The Gulabi Gang – The Fearless Women in Pink


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members  (Source: i.facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

These women dressed in pink and with laathi (bamboo stick) in their hands are fearless!

Their leader Sampat Pal Devi is a mother of five children and a former government health worker. She has a long list of criminal charges against her: unlawful assembly, rioting, attacking government employees, obstructing officers in the discharge of duty, beating a policeman for abusing her, and so on. Once she even went underground to hide from the law. However, her actions have secured notable victories for the community.

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (born 1960) is a tough woman with a commanding personality. She hails from the Bundelkhand area in the state of Uttar Pradesh - one of the poorest region in India and notorious for its rebels-turned-armed bandits. Sampat is a vigilante and activist fighting for the rights of women in the villages.

She was given in marriage to an ice-cream vendor at the tender age of 12. She bore her first child, a girl, at 15.

In 2006, responding to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women, Sampat Pal Devi formed the Gulabi Gang (Hindi गुलाबी gulabī, “pink”), a group of Indian women vigilantes. Most Gulabi members dress in pink and carry laathis in their hand.

Despite being born into a traditional family and married off early, Sampat evolved into a charismatic leader who acts as judge and jury for girls and women who are being abused by outlawed patriarchal traditions and the caste system.

Sampat and her gang are constantly on the move fighting causes for the betterment of the community. They crusade against child marriages, dowry, and female illiteracy.

To demand their rights, the rebellious women gang submits petitions and verbally attacks corrupt officials, sneering policemen and complaisant bureaucrats. They visit abusive husbands and beat them up with laathis and warn them to stop abusing their wives in the future.

They usually travel by cart and tractor. At times, they undertake long journeys by bus and train, to fight for justice for women and dalits and other untouchable people.

In 2008, when her village was deprived of electricity because the officials of the department expected to extract bribes and sexual favours from the women, she and her stick-wielding Gulabi Gang stormed the premises of the electricity department, locked the concerned officials in a room until they cried for mercy. An hour after they left the premises, the power was on in their village.

In 2008, the group was reported to have 20,000 members as well as a chapter in Paris, France. Now, the Gulabi Gang has taken root in Banda, Mahoba, Chitrakot, Fatehpur, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Allahabad, Etawah and Bijnore and has about 300,000 women members.

The Gulabi gang is the subject of the 2010 movie Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto as is the 2012 documentary Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.

Initially, it was reported that the Bollywood film, Gulaab Gang, starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla as leads, is based on Sampat Pal’s life, but the director denied this, saying that he recognizes the work done by Sampat, but his movie is not based on her life.

Gulabi Gang's esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Gulabi Gang’s esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Now, the all-women Gulabi Gang is heading for a split as there is a tussle in leadership. On Sunday, March 2, 2014, six years after its inception, the group’s founder commander Sampat Pal Devi was dethroned by the Maharashtra based national convener of Gulabi gang Jayprakash Shivhare at a meeting in Banda following allegations of financial irregularities - “taking money for resolving the problems of poor and suffering women,” and “involvement in self promotion” at the cost of the organization’s mission.

The national convener of Gulabi Gang, Jayprakash Shivhare said:

“There is huge resentment in the organization against Pal. She had been playing in the hands of the Congress party… She had stopped holding meetings of the group and used to take decisions autocratically. She contested Assembly elections on
Congress ticket without taking any suggestion from other members of the group… Later, she decided to visit Rae Bareli along with other members and campaign in support of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and against Aam Aadmi Party.”

“She also went to TV reality show Bigg Boss without consulting the working committee of the group. She had gradually become extremely selfish and minting money at the cost of the organization… Removing her from all posts was the only option left with us. Since she has been defying decisions of the group, it was decided that she would no longer be its primary member.”

Suman Singh Chauhan, commander of Mahoba unit has been appointed as interim commander of the group and a seven-member committee has been constituted to run the organization as of now. A meeting of the group has been convened on March 23 to elect a full-time commander.

However, Sampat Pal Devi, asserted her authority saying she was still the leader of the Gulabi Gang.

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Modern Day Slavery in Brick Kilns in India


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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A Child Brick worker in India (Source: BBC)

A Child Brick worker in India (Source: bbc.co.uk)

A century ago only 10% of India’s population lived in urban areas and now expected to increase to 40% by 2030.

The outcome of India’s economic growth has transformed small trading towns into bustling business centres with multinational enterprises, setting up factories, call centres, software development units, etc., eager to capitalize on high skill labour at low pay.

This stupendous metropolitan and rural boom need factories, offices, apartments, shopping malls, etc., constructed with bricks made of clay burnt in a kiln, as one of the needed primary building material. Bricks are used as filler materials for framework structures as well as to build load bearing structures.

Making the Brick

The process of making a brick has not changed over the centuries or across geographies. Traditionally the main steps followed to make a brick are:

1. Procuring the materials: Clay, the main raw material after mining is stored in the open to make the clay soft and remove unwanted embedded oxides.

Brick field labourer in India.

Brick field labourer in India.

2. Tempering: Clay is mixed with water to the right consistency for moulding. It is then kneaded manually with hands and feet. In certain regions, animal driven pug mills are used.

Brick Making - Tempering (Source: ecobrick.in)

Brick Making – Tempering (Source: ecobrick.in)

3. Moulding: The kneaded clay after rolling in sand is filled into wooden or metal moulds. Sand is used to prevent the brick from sticking to the mould.

Brick Making - Moulding (Sourc: ecobrick.in)

Brick Making – Moulding (Sourc: ecobrick.in)

4. Drying: The moulded clay arranged in a herring bone pattern are placed in the drying area to dry in the sun. To speed up uniform drying and to prevent warping the green bricks are turned over every two days. After two weeks, the green bricks will dry enough ready for firing.

Brick Making - Drying (Source: ecobrick.in)

Brick Making – Drying (Source: ecobrick.in)

5. Firing: The green bricks are arranged in a kiln. Insulation is provided by packing with mud. Fire holes used to ignite the kiln are sealed to prevent heat from escaping. The heat is maintained for a week.

Brick Making -Firing (Source: indianjourneys.wordpress.com)

Brick Making -Firing (Source: indianjourneys.wordpress.com)

6. Sorting: On disassembling, the bricks are sorted according to colour. Colour indicates the level of burning. Over-burnt bricks are used for paving or covering the kiln. The under-burnt bricks are burned once again, or used for building the inner walls of the next  kiln.

Brick Making - Sorting (Source: ecobrick.in)

Brick Making – Sorting (Source: ecobrick.in)

India’s Brick Industry

India’s brick industry – the second largest in the world after China, has more than 150,000 brick production units employing an estimated 10 million workers. The brick kilns that feed the booming construction sector of India are a crucial part of India’s growing economy that contributes around र300 billion to the country’s economy every year. However, the brick workers do not get to benefit much from that amount since brick kilns use forced labour.

