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September 25, 2007

'Clamour for free Pope John Paul II relics'


You can't make stuff like this up.

I mean, you can if you're The Onion but this is mainstream media — The Telegraph (U.K.)

Here's Malcolm Moore's story from today's paper.

    Clamour for free Pope John Paul II relics

    The Vatican has been inundated with more than 160,000 requests for "relics" of the late Pope John Paul II, after offering them free on the internet.

    "This began very casually," said Monsignor Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the Vicariate of Rome.

    "But last week, we received around 5,000 requests from worshippers."

    The Vicariate will send a tiny shred of one of John Paul's white papal robes to anyone who visits its website, or sends a fax or letter. The piece of material worn by John Paul is not technically considered a true relic, because he has not yet been sainted.

    Instead, it is called an "ex-indumentis" or "from the clothing", a phrase that usually refers to a second-class relic. A first-class relic is usually a piece of a saint's skeleton.

    Worshippers who receive the relic also get a prayer card, which thanks God for "having given Pope John Paul II to the Church and for having made the tenderness of your paternity, the glory of Christ's cross and the splendour of the Holy Spirit shine within him".

    Mgr Fibbi said the Church had decided to distribute the items after seeing hawkers in St Peter's Square selling fake relics to tourists.

    "Selling relics is sacrilegious," he said. "We heard people were rubbing pieces of material on the Holy Father's tomb and then selling them as holy. We decided we would give out pieces of his robe for free. We did not know it would be so popular," he added.

    One of John Paul's white robes, called a talare, was donated by Mgr Slawomir Oder, the priest who is in charge of demonstrating that John Paul should be sainted.

    "This one robe has provided enough material for very, very many relics. I do not know what we will do when it runs out though. Perhaps we could ask for another one. We shall see," said Mgr Fibbi.

    The robe is cut into circular pieces a couple of millimetres in diameter by a monk who works full-time in the Diocesan office.

    The number of requests for the relics has caused the office to exceed its postal budget for the year, and it is now asking for a small donation in order to cover its costs.

    It said that the cost of mailing a relic, as well as a copy of Totus Tuus, the magazine produced by Pope John Paul's supporters, was around £3 to Britain.

    However, Mgr Fibbi said that relics would not be sent out to "collectors" or to "people who simply admired the Holy Father".

    He said: "We only really want to send out relics to people to who intend to use them for prayer."


[via Jane Wildgoose, keeper of the Wildgoose Memorial Library, who appears to have the equivalent of perfect pitch when it comes to what gets me revved up]

Full disclosure: I do not know Jane Wildgoose. I have never met nor spoken with Jane Wildgoose. I have, however, featured her library here back on March 7, 2005, and again in a follow-up post on June 6, 2006.

September 25, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Party Ice Luge



From the website:

    Party Ice Luge

    Ice luge sculpture is the "coolest" way to serve drinks.

    Just freeze water in the mold for 24 hours and it'll form a chunk of ice that looks like a luge hill with paths.

    Pop the ice out and flip the mold over to use as a base.

    As the liquor flows down, it gets colder and chills your favorite shot!

    Detailed instructions included.

    10-3/4" x 16".


September 25, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Graffiti Bridge — Saudi-Style


Who knew that Jiddah, Saudi Arabia and my Podunk town had something in common?


Not that we're ready to become sister cities just yet (Charlottesville has three: Besancon, France; Pleven, Bulgaria; and Poggio a Caiano, Italy) but hey, Jiddah's now got graffiti walls courtesy of Mohamed Jamal Abo-Umara, the newly appointed official in charge of Jiddah's beautification.

Here in the birthplace of Thomas Jefferson (about nine miles — as the crow flies — from my house), it took a surprisingly large amount of effort and time to get a First Amendment Monument (below)


up and running.

Here's Faiza Saleh Ambah's September 23, 2007 Washington Post front page story about this small crack in the Saudi thought police facade.

    Frustrations Drive Saudi Youth to the Graffiti Wall

    Young Men Protest Cultural Strictures

    College dropout Abdullah al-Alwani [top] wanted to stand out among his friends, but he couldn't afford a splashy car or brand-name clothes. Bored by a lack of things to do in this conservative kingdom, he decided to make his mark by spray-painting X 5, his chosen nickname, hundreds of times across the city.

    Mohamed Jamal Abo-Umara, the newly appointed official in charge of Jiddah's beautification, spent months on Alwani's trail. He alerted the police, told local newspapers he was looking for X 5 and offered a $1,300 reward to anyone who could lead him to the city's most prolific graffiti artist.

    In May, a journalist offered to introduce the two men to each other on the condition that vandalism charges be waived, and both agreed.

    But the June encounter, widely covered by the local media because of X 5's notoriety, ended up addressing not just the graffiti problem but also what had fueled it — a host of frustrations faced by Alwani's generation.

    Since then, Alwani and his graffiti buddies have appeared smiling and apologetic in dozens of magazine, newspaper and television interviews, focusing a rare spotlight on Saudi youth.

    Like many of his generation, Alwani, a slight 20-year-old with an Afro tinted volcano red, is buffeted between the Western culture piped into his life via satellite television and the Internet and the strict religious culture prevalent around him.

    "I want graffiti walls like they have in the West. We need soccer fields and basketball courts in every neighborhood," said Alwani, who prefers low-riding jeans to the traditional white robe commonly worn here. "And I want to dress the way I want without people making fun of me."

    Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy and one of the world's most socially repressive societies, also has one of the world's youngest populations, with more than 50 percent of its 22 million citizens younger than 21.

    A strict form of Islam implemented by powerful clerics forces stores to close during the five daily prayers and forbids unrelated men and women to mingle in public. The result is that cinemas and theaters are banned, public schools are segregated beginning in first grade, women are not allowed to drive, and single men without female family members cannot enter most shopping malls.

    Abo-Umara, the municipality official and a father of four, was criticized by colleagues for turning Alwani into a local celebrity instead of making an example out of him for vandals who have cost the city close to $1 million in graffiti cleanup.

    But Abo-Umara, 45, said young men like Alwani should not be held accountable until officials are sure they've done right by local youth.

    "What have we done for young people? Have we asked them what they need or want?" said Abo-Umara, wearing a flowing white head scarf and long robe. "Until I talk to them and find out why they are scribbling all over Jiddah and do my part in offering them the services we're supposed to provide, then I can't punish or criticize them."

    True to his word, Abo-Umara held a two-day workshop called "What Do Youth Want From Jiddah?" in July, shortly after his meeting with Alwani. More than 200 young men and women attended, on separate days, and their list of demands included cinemas, public libraries, and music and art centers.

    The young women asked for private beaches for women and girls, for at least widows and divorced women to be permitted to drive, and for boys who harass them to be fined.

    Both groups requested sports facilities, of which there are very few in Saudi Arabia.

    Abo-Umara was able to implement one demand immediately: walls dedicated to graffiti.

    At the palm-tree-lined Faisal bin Fahd walkway, women in black cloaks, black head scarves and running shoes walk determinedly, as men in shorts and T-shirts jog past. On a grassy embankment in the middle, more than 40 graffiti canvases have been set up.

    On a recent day, young men on their knees mixed paint and drew. On one canvas, a dejected face had been drawn between the words "No Girls" and "Why?"

    Another canvas depicted a group of young men behind cage bars, looking out at a mall-lined street.

    "Young men are oppressed here," said Mohammad Qarni, 20, sitting on a bench painted with swear words. "We don't have anything to do in our spare time, and we're not even allowed into malls. That's why I started spray-painting. As a protest."

    Qarni said he stopped only after he narrowly escaped arrest and Alwani persuaded him to accept the city's amnesty offer.

    "All I want is equality with girls," said Qarni, who has cropped hair and wears glasses. "They're allowed to go to malls anytime, and when they flirt with us and we just flirt back, the cops always believe them."

    Young men stand outside malls for hours sometimes, mainly on weekends, in the hope of getting in.

    During a recent evening at a mall on trendy Tahlia Street, Alwani stood with two friends, all dressed in jeans and T-shirts, and pleaded with security guards stationed at the large glass doors to let them in, while groups of young women in black cloaks and colored head scarves, some wearing heavy makeup, breezed past.

    "My sister is inside," Alwani lied. "I need to talk to her." Finally he called out to a girl he had met online, told the guard she was his sister and walked in.

    The graffiti artists got to know one another from online chat groups, where they often share photos of graffiti they admire from Web sites such as graffiti.org.

    "I have a lot of female friends," said Abdullah al-Subaie, 20, a friend of Alwani's who used to spray-paint the nickname K2K, for "kick to kill."

    Sporting an Ed Hardy baseball cap with rhinestones over a black T-shirt and jeans, Subaie, who's studying to be a pilot, said that writing graffiti gave him and his friends cachet and made it easier to meet girls.

    "It was a way of showing off," said Qarni, whose nickname is A.H., for Always Homeless. "And of proving ourselves."

    Though Alwani and his friends write their graffiti in English, they do not speak it, and most have not traveled outside the Arab world.

    Alwani said he'd love to travel to the United States to see the graffiti walls of New Jersey that he's seen online. In the meantime, he has used his newfound fame to make some money: He was hired last month to paint fluorescent 3-D graffiti on the black walls of the Star Billiards pool hall.

    But it doesn't quite match the thrill of spray-painting on the streets, he said.

    "You have to mix paint and draw, then tape. I miss the excitement of a quick spray-paint on the walls. Five minutes and you were done and out of there."

September 25, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Neuro is the new pink


Hey, wait a minute....


[via the Wired Geekipedia]

September 25, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nicholas Bakalar and the New York Times threaten bookofjoe


Just in, the pretty straightforward email above.

The back story: Last Friday, September 22, 2007, I featured Bakalar's New York Times article of September 18, 2007 about psychiatry and religion.

Here is the first sentence of that post: "Long story short: 'Of all medical specialties, psychiatrists are the least religious,' wrote Nicholas Bakalar in a story in the September 18, 2007 New York Times Science section; his piece follows."

The link to the original Times article was included.

Bakalar's article followed.

What do you think?

Should I kowtow to the Gray Lady (and her henchman Bakalar), supposed bastion of First Amendment rights and free speech — including the doctrine of Fair Use?


Or should I stand firm?

joehead Nation, now is the time to make yourselves heard.

Here's Nicholas Bakalar's homepage and email: nbakalar@verizon.net

Here's the New York Times Content Police homepage and email: NYTimes@parsintl.com

Here's Times Public Editor's Clark Hoyt's email: public@nytimes.com

Here's Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's email: bkeller@nytimes.com

Do what's right.

September 25, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Headgator — Episode 2: Price Break


Episode 1 two days ago introduced this 6-in-1 headgear, which some applauded and others pooh-poohed.

The price cited was $17.50.

Just in yesterday from Patrick Dotterweich, the following: "So you can add more value to the article — www.gofastandlight.com/cart.php?target=product&product_id=410&substring=gator"

Nice: from $17.50 to $14.87 in less than 48 hours.


Message received, understood and retransmitted — thanks, Patrick!

September 25, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: World's first upright walk-in MRI scanner



From the website:

    FONAR Upright™ MRI Scanner

    The revolutionary design of FONAR's Upright MRI allows patients to simply walk in and be scanned.

    The Upright MRI allows all parts of the body, particularly the spine and joints, to be imaged in the weight bearing state.

    The system is equipped with our unique MRI-compatible motorized patient handling system that will move the patient into the magnet and place the anatomy of interest into the center of the magnet gap.

    It also can rotate the vertically-oriented patient into a horizontal position so the patient can be scanned lying down as in conventional MRI scanning.

    Distinctive benefits include:

    • The only true "Open MRI"

    • Scan patients lying down

    • Position patient watching TV

    • Proven 0.6 Tesla performance

    • Scan patients in a sitting position

    • Scan patients in their position of pain

    • Scan patients in flexion, extension, rotation and lateral bending

    • Scan cardiovascular patients upright in their position of symptoms

    • Patient convenience: walk in, sit or stand during the scan and walk out

    • Scan patients with cerebrovascular insufficiency in the upright position of symptoms

    • An unprecedented degree of patient comfort due to the unobstructed view of the scanner room from inside the magnet — there is nothing in front of the patient's face


Not mentioned on the website is the fact that a baby can be scanned sitting on the mother's lap, eliminating the need for sedation.

A tremendous advance.


Price upon application: info@fonar.com

September 25, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

September 25, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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