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Thursday, November 20th, 2008
9:51 am - Things to Say While Slugging Pushy Opus Dei Members
This is what I want to say/do to the cadre of Opus Dei zombies who are currently trying to convert my (Protestant) boyfriend.

"Convert this!" (throw a left jab to the nose)

"Offer it up to God!" (right hook to the temple)

"Hurts more than a cilice, huh?" (roundhouse kick)

(kick to groin) "Oops. Oh well, you numeraries are all celibate anyway..."

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Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
8:59 pm - I Hate You, Student Life Office
They have us Orientation Leaders running around for 14 HOURS tomorrow. With no breaks. 

And I still have to clean my apartment.

WTF, Student Life?!?!?


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12:17 am - Freshman Orientation Propaganda
   Well, I spent the entire day listening to spiels about "leadership," "communication," and how very, very special my university is.

   I even got a very special handout with communication tips such as "Pay attention to Nonverbal Signals" and "Use Good Eye Contact."  Gee, thanks for the tips, Student Life. I never knew what "nonverbal communication" was before!

   The freshmen aren't even here yet, and I'm already tired.  :-P  Frankly, I almost want to greet them all with a loud, cheery: "Quick! Before they see you! Transfer while you still can!"

In other - better - news, my Jedi Knight costume is almost fully assembled. I just need a robe/cloak, some more food capsules (a.k.a. pen caps to paint with metallic-colored nail polish), and a lightsaber clip that is not a paperclip. (Unless I want to be "Ghetto Jedi," which actually sounds pretty interesting now that I think about it...)

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Thursday, September 22nd, 2005
3:12 pm

Houston Residents Struggle to Get Inland

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

Hundreds of thousands of people across the Houston metropolitan area struggled to make their way inland in a vast, bumper-to-bumper exodus Thursday as Hurricane Rita closed in on the nation's fourth-largest city with winds howling at 150 mph.

Drivers ran out of gas in 14-hour traffic jams or looked in vain for a place to stay as hotels hundreds of miles in from the coast filled up. Others got tired of waiting in traffic and turned around and went home.

An estimated 1.8 million residents or more in Texas and Louisiana were under orders to evacuate to avoid a deadly repeat of Katrina.

The storm weakened Thursday morning from a top-of-the-scale Category 5 hurricane to a Category 4 as it swirled across the Gulf of Mexico, and forecasters said it could lose more steam by the time it comes ashore late Friday or early Saturday. But it could still be a dangerous storm - one aimed straight at a section of coastline with the nation's biggest concentration of oil refineries.

"Whatever happens is going to happen and we are going to have a monumental task ahead of us once the storm passes," Galveston City Manager Steve LeBlanc said. "Galveston is going to suffer, and we are going to need to get it back in order as soon as possible."

In New Orleans, meanwhile, Rita's outer bands brought the first measurable rain to the city since Katrina, raising fears that the patched-up levees could give way and cause a new round of flooding.

Highways leading inland out of Houston, a metropolitan area of 4 million people, were clogged up to 100 miles north of the city. Service stations reported running out of gasoline, and police officers carried gas to motorists who ran out. Texas authorities also asked the Pentagon for help in getting gasoline to drivers stuck in traffic, and sent gasoline tankers to take up positions along evacuation routes to help.

To speed the evacuation, Gov. Rick Perry halted all southbound traffic into Houston along Interstate 45 and took the unprecedented step of opening all eight lanes to northbound traffic out of the city for 125 miles. I-45 is the primary evacuation route north from Houston and nearby Galveston.

Trazanna Moreno tried to leave Houston for the 225-mile trip to Dallas on U.S. 90 but turned back after getting stuck in traffic.

"We ended up going six miles in two hours and 45 minutes," said Moreno, whose neighborhood is not expected to flood. "It could be that if we ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere that we'd be in a worse position in a car dealing with hurricane-force winds than we would in our house."

With traffic at a dead halt, fathers and sons got out of their cars and played catch on freeway medians. Others stood next to their cars, videotaping the scene, or walked between vehicles, chatting with people along the way. Tow trucks tried to wend their way along the shoulders, pulling stalled cars out of the way.

Hotels filled up all the way to the Oklahoma and Arkansas line.

John Decker, 47, decided to board up his home and hunker down because he could not find a hotel room.

"I've been calling since yesterday morning all the way up to about 1 this morning. No vacancies anywhere," he said. "I checked all the way from here to Del Rio to Eagle Pass. I called as far as Lufkin, San Marcos, San Angelo. The only place I didn't call was El Paso. By the time you reach El Paso, it's almost time to turn back."

At 2 p.m. EDT, Rita was centered about 435 miles southeast of Galveston and was moving at near 9 mph. It winds were near 150 mph, down from 175 mph earlier in the day. Forecasters predicted it would come ashore somewhere along a 400-mile stretch of the Texas and Louisiana coast that includes the Houston-Galveston area near the midpoint.

Forecasters warned of the possibility of a storm surge of 15 to 20 feet, battering waves, and rain of up to 15 inches along the Texas and western Louisiana coast. Three to five inches of rain were possible over New Orleans, where engineers raced to fortify the city's Katrina-damaged levees and pumps.

The U.S. mainland has not been hit by two Category 4 storms in the same year since 1915. Katrina came ashore Aug. 29 as a Category 4.

An estimated 1.3 million people in Galveston, the Corpus Christi area, Beaumont, low-lying parts of Houston, and mostly emptied-out New Orleans were under mandatory evacuation orders. And about 500,000 in southwestern Louisiana were told to get out as well.

Oil refineries and chemical plants in and around Houston began shutting down, and hundreds of workers were evacuated from offshore oil rigs.

The Texas governor recalled Texas National Guardsmen and other emergency personnel and equipment from Louisiana to get ready for Rita.

Brian Williamson set out from his home in Angleton, along the Texas coast, with his wife, two children and other relatives. "If I didn't have my little kids, I would go home and ride the storm out," he said after pulling into a McDonald's. "But I have to protect my family."

Environmentalists warned that the stretch of coast threatened by Rita is home to 87 chemical plants, refineries and petroleum storage installations, raising the possibility that the storm could cause a major oil spill or toxic release. Southeastern Texas is also home to more than a dozen active Superfund sites.

NASA evacuated Johnson Space Center and transferred control of the international space station to the Russians. Storm surge projections put most of the NASA space center, situated about 20 miles southeast of downtown Houston, underwater in the event of a hurricane above Category 2.

