Monday, March 31, 2008

The World's Largest Denomination.

The headline was straightforward enough.....Muslims more numerous than Catholics: Vatican.
At first glance, the story appears to confirm that statement:
"Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the biggest single religious denomination in the world, the Vatican said on Sunday.
Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who compiled the Vatican's newly-released 2008 yearbook of statistics, said Muslims made up 19.2 percent of the world's population and Catholics 17.4 percent."

"The Vatican recently put the number of Catholics in the world at 1.13 billion people. It did not provide a figure for Muslims, generally estimated at around 1.3 billion."

There is one question I have about the statistic......brought up by this quote;
"He said that if all Christian groups were considered, including Orthodox churches, Anglicans and Protestants, then Christians made up 33 percent of the world's population -- or about 2 billion people."

For these statistics, the Christians have been separated into different denominations.......they note "Orthodox churches, Anglicans and Protestants" which actually just touches the surface on the different Christian denominations.
Why, then, are Muslims not separated into Sunni and Shia for these statistics?
Is the number 1.3 billion Muslims for the total of both denominations added together or is it 1.3 billion Sunni?
So, the question still remains.....are there more Catholics than Sunni ?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fitna back online.

After a bit of surfing, I found a link to Fitna on Youtube.

Update:After this Youtube video of Fitna was put online, it was removed.
I have found a link to another website that has the video.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

'Fitna' pulled from Web

AMSTERDAM -- The controversial anti-Muslim film by Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders has been removed from the Web by its British Internet provider, which said its employees have been seriously threatened.

"Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature and some ill-informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly lead to the harm of some of our staff, has been left with no other choice but to remove 'Fitna' from our servers," the company said.

The 15-minute short film was posted Thursday and taken down Friday and had been seen by some 3 million people.

The link I provided not longer takes you to the film. If you did not view the film right after I posted it then you are no longer able to see it.
So much for Freedom of speech.


From the wikipedia article on the film "Fitna".

Fitna is a film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Dutch parliament. The movie offers his views on Islam and the Qur'an. The film's title comes from the Arabic word fitna which is used to describe "disagreement and division among people", or a "test of faith in times of trial". The movie was released to the Internet on 27 March 2008.
Wilders released the movie on March 27, 2008 at 7pm local (Dutch) time on the video website Liveleak.The Dutch version of the movie received 1.6 million pageviews in 2 hours. The English version garnered over 1.2 million in 5 hours.

Wilders originally negotiated a possible broadcast of the film on Dutch television. The contents of the film were not known at the time. None of the Dutch broadcasting companies would agree to show the film in its entirety, without editing. Wilders then said that he would "Rather have [the film] entirely on the Internet, than half on television".

Later the Dutch press centre Nieuwspoort was reported to be willing to show the film, as long as Wilders would pay for the increased security during the press conference and the weeks after it, which he declined to do.

On March 22 the NMO (Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Association) offered to air the film if they could preview the film for any possible illegal material and Wilders would take part in a debate after the airing with pro- and opponents.Wilders declined, saying "No way, NMO."

The movie shows a selection of Suras from the Qur'an, interspersed with newspaper clippings and media clips. The movie is accompanied by music from the Peer Gynt suite by Edvard Grieg, specifically Aase's Death.

A link to the film can be found here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bud Tugley Weds.

Last December I wrote a post about the heart warming story of the Alabama man who won $20 Million in the Georgia lottery.
Now, I have the privilege of announcing the marriage of lottery winner, Bud Tugley.
The complete story can be found on this link to the I.N.N. website.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Not the Best of Days.

This AM, when I opened my email, I found a email from Western Union telling me that I would no longer be a part of their affiliate program. I was told this was for "technical reasons" but I'm sure it has more to do with the poor performance of their ads on my sites.
So, I began the tedious process of removing their banners and links from my blogs and web pages. Sounds easy enough. It was easy enough to remove it all from the blogs but the web pages were a different matter.
First, I have quite a few satirical news pages with the banners on them and these pages were put on the free pages provided by my ISP (Comcast). When I went to access my account and edit the web pages, I discovered that Comcast had changed the format making it a pain to edit my old pages.....I haven't quite figured out how this new format works.
I had plans to do another satirical series with the Comcast next week, but now I'm not quite sure.
Next, I went to the web host for the website to edit my pages there but this PC was giving me fits (as usual) and I'll have to try again.
Just not a good day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blitzkrieg for Peta Wilson.

