Sunday, March 31, 2013

Was There A Historical/Real Jesus? Who knows?!

Today is Easter. This day is supposed to celebrate the "resurrection" (coming back to life from the dead) of Jesus Christ.

There is, however, a big problem.

There is no "direct" historical evidence for the existence of a "Jesus."

All of the earliest historians who mention a "Jesus" or "Christians," lived at least 50 or 60 years
after the supposed/alleged death of Jesus and refer to him indirectly (they have heard stories about
him but do not have real or hard proof or evidence about his life).

For instance, there was a historian named Josephus, and he writes briefly about the
existence of a group called Christians.  He wrote about Christians well after Jesus supposedly
died.  Indeed, Josephus was born around 40AD - he was born after Jesus supposedly died.
So he mentions that he has heard of a group that called itself "Christians."

There was also, however, a religious group called the Mithraists - they worshipped Mithras. 
Mithras never existed.  He was a myth.  That religion was based on a mythological figure.

Just because a group exists doesn't necessarily mean a guy existed.

Even the "Gospels" - the stories about Jesus - were written about 100 years after he supposedly died.

So there is no direct evidence that a "Jesus" existed.  There is only "hearsay" evidence (i.e. "Well I heard a guy existed who rose from the dead...someone once told me that...)

But. who knows. Maybe the hearsay is based on something that really happened.

Here's a good little web page that provides most of the arguments against a historical

The webpage:

Happy Easter -

Friday, March 29, 2013

A German Museum Displays LIve Jewish Folks in A Glass Box

It must be uncomfortable being Jewish in Germany, given the fact that the Nazis in Germany once tried to kill every Jew in Europe.

A "Jewish" Museum in Germany seems to suggest that contemporary Germans, who had nothing to do with the Holocaust, might feel uncomfortable or uncertain about how to speak to Jewish people, in light of the fact that previous Germans engaged in horrible and inhumane action toward the Jews (and others) in Europe in the 30s and 40s.  Therefore, the museum has invited Jewish people to sit in a glass box and to answer questions for visitors.

The article:

If the above link doesn't work try this one:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

ire - anger

folks - people

to raise interest and ire - people are becoming both interested and angry

postwar - after the war (World War II)

a slaughter, to slaughter - a butcher usually slaughters animals (kills them and cuts them up) so that people can buy the meat and eat it.  To slaughter a group of people or a person means to kill someone who cannot defend him/herself easily.

to orchestrate a slaughter - to design or coordinate a mass killing. An orchestra is a collection of musicians who play classical music.

to feel cozy - to feel comfortable.  This Jewish leader is using sarcasm - he is suggesting something that, obviously, won't be done because it is ridiculous.  But he makes this ridiculous suggestion to make a point: the Jewish person is being treated like some type of animal or object in his opinion.

to be reminiscent of something - if something is reminiscent of something else, it reminds people of something else.  Eichmann was a Nazi war criminal who was arrested and put on trial after WWII.  He was kept in a glass box in the courtroom in Israel because the authorities thought someone might try to kill him during the trial.

an execution - when the state kills a criminal

provocative - if something is provocative, it makes a person think about a difficult topic.  These days an actress is sleeping in a glass box at a NY City museum.

horrified - shocked

degrading - if a person feels he has been degraded, he feels humiliated or ashamed. To degrade someone is to make the person seem less than human.

inevitable - there is no choice, it has to happen

a curator - someone who develops museum shows

a barrier - something that blocks progress, something that prevents movement

objectionable - if you object to something you feel it is wrong

a stereotype - a stereotype of a group is the way most people think people in the group generally act. A stereotype of Asian students is that they are all good at math.  A stereotype of African Americans is that they are all good dancers. etc.

a placard - a large piece of white board on which text is presented

yarmulke - this is the little round 'hat' that some Jewish men wear on their heads (pronounced: YAH muh kah)

business savvy - really smart at business.

a feeling of insecurity - if you are insecure, you are not confident about something

a Shabbat dinner - a dinner on a Jewish holy day/day of rest

1) This exhibit seems to have been created by a "Jewish" museum.  Do you think this makes the exhibit more acceptable?  What if a "non" Jewish museum had done this?  Would you feel differently about the exhibit?

2)  Why do you think the museum is doing this?

3)  Will this help Germans develop a greater tolerance for Jewish people,
or is this exhibit just treating Jewish people as "others" and strangers?

4) Is this exhibit making fun of Germans or trying to help them become more aware?
Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Photography Show about Nudity at The MET Museum

The Metropolitan Museum is one of the world's great art museums.  Its collection contains about 3 million pieces of art.

Here is an article about a show they had there last year. I found the article by chance and thought I would post it, even though it is old.

The MET museum was created as a result of New York City's "golden age," between 1865 and 1914, when New York City established itself as the banking and business capitol of the world.  It became a tradition for wealthy New Yorkers to donate money to public causes/charities and many donated their art collections to the MET after they died. J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller...they all donated to the MET.

There's just one problem with the MET.  It has always had the reputation of being too conservative.  In fact, MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art) and The Whitney Museum of American Art were established in New York City because the MET, at one time, refused to show 20th century or American art.

