Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Could You Pass a US Citizenship Test?

Most of us take citizenship for granted. When immigrants want to become Americans, they must take a civics test as part of their naturalization interview. Could you pass the test? I'm not sure I could. Take the Naturalization Self Test and see how well you can do.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Blatant Hypocrisy of the Catholic Church

From Slate magazine comes another example of religious hypocrisy. This time it's the Roman Catholic Church. (Who would have thought!) In this case, a Roman Catholic Church hospital chain is arguing that a seven month-old fetus is not a human life as part of its defense in a wrongful death lawsuit. This argument stands in stark contrast to the Catholic Church's staunch (and official) position that fetuses, embryos, zygotes, and even fertilized eggs are people. As with so many things, people will say one thing, but practice something completely different when it's in their self interest to do so. 

"Engrenages" aka Spiral

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across Spiral (aka Engrenages), a dark and unsettling French crime drama set in Paris. Spiral is about the most compelling drama currently on TV. There's nothing cliche about SpiralThe plots and characters are well drawn with surprises at every twist and turn, and there are plenty of cliff hangers to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

I was hooked from the very first episode of the series, which opens with a view of a horribly mutilated female corpse. Yes, the murders are hideous and gruesome, but they have a point (and most scenes are not gory). I love the clever writing, and the story lines are pure genius. 

It's also fascinating to see how the French legal system works. The interactions of the police, the prosecutor, and judge are quite different from the American and British systems. For one thing, the Judge is an integral part of the investigation.
In case you were wondering, Engrenages means "cogs" or "gears," but it also has a figurative meaning as in a spiral of violence. Spiral is available on Netflix streaming. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Life Springs From the Vagina?

Courtesy of H. Evans 

I wonder what those Christians would say?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Save a Cat

With temperatures plunging below zero in the Portland area, I've been bundling up in layers of clothes. Unfortunately, our animal companions that live outside cannot. Cats have fur, which gets thicker during the winter months to keep them warm, but during these frigid days their fur is often not enough. Cold weather forces cats to seek refuge in many places, including under the car hood. However, finding warmth under the car hood places cats in a very dangerous position. If you start your engine while the cat is present, he or she could be at serious risk of injury or even death.

There is a simple way to prevent this from happening: bang on the car hood or honk the horn before starting the engine. This gives the cat time to escape. I recently read of an incident in Portland where a homeless cat was killed by the fan belt as it sought refuge under the hood. Also, check the top of every wheel before starting your car. Outdoor cats may have tucked themselves away in the wheel well as they seek protection from the snow, wind, and subzero temperatures. Following these simple steps may save a cat's life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Relief from the Cold: Catherine Tate

Maine in January is COLD! In fact, it has been nail biting cold with daily high temperatures in the low teens and nights below zero. Temperatures are expected to remain low through the weekend. Brrrrr!

On days like these, I enjoy a warm cup of cocoa while reading a cozy Agatha Christie mystery or watching something fun on video. Recently, I discovered the comic talents of Catherine Tate. She's like Jennifer Saunders with a dash of Tracy Ullman. Her show is available on Netflix streaming, and it's worth a watch. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Little Bit of Austria in China

Japan used to be known for copying western technology, music, and art. This thirst for things "western" has now arrived in China. Here's an interesting story about some Chinese investors that decided to replicate an entire Austrian town. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year From New England!

A View of the Western Prom
Happy New Year from the snowy and cold City of Portland, Maine. Here are a view images of Portland on January 1, 2013.

My House

Western Cemetery:
Notice the Ski Tracks