Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Heavy Metal Woman in the 14th Century

(taken from "Uppity Women of Medieval Times" by Vicki Leon

"Shades of Rosy the Riveter - a woman with the delightful name of Fya Upper Bach, took advantage of the career opportunities in blacksmithing - and did it six centuries before American women were exhorted to get into heavy metal for the World War II war effort. Fya, lived in the 14th century and made horseshoes in Germany. She first became an independent mastersmith known at the "smithy of Siberg". Later she moved her anvil into the city of Cologne. Besides an aptitude for pounding red-hot iron, Fya had leadership qualities. Twice in her thirty-year career she held office in the blacksmith's guild."

To be a blacksmith was such a physically demanding job, especially for a woman - but even more so for a woman of the 14th century. I think she would have been a fascinating woman to meet.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Pyle of Van Gogh? (Pun Intended)

Vincent Van Gogh and Howard Pyle were born in the same year. They were both artists but lived on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean and never met. However, Vincent did get a chance to see some of Pyle's illustrations in a magazine and wrote in one of his letters to his brother:

"Do you know the American magazine "Harpers Monthly"? There are wonderful sketches in it, which strike me dumb with admiration, among others . . . sketches from a Quaker town in the olden days by Howard Pyle. I am full of new pleasure, because I have new hope of making things myself that have soul in them."

When I read this, I wondered in amazement at the irony of life. Howard Pyle was world famous as an artist and illustrator during his life time - his paintings commanded the highest prices and he was wined and dined by the rich and famous. Vincent Van Gogh labored in obscurity during his lifetime, never selling even one painting. Yet with the passage of time all these years later, which artist is known by everyone (even those not in the art world) and whose paintings sell for millions of dollars? Strange isn't it?

My question for you, dear reader - Can you explain this seeming change? Their art has not changed, it remains just as it did when they put the last brushstroke on the canvas. Why this seeming fickle hand of fate that deals fame and fortune to one and then takes it away only to be given to another?

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Prayer Experiment for Atheists and Christians

I am posting this experiment with the permission of the original writer on the website He is a "Canadian skeptic/humanist interested in furthering a critical analysis of religious belief systems." He expressed amazement about how many people on the Internet (Twitter) ask others to pray for them or offer prayers for others. This post was originally presented by him on July 22, 2009 but I just ran across it last week and was intrigued by his proposal. His proposal is listed below:

"1.Decide on what you would like to pray for - we will call that result A

2.We agree that you will pray to God (or whatever supernatural being you choose)
for result A to happen.

3.I will pray to the ghost of Michael Jackson to ensure that result A happens.

4.If result A happens, you will explain to me why it is more likely that God made
it happen than the ghost of Michael Jackson or you will fairly concede that it is
just as likely that Jacko did it.

5.If result A does not happen, we will agree that neither God or Jacko answers
prayers. You will then explain to me why the entity you chose to pray to
selectively answers more prayers than Jacko."

My question to you, my gentle readers, is "How do you answer him?" I want both Christians and Atheists to feel free to respond - I will not tolerate any name calling or belligerence of any kind. I am simply interested in how both sides respond to this experiment.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wild Women of the World - Cross Dressing in Ancient Greece

(taken from "Uppity Women of Ancient Times" by Vicki Leon)

Sickly as a child, Telesilla was told by an oracle to learn music. This she did and also became a poet. She became famous for her poetry in her hometown of Argos, near Sparta in southern Greece. In the fifth century BC, the army from her town was destroyed by the Spartans. Since the Spartans knew that the town of Argos was now defenseless, they then headed to Argos with pillage on their minds. Telesilla gathered the slaves and old people to guard the city walls, while she and the women put on battle gear and drove away the Spartans. Thereafter, the citizens in gratitude celebrated Telesilla and their triumph annually by donning men's garb.

My question for you today is - how come the Spartans who had such a reputation for fighting could be defeated by a bunch of women?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Slice and Dice Teenager

(taken from "Uppity Women of Medieval Times" by Vicki Leon)

In Florence Italy at the Florence hospital church of Santa Maria del Mereto, there is a plaque honoring a teenage girl who lived 700 years ago. What did she do that was so remarkable?
Her name was Alessandra Gilliani and she was a young girl from Bologna. A teenage prodigy, she got to study dissection at the side of the most famous doctor in Italy at the time, Mondino de Luzzi. At that time, around 1318, people were not sure of the difference between arteries and veins. Allesandra invented a technique to trace the different blood vessels in the body. Using a cadaver, she would draw blood from the veins and arteries and refill them with different colored dyes that solidified, allowing doctors to study and learn more about how the blood system works. The world lost a brilliant mind in such a young girl,when, unfortunately she died at the age of nineteen, never reaching her full potential.