It has also been argued that the MET is "sexist" or reflects "sexist" values in the art world.  Nearly all of the art displayed at the MET was created by men.  Indeed, "white" men.

The following article from a small New York newspaper takes a look at an exhibit, at the MET, of photography dealing with the naked body.  This article points out that most photographers in the exhibit are male and most models are female.  The article begins with a reference to a quote from a feminist art organization called The Guerrilla Girls, who once said that a woman can only get into an art museum if she is naked.  Of course, they meant that women are only valued in art museums as the sexual subjects of male artists; but not as artists themselves.

This is a great article!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

An Australian Grocery Store Charges $5 Just To Look at The Food

This article is pretty easy to read and kind of funny.

An Australian grocery store/supermarket charges people $5 just to enter the store and look at the food.

The title of the article has the verb: "to combat" something; this means "to fight in order to stop" something. "Showrooming" means that a person goes to a real store, looks at the stuff, and then goes home and purchases the stuff online.  "Showrooming" often occurs with computer items, so it seems unusual that people would go to a supermarket to look at food before going home and buying it online.

Most companies that are worried about "showrooming" usually make sure that the prices of the stuff they have are fair prices compared to online sales.

By the way, there is a grammar/spelling mistake in the following article.  The article begins: "Stores Charges.."  It should be "A Store Charges..." It's hard to believe a web site would make a mistake like that.

The article:


1) Do you think this store is justified in regard to this type of policy?

2)  Would you pay $5 to enter this type of store?  Would you deliberately avoid this type of store?

3) Do you ever do this - go into a store just to compare prices with other stores?  Do you think there
is anything wrong with that?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Buddhist Violence against Muslims in Burma/Myanmar

I was shocked, a few months ago, to learn that the Buddhist majority group in the country of Burma has engaged in acts of violence against the Muslim minority group in that country.

I had always believed that Buddhism was a religion of peacefulness.  Yet, the violence has resumed (begun again) in Burma.

I found this quote about the beliefs of Buddhism from:

"These fundamental principles taught by the Buddha are at the core of Buddhist practice:
Buddhist teaching is based on the precepts of refraining from killing and causing harm.
Buddhist teaching is based on compassion and mutual care.
Buddhist teaching offers respect to all, regardless of class, caste, race or creed."

The violence directed against the Muslims in Burma seems to stem from the era of English imperialism in Burma, when many Indian Muslims were allowed to enter the country and take jobs working for the English. But even many Burmese Buddhists, apparently, will not forget their country's history and do not feel that descendants of these Indian Muslims have a right to be in Burma. 

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

Is the country called Burma or Myanmar?  That's a tough question.  The military "junta" (group of Army generals) who took over the country in a coup (a violent takeover - pronounced "kooo") decided to rename the country Myanmar.  It had been called Burma and most people who believe in democracy in that country prefer the term Burma instead of Myanmar.

to be shocked - to be very surprised and saddened or upset

a majority group versus a minority group - obviously a majority group is a group that outnumbers the minority group.  There can be a number of minority groups in a country, by the way.  For instance, in the USA, the descendants (sons, daughters, grandsons/daughters etc.) of white Europeans who came to this country are still the majority group.  Ethnic or racial minority groups include Latinos, African Americans, Asians etc.  What's the difference between race and ethnicity?  A person from China would be of the Asian race, but ethnically Chinese.

to engage in something - to take some type of action in regard to something.

fundamental - primary, main, central

the core - the center

a precept - a belief that one is pretty sure about and perhaps certain about

to refrain from doing something - to stop oneself from doing something

compassion - a deep feeling of sympathy for another person, a deep emotion expressing concern for others

class, caste, race or creed - social class means where one is considered to be based on salary, position and education, a caste is a very rigid or structured social system found in India, race is the color of one's skin and a creed is a religious belief.

to stem from - to come from.  A stem is the base of a flower

English imperialism - imperialism is when an economically and militarily strong country takes over "weaker" countries and uses them to make its own economy stronger.  England had a HUGE imperial empire in the 1700s and 1800s.  Indeed, the USA used to be a part of that imperial empire and launched a revolution against England to gain freedom.

a descendant - a son, daughter...someone from a later generation who is in the same family

a state of emergency - a situation of emergency.  A "state" of emergency is a formal term for when a government declares that a situation has gone too far and things are too dangerous.

to impose s/t on - to force something, if you impose a law on people, you force those people to obey the law.

to be injured - to be harmed or hurt

a clash - a conflict, a flight

to intensify - to get worse

sectarian - "group-like,"  if there is sectarian violence, it usually means one ethnic or religious group is attacking another.

the heartland - the middle of the country

to flee - to run away, to escape

devastation - ruin, when something has been destroyed or made useless

charred bodies - burned bodies

a mosque - a place of worship for Muslims.  A church is a place of worship for Christians and a synagogue is a place of worship for Jewish folks.

burned to the ground - many students have a problem with the verb "to burn."  They sometimes use the verb "to fire" instead.  No.  "to set something on fire" works.  "to burn" is a better verb choice.

