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Archive for March, 2010

Today is Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The Annunciation is celebration of the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would become Theotokos (God-bearer). Today, 25 March, the great mystery of the Incarnation was achieved. Today is nine full months before Christmas.

A holy bishop and martyr of the second century, Saint Irenaeus, who had received the tradition from the very disciples of the apostles, shows us that Nazareth is the counterpart of Eden. Mary, as the new Eve, bowed down before the divine will and said to the heavenly messenger: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.” The obedience of the second Eve repaired the disobedience of the first. Alleluia!

Here are some interesting facts about this feast . . .

  • This feast is very important in the defense of the life of unborn children. Even with small children, this is a good day to begin teaching about the high value God places on human life. He loved us so much that he became one of us, took on our human nature and became an innocent, completely dependent infant.

  • This is a Solemnity, so when this feast falls during the Lenten season, our Lenten penance obligations are lifted. We should celebrate by some special food or dinner. This feast day forecasts the blessed event of Christmas, and illustrates how the liturgical year is an endless circle of days. To celebrate this circle or cycle, serve a cake, coffee rings, or wreath-shaped cookies, or foods shaped in ring molds for this feast day. A perfect symbolic food would be an angel food cake for the archangel Gabriel, baked in a tube pan for the endless circle, decorated with the frosting highlighted with blue for Mary.

  • A traditional food for this day is waffles. “Lady Day” or Annunciation, is the only feast of Mary that Sweden still celebrates since the Lutheran faith became the state religion in 1593. In most of Europe, waffles are a traditional feast day food, but on the feast of the Annunciation in Sweden this is THE “Waffle Day” (Vaffeldagen), where waffles are served either for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with lingonberries or cloudberries.

. . . and a great excerpt: The Annunciation.

What came about in bodily form in Mary, the fullness of the godhead shining through Christ in the Blessed Virgin, takes place in a similar way in every soul that has been made pure. The Lord does not come in bodily form, for ´we no longer know Christ according to the flesh´, but He dwells in us spiritually and the Father takes up His abode with Him, the Gospel tells us. In this way the child Jesus is born in each of us.” — Gregory of Nyssa.

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The Overweight Asians

To classify whether we  are underweight, normal, overweight, or obese, we often use Body Mass Index (BMI). It is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2). For example, an adult who weighs 70 kg and whose height is 1.75 m will have a BMI of 22.9.

BMI = 70 kg / (1.75 m)2 = 70 kg / 3.0625 m2 = 22.9 kg/m2

Having our BMI, this is the most common classification we often see.

The above table is the international classification proposed by World Health Organization (WHO). However, BMI may not correspond to the same degree of fatness in different populations due, in part, to different body proportions. WHO then convened the Expert Consultation on BMI in Asian populations, proposing different ranges for the Asia-Pacific region based on risk factors and morbidities.

Although there is still a growing debate on this topic, the proposed classification for Asian might be worth to know.

More on this:

  1. Revision of Body Mass Index (BMI) Cut-Offs In Singapore
  2. WHO/IASO/IOTF. The Asia-Pacific perspective: redefining obesity and its treatment. Health Communications Australia: Melbourne, 2000.
  3. James WPT, Chen C, Inoue S. Appropriate Asian body mass indices? Obesity Review, 2002; 3:139.
  4. WHO expert consultation. Appropriate body-mass index for Asian populations and its implications for policy and intervention strategies. The Lancet, 2004; 157-163.
  5. WHO, Global Database on Body Mass Index.

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Introduction Background Classification Estimates

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Global Database on Body Mass Index

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You might have heard these days more blow up news about pedophile Catholic priest scandals in Europe. The offenders and those sheltered them made us Catholics ashamed. The guilty should take responsibility: removed from office and handed over to the civil authorities where they are guilty of crimes. Further, we need systems established to avoid abuse in the future.