I never cease to be amazed by the reports I receive from the Google Analytics.
Yesterday was a very peculiar day as far as hits on this blog is concerned.
The blog received visits from nearly 20 cities in Germany....with a few thrown in from Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. I've had the occasional visitor from Germany before but nothing like this .... in one day.
The # 1 page for yesterday was a satirical piece from last year [ My Interview with Peta. ]
As near as I can tell, somebody in Germany was doing an image search for a photo of Peta Wilson when he came upon my blog entry. Evidently, he found the satirical post funny enough to send a link to it in an email to some of his friends......that's the only explanation that makes sense.
Well, for whatever reason they may have come across the blog, I hope they find it interesting enough to drop back by again.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Adios, Mr. Clarke.

It was the early 1970's and having been raised on T.V. , Beatles and the American public school system, my friend Dave and I were like so many of our generation....."progressive", "intellectual" and all too ready to abandon Western culture and civilization.
We were Buddhists; or, at least, believed ourselves to be.
We didn't actually practice Buddhism so much as read about it.
I bring this up because the recent passing of Arthur C. Clarke reminded of something from that time in my life. I wasn't a big fan of the genre, but I did like to read a Sci-Fi book occasionally.My friend, Dave, however, loved the stuff. I asked him to recommend his favorite Arthur C. Clarke novel.
Being the Buddhaphile I was, I heard his reply as "Childhood Zen." I was a bit shocked when I finally came across a copy and learned the title was really "Childhood's End."
I've always liked my title better.

Mu to You too.

There is a famous Zen Koan that goes, as follows;

A monk asked Joshu, “Does a dog have the Buddha nature?” Joshu retorted, “Mu!”

There's been quite a lot of speculation as to what,exactly, it's supposed to mean. I'm not going to attempt an answer to that.....but type in the words "MU Koan"
(without the quotation marks) into Google and you'll see enough examples to keep you busy for awhile.

As if to show that a dog does not have Buddha nature, we find a story of a dog who lives in a Buddhist temple in Okinawa who has taken to imitating the prayer posture in order to get treats from temple visitors.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Thursday.

Tonight, my wife and I....along with our 2 year old son....will attend the 7:00 PM Mass to commemorate Holy Thursday.
It's, basically, a re-creation of the Last Supper.It will include not only the Institution of the Eucharist, but, a "washing of the feet of the Apostles", as well. This will be followed by a procession taking the Blessed Sacrament to a small chapel beside the main altar. Finally, the main altar will be stripped in solemn remembrance of Good Friday.
We'll also attend the Good Friday services ( 7:00 PM ) and at 7:00 PM Saturday we'll go to the Easter vigil service where a friend of ours will be Confirmed.
I'm not quite sure if we'll attend another Easter service on Sunday.....but, in all likelihood, we will.

Thoughts on the Tolstoy Syndrome.

In a recent post-( My Personality Type )- Dom gave us the results of a Jung Personality test he came across on the Internet. He is , according to this test, an "INTP - "Architect". Greatest precision in thought and language. Can readily discern contradictions and inconsistencies. The world exists primarily to be understood. 3.3% of total population."
I took the test. I'm,

INTJ - "Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.
Free Jung Word Test (similar to Myers-Briggs)
personality tests by

After taking the test, I spent the day doing research as to what, exactly, this is supposed to mean.I've taken quite a few notes on this and it's my intention to write about the INTJ soon, but while doing the research, I got side-tracked.
First, it lead me back to Jung of whom I've read before....though I'm in no way an expert on him or his ideas.This lead me back to synchronicity.....a subject which fascinates me to no end. I discovered that some scientists believe any evidence for synchronicity is due to something called "confirmation bias".
Wikipedia defines confirmation bias as "a tendency to search for or interpret new information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions and avoids information and interpretations which contradict prior beliefs".
Or, as singer/songwriter, Paul Simon wrote in "The Boxer",
"All lies and jest.
Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

Another name for "confirmation bias " is the "Tolstoy syndrome", so-called because of two quotes from the Russian writer:
"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics of their life".
"The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him."