a monk - a religious person in the Buddhist religion.  Like a priest for Catholics, a minister for Protestants, a rabbi for Jewish people and a imam for Muslim folks.

to roam - to wander around, to move about the streets

to take refuge in - to hide in for safety

the opposition - those who are against the current military government

martial law - military law.  Usually this means that the military takes over an area and people have to remain inside their homes after a certain time.

escalating - getting worse.  Like an escalator in a shopping mall.

to derail s/t - if a train derails it falls off of its tracks; for something to be derailed means that the process has stopped and it will be difficult to re-start the process

a reform process - a process of positive change

to initiate something - to start something

the unrest - the protests, the disagreements; unrest means people are not happy or satisfied

to spark something - to start something; a spark will often start a fire

a fully-fledged riot - a total riot; a riot is a protest that has become too wild and destructive

randomly - not chosen, happening in an unplanned, chaotic manner

to inflame anger - to make anger worse

to smoulder - if something is smouldering, that means it was on fire, the fire has stopped, but  the thing is still smoking

tensions - stress felt between two groups; if two groups are not getting along, there are 'tensions' between these groups

to suppress - to push down, to oppress

a regime -  a regime is usually a government run by a dictator; a non-democratic government

resentment - feelings of ill-will; if someone hurts you somehow, and you can't forgive the person, you feel resentment toward this person

a transition - changing from one situation to another, usually moving from one situation to a better situation


1)  Do you feel that the Buddhist monks are being hypocritical by attacking and killing Muslims? (A hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does something else.)

2)  What should the international community do to resolve this situation?

3) The hatred of the Buddhists seems to stem from history.  What do you think about this?  There are lots of unresolved issues between nations that stem from history.  To this day many in China and Korea still seem to resent what the Japanese military did in World War II.  How do you feel about this?  Should we just forget history after awhile and get on with our lives?
Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Universe Is Pretty Old

I want to try to present more scientific articles, so here's an article about the age of the universe.

The article:


the best map yet - the best map so far, up until this time

100 million = 100,000,000

cosmic - pertaining to the universe.  The universe is also called the cosmos

a microwave is a type of energy carrying wave that can travel through space

on the edge of their seats - eagerly waiting, very eager, anxiously waiting,

profoundly - deeply

a space mission - a mission is an activity meant to accomplish some goal

The Big Bang - this was the beginning of the universe when there was a sudden "explosion" from a single point.  Nobody knows what came before the Big Bang or what caused the Big Bang.  One philosopher once wrote, in Latin: Ignoramus et ignorabimus.  We don't know and we will never know.

dense - if something is dense it is filled tightly, for example dense traffic, or a dense crowd

to get mired in - to get stuck in

plasma - not a solid and not a liquid, in between solid and liquid and usually very hot; plasma can come from a volcano as well

protons, electrons and neutrons - particles that make up an atom. Atoms make up molecules.

precious - valuable

embedded in it - stuck inside it, found inside it

to be uniform - to be the same everywhere

to display - to show

variations in temperature - changes in temperature

to correspond to - to equal

fluctuations - changes

to clump - to group together

which posits - which suggests

random - not deliberate, not chosen or designed

tantalizing - teasing

to peel layers - if you wear many layers of clothing you have clothing on top of clothing. To peel off these layers means to remove them.

a constituent - a part of something else

an anomaly - something strange

to link - to join


Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P
Me (at an art gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

North Korean Hackers Crash South Korean Systems?

This story helps to show how dependent our society has become on the internet and on computers in general.

Previously I posted an article on how the US government is protesting apparent hacking sponsored by the government of China.  The US claims that Chinese hackers have been stealing information from various US businesses and government offices.

Now the South Korean government is blaming North Korea for potentially hacking into South Korean systems in order to disrupt services at banks and media companies.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to be paralyzed - if a person is paralyzed, it usually means he/she had an accident and cannot move part or all of his/her body.  If a system is paralyzed, it cannot be used.  Basically, to be paralyzed means a person can't move or something is no longer usable.

a hacker - someone who illegally enters another person's or groups' internet or computer systems

to crash a system - if your computer 'crashes' it stops working.  If a system crashes, it stops working. In these two examples we used 'crash' as an intransitive verb - a verb that doesn't take an object.  "Crash" is also used as a transitive verb, taking an object: They crashed various computer systems.  This means they took measures to force these systems to stop working.

to disrupt - to interrupt, to cause problems with

a coordinated attack -  this is an attack which is well-planned so that a number of goals can be reached at one time.

to pinpoint -  to identify something precisely; to be able to point precisely at a cause

to decline to do something - to refuse to do something; to say that you will not do something

to speculate on - to think about the causes of something; to guess

suspicion fell on - this is an idiomatic usage.  If you suspect someone of doing something, you think he/she did something, so your suspicion falls on this person.

to dispatch - to send

inexplicably - without explanation, unexplainably.  If something is inexplicable, there is no explanation as to why it happened.

a halt - to stop doing something is to halt doing something; a halt is therefore a stoppage.

