Sunday, May 23, 2010

Copernicus, Sister Margaret McBride and Motherhood

New York Times reported that "Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical, was reburied by Polish priests as a hero on Saturday, nearly 500 years after he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave."

I have visited the place he was burned in Rome - Campo di Fiore, a lovely farmer's marketing in the morning and hugely popular hangout for locals and tourists alike. I am very glad that finally he was treated as a hero as he has been for a long time in secular world.

This reminded me another story related to Catholic church.

NPR reported that "Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had 'right heart failure,' and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was 'close to 100 percent.'

... The patient, who was too ill to be moved to the operating room much less another hospital, agreed to an abortion... Sister Margaret McBride, who was an administrator at the hospital as well as its liaison to the diocese, gave her approval.

The woman survived. When Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted heard about the abortion, he declared that McBride was automatically excommunicated — the most serious penalty the church can levy. "

Wasn't Sister McBride struggle with her conscious? Wasn't a woman's life worthy saving? Heck no to the Catholic Church apparently. Bishop Olmsted would be happy to see the woman die with her fetus. I wonder if he could, if Bishop Olmsted would have Sister McBride burned as heretic?

This story connected me to motherhood. Most people revere motherhood and see it almost as saintly. Yet, on the June election ballot I just received, I was startled to see a woman put her profession as Mother, denigrated Motherhood to the same rank as businessman, lawyer, state senator, grocer, etc. Is motherhood simply a job? Is it an identity for a woman? This labeling is an insult to both motherhood and womankind.


Nüwa Creating Humans / 女媧造人 / Nüwa Herstellen der Menschen

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Texas Board of Education Continues Culture War

According to San Francisco Chronicle, "Texas schoolchildren will be required to learn that the words "separation of church and state" aren't in the Constitution and evaluate whether the United Nations undermines U.S. sovereignty under new social studies curriculum.

In final votes late Friday, conservatives on the State Board of Education strengthened requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers and required that the U.S. government be referred to as a 'constitutional republic' rather than 'democratic.'

"During the monthslong process of creating the guidelines, conservatives successfully strengthened the requirements on teaching the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers and attempted to water down the rationale for the separation of church and state."

Though I do agree that the US is not a democracy, rather than a constitutional republic, I disagree with almost everything else their revision of history.

Texas is determined to rage culture war. It might spread to other states as well due to the influence of its large population. If so, the future of education in the US is rather bleak.

Devils' Dance / 魔鬼的舞蹈 / Teufels Tanz

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gushing Oil in the Ocean

The recent oil spurting into the ocean and the revelation that the government issued permits without due process is a deeply depressing reminder that no government could be trusted as a good guardian of the world and the people. One thought these stories only took place in corrupted countries like China. America does have a somewhat better system but still one must remain vigilant. Always remember that all crows are equally black.

Crow / 烏鴉 / Krähe

Thursday, May 13, 2010

High Speed Rails

Railroad system in the US is far behind the rest of the world that we are the third world now.

Only recently, California is working on the propose of building a 465-mile high speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles. At this moment, there is not even a direct rail road from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

A San Francisco Chronicle report listed some interesting data:
  • Japan - Shinkansen/Bullet Train
    Year started: 1964, Miles: 1,400, Top speed: 186 mph
  • Italy - Treno Alta Velocita
    Year started: 1978, Miles: 500, Top speed: 186 mph
  • France - TGV
    Year started: 1981, Miles: 1,100, Top speed: 199 mph
  • Spain - AVE
    Year started: 1992, Miles: 800, Top speed: 186 mph
  • Germany - ICE (InterCity Express)
    Year started: 1991, Miles: 800, Top speed: 186 mph
  • South Korea - KTX
    Year started: 2004, Miles: 160, Top speed: 200 mph
  • China - China Railway High-Speed
    Year started: 2007, Miles: 4,100, Top speed: 217 mph

Shinkansen in Japan

TGV in France

China Railway High-Speed

In the US, the only existing high-speed-rail is Acela Express, which serves along the Northeast Corridor. The highest speed they attain is 150 mph:


Can we become more pathetic?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Voter Turnout in the US

The aftermath of the recent general election in the UK commanded many's attention and imagination. The voter turnout rate reached 65.1%, an increase comparing to 2005's 61.4%. Yet it is a dismay low turnout rate. In last three decades, the highest turnout rate there was in 1992 - 77.7%.

Yet, a 65.1% turnout rate would be a dramatic improvement in the US, whose voter turnout rate in 2008 presidential election in the US was only 56.8%, a supposedly big improvement over 2004, due to the excitement over the candidate Obama's appeal. Alas, it was an improvement from 2004's 55.3%. In 2006, the mid-term election had the turnout rate of 37.1% only.

Below is a chart shared by Wikipedia on the voting trends in a few major countries:


When people had to die in order to gain the right to vote, or risk of losing life in the polling station, here, in this "beacon of democracy", so many people don't bother to vote. Where