Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quote of the Day

We make ourselves miserable by first closing ourselves off from reality and then collecting this and that in an attempt to make ourselves happy by possessing happiness. But happiness is not something I have, it is something I myself want to be. Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over my body.
[Roger Corless The Vision of Buddhism: The Space Under the Tree]

Thought for the Day

Hate is a negative emotion. It's just jealousy allowed to run wild.

National Geographic: 7 billion people

Already three years out of date, and more sobering every day.

Frightening Statistics

- South Africa is the rape capital of the world. According to official Interpol statistics, there are an estimated
1.7 MILLION rapes a year in a country with a population of 51 million. That means an average of one rape every three minutes, one rape for every 31 people.
- 65%, or two out of three South African females will be raped or molested in their lives.
- According to an official government study on rape, a South African girl is more likely to be raped than she is to finish high school.
- Doctors Without Borders has estimated that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa.
- In an anonymous 2009 survey by South Africa's Medical Research Council (MRC), one in four men admitted to raping a woman; 46 percent of them said they had raped repeatedly.
- Nearly three-quarters - 73 percent - of the admitted perpetrators in the anonymous 2009 MRC study on South African rape said they carried out their first assault before the age of 20.
- South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV in the world, an estimated 5.6 million people.
- For those South Africans ages 15 to 24 who are infected with HIV, three-quarters are women.
- South African lesbians have been subjected to "corrective" rape in an attempt to change their sexual orientation.
- Another MRC study found that a woman is killed by her intimate partner every six hours in South Africa, the highest rate that has ever been reported in research anywhere in the world.
- The number one cause of death amongst pregnant woman, worldwide, is homicide at the hands of the father of the baby.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Great Fires of History

The loss of life and property in the willful destruction by fire and sword of the principal cities of ancient history--Nineveh, Babylon, Persepolis, Carthage, Palmyra, and many others--is largely a matter of conjecture. The following is a memorandum of the chief conflagrations of the current era:

In 64, A. D., during the reign of Nero, a terrible fire raged in Rome for eight days, destroying ten of the fourteen wards. The loss of life and destruction of property is not known.

In 70 A. D., Jerusalem was taken by the Romans and a large part of it given to the torch, entailing an enormous destruction of life and property.

In 1106 Venice, then a city of immense opulence, was almost, wholly consumed by a fire, originating in accident or incendiarism.

In 1212 the greater part of London was burned.

In 1606 what is known as the Great Fire of London raged in the city from September 2 to 6, consuming 13,200 houses, with St. Paul's Church, 86 parish churches, 6 chapels, the Guild Hall, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, 52 companies halls, many hospitals, libraries and other public edifices. The total destruction of property was estimated at $53,652,500. Six lives were lost, and 436 acres burnt over.

In 1679 a fire in Boston burned all the warehouses, eighty dwellings, and vessels in the dock-yards; loss estimated at $1,000,000.

In 1700 a large part of Edinburgh was burned; loss unknown. In 1728 Copenhagen was nearly destroyed; 1,650 houses burned.

In 1736 a fire in St. Petersburg burned 2,000 houses.

In 1729 a fire in Constantinople destroyed 12,000 houses, and 7,000 people perished. The same city suffered a conflagration in 1745, lasting five days; and in 1750 a series of three appalling fires: one in January, consuming 10,000 houses; another in April destroying property to the value of $5,000,000, according to one historian, and according to another, $15,000,000; and in the latter part of the year another, sweeping fully 10,000 houses more out of existence. It seemed as if Constantinople was doomed to utter annihilation.

In 1751 a fire in Stockholm destroyed 1,000 houses and another fire in the same city in 1759 burned 250 houses with a loss of $2,420,000.

In 1752 a fire in Moscow swept away 18,000 houses, involving an immense loss.

In 1758 Christiania suffered a loss of $1,250,000 by conflagration. In 1760 the Portsmouth (England) dock yards were burned, with a loss of $2,000,000.

In 1764 a fire in Konigsburg, Prussia, consumed the public buildings, with a loss of $3,000,000; and in 1769 the city was almost totally destroyed.

In 1763 a fire in Smyrna destroyed 2,600 houses, with a loss of $1,000,000; in 1772 a fire in the same city carried off 3,000 dwellings and 3,000 to 4,000 shops, entailing a loss of $20,000,000; and in 1796 there were 4,000 shops, mosques, magazines, etc., burned.

In 1776, six days after the British seized the city, a fire swept off all the west side of New York city, from Broadway to the river.