The last major hurricane to strike the Houston area was Category-3 Alicia in 1983. It flooded downtown Houston, spawned 22 tornadoes and left 21 people dead.

Although Houston is 60 miles inland, it is a low-lying, flat, sprawling city whose vast stretches of concrete cover clay soil that does not easily soak up water. The city is beribboned with seven bayous that overflow their banks even in a strong thunderstorm. Those bayous feed into the Ship Channel, Clear Lake and Galveston Bay.

Scientists have warned that the storm surge from a hurricane could cause the bayous' currents to reverse, pushing water back into the city and swamping mostly poor, Hispanic neighborhoods on the southeast side of Houston.

Along the Gulf Coast, federal, state and local officials heeded the bitter lessons of Katrina: Hundreds of buses were dispatched to evacuate the poor. Hospital and nursing home patients were cleared out. And truckloads of water, ice and ready-made meals, and rescue and medical teams were put on standby.

Texas authorities also planned to airlift at least 9,000 people from Beaumont and Houston, including nursing home residents and the homeless.

"Now is not a time for warnings. Now is a time for action," Houston Mayor Bill White said.

Galveston was a virtual ghost town by late Wednesday. The coastal city of 58,000 - situated on an island 8 feet above sea level - was nearly wiped off the map in 1900 when an unnamed hurricane killed between 6,000 and 12,000 in what is still the nation's deadliest natural disaster.

LeBlanc, the city manager, said the storm surge from Rita could reach 50 feet. Galveston is protected by a nearly 11-mile-long granite seawall 17 feet tall.

"Not a good picture for us," LeBlanc said.

Anthony Jones, who lives on the west end of Galveston, arrived at an Austin evacuation center in the middle of the night with his wife.

"We're in the area without a seawall and understand what's coming," he said. His wife, Lila, added: "At this point we dont know whether we'll come home to splinters or what."

Joe Todaro from Santa Fe, Texas, near Galveston, said: "I've lived there for 75 years and this is the first hurricane that I've run from."

In Corpus Christi, about 180 miles down the coast from Galveston, buses were sent to evacuate hundreds of people with no other transportation. But the mandatory evacuation order was later dropped in favor of a voluntary one after it appeared that the city would escape a direct hit from Rita.

Houston is home to the biggest concentration of Katrina refugees from Louisiana. Rita forced many of them to pick up and leave again.

Among them was Tommy Green, 38. He was evacuated from his New Orleans-area home during Katrina, found temporary housing in Galveston and recently even received a job offer. On Thursday, he boarded a yellow school bus to safety.

"I'm trying to hold up," he said. "I'm tired of all this. It's tough."

Meanwhile, the death toll from Katrina passed the 1,000 mark in five Gulf Coast states, reaching 1,069 as of Thursday. The body count in Louisiana alone was put at 832, with most of the corpses found in the receding floodwaters of New Orleans.

Crude oil prices rose again on fears that Rita would destroy key oil installations in Texas and the gulf or otherwise disrupt production. Texas, the heart of U.S. crude production, accounts for 25 percent of the nation's total oil output.

Rita is the 17th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, making this the fourth-busiest season since record-keeping started in 1851. The record is 21 tropical storms in 1933. The hurricane season is not over until Nov. 30.


Associated Press writers Deborah Hastings and Juan A. Lozano in Houston, Lynn Brezosky in Corpus Christi and Pam Easton in Galveston contributed to this report.

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Friday, September 9th, 2005
10:23 pm - Words of wisdom from the friendly Jedi undergradawan...
You know you've been watching too much Star Wars when you're writing an essay on the Iliad and type "Anakin" instead of "Achilleus."

current mood: amused

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Monday, February 14th, 2005
3:09 pm - On the Martyrdom of Valentine...
I hate Valentine's Day. But I still think Saint Valentine is cool.

St. Valentine

Patron of Love, Young People, Happy Marriages

Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commended him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to he memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes. His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, the Roman Missal of Thomasius, in the calendar of F. Fronto and that of Allatius, in Bede, Usuard, Ado, Notker and all other martyrologies on this day. To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.

The Origin of St. Valentine

The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in a The Nuremberg Chronicle, a great illustrated book printed in 1493. [Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Sai nt Valentine.] Alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269].

Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."

St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

current mood: discontent

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Wednesday, February 9th, 2005
11:03 am - G. K. Chesterton rocks my literary world...
G. K. Chesterton was one of the best writers of the twentieth century.

If you don’t believe me, read some of his quotes:

“My forthcoming work in five volumes, `The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature,' is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful whether I shall live to finish it.”

(Yes, Mary and Nat—GKC’s the guy who wrote the “Cheese” essay we read sophomore year. Everyone else: no, the essay’s not what it seems. It’s actually about British imperialism and life in an industrialized society. Anyone who’s curious can read the entire essay hereCollapse ))

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"Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before. It is the great peril of our society that all its mechanism may grow more fixed while its spirit grows more fickle. A man's minor actions and arrangements ought to be free, flexible, creative; the things that should be unchangeable are his principles, his ideals. But with us the reverse is true; our views change constantly; but our lunch does not change."

"This man's spiritual power has been precisely this, that he has distinguished between custom and creed. He has broken the conventions, but he has kept the commandments."

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."

"Materialism says the universe is mindless; and faith says it is ruled by the highest mind. Neither will be satisfied with the new progressive creed, which declares hopefully that the universe is half-witted."

"Oh, how I love Humanity,
With love so pure and pringlish,
And how I hate the horrid French,
Who never will be English!"

"To put it shortly, the evil I am trying to warn you of is not excessive democracy, it is not excessive ugliness, it is not excessive anarchy. It might be stated thus: It is standardisation by a low standard."

"I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid." - ILN 6-3-22

"We have had no good comic operas of late, because the real world has been more comic than any possible opera." - The Quotable Chesterton

"A detective story generally describes six living men discussing how it is that a man is dead. A modern philosophic story generally describes six dead men discussing how any man can possibly be alive." - A Miscellany of Men

"A pickpocket is obviously a champion of private enterprise. But it would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that a pickpocket is a champion of private property. The point about Capitalism and Commercialism, as conducted of late, is that they have really preached the extension of business rather than the preservation of belongings; and have at best tried to disguise the pickpocket with some of the virtues of the pirate. The point about Communism is that it only reforms the pickpocket by forbidding pockets."

