constantine chose all the books for inclusion in the Bible as we know it (231).
ANSWER: The Council of Nicea, which took no votes, was convened by Constantine with Christian leaders across the empire mainly to reiterate support for the extant four Gospels and the Epistles. The Council dispensed with the theories of Arius (father of Arianism), who claimed that Jesus, while divine, was a created being who then co-created the universe with God the Father. The main question was whether Jesus was begotten or made. Jesus' divinity, death and resurrection were not in question. Only two of 318 clerics at the Council did not sign the Nicene Creed.
"The Nicene Creed put in precise philosophical and theological language what had been expressed in more general terms for years," comments Dr. Darrell L. Bock, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. "It also affirmed which texts taught such views. What is more, the four Gospels highlighted at this council had been solidly established and recognized in these communities for more than a century before Nicea."6
3) CLAIM: The four New Testament Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) comprise a false account that excludes numerous ancient writings that tell a different and more truthful story.
ANSWER: Brown bases his challenge of Biblical authority on a group of 52 books collectively called the Gnostic Gospels, discovered in 1945 in Nag Hammadi, Egypt. All were written more than a century after the Biblical Gospels were written. None of these books has any tie to witnesses in Christ's time, unlike the Gospels themselves, which are eyewitness accounts. "There are no written Gospels from the same time frame (the first century A.D.) that are even in the picture," says Gary Habermas, professor of New Testament Studies at Liberty University. "In the Gnostic canon, we don't have 'gospels,' we don't have stories of Jesus that are even competing."7
4) CLAIM: The Da Vinci Code is based on fact.
Here's the actual beginning of the book:
The Priory of Scion - a European secret society founded in 1099 - is a real organization. In 1975 Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous Members of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo Da Vinci."8
ANSWER: Pierre Plantard, a French anti-Semite fraud, created the "Priory of Sion" in 1956, not 1099, and the documents were found to be counterfeits. There is no evidence that any of these famous men he cites were involved in any secret society. Sir Isaac Newton, in fact, was a devout Christian, not a member of a goddess-based cult as Brown spins it. Plantard, who did prison time for fraud, confessed to the document hoax in a French court in 1993. He also claimed that he was the rightful king of France because he was a direct descendant of Mary Magdalene. He died in disgrace in 2000.9
Full article at Culture and Family Institute
Monday, May 15, 2006
99% of people with down syndrome are aborted. My little sister Kelsey wasn't. And she does have down syndrome. Sure it is a scary thing to think that these people need you so much. And yes it is a huge responsibility. I think that it is worth it to know someone like this. I know every one has felt a little imperfect at some point. It is not our place to judge who is good enough to live.
Friday, May 12, 2006
First posted 03:58am (Mla time) May 11, 2006
By Christian V. Esguerra
Editor's Note: Published on Page A1 of the May 11, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
FOR THREE people surviving on P50 a day in a squatter community in Manila, another mouth to feed ought to be the last thing on their minds.
But Salvacion “Sally” Ruiz, 58, and her two grown children did not hesitate to welcome Sandin Lee, a bouncing baby boy abandoned by his teenaged mother in the family’s 15-square-meter shanty in Vitas, Tondo.Sally, a widow of eight years, was prepared to adopt the child even before he was born.
Full story at the Philippine Daily Inquirer
One of those that caught my fancy was this comment that followed the post on Modern Manners:
The elevators in the building I work at interest me. There are 71 stories, so they are used a lot. And invariably, the men wait for the women to enter or exit the elevators before they enter or exit. There is an expectation for that behavior. The young men picked it up from the older men who display [chivalry] more naturally. Once one guy is [chivalrous], the others around have to follow suit or risk being seen as a jerks. The same thing happens if a woman walks into a room and one guy stands up to give his seat--the other guys feel compelled to offer as well. But it takes that first guy to act in a way that, apparently, is appealing to both sexes. I say appealing because if there wasn't something about that behavior that was respected, nobody would want to emulate it.
A couple of paragraphs down was this:
So what is the definition and purpose of [chivalry]? If [chivalry] is about protecting what is uniquely feminine and understanding that a woman chooses her man, and that he has to earn her, then it is desperately needed, and is more than common courtesy. It's a recognition that there is something worth cherishing in a woman.
There are other noteworthy points but I'll leave it there. Come and check out Modern Manners for yourself.
Monday, May 08, 2006
I came across this charming photo, and decided to look for a poem written by a child to accompany such a cute image. Found one at The Poetry Zone.
Always There for You by Orit Addous (aged 11)
Tissues are always there for you
There after you use the loo.
There when you shed a tear
For joy, sadness or fear.
There when you have a cold
And feel abandoned, helpless and old.
Just face it - the best friend for you
Is a soft, caring tissue.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
What's Your Diagnosis?
“I’m surprised at you,” he said “ I always thought you were very open-minded.”