In 1771 a fire in Constantinople burned 2,500 houses; another in 1778 burned 2,000 houses; in 1782 there were 600 houses burned in February, 7,000 in June, and on August 12 during a conflagration that lasted three days, 10,000 houses, 50 mosques, and 100 corn-mills, with a loss of 100 lives. Two years later a fire, on March 13, destroyed two-thirds of Pera, the loveliest suburb of Constantinople, and on August 5 a fire in the main city, lasting twenty-six hours, burned 10,000 houses. In this same fire-scourged city, in 1791, between March and July, there were 32,000 houses burned, and about as many more in 1795; and in 1799 Pera was again swept with fire, with a loss of 13,000 houses, including many buildings of great magnificence.

In 1784 a fire and explosion in the dock yards, Brest, caused a loss of $5,000,000.

But the greatest destruction of life and property by conflagration, of which the world has anything like accurate records, must be looked for within the current century. Of these the following is a partial list of instances in which the loss of property amounted to $3,000,000 and upward:

   Dates--Cities: Property destroyed.
   1802--Liverpool: $5,000,000
   1803--Bombay: 3,000,600
   1805--St. Thomas: 30,000,000
   1808--Spanish Town: 7,500,000
   1812--Moscow, burned five days; 30,800 houses destroyed: 150,000,000
   1816--Constantinople, 12,000 dwellings, 3,000 shops: ----
   1820--Savannah: 4,000,000
   1822--Canton nearly destroyed: ----
   1828--Havana, 350 houses: ----
   1835--New York ("Great Fire"): 15,000,000
   1837--St. Johns, N. B.: 5,000,000
   1838--Charleston, 1,158 buildings: 3,000,000
   1841--Smyrna, 12,000 houses: ----
   1842--Hamburg, 4,219 buildings, 100 lives lost: 35,000,000
   1845--New York, 35 persons killed: 7,500,000
   1845--Pittsburgh, 1,100 buildings: 10,000,000
   1845--Quebec, May 28, 1,650 dwellings: 3,750,000
   1845--Quebec, June 28, 1,300 dwellings: ----
   1846--St. Johns, Newfoundland: 5,000,000
   1848--Constantinople, 2,500 buildings: 15,000,000
   1848--Albany, N. Y., 600 houses: 3,000,000
   1849--St. Louis: 3,000,000
   1851--St. Louis, 2,500 buildings: 11,000,000
   1851--St. Louis, 500 buildings: 3,000,000
   1851--San Francisco, May 4 and 5, many lives lost: 10,000,000
   1851--San Francisco, June: 3,000,000
   1852--Montreal, 1,200 buildings: 5,000,000
   1861--Mendoza destroyed by earthquake and fire, 10,000 lives lost: ----
   1862--St. Petersburg: 5,000,000
   1802--Troy, N. Y., nearly destroyed: ----
   1862--Valparaiso almost destroyed: ----
   1864--Novgorod, immense destruction of property: ----
   1865--Constantinople,  2,800 buildings burned: ----
   1806--Yokohama, nearly destroyed: ----
   1865--Carlstadt, Sweden, all consumed but Bishop's residence, hospital
         and jail; 10 lives lost: ----
   1866--Portland, Me., half the city: 11,000,000
   1866--Quebec, 2,500 dwellings, 17 churches: ----
   1870--Constantinople, Pera, suburb: 26,000,000
   1871--Chicago--250 lives lost, 17,430 buildings burned, on 2,124 acres:
   1871--Paris, fired by the Commune: 160,000,000
   1872--Boston: 75,000.000
   1873--Yeddo, 10,000 houses: ----
   1877--Pittsburgh, caused by riot: 3,260,000
   1877--St. Johns, N. B., 1,650 dwellings, 18 lives lost: 12,500,000

From the above it appears that the five greatest fires on record, reckoned by destruction of property, are:

      Chicago fire, of Oct. 8 and 9, 1871: $192,000,000
      Paris fires, of May, 1871: 160,000,000
      Moscow fire, of Sept. 14-19, 1812: 150,000,000
      Boston fire, Nov. 9-10, 1872: 75,000.000
      London fire, Sept. 2-6, 1666: 53,652,500
      Hamburg fire, May 5-7, 1842: 35,000,000

Taking into account, with the fires of Paris and Chicago, the great Wisconsin and Michigan forest fires of 1871, in which it is estimated that 1,000 human beings perished and property to the amount of over $3,000,000 was consumed, it is plain that in the annals of conflagrations that year stands forth in gloomy pre-eminence.

[Source: Burroughs' Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889]

Friday, July 4, 2014

Blunders and Absurdities In Religious Art

In looking over some collections of old pictures, it is surprising what extraordinary anachronisms, blunders, and absurdities are often discoverable.

- In the gallery of the convent of Jesuits at Lisbon, there is a picture representing Adam in paradise, dressed in blue breeches with silver buckles, and Eve with a striped petticoat. In the distance appears a procession of Capuchin monks bearing the cross.

- In a country church in Holland there is a painting representing the sacrifice of Isaac, in which the painter has depicted Abraham with a blunderbus in his hand, ready to shoot his son. A similar edifice in Spain has a picture of the same incident, in which the patriarch is armed with a pistol.

