Simple Ways to Save Energy

With gas prices beginning to move up this summer and higher prices at the grocery store, every penny counts. My family has found some great ways to conserve energy and save money for our home.

In order to keep our electricity bill lower we wash our clothes in cold water and hang them to dry as much as possible. We do this every day it is not raining. If there is rain forecast for a specific day I will make every effort to get the laundry done around that day so that there is never a need to use the dryer. At last check our electric bill had gone down by $40 per month by just this alone. As I thought about that lower bill I wandered around our home and came up with even more ideas to reduce the cost of electricity.

On a nice evening we will often barbeque rather than use the oven. We also utilize the microwave oven and the stove top. I don’t have exact numbers on how much this lowered the bill but it was enough for us to continue the trend. The kids really enjoy bar b quing and the family time we spend with it.

I noticed that the computers (4 in all) and the coffee pot were always plugged in or on. As were the various clock radios around the house. I did some research on the Internet and read that even though we are not using these appliances, they are still sucking up electricity. Those little LCD clocks on them are still displaying aren’t they? I unplugged them after that if they were not in use. I also unplugged anything else that I found not in use including the electric can opener.

No one likes to wash dishes around here, but I hate running the dishwasher and using so much hot water and electricity. The solution? I only run the dishwasher when it is completely full (you’d be surprised how much you can get in there just by a simple rearrangement) and I use the economy setting and let them air dry. Again more savings.

In the summer I open the windows at night and take advantage of the cooler air. In the mornings when it starts to heat up outside I close the windows and shut any blinds that are on the sunny side of the house. I also utilize some ceiling fans and other fans to keep the cooler air circulating throughout the house. When it is over 90 outside we will still use the Air Conditioner but by utilizing these techniques our electric bill has dropped dramatically.

Though my family has a ways to go to be perfect energy savers, we are well on our way to great conservation. Our electric bill has been lowered by almost $100 per month over the last year. I wonder how much lower we can get it by simply paying attention to what we are doing as well as shutting off the lights when we leave the room.

The History Of Pencils

Pencil History: The Earliest Forms of Self Expression

Did you know that modern pencils owe it all to an ancient Roman writing instrument called a stylus? Scribes used this thin metal rod to leave a light, but readable mark on papyrus (an early form of paper). Other early styluses were made of lead, which is what we still call pencil cores, even though they actually are made of non-toxic graphite. But pencil history doesn’t stop there…

Graphite came into widespread use following the discovery of a large graphite deposit in Borrowdale, England in 1564. Appreciated for leaving a darker mark than lead, the mineral proved so soft and brittle that it required a holder. Originally, graphite sticks were wrapped in string. Later, the graphite was inserted into hollowed-out wooden sticks and, thus, the wood-cased pencil was born!

Nuremberg, Germany was the birthplace of the first mass-produced pencils in 1662. Spurred by Faber-Castell (established in 1761), Lyra, Steadtler and other companies, an active pencil industry developed throughout the 19th century industrial revolution.

Pencil History: America Expresses Itself

Early settlers depended on pencils from overseas until the war with England cut off imports. William Monroe, a Concord, Massachusetts cabinet-maker, is credited with making America’s first wood pencils in 1812. Another Concord native, famous author Henry David Thoreau, was also renowned for his pencil-making prowess.

Click here to learn more about famous pencil people through history.

The American pencil industry took off when The Joseph Dixon Crucible Company (now Dixon Ticonderoga) and more pencil manufacturers started getting into the act and, towards the end of the 19th century, New York and New Jersey hosted several factories established by prominent German pencil manufacturers, including Faber-Castell, Eberhard Faber, Eagle Pencil Company (later Berol) and General Pencil Company.

The first mass-produced pencils were natural and unpainted to show off high-quality wood casings. But, by the 1890s, many pencil manufacturers started painting pencils and imprinting them with brand names. There’s an interesting story behind how the familiar yellow pencil came to be.

Click here to find out why pencils are yellow.

Pencil History: Following the Wood

Early American pencils were made from Eastern Red Cedar, a strong, splinter-resistant wood that grew in Tennessee and other parts of the Southeastern United States. To be nearer to the source, Northern manufacturers migrated south and set up wood mills until, eventually, the greatest concentration of U.S. pencil manufacturers had established factories in Tennessee. To this day, U.S. producers are primarily concentrated in the South.

By the early 1900s, however, additional sources of wood were needed. Pencil manufacturers turned to California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, where they found Incense-cedar, a species that grew in abundance and made superior pencils. California Incense-cedar soon became the wood of choice for domestic and international pencil makers around the world.

To ensure the continued availability of Incense-cedar, forest workers have carefully managed the stands of trees, and timber companies have committed to harvesting Incense-cedar on a sustained-yield basis. “Sustained-yield” means that the annual growth of the forest is greater than the amount harvested from the forest. Forests managed on a sustained-yield basis are abundant and healthy, and will continue to provide wood for people and habitats for animals for generations to come.

Pencil History: A Global Industry

The history of the pencil industry includes a great number of important companies and brands from around the world. Many now have factories globally. Factors contributing to the challenging impact of globalization, resulting in a great shift of pencil production increasingly being concentrated in Asia over the past 20 years, include:
• The reduction of trade barriers
• The introduction of containerized shipments of goods overseas
• The comparative differences in raw material costs between countries
and the lower cost of transporting people and information around the world.

Awful Executions Through History

Political correctness reared its head in the 19th century, when the English parliament decided, in response to public demand, passed a law banning all public executions. One section of the public, however, was outraged, because a good execution, along with pies and pints of beer, had always made for a good outing. Many years earlier, when executions took place at Tyburn all the time, the busiest gallows in England had been made to accommodate 21 victims at once, and execution days drew enormous crowds

Taken to the Tyburn Tree, prisoners from Newgate jail, sited where the Old Bailey now stands, would all get scented gifts from the several thousand spectators on hand. aA final, free drink was provided at the Mason’s Arms public house, still open today. Hanging, however, was not the only method of execution, and some were far more grisly.


Being boiled alive was a quite legal and acceptable method of execution in 1531, when Henry VIII was king, his having passed the relevant law that very year. One man who suffered this awful fate was Richard Rouse, boiled alive at Smithfield market in April, 1532. He had been cook to the Bishop of Rochester, found guilty of killing a dozen people in ridiculously trying to poison his boss. Another killer to suffer this fate was maid-servant Margaret Davy, in 1542, for poisoning people she had lived with.

In 1685 the executioner of Charles II’s eldest son was Jack Ketch. Convicted of treason and sentenced to death, this poor man was subjected one of the most botched executions in recorded history.

From Wikipedia: “The king took the unusual step of allowing his nephew an audience, despite having no intention of extending a pardon to him. The prisoner unsuccessfully implored his mercy, and even offered to convert to Catholicism, but to no avail. He was beheaded by Jack Ketch on 15 July 1685, on Tower Hill. Shortly beforehand, Bishops Turner of Ely and Ken of Bath and Wells visited the condemned man to prepare him for eternity, but withheld the Eucharist as he refused to acknowledge that either his rebellion or his relationship with Lady Wentworth had been sinful. It is said that before laying his head to the block Monmouth specifically bade Ketch finish him at one blow, saying he had mauled others before. Disconcerted, Ketch did indeed inflict multiple blows with his axe, the prisoner rising up reproachfully the while – a ghastly sight that shocked the witnesses, drawing forth execrations and groans. Some say a knife was at last employed to sever the head from the twitching body. Sources vary; some claim eight blows, the official Tower of London fact sheet says it took five blows, while Charles Spencer, in his book Blenheim, states it at seven.”