"How quickly revolutions grow old; and, worse still, respectable." - The Listener. 3-6-35

"He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative." - Varied Types

"The whole curse of the last century has been what is called the Swing of the Pendulum; that is, the idea that Man must go alternately from one extreme to the other. It is a shameful and even shocking fancy; it is the denial of the whole dignity of the mankind. When Man is alive he stands still. It is only when he is dead that he swings." - "The New House" Alarms and Discursions

"All science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker secret of why he is alive." - The Thing. CW. III 191

"Because a girl should have long hair, she should have clean hair; because she should have clean hair, she should not have an unclean home; because she should not have an unclean home, she should have a free and leisured mother; because she should have a free mother, she should not have an usurious landlord; because there should not be a usurious landlord, there should be a redistribution of property; because there should be a redistribution of property, there shall be a revolution." - What's Wrong with the World

current mood: amused

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Tuesday, February 8th, 2005
8:47 am - Cloning
Dolly Scientist Gets Human Cloning License

By THOMAS WAGNER, Associated Press Writer

LONDON - The British government Tuesday gave the creator of Dolly the Sheep a license to clone human embryos for medical research into the cause of motor neuron disease.

Ian Wilmut, who led the team that created Dolly at Scotland's Roslin Institute in 1996, and motor neuron expert Christopher Shaw of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, plan to clone embyros to study how nerve cells go awry to cause the disease. The experiments do not involve creating cloned babies.

It is the second such license approved since Britain became the first country to legalize research cloning in 2001. The first was granted in August to a team that hopes to use cloning to create insulin-producing cells that could be transplanted into diabetics.

Dr. Brian Dickie, director of research at the London-based Motor Neuron Disease Association, said the latest decision by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority means "we are a step closer to medical research that has the potential to revolutionize the future treatment of neuron disease," an incurable muscle-wasting condition that afflicts about 350,000 people and kills some 100,000 each year.

While the latest project would not use the stem cells to correct the disease, the study of the cells is expected to help scientists develop future treatments, according to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, which regulates such research and approved the license.

Stem cells are the master cells of the body. They appear when embryos are just a few days old and go on to develop into every type of cell and tissue in the body. Scientists hope to be able to extract the stem cells from embryos when they are in their blank state and direct them to form any desired cell type to treat a variety of diseases, ranging from Parkinson's to diabetes.

Getting the cells from an embryo that is cloned from a sick patient could allow scientists to track how diseases develop and provide genetically matched cell transplants that do not cause the immune systems to reject the transplant.

Such work, called therapeutic cloning because it does not result in a baby, is opposed by abortion foes and other biological conservatives because researchers must destroy human embryos to harvest the cells.

Cloning opponents decried the license Tuesday, saying the technique is dangerous, undesirable and unnecessary.

"What a sad and extraordinary volte face (turnaround) for the pioneer of animal cloning," said the London-based Comment on Reproductive Ethics. "Wilmut has always been the loudest voice in recent years warning of the dangers of mammalian cloning. And we remember how in the years following the birth of Dolly the Sheep, he assured the world he would never go near human cloning."

Wilmut has repeatedly condemned the idea of human cloning to create babies, but not so-called therapeutic cloning.

"We recognize that motor neuron disease is a serious congenital condition," said Angela McNab, chief of Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority. "Following careful review of the medical, scientific, legal and ethical aspects of this application, we felt it was appropriate to grant the Roslin Institute a one-year license for this research into the disease."

Wilmut and Shaw plan to clone cells from patients with the incurable muscle-wasting disease, derive blank-slate stem cells from the cloned embryo, make them develop into nerve cells, and compare their development to nerve cells derived from healthy embryos.

The technique, called cell nuclear replacement, is the same as that used to create Dolly.

The mechanism behind motor neuron disease is poorly understood because the nerves are inaccessible in the brain and central nervous system and cannot be removed from patients.

"This is potentially a big step forward for (motor neuron disease) research," Shaw said. "We have spent 20 years looking for genes that cause (motor neuron disease) and to date we have come up with just one gene. We believe that the use of cell nuclear replacement will greatly advance our understanding of why motor neurons degenerate in this disease, without having to hunt down the gene defect."

Genetics expert Peter Braude of King's College, London, who is not involved with the work, said that studying how nerves go wrong in motor neuron disease and how it can be cured is particularly difficult and that cloning is the only way to produce the cells necessary to answer such questions.


AP Medical Writer Emma Ross in Rome contributed to this report.

current mood: nervous

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Monday, February 7th, 2005
12:11 pm - Community Service, Amazon.com, and 4-year-olds driving
(Fragments. Don't feel like using good grammar.)

Back from community service. Learned how to input new people into the Q&A donation database. Also found out that Fr. Whatsisname is back from Korea, so there should be a Latin mass at the White Rose next Monday at 11:30. Hopefully. (Yay!)

Classes I missed while at community service:

- Latin (missed the adjective test! Eugepae!)

- PreCal (a test would have been scheduled here, but wasn't because the 90% of the class is seniors)

Ordered some books from Amazon yesterday (when I should have been doing English journal responses...) I bought a G.K. Chesterton novel, two of the requisite historical books (Edward Peters' Inquisition and William Walsh's Characters of the Inquisition), Fulton Sheen's autobiography, and Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Harry Potter - the Latin translation).

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This is fun:


SAND LAKE, Mich. - A boy drove his mother's car to a video store in the middle of the night, police said — and he's all of 4 years old.

Even though he was unable to reach the accelerator, the boy managed to put the car in gear and the idling engine provided enough power to take him slowly to the store, a quarter-mile from his home, about 1:30 a.m. Friday, Police Chief Doug Heugel said. Finding the store closed, the youngster began a slow trip home.

Weaving and with its headlights off, the car got the attention of police Sgt. Jay Osga, who initially thought he was following a driverless car that had taken off after being left running at a gas pump.

The car turned into the boy's apartment complex and struck two parked cars, then backed up and struck Osga's police car.

That's when Osga discovered the boy inside.

"He knew how to go from forward to reverse," Osga said Monday. "The mother said she taught him how to drive by letting him sit on her lap and steer."

No charges will be filed against the boy or his mother, Heugel said.

"He's 4 years old. His mom didn't even know he was up," Heugel told The Grand Rapids Press. "I don't think he even realizes what he did."

current mood: bouncy

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Monday, January 31st, 2005
2:31 pm - IGNORE
EDIT: Never mind. It worked after all.

current mood: awake

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Tuesday, January 18th, 2005
12:10 pm - Drunken Torturer…A Note on the Etymology Behind the Name “Torquemada”
I just discovered something really creepy concerning Tomas de Torquemada, noted inquisitor-general of the Spanish Inquisition. (Basically, he was an extremely paranoid old friar who believed legions of Jewish and Muslim spies were treacherously undermining the Catholic faith in Spain. This paranoia led to hundreds of people getting tied to burning stakes.) Well, as it turns out, his surname is related to the Latin verb “torqueo (torquere, torsi, tortum)”. Cassell’s Latin-English dictionary lists the definitions of “torqueo” as: to twist, wind, curl, wrench; to distort; to hurl violently, whirl; to rack, torture, torment, plague, try, test.