- At Windsor there is a painting by Antonio Verrio, in which the artist has introduced the portraits of himself, Sir Godfrey Kneller, and May, the surveyor of the works of that period, all in long periwigs, as spectators of Christ healing the sick.

- A painter of Toledo, having to represent the three wise men of the East coming to worship on the nativity of Christ, depicted three Arabian or Indian kings, two of them white and one black, and all of them in the posture of kneeling. The position of the legs of each figure not being very distinct, he inadvertently painted three black feet for the negro king, and three also between the two white kings; and he did not discover his error until the picture was hung up in the cathedral.

- In another picture of the Adoration of the Magi, which was in the Houghton Hall collection, the painter, Brughel, had introduced a multitude of little figures, finished off with true Dutch exactitude, but one was accoutred in boots and spurs, and another was handing in, as a present, a little model of a Dutch ship.

- The same collection contained a painting of the stoning of Stephen, the martyr, by Le Soeur, in which the saint was attired in the habit of a Roman Catholic priest at high mass.

- A picture by Rubens, in the Luxembourg, represents the Virgin Mary in council, with two cardinals and the god Mercury assisting in her deliberations.

[Source: Burroughs' Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889. Project Gutenberg edition]

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A list of 40 harmful effects of Christianity

1. The discouragement of rational, critical thought.
2. Vilification of homosexuality, resulting in discrimination, parents disowning their children, murder, and suicide.
3. Women treated like second-class citizens based on religious teachings.
4. Children growing up to hate and fear science and scientists, because science disproves their parents' religion - leading to appalling scientific illiteracy.
5. Tens of thousands tortured and killed as witches (a practice which still continues today).
6. People aren't making the most of this life because of their belief in an afterlife.
7. People dying because they believe their faith makes them immune to snake venom, or other lethal aspects of reality.
8. People dying - and letting their children die - because their religion forbids accepting medical help.
9. People choked, starved, poisoned, or beaten to death during exorcisms.
10. Genital mutilation of babies endorsed by religious texts.
11. Psychological and physiological conditions blamed on demons, preventing believers from seeking medical care for themselves and their children.
12. People disowning family members for leaving their religion.
13. Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.
14. "Abstinence-only" sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies - often leading to ill-fated "emergency" marriages.
15. Women having septic abortions-or being forced to have unwanted children they resent-because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.
16. Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs and, if possible, thought.
17. The demonization of other religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans ("They're devil-worshipers!")
18. Children spending the period of their lives when the brain is most receptive to learning new information reading, rereading, and even memorizing religious texts.
19. People who believe the world is about to end neglect their education, are not financially responsible, and in extreme cases take part in mass suicides.
20. Long-term environmental issues ignored because of beliefs that the rapture/apocalypse or something will happen soon, so they don't matter.
21. Wives told they will be tortured forever if they leave their abusive husbands (and vice versa).
22. Holy wars - followers of different faiths (or even the same faith) killing each other in the name of their (benevolent, loving and merciful) gods.
23. The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.
24. Slavery condoned by religious texts.
25. Children traumatized by vivid stories of eternal burning and torture to ensure that they'll be too frightened to even question religion.
26. Terminal patients in constant agony who would end their lives if they didn't believe it would result in eternal torture.
27. School boards having to spend time and money and resources on the fight to have evolution taught in the schools.
28. Persecution of "heretics"/scientists, like Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake) and Galileo Galilei.
29. Blue laws forcing other businesses to stay closed or limit sales, while churches can generate more revenue.
30. Mayors, senators, and presidents voted into office not because they're right for the job, but because of their religious beliefs.
31. Abuse of power, authority and trust by religious leaders (for financial gain or sexual abuse of followers and even children).
32. People accepting visual and auditory hallucinations unquestioningly as divine, sometimes with fatal results.
33. Discrimination against atheists, such as laws stating they may not hold public office or testify in court, or in half a dozen countries around the world, laws requiring their execution
34. Missionaries destroying/converting smaller, "heathen" religions and cultures.
35. Hardship compounded by the guilt required to reconcile the idea of a fair god with reality ("why is God punishing me? What have I done wrong? Don't I have enough faith?").
36. Human achievements-from skillful surgery to to emergency landings-attributed to gods instead of to the people actually responsible.
37. Mother Teresa, prolonging the agony of terminal patients and denying them pain relief, so she can offer their suffering as a gift to her god.
38. Tens of billions annually in the US alone spent to build, maintain, and staff houses of worship.
39. Grief and horror caused by the belief that dead friends and family members are tortured as punishment for disbelief.
40. Natural disasters and other tragedies used to claim God is displeased and present demands to avoid similar events (it's like terrorism, but without having to plan or do anything).

By "copycatgod" on Reddit.