Friday, May 27, 2011

Ni hau! Sayonara! Salaam! Shalom! Namaste! Ciao! A plus tard!

Fantastic Mr Fox, Shreveport  by trudeau
Fantastic Mr Fox, Shreveport , a photo by trudeau on Flickr.


Hope you spend a great deal of your summer in reading. Truly, it is the key to your future as a successful student and young adult.

One book to consider is the popular tale from Garth Stein called The Art of Racing in the Rain. It's about a guy, his car and his dog, says Wikipedia. The author will speak at Magnet in October.

Me, I'm re-reading the entertaining books of satirical writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, this summer. Books such as Slaughter House Five and Cat's Cradle are inventive and stimulating.

I'll be following the news via The Economist, NY Times, Newsweek, Time and other

One of my connections for new music is

Should you attend school on Tuesday? If you have a teacher who's made a special request for your presence, that would be one thing. Your parents might be, like, "You are (expletive) going to school, my dear!"

If not, spending the day reading or pursuing creative projects - a visit to a museum or art gallery, to ScPort, etc - would be my best recommendation.

Best to you this summer, mes amis!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tokyo to Totoro quiz

japan-flag by sithuseo
japan-flag, a photo by sithuseo on Flickr.

1. The city of Nagasaki is on the island of a) Shikoku b) Kyushu c) Honshu d) Hokkaido. B
2. The city of Hiroshima is on the island of a) Shikoku b) Kyushu
c) Honshu d) Hokkaido. C
3. The city of Kyoto is on the island of a) Shikoku b) Kyushu c)
Honshu d) Hokkaido. C
4. To say "good afternoon:" a) ohayo (gozaimas') b) konnichiwa c) konbanwa. B
5. Like Hindus, Buddhists believe in the law of karma, in which there
is a consequence for one's actions. T / F T
6. Japan's population is close to one half of US population. T / F T
7. Japan's closest neighbor: a) S Korea b) China c) Taiwan d) Philippines. A
8. a) Hayao Miyazaki b) Osamu Tezuko c) Soichiro Honda has been called
the Father of both Anime and of Manga. He was an illustrator and artist rather than a filmmaker. B
9 & 10. Most Japanese are able to integrate 2 types of religious practice
into their lives: a) Hindusim b) Buddhism
c) Islam d) Christianity e) Judaism f) Confucianism g) Shintoism h)
Atheism. Please pick 2. B & G
11. Japanese comedy about food: a) Spirited Away b) Tampopo c)
Totoro d) Manga. B

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Caddo peoples established trade road that connected Dallas and Shreveport; vestiges remain, say historians

Vestiges of a historic Texas road remain
By MELISSA CROWE Tyler Morning Telegraph © 2011 The Associated Press

CANTON, Texas — The history of Van Zandt County, from ancient times to the 20th century, rolls along the Old Dallas-Shreveport Road.

Before barbed wire fences and paved highways cut up the historic road, it was a seamless stretch of prehistoric trade routes from Dallas to Shreveport established by the Caddo.

"Their trails were just like today's highways with lots of places and villages in between," said Elvis Allen, a historian with the Van Zandt County Historical Commission. "It meandered the way of the land: village to village, watering hole to watering hole."

Today, the road has evolved to meet the needs of a new generation.

U.S. Highway 80, which runs parallel to the historic road, "straightened out a lot of the crooks and turns" when the highway was built in 1924, Allen said.

However, through the wooded countryside, deep furrows and scars alongside highways and county roads in northern Van Zandt County give way to the original route the Caddo established.

The road winds through rural neighborhoods, around cemeteries and past withered remains of centuries-old cotton gins spanning from Wills Point to Providence.

In some places, the road is narrowly passable by two vehicles, and in others, it is wide and coated in fresh blacktop pavement.

"Before Highway 80 was in, if you didn't want to travel by railroad, you went this route" to Dallas or Shreveport from Van Zandt County, Allen said.

Allen traced the road across the county and found that the longest section is a 14-mile stretch in the eastern half of Van Zandt County. It begins at the Smith County line east of Providence and follows Farm-to-Market Road 857 across Grand Saline Creek about a mile southeast of Grand Saline.

From there, the Old Dallas-Shreveport Road picks up again at the intersections of Farm-to-Market Road 17 and Texas Highway 110. It follows along FM 17, turning north to Pole Town, where it leaves the original roadbed until about 300 yards east of the Creagleville Church.