Bizarrely, history relates that the king, having no official portrait of his child, had the head sewn back onto the torso, so a sitting for such a royalportrait could take place.

French watchmaker Robert Hubert confessed to starting the Great Fire of London in 1666, for which he hanged from the Tyburn Tree. It is now known that he could not have committed the crime, not having even been in the city on the day of the fire. It is widely believed that this disabled man, who was mentally challenged, was the unwitting victim of an anti-Catholic conspiracy. Burning down even a single building, in those days, not to say over 13,000 of them, was punishable by death, remaining so through to 1861. It is now thought the confession was tortured from him.


The Scottish sailor who, through ill luck and misfortune turned to piracy, becoming known as the notorious Captain Kidd, was also to suffer an ignominious fate, when captured and put on trial in 1700. The whole case was a real sensation in the London society of the time, and it was felt that an example needed to be made. He was, as pirate tradition would have it, hanged from the yardarm at Wapping Stairs, where three tides were allowed to wash over the body before it spent twenty years hanging in chains at Tilbury docks.

Before 1772, wealthy people found guilty of capital crimes could elect to undergo ‘peine forte et dure’ , ‘hard and forceful punishment’ in French, which meant allowing themselves to be slowly squashed to death under a wooden board laden with heavy wieghts, suffering this hideous death because it was the only way they could avoid having their property confiscated by the Crown.

Roman Catholic Martyr St Margaret Clitherow, suffered this fate March 25, 1586, for harboring, at the time outlawed catholic priests. 15 minutes, beneath 700 pounds of dead wieght, was the time it took for her to die. Other victims of this cruel killing wereMajor Strangways , in1658, and John Weekes , in 1731, both of whom had refused to plead guilty, despite the torture, being killed by merciful onlookers, who sat on the boards to finish them off.

Henry, “Little Lord” Fauntleroy had the distinction of seeing the largest ever crowd for a public execution, on November 30th, 1824, outside Newgate to witness his slaying. 100,000 people were baying for his death. His crime had been to defraud the Bank of England in the sum of £250,000, the equivalent of perhaps £40 million today. The thing that really got the crowd incensed was his utter indifference to the way he had squandered the money, living a high life most could only ever dream of. Going cheerfully to meet his maker, he was the last person ever hanged in the UK for the crime of forgery. Some methods of execution, like the death oh a thousand cuts, shown below, were even more brutal, but the sad fact is that people always bay to watch. What perverse creatures humans are.

Powerful Native American Animal Symbols

The Native Americans lived in harmony with the earth and revered many creatures for their strength, courage, and hard work.

To the Native American People, the Creator is in all nature and this includes everything that lives. Their belief is that each of us must find our place within nature in order to live at peace. All creatures and plants in creation are considered to be equal, each fitting into the system according to its individual characteristics and abilities.

Animals and their totems represent a persons spirit guide, or helper in physical form. An excellent introduction to this interesting subject is provided in the book, ‘The Eagle’s Gift by Carlos Castenada’.

Some Native American animal symbols and their meanings:

Eagle


The Eagle is a symbol of the divine spirit, the protector of all things. It has the power to protect against evil, no matter how great that might be. When seen in the sky it was considered to be a sign that justice would be done in battle.

Spinning Lizard

The spinning lizard was a very popular Native American symbol and was used by the Navajo and other tribes. It is mostly seen in old designs from the South-West.

Spider

The spider was a symbol of success through handwork and perseverance. It is found in the artwork of most Native American tribes in all regions. Designs and colors vary greatly but one of the most common designs is the red and black spider seen on pottery and carved into wood.

Wolf

The wolf is a symbol of loyalty and success. This came from the fact that wolves mate for life. They are considered to be the most loyal of creatures. The plains Indians Tribes domesticated some wolves, to a degree. The animals became faithful and loyal to them and followed them as they went. These animals were quite closely interbred and this is where the lineage of the domestic dog began.

Buffalo

The buffalo was the most important of animals to the Native Americans. It gave them life by providing everything from clothing and shelter to food and tools. It was natural that it would revered and venerated because of the great gifts it bestowed on them.

Bear

The bear symbolizes great strength and leadership. The Blackfoot tribe selected two men each year to serve as “Grizzly Bear Men” . These men had to fight like bears and charge fearlessly at the enemy.

Turtle

Tribal legend has it that the turtle enabled the second people to be born on the earth and that he carried a piece of the old earth on his back to make this possible. This is an almost universal symbol among Native American Tribes.

‘When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.’

~Cree Prophecy

Saucy Seaside Postcards

A stay at a British holiday resort always involved a look at the postcard racks outside the shops that lined the seafront.

As a young lad the scantily clad women on the cards were eye opening and as a slightly older young lad, the innuendoes were well worth a titter behind the card rack. Of course you didn’t pick one of those to buy, not in front of mum and dad; you chose a nice view of the resort. Then you took it back to where you were staying to write out to send to your friend back home.

If you were feeling kind, the message usually was “Having a nice time, wish you were here.” However if you were that way out, and wanted to remind him that he wasn’t on holiday while you were then it would be, “Having a fantastic time. Wish you were here?”

By the time you were into your teens then inevitably you’d be bold enough to pick and send one of the saucy ones.

During the holiday season I’m sure delivering the mail gave the postman a bit of a giggle.

The Benny Hill type humour reflected British humour that was popular in the late fifties, sixties and seventies and seen in the popular “Carry On” series of films.

They usually contained buxom women, hen pecked husbands and “courting” couples, and always the innuendo or double entendre.

The postcard first appeared in the mid nineteenth century.

In “A brief history of the picture postcard” by Judith & Stephen Holder (FRPS) they write:  “The creation of the postcard by Dr Emanuel Hermann in Austria on 1 October 1869 set in motion a revolution in the communication of the ordinary message of no especial importance, the private note, the mundane or jolly remark, the ‘wish you were here’ – indeed any short note for which no real ’security’ was required.

Almost all the main developments in the artistic designs of Postcard art originated on the continent, in Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. The two main exceptions which developed in Great Britain were the Comic card and to some extent the Real Photograph cards of social, industrial and village history.”

Jonathan Duffy (BBC News Online) quotes from a book by Collector Tom Phillips.

“They were classless, and the limited space was a blessing to those with poor spelling or without much to say. “

In an essay in 1941, the renowned author George Orwell wrote:

“Who does not know the ‘comics’ of the cheap stationers’ windows, the penny or twopenny coloured post cards with their endless succession of fat women in tight bathing-dresses and their crude drawing and unbearable colours, chiefly hedge-sparrow’s-egg tint and Post Office red?”

“In general, however, they are not witty, but humorous, and it must be said for McGill’s post cards, in particular, that the drawing is often a good deal funnier than the joke beneath it.”

Donald McGill ,was one of several notable illustrators, who among others included Tom Browne, John Hassall, Bruce Bairnsfather and Alfred Lees.  Unfortunately for McGill he was the unlucky one.

In the 1950’s there was a public morals backlash and Watch Committees were set up in seaside resorts. This led to the 81 year old McGill being prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act of 1857, and several of his cards being destroyed.

These are some of them:






They seem somewhat tame by today’s standards. It was enough however to cause confusion to the shop owners selling them and to cause several printers to cease trading.

After a couple of years this “do-gooder” attitude subsided and the illustrators and printers were back in business.

How are postcards faring in today’s “techno” climate?

In a recent survey the broadcaster ITV said that the number of postcards sent has dropped by 75 per cent. It showed that 67 per cent of those surveyed used emails or photos while on holiday, to keep in touch with family and friends.

And Donald McGill?

In 1994 the Royal Mail brought out a set of commemorative stamps featuring McGill’s postcards.


So Mr. McGill eventually had the last laugh.