Millions of men, women, young boys, young girls, and children get paid meagre amounts that allow them to merely subsist. In many brick kilns in India, bonded labourers working in near-slavery conditions, are on average paid around र150 to produce over 1,500 bricks during a 12-hour-workday. They are paid in advance and are allowed to leave, along with their children suffering from severe respiratory problems, only after six months.

The trade unions, NGOs, and local people do organize and mobilize thousands of workers to fight for increased wages, combat child labour and sexual exploitation. However, these efforts have not achieved much for the welfare of the workers.

Union_Solidarity_International_logo

Over the last two years, Union Solidarity International (USI), a UK-based NGO has been campaigning to improve the conditions of the brick labourers. Andrew Brady of the USI says:

“It’s modern-day slavery. Entire families of men, women and children are working for a pittance, up to 16 hours a day, in terrible conditions. There are horrific abuses of minimum wage rates and health and safety regulations, and it’s often bonded labour, so they can’t escape.”

Prayas logo

To capture international attention on this issue the USI in partnership with the Indian human rights group, Prayas, will launch the Blood Bricks campaign next week. USI and Prayas have been working to organize brick kiln workers into unions. This initiative has already seen 70% wage increase in some areas.

The campaign comes after the Observer’s recent revelations of horrific labour abuses on Abu Dhabi’s new pleasure island of Saadiyat, where new outposts of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums are under construction. The investigation discovered thousands of foreign workers living in squalid conditions, their passports confiscated and trapped until they paid back hefty recruitment fees. Brady says:

“It’s a worldwide issue. We’re merely using India as the example, but we’ve seen the same abuses with projects in Qatar and Brazil for the World Cup and Olympics – iconic projects built on the back of the blood and sweat of bonded labour. It’s time to put an end to this trade in blood bricks.”

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View of the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls from Luna Island.


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Niagara Falls as seen from the observation deck at Prospect Point. (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Niagara Falls as seen from the observation deck at Prospect Point. (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful places in the world I have ever seen.

Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that sprawl the international border between the United States and Canada. It is located between the international twin cities of Niagara Falls, in the state of New York, United States, and Niagara Falls, in the province of Ontario, Canada. These falls form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge where Lake Erie drains into Lake Ontario.

The international boundary line separating the United States and Canada was originally drawn through Horseshoe Falls in 1819 has long been in dispute due to natural erosion and construction.

Panoramic View of Niagara Falls (Source: niagarafallslive.com)

Panoramic View of Niagara Falls (Source: niagarafallslive.com)

From the largest to the smallest, the three waterfalls are:

On the Canadian side:
the Horseshoe Falls (also known as the Canadian Falls) on the right between Goat Island and Table Rock.

On the American side:
The American Falls on the far left between Prospect Point and Luna Island, and the Bridal Veil Falls mid left between Luna Island and Goat Island.

On board the Maid of the Mist. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the background. (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

On board the Maid of the Mist. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in the background. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

The breathtaking bluish-green colour of the Niagara River is caused by

  1. refraction of sunlight and reflection of the blue sky
  2. dissolved minerals picked up primarily from the limestone bed
  3. from the shale and sandstone under the limestone cap at the falls
  4. microscopic plants such as algae and plankton in the water.

Around 60 tons of dissolved minerals are swept over Niagara Falls every minute.

At Luna Island located between American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

At Luna Island located between American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

Though these three falls are not exceptionally high, they are very wide. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls have a crest line of 1,100 feet (335 meters) and a height of 176 feet (54 meters).

Crest of the Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Luna Island. (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

Crest of the Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Luna Island. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

Crest of the Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Luna Island. (Photo - T.V. Antony Raj)

Crest of the Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Luna Island. (Photo – T.V. Antony Raj)

More than six million cubic feet (168,000 cubic meters) of water fall over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet (110,000 cubic meters) on average. The summer daytime flow at the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls is 75,000 gal/Sec (285,000 Liters/Sec).

About eight million tourists visit the American side and about 20 million tourists visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls every year.

On August 2, 2012, our son Subas Raj took me and my wife to Niagara Falls, in the state of New York. We were there for three days. We enjoyed the magnificent views of the three falls.

Here is a short video of the breathtaking view of the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls from Luna Island.

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Since 1925, every evening beginning at dusk, the Niagara Falls are lit in the colours of the rainbow, financed and operated by The Niagara Falls Illumination Board. Also, year after year, the Niagara Parks Commission, an agency of government of Ontario which maintains the Ontario shoreline of the Niagara River, hosts Canada’s longest-running fireworks series in Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls in the province of Ontario, Canada.

The unmatched beauty of the Niagara Falls at night illuminated by strobe lights from the Canadian side, and the spectacular fireworks display before an unforgettable backdrop captivated us. I captured this video “Niagara Falls by Night – Illuminations & Fireworks” using my Canon Powershot camera from Prospect Point in Niagara Falls, New York. I regret that I did not have a high-end camera with high-resolution to capture the unmatched beauty of the Niagara Falls at night.

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Ever wondered what the falls on the American side would look like when dry?

Dry Niagara - This photo shows the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls during the preservation work carried out in 1969 (Photo: Wikipedia)

Dry Niagara – This photo shows the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls during the preservation work carried out in 1969 (Photo: Wikipedia)

The above photo shows the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls in Niagara Falls during the preservation work carried out in 1969.

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A Short Biography of Hank Williams, Sr., Who Sang “30 pieces of silver, 30 shekels of shame”


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

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Hank Williams Sr

Hank Williams Sr

Hiram Hank Williams Sr., an American singer-songwriter and musician is considered one of the greatest American country music artist of all time. He was country music’s first superstar with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank’s father, Elonzo Huble Williams worked as an engineer for the railroads of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company and was frequently relocated, and the family lived in many southern Alabama towns. Drafted during the First World War, he was severely injured after falling from a truck, breaking his collarbone and sustaining a severe hit to the head. He served for one year from July 1918 until June 1919.

After his return, the family’s first child, Irene, was born on August 8, 1922. His second child, a son, died shortly after birth. Hiram King Williams, the third child, was born on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama. Since Elonzo was a Free Mason, and his wife a member of Order of the Eastern Star they named him after Hiram I of Tyre, one of the three founders of the Masons according to Masonic legend.

Hank was born with spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column, which gave him lifelong pain. Due to this spinal condition he felt separated from other kids his age and the world around him. This pain he endured was the main cause for his abuse of alcohol and drugs in later years.

In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father was afflicted with facial paralysis. At a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Pensacola, Florida, doctors diagnosed the cause as brain aneurysm. They sent Elonzo to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana where he remained hospitalized for eight years. Hank saw his father rarely throughout Hank’s childhood.

Since Elonzo Williams was bedridden, his wife Lillie assumed responsibility for the family. In the fall of 1934 she moved the family to Greenville, Alabama, where she
opened a boarding house.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshiner and selling peanuts on the street.

Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne

In 1935, when Hank was about 12 years old, he met Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne, an African-American hillbilly blues musician in Greenville, who entertained folks on the street corners with his guitar to earn a few coins. Their relationship became a legend.