With the exception of the "slight jog" in Creagleville, County Road 1117 follows the historic road for five miles west of Mill Creek, according to Allen's research.

But centuries before Allen drove the route, French explorers took it for hunting and trading expeditions, trading with Native Americans as far west as "Comanche Country," according to Allen's research. Later on, Spanish explorers used the route.

"Very few trails were cut by European explorers, they used the trails built by the Indians," Allen said.

Before Texas won independence from Mexico in 1836, emigrants traveled the road by following the ridge at the Red River in Louisiana, according to Allen's research.

In the mid-1830s, the trail emerged as a main route into North Texas for cargo from the river port in Shreveport.

In 1841, William Smalling Peters contracted with the government to settle 800 families in North Central Texas and along the Old Road. When he failed to fill his contract, The Texas Emigration and Land Company took over his grant, according to Allen's research. The colonization program and Peters' land grant enhanced the Old Road as an immigration artery into North Central Texas.

Early deed records show surveyors listing "Indian Trail" as a boundary or point of reference, Allen said.

"It was instrumental in settling all these counties all the way to Fort Worth," Allen said. "The Comanche were the only thing that stopped (immigrants) from going further west."

Van Zandt County's first courthouse was built along the route in 1848 at Jordan's Saline near Grand Saline. Back then, the road was referred to as the "Old East-West Road."

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the road was known as the "Texas Trail" and the "Great Texas Road," Allen said. It was a major thoroughfare for troop movement and was a vital supply line for the Confederate's Trans-Mississippi Department. They used the route to send cotton to Mexico from East Texas and the Southern states, where it was then sold and shipped to Europe.

The road has become somewhat of an obsession for Allen and another local historian, Kitty Wheeler. Both are members of the Old Dallas-Shreveport Road Preservation Association.

When Mrs. Wheeler, who is president of the Van Zandt County Historical Commission, first started researching the road, she said she made many trips to find the full route.

"Finding the road was a goal of mine," she said. "I'd travel it as much as I could."

Two years after the preservation committee formed, the county designated it as a Historic Parkway. Since then, the historic preservation committee has installed 12 state historic markers.

The most recent marker, installed May 7, at Sand Flat Community, at the junction of the Dallas-Shreveport Road and Crockett's Bluff Road, was one that Mrs. Wheeler researched. She said the committee has plans to have at least eight more sites historically designated.

Allen said their goal is to continue to define the historic route and publish its history so eventually people can take a self-guided tour.

"So many people don't know that it exists, they think you're talking about Highway 80," Allen said.

He wants people to know that the Old Dallas-Shreveport Road was here first.

"We want to get a national historic designation because it deserves one," he said.

Read more:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Semester exam: 100 questions from the online quizzes that cover Coates Bluff Trail, Carnival, Africa, India, Japan, China and Vietnam

Exam -

100 questions from the online quizzes that cover Coates Bluff Trail, Carnival, Africa, India, Japan, China and Vietnam.
Movies: Not One Less, Gandhi, Lost Boys of Sudan.
Answer on Scantron.sheets.
Bring a pencil!
No essay.

Known colloquially as Oz, the name Australia means "south"

Sunset at Uluru National Park by Lucoye
Sunset at Uluru National Park, a photo by Lucoye on Flickr.

Australia's per capita GDP is equal that of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and France, says Wikipedia.

Australia is a prosperous developed country with a multicultural society.

It ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance such as human development, quality of life, health care, life expectancy, public education, economic freedom and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.[16]

Australian cities rank among the world's highest in terms of cultural offerings and quality of life.

For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, the Australian mainland and Tasmania were inhabited by around 250 language groups[12][13] of indigenous Australians.[14] After sporadic visits by fishermen from the immediate north, and discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606,[15] the eastern half of Australia was claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales, founded on 26 January 1788.

The Indigenous Australian population, estimated at 350,000 at the time of European settlement,[41] declined steeply for 150 years following settlement, mainly due to infectious disease.[42]

The "Stolen Generations" (removal of Aboriginal children from their families), which historians such as Henry Reynolds have argued could be considered genocide,[43] may have contributed to the decline in the Indigenous population.[44] Such interpretations of Aboriginal history are disputed by some conservative commentators, such as former Prime Minister John Howard, as exaggerated or fabricated for political or ideological reasons.[45]

Australia is the flattest continent,[119] with the oldest and least fertile soils;[120][121] desert or semi-arid land commonly known as the outback makes up by far the largest portion of land.