Self portrait of Donald McGill.

10 Signs a Spirit Uses to Communicate with You

  1. Lights Flickering

    This is one of the most common signs. Spirits have the ability to interfere with light and electricity just because they are pure energy. I’m not saying that EVERY single time a light bulb flickers at home means that a spirit is around you, but if you check the bulb or the switch and everything seems to be fine and you can’t find an explainable reason, then is very possible there’s a spirit around you.

  2. Appliances Turning On and Off

    Again, the spirits are pure energy and they can manipulate electronic appliances as well, such as the TV, radio, microwave oven, etc. Most of the times they want to make you aware that they’re there and want your attention. If your TV turns on for no apparent reason, try to decode the reason behind it…what show or channel is on? Is it perhaps the favorite show your grandfather used to watch before passing away? Is the radio playing your grandma’s favorite old song?

  3. Chills or Cold Spots

    Sometimes you are in your room, reading a book or chatting online, and suddenly, you feel an awkward chill on the back of your neck, or you get sudden goose bumps through your arms even though is 70o. Degrees. Most of the people have experienced something similar at least once in their lifetimes and the reason of these phenomena is that spirits do not release heat because in fact they absorb it. As everybody knows, heat is energy in movement, and when spirits absorb it they leave a cold spot instead. They use that energy to move and perhaps, to turn on your TV.

  4. Dreams

    Perhaps this is the universal media through which spirits send you messages. But how do you know if that dream about you and your death relative was a real conversation or just the product of your subconscious? In fact, there are a few characteristics you should analyze after having a spiritual dream: It should be vivid
    It should be in color, not black and white or grayish
    It should be chronological or at least with a logical sequence It should have some sort of message with words, telepathy, or physical
    It should have left you confused, happy, peaceful or even fearful

  5. The Feeling of Being Watched

    A lot of us have felt this one! All of us have the ability to pick up spiritual energy once in while, especially when we are relaxed. You may ask, how to tell if this feeling is real or just a suggestive fear? Just ask yourself: Am I feeling this because I don’t like to be alone? Or is it because I recently watched something scary on TV? Remember that our mind play tricks on us very often. If the feeling of being watched came out of the blue, while you were singing, reading a book or just concentrated in something totally unrelated, then be sure that you are not alone!

  6. Voices

    A lot of times people have heard voices calling their names, laughing or chatter. This is very possible but very rare. Indeed, when people hear this voices in an unexplainable circumstance, they attribute them to ghosts. In this case let me make a distinction between a ghost and a spirit. A ghost is an entity that hasn’t cross over to the other side, while a spirit has done so. A spirit can come to the earth to visit relatives and gives us messages, which can also be heard through our ears, but as I said, these cases are rare. On the other hand, a ghost doesn’t know is dead or they can’t cross over because of unfinished business, and they can also try to communicate with you in a rather disturbing manner.

  7. Symbols

    Unfortunately this is the sign we pay less attention to. Spirits try to communicate with us in every unimaginable manner, and by using symbols they are sending us a message without scaring us. Have you ever seen a flying bird that suddenly reminds you of a friend you lost in your childhood? Or perhaps, you found an exact copy of a book at the bookstore that your grandmother used to read to you? What about that toy you thought was lost that your father gave you one Christmas? All of these are examples of symbols our spirits use to let us know… Hey, I’m watching over you!

  8. Scents

    This is another sign that can be confusing. We always keep memories about how our deceased relatives used to smell, perhaps of a distinctive colony or perfume they liked, or even because of a specific activity they performed. I’ve heard many stories where people are doing something and suddenly they smell that particular perfume, or cigarette odor. If your death relative used to work with cars and out of the blue you smell car oil, don’t be scared and say hi!

  9. Moving objects

    Spirits can have the energy to move an object in front of our eyes. However this is rather rare since they don’t want to scare us. This phenomenon is more attributed to ghosts. But many times spirits will do so if they have something important to tell us, especially if we are experiencing a rough time in our lives. Even though you may not see the actual movement, things can appear in different places the next morning or disappear from it usual location. Think about the actual meaning of that object to you, and how can it relate to your deceased relative.

  10. Apparitions

    Apparitions can be really scary, especially because of the context how movies portray them. Spirits don’t want to scare us, but sometimes they’ll appear to us to give us peace. When we see people we don’t know, there can be two possible explanations. It is a ghost or it is an angel, but that’s another story. Ghosts usually appear to scare us or at least to let us know they’re there. Angels appear to us to protect us. When a death relative appears to you, don’t be scared and try to talk to him/her. But don’t worry, since this sign is the rarest, rest assured that you won’t see a complete apparition, however don’t underestimate those “corner of the eye shadows”, because most of the times, it wasn’t your imagination.

Assorted End of The World Prophecies and Theories Reviewed

There are many predictions according to which on 21st December 2012 the world will end. This date is supposed to mark the end of a cycle of the Mesoamerican long count calendar which is claimed to be almost a 5125 years old cycle. Some people translate the significance of this date differently and say this date will mark the beginning of some changes and transformations. They think that Earth and its inhabitants will go through positive spiritual and physical evolution. This date is pretty much open to different interpretations, some say it will mark the end of the world others say it will mark a fresh start.
There are several concepts about how the end of the world will occur. Some advocate the concept that a plant called ‘Planet X’ or Niburu will collide with the Earth and will destroy the Earth and therefore cause the end of the planet. Originally this event was forecast to happen in the year 2003 but was then ignored because it did not occur in 2003. By the year 2012 the activity of sun is also predicted to increase. The sunspots might increase which will cause a serious rise in the temperature of the Earth’s surface. Nostradamus, who was a very famous clairvoyant, also foretold that the end of the planet will happen in December 2012. Lots of Nostradamus’s predictions have been proven right till now and plenty still have not occurred.

An Indian Guru, Guru Kaliki Bhagavan has promoted throughout the country that 2012 will be the end of the Kal Yug. Kal is AKA the degenerate age. Thousands of people accept that Guru Kalki Bhagavan is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He has said that in 2012 the human species will be enlightened spiritually.

The magnetic poles of Earth are shifting continuously. It has been recorded that the North Pole is shifting towards Siberia. Due to this shifting of the magnetic poles severe changes in climate are happening. The shifting of the magnetic poles is causing in the magnetic flux which in its turn is also causing the liquefying of ice caps. The melting of ice caps is normally accredited to only global temperature increases but the change in magnetic flux is one more reason which is causing the ice to melt. The changing magnetic flux is also causing a large amount of magma activity. This magma activity is causing the motion of tectonic plates which is increasing the frequency of quakes. The Bible scriptures say that a war will happen in the middle east and something will occur which will melt the flesh. This may be translated to be a holocaust due to a nuclear bomb. Also in the Book of Revelation it is written that mountains will become valleys and valleys will become mountains. Conditions of serious cold will triumph and there’ll be starvation.

These days there are a number of catastrophes all around the globe. There are famines and droughts all over. These events can be regarded as a sign of the end of the planet which is coming.

Eight Most Notable Unsuccessful Attempts to Kill Hitler

The 2008 Tom Cruise movie “Valkrie” tells a story on how a military conspirational group led by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg planned to assassinate German dictator and fascist Adolf Hitler. This attempt was not the first plot to kill Hitler. Here are some of the most notable plots.

The 2008 Tom Cruise movie “Valkrie” tells a story on how a military conspirational group led by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg planned to assassinate German dictator and fascist Adolf Hitler. This attempt was not the first plot to kill Hitler. According to National Geographic, there were 42 discovered plots to kill Hitler and none was successful. Here are some of the most notable plots.