Locals called Rufus Payne by his nickname ‘Tee Tot ‘, short for teetotaler, but it more likely had to do with the ‘tea’, a blend of home-brew whiskey and tea that he always had in his flask.

Rufus worked part-time for at Peagler’s Drug Store doing odd jobs such as cleaning or delivery. He spent his spare time playing music with two others for anyone that would listen and toss a few coins. When asked, he would play at local dances.

A determined Hank approached Rufus Payne to teach him to play the guitar. Rufus taught Hank more than just the guitar. From him Hank learned how to draw a crowd and entertain them and keep them happy. Since a street singer does not have a captive audience, Rufus taught him how to grab the attention of the crowd with a style and delivery that would make them want to stop, listen to a couple of songs or three, and drop a few coins in appreciation.

Jay Caress writes that Hank Williams was “…too frail for sports, too smart for farming, too poor for politics and still a bit too young for girls, performing with Tee Tot was the challenge of his young life.”

Rufus visited Hank mom’s kitchen frequently. She fed him in exchange for her sons tutelage. Hank while talking to jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason said, “I learned to play the guitar from an old colored man. …I’d give him 15 cents, or whatever I could get a hold of for the lesson.”

Hank Williams and Rufus Payne were so much attached to each other, and the locals called them the “Greenville Troubadours.” The merchants of Greenville invited them to perform in front of their stores. It was during this time that Williams informally changed his name to Hank, believing it to be a better name for country music.

Colin Escott in his book “Hank Williams The Biography” cites the Montgomery Advertiser article from 1951 that said that Hank always gave credit to Rufus Payne: “All the musical training I ever had was from him.”

After some time, the Williams family moved to Georgiana, Alabama, where Lillie worked in a cannery during the day and served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital to support the family during the Great Depression.

After leaving Greenville in 1937 for Montgomery, Alabama, Hank did not keep in touch with his Rufus Payne, his mentor. Not much is known about Rufus Payne’s life after Hank left.

Rufus Payne Epitaph

Rufus Payne Epitaph

On March 17, 1939, Rufus Payne died in a ‘charity hospital’, and was buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. No one knew and could tell Hank he had died. Rufus was about 55 at the time of his death. In his lifetime Rufus Payne remained largely unknown outside southern Alabama.

During the early 1950s it was unfashionable to acknowledge the influence of black musicians. However, in 1951 during a homecoming tribute held for him at Greenville, Hank Williams acknowledged Rufus Payne and gave him full credit for his formative years.

Hank’s music career began there in 1937 in Montgomery when WSFA radio station producers hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed his own band, the Drifting Cowboys. His mother managed the band. Hank dropped out of school to devote full-time to his career. Lilee drove her son and his band to shows throughout southern Alabama.

During World War II, when several of Hank’s band members were conscripted into military service, he had trouble with their replacements. During this period Hank became an alcoholic and eventually WSFA dismissed him due to his alcoholism.

In 1943, Hank met Audrey Mae Sheppard, joined Hank’s band and under his guidance she played bass. She had got separated from her husband recently and had a young daughter. On December 15, 1944, Hank and Audrey got married. In 1949 they had a son together, Hank Williams Jr. On July 10, 1952 their divorce was finalized.

Hank traveled to Nashville in 1946 and met music publisher Fred Rose and the Acuff-Rose Publications company. Hank wrote material for singer Molly O’Day which led
to a record contract with the recently created MGM label. A year later Hank Williams had his first hit, “Move It On Over.” In April 1948 he scored a second Billboard
success “Honky Tonkin” with Sterling Records.

Along with this early success Hank’s behaviour became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,”
a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of
“Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

Hank Williams Memorial

Hank Williams Memorial

Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. Five of the 35 songs were released posthumously. He earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

I am an ardent fan of Hank Williams, Sr. His song “30 Pieces Of Silver” is one of my favourites. I created the following video clip using this song as a tribute to Hiram Hank Williams Sr.

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Lyrics - 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

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Foolish Americans in the United Stupids of America (USA)


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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When I visited United States a year ago, I was shocked when I listened to some Americans blabber nonsense about India.

Then, I saw this video clip, a real eye opener, titled “Americans are NOT stupid” aired on CNNNN (Chaser NoN-stop News Network) with Julian Morrow interviewing normal, very stupid Americans, posing questions about the world. The answers are indeed very funny and hilarious.

Julian Morrow

Julian Morrow

Julian Francis Xavier Morrow (born 1975) is an Australian comedian and television producer from Sydney. He is best known for being a member of the satirical team The Chaser. He has appeared on several ABC Television programs including CNNNN.

Luckily for those like me who do not have the ‘ear’ to understand the American enunciation this version of the video clip is mercifully subtitled. However, I also prepared a transcript of the video so that you could read it at your leisure.

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Video Transcription

“Julian Morrow reporting: A lot of people give American a bum rap for being stupid and knowing nothing about the world, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. As I discovered on the street here, asking US locals about the very world their country runs.”

Julian Morrow: “Name a country that begins with U?”

“Yugaslavia?”

“Utah.”

“Utopia.”

Julian Morrow: “Who is in the coalition of the willing?”

“No freaking idea.”

“Afghanistan, Kuwait.”

“Iraq, Pakistan …”

Julian Morrow: “New Zealand.”

“New Zealand.”

Julian Morrow: “What’s the religion of Israel?”

“Israeli?”

“Muslim.”

“Islamic.”

“Catholic, probably.”

Julian Morrow: “What religion are buddist monks?”

“Budhist monks?”

Old woman: “????”

“Islamic? I don’t know.”

Julian Morrow: “Who won the Vietnam war?”

Young woman: “We did … Were we even in the Vietnam war!?”

Julian Morrow: “Who is Fidel Castro?”

“A singer?”

Julian Morrow: “How many sides does a triangle have?”

Man: “Damn, four.”

Young woman: “There’s no sides… One?”

Julian Morrow: “What is the currency in the United Kingdom?”

Old woman: “????”

Old woman: “What is the United Kingdom? I don’t know.”

Middleaged man: “Possibly American money.”

Old woman: “Queen Elisabeth’s money? That’s all I know.”

Julian Morrow: “”Name a country that begins with U?”

Teenage girl: “A country?”

Julian Morrow: “What about this one?”

Teenager: “”What”

Julian Morrow: “United States of America.”

Julian Morrow: “In terms of the war on terror, who do you think should be the
next country to invade?”

Middleaged woman: “Saudi Arabia.”

Middleaged man: “Somebody in the middle-east.”

Another middleaged man: “We make a big blast crater out of the ****ing
middle-east for all I care.”

Teenage boy: “I’m thinking … Italy.”

Julian Morrow: “Italy?”

Another Middleaged man: “Cuba.”

Julian Morrow: “Cuba?”

Another Middleaged man: “Yeah”

Teenage girl: “Iran.”