The driest inhabited continent, only its south-east and south-west corners have a temperate climate.[122] The population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, is among the lowest in the world,[123] although a large proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline.[124]

Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, it includes a diverse range of habitats from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests, and is recognised as a megadiverse country.

Because of the continent's great age, extremely variable weather patterns, and long-term geographic isolation, much of Australia's biota is unique and diverse.

Australia has the greatest number of reptiles of any country, with 755 species.[128]

Most of the estimated 22 million Australians are descended from colonial-era settlers and post-Federation immigrants from Europe, with almost 90% of the population being of European descent. For generations, the vast majority of immigrants came from the British Isles, and the people of Australia are still mainly of British or Irish ethnic origin.

A small quiz on the 50th state, Hawaii

1. Hawaii is: _. a) tectonic plate b) oceanography c) Pacific peninsula
d) archipelago.
2. Oahu is the largest of the Hawaiian islands. T / F
3. The largest city and capital is a) Honolulu b) Hilo c) Lahaina d) Pearl City.
4. Pearl Harbor is located in a) Honolulu b) Hilo c) Lahaina d) Pearl City.
5. Though Hawaii was built on volcanic land masses, erosion has leveled the island chain so that its elevation is similar to Louisiana. T / F
6. On the grid Hawaii is about 24 degrees __ of the equator. a) north b) south
c) east d) west.
7. The state is about 165 degrees __ of Greenwich. a) north b) south
c) east d) west.
8. Hawaii has been a US state for some a) 50 b) 100 c) 170 years.
9. Seen from Japan the US island is a) northwest b) northeast c) southwest
d) southeast.

The in-class Japanese garden project

Students will create a colorful, carefully sketched, one-page representation of the characteristics of a Japanese garden in class.

Background -

Some of the Japanese gardens most famous in the West, and within Japan as well, are dry gardens or rock gardens, karesansui, says Wikipedia.

The tradition of the Tea masters has produced highly refined Japanese gardens of quite another style, evoking rural simplicity. In Japanese culture, garden-making is a high art, intimately related to the linked arts of calligraphy and ink painting.

The tradition of Japanese gardening was historically passed down from sensei to apprentice.

Typically a visitor will find -
- Water, real or symbolic.
- A bridge or stepping stones.
- Rocks or stone arrangements (or settings).
- A lantern, typically of stone.
- A teahouse or pavilion.
- A hedge, fence, or wall.

Karesansui gardens (枯山水) or "dry landscape” gardens were influenced mainly by Zen Buddhism and can be found at Zen temples of meditation. The raked gravel or sand simulates the feeling of water. The rocks or gravel used are chosen for their artistic shapes, and mosses as well as small shrubs are used to represent ponds, islands, boats, seas, rivers, and mountains in an abstract way.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pearl Harbor: Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Claudia in Hawaii by trudeau
Claudia in Hawaii, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

East Asia vocab -

- Hawaiian islands, an archipelago
- Mitsubishi Zero
- Tasmanian devil, a carnivorous marsupial
- Kiwi, a flightless bird
- batik, a fabric dyeing technique of Indonesia which uses wax.
- British penal colony - Australia.
- Australia - land of the south.

Adding Australia to the map of East Asia

Basic sites in Australia

1. Sydney
2. canberra
3. Melbourne
4. Brisbane
5. Great Barrier Reef
6. Uluru / Ayer's Rock
7. desert regions (Great Victorian Desert, Gibson Desert, Simpson Desert, etc) known as the Outback.
8. Perth
9. Indian Ocean
10. Pacific Ocean
11. Tasmania
12. New Zealand

Symbols -
a) Ships representing British exploration and colonial control of these nations.
b) Jail, representing the use of Australia as a penal colony.
c) Modern soldier, representing the "Diggers," or Aussie soldiers who have fought as allies to US forces in WWII, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc.

East Asia -

1. Japan
2. S Korea
3. China
4. Taiwan
5. Philippines
6. East China Sea
7. Indonesia
8. Papua New Guinea
9. Indian Ocean
10. Australia
11. New Zealand

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Transformations: the British-Japanese movie Howl's Moving castle

Magnet masking by trudeau
Magnet masking, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

The Miyazaki anime movie Howl's Moving Castle is an example of international connections in creativity.

