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Saturday, July 7, 2007Did The Earth Mooooooove For You?
COPS rushed to a farm to put a kinky teenager under arrest — after he was seen romping with a COW.
A shocked passer-by rang 999 after seeing the youth — wearing only black briefs — having sex with the steer at 4.30am.
By the time officers arrived he had fled but night-time patrols are on the alert in case he strikes again.
Farmer Richard Parish was stunned to hear what had happened to the cow, one of three rare English longhorns in the field.
Specialist breeder Richard, 39, even thinks he knows which of them was the victim — a looker named Blondie who is the FRIENDLIEST.
He said: “English longhorns are lovely animals — but not that lovely. My mates are having a right laugh and milking it for all it is worth.”
The teenager was scared off when the passer-by shouted at him at Richard’s farm in Skipwith, North Yorks. Locals in the tiny village, which has a population of less than 300, are certain he was not from the area.
Richard thinks the attacker may even have “wooed” Blondie with grub because a feed bucket had mysteriously moved from time to time.
He added: “I have got to be much more vigilant. The cows don’t seem to be spending so much time outside and are happier inside the barn at night.”
Fellow farmer Alan Patrick said: “I can’t believe it.”
Police said: “We are treating this matter seriously.”
In Chinese restaurants I always see statues of Buddha with long earlobes. I sometimes ask the folks who work there what significance this has. So far, even the Buddhists (three now) have no idea. Do you? — Eric Bottos, via e-mail
What's the difference between the fat Buddha and the regular Buddha? One report I've heard is that Buddha was so good-looking that he asked to be made less attractive so he could study more and fend off women less. — Cori, Boston
Long ears are part of Buddhist iconography, which is if anything more complex than Christian iconography. So pay attention. Given the swelling prominence of Asia in the world scheme, this is stuff you need to know.
Some basics. First, buddha is a title, not a name, similar to Christ, messiah, or saint; it means "awakened one" or "enlightened one." The Buddha, also called the historical Buddha, was the prince Siddhartha Gautama, who achieved buddhahood somewhere around 500 BC, and he’s consistently portrayed as svelte and serene. Buddhism has two main sects: In Mahayana Buddhism (predominant in China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, and Mongolia), everyone has the potential to attain total enlightenment, and some besides the big-B Buddha actually have; Mahayana temples often contain statues of these small-B buddhas. Theravada Buddhist temples (mostly in southeast Asia), however, tend to display statues of the historical Buddha only.
Second, though Buddhism and its symbols originated in India, the iconography now varies widely by region and sect. The following elements are fairly universal.
The earlobes are elongated, partly to indicate the Buddha is all-hearing and partly as a reminder of the heavy earrings that weighed them down before Siddhartha renounced material things to seek enlightenment.
The Buddha's head is usually enlarged (sometimes by a large bump on top) to symbolize wisdom; a jewel in the bump denotes brilliance.
The hair is generally curly. According to legend, after shearing off his long princely locks, Siddhartha from then on had a head of short, fine curls — not a common look in Asia and thus a distinguishing sign.
A dot or protrusion in the center of the forehead represents power or an all-seeing eye.
The fingers are long, slender, and usually finely webbed to indicate that the Buddha can "catch" people, similar to the Christian idea of Jesus the fisherman. Webbing also has the practical advantage of making the statue's delicate fingers less likely to break off.
Often a stylized representation of light emanates from the Buddha, akin to a halo but usually encircling the entire body.
Different postures — standing, sitting lotus position (cross-legged), sitting half-lotus position (one leg hangs down to the ground), and lying down — represent different stages or aspects of the Buddha's life. The two lotus positions symbolize that Buddha, like the lotus plant, emerged from the mud to achieve enlightenment. The reclining Buddha usually represents his death, passing into nirvana and escaping the tedious cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
You didn't ask, but mystic hand gestures called mudra (Sanskrit for "seal" or "sign") are also a big deal in Buddhism. The five most common.
Teaching mudra. Also called "turning the wheel of law." Used by the historical Buddha when preaching, the right hand is in front of the chest, palm outward, thumb and forefinger forming a circle. The left hand is beneath the right hand, also with thumb and forefinger touching, but palm inward. Variation: right hand at shoulder level pointing up and the left at hip level pointing down, both with palm outward and index finger and thumb forming circles; sometimes called the "reasoning" mudra.
Fearlessness mudra. Upraised hand lifted above thigh, palm facing out, fingers pointing up, usually with middle finger slightly forward; means "fear not" and is a sign of protection.
Welcoming mudra. Right hand pointing downward, palm facing out, often with middle finger slightly forward; means welcome, blessing, or charity.
Meditation mudra. Found mostly on seated images. Both hands in lap, palms upward, usually right on top of left but sometimes fingers curled, thumbs touching to form a circle; indicates a state of, well, meditation.
Earth-touching mudra. Statue in lotus position, with right hand hanging over right knee, palm inward, fingers (or just forefinger) touching the earth; left hand in lap, palm upward, sometimes holding a begging bowl. Symbolizes the Buddha "calling the earth to witness" his victory over temptation.
Finally, Cori's question: The fat, laughing guy isn't the capital-B Buddha but a lesser buddha called Hotei (or Miroku or Miluo or Budai or Putai, depending on language). The model for Hotei was (probably) a cheerful, overweight Chinese zen monk or healer who wandered the countryside helping people circa 950 AD. In Asia the belly is one's spiritual center and source of power, so rubbing the laughing buddha's belly brings good luck, and is as close to achieving buddha nature as most of us will get.
AFTER pondering the weighty question of the mass of the Milky Way galaxy, astronomers have come up with an answer: 42.
That is, our galaxy weighs three times 10 to the power of 42kg - a number written as 3 followed by 42 zeroes, which has echoes of author Douglas Adams's fictional answer to the question of life, the universe and everything in his series Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
It seems esoteric but knowing the weight of the galaxy - the amount of matter it contains - is key to solving important astronomical problems.
Of particular interest to astrophysicist Ken Freeman is the nature of so-called dark matter.
Unlike the "ordinary matter" of stars and planets, scientists have only hunches about the nature of the invisible material that, along with "dark energy", they estimate makes up 96 per cent of the universe.
What is it? How is it distributed across the universe? Does it really even exist?
"That's worth knowing," said Professor Freeman, an astrophysicist with Mt Stromlo Observatory and the Australian National University's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Canberra.
So along with colleagues in Australia, Europe, the US and Britain, he decided to "weigh" a galaxy.
They presented their results this week at the Astronomical Society of Australia's annual meeting in Sydney.
While it's possible to estimate the mass of the entire universe, accurately measuring galaxies, particularly distant ones, is another matter.
The problem is there's no good way to quantify all the dark matter in such galaxies, thus making it difficult to total all the matter, dark and ordinary.
So Professor Freeman and his colleagues chose the Milky Way.
"Because we're inside our galaxy, we can get a more reliable measure of the dark matter content than we can for galaxies outside," he said.
To do so, the group first estimated the "escape velocity" of the galaxy - the speed stars passing near the sun needed to attain in order to escape its gravitational pull.
It did so using the line-of-sight, or radial, velocity of stars crossing the central rotating disc of the galaxy.
The data was collected by the 1.2m Schmidt Telescope of the Anglo-Australian Observatory at Siding Spring, NSW.
The escape velocity, calculated at between 544km/sec and 608km/sec, allowed the team to calculate the Milky Way's mass and weight, as well as the amount of dark matter: 94 per cent.