Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The end of the world

Many, during the course of history, have given various dates on when the world will come to an end. This year the most famous person preaching about the coming apocalypse has been pastor Harold Camping, who believed that the world would come to an end on the 21 May 2011. However we are still here. The 89 year old man was astonished to see that his calculations were wrong. Putting down some facts he has given the world a new date, the 21 October 2011.

Speaking on a radio station he explains: " I have to tell you, when Saturday came and nothing happened it was really difficult for me. Truly I tried to see what had happened. I was sure that on the 21 of May God would come to Earth as an earthquake, which would shake mankind for the last 5 months, but God seems to have arrived only spiritually". His conclusion was that God did not want to bring a plague on to mankind for the last 5 months and that God wishes to destroy us straight away on the 21 October. 
This is merely another example of stupidity, when it comes down to giving a certain day for the apocalypse. As stated in the Bible by Jesus Christ we do not know when this event will take place. Only God the Father is aware of the date. Maybe Harold Camping and every Harold Camping has to go back to the Bible and  read the parable of the ten virgins in order to understand the true meaning and belief of the Second Coming according to the Church's teachings. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Maps we were not taught at school

World Map of National IQ Scores

Nuclear Power Plants Worldwide

World Map of Happiness

A research found evidence that money does buy happiness. Countries with high domestic products won out for well-being and found an association between life satisfaction and income. 

World Map of Social Networks

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mammoths will return in four years

The hairy mammoth, which has been extinct the past couple of millennia, will probably return into existence in four years, due to a new cloning method. Previous attempts, by scientists in the '90s, to extract the core of the cells found on the skin and muscle tissues found in Siberia failed because of the cold weather which affected them. 

However a new method found in 2008 by Doctor Teruhiko Wakayama from the Centre of  Developmental Biology in Riken, achieved to clone a mouse from cells extracted from another mouse, that had been frozen for 16 years. Since a solution has been found, Akira Iritani from the University of Kyoto, is trying to resurrect the mammoth after thousands of years since its extinction. All needed is a good and usable sample of mammoth cell in order to commence the cloning process. A female African elephant will be used as a surrogate mother. The percentage for animal cloning has been, until now, very low. Now it is around 30%. 
Nevertheless if this does realise and the scientists achieve their goals it will create certain moral and ethical problems. Where will this stop? What else will man try to bring back to life? These and many more questions will need answering. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The most expensive pizza

Nino Selmaj owns a pizza restaurant in New York called "Nino's Bellissima Pizza". In 2007 he had a bright idea to create the most expensive pizza. This of course has several expensive ingredients, four types of caviar, a lobster tail cut in pieces, salmon roe and  the spice wasabi, which are on top of the crem fraiche base.

This pizza is worth 1000$. The funny thing is that Nino believes that this is affordable, however I believe that many will want to try this expensive and unique pizza.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Greece responds to Spain

It all started on the 21 of May in Spain where people from all ages gathered in the centre of Madrid in order to demonstrate against the new political and economic regulations which are supported and promoted by their government. 
That is where the Spanish demonstrators posted a massive banner which stated " Be quiet, let us not wake up the Greeks". A couple of days after this gesture, which was seen as a great insult in Greece, a response was given. Even the Spanish newspaper El Pais had an article analysing the demonstration in Athens. Over 30.000 people gathered in the centre of Athens, Sintagma Square, and in all the big squares of cities around Greece. The answer on a massive Spanish flag banner was, "We are awake. What time is it? Time for them to leave". 

However next to this banner another one stated " Be quiet, let us not wake up the Italians". The latter was placed under the Greek Parliament. This is the movement of the "Aganaktismeni", i.e. the frustrated which seems to be exploding around Europe.  
This was one demonstration organised by Greeks and not by the political parties, which unfortunately is the norm, especially in the Greek capital. Although it was provoked by the Spaniards, it was aimed not at them but towards the European Union and the IMF. The funny thing is that this demonstration was organised and formed through Facebook and Twitter.
Greeks are now in dialogue with Spain, but also with the rest of Europe. It was a demonstration supporting and defending democracy. Maybe now in this dialogue we will see people from other countries, such as Portugal, Ireland and who ever else will join the P.I.I.G.S. team, which in many aspects is inevitable. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why does the heart have the shape we all know?

Nobody knows where the original source of the shape of the heart lies, which symbolises love and affection. The 'commercial' heart, only partially, does it resemble the anatomical heart within the human body.