Julian Morrow: “Iran? Why’s that?

Teenage girl: “I think there’s a revolution going on pretty soon.”

Middleaged Afro-American: “Russia, China.”

Man: “India and Pakistan.”

Middleaged Afro-American: “Indonesia, Brazil.”

Middleaged man: “Korea.”

Julian Morrow: “Korea? Why do you say that?”

Middleaged man: “They’re trouble.”

Julian Morrow: “They’re trouble? Yeah? What’s troubling about them?”

Middleaged man: “Their attitude.”

Middleaged Afro-American: “Canada.”

Julian Morrow asks a woman to pin Sri Lanka on a map.

First woman: “Sri Lanka?”

Second woman pins correctly and says: “Right there.”

First woman: “Never heard of it.”

Julian Morrow approaches a couple.

Man: “Iran?”

Julian Morrow: “Put number one on Iran then.”

Man: ” South … south, south, south. Where are we.”

The man places the pin on Australia.

Another man: “North Korea.”

Julian Morrow: “North Korea? Why do you think North Korea?”

“Nuclear.”

Julian Morrow: “Nuclear?”

Another Afro-American: “Probably France.”

Julian Morrow: “Put a number 2 on France. Why do you say France?”

The man places number 2 on Australia. “It just seems to be some friction
between France and the United States.”

Julian Morrow: “Where do you think the best place to invade Iran would be
from? There would be from the north or south or the east or the west?”

Man: “The East.”

Woman: “West.”

Man pointing to Australia on the map says: “You know what it’s amazing
’cause I realized just now that North Korea is a lot larger than South Korea. I
didn’t know it was large like that!

Julian Morrow: “Kofi Anan is a drink, true or false?”

Man: “Coffee is a drink”

Another man: “Coffee in what?”

A woman: “It sounds like a law firm.”

Julian Morrow: “Who is Tony Blair?”

Man: “I don’t even know him.”

Julian Morrow: “Ok, alright. Any guess?”

Man: “Any guess … Skater?”

Another man: “Tony Blair is an actor.”

Another man: “Linda Blair’s brother?”

Julian Morrow: “Which countries are in the axis of evil?”

Young man: “Ehm, I know Germany is one of them, ehm, I’m not sure about
others.”

Another man: “Ok. California… New York.”

Woman: “Jerusalem.”

Another woman: “Jerusalem?”

Julian Morrow: “There’s more than one.”

Another woman: “I think all of them.”

Another man: “Florida.”

A jogger: “Ok. I’m a little bit mixed up over the Palestinians and the Israelis…
Which one is throwing the rocks?”

A woman: “The fella with the turban thing … I call it a diaper-head, really.”

Another man: “I believe … Mississipi.”

Julian Morrow: “Who was the first man on the moon?”

Man: “John Glen.”

Woman: “Armstrong walked on the moon but … I think it was a Russian, I’m not
sure.”

Another man: “Well, I can tell you some people don’t believe that happened,
they believe that it was reincarnated in Arizona somewhere.”

Julian Morrow: “What is a mosque?”

Woman: “Don’t have any idea.”

Julian Morrow: “Wanna guess?”

Woman: “An animal.”

Teenager: “I have no intelligent guess.”

Julian Morrow: “Ok, what about a stupid guess?”

Julian Morrow: “How may kidneys does a person have?”

Young man: “One.”

Julian Morrow: “What is collateral damage?”

Man: “Well, they just made a film about it, but that stuff I don’t know what it is.
It probably has something to do with what the movie was about. But not
necessarily related to the movie. Do you know what I mean?”

Julian Morrow: “How many World Wars have there been?”

Old man: “Three.”

Julian Morrow: “Which state does KFC come from?”

Jogger: “What the chicken? I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Julian Morrow: “Ok, do you know what KFC stands for?”

Jogger: “Kentucky Fried Chicken, right?”

Julian Morrow: “Star Wars is based on a true story. True or false?”

Teenager: “True.”

Julian Morrow: “What are Hiroshima and Nagasaki famous for?”

Old man: “Judo-wrestling?”

Julian Morrow: “How many Eiffel Towers are there in Paris?”

Teenager: “I say, about ten.”

Julian Morrow: “What is Al-Queda?”

Young man: “Al-Queda is a group … a suicide group in Israel, in the Middle East, they do suicide bombs and stuff. And the president of it is Yasser Arafat … Everybody knows that.”

Very old man: “Al-Queda is a wing of the Masonic Order.”

Julian Morrow: “Where was the Berlin wall?”

No answer from young man.

Julian Morrow: “What is the main religion of Israel?”

Teenager: “I don’t know”

Young man: “Believe me, I don’t know the answer to this question, but I’m thinking … Israel?”

Julian Morrow: “The language they speak in Latin-America is Latin. True or false?”

Teenager: “The what?”

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Are There Snakes in Hawaii?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Studies show that an invertebrate successfully colonized Hawaii once in every 70,000 years, a plant once in every 100,000 years, and a bird once in every million years.

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The Hawaiian Hotspots. (Image from Tasa Graphics)

The Hawaiian Hotspots. (Image from Tasa Graphics)

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Officially and technically, Hawaii doesn’t have any snakes.

Why?

All Hawaiian Islands are volcanic in origin. Over the past 44 million years the islands rose up from the ocean floor due to erupting volcanoes. Even today, the youngest island, Hawaii, is still growing from under.

Hawaii map - Distance from other countries (Source:  Padi.com)

Hawaii map – Distance from other countries (Source: Padi.com)

Hawaii is the most isolated archipelago in the world. The nearest continent, North America, is over 2500 miles (4000 km) away.

The extreme isolation of the Hawaiian archipelago makes it difficult for plants and animals to colonize its islands. The only way for wildlife species to reach the Hawaiian Islands from the rest of the world is to fly or swim across the Pacific Ocean. Chances of surviving the long journey over Pacific by air or sea is virtually small. It would indeed be a miracle to establish a reproducing population on these islands. Since there are no natural predators and diseases in Hawaii, many native plants and animals needed only a few natural defenses to evolve. Studies show that an invertebrate successfully colonized Hawaii once in every 70,000 years, a plant once in every 100,000 years, and a bird once in every million years. This is why it took over millions of years for a very distinct flora and fauna to evolve in Hawaii.

Map of the Pacific Culture Areas (Author : Kahuroa)

Map of the Pacific Culture Areas (Author : Kahuroa)

Before humans set foot in the Hawaiian paradise, there were no large animals to eat plants. Harm to the flora and fauna on the islands began about 1500 years ago when settlers started arriving from Polynesia. Mammals such as pigs, dogs, goats and plants brought by them literally devastated many native ecosystems.

It is illegal to own snakes or transport snakes of any kind to the Hawaiian islands. Anyone possessing a pet snake face up to 3 years in jail and $200,000 in fines. In Hawaii there no natural predators for snakes and large lizards, therefore, if allowed, they could pose a threat to Hawaii’s ecosystem by competing with native animals for food and habitat. Some snake species prey on birds and their eggs, and hence could pose a threat to endangered native birds.

