Cat Stevens – Father and Son


Father’s Day is still two weeks to go, but you can present this great song to your beloved fathers (or simply commemorate them whenever they have already passed away). It’s one of the greatest pieces by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam). Enjoy.


What all religions teach in common

religious diversity



The essential meaning of every religion is to answer the question “Why do I live, and what is my attitude to the limitless world that surrounds me?” There is not a single religion, from the most sophisticated to the most primitive, which does not have as its basis the definition of this attitude of a person to the world.

At the heart of all religions lies a single unifying truth. Let Persians bear their taovids, Jews wear their caps, Christians bear their cross, Muslims bear their sickle moon, but we have to remember these are all only outer signs. The general essence of all religions is love to your neighbor, and that this is requested by Manuf, Zoroaster, Buddha, Moses, Socrates, Jesus, Saint Paul, and Muhammad alike. 


Ewald Flugel (1863-1914), a German pioneer of study of Old and Middle English Literature and Language

Dear all religious extremists, please reconsider this quote.

Trololo Man

trololo man



Profile of Eduard Khil (anglicized as ‘Edward Hill’), a Soviet baritone singer who, in a string of fate, unexpectedly became an Internet meme phenomenon.

Get to know more about his biography in Wikipedia.




Khil was born on 4 September 1934 in Smolensk to Anatoly Vasilievich Khil, a mechanic, and Helena Pavlovna Kalugina, an accountant. Life as a child was hard on Khil. With his family breaking up, he was brought up by his mother. During the Great Patriotic War (WWII Eastern Front), his kindergarten was bombed, he was separated from his mother and evacuated toBekovo, Penza Oblast where he ended up in a children’s home, which lacked basic facilities and needs, such as food. Despite this Khil regularly performed in front of wounded soldiers in the nearby hospital.He was reunited with his mother in 1943 when Smolensk was liberated from Nazi Germany and in 1949 moved to Leningrad, where he enrolled and then graduated from printing college. In 1955, Khil enrolled in the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied under direction of Evgeni Olkhovksky and Zoya Lodyi. He graduated in 1960.During his studies, he began performing various lead operatic roles, including Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro.


Bonus: read more about the ‘lololol’ phenomenon in Internet Meme Database.

Last bonus: watch the Eduard Khil’s original ‘trololo’ video, which was published in early 1970s in Soviet television.


Super-Frog Saves Tokyo, by Haruki Murakami

super frog



An ordinary, 9-to-5 Japanese middle-class man meets a human-sized frog, offering him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight a monstrous underground monster that will, soon or later, demolish Tokyo.

Read this Murakami’s surrealist short story, published in June 2002, in GQ.




“I know I should have made an appointment to visit you, Mr. Katagiri. I am fully aware of the proprieties. Anyone would be shocked to find a big frog waiting for him at home. But an urgent matter brings me here. Please forgive me.”

“Urgent matter?” Katagiri managed to produce words at last.

“Yes, indeed,” Frog said. “Why else would I take the liberty of barging into a person’s home? Such discourtesy is not my customary style.”

“Does this ‘matter’ have something to do with me?”

“Yes and no.” Frog said with a tilt of the head. ” No and yes.”

I’ve got to get a grip on myself, thought Katagiri. “Do you mind if I smoke?”

“Not at all, not at all,” Frog said with a smile. “It’s your home. You don’t have to ask my permission. Smoke and drink as much as you like. I myself am not a smoker, but I can hardly impose my distaste for tobacco on others in their own homes.”

Katagiri pulled a pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket and struck a march. He saw his hand trembling as he lit up. Seated opposite him, Frog seemed to he studying his every movement.

“You don’t happen to be connected with some kind of gang by any chance?” Katagiri found the courage to ask.

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha! What a wonderful sense of humor you have, Mr. Katagiri!” Frog said, slapping his webbed hand against his thigh. “There may be a shortage of skilled labor, but what gang is going to hire a frog to do their dirty work? They’d be made a laughingstock.”

“Well, if you’re here to negotiate a repayment, you’re wasting your time. I have no authority to make such decisions. Only my superiors can do that, I just follow orders. I can’t do a thing for you.”

“Please, Mr. Katagiri,” Frog said, raising one webbed finger. “I have not come here on such petty business. I am fully aware that you are Assistant Chief of the lending division of the Shinjuku branch of the Tokyo Security Trust Bank. But my visit has nothing to do with the repayment of loans. I have come here to save Tokyo from destruction.”