The shape in the first picture is akin to the Egyptian hieroglyph for the heart, which was (for the Egyptians) of paramount importance not only for the body but also for the soul. That is why it was the only organ not removed during the process of embalming, which had to weigh exactly like a feather in order to enable the soul of the deceased to obtain permission to enter the underworld.
Another ancient form, that looks like the heart known to us all, is the fruit of the herb Silphium. It is a kind of fennel which grew in the coastal town of Cyrene, located in Libya. The heart maybe took the shape from the fruit, that was engraved on coins. This plant was to Cyrene a lucrative export product.
The silphium was used as a vegetable and a condiment. But according to the geographer Strabo it had therapeutic properties. The Roman historian Pliny the Elder says that it was used also as an antidote for unwanted pregnancies. It is this use, according to many historians, which highlighted this specific symbol to a symbol of love and romance.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not guilty after 100 years

Using new technologies which exist today, police in Britain acquitted a "murderer" from the past, i.e. Dr. Hawley Crippen, who was hanged 100 years ago for the murder of his wife, Cora Henrietta Crippen. The DNA test found that the remains found at their house were not his wife's. 

Dr. Crippen was travelling with his secretary to Canada when the British Police sent a signal that he was wanted for murder. Arriving in Canada he was arrested and deported back to the UK, where he was tried and sentenced to death. However Police today have found that the remains belonged to a man. Now many believe that Dr. Crippen should be pardoned. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mandala, Buddhist Art

Mandala is a fantastic art form, made with colourful sand. They are made by Buddhist monks and are a form of prayer. It is a tradition which exists for the last 2.500 years. In the beginning the outline is drawn and after the monks cover them with various colourful sand by using small tubes and cones in order to be precise in what they are doing. 

To finish the Mandala the monks have to work on them for many hours. Some, due to the complexity of the shape and colours, the monks need a couple of weeks to find the final form. After the completion, the monks destroy the Mandala. The sand is then discarded. This tradition wishes to point out to the Buddhist that nothing is permanent in life. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The end of humanity

This is an experiment, to see the true reactions of people when a man falls whilst walking, acting like he is dying. This is an amateur video but yet it teaches us a lot about how societies in major cities react to the idea and the sight of death. We don't even say good morning to our neighbour, or we get amazed when someone speaks to us on the tube or on the road, then how do we expect people to be compassionate and a "good Samaritan"? It is a good paradigm to see what we would do if this happened in front of us and maybe act in the right way. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fantasy Coffins from Ghana

Funerals are a time of mourning, but also of celebration, for the Ga tribe in the coastal region of Ghana. The Ga people believe that when their loved ones die they move on into another life, that is why they try to do it with style. They honour the dead with brightly coloured coffins with various shapes, according to the way they lived. 

The coffins are designed in such a shape in order to represent an aspect of the deceased's life, for example a car for a driver, a fish for a fisherman, a plane for a pilot... They could also symbolize a vice, i.e. a bottle of bear,wine or cigarette. In Accra, the capital of Ghana, anyone can find many coffin vendors, making it a huge and expensive industry. A coffin, made in any shape imagined, can cost $400, which is a year's salary for the people in Ghana. However this relatively new tradition of Fantasy coffins have become now a tourist attraction for not only Accra but also for the whole country. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Genocide of 350.000 Greeks from Pontos

A big part of the Greek world used to live and prosper in Asia Minor, and also in Northern Asia Minor, maily known as Pontos, which is today Northern Turkey. Trapezounta, the capital of Pontos fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1461, 8 years after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, i.e. Constantinople in 1453. However the Greeks of Pontos remained conscience Greeks whilst being the minority in the region. They played a great part in the economic boom of the region. In 1865 there were 265.000 Greeks in Pontos, in 1880 330.000 and in the beginning of the 20th century nearly 700.000. During the last decades of the existence of the Greek minority in Pontos a spiritual and educational renaissance flourished, by having 1401 schools, printers, magazines, newspapers, theatres which emphasized the high spiritual level which existed then and there. 

In 1908 the Young Turks Movement took place in the Ottoman Empire, which showed their strong nationalistic and fundamentalist face, by persisting in persecuting the Christian populations within the Empire and the eventual Turkification of the region. Unfortunately the Hellenic Republic being busy with the Cretan Issue did not have the power to deal and solve the matter concerning the Greeks in Pontos. 

The Ottoman Empire, trying to preserve 'the safety of the country', sent a big part of the male population (especially those who did not go to the army) into the centre of the country in order to work under difficult and brutal conditions. They worked in quarries, mines and road construction under devastating conditions. Most died from starvation, hardship and disease. 

After the Armenian Genocide Kemal Ataturk was free to destroy the Greek population within Turkey. In 1919 Greeks and Armenians tried to make an independent state in the Northern part of Turkey, whilst having the support of Venizelos and Greece. However it was not achieved and on the 19th of May 1919 Mustafa Kemal reaches Samsounta and begins the second phase of the Genocide of the Greeks in Pontos, with the help of German and Soviet advisers. Until the final Asia Minor Catastrophe (1922) over 350.000 Greeks from Pontos were killed, although many historian give different numbers.
Whoever survived fled to Southern Russia, Georgia, the Balkan region, Greece and Cyprus. However many died on the way. Since half my family comes from Pontos I have heard many stories about the Genocide and the difficulties in arriving in Greece. My great great grandmother, a priest wife, left Pontos with 9 children and reach Macedonia, Northern Greece, with 4,  since they walked all the way whilst having no food or water. This is merely one fact from my family's past. The Greek Parliament established in 1994 that the 19th of May is dedicated to the 'Remembrance of the Genocide of the Greeks from Pontos'. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

London's Dragons

London, the capital of England, is split into two parts. The City of London and the City of Westminster make up London as we know it. In order to tell where one starts and where the other begins there have some symbols in various areas showing where the boundaries are or merely that here you are in this part of the city. 
The dragon symbolises the City of London and the winged creature, bearing the red cross of St. George features in the City's coat of arms.

The dragons near Temple Station, next to the River Thames represent a constituent art of the armorial bearings of the City of London and have been erected to indicate the Western boundary of the city. The dragons, on either side of the road, were formerly mounted above the entrance of the City of London Coal Exchange which was demolished in 1963. 
The other famous dragon is located outside the Royal Courts of Justice in Fleet Street.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Greek Orthodox Cathedral of All Saints, Camden London

Being, during this past year, lambadarios at the Cathedral of All Saints in Camden I thought of giving here the Community's history, since also being one of the most important Churches in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.
The Church was established after a group of Greek-Cypriots made a request to Metropolitan Germanos Strenopoulos to create a second Church in London (the first being the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Bayswater). This would cater the rapidly growing Greek Orthodox community in London, which rose after World War II.

The Church building was originally Anglican, known as the Camden Chapel which was built in 1824 and was part of Lord Camden's development area. The architects were William and Henry Inwood. The inspiration for the Church in Camden had been Greek architecture and the tower was based on Lysicrates monument in Plaka, in the centre of Athens (known also as Diogenes' Lantern). That is why Deacon Meliton states that "there can be no doubt that the building's conversion from Anglican to Orthodox worship has been particularly successful, in part due to the Hellenistic inspiration of the building's architecture". 
The Church was called St. Stephen's Church and later it was renamed to All Saints. During WWII it was damaged during the air-raids due to its proximity to important areas within the city. 

The building was first used as an Orthodox Church in 1948 (Palm Sunday) where Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Germanos and Arhimandrite Parthenios officiated. The Church was purchased later and was raised to cathedral status on 26th April 1981. It is important to state that the Anglican Diocese of London leased the Church to the Greek Orthodox Community emphasising that the relations between the two were on a good level. This of course was not the first time Anglicans assisted Orthodoxy to establish itself in Britain. Many were priests at this historic church, one of them being the current Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain Grigorios.  
It is also famous due to the fact that Archbishop of Cyprus and President of the Republic of Cyprus Makarios officiated at All Saints whenever he was in London. That is why it is also known as the Greek-Cypriot Cathedral of London. 

Currently it has two priests, the Very Revd. Protopresbyter George Zafeirakos and the Very Revd. Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou. Also a deacon is appointed to All Saints, Deacon Meliton Richard Oakes, who has also written a book titled: The Greek Orthodox Cathedral Church of ALL SAINTS.
The Church of All Saints celebrates its patronal feast on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Amazing Facts - Britain

1.  Britain is still paying off debts that pre-date the Napoleonic wars because it's cheaper to do so than buy back the bonds on which they are based.
2. The most popular drink in Britain is Tea.
3. Liverpool Cathedral is the largest Anglican Cathedral in Britain.

4. Queen Elizabeth of Britain sent her first email in 1976.
5. Harrods in Britain installed the first escalator in 1878.
6. On December 18th 1969 Britain abolished the death penalty.
7. Devon is the only county in Great Britain to have two coasts.
8. In Britain, failed suicides were hanged in the 19th century.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Abandoned Buildings

One thing that in a way annoys me when I see them are abandoned buildings which are left to the mercy of time, which will eventually destroy them. I just believe that they can either be used for various purposes or should easily be demolished in order to build new and usable buildings or allow for nature to take over. Some buildings around the world look like the ones depicted here. 

However in no way am I referring to historical or religious buildings such as old monasteries or palaces. The buildings I am referring to are normally houses, old hospitals or government buildings which are merely abandoned.   

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Golden Hinde

The full-size reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake's 16th century galleon has travelled over 140.000 miles, including sailing around the world. Drake was knighted in 1581 aboard the original Golden Hinde. Queen Elizabeth I ordered the ship to be preserved and it became the world's first maritime museum. It is currently located in St. Mary Overie's Dock. It exists since the 16th century and has been a free landing place at which the Parishioners of St. Saviour's Parish were entitled to land goods for free. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Winchester Palace

The ruins pictured here are all that remain of the palace of the powerful Bishops of Winchester, one of the largest and most important buildings in medieval London. Founded in the 12th century by Bishop Henry de Blois, brother of King Stephen, it was built to house the bishops in comfort when staying in London on royal or administrative business. 
The visible remains were part of the Great Hall, which formerly stood alongside the south bank of the Thames. To the right, the gable wall of the hall has doors which led to the buttery, pantry and kitchen, and it has a magnificent rose window. 

Bellow the hall was a vaulted cellar, where goods such as wine could be stored, with a passage to the river wharf. The hall would have been lavishly decorated, and was often used to entertain royal guests, such as James I of Scotland and Joan Beaufort, who held their wedding feast here in 1424. 
The rest of the palace was arranged around two courtyards, and housed many buildings, including a prison, brew house and butchery. As the Bishop's private retreat from the stresses of medieval governance, the palace also had a tennis court, bowling alley and pleasure gardens. 
The palace remained in use until the 17th century, when it was divided into tenements and warehouses. The ruins were rediscovered in the 19th century following a fire, and were finally revealed in the 1980's during redevelopment of the area. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A man marries a portrait

Tomasz Urynowicz from Poland is in love with a woman depicted in a portait from 1955. Due to the fact that he could not find the woman he decided to marry the portrait. The woman is young, brunnet and  is shown carrying a basket with clothes. Tomasz first saw this painting in 2001 in a gallery. Without any delay he bought it and tried, for ten years, to find the depicted woman. Seeing that his search was fruitless he then tried to find the painter, Antoni Maria Kwiek. Tomasz claimed that he was just trying to find her in order to speak to her and find out more about her life. 

However he will find it difficult to find a priest to marry him with the portrait. Although this is not a unique paradigm of crazy weddings it is still wierd to even consider it. Other unusual examples are, for instance, an Australian who in 2010 wanted to marry his dog or a woman in Taiwan who wanted to marry herself.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Panathinaikos, European Champion 2011

Panathinaikos basketball team, my Greek team, has once again won the Euroleague for the sixth time, just 2 titles behind Real Madrid. That is why many consider Panathinaikos as the King of European Basket, since the Athenian side has won the title 6 times in the last 15 years.

Playing Maccabi Tel Aviv in Barcelona the Greek side beat the opponent 70-78 after a magnificent and in many respects tense game, which brought the title back to Athens.

This, ofcourse, was a great excuse for the Panathinaikos fans to celebrate at Omonoia Square, which is located in the centre of Athens. Also festivities began right after the end of the match, where more than 4000 Panathinaikos fans were watching the game and supporting the team in the stadium in Barcelona.
The video here shows how Panathinaikos won its previous 5 European titles, making it the best Greek team.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Book Light

The Book Light, designed by Mikhail Stawsky, is made from a solid translucent plastic body with integrated LEDs and doubles as a bookmark. It is recharged and illuminationis intensified by using touch controls. It is the perfect device in order to read a book without distrubing others. 

Although today we find that people either use e-books or just watch youtube videos and movies on their phones. However it is a very interesting gadget.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fearless cleaners

I always wondered how skyscrapers and generally tall buildings remain clean from the outside. It seems that the traditional way is the one used in order to clean them. However a few are fearless enough to do this job, since they have to hang and clean at the same time, whilst being hundreds of metres above the ground. 

Big Ben:

Empire State Building:

The Rockefeller Building:

Burj Khalifa:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sexist adverts from the past

Although sexist adds are still found in modern advertisement, they are nowhere close to the sexist adverts from the past. Advertisments from the past were more blatant and many were offensive. I cannot imagine what would happen if these adds were used or were printed today. However we should see them and understand them as people did in the past where they were acknowledged and accepted within daily life.