Now there’s irony.

Being an educated Catholic clergyman and all, Torquy might have even been aware of the Latin meaning of his name. I wonder if he would have turned out any different had his surname been Dominguez or something.

I investigated to see if the “-mada” part of his name meant anything in Latin, but all I could find was the verb “madeo, madere,” which means “to be drunk” (among other things).


On a side note, there is a conquistador with the name “de la Vaca,” or: “of the cow.”

Spain is a fun country. :)

current mood: amused

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Friday, January 14th, 2005
9:24 am - NOVENAS
Okay, a novena is a type of Catholic prayer where you pray for a specific intention for nine days in a row. (It’s not as hard as it sounds — the prayers are pretty short, depending on the type of novena). So I’ve been trying this whole novena thing out and I have to say I like it. It’s easy and sometimes the ritual even helps me fall asleep (I pray them at night). And for someone with my random pseudo-insomnia, this is a pretty big thing.

So why I am posting this? Two main reasons: one, a condition for the St. Jude novena is the promise of publication (and the Internet is good enough for this purpose); and two, I’ve almost lost the prayer sheet about five times (loose papers tend to fly away from me) and I want to record this in a place that can’t fall out of my notebook. So, without further ado:

(as transcribed from the prayer card)

O Holy St. Jude, Apostle, martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, near kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke your special patronage in time of need, to you I have recourse from the depths of my heart and humbly beg to who God has given such great power to come to my assistance. Help me in my present and urgent petition. In return I promise to make your name known and cause you to be invoked. Say three Our Fathers, three Hail Marys and Glorias for nine consecutive days. Publication must be promised. St. Jude, pray for us all who invoke your aid. Amen. (This novena has never been known to fail).

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FYI: St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes.

current mood: artistic

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Tuesday, November 16th, 2004
12:19 pm - Funny Quotes and Stuff About the Russian Communist Party

Russia's Communist party takes surprising turn toward democracy

Sun Nov 14, 3:48 PM ET


MOSCOW (CP) - Russia's once-mighty Communist party, battling internal strife and facing electoral extinction, has embraced a surprising late-life mission: to champion democracy against the encroachments of an increasingly authoritarian Kremlin.

"We are ready to work with all who support multi-party politics, human rights and civic freedoms," says Vladimir Kashin, deputy chair of the party and member of its dwindling parliamentary caucus.

"The Communist party is the only organized force in Russia still able to stand up for people's power."

President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites), who enjoys vast constitutional powers and an obedient two-thirds majority in Russia's 450-seat State Duma, has introduced sweeping measures in recent months to eliminate elections for regional governors, crack down on independent civil society groups and ensure that only big Moscow-based parties can run for parliament.

A new law put before the Duma last week will condemn many small regional parties to oblivion by requiring any party to have a minimum of 50,000 members in more than half of Russia's 89 provinces before it can participate in elections.

Only the Communist party, with its disciplined bloc of 50 Duma deputies, has voted consistently against these measures.

Over the summer, the Communists joined with liberal groups to mount street demonstrations against Putin's latest round of reforms, which cancelled health and housing benefits for war veterans.

"The Communists aren't an ideal instrument for defending democracy, but they're all we have right now," says Vladimir Pribylovsky, president of Panorama, an independent think-tank. "And I must admit that they're getting better at it."

The party founded by Vladimir Lenin in a smoke-filled London meeting hall a century ago has enjoyed far greater historical success and a much longer lifespan than many would have predicted.

For seven decades after the Russian Revolution of 1917 it ruled the world's largest country and built a totally state-run economy and ideologically ordered society.

Although the system ultimately failed, the Communists at their peak commanded a mighty superpower that won converts worldwide and challenged the capitalist West for global supremacy.

Following the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Russia's Communists defied rumours of their demise, and party leader Gennady Zyuganov even came within a hair's breadth of defeating Boris Yeltsin in the hard-fought 1996 presidential election.

But the party's most difficult trick may be the current effort to reinvent itself as freedom's saviour.

"The mere idea that a communist party can act as guarantor of democracy strikes me as absurd," says Svyatoslav Kaspe, director of the independent Russian Public Policy Centre.

"Just because a dinosaur is desperately fighting for its life doesn't mean it has good intentions, or any future either."

Putin has undermined the Communist party's traditional appeal by stealing its thunder. The Kremlin has imposed tough law and order, prosecuted wealthy "oligarchs," reinstated old Soviet symbols and is trying to forge an economic union with ex-Soviet neighbours Belarus and Ukraine.

In parliamentary elections last December, the party's support was slashed in half to around 12 per cent, while the pro-Kremlin United Russia Party seized a massive Duma majority.

The Communists, shaken by internal splits and the defections of several top leaders this year, has shrunk to fewer than 300,000 members, while United Russia's ranks have swelled to almost a million.

A new law passed by the Duma last month cancelled the Yeltsin-era ban on civil servants belonging to political parties. The resulting stampede of top officials rushing to join the Kremlin's United Russia threatens to create a bureaucratic party-state juggernaut that looks a lot like the Big Red Machine that ruled the Soviet Union for seven decades.

"Putin is suffocating democracy, and creating a state led by the

security services," says Ilya Ponomaryov, leader of a Communist-sponsored youth coalition.

"Say what you like, but it's only the Communists today who stand for the restoration of democracy in Russia."


The first six quotes are from real PSAT essays and read on Jay Leno's show...

“The greatest invention of the Twentieth Century was the wheel.”

“The prostitution in the OJ case wasn’t very good…”

“The Great Depression was caused by the invention of credit cards.”

“Michael Jackson, a global superstar, once had privacy. But along with his skin pigment, it vanished.”

“In the beginning, according to the Bible, the world was free of evil, pain, and suffering. Then, a young woman named Pandora opened a mysterious box.”

“Monica Lewinsky created her own problems in life. Her sexual scandal with President Clinton could’ve been avoided if she wasn’t such a slut.”