#thaistory: Thailand’s moment of truth




An in-depth, 228-page investigation of the decades-old political crisis which has, over and over, plagued Thailand, and how the monarchy, rather than offering the solutions, is instead aggravating the situation, the most recent of which is the reintroduction of military rule throughout the whole nation, and why this, if no compromise is formulated, will blow the country apart.

Download the full report from Zen Journalist, a blog run by Andrew MacGregor Marshall, former senior editor at Reuters.




Of all the world’s countries, Thailand is among those for which the publication of the U.S. embassy cables could have potentially the most profound impact. All nations have their secrets and lies. There is always a gulf between the narrative constructed by those in power, and the real story. But the dissonance between Thailand’s official ideology and the reality is particularly stark and troubling. Suthep Thaugsuban, a senior (and notoriously corrupt) Thai politician, blithely claimed in December 2010 that the cables would have no impact on the country:

We don’t have any secrets… What happens in Thailand, we tell the media and the people.

His comments could scarcely be further from the truth. Thailand is a nation of secrets, and most of the biggest secrets are those involving the Thai monarchy. The palace is at the centre of an idealized narrative of the Thai nation and of what it means to be Thai, which depicts the country as a uniquely blessed kingdom in which nobody questions the established order.

Thais are well aware that the truth is very different — they could hardly be otherwise, following the violent political crisis that has engulfed their country — and yet many continue to suspend their disbelief and, at least publicly, to profess their faith in the official myths. Most feel unable to voice the truth, due partly to immense social pressure in a society where to question the official story is to be regarded as “un-Thai”, and partly to some of the strictest defamation laws in the world. At the heart of the legal structure protecting the official myth is the lèse majesté law. Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code states: “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” A law originally intended to shield the monarchy from insults and slander has become something far more: it is increasingly used to prevent any questioning of Thailand’s established social and political order. As historian David Streckfuss says in the foremost academic work on the subject, Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lèse Majesté: “Never has such an archaic law held such sway over a ‘modern’ society (except perhaps ‘Muslim’ theocracies like Afghanistan under the Taliban)”:

Thailand’s use of the lèse majesté law has become unique in the world and its elaboration and justifications have become an art. The law’s defenders claim that Thailand’s love and reverence for its king is incomparable. Its critics say the law has become the foremost threat to freedom of expression. Barely hidden beneath the surface of growing debate around the law and its use are the most basic issues defining the relationship between those in power and the governed: equality before the law, rights and liberties, the source of sovereign power, and even the system of government of the polity — whether Thailand is to be primarily a constitutional monarchy, a democratic system of governance with the king as head of state, or a democracy.

Lessons from Auschwitz: The power of our words – Benjamin Zander


This TED-Ed video is extremely brief (just a little more than one minute), but it offers us a very powerful lesson: be careful, and be wise, for all the words we use, as illustrated by this concluding story of an Auschwitz survivor Benjamin Zander, a musical composer, gave during his 2008 TED talk.

Watch it, and let us try to realize how words, for all their seeming simplicity, carry such a power we can’t ever take for granted.

Tali Sharot: The optimism bias



Optimism, or Pollyanna you want to call it, has remained an inseparable trait of human nature. We need optimism as it gives us silver linings for all possible positive consequences of everything we see, whatever we do, or how the reality perceives us to be. The belief that the world will be a better place than yesterday, that our future will be more fulfilling than the lives we are living today, or that we will find our eternal love life, thus giving no spaces for all unexpected occurrences.

Up to that point, however, optimism has shown itself to be a bias. When we are being tottered with our ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ about reality, that things will go smooth as everything is under control, that our marriages will go well with zero probabilities of divorce, or that our career will flourish with little or no stains, we often overlook any harbingers, any dangerous signs that may have been lurking deep within it, all beyond our vision.

Things strike like we never predict, afterwards. 40% of marriages in Western world (where most people surveyed dismiss any possibilities of a split) end up in divorce, millions of people are laid off, accidents happen, financial collapse is inevitable, etc, etc. Optimism bias, one that has so blinded us with way too many positive interpretations about the reality, instead becomes our own double-edged sword.

Cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot will talk in details about optimism bias from numerous aspects and ways we can do to handle its side-effects.

Listen, and think again.