Anti-Catholic Prejudice

The scandals themselves are already bad enough to hear, and they get worse by unjust accusation of religious bigotry against Catholic Church. Clerical celibacy is proposed as the cause of sexual scandals among priests. Roman Catholic priests suffering sexual temptations will turn immediately to children simply because Church discipline does not permit clergy to marry. This church discipline is irrelevance, even unbiblical, so it should be weeded out from the Church of Rome, they suggest.

Is that true?

Now, let us see the fact: there is no data supporting a higher rate of child-oriented sexual activity among the unmarried Roman Catholic clergy than that of the married clergy of them outside Catholicism. However, for cases of available data, molestation of pre-pubescent children was found to be rare. Also note that pedophilia and ephebophilia are different problems. The former is sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. The latter is attraction to teenagers. Most cases branded ‘pedophilia’ are actually ‘ephebophilia.’

Philip Jenkins (who is not a Catholic), a professor of religious studies and history at Pennsylvania State University has written  the most objective book on the subject, “Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis.” You might wanna read one of his articles, “The Myth of the Pedophile Priest.”

My research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination — or indeed, than nonclergy. However determined news media may be to see this affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported.

Comparing Catholic priest with other professions on sexual abuse cases, I will quote this Wikipedia entry: “Catholic sex abuse cases – Comparison with other professions.”

Sexual abuse exists in all reaches of society.[115] In terms of the relationship of the catholic sex abuse cases to other professions some studies are now emerging. A Perspective on Clergy Sexual Abuse by Dr. Thomas Plante of Stanford University and Santa Clara University states that “available research suggests that approximately 2 to 5% of priests have had a sexual experience with a minor” which “is lower than the general adult male population that is best estimated to be closer to 8%”.[116] Sexual Abuse in Social Context: Clergy and Other Professionals is a scholarly work that shows sexual abuse is not particularly prevalent within the Catholic hierarchy and that abuse is significantly higher among public school teachers than among ministers and priests. In the report, a study titled “Sexual abuse of students in schools” by Carol Shakeshaft, the instance of prevalence with the NTC public school system is described.[117] In the 1993 Journal of Pastoral Care, 14 percent of Southern Baptist ministers said they had engaged in “inappropriate sexual behavior”.

It Ain’t Just Catholic

I unintentionally found this website which is “intended mainly for [Baptist] clergy abuse survivors and those who seek information about Baptist clergy sex abuse”: StopBaptistPredators.org. Yes, it is not an exclusive issue of the Catholic Church. One headline said that “Child sex abuse by Protestant clergy may exceed abuse by Catholic priests” and linked to an article explaining the nature of Catholicism’s centralized hierarchy which made its statistic of sexual abuse at the top of the list. The wildly diverse division of Protestant made tracking allegations and confirmed cases of sex abuse as an elusive task to do.

Another headline said “TIME ranks Southern Baptists’ rejection of sex-offender database as a top ‘underreported’ news story of 2008.”

And while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record-keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse.

The Top 10 Everything of 2008 – Top 10 Underreported News Stories

Conclusion

In light of what we have learned, we should remember some basic facts and principles:

  • Clerical celibacy is not the issue, for sure. Clerical celibacy is a good church practice and it is biblical.
  • All religious groups have pedophile scandals and child abuse is prevalent in all areas of society: schools, youth organizations, sports, etc.
  • Catholic cases of pedophilia make more headlines because of anti Catholic prejudice and because the Catholic Church is bigger and more lucrative to sue.
  • What people now call ‘cover up’ was often done in a different cultural context, when the problem was not fully understood and when all establishment organizations hushed scandals. They did so for what seemed good reasons at the time: protection of the victims and their families, opportunity for rehabilitation of the offender, the avoidance of scandal to others. It is unfair to judge events thirty years ago by today’s standards.
  • When lawsuits are looming people smell money. We must be wary of false accusations.
  • When guilt is established the offender must be punished, not sheltered.