Maurice Bavaud (Munich, 9th November 1938)

Eight Most Notable Unsuccessful Attempts to Kill Hitler
Maurice Bavaud

 
Being a Swiss Roman Chatolic citizen and having attended Saint Ilan Seminary in Brittany France, Bavaud believed that Hitler was a thread to mankind and most importantly to Chatolic church in Switzerland and Germany. Bavaud became obsessed with the idea of killing Hitler and planned to do the assassination himself.

Bavaud planned to shot Hitler when marching in a parade called “Reichskristallnactht” in the city of Munich on 9th November 1938 . By posing as a Swiss reporter, Bavaud managed to get a VIP seat. Unexpectedly, Hitler changed his marching position to the far end of the street instead of in the middle. Bavaud tried to pull out his gun from inside his pocket but just when Hitler marched past him, the entire bystander reached out their arms for the Hittler’s salute, thus hindering Bavaud from taking the shot. But even if he made the shot, it would have failed anyway since the distance between him and Hitler was too wide to make the shot deadly.

After his first failure, Bavaud tried to follow Hittler’s move in order to get close enough to him. His attempts were never successful. Finally he ran out of money and took a train trip to Paris without buying ticket. The conductor turned him over to the police. Upon the discovery of the gun amongst Bavaud’s belonging, the police turned him over to the Gestapo. Swiss government had done nothing to save him. On 14th May 1941, Bavaud was beheaded by guillotine.

 Georg Elser, (Burberbraukeller, Munich, 8th November 1939)

Eight Most Notable Unsuccessful Attempts to Kill Hitler
Georg Elser

Image via DamnInteresting

Elser was a German citizen who was afraid that Hitler would bring devastation to Germany. He had no religious motive, instead he mainly concerned about labour issues. Elser despised restricted worker’s freedom, poor working condition and low wages. His skill as carpenter and previous working experience in a watch factory gave him the ability to build a wooden time bomb.

Elser planned to assassinate Hitler when giving annual speech in Burberbraukeller, a large beer hall in Munich, which was one of the gathering places of Nazi Party. Elser got this idea when he was attending the 1938’s Nazi gathering in that place and noted that the event was poorly guarded. In November 1938 Elser came to Munich and managed to stay inside Burberbraukeller. Every night he crawled into a hollow space behind a column where Hitler would give his speech. His bomb was so carefully made. Until today it is still consider a work of art. On 5th November 1939, the 50 kg bomb was completely installed. Elser set the bomb to explode at 21.20 on 8 November 1839.

Unexpectedly, in the last moment, Hitler decided to take late night train to get back to Berlin as Munich Airport was closed due to bad weather. Consequently he had to end his speech at 21.07. Thirteen minutes earlier than anticipated. At exactly 21.20 the bomb exploded killing 8 people and injuring more than 60 others. Elser’s assassination plan that would have changed history was failed. At the time of explosion, Elser was already on his way to Switzerland. He was arrested by the police when trying to cross the border. Elser was transferred to Munich and interrogated by Gestapo. He finally confessed. He was shot to death in 1945 only three weeks before the end of war in Dachau concentration camp.

Polish Army (Warsaw 5th October 1939)

In September 1939 Hitler’s troops invaded Poland. Polish Army, however, managed to continue their underground activity during the war. The underground army planned to assassinate Hitler during a Victory parade in Warsaw by planting a bomb in Square Charles de Gaulles. The bomb failed to explode.

Soviet Inteligence (1940s)

Eight Most Notable Unsuccessful Attempts to Kill Hitler
Olga Checkova

Image source : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olga_Chekhova

The soviet recruited Olga Checkova, a Russian-born actress who fled to and gain recognition in Berlin, as spy. Checkova was recruited due to her good relationship with Hitler. Soviet intelligence asked Checkova to introduce Hitler to two assassins. The plan was abandoned when the Russian started to win the war.

Foxley Operation (1944)

Eight Most Notable Unsuccessful Attempts to Kill Hitler
Hitler’s Berghof.

Image source : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berghof_(Hitler)

British Government through its Special Operation Executive (SOE) also planned to assassinate Hitler. The SOE first planned to put bombs in train that Hitler travelled in. This plan was abandoned because Hitler’s train schedule was never predictable and too irregular. The second plan was to poison Hitler’s food and beverage while he was travelling by train. Once again, this plan was abandoned as the SOE would require an inside man. The third plan which was considered the most acceptable was to assign a sniper to shot Hitler.

From a prisoner of war who had been part of Hitler’s security guard, the SOE obtained information of Hitler activities at the Berghof, a vocational place regularly visited by Hitler. It was revealed that at 10 AM everyday, Hitler would take his private walk around the woods, unguarded and out of sight of sentry posts. A Nazi flag visible from a nearby café was put up every time Hitler was there. The SOE planned to send 2 men wearing a German uniform by parachute into the area surrounding the compound.

Although Churhill favored the plan, not all SOE’s executive supported it. Many still believed that with the war almost over, it would not be a good idea to assassinate Hitler. Killing Hitler would make him sort of a martyr to some Germans and Nazism would probably live on. No decision was reached and the plan was never executed.

Henning Von Tresckow (1941 – 1944)

Eight Most Notable Unsuccessful Attempts to Kill Hitler
Henning Von Tresckow

Image source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henning_von_Tresckow

Tresckow came from a Prussian noble family with long military tradition. He didn’t like the cruelty shown by Hitler’s regime in particular when Hitler started the mass shooting towards Jewish woman and children. Tresckow made numerous attempts to kill Hitler from 1941 – 1944.

In August 1941, Tresckow and his cousin Schlabrendroff planned to kidnap Hitler when travelling to Heeresgruppe Mitte. The plan failed because of high security. On March 1943 Tresckow concealed a plastic bomb in a package purportedly contained cognac bottles and tried to place it in Hitler’s Condor plane. The bomb failed to explode because the luggage compartment where the package was located was not heated. The low temperature had prevented the bomb from detonating. Schlabrendroff retrieved the package from the plane to prevent the discovery of the plot. A week after this failed plot, Tresckow made another attempt to blow Hitler. This time, the execution of the plan was on the hand of Gersdorff, Tresckow’s friend and ally.

Rudolf von Gersdorff (March 1943)

Gersdorff intended to do a suicide bombing. He carried 8 ounces C2 bomb and hide it in his pocket. He was a tour guide when Hitler visited Zeughaus Berlin to inspect Soviet captured weapons. His plan was to throw himself around Hitler after Hitler made his speech and blew the bomb that would surely kill them both. The bomb was set to explode within 10 minutes after the detonator was activated. Unexpectedly, Hitler ended the tour sooner than expected. Probably because he felt Gersdorff,s anxiety. Gersdorff managed to diffuse the bomb in a public lavatory. He evaded suspicion and become one of few German Military anti Hitler plotter who survive the war.

Claus Von Stauffenberg (20 July 1944)

Eight Most Notable Unsuccessful Attempts to Kill Hitler
Claus Von Stauffenberg

Image source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henning_von_Tresckow
Born into an aristocrat Catholic family; Stauffenberg felt uneasy towards Hitler’s ill-treatment of Jews. Finally, his personal sense of justice and religious morality made him turn against Hitler.

Stauffenberg named his assassination plan “Valkrie Operation”. This is perhaps the most famous plot to kill Hitler. Stauffenberg planned to conceal two bombs in a briefcase and put it in the briefing room in Wolfsschanze, one of Nazi’s Headquarters, when Hitler held a meeting there on 20 July 1944.Because there was not enough time to arm the second bomb before the meeting began, only one bomb was successfully carried into the briefing room. Stauffenberg placed the briefcase as close as possible to Hittler and hurriedly excused himself. Unexpectedly, after his exit from the room, Colonel Brandt moved the briefcase away from its intended position.