I discovered something about this syndrome.....we can all be guilty of it; none of us appear to be totally immune from seeing only evidence which supports our bias while ignoring contradictory evidence. I've also discovered that people can very easily "see" the Tolstoy syndrome in their opponents yet have a difficult time believing they could be guilty of the same thing. No matter, if the subject is politics, religion or even global warming.
I have to ask, as Jesus did in chapter 7 of Matthew ;
"Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Holy Week Vacation.

For over ten years, the company I work for had us on a rotating many days on, so many days off.....working alternating weekends.
This meant that I usually wasn't always able to attend all the Holy Week church services I wanted. I'd always be off Easter Sunday, but I might have to work Palm Sunday or Good Friday. The fact that Easter is a movable Holy Day didn't make it any easier.
Often, if I wanted to attend Mass on Palm Sunday, I'd have to take a vacation day and that wasn't always possible.Holy Thursday and Good Friday were always opposite. If I was off Palm Sunday, I'd be off Thursday as well, but would have to work Friday.It was all very complicated and a general pain in the neck.
All that changed last year when we were put on a regular 40 hour, Monday through Friday, work week.Of course, last year I took the first three weeks of April as a vacation; we were in Philippines for Holy Week.
This year, I wouldn't need to use up so many vacation days attending church, I thought.I considered taking the whole week off but changed my mind. I'd be off both Sundays; we're getting Good Friday as the paid holiday- and since there isn't anything going on at St. Mary's the first part of the week- I'd only need to take Holy Thursday as a vacation.
That isn't the way it turned out.
As I mentioned in my last post,I awoke last Thursday with the most excruciating pain shooting down my left leg from my hip to my knee.The doctor's preliminary diagnosis is that I probably have arthristis through out my spine although he won't know the full extent until he looks at the x rays.He prescribed a corticosteroid but was unwilling to release me from work, not having seen the x rays.
I can barely stand for any length of time. I've had to buy a cane to help me get around. The corticosteroid has helped, somewhat, but there was no way I'd be able to work this week.
So, I did what I should have done anyway. I took the whole week off as a vacation.
There are some folks who would be inclined to believe that this might just be God's way of making me take this week off. Those are the same people who'd say that my hands swelling during last year's Good Friday Via Crucis in Sibulan might be a "stigmata", of sorts.
There are others who are equally inclined to say that it's all simply a coincidence and much ado about nothing.
It's difficult for me to know. I usually find significance where others find coincidence, so I, naturally, lean towards the first camp.
To quote Shakespeare,


O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Temporary Interruption.

I haven't been able to get to a PC for a few days.
When I woke up Thursday morning I had an incredible pain, going from my left hip down to my left knee. I wasn't able to get an appointment with a GP until this AM.....fortunately, I was able to see a Chiropractor over the weekend so I can, at least, sit here long enough to write this.
There will be a bit of an interruption to this blog for a bit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Ballad of Maryann's Trial.

Sit back, relax and listen while I tell you this sad tale.
That started up in Idaho.....and ended up in jail. (a night spent in the jail)

Her friends threw her a party 'cause she'd just turned 69.
There was reefer at this well as beer and wine. (oh, not just beer and wine)

Her driving started getting rough, she zoomed and swayed and swerved.
But thanks to the courage of a fearless cop....she got what she deserved. (she got what she deserved)

He asked her for her license and said "You been smoking pot?"
She told him "We can share this joint....cause this is all I've got" (yes, this is all I've got)

She ended up before a judge who'd seen her on the show.
" I liked you more than Ginger, so...... you get probation, yo' ". ( 6 months probation, yo.)

So join us here again sometime, I hope I made you smile.
With this little ditty.........about Maryann's trial.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Need a New PC.

I need a new PC.
If feels as if the one I have is so old, that even the word obsolete doesn't begin to describe it.
It's so old, it's kerosene powered.
Upgrading has it's limitations....there's only so much that can be done.Besides, parts are expensive and it really makes more sense to just bite the bullet and get something new.
The problem is...what to buy? So many many features.
It's much easier buying one when you don't have a clue about PCs.The more you know, the more you want and the more options you have.
By the way.....the kid on the right in the photo is my son and the one on the left is his cousin. The photo was taken last year while we were in Philippines. The "PC" in the photo isn't the one in question. I just thought the photo looked good with this post.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another Adsense Check.