It took me a minute to realize what I was being told. A perfectly intellectually stimulating and intriguing conversation between myself and another man, over coffee, suddenly turned into a graphic, detailed account of his sexual experiences and preferences. I didn't know this man very well, so when asked for my input, I politely replied that I had nothing to add to the development of this dialogue and asked to change the topic. Which is when the diagnosis of the broadness of my mind came up.
I was also told that I was not "comfortable with sexuality."
For my refusal to hang my personal and emotional lingerie on the public clothesline for all to view and analyze, and to view that of others, I was labeled closed-minded and uncomfortable.
Why is it, that when we exploit ourselves, and ideas that are by nature sensitive and personal, we are considered 'open-minded' and not just cheap? And when we respect the intimate nature of the topic and preserve our personal integrity, we are considered closed-minded?
Posted by MeravLevy on May 01, 2006 at 09:30 AM
Now, maybe THIS guy was deliberately trying to provoke, but perhaps instead of "making a point" by asking him questions about his finances or chastising him for "throwing his sexuality in others' faces", a simple statement like "I don't believe in discussing those kinds of things until I'm contemplating marriage with someone" or a variant. Plenty of guys who have a lot of sexual experience are still hoping to marry a woman who -- as hypocritical as this is on the man's part -- hasn't given in to men like himself in the past. I've seen it a million times, even among, say, urban atheists. Not that THIS guy is necessarily a prize, but a guy who's being too frank about sex is not necessarily irredeemable. There are guys out there who find today's women too sexually aggressive, but are resigned to this and have adapted. He may simply be starting things up the way he's used to, and if gently told that you have higher standards, he may in fact be DELIGHTED to finally meet such a woman!
Now, maybe THIS guy was deliberately trying to provoke, but perhaps instead of "making a point" by asking him questions about his finances or chastising him for "throwing his sexuality in others' faces", a simple statement like "I don't believe in discussing those kinds of things until I'm contemplating marriage with someone" or a variant.
Plenty of guys who have a lot of sexual experience are still hoping to marry a woman who -- as hypocritical as this is on the man's part -- hasn't given in to men like himself in the past. I've seen it a million times, even among, say, urban atheists.
Not that THIS guy is necessarily a prize, but a guy who's being too frank about sex is not necessarily irredeemable. There are guys out there who find today's women too sexually aggressive, but are resigned to this and have adapted. He may simply be starting things up the way he's used to, and if gently told that you have higher standards, he may in fact be DELIGHTED to finally meet such a woman!
Oh, here's another thought-provoking piece that's not what you'd normally find in mainstream media which I just had to add. It's from the same blog but this time I'm posting a comment to another post. It's by Alexandra Foley:
Paris [Hilton] is known for seductively posing for any camera pointed in her direction and her style is, well, minimalist. But I have a new admiration of Paris for being honest in telling reporters: "I’m sexual in pictures and the way I dress and my whole image. But at home I’m really not like that. All of my ex-boyfriends… would be like, ‘What’s the matter with you? You’re so not sexual."
If you're shocked I don't think you should be. I’d think by now we’d have figured out that the more we make ourselves a sexual object to the whole world the less sexuality we reserve for the one we love. It is no surprise to me that someone who exudes sex to everyone in her path would be all used up by the time she gets alone with her boyfriend. This is the great blessing and irony of modesty. We aren’t modest so as to quell any sexiness but instead we reserve our sexuality for the right time and person.
What we are talking about is the channeling, and hence augmenting, of our sexuality to the right place and the right time. For me, as a married woman, the right time is at home when I am with my husband. But when I was a teenager it meant putting off all that sexiness business for a later date. The more we flaunt our sexuality to the whole world, the less we reserve for the proper person.
It is particularly sad to me when I hear so many people complain about a lack of sexual passion in their marriages. You may think that dressing sexy for the world will make you feel sexy when you get home to your bedroom, but it isn’t the case. When you are courting the whole world with your immodesty, you tend not to be very satisfied by the attention of just one person.
Go here for more musings on the topic
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The talking robotic doll tells its owner how much it loves her and welcomes her home when she walks back into the house.
The majority of buyers are retired women who live alone.
"Many elderly people buy these dolls, they think the dolls are actual grandsons and granddaughters," says Yuko Hirakawa from Tomy.
"You can speak to the doll and she will tell you she loves you so much. If you hold the doll, the weight is the same weight as a small infant."
Read "Japan's toys for the elderly" at BBC News
I have a dream that some day, every child will be conceived from an act of true love between parents who love each other, are married to each other, and eagerly welcome him. I have a dream that every child will spend his childhood with those parents who brought him into being. Parents see the value of the small society they have created between themselves and their children, and do everything humanly possible to sustain that society.
I have a dream that children can be children, take joy in their childhood innocence, and not become sexualized before puberty. All of society recognizes parents as the primary educators of their children, instead of regarding parents as impediments to formal sex education. Parents take seriously their responsibility to provide their children with accurate and complete information about sexuality, including the social and moral significance of sex, rather than acquiesce in whatever the school provides.
Read "I have a (pro-life) dream" at Townhall.com