Blind Snakes

Hawaii doesn’t officially have snakes. However, there is one snake that does live in Hawaii, the Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops hatmaliyeb) likely an import from the Caroline Islands located in Micronesia, an area north of the equator and far west of Hawaii.

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Addison Wynn, a herpetologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History who studies the blind snakes on Caroline Islands says:

“They eat termites and small ants, and there are about 240 or so known species in the world. They spend their lives burrowing so their head is blunt and pointed to push their way through the soil. Their rudimentary eyes can only differentiate between light and dark and exist as pigment spots underneath scales on their head.

These new species extend the known range of blind snakes some 2,000 kilometers out into the Pacific Ocean, into areas where we didn’t know they occurred or could ever occur. We just didn’t expect to find blind snakes out there (Caroline Islands) in the middle of the ocean.”

Some other studies that the blind snakes found in Hawaii could have come there from far off Philippines, about 5300 miles (8530 km) away.

So, other than the blind snakes, it is widely assumed that there are no snakes in Hawaii. Sadly, this is not totally true. According to a few reports some snakes have been seen in Hawaii.

Ornate Tree Snake

The Ornate Tree Snake captured at Hickam Hickam Air Force Base. (Photo by  Dr. Allen Allison, Bishop Museum

The Ornate Tree Snake captured at Hickam Hickam Air Force Base. (Photo by Dr. Allen Allison, Bishop Museum)

On May 23, 2013, Military personnel at Hickam Air Force Base captured a foot-long mildly-venomous Ornate Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornate) in a maintenance bay near the airfield.

Since the Ornate Tree Snakes have the ability to spring from tree to tree, they are also known as ornate flying tree snakes. These snakes are native to South East Asia and related to the brown tree snakes which have devastated the ecosystem in Guam by virtually wiping out the native forest birds. Their diet consists of lizards, mice, bats and birds.

Boa constrictor 

This was a snake found ran over on the mainland. (Photo: National Parks Service)

This was the five-foot long boa constrictor found run over on Pali Highway (Photo: National Parks Service)

On September 22, 2013, a five-foot long Boa Constrictor was run over on the Pali Highway by a motorist. Several inspectors of Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) went directly to the area where the snake was found. However, they did not find evidence of any other snakes. Russell S. Kokubun, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture said:

“Any snake found in the wild in Hawaii is of serious concern. Boa constrictors may grow up to 12 feet, which is particularly troubling for nearby residents and for the environment.”

Rainbow Boa Constrictor 

A non-venomous rainbow boa constrictor

A non-venomous rainbow boa constrictor

At about 7 am on November 5, 2013, Victor Palmeri, found a live two-and-a-half foot long non-venomous Rainbow Boa Constrictor on the Nuuanu Avenue sidewalk fronting the Kukui Plaza condominium. Native to Central and South America, rainbow boas can grow up to six feet long. Rainbow boas are known for their attractive iridescent sheen on their scales in the sunlight. Their diet consists of rodents, lizards, aquatic animals, and birds.

It is not known at this time how these snake found their way to Hawaii.

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“The Chaos” by Charivarius (Gerard Nolst Trenité): The Classic Concordance of Cacography


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud. – A post on Facebook titled “English Pronunciation”

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In 1945, a British soldier found a tattered typescript of ‘The Chaos‘, a classic English poem well-known for its versified catalogue of irregularities of English spelling (orthography) and pronunciation, in a girls’ High School in Germany and gave it to Tom Hazelwood, who gave it to Terry De’Ath, who gave it to Chris Upward (1939-2002), Senior Lecturer in German Aston University Birmingham, UK, and Editor-in-chief, Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society from 1985-2000 and the author of Cut Spelling Handbook.

Chris Upward also received a rather different version of the poem from Benno Jost-Westendorf of Recklinghausen. It seems that universities in South Germany used this poem in teaching English. However, No information on the author was available from any source.

Both versions received by Chris Upward appeared as carelessly copied from an original, but it was possible to correct errors in one by reference to the other.

The Simplified Spelling Society (SSS) Newsletter carried an incomplete, rather rough version in the summer of 1986 (pp.17-21) under the heading ‘Author Unknown‘, with a parallel transcription into an early form of Cut Spelling.

Hubert A. Greven’s Elements of English Phonology, published in Paris in 1972, introduced the poem quoting 48 lines from it to prove to French students how impossible English is to pronounce (to read aloud), and by way of acknowledgment said that the author “would like to pay a suitable tribute to Mr. G. Nolst Trenité for permission to copy his poem The Chaos.

Since then a stream of further information and textual variants appeared, culminating in 1993-94 with the most complete and authoritative version of the poem ever likely to emerge ripe for republication in the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society.

Gerard Nolst Trenité

The Dutch literary (rhymed prose, drama), Anglicist and language critic Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenité was born in Utrecht on July 20, 1870. He passed away on October 9, 1946 in Haarlem.

Gerard Nolst Trenité published under the pseudonym Charivarius. His poem The Chaos demonstrates many of the idiosyncrasies of English spelling. The first version of 146 lines of text appeared in an appendix to his 1920 textbook ‘Drop Your Foreign Accent: engelsche uitspraakoefeningen‘. It has about 800 of the worst irregularities in English spelling and pronunciation. Later, in 1992-93, The Spelling Society published “the most complete and authoritative version ever likely to emerge,” that has 274 lines.

The version I have reproduced below is essentially the author’s own final text, as also published by New River Project in 1993. A few minor corrections have, however, been made, and occasional words from earlier editions have been preferred. Words with clashing spellings or pronunciations are printed here in italics.

The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité

The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité (1922)

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
   I will teach you in my verse
   Sounds like corpsecorpshorse and worse.

I will keep you, Susybusy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
   Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
   Queer, fair seerhear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
   Just compare hearthear and heard,
   Dies and dietlord and word.

Sword and swardretain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
   Made has not the sound of bade,
   Say-saidpay-paidlaid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
   But be careful how you speak,
   Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak ,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
   Wovenovenhow and low,
   Scriptreceiptshoepoemtoe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughterlaughter and Terpsichore,
   Branch, ranch, measlestopsailsaisles,
   Missilessimilesreviles.

Whollyhollysignalsigning,
Sameexamining, but mining,
   Scholarvicar, and cigar,
   Solarmicawar and far.

From “desire”: desirable-admirable from “admire”,
Lumberplumberbier, but brier,
   Topshambroughamrenown, but known,
   Knowledgedonelonegonenonetone,

OneanemoneBalmoral,
Kitchenlichenlaundrylaurel.
   GertrudeGermanwind and wind,
   Beau, kind, kindred, queuemankind,

Tortoiseturquoisechamois-leather,
Reading, Readingheathenheather.
   This phonetic labyrinth
   Gives mossgrossbrookbroochninthplinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
   Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
   Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquetwalletmalletchalet.
   Blood and flood are not like food,
   Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
   Discountviscountload and broad,
   Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crochetingcroquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
   Roundedwoundedgrieve and sieve,
   Friend and fiendalive and live.