“Any movie with a zombie monkey has to be okay.”
--Mr. B, talking about PotC

“This is Jesus, our big fuzzy, cuddly friend.”
--Mr. Kohler

current mood: tired

(4 comments | comment on this)

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004
12:42 pm - And it happens...
First Students Expelled Over French Law

By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writer

PARIS - Two Muslim girls who refused to remove their head scarves in class have been expelled from school, and two more risked the same fate Wednesday as officials began punishing those who defy a new French law banning conspicuous religious symbols in public schools.

Two girls, ages 12 and 13, were expelled from a school in the eastern city of Mulhouse on Tuesday night — the first expulsions under the new law, the Education Ministry said.

Two 17-year-old girls risk the same fate when their schools convene disciplinary hearings Wednesday, said Gilles-Jean Klein, spokesman for the Academy of Strasbourg, which oversees schools in the area.

Six other disciplinary hearings are to be held this week in public schools around France, the Education Ministry said.

At the start of the week, there were 72 cases of students risking expulsion for refusing to remove conspicuous religious signs or apparel. Most are Muslim girls wearing Islamic head scarves, but Sikh boys wearing turbans are also among them.

France has proceeded cautiously with the new law, especially since two French journalists were kidnapped in Iraq (news - web sites), purportedly by the Islamic Army of Iraq. The group has demanded that the new law be lifted before it would release Christian Chesnot and Christian Malbrunot, who disappeared Aug. 20.

However, this week schools began convening hearings to decide difficult cases before the All Saints Day vacation period, which ends after the Nov. 1 Roman Catholic holiday.

Those expelled have the right to appeal their cases to the head of the academy. If they are under 16 — the legal age for leaving school — the expelled students must continue their education at a private school, by correspondence or another means, Klein said.

Some 600 cases of defiance of the law were counted at the start of the school year in September, but most have been resolved through dialogue — as called for in the law, Education Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday.

The law, passed in March but first applied this fall, bans conspicuous religious signs and apparel, including Muslim head scarves, Jewish skull caps and large Christian crosses.

The small Sikh community in France, estimated at 6,000 people, has learned that turbans also can pose a problem. Three Sikhs at a school in Bobigny, outside Paris, have been kept out of class since September.

In the first court case concerning the law, Sikh leaders asked an administrative court to force the Louise-Michel school to convene a disciplinary council or allow the boys in class. A ruling is expected Friday.

The law is intended to uphold France's constitutionally guaranteed principle of secularism, considered undermined by a growing number of Muslim girls wearing head scarves in public school classrooms.

Authorities have also said they view the law as a way to fight rising Muslim fundamentalism in France and to protect the rights of women, widely viewed here as submissive to men if they wear head scarves.

current mood: worried

(comment on this)

9:39 am - Fun Articles from Pravda...
This is hilarious:

Soviet Army fought UFOs

Soviet military encountered many UFOs, maybe for this reason in the end of the 60s a secret laboratory of researching "flying objects" was created in the USSR.
UFO researchers often blame the military of hiding the cases of alien rockets and disseminating false information of UFO. Army officers are not interested in the disputes about alien civilizations, they are interested in knowing what impact UFO can impose to military equipment and personnel.
1947. Antiaircraft guns of Transcaucasian Military District fired on the flying cigar-shaped object which came from the side of the Turkish border. The object"s flying altitude was below 4,000 meters, and the guns were capable of reaching a target at the altitudes up to 12,000 meters, but that time the fire made no harm to the "cigar". Then the cigar increased its speed and flew away over the mountains.

This incident could cause much trouble, because earlier the border guards and military ships monitoring service missed this target. Then the military was unable to trace this flying object over the country"s territory. The Border District command ignored and ordered the monitors not to disclose the information that the object reached a speed up to 2000 kilometers per hour.
Similar case took place in 1984 in Turkestan Military District. Near the city of Astrakhan air-defense system marked the ball-shaped object flying at the altitude of 2000 meters along the Caspian seashore in the direction of the state border. The object did not respond to the inquiry made by the military on the radio. Two fighter-planes took off, but they were unable to bring the object down. After being under fire, the object descended up to 100 meters, and at this low altitude the planes were unable to continue firing. Despite being fired at, the object was having a regular speed. The ball passed over several military units, which allowed to make its photo. Near the city of Krasnoyarsk the military tried to bring the object down with the helicopter. However, it quickly increased its altitude so that the helicopter could not reach it. After firing all its supply of shells, the helicopter landed, and the ball abruptly flew in the direction of the sea and disappeared from the radar screens.

In the same area the similar scenario case happened later. The object having the shape of cylinder demonstrated its invulnerability. Such a demonstration could be the purpose of its flight, because this UFO was having a speed of 100 kilometers per hour.
One can blame the military of inhuman actions on bringing down flying objects. But what can they do if the object was moving in the direction of the state border and they had the order to destroy such objects?
In 1985 near the town of Krasnovodsk the radar station under the command of Captain Valuev registered the disc-shaped object in size of 1,000 meters! The object was immovable, and some time later a small disc in size of 5 meters flew out of it and then landed on Krasnovodskaya spit. Patrol boats rushed to that area, but when they reached the distance of 100 meters from the object, it took off and flew one kilometer away. This happened five times. Then the object flew up at a huge speed, reached the bigger disc, which finally flew away spaceward.
In the end of the 60s a secret laboratory of researching "flying objects" was created in the USSR. Among the laboratory"s tasks was researching anti-gravitation, but the research results were made secret. Its testing area was near the town of Kapustin Yar on purpose. In the end of June of 1971 the military could see over this area a black cigar-shaped flying object floating under the clouds at the altitude of 800 meters. The object was 25 meters long and had about 3 meters in diameter. It had neither stabilizers nor wings nor engines and was moving at the speed of 150 kilometers per hour producing no noise.
In 1978 ЦНДС Soviet Ministry of Defense accepted Network MO program. Special military unit in the town of Mytishi was in charge of collecting data, and newly established "space troops" were designated to fight possible threat from space.

In the beginning of August 1987 five soldiers of Leningrad Military District went to the North of Karelia region on a special mission. They were required to guard the object of unknown origin. It was found on the territory of another military unit near the town of Vyborg. The item was 14 meters long, 4 meters wide, 2.5 meters high. The object had neither doors no hatches, and all attempts to open its hull were unsuccessful. The military tried to break off some object parts, but were only able to take some rods from its stern. In the end of September the object disappeared from the hangar without leaving a trace.
Alexander Dremin

Jesus Christ Born in Ukraine (It's not what you think.)