intensive - very deep, thorough, strong

discord - the opposite of harmony; if there is discord between a couple of people, they are arguing

to circumvent - to go around something; to avoid something

propaganda - this is information provided by a government to make the government look good. It is somewhat true and somewhat false information.  For instance, let's say a government is run by a dictator.  His government might create movies or news stories showing how happy the people of the country are.  yet, many innocent people might be in jails being tortured.

sanctions - these are regulations meant to harm the economy of a country which has violated international law

to impose - to place upon, to put on.

a regime - a long-term government system that is anti-democratic

provocation - to provoke, to cause trouble; provocation is the causing of trouble

to unleash - this word is used often in newspapers.  A leash is something that a person puts on a dog when the dog is taken for a walk.  If you have a mean dog and you unleash him, he might attack someone.  So to "unleash" something is to let something wild go so.  A government can unleash its army, for example, and the army will attack another country.

infrastructure - everything that makes up the basics of a society.

vulnerable - to be at risk; if you are vulnerable you are not safe.

to collide - to crash into, to smash into

to be immobilized -  if you are immobilized you cannot move

1)  What do you think should be done about these apparent cyber-attacks from North Korea and China?

2)  Do you think it would be justified to start a war if a country launched a massive cyber-attack which was designed to paralyze your entire society?

3) Do you think that South Korea should retaliate (get revenge) if it is determined for certain that North Korea attacked their internet systems?

Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Pope Did Not Care about "Los Desaparecidos"

"Los Desaparecidos" is the Spanish term given to the thousands of Argentinian students (and others) who "disappeared" during a military dictatorship in Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s.

Why did they disappear?  Because they were tortured and killed by the military dictatorship of Argentina.  What did the very powerful Catholic Church do to try to stop the torture and execution of a generation of young Argentinians?  Nothing. Indeed, the Church supported the dictatorship. The members of the 'junta' (military dictators group) considered themselves to be good Catholics. (By the way, 'junta' is pronounced 'HOON-tuh' in Spanish.)

The current Pope was in Argentina at this time and unlike some other religious figures who protested against the junta and against the killings, and who were sometimes killed for their protests, he said and did very little or NOTHING.  He kept his mouth shut and kept getting promoted within the Church.  This man is now the moral leader of the Catholic Church.

In the following article you'll see that Argentinians refer to this period of time as the "dirty war."

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

Los desaparecidos - the disappeared

a dictatorship - this is when one person, or a few people, take control of a government and control the government using force, against the will of the people.  A dictatorship is the opposite of a democracy. In Argentina a military "junta" or group took control of the government and tortured and killed many innocent people.

to be tortured - this is when someone causes another person extreme pain as a punishment or as a way gain information from the person

execution - formalized killing by the government

to support - to assist, to agree with, to encourage

to protest - to say "no!" or to say that something is wrong.  A protest could also be conducted by a group of people in a public area.  Many American young people continually protested the Vietnam War.

to be promoted - to receive a higher position or job

moral, morality, ethical, ethics - to be moral or ethical is to be good, or to try to do good things; morality or ethics is the study of how to live the best possible or most humane life.

to be tied up in - to be involved in, to be a part of

a debate - a discussion in which two or more different arguments are offered

to be beyond dispute - there is no doubt; if something is beyond dispute, then it really happened

failed to confront the military junta - did not openly criticize the dictatorship or try to stop it; to confront someone is to face someone and say something to him about his immoral behavior

to kidnap - to capture or take a person, against his/her will, and to hide the person

to eliminate leftist opponents - eliminate means to get rid of; a leftist is a socialist or someone who is not conservative.  The military junta did not just kill "leftists."  The junta often killed anyone who was a critical thinker or who criticized the junta.  Many university students were killed.

an activist - someone who fights for a cause - for some goal or mission he/she believes to be right or good. A human rights activist fights to establish greater human rights, or fights for the cause of human rights.

human rights - basic rights every human being should have

an authorized biographer - this person was given permission by the Pope to write a biography about him. Therefore, this biographer will probably not be objective, but will show a bias in favor of the Pope.

to label someone - to call someone something, to consider a person to be something

thirtysomething - he was between the ages of 31 and 39

Jesuits - a group of Catholics

collective guilt - guilt that a whole group of people should share.  I disagree that all of Argentina should share this sense of guilt.  The people were often helpless - powerless.  People in high -profile positions, however, could have called on international support to help end the torture and murders.

to wrestle with something - to deal with something or address something or try to understand something which is difficult to deal with

an accomplice - someone who helps another person to commit a crime.  Again, I disagree.  I do not think most Argentinians were "accomplices."

the papal conclave - the meeting to choose the Pope

lumped together - to be put into the same category with

to be aligned with - to be in agreement with

courage - bravery, moral strength

to collaborate with - to work with.  So someone is arguing that at least the Pope didn't help the dictatorship. He was just too scared to do anything to help anyone who was being killed.

atrocities - horrible, inhumane actions

to atone for the sins - to make up for the sins; a sin is a crime against God's law for people

to conspire with - to act with someone who is doing something wrong.  Did you ever hear of a conspiracy theory?

