Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Amnesty and Human Rights

Today is Amnesty International Day, always observed May 28.

In case you don't know what about that organization, it is explained in a clear, complete, and concise manner in thr first sentence of their mission statement:
"We are people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights."

Any questions?

Read about what they are doing and how you can participate by visiting the Amnesty International (AI) website. Human rights around the world are the business of all humans around the world. Current spotlights focus on the Beijing Olympics, abolishing the death penalty, and more. They highlight individual cases and events, including achievements such as the fact that Pakistan ratified UN human rights treaties.

Being a woman writer, I am especially interested in censorship and women's rights. I wrote about censorship on the "Bloggers Unite for Human Rights" day. I would also point out the project to Stop Violence Against Women and the (CEDAW) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Celebrate Amnesty International Day by learning about human rights and becoming active in the cause of your choice. Or select a region or country and see what is happening there. At the very least, ensure you do not violate any rights today.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Did You See It?


We affectionately call her Nessie, and today is an anniversary. I read that it was this day in 1933 that the Loch Ness Monster was first sighted, but then I could not find corroborating documentation.

That fits into the legend, doesn't it? So many people have seen Nessie, but no one has been able to corroborate their claim with documentation. There are pictures, of course, and even videos, but some have been proven to be fakes and others have been suspected to be fake.

It has been recorded, time and time again, that people have seen the creature -- or something that could be the creature -- and they are absolutely convinced they saw the Loch Ness Monster. The Ultimate Loch Ness Monster sight begins with the Legend of Nessie and offers links to many pages giving details of the loch and its infamous resident. Read her diary to learn the first sighting was in 565 AD when St. Columba recorded the first sighting of what was surely an ancestor. Then look at the Evidence on the same sight that lists the first sighting in 1871. Maybe St. Columba was just part of the legend, too.

Here, at the UnMuseum, is a group of "sightings" stories, listing the first "modern" sighting in 1933, but in April, not May. It even includes pictures and videos. Scroll down about half way to see a fun ,short video. Look further to read possible explanations, theories and hoaxes. Further, it says, though there is no proof she exists, there is also no proof she doesn't exist.

What do you think? Did you see her?

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Run for the Roses

The tragedy at the Kentucky Derby this year had to be a first, when Eight Belles broke both front ankles after placing second to Big Brown. Let's look at less traumatic firsts associated with the Derby.

Starting at the beginning, the first Kentucky Derby was run on this date in 1875. Aristides was the first Derby winner, ridden by Oliver Lewis, one of 13 African-American jockeys in that first running. In fact, of the first 28 races, 15 winners were ridden by African-Americans.

The first record of roses draping the winning horse's neck was in 1896. The race is now known as "The Run for the Roses."

1904 Elwood was the first winner owned by a woman.

In 1915, Regret became the first of only three fillies to win.

In 1917, Omar Khayyam became the first foreign-bred winner. He was a colt bred in England.

In 1919, Sir Barton was the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby, then the Preakness, and later, the Belmont. In 1930, Gallant Fox repeated, winning the three races with the largest purses. A sports writer dubbed that feat the "Triple Crown." Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner before there was a Triple Crown.

The race was changed from mid-May to the first Saturday to accommodate the three-race Triple Crown schedule.

In 1973, Secretariat was the first winner to run the race in less than two minutes. His time still stands as a record 35 years later. No other winner has broken two minutes.


2004 was the first year jockeys were allowed to sport corporate logos.

But wait. What about the greatest race horse ever? Man O' War won 20 of 21 races, handily beating "Triple Crown winner" Sir Barton twice. He set three world records and is listed as number one in the top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century. He died at 30 in 1947 and is buried in Kentucky under his statue.

Man O' War never ran in the Kentucky Derby because his owner said the horse was too young when the Derby was scheduled. Ironically, some people are speculating that Eight Belles' bones were just too young for the stress of that race. How sad.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why Is the Sky Blue?

"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."-- Albert Einstein

The sky is blue because of the way light works. Light waves are different lengths, blue being short, and most of the light waves in the sky are short, so the sky is blue. Sometimes it is darker or different shades of blue, and that is because of other things in the air such as dust or water drops from clouds.

Okay, I didn't talk about diffusion of light scattered by molecules of various types of gases, and I did not think of a simple way of explaining light waves. But I think it is simple enough for kids who ask the question, and, though simplistic, I think it is pretty close to correct. This is the way I understand it, but I am no physicist.

Why am I thinking about blue skies? The weather has been nice lately, and the sky is blue in Texas. Mainly, I thought about blue skies when I read that Einstein presented the General Theory of Relativity on this date in 1916.

When my boys were young -- maybe 9 and 11 -- I read the theory to them. There were places I skipped over. The equations and their explanations did not make easy reading, but there was plenty of prose that did. The little red book I read had both the special and general theories and I don't remember one over the other, but I remember a couple of stories.

One was about walking on a moving train, and another about the blue sky. I remember these because James and David were impressed by them. I was impressed by how easy the book was to read (not counting the equations.) I read somewhere once that Einstein said science and math should be written so everyone could understand it. What a great idea. If they all wrote as clearly as he did, more kids would want to go into science and math.

Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. In 1999 Time magazine named him the "Person of the Century." When you think of genius, who comes to your mind?

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Friday, May 09, 2008

The Pill Is Approved!


"It's certainly about time."
Margaret Sanger's response when she heard the news

The birth control pill was approved by the FDA on this day in 1960. The Pill was blamed -- or credited, depending on your point of view -- for the Sexual Revolution. Margaret Sanger was instrumental in the funding and development of a birth control method to help women actually plan parenthood as a means of reducing a high infant and maternal death rate -- The Pill.

"It is our experience, as it was our aim, that as a result of child-spacing, and adequate care of mothers, death rates would be reduced. It is now a fact that as a result of birth control, the survival rate among mothers and children is higher. There is less suffering for all groups." ~ Margaret Sanger

Gloria Steinem wrote an article honoring Sanger as one of the Top 100 people of the 20th Century. Even author and historian H.G. Wells said when the history of our civilization is written, "Margaret Sanger will be its heroine."


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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Am I a Porsche 911?

A friend sent me a short quiz that tells what kind of car I would be if I were car. I answered trying to be honest. I'm not sure I agree with the results, but I'm a Porsche 911.

I once dated a man who had a Porsche 911, and when he replaced that car, he bought another Porsche 911. My favorite-boss-ever drove a Porsche 911, and it fit him! I guess I am comfortable with Porsche lovers. Now I am very happy with a Cadillac driver, but I don't envision myself as a Cadillac. In face, I never thought of myself as a car -- maybe I'm more like a horse.

Try it and see if you agree with the results. The quiz is quick.

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite, and you know it.



Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Freedom of Expression in the Media

Today is World Press Freedom Day. This special day, created and supported by the United Nations (UN) in 1993, celebrates the principles of the freedom of the press. It was recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in order to bring freedom of expression to the world.

Freedom of expression is taken for granted in the US, but not so in many other countries. They recognize that new technologies are increasing access of information which in turn empowers the public, allowing people to have more control over their own lives.

The Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for 2008 will be awarded to Lydia Cacho Ribeiro today in Mozambique. Lydia is a Mexican reporter who uncovered prostitution and child pornography networks. As a result, she has been the target of death threats, sabotage, and police harassment.

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