The bomb exploded. Stauffenberg watched the explosion and convinced himself that no one could have survived the blast. He was wrong. He was in Berlin to initiate a military coup against Nazi’s leaders when he heard the news that Hitler suffered only minor injury. Scientist believes that the existence of windows on the walls of the meeting room had reduced the power of explosion. Moreover, the wrong placement of the bomb caused a heavy and solid oak conference table to form a shield that protected Hitler. Modern computer simulation shows that if only the second bomb were also used, the blast would have killed Hitler. Stauffenberg was shot to death.

Besides the above attempt, there are still numerous plots to kill Hitler, from bombing to poisoning. Although all have failed, it shows the world that not all German citizens or their military supported Hitler’s conduct and ideology.

Top 3 World’s Most Expensive Beer

    1. 1. Vielle Bon Secours:

      This tops the list of the world’s most expensive beer, costing around £500 (equivalent to around $1,000) per bottle or about £39 (equivalent to around $78) per pint. It can only be found in a bar called the Bierdrome in London.

 

  1. 2. Samuel Adams’ Utopias:

    This beer is brewed by the Boston Beer Company, using the brand name of Samuel Adam’s Utopias, named after one of the founding fathers of the USA. This comes second in the list of the world’s most expensive beer which costs around $100 per bottle (24 oz) or about $67 per pint, sold in copper bottles resembling the copper brewing kettles which are used by brewers for hundreds of years.

    Top 3 World’s Most Expensive Beer

    The alcohol content is 25%, making it the strongest beer in the world (listed in the Guinness Book of Records). The process of making this beverage can take up to 12 years, giving it the unique and rich flavors. It is said that the production was limited to 8,000 bottles per year.

  2. 3. Tutankhamen Brew:


    The recipe of this brew is prepared according to the recipe and brewing method discovered by a team of University of Cambridge archaeologists/Egyptologists in the Queen Nefertiti’s Temple of the Sun in Egypt. The brewery found in the corner of the said temple is believed to have been built by King Akhenaton who is King Tutankhamen’s father. This is also the place where King Akhenaton queen, Nefertiti worshiped.

     

    The archaeologists sought expert advice from Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, Edinburgh and the beer is brewed in the Cambridge laboratory, costing around $52 per bottle. The production is also limited and the edition is also numbered.

10 Signs You are Dating a Narcissist

There are degrees of narcissism. Some are more severe than others. Some are merely annoying egomaniacs. Others are axe murderers. But if you are in a relationship that has left you feeling frustrated and you’re not sure why, you may well be with a narcissist. Here are a few signs to watch for.

Narcissis, as many know, was the legendary character who fell in love with his own reflection. A narcissist is someone who, usually due to childhood trauma or over-doting parents, has become obsessed with himself. Some cases are so severe that the person becomes disconnected from reality and fails to maintain mutually beneficial relationships with other people.

I had a few indications that the guy I was dating was pretty self-centered, but frankly I didn’t think about it much. Then one day, I was at his house, standing beside him in the kitchen, and he was putting butter on a roll. He turned to walk away, taking a bite out of the roll, and left me standing there. At that time, we had only been dating a couple of months.

A big red flag went up. To me, it seemed abnormal to prepare the roll and eat it, while offering me nothing. This might not seem like a big deal, but it was combined with a couple of other things that gave me the first inkling that I was dating a narcissist.

My family is rife with narcissists, so I grew up thinking selfish behavior was normal. To this day (despite years of therapy) I display a high tolerance for self-centered people. As a result, I attract these relationships like a pair of black pants attracts cat hair.

There are degrees of narcissism. Some are more severe than others. Some are merely annoying egomaniacs. Others are axe murderers. But if you are in a relationship that has left you feeling frustrated and you’re not sure why, you may well be with a narcissist. Here are a few signs to watch for.

Lack of Empathy

Because a narcissist is, by definition, someone who is completely self-involved, he has little or no ability to perceive how someone else is feeling. Worse, when feelings are explained to him, he doesn’t care. It’s his feelings that matter. Understandably, this opens a Pandora’s Box of problems within relationships.

Social Ineptitude

Some narcissists can’t pay attention to what others are saying. My most recent one had a habit of walking away in the middle of a conversation, or lapsing off to watch T.V. while someone was talking to him. If I had anything to say to him, I always had to be careful there were no electronic distractions, such as T.V., radio, etc. I had the best luck with keeping my statements succinct. At a party, he would project his own thoughts, but never asked questions of others. As a result there was no give and take. “The conversation,” my brother said after meeting him the second time, “falls flat.”

Despite this, a narcissist is not necessarily a jackass in public. In fact, many of them have a meek and likeable public persona. This makes it very difficult to explain to others about the self-centered evil that lies within them. In fact, the duplicity can be so extreme that you can begin to question your own sanity. The narcissist, as one person put it, can seem, “like a werewolf”.

Delusions of Grandeur

 I attended a parade with a narci once, and he told me that he could picture himself being Grand Marshal one day. He hadn’t done anything remotely close to earning this honor, but he wasn’t kidding. Does your date exaggerate his achievements and accomplishments? Does he seem to build himself up? This is a common trait in Narci. If you feel he could use a big dose of humility, then this is one thing to watch for.

Requires Excessive Admiration

Narci is often quite good at fishing for compliments, and finding ways to get respect and admiration from those around him. Beware though, of a lack of reciprocity, which is mentioned below (see #10).

Sense of Entitlement

Whether it’s the best seat in a restaurant or the biggest slice of pie, Narci requires special treatment, and feels he deserves it. There may not seem to be any rational reason for why he should be first in line — he just always expects to be.

Preoccupied With Fantasies

Everyone has dreams. But Narci is obsessed with his own inner world. He has visions of unlimited success, power, brilliance or ideal love. He may engage you in the beginning, thinking you will help him fulfill these fantasies. As soon as he realizes you are flesh and blood, you become, basically, dog meat.

Exploitative

Narci has no hesitation about exploiting and manipulating the talents of others. Is there something he wants from you? Then he is probably being nice to you — for the time being.

Center of the Universe

Narci maintains an attitude that demonstrates the world revolves around him; and you must cater to his ideas, needs and desires. Most of us are happy to oblige someone these things. But Narci will keep taking from you without filling your well. And be forewarned, when the well runs dry, he will have no more use for you.

Withholding – Controlling

If a narcissist finds out what you like, he is sure to take it away from you. For instance, I told my most recent narci that I love going to the movies. Guess what happened? We never attended another one. I suspect this is more a “dog in the manger” thing than intentional cruelty. The narcissist does not want to be mean, necessarily. He just wants the world to revolve around him and his desires, his activities. If it is something you want, it isn’t something he wants, and therefore not worth his time.

Doesn’t Reciprocate

If you have made the horrible mistake of telling a narcissist you love him, beware. You will be punished. Because he is actually filled with self-loathing, Narci has contempt for those who love him.

This can be especially tough for people who have a generous nature. I like telling people I love them, and the compulsion is very strong when I feel that way. But the nicer and more generous you are to a narcissist, the more you will be rebuked. In this confusing and haphazard existence, a narcissist behaves best with those who set limits on him. Do not show any sign of vulnerability, because that gives him license for contempt.

You will find that none of your needs are met. You will receive no appreciation or gratitude for anything you do. You will never receive a compliment. You are a tool, a pawn, an object. Narcissus is not capable of any generosity of spirit. Sadly, he is incapable of the type of introspection necessary for change.