more concerned about preserving the church's image - instead of saying: "Yes, the church acted badly.." he is trying to cover the whole situation up.

a conviction - if someone is convicted of a crime, he is found guilty of the crime

to invoke his right - he used his right

a detainee - someone who has been kidnapped

evasive answers - answers that did not answer the questions he was asked

the church endorsed the dictatorship - the church supported the dictatorship

key support - important support

a subversive - someone the government feels is trying to destroy the government

to stoop to someone else's level - if, for example, someone is lying about you, and you, then, begin lying about the other person (to get revenge), you are 'stooping' to the other person's level; you are lowering yourself and doing the same 'wrong' thing he is doing.  To stoop is to bend over or to bend down. So this Pope seems to be saying that his critics were falsely attacking him, but he did not want to attack back, so he kept silent.

to shelter someone - to give someone safety or a safe place to stay

a slum - a very poor neighborhood

a colleague - a co-worker

liberation theology movement - this was a movement of Catholic priests in South America that tried to assist poor people in their struggle against corrupt governments and rich landowners.  A priest is the primary 'worker' of the catholic Church - he wears a black shirt with a white collar. Pope John Paul 2 did not like the liberation theology movement and took measures to end it (although he was not completely successful).

clandestine - secret

paranoia - a psychological disorder in which a person feels that others are trying to hurt him/her

the paranoia of the witch hunt - this means the junta (dictatorship) was paranoid about people who might fight against it and were looking for "evil" people they could torture and kill. A 'witch hunt' is when a government looks for people to blame for social problems. The government then arrests and executes these people.

declining to endorse their work - because the current Pope would not approve of the work of these two priests, the dictatorship new it could arrest them and torture them and the Church wouldn't do anything

harrowing - scary.  The junta used to take university students on helicopter rides over the ocean and push them from the helicopters into the sea.  It looks as if they really wanted to scare these two priests, but didn't want to kill them.

blindfolded - their eyes were covered by a cloth

reluctant - if you are reluctant to do something, you do it but you don;t really want to do it

Mass - the religious service of the Catholic Church.  It looks as if Catholic priests conducted private masses for the chief or top dictator.

conservative, liberal - liberal usually means open-minded; conservative usually means not wanting to see things change.  If you are liberal you are 'left wing" if you are conservative you are "right wing"

a disposition - the way one feels toward something. If you have a good disposition toward s/o or s/t, you like someone or something.

in the middle politically - not left and not right.

in it up to their necks - deeply involved

to track cases - to follow cases

legitimacy - if something is legitimate it is "right" or good or as it is supposed to be.  This person is saying that the Catholic Church wished to find a strong moral leader, but, instead, have someone whose legitimacy or moral strength can be questioned.

a cardinal - a high ranking priest who usually runs a church organization for an entire city. A bishop is just under a cardinal.

its flock - its followers; a flock is a gathering of sheep

blamed the era's violence - the Catholic Church blamed both the junta and the people fighting against the junta for the violence of the time period.

a guerrilla - an underground fighter, someone who fights against an enemy as part of a loose collection of secret soldiers
1)  Based on what you read above, do you feel that the current Pope did enough to protest the dictatorship in his country?

2)  Do you think he supported the dictatorship? If he went to a dictator's house to save the lives of two priests, why didn't he talk to the dictator about saving thousands of other lives?  If he was conducting private masses for dictators, doesn't this show support?

3)  What do you think he should have done?

4)  Do you think the fact that this person did so little should disqualify him from the position of Pope?  Should he be Pope based on the fact that he did not openly oppose a dictatorship that was killing thousands of people in his country?


Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Pope, Same Old Baloney

As someone who was born into the Catholic religion, I felt I needed to make a few comments on the election of this new Pope.  "Baloney", by the way, is a term Americans use for 'nonsense'.  For example, if someone tells you a lie, you might say, "You just told me a bunch of baloney!"  Or: "What baloney!"  "Bullshit!" is the dirtier term for "baloney."  Baloney is literally a cheap type of sausage that nobody wants to eat.

In an interview Cardinal Dolan of New York City gave today, he states that Catholic Church doctrine will not be changed by the new Pope.  Indeed, he asserts that the most this Pope can do is to "oil" the machine so that the machine runs more smoothly. The "machine" is his term for the Catholic Church. It's funny because the term "machine" politics often refers to corrupt political systems in American cities like Chicago or New York.

Is the Catholic Church as corrupt as a corrupt political system? It surely looks that way.

Unfortunately, many Catholics in America and Europe are not going to be satisfied with mere "oiling." People should expect real reform.

For instance, there was a report in the early 2000s, which was called the John Jay Report on Catholic Priests, which indicated that about 4% of US Catholic priests in the USA had engaged in illegal sexual activities with children. That is one out of twenty-five priests.  That is shocking. That is outrageous.

Here is the John Jay Study (you can also google 'John Jay Study on Priests'):

Furthermore, there is NO REASON that women should not be Catholic priests.  Indeed, in the early church women WERE priests.  The Catholic Church stopped allowing women to be priests for various social and political reasons - there is NOTHING in the Bible which mentions a "priesthood" or which mentions that only men may be priests.

