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    Good News in History, April 8


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    201 years ago today, one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture was discovered—the Venus de Milo. The iconic statue depicts Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, although some scholars claim it pays homage to a sea-goddess that was venerated by people who lived on Milos in the Aegean Sea.

    It was said to have been discovered by a peasant named Mr. Kentrotas beneath a ruined chapel on the edge of his property in Trypiti, where he was gathering stone. He found a buried cavity some 4 × 5 ft deep where the statue was found in two large pieces (the upper torso and the lower draped legs) along with fragments of the upper left arm and a left hand holding an apple.

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    A work by Alexandros of Antioch created sometime between 130 and 100 BC, the marble sculpture is slightly larger than life—6 ft 8 in high—and is named after Aphrodite’s Roman name, Venus, and the Greek island of Milos, where it was discovered.

    Today holding a prime spot in the Louvre museum in Paris, the classically draped Venus has inspired countless artists’ renditions in almost every medium and art form. (1820)

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    Photos by Livioandronico2013 and Shawn Lipowski, CC licenses

    MORE Good News on this Day:

    • Hank Aaron hit his 715th career home run, surpassing Babe Ruth’s 39-year-old record (1974)
    • Frank Robinson, one of baseball’s most underrated players debuted as Major League Baseball’s first black manager – joining the Cleveland Indians (1975)
    • The debut album by The Clash, widely celebrated as one of the greatest punk albums of all time was released in the UK after being recorded during three weekend sessions. (1977)
    • Clint Eastwood became the mayor of Carmel, defeating an incumbent in the election to lead his small seaside city in Northern California, and add many four-way stop signs to help ease traffic congestion (1986)
    • Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play “Topdog/Underdog” (2002)
    • Construction was completed on the world’s first building to integrate wind turbines – the Bahrain World Trade Center in Bahrain (2008)
    • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed by President Obama and Russian President Medvedev in Prague, to reduce each nation’s nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in more than a half century (2010)
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    Happy Birthday to actress Robin Wright who turns 55 years-old today.

    Robin_Wright_2009-cc-Georges BiardKnown for her film portrayals as Buttercup, in The Princess Bride, and Jenny in Forrest Gump, she won a Golden Globe for playing the devious political wife on the critically acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards. (1966)

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    31 years ago today, Twin Peaks, the surreal horror drama series created by David Lynch premiered on ABC-TV. Featuring Kyle MacLachlan as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, the murder mystery earned 14 Emmy nominations and a devoted cult following. It only lasted two seasons, but Twin Peaks is thought to be among the greatest series of all time, and a landmark turning point in television drama.

    With its narrative unfolding in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington, the show employed a melodramatic portrayal of eccentric characters, a haunting soundtrack, and it pioneered the trend of accomplished cinematography now commonplace in today’s television dramas. The property was revived recently for a sequel, including a third and fourth season.

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    After becoming one of the most-watched television programs in the US, audience ratings declined in the second season after the main crime—the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer—was resolved, and subsequent story lines becoming more obscure causing the public to lose interest. Lynch directed the sequel season 3 and it premiered in 2017—and there is further interest in a season 4. (1990)

    Today is the anniversary of the Buddha’s birth—born Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, the fourth largest religion in the world. Visitors to shrines on his birthday take an offering of fresh spring cherry blossom flowers.

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    As a prince in northeastern India, he lived a life of luxury until, at the age of 29, he saw an old man, a sick man, and a family mourning their dead. Like all Hindus, the prince believed in reincarnation. The thought troubled him that people had to return to this world to suffer again, so he left his wife, child, luxurious lifestyle, and future role as a leader of his people, to search for an end to suffering. Continue reading… (563–483 BC)

    For years he chose a life of extreme poverty. The story goes that he eventually collapsed from starvation after fasting for six years. Next, he turned away from the idea that poverty is the path to enlightenment and he decided that it is best to pursue a “Middle Way” between luxury and poverty, largely defined by moderation and meditation. At 35 he attained enlightenment (Nirvana) and assumed the title Lord Buddha (one who has awakened).

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    He defined 3 practices for gaining enlightenment, which may define the “Religion” of Buddhism:

    1. Sila: Virtue, good conduct, morality. This is based on two fundamental principles: The principle of equality: that all living entities are equal and the principle of reciprocity: This is the “Golden Rule” in Christianity — to do onto others as you would wish them do onto you.
    2. Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development, which leads to personal freedom and helps us maintain good conduct.
    3. Prajna: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm.

    Albert Einstein said: “Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.”

    Celebrations in Japan, Taiwan and Korea include children pouring sweet tea (hydrangea leaf amacha) over the head of the statue of an infant Buddha because some believe it rained tea on the day he was born.

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    Dr john Masawe
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