Is your r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
   Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
   Buoyantminute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
   Would it tally with my rhyme
   If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
   Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
   Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
   You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
   In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
   To abjure, to perjureSheik
   Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Libertylibraryheave and heaven,
Rachellochmoustacheeleven.
   We say hallowed, but allowed,
   Peopleleopardtowed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between moverploverDover.
   Leechesbreecheswiseprecise,
   Chalice, but police and lice,

Camelconstableunstable,
Principledisciplelabel.
   Petalpenal, and canal,
   Waitsurmiseplaitpromisepal,

SuitsuiteruinCircuitconduit
Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
   But it is not hard to tell
   Why it’s pallmall, but Pall Mall.

Musclemusculargaoliron,
Timberclimberbullionlion,
   Worm and stormchaisechaoschair,
   Senatorspectatormayor,

Ivyprivyfamousclamour
Has the a of drachm and hammer.
   Pussyhussy and possess,
   Desert, but desertaddress.

Golfwolfcountenancelieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
   Courier, courtier, tombbombcomb,
   Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker“,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor“,
   Making, it is sad but true,
   In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
   Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
   Fontfrontwontwantgrand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
   Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
   Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
   MindMeandering but mean,
   Valentine and magazine.

And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
   Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
   Tier (one who ties), but tier.

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
   Prison, bison, treasure trove,
   Treason, hover, cover, cove,

Perseverance, severanceRibald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
   Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
   Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffetbuffet;
   Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
   Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
   Evil, devil, mezzotint,
   Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
   Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
   Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
   Funny rhymes to unicorn,
   Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
   No. Yet Froude compared with proud
   Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
   Troll and trolleyrealm and ream,
   Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
   But you’re not supposed to say
   Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
   How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
   When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
   Episodes, antipodes,
   Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
   Rather say in accents pure:
   Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
   Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
   Wan, sedan and artisan.

The th will surely trouble you
More than rch or w.
   Say then these phonetic gems:
   Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ‘em-
   Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
   Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight-you see it;
   With and forthwith, one has voice,
   One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does *. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
   Realzealmauve, gauze and gauge,
   Marriagefoliagemirageage,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
   Dostlostpost, and dothclothloth,
   JobJobblossombosomoath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowingbowing, banjo-tuners
   Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
   Puisnetruismuse, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
   SeatsweatchastecasteLeigheightheight,
   Putnutgranite, and unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyrheifer.
   DullbullGeoffreyGeorgeatelate,
   Hintpintsenate, but sedate.

GaelicArabicpacific,
Scienceconsciencescientific;
   Tour, but our, dour, succourfour,
   Gasalas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
   Bona fide, alibi
   Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Seaideaguineaarea,
PsalmMaria, but malaria.
   Youthsouthsoutherncleanse and clean,
   Doctrineturpentinemarine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
   Rally with allyyeaye,
   EyeIayayewheykeyquay!

Say aver, but everfever,
Neitherleisureskeinreceiver.
   Never guess-it is not safe,
   We say calvesvalveshalf, but Ralf.

Starry, granarycanary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
   Face, but preface, then grimace,
   Phlegmphlegmaticassglassbass.

Basslargetargetgingiveverging,
Oughtoust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
   Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
   Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the o of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
   With the sound of saw and sauce;
   Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, puttingPutting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
   Respite, spite, consent, resent.
   Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
HyphenroughennephewStephen,
   Monkeydonkeyclerk and jerk,
   Aspgraspwaspdemesnecorkwork.

A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
   G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
   I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
   Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
   Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation-think of Psyche!-
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
   Won’t it make you lose your wits
   Writing groats and saying “grits”?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlockgunwale,
   Islington, and Isle of Wight,
   Housewifeverdict and indict.

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying latherbatherfather?
   Finally, which rhymes with enough,
   Thoughthroughboughcoughhoughsough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

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Prayer Beads: The Roman Catholic Rosary


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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The Roman Catholic Rosary

The Roman Catholic Rosary

Many scholars admit that the use of prayer beads originated with the Hindus in ancient India, and the Hindu or Buddhist mala is the great mother of rosaries. From India and the Himalayan kingdoms, the prayer beads traveled west to Africa and Europe, where it evolved into the Islamic Subha, the Christian rosary, the Eastern Orthodox prayer rope, and the secular worry beads used throughout Greece and the Middle East.

The Roman Catholics use the word ‘Rosary’ to describe a string of prayer beads, a device used to keep count of the recited prayers, as well as a sequence of prayers.

Mary world Rosary

In the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Rosary is a sacramental and Marian devotion to prayer to commemorate events in the life of Jesus.

Traditionally, the prayer beads have consisted of strings of similarly sized beads, seeds, knots, or even rose petals and beads made from crushed roses, from which we get the word “rosary.” In Latin the term “rosarium” means ‘crown of roses’ or ‘garland of roses.’ The Roman Catholics sometimes write the word ‘rosary’ with an initial capital as ‘Rosary.’

To the Roman Catholics, the Rosary is above all a protracted prayer that helps to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ and His Mother Mary. Strongly associated with the Blessed Mother, the Rosary relies on her intercession with her Divine Son and on her ability to raise the minds and hearts of the faithful to God through both vocal prayer and reflection on all that God has done for us.

The Perugia Altarpiece, Side Panel Depicting St. Dominic by Fra Angelico (1395–1455)

The Perugia Altarpiece, Side Panel Depicting St. Dominic by Fra Angelico (1395–1455)

According to Cornelius Sneck, a disciple of the French Dominican Blessed Alain de la Roche, the concept of the rosary was given to Saint Dominic in an apparition by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1208 at the church of Prouille in a hamlet in Languedoc, France. Here are the words of Cornelius:

We read that at the time when he was preaching to the Albigenses, St. Dominic at first obtained but scanty success: and that one day, complaining of this in pious prayer to our Blessed Lady, she deigned to reply to him, saying:

Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.

Traditionally, from this time onwards, the Rosary included 150 “Hail Marys,” one for each of the Psalms, which were gradually divided into 15 groups of ten each, corresponding to the 15 mysteries of the Rosary for meditation. Therefore, technically, a complete Rosary was for many years 15 decades long. Nowadays, the most commonly used Rosary has five decades, and the mysteries were commonly divided into three groups, the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious, with five mysteries in each group.

Thirteen popes starting with Pope Leo XIII supported the tradition that the Blessed Virgin Mary first revealed the Rosary devotion to St. Dominic.

How to recite the Holy Rosary

The Prayers

IN THE NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (As you say this, with your right hand touch your forehead when you say Father, touch your breastbone when you say Son, touch your left shoulder when you say Holy, and touch your right shoulder when you say Spirit.)

I BELIEVE IN GOD, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty. He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

OUR FATHER, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

HAIL MARY, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

GLORY BE to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O MY JESUS, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen.

HAIL HOLY QUEEN, mother of mercy; our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of he promises of Christ. Amen.