Women priests in the early church:

Furthermore, there is nothing in the Bible which says that gay people are "contrary to God's plan." The current Pope stated that gay-marriage is contrary to God's plan.   In fact, it might be time for the Pope to be nicer to gay folks because it is estimated that between 23% and 58% of all Catholic priests are gay.  That's a lot of gay priests.

Furthermore, the Catholic Church often functions like a criminal organization.  It often takes immediate action to cover up abuses that are presented to it. The previous Pope apparently had to resign because of the outrageous number of scandals, including an apparent gay prostitution ring that was being run out of the Vatican.

Furthermore, there is nothing in the Bible that states abortion is a "sin." Nor is there anything in the Bible which states that people who use birth-control are in violation of God's law or plan.  Hello, are over-population, starvation and global warming a part of God's plan? All three potentially stem from a lack of rational birth control.

The Catholic Church has just made a lot of stuff up. I'm tempted to say: Who cares who the new Pope is?


By the way, few news sources are explaining why a person from Argentina was chosen Pope or why he chose the name Francis I.  Let me please tell you.

There is a high correlation between poverty and Catholicism.  South America is both poor and Catholic. In Europe people became wealthier and less Catholic. The same is happening in America.  The most popular saint in South America is Saint Francis of Assisi.  Poor people continually pray to Saint Francis for help.

"Saint" Francis was a person who was born into a wealthy family and who rejected wealth to embrace poverty.  But he didn't embrace 'real' poverty.  He embraced the type of easy poverty religious figures around the world often embrace.  It's the type of institutionalized poverty that ensures that the church will make sure you are always safe and always well-fed every day.  Francis never went hungry a day in his life.

So this Argentinean guy was selected because 1) he's basically an Italian guy from Argentina (his father was an Italian immigrant to Argentina) and  2) Europe and America have begun to REJECT the Catholic Church because it has had too many scandals and poverty has been decreasing in both areas.  The Church's future lies in poor countries.

So we have an Italian guy from Argentina who has selected the name of a "Saint" whom poor people love, but who will not make significant changes to a church that desperately needs humanizing.  The old, conservative guys simply will not let go of power.  Now they are looking to the poor of South America to help keep them in business.

Habemus papem!  Yes, we have a new Pope.  Same as the old Pope. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Yes, I'm the person who created this amazing scandal :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cyber War against China? Chinese and US Geeks to Battle Each Other! :P

According to the US Government, the Chinese Government has been involved in various "hacking" activities against US businesses and the US Government.

Indeed, it is commonly perceived by the American people that US companies innovate new types of technology and the Chinese steal it through computer hacking. Americans point out that if you look at Chinese military airplanes, they look quite similar to American military planes.  It was also discovered in the 1990s that China stole various types of US missile technology.

In the following article, President Obama states that the US will begin taking tough measures against China in order to stop this continual theft of US intellectual property.  Some members of the US Congress even want to declare a "cyber war" against China.

The outcome of the war would depend on which country has the best computer geeks. :P I think China might have more geeks than America, since they have 1.5 billion people.  Let's hope the outnumbered US geeks are tougher!!!!! :P  Fight to the death US computer geeks! Your country depends on you!

Maybe there should be a new US super-hero:  Iron Geek!  or The Incredible Geek or Super Geek or Bat Geek!

A computer geek:

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a geek - a person whose whole life revolves around computers; a person who has not developed into a full human being because he/she is obsessed with computers (see image above). What's the difference between a geek and a nerd?  Hmmm.  This is a tough question.  I think "geeks" are usually people addicted to using computers (they can't stop using their computers).  Nerds are very intelligent people who tend to wear glasses and who are focused on reading and studying.  The stereotype (common image) of a nerd is someone who is not very athletic, who doesn't worry much about his/her appearance and who doesn't always have great social skills.  The characters on the TV show "Big Bang Theory" would be nerds, but not geeks.

cyber - this term refers to anything involving the internet

a battle/to battle:  a battle is when two groups representing different governments fight against each other.  To battle is the verb form.

to be outnumbered - to be on a side or with a group that does not have as many people as the other side or group

to hack into - to break into a person's computer or internet account

to be perceived by - to be seen by; to be interpreted as being true by; to be understood as being true by

to innovate - to create something new

taking tough measures - a measure is an action; to take tough measures means strong action

to upbraid s/o - to strongly criticize someone; to chastise someone

tough talk - serious talk in which one party/group criticizes actions of the other

alleged - it hasn't been proved true, but it is believed to be true

state sponsored - the government has ok'd the action

he played down - he did not emphasize this; he did not make a big deal out of this; he indicated that this was not important

the scale of attacks - the extent to which something occurs is the scale of an activity; you can have small scale attacks, medium scale attacks or large scale attacks

infrastructure - the structure that supports the economy of a society

to amount to - to be equal to; to be basically the same as

espionage - spying; when one government secretly obtains the secrets of another

a hot war - a war in which people get killed.  The Cold War existed from about 1945 to 1989 and was a non-fighting situation of conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union (Russia)

a ramping up of - an increase in; a ramp is a structure used to roll things upwards or downwards

norms - a norm is something morally expected; something everyone would admit is true

to abide by - to follow; to abide by the law means to follow the law or to 'do' legal things

prompting - causing

a digital Pearl Harbor - an internet version of the attack which started World War 2 for the USA.

a bone of contention - an issue both sides disagree about; contention means conflict or struggle, so a bone of contention is like a bone that two dogs might fight over

to supplant - to replace

to mount a raid - to launch a raid, to start a raid.  A raid is an attack.


