Saturday, 30 May 2009

Fundamentalism of the Christian Kind is not Growing!

Liberal people all over the world love fundie-bashing. It is so snug and comfortable to show how deluded they, the fundamentalists are, how unreasonable, selfish and evil they are. Just put in any fundie you’d love to hate into the formula – the Muslim extremists, the Nazis, the fundamentalist Christians, the NeoCon Republicans, the Taleban – the list is endless.

Photo Source:

How Much Damage Religious Fundamentalists do?

If we look at the death toll of killing campaigns and mass deaths, the fundamentalists lose to secular killing campaigns straight out. The Inquisition or the Crusades total death toll lack a few zeroes, when compared to Mao and the Spanish Flu.

Now, we can argue that religion was involved in these massacres as well.

Stalin attended a theological seminary and almost became a priest, Mao was fighting eradicate religions, and the annihilation of the Native Americans was in the name of progress and religion too.

But religious persecution, of the Christian fundamentalist (“I am right and all others wrong” kind) did a lot of damage by terrorising entire societies. There is no negotiation or room for differences with them (do the Taleban sound familiar?)

Emperor Charlemagne in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, behea
ded. Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain in one day on 5/27/1234 near Altenesch (Germany). Population numbers in those days were also lower than today, so killing 16, 000 persons removed a significant part of the population. Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists justify their actions by calling Western colonialism and post-war Western Imperialism by the chilling term al-Salibiyyah: the Crusade". (Karen Armstrong 2000).

Can Religious Fundamentalists do Any Good?

Religious fundamentalists function on a “If you are not with us, you are against us” principle made so notorious by George Bush. Extremists religious communities are very close knit and they support members much more than social security. Membership does have privileges, but they are withdrawn the moment you start dissenting. Earlier, dissenters were ‘removed’ too.

Photo Source

I am not making any apology for any fundie. I’m awfully glad that the people of India did not put their faith in Hindu fundamentalism in the 2009 elections.

Liberalism and Not Fundamentalism is Rising?

Copernicus Marketing Consulting and Research, an American firm that helps Fortune 500 companies make better marketing decisions, reveals that the number of Americans who consider themselves fundamentalist is growing at a much faster rate than those with less orthodox or evangelical views has no basis in fact.

In 1972, 18% of American considered themselves ‘liberals’
In 2002, 29% of American considered themselves ‘liberals’

In 1972, 27% of American considered themselves ‘fundamentalists’
In 2002, 30% of American considered themselves ‘fundamentalists’

For various reasons, we have had slight difficulties in getting figures for Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

Yes, it seems that 'fundies' of different sorts put a terrible twist to things, mostly for their own benefit. We could be snug and say that 'fundies' are deluded as they call all others deluded. But then doesn’t it become a case of the blind leading the blind? I'm comfortable with people taking different roads or rather making different roads as long as they don't force it on me.

Here’s a very nice article about Christian Fundamentalism by Mark Gordon Brown, which inspired me to write this post.

Ref: Karen Armstrong, The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (p.180)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Tribute to The Oldest Blogger in the World!

The oldest active blogger in the world, 97 year old Spanish María Amelia López, born in 1911 passed away on May 20, 2009. 

Her blog was started when her grandson set up a blog for his 95-year old granny as a birthday present. Her site was getting over 1,5 million visitors – a dream for millions of bloggers worldwide.

Photo source:

When I'm on the Internet, I forget about my illness. The distraction is good for you - being able to communicate with people. It wakes up the brain, and gives you great strength. - Maria Amelia Lopez

Not only her ancient origins, but her raspy sense of humour as she shared her insights of the process of getting old made her an Internet celebrity. Recalling her tales of opposing the Franco regime and giving her take on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, this granny became a celebrity such that the Spanish Prime Minister José Zapatero had to get photographed with her.

Some people really are late bloomers. The Internet has lost another great “personality”.

Currently, the oldest blogger in the world is 111 year old Brazilian-born Bernardo la Pallo. His blog has very sane and valuable advice on how lead a good life, longer Age Less, Live More!

The Youngest Blogger in the World

There is going to be a fierce debate about this title. 

There is even a blog dedicated to discovering the youngest blogger in the world. 

This blog suggest that Lewis Chew from Malaysia, is the youngest blogger at the age of 2. No, not years but months!

Photo Source:

What Kind of People Blog Globally

According to Technorati the people who research much about blogger and Internet behaviour, this can be said about blogger demographics worldwide in 2008:
  • 50% of bloggers are 18-34
  • Bloggers more affluent and educated than the general population
  • 70% have college degrees
  • Four in ten have an annual household income of $75 000+
  • One in four have an annual household income of $100 000+
  • 44% are parents
  • Two-thirds are male

Photo source: Technorati

Only 7.1% of bloggers are over 51 years of age, according to Sysomos, a Marketware company.

Photo source:

It is no surprise that the largest percentage of bloggers by population are from USA. Very significant is the low percentage of bloggers from Australia, another English speaking country. The percentages look like this:

  • USA - 29.22%
  • UK - 6.75%
  • Japan - 4.88%
  • Brazil - 4.19%
  • Canada - 3.93%
  • Germany - 3.34%
  • Italy - 3.21%
  • Spain - 3.14%
  • France - 2.87%
  • Russia - 2.31%
  • Australia - 2.22%
  • India 2.14%

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Blogging Can Be Dangerous for Your Health

Is blogging harmful for you? 

Can you actually get killed for expressing your opinion in your blog?

Photo Source:

Blogging can be harmful, even fatal for you in some countries where many people get into trouble for criticizing governments or power elites.

Reporters without borders report that globally in 2008, 1 blogger was killed, 
59 bloggers were arrested, 45 were physically attacked, 1,740 websites were blocked, shut down or suspended. 

The General manager of Shuli Architectural Engineering, Wei Wenhua, in Hubei province of China was beaten to death by “chengguan” (municipal police officers) while filming with his mobile phone a clash with demonstrators in Tianmen (not in Beijing but in Hubei province) on 7 January 2008.

Governments getting Tougher on Internet Censorship

According to Reporters without Borders, 64 persons are currently imprisoned worldwide because their blogposts upset governments or power elites.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

37 countries practised online censorship in 2008. Good old China kept its reputation by censoring 93 websites but Syria beat them by censoring 162 websites and Iran took the bronze medal with 38 websites.

  • In China, 10 cyber-dissidents were arrested, 31 were physically attacked or threatened, and at least three were tried and convicted according to Reporters Without Borders
  • In Iran, Reporters Without Borders reported 18 arrests, 31 physical attacks and 10 convictions. 
  • Syria had 8 arrests and 3 convictions
  • Egypt 6 arrests 
  • Morocco 2 arrests and 2 convictions.

The military junta in Burma, is trying to enter the Guiness Book of Records for the longest prison sentences as punishment for blogging. Blogger and comedian Zarganar and the young cyber-dissident Nay Phone Latt were given incredibly long prison sentences. 59 years for Zarganar and 20 years for Nay Phone Latt

Egypt’s Kareem Amer’s four-year prison sentence for postings seen as anti-religious and insulting to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak might seem lenient in comparison.

Blog Censorship in different Countries

Oxford Analytica gives regular updates on the current global situation of blog censorship. The Press Freedom Index, another way to approach this issue, United States or even United Kingdom is way below Namibia and Hungary. 

Whatever reasons they give, in many countries the authorities try to restrict access to certain content, sites, authors and readers from interacting on certain themes. 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The US military openly admits that they censors soldier’s blogs which mention experiences in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The number of Internet users in China grew by 42% to 300 million in January 2009. Every 1 in 4 Chinese have access to the Internet, and 90% of them broadband. So, people responsible for censorship in China have to work really hard.

Internet Censorship in China

Already in 2005 Microsoft officially admitted that China was censoring blogs for certain terms like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.
According to Rebecca MacKinnon of the University of Hong Kong, there are basically two types of Internet censorship in China – those “inside the Great Firewall” and those “outside the Great Firewall” and the relationship between the blog manager or editor with the local State council is crucial to the degree of censorship experienced. The Chinese government has had the Golden Shield Project since 1998 to protect citizens from

  • Pornography
  • Anti-social opinions and activities
  • Ideas, organizations and opinions which are a threat to national security
  • Ideas, organizations and opinions which undermine the government’s policies on religion or are seen as subversive
If your blog or site has references to certain subjects like the Falung Gong, Freedom Movement in China, Tiananmen Square happenings etc and the Internet police behind the Great Firewall of China do not like the way this information is handled, your site might get banned in China.

Photo source:

It really depends on who you ask in China or about China and their censorship. Here is what a Falung Gong practitioner (obviously not based in China) has to say about censorship in China. the name of the blog is Falunggongforever.

Test if Your Blog or Site is Banned in China

There are two sites where you can test if your blogs or sites are banned in China.


Photo source:

Yes, according to the and Chinese readers, this blog Original Wavelength is blocked in China. Who knows whom I have annoyed and for writing what!

Does Anyone Want Blog Censorship?

It is not only the mighty Chinese government or the Iranian clerics who want censorship. In Canada, Manitoba's First Nation leaders want the public and government to clamp down on people who post racist remarks about aboriginals on media websites. 

A new survey reveals that most Americans believe bloggers should not be allowed to publish sensitive personal information about individuals. Web hosting company Hostway polled 2,500 Americans on blogging. 80% of respondents did not believe that bloggers should be allowed to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens. A further 72 % favoured censorship of personal information about celebrities, and 68%, information about elected or appointed government officials such as judges or mayors.

Significantly, more than one-third of these American respondents had never heard of blogs before participating in the survey, and only around 30% of participants had actually visited a blog themselves.

There are many sites spreading violent hate messages and dangerous propaganda in addition to sites, which aim to cheat or mislead people.

Photo source:

Is the Right to Freedom of Speech a sacred right? 

Do you think any authority should be allowed to censor these hate blogs?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Why Do We Celebrate Mother’s Day?

Mother's Day has become a very important affair nowadays. Well, important commercially and socially. Rather often it's ignore at your own peril.

How do people in different cultures celebrate Mother’s day? 
  • Is it the same day of the year in different cultures? 
  • Is Mother’s day an old custom or a recent trend fostered by shopkeepers? 
  • Is Mother’s day a relic of the ancient worship of the Goddess? 
  • Do you really need to buy expensive things only once a year to show that you care for your mother or for quieting your guilty conscience?

Origins of Modern Mother’s Day

Photo source: Wikimdeia Commons 

The ancient Romans had Matronalia on 1st March, when husbands and daughters gave gifts to the mother and wife and offered prayers for them. 

The modern MOTHER'S DAY was born when Anna Marie Jarvis and her mother first organized women into public health brigades, by founding "Mothers Friendship Day" to reconcile communities torn apart by the U.S. Civil War and to end war.

Photo source:

The Mother’s day proclamation of 1870, by Julie Ward Howe is feminist, revolutionary and anti war. She also wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
 Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
 Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
 all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
 … "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
 As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, 
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel…. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
 Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
 whereby the great human family can live in peace,
 Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
 But of God. 
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
 that a general congress of women without limit of nationality
 may be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient

US President Woodrow Wilson signed Mother's Day into law in 1914 and Canada in 1915. In 2008, the Unites States Congress voted unanimously to support celebrating Mother’s Day.

Currently Mother’s day is placed on the calendar: 

  • on the second Sunday of May in most of the European Union countries, China, Japan, and other countries alphabetically down to Zimbabwe. 
  • In Ireland, Nigeria and UK it is the fourth Sunday in Lent (usually in March). 
  • In Norway, it is on the second Sunday of February 
  • Last Sunday of November in Russia. 
  • In Japan, it was originally the birthday of Empress Kōjun, the mother of Emperor Akihito but has become rather commercial and spread widely by giving carnations and roses to mothers.

Commercialization of Mother’s Day

Only in the USA, people spend $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on gifts like spa treatments to pamper mother and another $68 million on greeting cards. About 8% of the US jewellery industry’s annual revenue in 2008 came from Mother’s rings given on Mother’s day.

Being never married and with no children, Anna Marie Jarvis died in poverty after having spent all her inheritance and the rest of her life resisting this commercialization, which she considered an abuse of the celebration. In 1923 she threatened to sue New York Governor Al Smith over his plans for a large Mother's Day celebration, fought with the American War Mothers Association over their use of Mother's Day in their fundraising campaigns and she even attacked Eleanor Roosevelt on this issue. 

"A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment!" were her pert comments on the day she came to create.

Ancestry of Mother as Goddess

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The recorded history of the human race shows that we have had religions with mother goddesses for about 70% of the time humans have been around. 

As Mother Goddess we have: 

  • Isis from Egypt
  • Ishtar from Babylon
  • Asherah the Semitic Mother Goddess of the Hebrews
  • Prithvi or Earth as Mother Goddess in Hinduism and early Buddhism
  • Yaochi Jinmu or The Queen Mother of the West in ancient China. 
  • Even pre-Islamic Mecca had its own share of goddesses, Uzza, al-Manāt and al-Lāt, who were known as the “daughters of God”.

From even earlier times, we have the voluptuous “Venus of Willendorf” statues, which are about 24 000 years old. 

Photo source:

Then we have the grave of the 15 000 years old Natufian woman shaman from Lebanon to remind us of the high time of the Goddess and how a Shaman(ess) is ceremoniously buried like a royal.

Photo source:

Patriarchy Suppresses the Mother Goddess A very interesting phenomenon started to appear in almost all the great ancient cultures, India, Sumer, Hebrew, Persia, Egypt – the rise of patriarchy. It was a simultaneous and ruthless international “Down with the Woman” movement. Omnipotent male deities started dominating mother goddesses, who sank in rank. There is a wonderful story in Hebrew cosmogony about this sinking of woman.  

Adam, Lilith, and Eve,c. 1210 AD, Base of trumeau, left portal, West Façade, Notre Dame, Paris.

Photo source: Wikimedia commons

In this myth, the creator God created Adam as a consort for Lilith of Lilitu in Sumer. Adam and Lilith got involved in a power struggle immediately. 
'I will not lie below,' said Lilith and Adam responded
'I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am designated to be the superior one.' 
The angry Lilith replies, 'We are equal as we were both created from the earth.' 
Eventually Lilith got exasperated and flew away into the air. 

When Adam gets Woman 2,0 or Eve, Lilith briefly appears as the serpent and tricks her into eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge and Eve gets the blame for the “downfall” of humanity. Sounds familiar?

Photo source:

Do you have any ideas on how would you like to celebrate Mother’s day without being too commercial or a cheapskate?