In October of last year, I wrote a piece for another blog about receiving my first Google Adsense check.
I mentioned, in the piece, that I had set up the Adsense account in December 2006 and it took eight months before I made the $100 minimum in order for Google to send the check.It takes quite a few clicks to reach that amount.
It's now March, 2008 and the amount I've made since the first check has finally topped the $100 mark, as well. So, any clicks I get between now and March 31 will add to the second check.
I've done everything I can think of to induce folks to click on my Google ads.There are ads here and in several locations on the Dumaguete website.
Even when I did "spoof" pages for this my phony Canadian Govt. website, my fake Communist Party of Canada website and the news website I made for parodies.....I put Google ads on them to try and pick up a few clicks.
I know from the Analytics reports that I get a fair amount of traffic on the website and blogs.It would be nice, however, if more of you would check out the ads.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Was Moses a Dopehead?

I first came across the article in reuters, which quotes "an Israeli researcher" who believes Moses was under the influence of psychedelic drugs when he saw the burning bush, talked with God and received the Ten Commandments.

Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says,
"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics."

As far as Shannon is concerned, Moses could not possibly have had a "supernatural cosmic event" so the only explanation for the "event" in Exodus is hallucinogenic drugs.

He goes on to say that two plants in the Sinai desert contain the same psychoactive molecules as those found in plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic concoction ayahuasca is made.
Shannon does know a thing or two about ayahuasca....the reuters article says he "dabbled with such substances." Interesting choice of words since Shannon has written a book and a number of articles about the drug and has claimed to have "partaken of the ... brew about 160 times in various locales and contexts."

According to an article on, Shannon says,

"I have no direct proof of this interpretation," and such proof cannot be expected, he says. However, "it seems logical that something was altered in people's consciousness. There are other stories in the Bible that mention the use of plants: for example, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden."

One of the plants that Shannon thinks could have caused these hallucinations is the acacia tree.The acacia is mentioned frequently in the Bible, and it was the type of wood of which the Ark of the Covenant was said to have been made.

One problem I see with this theory of Shannon's is the obvious fact that there is no mention anywhere in the Old Testament of Moses - or any other Biblical prophet - ever using plants or herbal concoctions before communicating with God. Just as groups in the Amazon have a tradition of shaman using these drugs, the Hebrews would have maintained the same sort of tradition had the early prophets used these substances.

Wine drinking and intoxication is mentioned frequently in the Bible....I doubt the writers would have self censored themselves concerning hallucinogens.
Cynics like Shannon can't fathom a living God, so, the only logical answer for them is that it's all a drug induced fantasy.

Does anyone take these people seriously?

3 cartoons....1 punchline.

It's 3 AM.
The White House phone rings.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Brits banned for playing "naked bar" in Norway.

In a post from yesterday, (german-soldiers-too-fat-smoke-too-much) I reported that,
"German soldiers are overweight, smoke too much and do not engage in enough sports" and opined that,
"Given the history of the German army in the first half of the 20th Century, is an overweight, physically unfit German army such a bad thing?"
Today, after reading about the behavior of British commandos in Norway, I'm trying to imagine how WWII might have turned out with these soldiers.
Eight British commandos participating in "Exercise Octans" caused an international scandal after a night of drinking in Harstad, Norway
The soldiers were drinking at the Sfinx Bar in Harstad. According to reports, they began to "annoy" the female customers. Soon, they began chanting "naked bar !!!" and the fun started.
Apparently, Naked Bar is a popular drinking game among the British units.The soldiers stripped naked and began urinating on themselves, customers and furniture.
One customer, Cecilie Kleppe, 29, who took the photo above, said: "Some of them even started waving their private parts at the other guests. Two of the Englishmen urinated on a fellow soldier who was lying on the floor. It was disgusting."
Anyone thinking I am making this up can check out the articles at

It's been reported that Norway's Crown Prince Haakon, who is partaking in military exercises in northern Norway, has requested that he be treated as "one of the boys" and sleep in a tent alongside the regular soldiers.
Is the prince interested in playing "naked bar" too ?

Consistent Life Ethic.