Whose geeks are better?  The USA's Iron Geeks or the Chinese Tiger Geeks?

Do you believe the US government?  Do you think the Chinese are hacking into US systems or do you think the US is paranoid (afraid of something that is not really happening)?

If the Chinese are hacking into US systems, what should Obama do?  Is tough talk enough?  Should there be a cyber war?!!! :P

Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Pregnant Woman Who Attempted Suicide Is Charged with Murdering Her Baby

I think this is a thought-provoking case.

A woman who was eight-months pregnant decided to kill herself because her lover, and the father of her child, chose to abandon her.  To kill herself, she swallowed rat poison.  Although she did not die, her baby was born and died shortly afterwards.  The prosecutors (lawyers for the state) claim the baby died because of the poison her mother had taken.

Therefore, the woman is being charged with murder.

I don't know about this case.  I feel a great deal of compassion for the woman. I am not so sure that they should be prosecuting her. She has suffered a great deal already.  What do you think?

Vocabulary to help you understand this article:

to attempt suicide - the important thing to remember is that 'suicide' is a noun.  There is no verb form.  Some students will try to say: 'He suicided."  No... 'He committed suicide.'  So the verb form is "to commit suicide."  If a person tries to commit suicide and fails, he/she has attempted to commit suicide or "She attempted suicide."

thought-provoking - if something is thought-provoking, it makes a person think about complex issues

a case - a legal event is often called a legal case

to abandon s/o - to leave someone permanently

a rat - a bigger version of a mouse; a big rodent; you see a alot of these in the NY City subway system

to be charged with a crime - to be formally accused of a crime; after a person is charged with a crime, the person must appear in court

compassion - a feeling of deep emotion or sympathy for a person

to prosecute s/o - to try to prove that the person is guilty of a crime. A prosecutor is a lawyer who works for the state and who tries to prove that people committed crimes.

an infant - a baby

to stifle any sympathy - to stifle something means to suppress something; to stop something from happening; in this case the prosecutors do not want people in the court to feel any emotion or sympathy for this women

a wave of support - you can see a wave in the ocean; a wave of support means a large amount of support that is moving forward or possibly even getting larger

an advocate - someone who speaks in favor of something

to be beholden to stricter rules - to have to agree to or follow more severe rules than others have to follow

to detect - to find out, to determine

a fetus - this is the medical term for the organism inside the mother's womb after a few months

feticide - anything with "cide" indicates killing.  Homicide - the killing of a person; Suicide - killing yourself; Insecticide - killing a bug; Feticide - killing a fetus.

the fetal murder law - a law was passed in the State of Indiana that if a pregnant woman is killed, the person who killed her will be charged with two homicides (the mother and the baby).  Some people are complaining that this law was not created for a person who wanted to kill herself.

to bar s/o from doing s/t - to legally prohibit someone from doing something

a court motion - papers given to the judge, asking the judge to do something

routine - something done often

the scope of the motion - the scope of anything is the area being covered; this motion covers a large area of issues

to elicit - to draw out, to get, to receive.  'elicit' is usually used with the object: 'response.'  The patient had entered into a coma (a medical condition in which the patient loses consciousness) and the doctors could not elicit any type of response from him.

to plant a question in a juror's mind - to place an idea in a person's mind.  I am not sure which type of question they might be placing in the person's mind though.  I guess that if I were asked, "Dan, are you religious?"  I would say, "No, I'm not religious."  But, then I might think, "OK, since I'm not religious, I don't have to think of this situation as 'murder.' She was trying to kill herself and the baby was a part of her body.  Only a very strict Christian might think she is a murderer."

to adhere to such a restriction - to follow or abide by such a limitation

as for the spectators - as for those who are watching; they would seem to have the freedom to wear buttons that show their support of this woman

on its merits - they want the case to be decided by the facts and not by what people watching television might believe

surveillance - to monitor or watch; basically they are saying that pregnant women should not be held to a higher standard of behavior.  If a non-pregnant woman tries to kill herself, people feel sorry for her, but if a pregnant woman tries to kill herself, people call her a murderer

gender studies - studies about what it is like to be male or female or transgendered

to be adhered to - to be followed

an autopsy - after a person dies someone from the state often opens the corpse (dead body) and tries to determine the cause of death


At the University of Wisconsin I once took a philosophy course about crime and punishment.  In this class I learned that punishment serves, primarily, as a  deterrent.  A society punishes people purely to stop other people from doing what the original person did.