My question for you today is - What is more remarkable - the fact that a teenage year old girl could come up with this technique or that a teenage girl would be allowed to not only be working along side of a doctor but to actually be advising a doctor in the 1300's?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Would a Cloned Human have a Soul?

(Taken from an article by John Clayton in "Does God Exist")

"Cloning is not new. Clones from fetal cells have been known for a long time, and in a sense twins represent a kind of clone. Producing clones from adult cells is relatively new, but the implications are still basically the same. In very simple terms the genetic material from a cell is transplanted into an evacuated cell so that what results is a form containing whatever the genetic material that was transplanted dictates. The things that the genetic material can dictate are physical criteria. Do you remember Dolly the sheep? The cloned sheep that was produced had the same color and texture of wool, the same eyes, ears, and nose and if there were any genetic defects in the adult from which the genetic material was taken, those defects would be in the cloned sheep as well.
Could this be done with a human being? The answer from a scientific standpoint is definitely yes. There is no physical reason why this could not eventually be done. Should this be done?" There are certainly many medical reasons put forward in favor of this being done, but ethics and religious issues become a problem.
My question to you is - Would a cloned human have a soul?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wild Women of the World - Who Was She?

(taken from "Uppity Women of Ancient Times by Vicki Leon"

In 480 B.C. war was being waged between the Persians and the Greeks (remember Spartacus). The great Persian King Xerxes had assembled an enormous fleet of ships that he thought were invincible. But just to be safe, he asked Queen Artemisia of the kingdom of Cara to cough up some support for the war effort. She did some better than that. Queen Artemisia showed up in full battle armor with five of her own triple-decked warships and a land army to boot.
In the first naval battle, Artemisia fought bravely but the Persians still suffered a great loss. She warned King Xerxes that the Greeks had superiority on the sea, but he did not listen and ordered another naval battle. After the first battle, the Greeks placed a bounty on Queen Artemisia's head - 10,000 drachmas for anyone who could take her alive! During the fierce battle that ensued, she rammed and sank one of Xerxes ships and managed to get away.
Even though the Persians lost the naval battle, King Xerxes was so impressed with her he awarded her a suit of Greek armor and said "My men fight like women, and my women fight like men". Wow, what a woman!
My question for you is - Should women participate as soldiers in warfare?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Peruvian Princess - Yma Sumac

Born in 1922 in the town of Ichocan, Peru - a descendant of the last Peruvian Ruler Atahualpa - largely self-taught by listening to the sounds of the jungle and the birds high in the Andes - she took the world by storm in the 1950's with her stunning 5 Octave voice. Not only was her vocal range extraordinary but what is also remarkable is that she was able to keep her voice up through her older years. Even though she could not read music, her arrangements were classified as Exotica and so incredibly haunting that they are still used today. She could do things with her voice that just leave you breathless - she could mimic animals and birds, and go through all 5 octaves in one song. She sang before Queens and presidents around the world and was the only Peruvian to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

My question for you today is - had she been trained professionally - would it have made a difference in her voice? Did her extraordinary voice and unique style come because she was self-taught? What say you?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wild, Wild Women of the World - Who Was She?

(taken from "Uppity Women of Medieval Times" by Vicki Leon)

"Her rap sheet was a mile long and her personal habits left a lot to be desired, and her aliases included "Moll Cutpurse" and the "Roaring Girle". Who was she?"

Born in 1589, Molly Frith got her nickname from robbing people by cutting their purse strings. She was a hard drinking gal who used pipe tobacco and wore men's clothing. An ever enterprising lady, she built up a network of thieves and then set up as pawn broker to handle the stolen goods. In an effort to branch out she also tried her hand at acting becoming the first woman to appear on the Elizabethan stage. In 1611 a play called "The Roaring Girle or Moll Cutpurse opened in London but it was also the same year that she got arrested for wearing men's clothing. In fact she landed in jail several times not only for her attire but also for her life of crime. Each time she was able to bribe her way out. You would think that her life would have been quite short what with her escapades but she lived to be 75!
So what do you think? Was she a role model for the self-made woman or was she someone you would not want your daughter to emulate? What say you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Am I Wrong?