New Jesus Christ has been baptized in Ukrainian town of Zhitomir in March. Residents of this town already got used to the fact that they all had a chance to witness the event.

Local priest Vladimir Radzuk named his son Jesus Christ in order to test peoples' attitudes toward God. In the end, the result turned out to be not quite as he had expected.

Jesus was born in someone's half-burned flat. The son was the one to pay for his father's sins. Apparently, Rudzak was the only priest who supported political demonstration "Ukraine without Kuchma"; he ran into troubles because of it and in the end lost his post.

His son Jesus Christ was born practically weightless-only 2 kg 670 grams. Doctors declared him "almost healthy." The priest took a long time to decide who will baptize the baby. His wife Natalya offered one candidacy, Leonid Yarmolnik. He however declined the role of John the Baptist. In the end, the priest baptized his baby boy himself.

Jesus' first words were "na"[take it] and "dai"[give]. Jesus already understands that one should not only 'give' but also be able to 'take' in order to survive on this planet.

The baby triggered a new epidemic in town: local hospitals have already registered another two newborn Jesuses.

Russians conquered Mars 30 years ago

An ambitious space program of the US voiced by President Bush at the start of his pre-election race has revived the interest of mankind to space that faded away within the past years.
People have got so much used to the issue of space that it is somewhat boring for us. This is the reason why majority of us are not aware of unique projects carried out by Russian scientists, engineers and investigators. In fact, preparation for a manned flight to Mars started in Russia 30 years ago. One of the program's final stages - imitation of a flight in a special surface complex - is to take place next year. Preparation for the final stage has already started.

The long-expected space flight will take place on a bright summer, autumn or winter morning of 2005 on the outskirts of Moscow. Astronauts will take their seats, the head of the project will say go and the first in the world history manned expedition to Mars will begin.

This makes no sense that the astronauts will be sitting in a spaceship called a surface experimental complex that scientists themselves call a barrel. The complex was invented by Sergey Korolev. Since those times, generations of investigators have tested the complex to find out what real astronauts feel being in the orbit. This time in the framework of the experiment the astronauts will reach Mars and get back to this planet; the experimental flight will last about 500 days.

However, even before the experimental flight begins researchers must find answers to essential questions: what will be the physical and mental state of the crew, how the autonomous life-support systems will operate and what problems the crew may come across.

Department director of the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems Mark Belakovsky says that the concept of the prospective flight is being polished up currently. Negotiations on participation of other countries in the experiment have been started, so the expedition will be an international one. The crew will highly likely consist of six male investigators: a captain, a pilot, a flight engineer, two expert investigators and a doctor. Technical workers of the Institute are making the complex ready for the mission.

The state-run scientific center the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems started preparation for an expedition to Mars in the 1970s. Researchers observed activity of astronauts and studied the reaction of the human body to the regime of the orbital life, to the space conditions and to the load of the flight. At the same time, researchers studied recovery of the organism after space flights and adaptation to normal life on this planet. Information obtained during the observation helped researchers conduct complex medical experiments meant for prospective space missions.

Russian researchers were the first in the world to conduct a series of experiments involving long hypokinesia and imitated the space zero gravity under the earthly conditions. Groups of investigators spent different periods of time, from several days to 12 months, lying motionless in beds with their heads put 15 centimeters lower than the rest of the body. The people slept, ate, washed, watched TV and fulfilled tasks given by researchers still staying with the heads of the beds lowered. It was not allowed to change the angle of inclination or to put a hand under the head.

Professor Valery Mikhailov, the leader of one of the long experiments told: "The human organism was formed under the terrestrial attraction conditions. A complicated system of resistance to gravitation thus arose. It still functions in the space where the terrestrial attraction is out of action. That is why blood spreads about the body in a particular way in space, which in its turn may have a negative effect upon people"s health and efficiency."

A horizontal position of the body without a pillow under the head is the simplest model of what actually happens to people in the state of weightlessness. Anyone can try the experiment on a sofa at home and will feel his head is heavy, the blood hummers in the temples, the face swells and the nose is blocked after several hours of lying with the head down. Astronauts have to spend months with these symptoms and to fulfill complicated scientific programs at the same time. What is the way to save people's health in space? Investigators participating in experiments on the surface help answer the question. Results of these experiments are incredibly valuable for astronauts.

Every day of these investigators is strictly scheduled: they work with researchers, undergo experiments with equipment, blood tests, the functions of their muscles and organs are examined, and investigators fill in different questionnaires. When the investigators have rest they are allowed to read books, newspapers, watch TV and play computer games but obligatorily still lying in beds. This is curious that thrillers with tense motion and erotic films are particularly popular among the investigators. At that, doctors say that the experimenters will not take medicines to relieve sexual tension, which means the tension is quite tolerable.

Yeugenia Chelnokova, a participant of a 4-months female experiment on hypokinesia says that the four months of the experiment were the most intensive period in her life. At least, that was the period when her contacts with researchers, friends and other participants of the experiment were the most active. "We had much laughter, we joked about ourselves and doctors. Even though the situation of the experiment was unusual, the atmosphere resembled a holiday."

These experiments, as well as long real space flights were conducted to find an answer to the question how long people could stay in space without serious harm to their health. Doctor Valery Polyakov, an astronaut who spent 438 days in space provided an answer to the question; he is now working on an expedition to Mars.

This expedition poses a number of questions as well. What is the right way to distribute responsibilities among the crew members? What should be the life-supporting systems in space when it is known that no supporting expeditions may arrive from Earth? What is the minimal set of equipment to help astronauts stay healthy and efficient under different conditions?

It is not for the first time that Russian investigators carry out long imitation flights. Several experiments lasting from 90 to 270 days were held within 1994-2000. Experimenter Heider Khobikhozhin took part in the longest international project Sphinx that lasted for nine months. He says: "Return to Earth is the most difficult part of these experiments. It seems that you are absolutely dismissed from all processes going on this planet. The time goes on, but you still stay in the past. You feel the time quite differently on board the spaceship: even the longest period seems to be a long never-ending day. There is a psychological rule saying that a rehabilitation period lasts approximately as long as an impact period. So, it took us almost a year to learn once again to plan our lives and make everyday decisions. However, we experienced incredible satisfaction after participation in the experiment. As for me, I would agree to participate in such an experiment once again."

Other people participating in these experiments describe similar emotions. It is important that anyone of the experimenters may quit any time without giving any reasons. Foreigners sometimes quit, but Russians never. Skeptics may say that any conditions may be tolerated if participation in experiments is paid for. Indeed, participation in these experiments is paid well. Sums to be paid investigators participating in the imitation mission to Mars are not announced, but experts in the Institute say that the sum may be enough to buy an apartment in Moscow.