The bad news is, narcissists don’t change. Narci is stuck in his own universe, and his reality is completely different from ours. He is doomed to remain forever gazing at his own reflection, loving — and hating — only himself. Don’t hate the narcissist for being what he is. Educating him is fruitless because he simply lacks the capacity for self-examination. If anything, he deserves pity.

The good news is, because you have asked the question, you have the ability to save yourself. My advice is, “Run for your life!” Life is too short to be sacrificed for someone who won’t ever — who can’t ever — appreciate you.  Move on to better and brighter things.

Tiananmen Square 2

A Moral Fight to an Unreasonable End.

In 1989, the people of China were fighting the injustice of their communist government in Tiananmen Square. Their rights were being oppressed and they wanted the ability to run their own lives. The students at the protest had elected representatives to speak up against their communist leader. They wanted China to accept the reforms they protested for, but more than that they wanted the rest of the world to realize that China’s communist government was ruining the country. The protestors of Tiananmen Square used reasonable means of protesting to gain the rights that they did not have because they were never trying to harm anybody in their process of achieving freedom. To gain these liberties, the people protested together at Tiananmen Square, wrote petitions against the government, and went on a hunger strike.

The first way that the college students of China protested against their government was by gathering at Tiananmen Square. First, in April 17, 10,000 students had met up at Tiananmen Square to protest. This shows that so many people of China wanted a change in government and that the government was ruling unfairly. They were not trying to harm anybody by gathering together. They were only there to mourn for the death of Hu Yaobang and to protest for a democracy. Also, these students began to sing hymns that had lyrics that fought communism and promoted democracy. This portrays the fact that the people were so propelled by their beliefs of a need for democracy that they were compelled to sing out their feelings for a new government. Once again, they were not trying to kill anybody with their singing. They were only trying to let out their emotions to the world to let others know what they desired. Finally, the students carved out a giant statue that stood for liberty and democracy. This reinforces the fact that they wanted a democratic government because they were trying to mimic the Statue of Liberty to get the rest of the world and the US to notice their plea for a fair government. In the end, the government did notice their protesting, but the people of China did not gain anything out of it. They were only massacred later on for their insolence and betrayal against the government even though the students had not tried to harm anybody.

The second thing the students did was to make petitions and posters to protest against the government. Petitions are a moral way to call against the injustice of a nation because nobody is harmed in doing so. First, on the first day of the gathering at Tiananmen Square, the students immediately began to make a petition of demands that they wanted. It was a way to get the world to realize that so many people wanted a change in government. Second, the students began making posters and banners that called for freedom, democracy, and enlightenment. They hung them up on the imitation Statue of Liberty to attract the attention of the government. They also wanted the people of the world to see those banners and realize how badly the people of China wanted a democracy. Finally, on May 9, the students petitioned for the freedom to report the protest to the world. They wanted to tell everybody that the government was oppressing them. None these tactics worked because they angered the government and ended up being slaughtered in their own protesting grounds.

Finally, the students that were protesting went on a hunger strike. On May 13, the students began a hunger strike in order to get the government to meet with them. In a sense this was an unmoral tactic to force the government to notice them because they were risking human lives, but the end justifies the means and their reason for a hunger strike was moral. Then on May 14, the students were allowed to talk to the government leaders because the hunger strike convinced the government to talk with them. Unfortunately the negotiations failed and the students were left with nothing. They had a chance to make changes to China, but a stubborn Communist Government prevented them from doing so. Finally in May 18, Li Peng tried to stop the students from their strike, but the students won’t stop their protesting and the government prepared for martial law. The length of the hunger strike most definitely forced the government to take extreme means to stop the strike. After all, if the government let the people die from starving themselves, the international press would print bad reviews on China to the rest of the world. This means that the people of China brought the massacre upon themselves when they tried to protest by the means of a hunger strike.

The student protestors at Tiananmen Square were never trying to harm the government from the start because that would not have solved anything and that means that the protestors’ tactics of fighting for their cause was just. All three of their tactics to protest against their government were moral, but going on a hunger strike brought about their protest’s failure. The government could not afford the deaths of human lives that they would not be able to cover up later, so their final resort was to use martial law. Although the protestors used just ways of fighting, the government they were fighting only did whatever it could to stop the protesting.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

Chinoy, Mike. “Two Decades in the Heart of the Dragon: China Live.”

This book told me that on the students sang hymns to try to protest for a democracy (185), and that on April 17 the students began their petition of demands for the changes they wanted in their government (188). Also it told me that on May 9, the students tried to petition for the freedom to report about the protest to the world. And finally, it said that the students made posters and banners that had freedom, democracy, and enlightenment written on them (190).

Peng, Li. “Li Peng and Others Meet Representatives of the Fasting Students.” Tiananmen Chronology. 18 Dec. 2008 .

This site told me about all 3 of the specific examples on the tactic of hunger strike. It said that the people began a protest on May 13 to try to meet the government, that on May 14 the students talked to the government, and on May 18, Li Peng tried to stop the students’ hunger strike.

Secondary Sources

“‘History written in Blood.’” Hong Kong Alliance. 18 Dec. 2008 .

This site told me that on April 17, ten thousand students had gathered at Tiananmen Square to protest and that by April 18, there were tens of thousands of students there. Also, it told me that they had made an imitation Statue of Liberty to protest against their communist government.

Best Evidence for The Ancient Astronaut or Ancient Alien Theory

Do you believe in the Ancient Astronaut or sometimes called the Ancient Alien theory?  For anybody unfamiliar with this theory; it basically states that beings (aliens) came to Earth in the ancient past to help shape our society and brought us civilization as we know it today.  Humans that came into contact or witnessed these beings believed them to be Gods and ended up passing stories down every generation concerning the Gods from the sky.

So, do people seriously believe in this theory?  And what and where is the best evidence?  Ever since Eric Von Daniken’s book Chariots of the Gods was published almost 40 years ago, there have been hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of people that really believe that at some point in our past we have been visited.  Von Daniken and many other authors have continued to write about these ancient astronauts and their books are always top sellers.  Even the History Channel has a 5 part series (possibly could go to 8 parts when finished) about Ancient Aliens coming to Earth.  So that sums up the popularity of the theory with the public but what about the evidence?  There are tons of things that people bring up as evidence for this theory but I am going to focus on some of the more popular ones here.  Below is a list of the best evidence so far with this theory………

1.)    Nazca Lines – Pictographs of living animals (even people) and insects, straight lines, and plants.  All of these pictographs can only be seen from flying over them. There even appears to be a runway.  Possibly for beings in spaceships?

2.)    Mahabharata and Ramyana – Ancient Indian Epics (poems) that talk about a great battle with men in flying machines and large powerful weapons.  Written over 2000 years ago.  Are they just a good story or did they witness something in the sky back then?

3.)    Ancient buildings and the construction of them.  Questions still remain on structures such as Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid and many South and Latin American sites on how they were built.  Many of these sites have proven to be as precise or even better than what we can do today. Seen below is PumaPunku.  Did these beings show us how to do this?

4.)    Small gold figurines found that closely resemble modern day aircraft.  Once again were these toys or someone’s imagination or possibly aircraft that these ancient people were witnessing?

5.)    Legends in every religion in the world describing Gods or holy people in flying machines, miraculous technology, and beings coming from the Sky.  Was it God or aliens though?

6.)    Cave art in Italy and Australia and others around the world that closely resembles a person with a suit on similar to what our modern astronauts wear.  Did these ancient people witness these beings from space in spacesuits?

7.)    Pictures in Egyptian hieroglyphics with what appears to be a helicopter, a plane, a rocket and even a light bulb.  How much technology did the Egyptians actually have and where did they learn it from?