It is one of the paradoxes of life that those who are so quick to jump on others for intolerance are usually the most intolerant.

I am saddened that comments that I left on someone's Facebook wall has prompted that person to block me. My comments were not meant to cause offence, but simply to open this person's eyes to other views. When I pointed out that what this person was accusing others of were actually only exhibited by her - perhaps I stepped over the line. I feel bad because I did not want to alienate her but to just hold up a mirror. Now I cannot leave any comments on her wall, yet I can still send her a direct message. Should I contact her to apologize or should I respect her decision to not talk and just leave her alone? What say you?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bitter or Better?

I just finished reading "Falling Leaves" by Adeline Yen Mah and was completely blown away - please read the book if you ever get the chance. The story of the book is briefly discussed in my other blog http// - it is the true story of child abuse and eventual triumph, an autobiography of an unwanted Chinese daughter. The book reminds me of "Angela's Ashes" which is another true autobiography of child abuse and eventual triumph. These kinds of stories just hold so much fascination to me because I want to know how some people can be born into horrendous conditions beyone their control, enduring abuse and torment and yet grow into loving people who are without bitterness - yet others who go through the same circumstances emerge as hard, mean, bitter individuals. How can this happen? Same circumstances, yet mere children have such different ways of looking at it. Do you know of cases like those talked about in these books? Have you experienced it yourself? Have you been able to overcome bitterness to become better?

Friday, September 3, 2010

We don't need God

Stephen Hawking has a new book coming out this week called "The Grand Design". In it he says that it is entirely possible that the universe "can and will create itself from nothing". In other words, what he is saying that we don't need God in the creation of the universe. You can imagine the uproar this has caused. What say you?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Are You Going To Church More But Enjoying it Less?

Has organized religion finally recognized that its product must be sold to the public much in the same way that soap is sold? Can the advertising industry revolutionize religion? You know like "Sunday School fights sin backwash!", or "Us church members would rather fight that switch!" or "The church for people who can't say grace before every meal!". I'm sure you've seen the ads on t.v. lately advertising some church somewhere that will give you feel good feelings and warm fuzzies.
But pure righteousness has a dynamic quality that tends to be infectious, like mononucleousis. There is nothing wrong with tasteful promotion, but we are likely to forget that there is an inherent promotional aspect in the purity of Christian living that is far superior to the superficial methods that we are fond of employing for its perpetuation. What say you?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is There A Limit To Religious Tolerance?

In light of the current controversy over the building of a mosque near "ground zero" - the question has occurred to me - just how tolerant should we be towards religions? Religious freedom is guaranteed under our constitution - but what if a religion promotes or engages in something considered wrong. For example - what about some religions that require an animal sacrifice like a chicken or goat? Would this be considered animal cruelty? What about a religion that would not let you treat a seriously ill child? What say you?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

An age old question - first asked by Cain after he killed his brother Abel. God asked Cain where his brother Abel was and Cain answered "Am I my brother's keeper".
In hindsight it seems like a very flippant answer, something a petulant teenager might answer. But it is a legitimate question. What do you believe? Are we actually our brother's keeper? Or is it everyman for himself? What say you?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Have You Ever Broken Someone's Heart?

"Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad ---
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse."

(by Dorothy Parker 1926)

My question for you today is - Have you ever broken someone's heart?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Heaven and/or Hell?

Do you believe in Heaven AND Hell or do you believe in just Heaven? This question was just posted on Facebook and Twitter in an effort to poll as many people as possible. I think (but of course I could be wrong), that the vast majority of people believe in Heaven but most do not want to believe in Hell. I find it fasicnating to hear how people can reason a belief in one but not the other.

Perhaps you don't believe in either, that would be a third choice. Please tell me your thoughts on the subject and why you believe that way.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Many years ago, I had a friend that told me this story -

Being young and perhaps a bit naive, she traveled to Washington D.C. to join the C.I.A. She wanted to serve her country and felt that she could make a difference. Before C.I.A. had gone very far with their interview - my friend was told that she would be fitted with a diaphragm and would be expected to sleep with people to get useful information. My friend was a religious woman and this went against her moral code - so she politely thanked them for their time and she went home.

My question is - what would you have done? If the nation's security was dependent on the information that you could obtain - would you do as she was asked?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What, in your opinion, is a "Lady"?

What in your opinion is a "Lady"? Can they still be found in today's society? Do you consider yourself a "lady"? Can a "Lady" still be successful?