Medical experiments were conducted even in the Soviet epoch to find out the condition of the human body under unusual conditions. In the mid-1970s, a research institute studied a newly developed functional bed for patients with spinal injuries. An experimenter had to stay almost motionless lying on the back in the bed within a month. A young surgeon took part in the experiment and was paid 1,0000 rubles while his monthly wage was 130 rubles. He made the decision to take part in the experiment because of money. After a month of lying motionless the young man had to learn to walk again.

Tatyana Bateneva

Russian Time Machine

Time has been one of the most complicated and less studied scientific issues since ancient times

Eight years ago, American and British scientists who conducted investigations in Antarctica made a sensational discovery. US physicist Mariann McLein told the researchers noticed some spinning gray fog in the sky over the pole on January 27 which they believed to be just ordinary sandstorm. However, the gray fog did not change the form and did not move in the course of time. The researchers decided to investigate the phenomenon and launched a weather balloon with equipment capable to register the wind speed, the temperature and the air moisture. But the weather balloon soared upwards and immediately disappeared.

In a little while, the researchers brought the weather balloon back to the ground with the help of a rope attached to it before. They were extremely surprised to see that a chronometer set in the weather balloon displayed the date of January 27, 1965, the same day 30 years ago. The experiment was repeated several times after the researchers found out the equipment was in good repair. But each time the watch was back it displayed the past time. The phenomenon was called "the time gate" and was reported to the White House.

Today investigation of the unusual phenomenon is underway. It is supposed that the whirl crater above the South Pole is a tunnel allowing to penetrate into other times. What is more, programs on launching people to other times have been started. The CIA and the FBI are fighting for gaining control over the project that may change the course of history. It is not clear when the US federal authorities will approve the experiment.

Famous Russian scientist Nikolay Kozyrev conducted an experiment to prove that moving from the future to the past was possible. He substantiated his views with the hypotheses on instant information spreading through physical characteristics of time. Nikolay Kozyrev even supposed that "time could execute the work and produce energy." An American physics theorist has arrived at a conclusion that time is what existed before existence of the world.

It is known that each of us feels a different course of time under different conditions. Once lightning hit a mountain-climber; later the man told he saw the lightning got into his arm, slowly moved along it, separated the skin from the tissues and carbonized his cells. He felt as if there were quills of thousands hedgehogs under his skin.

Russian investigator of anomalous phenomena, philosopher and author of numerous books Gennady Belimov published his article under the headline "Time Machine: First Speed On" in the newspaper On the Verge of Impossible. He described unique experiments conducted by a group of enthusiasts led by Vadim Chernobrov, the man who began creation of time machines, devices with electromagnetic pumping in 1987. Today the group of enthusiasts can slow down or speed up the course of time using special impact of the magnetic field. The biggest slowing down of time made up 1.5 seconds within an hour of the equipment's operation in labs.

In August 2001, a new model of the time machine meant for a human was set in a remote forest in Russia's Volgograd Region. When the machine even operated on car batteries and had low capacity, it still managed to change the time by three per cent; the change was registered with symmetrical crystal oscillators.

At first, the researchers spent five, ten and twenty minutes in the operating machine; the longest stay lasted for half an hour. Vadim Chernobrov said that the people felt as if they moved to a different world; they felt life here and "there" at the same time as if some space was unfolding. "I cannot define the unusual feelings that we experienced at such moments."

Neither TV nor radio companies reported the astonishing fact; Gennady Belimov says the Russian president was not informed of the experiment. However, he tells that already under Stalin there was a Research Institute of the Parallel World. Results of experiments conducted by Academicians Kurchatov and Ioffe can be now found in the archives. In 1952, head of the Soviet secret police organization Lavrenty Beria initiated a case against researchers participating in the experiments, as a result of which 18 professors were executed by shooting and 59 candidates and doctors of physical sciences were sent to camps. The Institute recommenced its activity under Khruschev. But an experimental stand with eight leading researchers disappeared in 1961, and buildings close to the one where experiments were conducted were ruined. After that, the Communist Party political bureau and the Council of Ministers decided to suspend researchers of the Institute for an uncertain period.

The program was resumed in 1987 when the Institute already functioned on the territory of the Soviet Union. A tragedy occurred on August 30, 1989: an extremely strong explosion sounded at the Institute's branch office on the Anjou islands. The explosion destroyed not only the experimental module of 780 tons but also the archipelago itself that covered the area of 2 square kilometers. According to one of the versions of the tragedy, the module with three experimenters collided with a large object, probably an asteroid, in the parallel world or heading toward the parallel world. Having lost its propulsion system, the module probably remained in the parallel world.

The last record made in the framework of the experiment and kept at the Institute archives says: "We are dying but keep on conducting the experiment. It is very dark here; we see all objects become double, our hands and legs are transparent, we can see veins and bones through the skin. The oxygen supply will be enough for 43 hours, the life support system is seriously damaged. Our best regards to the families and friends!" Then the transmission suddenly stopped.

Olga Zharina

Aliens live on Earth, under the ground

A lot of respectable scientists and writers believed that Earth is hollow inside

Rumors about underground towns appeared for the first time in 1946. The person to launch the rumors was Richard Shaver - writer, journalist and scientist. His incredible story about contacts with aliens living under the ground was published in Amazing Stories Magazine. Shaver said that he had spent several weeks living under the ground with demon-looking aliens, whose descriptions can be found in ancient legends and fairytales. Almost every nation has a tale of an ancient race, who settled in planet Earth long before humans appeared on it. Those underground creatures are described as inconceivably talented, brilliant and culturally educated - they do not want to have anything in common with humans.

One could refer to the story from the American writer as a fruit of his vivid imagination. However, hundreds of readers responded to the publication. They wrote that they had visited underground cities, talked to their residents and saw unimaginable technical inventions, which guaranteed a comfortable existence in the very depth of the planet. Furthermore, the technologies of underground aliens give them an opportunity to control the minds of humans.

The unbelievable story exerted an immense influence on scientists and gave an incentive to the study of paranormal activities.

English astronomer of the 17th century, Edmund Halley, writers Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe and some others wrote in their works that planet Earth is a hollow sphere. American authorities were preparing a special scientific mission in 18-19 centuries to explore the Earth's hollow depth.

The scientists of the Third Reich were very interested in the mysterious underground world too. A special top secret expedition was organized in 1942. German scientists also hoped to install new radar systems under the ground and draw closer to global reign. Unfortunately, the outcome of the intrigue is not known, but the hypothesis of the underground civilization developed further on during the second half of the 20th century.

In 1963, two American coal miners, David Fellin and Henry Throne, found a large door in a tunnel, behind which they discovered a marble stairway. In England, miners can hear the sounds of mechanical devices under the ground, as they dig a tunnel. An English miner said that they had also found a stairway to an underground well. The sound of machines became more distinct, and the workers fled in fear. When they returned to the tunnel, there were no stairs and no entrance to the well.

An American satellite took very interesting photographs at the end of the 1970s. The photographs were published in many Western scientific magazines: the pictures depicted a dark, regularly shaped spot on the North Pole. The photographs were not defective: similar pictures depicting the same dark spot on the pole were taken several years later.

Anthropologist James McKenna explored an ill-famed cave in the State of Idaho. McKenna and other members of the expedition could hear screams and moans, as they were moving hundreds meters deep into the cave. The researchers found human skeletons soon, but they had to stop their quest: the smell of brimstone was unbearable.

Geologists do not share the theory of the Earth's huge cavity, although they do not exclude a possibility of numerous large hollow spaces in planet's depths. Human life is hardly possible in those cavities: the temperature is too high and there is very little oxygen there. Some researchers believe that the underground civilization might be of an extraterrestrial origin. Aliens were probably tired of people's eternal wars and atrocities, and moved under the ground, from where they comfortably observed the development of the mankind. What if UFOs appear in the sky from under the ground, not from other galaxies? However, if planet Earth is hollow inside, someone should have found the gateway to the underground world long ago. A group of American scientists believes that underground cities exist on Earth in the fourth dimension. When the Earth's electromagnetic field changes from time to time, entrances to the tunnels open, and accidental "visitors" may see the underground cities and their inhabitants.

One of the theories says that many mysterious constructions, like the English Stonehendge for example, were built to designate entrances to underground cities. If there is a reasonable race living under the ground, it would be an explanation to a lot of inexplicable phenomena.

Read the original in Russian: (Translated by: Dmitry Sudakov)

These are so much fun.

current mood: amused

(1 comment | comment on this)

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004
3:06 pm - Mein Gott...
Sikhs Go to Court Over French Law

By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writer

PARIS - Sikhs must respect France's new law banning conspicuous religious signs from public schools, the education minister said Tuesday, as three students who refused to remove their turbans took their case to court.

The Sikhs' case is the first known court action over the law since it took effect in September.

Education Minister Francois Fillon said there remain about 70 cases of students defying the law — mainly involving girls refusing to remove their Islamic head scarves — since the measure took effect at the start of the school year Sept. 2.

Some 600 cases were counted at the start of the year, but most have been resolved through dialogue — as called for in the law — avoiding expulsion, Fillon said on France Inter radio.

The law bans conspicuous religious signs and apparel, including Jewish skull caps and large Christian crosses. But Muslim head scarves were the main reason for the ban.

The law is intended to uphold France's constitutionally guaranteed principle of secularism, considered undermined by a growing number of Muslim girls wearing head scarves in public school classrooms.

Authorities have also said they view the law as a way to fight rising Muslim fundamentalism in France and to protect the rights of women, widely viewed here as submissive to men if they wear head scarves.

France's small Sikh community, an estimated 5,000-7,000 people, was forgotten during a marathon debate before the law was passed in March. For traditional Sikhs, the external appearance is sacred, and men and boys who practice the faith wear turbans to cover their unshorn hair.

Fillon made clear Tuesday that the turbans of Sikhs also fall under the law.

"There is a Sikh community which is very small, which poses no problem, but the law applies to everyone," he said. "Sikhs must respect the law like others."

Sikhs were the first to take the issue to court. They asked an administrative court Tuesday for an urgent decision on the case of three Sikhs kept out of class at the Louise Michel school in the Paris suburb of Bobigny for refusing to remove their turbans.

The Sikhs want the boys returned to their classes or the school to convene a disciplinary council to break the deadlock over the turbans.

"Today, we're in a situation of non-decision," said Antoine Beauquier, a lawyer for the Sikhs.

"The children have effectively been excluded" without having been expelled, he said. "They must quickly make their way back to the classroom."

The court was expected to reach a decision Wednesday, Beauquier said.

A disciplinary council at a middle school in Mulhouse, in eastern France, was to meet later Tuesday over the case of two Muslim girls who refuse to remove their head scarves.


Cennet (L), 15, a French student of Kurdish origin, shows her shaved head to journalists as she enter the Lycee Louis Pasteur in Strabourg, October 1, 2004. Cennet shaved her head to avoid showing her hair while at the same time complying with new French laws which ban the wearing of headscarves in schools. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

This makes me sick.


They say they're protecting women's rights...what about a woman's right to uphold her own beliefs and not have to shave her head in order to comply with these beliefs?! What existentialist doppelganger of Cardinal Richelieu brought this travesty (law) about?

current mood: irate

(1 comment | comment on this)

12:49 pm - Quiz...
How common are starphoenixt's interests
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history (62836)
lord of the rings (93179)
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80's music (19428)
angel (23615)
anne rice (22913)
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Enter username:

InterestRank was bought to you by _imran_ and MemeLand.org

That was fun. :)

PS: Kyle popped the F key back on without needing to order a new keyboard. Which is very good, because pressing the weird key-cover-less knob-thingy was beginning to make me wonder how bad carpal tunnel is supposed to be...

current mood: indescribable

(comment on this)

Monday, October 18th, 2004
9:39 am
The F key on my keyboard just fell off...

Typing feels weird now...

current mood: awake

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Tuesday, October 5th, 2004
3:09 pm - Avenue Q - Election
This is amusing, check it out:

Bush and Kerry Debate Avenue Q Style (this has funny lyrics)

Bush, Kerry debate as quirky puppets on Broadway

Mary - I immediately thought of you

current mood: amused

(1 comment | comment on this)

Thursday, September 16th, 2004
9:33 pm

What's Your Ultimate Fandom OTP?
Shiver My Timber--A Pirate RPG

(Wicked Witch and Hester Prynne)


What's Your Ultimate Fandom OTP?
Shiver My Timber--A Pirate RPG

(Dumbledore and Indiana Jones)

yearns for

What's Your Ultimate Fandom OTP?
Shiver My Timber--A Pirate RPG

(Indy and Dracula)

Thank you and goodnight.

(1 comment | comment on this)

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