O GOD, WHOSE only-begotten Son by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

ANNOUNCE each mystery by saying something like, “The third Joyful Mystery is the Birth of Our Lord.” This is required only when saying the Rosary in a group.

Say the above prayers in the order shown in following image:

The Catholic Rosary

INTRODUCTION
1. IN THE NAME…
2. I BELIEVE IN GOD…
3. OUR FATHER…
4 – 6. HAIL MARY…
7. GLORY BE…
8. O MY JESUS…

THE FIRST DECADE
9. ANNOUNCE…
10. OUR FATHER…
11 – 20. HAIL MARY…
21. GLORY BE…
22. O MY JESUS…

THE SECOND DECADE
23. ANNOUNCE…
24. OUR FATHER…
25 – 34. HAIL MARY…
35. GLORY BE…
36. O MY JESUS…

THE THIRD DECADE
37. ANNOUNCE…
38. OUR FATHER…
39 – 48. HAIL MARY…
49. GLORY BE…
50. O MY JESUS…

THE FOURTH DECADE
51. ANNOUNCE…
52. OUR FATHER…
53 – 62. HAIL MARY…
63. GLORY BE…
64. O MY JESUS…

THE FIFTH DECADE
65. ANNOUNCE…
66. OUR FATHER…
67 – 76. HAIL MARY…
77. GLORY BE…
78. O MY JESUS…

CONCLUSION
79. HAIL HOLY QUEEN…
80. O GOD, WHOSE…
81. IN THE NAME…

The Mysteries of the Rosary

The praying of each decade is accompanied by meditation on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which allow the faithful to contemplate on the life and death of Jesus – from the “Annunciation” of the birth of Jesus to his “Ascension” into heaven, and beyond.

The three Mysteries are known as: the Joyful (or Joyous), the Sorrowful, and the Glorious.

Each of these Mysteries allows the faithful to contemplate on five different stages of Christ’s life. Based on the long-standing custom, these traditional 15 Mysteries of the Rosary were standardized by Pope Pius V in the 16th century.

In October 2002, Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae recommended an additional set of Mysteries called the Luminous Mysteries (or the “Mysteries of Light”) thus increasing the total number of mysteries to twenty.

Various other mysteries for meditation and thematic Scriptural passages called ‘Scriptural Rosary’ have been provided. Though these additional offerings are not official, they are perfectly acceptable means of praying the Rosary and meditating on the mysteries of salvation by the faithful.

Although it is recommended, it is not obligatory to recite the fruits of the mystery before each decade. As such, many Catholics have long forgotten the fruits of the mysteries.

Joyful Mysteries (Monday, Saturday)

  1. The Annunciation (of the Birth of the Savior to Mary).
    Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
  2. The Visitation (of Mary to Elizabeth and John the Baptist).
    Fruit of the Mystery: Charity, Love of neighbor
  3. The Nativity of Our Lord.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty of spirit, Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of riches, Love of the poor
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience, Purity of intention
  5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
    Fruit of the Mystery: Piety

Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday, Friday)

  1. The Agony in the Garden:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Contrition, Conformity to the will of God
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Purity, Mortification
  3. The Crowning with Thorns:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Moral Courage, Contempt of the world
  4. The Carrying of the Cross:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
  5. The Crucifixion:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Final perseverance, Salvation, Self-Denial

Glorious Mysteries (Sunday, Wednesday)

  1. The Resurrection:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
  2. The Ascension:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Hope, Desire for Heaven
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit (on Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost):
    Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God, Wisdom, Knowing and sharing the truth
  4. The Assumption of Mary:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Devotion to Mary, Grace of a happy death
  5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Eternal Happiness

Luminous Mysteries (Thursday)

  1. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit, Living one’s baptismal promises
  2. The Miracle at Cana: To Jesus through Mary,
    Fruit of the Mystery: Doing whatever Jesus says
  3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance, Trust in God
  4. The Transfiguration:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Becoming a new person in Christ, Desire for holiness
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist:
    Fruit of the Mystery: Eucharistic Adoration, Active participation at Mass

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Prayer Beads: The Islamic Subha / Masbaha / Tasbih


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) proclaimed: “Worship is the pillar of religion.”

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Salat, or prayer, is one of the Five Pillars, or essential rites in Islam. Recited five times a day (at dawn, noon, midafternoon, sunset and nightfall), salat intersperses the rhythms of daily life with habitual opportunities to stand before The Almighty in entranced concentration.

Islamic Prayer Beads Tesbih Subha 99 Malachite

Islamic Prayer Beads Tesbih Subha 99 Malachite

Nowadays, many Muslims pray with prayer beads as a device to keep track of the words of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) they repeat while glorifying Allah.

Muslims probably gained the concept of prayer beads from India. When this happened, however, is uncertain. However, scholars admit that the use of prayer beads originated with the Hindus in ancient India, and the Hindu or Buddhist mala is the great mother of rosaries. From India and the Himalayan kingdoms, the prayer beads traveled west to Africa and Europe, where it evolved into the Islamic Subha, the Christian Rosary, the Eastern Orthodox prayer rope, and the secular worry beads used throughout Greece and the Middle East.

In India, a strand of Islamic prayer beads is known as Subha (Arabic: سبحا) derived from the Arabic phrase Subhan’Allāh (Arabic سبحان الله) meaning “Glory to Allah.” It is also known as Masbaha (Arabic: مسبحة) or Tasbih (تسبيح).

Subha may vary in style or decorative embellishments ranging from cheap mass-produced prayer beads, to those made with expensive materials and high-quality workmanship.

Subha beads are most often made of spherical glass, wood, plastic, amber, or gemstone. The cord is usually cotton or silk.

Subha may have either 33 beads, or 99 beads separated by flat disks into three groups of 33. There is often a larger, leader bead and a tassel at one end to mark the starting point of recitations.

The believers touch one bead at a time while reciting words of dhikr which are often the 99 names of Allah (Arabic: أسماء الله الحسنى‎ ʾasmāʾ allāh al-ḥusnā),  which help the believers in their communion with Allah.

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At times the believers repeat phrases which express reverence, complete submission and gratitude to Allah. Following are the most used phrases, each repeated 33 times:

Subhan’Allāh (Arabic سبحان الله) meaning “Glory to Allah
Alhamdulillah (Arabic: الحمد لله‎) meaning “Praise be to Allah
Allāhu Akbar (Arabic: الله أكبر) meaning “Allah is Great”

At the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Muslims did not use prayer beads as a tool during personal prayer, but may have used date pits or pebbles. Caliph Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) used a Subha similar to modern ones. The widespread manufacture and use of Subha began about 600 years ago.

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A Drive through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, Baltimore, Maryland.


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On our way from Ellicott City, MD to North Brunswick, NJ we whisked down through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, a 7,200-foot-long, four-tube, 8-lane, bi-directional tunnel that carries Interstate I-95 traffic underneath the Baltimore Harbor, in Maryland. The tunnel crosses the Patapsco River, just south of Fort McHenry and connects the Locust Point and Canton areas of Baltimore City. It is named for the nearby Fort McHenry, the fort that inspired Francis Scott Key to write anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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The Fort McHenry Tunnel, the largest underwater highway tunnel, as well as the widest vehicular tunnel ever built by the immersed-tube method, opened on Saturday, November 23, 1985.

Opening day for the Baltimore Harbor 7,200-foot-long 8-lane Fort McHenry Tunnel, Saturday November 23, 1985. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

Opening day for the Baltimore Harbor 7,200-foot-long 8-lane Fort McHenry Tunnel, Saturday November 23, 1985. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

The following is an excerpt from “I-95 Drivers Get Remedy for Harbor Headache – Baltimore’s Fort McHenry Tunnel’s Debut Today is Expected to Ease Bottlenecks“, that appeared in The Washington Post, November 23, 1985.

“The new Baltimore is a nice place to live, but you would not want to visit – not if you are inching through the grimy Harbor Tunnel, that is. For interstate travelers, the dread begins miles away as they steel themselves for the maddening Harbor Tunnel bottleneck that often forms miles outside of Baltimore. But all that’s about to change. Travelers on I-95 who scarcely glimpse Baltimore’s restored town houses, its sparkling Inner Harbor or the growing downtown skyline will soon see a new side of the city as they whisk through its gleaming new Fort McHenry Tunnel. The new eight-lane tunnel – a massive $750 million engineering project 5 years in the making – will open today after a 3:00 PM ribbon cutting, lengthy ceremonies and special motorcades, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel crush. Dozens of state and federal dignitaries are expected to be on hand for the opening ceremonies today to claim credit for the largest underwater road project in the history of the Interstate highway system, one that came in under budget and almost on time.” 

The Fort McHenry Tunnel, is a vital link in I-95, the East Coast’s most important interstate route, Interstate 95, between Maine and Florida. At the time of its opening it was the most expensive underwater tunnel project in the United States, but that figure has since been surpassed by the Big Dig project in Boston. Soon after the Fort McHenry Tunnel opened, the nearby Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, a pair of two-lane road tunnels, southeast of downtown Baltimore, Maryland, and Interstate 895, which had opened to traffic in 1957, were closed for extensive rehabilitation.

The Fort McHenry Tunnel has 8 lanes in 4 tubes and is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) with operating speed of variable up to 55 miles per hour (89 km/h). Each tunnel is 26 feet (7.9 m) wide with
a tunnel clearance of 12.5 feet (3.8 m). The lowest elevation is at 107 feet (33 m) below harbor water surface.

Fort McHenry Tunnel – Project Plans

Plan View of Fort McHenry Tunnel Area

Plan View of Fort McHenry Tunnel Area

Profile View of Fort McHenry Tunnel

Profile View of Fort McHenry Tunnel

Typical Section View of Fort McHenry Tunnel

Typical Section View of Fort McHenry Tunnel

Here's what the east approach looked like when it was under construction in July 1983

Here’s what the east approach looked like when it was under construction in July 1983. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

One of the eastbound tubes under construction, March 1984, near the mid-point under the harbor, about 100 feet below the surface of the water. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

One of the eastbound tubes under construction, March 1984, near the mid-point under the harbor, about 100 feet below the surface of the water. (Photo: roadstothefuture.com)

Howard P. Foley Co. of Baltimore, was awarded the $47 million contract for mechanical and electrical equipment that involved the installation 48 9-foot-diameter ventilation fans to move up to 6.7 million cubic feet of fresh air per minute into the tunnel and to exhaust fume-laden air out of the tunnel – 24 in the west ventilation building and 24 in the east ventilation building. In each ventilation building, 12 of the fans are for supply and 12 are for exhaust. Each ventilation building is equivalent to a small power substation for converting the voltage of the power coming into the tunnel complex.

Since the entire tunnel has continuous signal, lighting and surveillance systems, the tunnel complex has a very large system of electrical systems, with many hundreds of miles of wiring.

Firefighting equipment is stationed throughout the tunnel, with water mains serving the hydrants. The tunnel has 28 pumps with a total capacity of 44,000 gallons per minute.

The first 300 yards of each inbound portal simulates daylight with high intensity lighting and white pavement, thus eliminating the “dark hole” effect on older tunnels and providing enough transition for the eyes of motorists to adjust from daylight to the lighting level inside the tunnel.

E-ZPass Tollgate

A part of the E-ZPass Tollgate (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The I-95 construction through the City of Baltimore received 90% federal-aid funding from the U.S. Highway Trust Fund, for design, right-of-way and construction, with the remaining 10% coming from state funds. Due to the projected high cost of the Fort McHenry Tunnel project, where even in late-1970s the state’s 10% share as estimated at over $80 million, the state of Maryland and the City of Baltimore requested the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) fund the whole 100% of the project’s cost, and to allow tolls to be collected via a toll plaza built immediately east of the tunnel, at a cost of $27 million, with the toll revenue designated to pay off the 10% share in installments. E-ZPass Tollgate at Fort McHenry Tunnel Toll Plaza. The 24 lanes collect a $2 toll from both directions of I-95. All lanes are EZ Pass compatible and allows commuters the ease of paying their tolls electronically. Some lanes are set aside for EZ Pass users only. This plaza is administered by the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Vital Facts about Fort McHenry Tunnel
Length 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
Highway class Freeway, built to Interstate highway standards
Highway route Interstate I-95
Water body crossed Baltimore Harbor and shipping channel
Total number of lanes 8 lanes
Number of tubes 4
Number of lanes per tube 2 lanes
Roadway width per tube 26 feet (7.9 m) from curb to curb
Roadway vertical clearance 16 feet
Speed limit Variable up to 55 mph
Toll facilities Electronic tolling plus cash lanes, toll plaza in Canton
Toll $2 for 2-axle vehicle, commuter discounts available
Pavement type Asphalt (bituminous concrete)
Administrative agency for design, right-of-way and construction Interstate Division for Baltimore City (IDBC)
Owner since opening Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA)
Design Prime Consultant Sverdrup & Parcel and Parsons, Quade, Brinckerhoff & Douglas (joint venture)
Initial estimate of cost total for design, right-of-way and construction $825 million
Contracting method Agency public bid contracting, 11 construction contracts
Construction Began May 7, 1980
Trench Tunnel Prime Contractor Kiewit/Raymond/Tidewater (K-R-T)
West Approach Prime Contractor Lane Construction Corporation
East Approach Prime Contractor S. J. Groves & Sons Co.
Mechanical and Electrical Prime Contractor Howard P. Foley Co.
Facility target date for completion Early 1985
Final cost total for design, right-of-way and construction $750 million
Funding method 100% Interstate highway federal-aid, with 10% to be repaid by state from toll revenue
Facility opened to traffic November 23, 1985
Traffic Volumes as of December 2005 Average about 118,000 vehicles per day, 9% large trucks

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