The story originated as a 1986 book by noted British fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones.

Mrs. Jones was clearly inspired by her background in Oxford, where she heard lectures by authors CS Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) and JRR Tolkein (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit).

Miyazaki brought the story to colorful life at Studio Ghibli, Tokyo, with artistic license to prepare the story as the Japanese moviemaker saw fit.

Transformations seems to be the dominant theme of the story of Lord Howl and Sophie and the Witch of the Wastes.

The movie was nominated for an Academy Award in 04.

Japan WWII: a military-dominated society

Japan WWII by trudeau
Japan WWII, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

During the Great Depression of the 1930's, says Wikipedia, the military leaders of Japan were able to gain the political leadership of the country.

The generals took over part of China, Southeast Asia and numerous Pacific islands.
They attacked the US fleet in Hawaii - Pearl harbor - in 1941.

In 1945 US and Australian forces were clearly winning the war but the Japanese leadership refused to surrender.

The US used their newest long-range bomber, the B-29, to pummel Japan. The firebombing of Tokyo in March, 1945, destroyed the capital and killed some 100,000 people. A million people were left homeless.

The Japanese military refused to negotiate.

In August, 1945, the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These attacks resulted in Japanese surrender.

Magnet geography: Japan

Magnet geography: Japan  by trudeau
Magnet geography: Japan , a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

Vocab and identifications:
- megalopoli
- anime
- Miyazaki
- Mata ne!
- Siddhartha Gautama
- 4 Noble Truths of Buddhism

Nippon review questions

Nippon Review

1. Based on its ethnic demographics, Japan may be called heterogeneous. T / F
2. a) Hayao Miyazaki b) Osamu Tezuko c) Soichiro Honda has been called the Father of both Anime and of Manga.
3. The principal origin of the big eyes employed in most Japanese manga: a) Keene b) Disney c) biological studies d) Hollywood.
4. Which part of Tokyo is similar to Times Square?
a) Harajuku b) Ginza c) Geisha d) Sushi.
5. In Japanese, karaoke means “empty __ .”
a) room b) microphone c) orchestra d) head.
6. Most Japanese are able to integrate 2 types of religious practice into their lives: a) Hindusim b) Buddhism
c) Islam d) Christianity e) Judaism f) Confucianism g) Shintoism h) Atheism. Please pick 2.
7. Japanese graphic books: a) anime b) manga
c) Geisha d) sushi.
8. Japan’s 250-year period of isolation from the outside world ended about 1954 when US Commodore Perry brought US warships into Tokyo Bay. T / F
9. African-American population in the US is about a) 6%
b) 13% c) 23% d) 30%.
10. Japan is not an archipelago even though it has much tectonic activity. T / F

1. F, 2. b, 3. b, 4. b, 5. c, 6. b & g, 7. b, 8. f, 9. b, 10. f

Nippon review -

1. During the colonial era in Europe, the nation of Japan was called a) Cathay b) Cipangu. Cathay
2. Japan has a heterogeneous population. T / F Japan has a homogeneous population.
3. Japan’s population is approximately half that of the US.
T / F At 130 million; yes.
4. Hayao Miyazaki is notable for the type of movies called __. anime
5. “Empty orchestra” is the meaning of a term coined by the Japanese in the 70’s when technology allowed creative manipulation of recorded works. It has since become a world-wide source of entertainment. It is __. karaoke
6. Most Japanese are able to integrate 2 types of religious practice into their lives: a) Buddhism b) Hinduism
c) Islam d) Christianity e) Judaism f) Shintoism
g) Confucianism h) Atheism. Buddhist and Shinto
7. In terms of altitude, Mt Fuji can be compared to the
a) Appalachians b) Rocky Mtns. Rockies
8. Some people, typically the ill-educated, may be said to be fearful of immigrants and other non-native ethnic types. They may be termed xenophobic. T / F true
9. Bamboo and paper, classic ingredients in Japanese art, may be used to make large, rectangular aero forms called __ . kites
10. Anime has been part of Japanese culture since 1917. In 1937 Japanese anime movie-makers were influenced by a Disney film called a) Snow White b) 101 Dalmatians
c) The Jungle Book. Snow White
11. Japanese greeting: a) Ni hau! b) Salaam! c) Namaste'!
d) Konnichi wa!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Howl's Moving Castle and Cosplay

Howl's Moving Castle by v_Rock
Howl's Moving Castle, a photo by v_Rock on Flickr.