After reading that actor and political activist, Martin Sheen would be awarded Notre Dame's Laetare Medal for 2008, I wanted to look into the, so-called,Consistent Life Movement. The groups in this movement seek an end to abortion, capital punishment, the plight of immigrant workers and homeless people and the waging of unjust wars.

All good causes, indeed.

For the most part, these groups identify themselves as "pro-life progressives", progressives being the new code word for liberals.

I wasn't quite sure why they'd wish to disassociate themselves from "non progressives". After a bit of web surfing I came across an explanation.
The "progressives" feel that the otherwise pro life Republicans don't do enough on the issues of capital punishment, war and the homeless.
That's certainly true, of course, but I don't believe Consistent Life groups will get much satisfaction from their support of Democrats.

On most of the "pro life" issues the Democrats rate well....with the glaring exception of abortion and it is extremely unlikely that the Democratic Party will abandon it's pro abortion stance.
I believe you'd have an easier time convincing a "conservative" pro lifer that capital punishment should be abolished than you would convincing very many Democrats that a fetus deserves the right to life as someone on death row.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

German soldiers too fat, smoke too much.

The headline in Earthtimes read; German soldiers too fat, smoke too much.
The article says,
"German soldiers are overweight, smoke too much and do not engage in enough sports, according to a report published Tuesday by the parliamentary commissioner for the defense force. "Male and female soldiers are too fat, partake little in sports and pay too little attention to what they eat," Reinhold Robbe said in his official report to parliament. He called the situation "shocking."
In the 18-29 age-group, military personnel are in worse condition than their civilian counterparts, with 40 per cent of soldiers overweight against 35 per cent in the general population, according to Robbe.
Despite the widespread availability of sports equipment in the army, more than 20 per cent don't engage in any sports at all.
Robbe also noted that an alarming 70 per cent of military personnel were smokers."
Given the history of the German army in the first half of the 20th Century, is an overweight, physically unfit German army such a bad thing?

Dems co/opt Jesus.

The liberals in the Democrat party often dismiss the typical Republican voter as a religious zealot who requires a litmus test, of sorts, for the Republican candidates. Jesus, they complain, holds too much prominence over the election process.It's the whole "Separation of Church and State" argument.
Now, with an alleged "Clinton sponsored Muslim whisper campaign" against Obama, things have changed. Despite Hillary's statement that, "as far she knows" Obama isn't one, Obama feels the need to lash out at political enemies who, he says, are spreading false rumors that he's a closet Muslim.
In Ohio, Obama declares,"I pray to Jesus every night and try to go to church as much as I can."
So, now, the Democrats have their own religious requirements.
Critics said that Huckabee forced Romney to make his "I love Jesus speech". It looks like Clinton has forced Obama to make his "Jesus" speech too.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Modern Religion.

In his 1963 acceptance speech as Republican candidate for President, Barry Goldwater said,
"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
Today, in the mishmash that is Western society, the keywords to the prevailing philosophy are, tolerance and moderation.
Today's philosophy seems to be more in line with Lyndon Johnson's reply to Goldwater,
"Extremism in the pursuit of the Presidency is an unpardonable vice.Moderation in the affairs of the nation is the highest virtue."
Today,all views are tolerated....except perhaps, for the view that there are Absolutes.The only sin today appears to be the once widely held view, that not all ideas are of equal value.
Contrary to what a great many would have us believe, some ideas are complete mush and should be identified as such.But, in pointing out these flawed and vacant beliefs, one will be immediately branded as "intolerant" and as an "extremist".
We mustn't make anyone uncomfortable by pointing out that what they believe may not be right or moral.
Having links in my blog to photos of fetal development makes some "pro choice" advocates uneasy and I shouldn't send the links to them. I shouldn't force someone to face something that conflicts with their desire to wash their hands over the abortion issue.
If my religion says "A" is right and "B" is wrong, I am called intolerant if I tell someone that they are in error and guilty of heresy.
Who the Hell do I think I am to have such strong views? How dare I hurt someone's feelings by telling them I disagree with them?
The prevailing philosophy of today could be called "The Rodney King Philosophy"...from the man who once asked "Why can't we all just get along?".
The motto for this philosophy could be, "Don't rock the boat";"Don't point out that blue is not red" or "Don't piss off anybody".