Saint Patrick

Prayer for the Church in Ireland

God of our fathers,
renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation,
the hope which promises forgiveness and interior renewal,
the charity which purifies and opens our hearts
to love you, and in you, each of our brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus Christ,
may the Church in Ireland renew her age-old commitment
to the education of our young people in the way of truth and goodness, holiness and generous service to society.

Saint Brigid

Holy Spirit, comforter, advocate and guide,
inspire a new springtime of holiness and apostolic zeal
for the Church in Ireland.

May our sorrow and our tears,
our sincere effort to redress past wrongs,
and our firm purpose of amendment
bear an abundant harvest of grace
for the deepening of the faith
in our families, parishes, schools and communities,
for the spiritual progress of Irish society,
and the growth of charity, justice, joy and peace
within the whole human family.

To you, Triune God,
confident in the loving protection of Mary,
Queen of Ireland, our Mother,
and of Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid and all the saints,
do we entrust ourselves, our children,
and the needs of the Church in Ireland.
Amen.

From the Vatican, 19 March 2010, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2010 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Megapixels Hype

The most popular cameras on the market today are about 12 Megapixels. Many people still think Megapixels indicates the image quality. That’s somewhat true if you compare 8R print size (8 x 10 in. or 20 cm × 25 cm) photograph from a 1.3 Megapixels camera to an 8R photograph from a 3.2 Megapixels camera. The last one will appear a lot of sharper while the first will be terrible.

How if we compare to an 8R size from an 8 Megapixels? Would the image be even better? That just might not be the case.

Pixels and Printing Size

In short, a Megapixels means one million of microscopic light sensors (pixels) in your camera. (The real thing is not as simple as they appear, though.) So your photograph actually contains of tiny colored dots each recorded by the pixels. It seems logical, however, that more Megapixels means a sharper image. But for the most part, more Megapixels count also means smaller pixels which are noisy, especially in low-light situations. The reason is smaller pixels receive less light so the image processor of your camera try to increase the quality of image captured by some sort of image processing algorithm. And when it does, image noise is also increased. It become worse in compact digital cameras because the sensor size is small; very small indeed.

The picture above shows relative sizes of typical sensors. The biggest two are used in digital SLR cameras while the rest reside on compact ones. In order to fit the same number of pixels onto each sensor, the pixels themselves obviously have to be made much smaller on compact camera sensor. As a consequence, you get noise increased due to crowded population of pixels in a very small area.

Besides, more Megapixels also means more memory. You need to provide a lot of spaces on your hard drive and a long time to transfer images from your flash cards.

All you need is enough Megapixels. A 4R snapshot from a 2 Megapixels camera will look just as good from some higher resolution cameras. You might be surprised seeing this 13 x 16 in. prints of Jen Bekman made by 6 Megapixels Nikon D70.

Here is a printing guidance for you.

One Exception

However there is a reason for you to pick up the one with more Megapixels other than printing for a large size, that is if you want to do lot of cropping. My suggestion is that you double your resolution to give you some flexibility in cropping image.

Conclusion

Image quality is not correlated to Megapixels count, but quality of the sensor and other factors such as lens, image processor and algorithm; not to mention your photographic skills of composition, lighting, camera controls, and so on.

You are better off saving your money instead of opting for the most Megapixels or using it to get more enhancements for the camera such as lens, flash, tripod, etc. The smart advice is to read the in-depth reviews before you buy because the more educated you are the less likely you are to get ripped off. Sites such as dpreview.com, dcresource.com, can be valuable sources for you to make decision on buying a camera.

So, do you think you need 40 Megapixels Pentax 645D worth $9,400 to get your best shot? Think again!

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You usually browse WAP sites using your mobile phone. WAP sites are WML-based so here is the easiest way: use Mozilla Firefox browser and then install  “WML Browser” add-on.

Enjoy!

PS: This is the current link: wmlbrowser 0.7.20.

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