So, there you have some of the best evidence to support the Ancient Astronaut theory.  I know this list is not complete and I could list many more things that support this theory but this does give you the general things that people look for to support it.  So, what is your decision on the theory?  One thing is for certain and that is, no matter if the theory is true or not, it has certainly caught everyone’s attention and will continue to be a hot topic for years to come……..

A Giant Awakes in Nantes

Nantes, the home town of Jules Verne, is situated in western France.  Here, near the river Loire a giant deep-sea diver sleeps gently, waiting for his task to begin.  Sadness marks his face even as he sleeps.  He has been searching the world over for his missing niece and although he may not know it, the end of his search is coming.  The diver or scaphandrier as he is known in French will be paraded through the streets of this historic city at the beginning of the Estuary 2009 arts festival.  The biannual festival gives the French mechanical marionette street theater company Royale de Luxe the opportunity to unveil their latest creation.

He wakes and his helmet is placed on his head by his human helpers. This would well be considered a little too high for many but the performers seem oblivious to the height.  Royale de Luxe was founded in 1979 and is actually based in Nantes, making this a return to the city that bore the company.  They have, however, performed all over the world, as far away as Chile and Australia.  You may remember the Sultan’s Elephant strolling through the streets of London in 2006.  An associate company, La Machine created last year’s spectacular ‘Princesse’ a massive visiting spider in Liverpool when in was European City of Culture.  Here, however, a giant returns home.

He rises, perhaps in the hope that his long quest will soon be over. The Giant, now equipped in deep sea diving gear and his little niece, the Little Giantess have featured in the works of the theatre company before.  However, they have been away for a while with some information about which the world had previously been unaware.  As with any Royale de Luxe performance there is a long and some would said drawn out back story.  In 1912 the Titanic went down to the bottom of the ocean.  Unknown to us, however, was that in its hold a giantess was held captive, the mother of the Little Giantess.

From a distance he looks small, but only if he were an ordinary person paying a visit to a Lego theme park.  As he steadies himself he can resume his long search.  The enormous diver is the scouring the earth for the Little Giantesse.  She was captured in Iceland which was at the time the home of the giants, each having his or her own particular task.  The Little Giantess was to wake up the geysers of Iceland when a message needed to be sent.  You may wonder what on earth geysers and messages have in common but little known to the outside world the geysers were used to transmit signals between the giants, much like the smoke signals of American natives.

The mechanics behind this piece of street art are staggering and more than a little scary.  How much the gentlemen forty meters above the ground are being paid is unknown but whatever it is, it is not enough.  But where does the deep-sea diver properly come in to the story?  He is the brother of the giantess who drowned on the Titanic.  Originally he had been busy doing his own job – sawing up icebergs – to realize that his sister and her daughter were missing.  His statistics are something extraordinary as well.  He stands at nine and a half meters and a width of almost three.  Weighing in at two and a half tones it takes thirty operators to control his movements.

In his past he has travelled the seabed for years and eventually he found the wreck of the Titanic.  He buried his sister near the sunken ship.  While there he discovered a mysterious box full of mail from the Titanic.  He now had two new goals in life – the task of finding his niece and to deliver the mail.  Since then he has wandered the earth in search of the Little Giantess.  Still wearing the diving outfit he used to search the bed of the ocean, this festival marks the end of his search.

The momentum of his stride is enough to pick up two grown men off their feet and dangle them through the air.  As with all of the Royale de Luxe open air spectacles little was given away before the day of the event, in this case Friday 5 June.  All anyone knew was that the giant would wake up at 1.30 in the afternoon on the Tblisi Deck of the town.  He made his way, astonishing the crowds on the way with his sheer scale.  He was forced to stop twice on his route, however, not far from the hospital.  However, a huge crowd waited for him at the Place Gloriette and he did eventually make it.

Will he ever find his niece? Well, tomorrow is another day, after all.  However, this spectacle represents altogether another wonderful performance by the massed ranks of Royale de Luxe and a wonderful start to the Estuary 2009 Festival in Nantes.

Postscript.  The good people of Nantes and the world had to wait until the day after to see whether or not the giant was reunited with his niece.  It seems, now that it has happened, only fair to share with you the end result of his epic search.  The picture below speaks for itself.

The author would like to thank Flickr user misterstf for permission to use the wonderful photographs contained in this article.

L’auteur voudrait remercier misterstf sur Flickr pour la permission d’employer les photographies merveilleuses contenues en cet article.

Defend the Constitution: Help End Discrimination Against Non-Theists

When he was a kid, one of my best friends joined the Boy Scouts of America. He was a model Scout for the duration of his membership, but that membership was suddenly revoked after about six months—not for misconduct or failure to complete program requirements, but because his Scout Master saw that he identified himself as agnostic on his Myspace.

Such discrimination against non-theists (people who don’t affirm the existence of gods) is surprisingly widespread in the U.S. Many organizations such as the Boy Scouts, who call themselves private even though they benefit from public funds, have discriminatory policies that bar non-theists from membership. According to former Eagle Scout Steve Cozza, “when they want to discriminate, they act as a private organization; when they want money or the use of publicly-funded buildings, venues, or property, they act as a public organization.” Worse than this is our theistic oath of office requirement for federal officials. Congressional representatives, military officers, and other federal employees are often forced to take an oath of office ending with the phrase “so help me God,” and this can prevent well-qualified candidates from serving–just for sticking to their principles. Yet perhaps the worst example of discrimination against nonbelievers is theism as qualification for holding public office being written into numerous state constitutions. The constitutions of South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Maryland, and other states contain clauses that exclude people who do not acknowledge the existence of God or a Supreme Being (phraseology varies) from holding office. In spite of the Supreme Court’s 1961 ruling that such clauses violate the federal Constitution, they are still used to deny those who are not monotheists (which includes those with polytheistic and atheistic religions, like paganism and Buddhism, respectively) the right to serve in state governments.

A dismaying number of Americans are unaware of this problem or just don’t care enough to do something about it, although there are many simple ways to help make it clear that such discriminative policies are both inconsistent with the Constitution and unacceptable to the American public and to help bring them to an end, such as:

  • Writing letters or emailing state and federal representatives about our concerns regarding such discrimination and calling on them to take legislative measures to prevent it and repeal iniquitous clauses.
  • Organizing rallies or petitions in support of equal opportunities for non-theists.
  • Joining organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union, or donating to such organizations, or simply taking action online by sending pre-fabricated emails to leaders and lawmakers through their websites.
  • Forming new organizations that promote tolerance and equity among theists and non-theists alike.
  • Sharing concerns about discriminatory policies with groups like the Boy Scouts, petitioning them to admit prospective members regardless of religion or lack thereof, or legally challenging them if rejected for beliefs or lack thereof.

If we all take decisive action, we can bring about the end of discrimination against nonbelievers and fulfillment of promises of U.S. Constitution, made in the First and Fourteenth Amendments. According to the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This implies the freedom to choose any religion or no religion. According to the Fourteenth Amendment, “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.” This implies equal opportunities for all, theists and non-theists alike. Clearly, these promises have yet to be fulfilled. However, this can change–and it will, if the historical trend of human progress continues. But such progress is never achieved without effort.

Thus, I urge you all to join me and groups like the FFRF and ACLU in taking action to help end discrimination against non-theists. Hopefully, our collective actions will lead to the dawn of an era where people like my old friend, the would-be Boy Scout, will not have to fear persecution for not sharing the beliefs of the majority.

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Mesopotamia

These are some of the strangest facts involving the worlds first civilization!

1. Mesopotamian Religion did not believe in the after-life. They believed that all good and bad people go under-ground as ghosts and eat dirt.

2. Their religion also believed that they were servants of god. If you were to ask a person today why they are here they would say because god loves me. Back in Mesopotamia they would say to be a servant of the gods. Talk about population control!