Howl's Moving Castle is a 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli, says Wikipedia. It is loosely based on a novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones', a British writer.

Wynne Jones's book allows Miyazaki to combine a plucky young woman and a mother figure into a single character in the heroine, Sophie. She starts out as an 18-year-old hat maker, but then a witch's curse transforms her into a 90-year-old gray head.

Sophie is horrified by the change at first. Nevertheless she learns to embrace it as a liberation from anxiety, fear and self-consciousness. The change might be a blessed chance for adventure.[2]

The film is different from Jones's original novel. The plot is similar, but it is flavored with Miyazaki's familiar style.

Cosplay,, short for "costume play",[1] is a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea.

Characters are often [2] drawn from popular fiction in Japan, but recent trends have included American cartoons and Sci-Fi. Favorite sources include manga, anime, tokusatsu, comic books, graphic novels, video games, hentai and fantasy movies.

Bento: Japanese lunch in a beautiful box

No more plastic taste! by unchienne
No more plastic taste!, a photo by unchienne on Flickr.

Bento, says Wikipedia, is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine.

A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.

Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware. Although bento are readily available in many places throughout Japan, including convenience stores, bento shops (弁当屋, bentō-ya?), train stations, and department stores, it is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend time and energy for their spouse, child, or themselves producing a carefully prepared lunch box.

Bento can be very elaborately arranged in a style called kyaraben. Contests are often held where bento arrangers compete for the most aesthetically pleasing arrangements. Kyaraben is typically decorated to look like people, animals, or characters and items such as flowers and plants.

There are similar forms of boxed lunches in the Philippines (Baon), Korea (Dosirak), Taiwan (Biandang), and India (Tiffin).

The Godfather of Anime, the late Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka 手塚 治虫

Osamu Tezuka 手塚 治虫 by jpellgen
Osamu Tezuka 手塚 治虫, a photo by jpellgen on Flickr.

Osamu Tezuka (1928 – 1989) was a Japanese Cartoonist, manga artist, animator, producer and medical doctor, although he never practiced medicine. Born in Osaka Prefecture, he is best known as the creator of Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack, says Wikipedia.

He is often credited as the "Godfather of Anime", and is often considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, who served as a major inspiration during his formative years.[1]

His prolific output, pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as "the father of manga", "the god of comics"[2] and "kamisama of manga".[3] His grave is located in Tokyo's Souzen-ji Temple Cemetery.

The distinctive "large eyes" style of Japanese animation was invented by Tezuka,[9] drawing inspirations on cartoons of the time such as Betty Boop and Walt Disney's Bambi and Mickey Mouse.

As an indication of his productivity, the Complete Manga Works of Tezuka Osamu comprises some 400 volumes, over 80,000 pages.

Miyazaki Hayao Miyazaki and the Japanese sense of imagination

Miyazaki Hayao by Visor Perú
Miyazaki Hayao, a photo by Visor Perú on Flickr.

Through fantastical storytelling - via animated movies - Miyazaki-san has touched the world.

Hayao Miyazaki (1941) is a Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator of many popular anime feature films, says wikipedia.

Through a career that has spanned nearly fifty years, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli, an animation studio and production company.

The success of Miyazaki's films has invited comparisons with American animator Walt Disney. He has been named one of the most influential people by Time magazine.[1][2]

Miyazaki remained largely unknown to the West until Miramax released his 1997 film, Princess Mononoke. Princess Mononoke was the highest-grossing film in Japan and the first animated film to win Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards. Miyazaki returned to animation with Spirited Away. The film topped Titanic's sales at the Japanese box office, also won Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards and was the first anime film to win an American Academy Award.

Miyazaki's recurrent themes include humanity's relationship to nature and technology, and the difficulty of maintaining a pacifist ethic. Reflecting Miyazaki's feminism, the protagonists of his films are often strong, independent girls or young women. Miyazaki is a vocal critic of capitalism and globalization.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Pictorial report on Japan

Pictorial map of Japan by trudeau
Pictorial map of Japan, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

Make a visual report on Japan based upon our list of manufacturers, entertainers and the traditions and modern life of Japan.

Surprise me!
- 5 slides
- bulleted info
- documentation

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Semester exam: 100 multiple choice questions pulled from online quizzes on Coates Bluff Trail, Carnival, Africa, India, Japan, China and Vietnam

Chinese history skits, Magnet  by trudeau
Chinese history skits, Magnet , a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

100 questions from the online quizzes that cover Coates Bluff Trail, Carnival, Africa, India, Japan, China and Vietnam.
Movies: Not One Less, Gandhi, Lost Boys of Sudan.
Answer on Scantron.sheets.
Bring a pencil!
No essay.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Basic Japanese phrases

Octavis focuses on Japan by trudeau
Octavis focuses on Japan, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

nice to meet you
hajime mash'te

good morning
ohayoo (gozaimas')

good afternoon

good evening

good night
oyasumi (nasai)

see you


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

From the Red Sea to the mountains of the Hindu Kush - Osama bin Laden

Osama quiz

1. Name the nation in which Osama Bin Laden was born and raised. a) Afghanistan b) Pakistan
c) Saudi Arabia d) India. SA
2. Name the nation in which Osama became a mujahadeen - helped the Muslim citizens defend their nation against the Russians.
a) Afghanistan b) Pakistan c) Saudi Arabia d) India. Afghanistan
3. Name the radical political group that took power in Afghanistan in the 1980's:
a) al Qaeda b) Taliban c) Islamists d) Extremists Taliban
4. At one point in his political life Osama Bin Laden was the recipient of US money and rockets. T / F true
5. Osama's death came in 2011 in the nation of a) Afghanistan b) Pakistan
c) Saudi Arabia d) India. Pakistan
6. Name the city near which Osama was hiding in his last years. a) Mecca b) Jidda c) Kabul d) Islamabad Islamabad, Pakistan
7. Osama Bin Laden was impoverished and lonely as a child growing up near the Red Sea. T / F wealthy family
8. Osama and the attacks on 9/11/01: a) He helped found the attacking organization and funded the attackers. b) He planned and carefully managed the attacks c) Was as surprised by the attacks as a Dingo. founded and funded
9. Led forces that took over the tiny nation of Kuwait in 1991. T / F Saddam Hussein
10. Osama opposed the US because we are allies with the Jewish state of Israel and because of decadence (moral decay) in American society. T / F quite correct
11. Muslims worldwide agreed that Osama was to be honored as an effective and correct leader. T / F not true

Monday, May 02, 2011

Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden; which is which?

Saddam and Osama.

Which one was a Saudi? Which one was a general? Which one lived in Afghanistan? Which one was born to enormous wealth?


Saddam Hussein
- murderous military dictator of Iraq.
- kept the peace between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq.
- tried and executed by the Iraqis for mass murder.
- threatened the US by refusing to allow weapons inspections.
- began his conflict with the US and other nations in 1991 by taking over the tiny but oil-rich nation of Kuwait.

Osama bin Laden
- born to wealthy family in Saudi Arabia.
- became a strict, conservative Muslim.
- fought with the Afghanis against the invading Russians (then the Soviet Union).
- helped found and funded the radical organization called al Qaeda.
- al Qaeda trained anti-Western terrorists in Afghanistan.
- the US believes the 9/11 plan was approved and funded by Osama.

From the Osama quiz above: 1.c, 2.a, 3.b, 4.t, 5.b, 6.d, 7.f, 8.a, 9.f, 10.t, 11.f

Osama bin Laden's beliefs

Usāmah bin Muḥammad bin `Awaḍ bin Lādin; with numerous variations) (born March 10, 1957) is a member of the prominent Saudi bin Laden family and the founder of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda, best known for the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Al-Qaeda has also been associated with numerous other mass casualty attacks against civilian targets.

Since 2001, Osama bin Laden and his organization have been major targets of the United States' War on Terrorism. Bin Laden and fellow Al-Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, says Wikipedia.

Bin Laden believes that the restoration of Sharia law will set things right in the Muslim world, and that all other ideologies—"pan-Arabism, socialism, communism, democracy"—must be opposed.[21]

Bin Laden has consistently dwelt on the need for jihad to right what he believes are injustices against Muslims perpetrated by the United States and sometimes by other non-Muslim states,[24] the need to eliminate the state of Israel, and the necessity of forcing the US to withdraw from the Middle East.

He has also called on Americans to "reject the immoral acts of fornication (and) homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and usury," in an October 2002 letter.[25]

Probably the most controversial part of Bin Laden's ideology is that civilians, including women and children, can be killed in jihad.[26][27]

Bin Laden is antisemitic, and has delivered warnings against alleged Jewish conspiracies: "These Jews are masters of usury and leaders in treachery. They will leave you nothing, either in this world or the next."[28] Shia have been listed along with "Heretics, ... America and Israel," as the four principal "enemies of Islam" at ideology classes of bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization.[29]

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Buddhism and spiritual rebirth

Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient life, each running from conception[28] to death, says Wikipedia.

Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism and Christianity.

According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe (the doctrine of anatta).

Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating from one existence to the next.

Karma in the Buddhist way

mandala Tibet 3 by trudeau
mandala Tibet 3, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

Karma (from Sanskrit: "action, work") in Buddhism is the force that drives saṃsāra—the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being, says Wikipedia.

Good, skillful deeds (Pāli: "kusala") and bad, unskillful (Pāli: "akusala") actions produce "seeds" in the mind which come to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.[23]

The avoidance of unwholesome actions and the cultivation of positive actions is called śīla (from Sanskrit: "ethical conduct").

In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to those actions (of body, speech, and mind) that spring from mental intent ("cetana"),[24] and which bring about a consequence (or fruit, "phala") or result ("vipāka").

Buddhism and Siddhartha Gautama

yin yang / hexagram by trudeau
yin yang / hexagram, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (Pāli/Sanskrit "the awakened one"), says Wikipedia.

The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[1] He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end suffering (or dukkha), achieve nirvana, and escape what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth.

The 4 Noble Truths: basics of the path called Buddhism

golden Chinese Buddha by trudeau
golden Chinese Buddha, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

The Four Noble Truths

1. Life is suffering;

2. Suffering is due to attachment;

3. Attachment can be overcome;
4. There is a path for accomplishing this.

1. Suffering is perhaps the most common translation for the Sanskrit word duhkha, which can also be translated as imperfect, stressful, or filled with anguish.

Contributing to the anguish is anitya -- the fact that all things are impermanent, including living things like ourselves.

Furthermore, there is the concept of anatman -- literally, "no soul". Anatman means that all things are interconnected and interdependent, so that no thing -- including ourselves -- has a separate existence.

2. Attachment is a common translation for the word trishna, which literally means thirst and is also translated as desire, clinging, greed, craving, or lust. Because we and the world are imperfect, impermanent, and not separate, we are forever "clinging" to things, each other, and ourselves, in a mistaken effort at permanence.

Besides trishna, there is dvesha, which means avoidance or hatred. Hatred is its own kind of clinging.

And finally there is avidya, ignorance or the refusal to see. Not fully understanding the impermanence of things is what leads us to cling in the first place.

3. Perhaps the most misunderstood term in Buddhism is the one which refers to the overcoming of attachment: nirvana. It literally means "blowing out," but is often thought to refer to either a Buddhist heaven or complete nothingness. Actually, it refers to the letting go of clinging, hatred, and ignorance, and the full acceptance of imperfection, impermanence, and interconnectedness.

4. And then there is the path, called dharma. Buddha called it the middle way, which is understood as meaning the middle way between such competing philosophies as materialism and idealism, or hedonism and asceticism. This path, this middle way, is elaborated as the eightfold path.

The Eightfold Path

1. Right view is the true understanding of the four noble truths.
2. Right aspiration is the true desire to free oneself from attachment, ignorance, and hatefulness.

These two are referred to as prajña, or wisdom.

3. Right speech involves abstaining from lying, gossiping, or hurtful talk.

4. Right action involves abstaining from hurtful behaviors, such as killing, stealing, and careless sex.
5. Right livelihood means making your living in such a way as to avoid dishonesty and hurting others, including animals.

These three are referred to as shila, or morality.

6. Right effort is a matter of exerting oneself in regards to the content of one's mind: Bad qualities should be abandoned and prevented from arising again; Good qualities should be enacted and nurtured.

7. Right mindfulness is the focusing of one's attention on one's body, feelings, thoughts, and consciousness in such a way as to overcome craving, hatred, and ignorance.
8. Right concentration is meditating in such a way as to progressively realize a true understanding of imperfection, impermanence, and non-separateness.

The last three are known as samadhi, or meditation.