1)  Do you think we punish people primarily to deter other crimes?

2)  Does this woman deserve to be punished? Why or why not?

3)  If this woman is punished, who will be deterred?  Very few pregnant women try to kill themselves.  Is this woman going to be punished just to try to stop other pregnant women from committing suicide?  If so, do you think this is a "double-standard' since non-pregnant women are not arrested after attempting to commit suicide?

4)  Do you think she was really responsible for this event?  I think that pregnant women are often very emotional and when her boyfriend left her, that pushed her off the edge, psychologically.  I do not believe she made a "rational" or logical decision.  Do you agree or disagree?


Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mother Teresa's "Saintliness" Is Questioned

In the 1970s and 1980s Mother Teresa became quite famous around the world. Indeed, she was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She was beloved around the world and had the reputation for being a type of living "saint" because it was said that she cared for the very poor and the very ill in a slum of Calcutta, India.  A new report has been released by researchers, however, who feel that Mother Teresa may not have been as saintly as she was portrayed to be by the Catholic Church.

What is very strange is that the researchers seem to argue that Mother Teresa deliberately allowed people to suffer instead of spending money which had been donated to her to help alleviate the suffering. The researchers seem to imply (suggest) that Mother Teresa felt that suffering was "good" for the poor people and that it was better for them to suffer than not to suffer.

Yet, when Mother Teresa needed medical attention, she received it at a top-of-the-line US hospital.

She was willing to pray for people, but not willing to spend money to help them. Indeed, the researchers claim she enjoyed watching the poor suffer and felt it was beautiful.

A very interesting article:

Vocabulary words to help you understand the (first) article:

By the way, there is something weird/strange in the first article in regard to the lettering. Before every quote (a quote begins with " and ends with ") you see this: â€. That symbol seems to be a mistake that you see throughout the first article. For example: 
The controversial study, to be published this month in the journal of studies in religion/sciences called Religieuses, says that Teresa — known across the world as the apostle of the dying..." 

a reputation - this is how people generally think of another person or feel about him/her

a slum - a very poor, dirty, often dangerous or unhealthful neighborhood

a saint - in the Catholic Church a saint is someone who lived a "holy" life or a Godly life and who is now certainly in heaven after his/her death. Heaven is the place Christians believe "good" people go to after they die.

to be portrayed - to be shown as

deliberately - if you do something deliberately, you choose to do it, it is not an accident

to alleviate - to make better. To alleviate suffering is to reduce it.

controversial - something controversial is something that people argue about, or something that causes heated debate

orchestrated - if something is orchestrated, it is designed ahead of time.  An orchestra is a large group of musicians.  To orchestrate something is to design and develop something. If something is orchestrated, it is usually implied that what is happening is not "naturally" happening but that people have created it for a reason.

a campaign - an effort

miserly - if you are a miser, you do not like spending money

the apostle of the dying and downtrodden - the follower of Jesus who cared about the dying and the downtrodden - those who were unlucky or unfortunate. Downtrodden literally means those who have been stepped on by others.

dubious way of caring for the sick - doubtful way of caring for the sick; not the correct way of caring for the sick

glorifying instead of relieving - to glorify suffering instead of relieving suffering is to say positive things about suffering instead of ending it

beatification and canonization -  this is the process the Catholic Church goes through to turn a person into a saint.

to revitalize the church - to bring life to the church

hallowed image - sacred or holy or Godly image

her beatification was orchestrated - the process of making her into a saint was designed or created by powerful people and did not come naturally

a media campaign -  an effort by newspapers and TV stations

to debunk a myth - to show a myth is false.  A myth, in this case, means a false story making someone seem better than they were.

dogmatic - unwilling to consider other viewpoints

without receiving apt care - apt care would mean appropriate care

hygiene - cleanliness

a paucity of funds - a lack of funds, not enough funds.  The article is saying she had enough money, but she didn't use it.

eulogistic - good or kind words

to waive s/t - to not follow the usual procedure. For example, if a high school student is very poor and cannot afford to pay an application fee to a college, the college will usually waive the fee.

a medallion - this is something you usually wear around your neck - it is a small, round medal on a chain. The medal usually shows some Christian religious figure.  The church claimed that by placing the medallion on the sick person's body, she was cured.  But doctors point out that medicine really cured the sick woman, and not Mother Teresa's medallion. A "miracle" is when something wonderful happens that cannot be explained by science.  The church claims that, basically, Mother Teresa's medallion cured a woman of cancer and that this is proof that Teresa is in heaven helping people now.


How shocked are you by these articles?  Did you use to believe that Mother Teresa was a "saint"?  How do you feel about her now?

Why do you think these researchers wrote this article?


Yes, I'm the guy who wrote the very funny ESL book: New York City Sucks, But You'll Wanna Live Here Anyway.

If this page is useful to you, please buy the book (it's quite inexpensive and useful!!!!). If you don't have an e-reader, drop me a line at and I'll send you a free copy via Word file. Let me know whether you have Word 2010 or an earlier version.
Yes, I'm also the guy who created the scandal in Asia two years ago :P