3. Mesopotamia invented the wheel, plow, irrigation systems and the sailboat!

4. Priests would read the livers of chickens or lambs to see what the gods wanted for sacrifices.

5. Priests controlled the irrigation systems and also had more power than the king and queen!

6. Mesopotamia was the very first civilization.

7. The Mesopotamian king ordered the construction of the Hanging Gardens for his wife because she grew up in the mountains and was homesick!

8. Mesopotamia was made up of individual City-states controlled by different powers. They would eventually attack each other and end up under 1 ruler. The people would retaliate and go back to being city-states. This process was repeated many times.

9. Each City-state had its own god!

10. In the Mesopotamian religion there are 4 main gods of Earth, Water, Air and the Heavens. And there were 3,000 lesser gods and each represented an everyday item like a pickaxe. If you were mining and the pickaxe slipped and fell on your foot, the god of the pickaxe hated you!

So there you have it.  The Egyptians were not the only super interesting civilization in the ancient history.

Choice AND Life

by Athar Aamir Khan

Dear friends, I think for all of us life is something that we all relish, acknowledge and perhaps appreciate as well. Life as we know seems to have its own way of living. It hates monotony, and comes like a colourful dilemma, showing bursts of ups and downs, riches and rages, merry and worry and hyssop and hysteric. It often takes us just a moment to realise how every second of our lives relishes and screws us at the same time.

It seems difficult to understand why is it that we find no choice other than accepting life exactly the way it embraces us. Is it that we are really caught in the shackles of our own life or is it that we are only in the loquacity of some gab?

So, greater than life there is something else that we all are striving for and that is the life of choice. I don’t know about life of choice but I feel we definitely can think of choices in life. Our own perception and attitude often drives our senses in our choices.

Be it good or bad, we can acknowledge the possibilities in life and search for some merit in every new situation. Life itself is short; why not enjoy even diversions for the sake of some venture in life.

We need to accept that the grandiosities of today do not guarantee tomorrow’s success. It is just normal to react to unfavourable circumstances unfavourably. After all we are creatures of prejudices and have pre-conceived notions. Our greatest security itself lies in our insecurity.

It is very true that we always find our happiness and sadness buried in our desires but at the same time it is always in our hands to reshape our desires and make our lives self-satiated and the lives with choices.

Hope that we all break our own shackles and fly with the colours of life beyond all desires, means and ends.

The Mortuary Temple of The Pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut

A thousand shades of sandy-brown. Only two miles from the Nile and all hint of green is gone. It is easy to see why the ancient Egyptians called the desiccated ground either side of their narrow fertile strip the Red Lands, from which our word ‘desert’ is said to derive. And since the sun set in the west the western desert was the land of the dead. Here, on the opposite side of the Niles from the great cities lie complexes of tombs and mortuary temples, none more spectacular than the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, the Pharaoh Queen.


View of the mortuary temple complex

Hatshepsut was one of the few female pharaohs, reigning for about 21 years up to 1458 BC, in the period of ancient Egypt known as the New Kingdom, the time when the Egyptian Empire grew to its greatest extent. A daughter of the old pharaoh Thutmose I by one of his main wives, she married one of her half brothers as his main wife, bolstering his claim to the throne (he was the son of the pharaoh by a minor wife). Her husband / half brother became Thutmose II but he soon died and his son by a lesser wife became the official pharaoh, Thutmose III, with his Hatshepsut as regent because he was still a child.

Hatshepsut seems to have become rather fond of power and soon styled herself pharaoh instead, holding onto the throne even when her son reached the age of majority. Apart from being one of the few female pharaohs, she is famous for sending a large trade expedition to the ‘Land of Punt,’ which brought back many different exotic goods, illustrated on the walls of the temple.

 

The inscriptions from her time aren’t detailed enough to say for definite where Punt was, but leading contenders are Somalia and Ethiopia, with Arabia as another possibility. What is definite is that during her time Egypt was rich and well connected in trade. Wall paintings of piles of goods make it clear what a variety there was to be had for those with the wealth.

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Wall painting from the temple of piles of grave goods

Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple nestles at the bottom of the cliffs that separate the Nile valley from the high desert plateau beyond. It is built in a series of layers, each a large open square, leading up to the main buildings right up against the cliffs. These consists of a long central open corridor with statues of Hatshepsut in the form of the god Osiris and several individual temples to the side.

The main corridor, with statues of Hatshepsut in the form of the god Osiris

It was common for pharaohs, who claimed to be half divine by birth and to ascend to the divine when they died, to depict themselves in the form of gods. Nothing illustrates the quiet alien concepts of their religion and philosophy more than this. Imagine the fuss nowadays if a ruler depicted himself or herself in the form of a god!

One should remember that this is a mortuary temple and not a tomb. Hatshepsut was never buried here. This place was where she would have been prepared for burial and where, for years afterwards, priests would pray for her soul. The concept is similar to a medieval king dedicating a chapel and paying for a priest to sing masses for his soul after his death.

What is truly astonishing about the place is colour of the painted wall carvings, dulled only slightly by the passing of three and a half millennia. One moment, the centuries seem to lie lightly, the merest veil of fine Egyptian gauze separating now from then. The next, the full weight of all those years hits you, and you gasp with wonder.

Effective Pre-K and Kindergarten Classroom Management

Moving-Clip System: A Chart with Super Day (Happy Face) and Bad Day (Sad Face)

This is a great system to help the students regulate their own behavior. Each time when an individual student is mis-behaved, the teacher will ask him/her to move his/her clip down one level. The wall chart has 4 levels. Each student has his/her own clip with a name on it. They all start the day with the clips being placed on the top of the chart at the Super Day level (Happy Face). When each individual is being asked to move the clip when he/she mis-behaves, the clip goes down one level. They are given 4 chances during the day: from “Super Day” to “Good Day”, then to “OK Day” and the bottom is “Bad Day”.

If they ever move the clip in any given day, they are grounded and won’t be able to trade in the stars for a treasure chest toy even if they reach the 20-star reward level right on that day. But this system starts a brand new day each day, so they will still get the chance to go get a treasure chest toy if they don’t move the clip the following day. It is like your account has to be in good standing in order to receive the reward.

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Using Signals or Sign Language

The teacher has taught the class to use some hand signals for the need to use the bathroom and to go for a sip of water. The sign language of the letter “W” is for water, and “R” is for restroom. This way you can eliminate the students from talking to express their needs. Sometimes when one starts talking, the whole class can end up going out of control fairly quickly. This is an effective way to keep them quiet and yet not to ignore their demand.

Make Every Activity to be Associated with a Song

Create or find a song for clean-up, line-up, etc.  When the play time is finished, students are asked to put away the toys and to clean up the room and they use a clean-up song to engage with this activity. And when they need to line up, they will sing the line up song. In every action they do, they sing altogether and this actually allows them to get the job done quickly and smoothly.  I think music often works the wonder to help the kids to get motivated and to get their attention to follow through the entire process and you will get the end result from what it is needed to be done.

Take Time to Relax and Refresh with Music, So the Students Can Get Their Attention Back to Focus on the Teaching Again

One day I learned from our teacher, Mrs. Fristad, that there are times during the day in the class that you may find some students seem to start loosing their focus. Then you can start leading a song, let the students all stand up to stretch, to move around, jump and sing-along. After a short break like that, you can be sure to get their attention and focus back on track again. I learned a great deal from this. Dealing with young children, they easily loose their focus and their mind may just wander around. Singing together can let their steam out and they can then start to re-focus again. Learning can easily revolve around music. Students and the teacher all have fun together and this will boost up the spirits within the classroom and it goes a long way!

Here is a great example you may want to try: