World Youth Day 2008

The 23rd World Youth Day was a Catholic youth festival that started on 15 July and continued until 20 July 2008 in Sydney, Australia. It was the first World Youth Day in Oceania; this meeting was decided by Pope Benedict XVI, during the Cologne World Youth Day of 2005. The theme was "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you". About 500,000 young people from 200 countries attended during the week, more than 1,000,000 came for the weekend, they were joined by cardinals, as well as by 6,600 reporters. The festivals of WYD began on 1 July 2007, when a large 3.8-meter-high wooden cross and a large 15-kilogram icon of the Virgin Mary arrived in Sydney to travel around the country. The relay-style event, known as the Journey of the Cross and Icon saw the cross and icon go on a pilgrimage around the dioceses of Australia, engaging with a variety of Catholic parishes and communities; the WYD Cross was entrusted to the youth of the world by Pope John Paul II in 1984 as a sign of peace and hope.

The Pope told the young people of the world to take it around the world as "a symbol of Christ's love for humanity". In 2004, Pope John Paul II commissioned the large icon of the Virgin Mary to accompany the cross' pilgrimage, it is a symbol intended to represent Mary's maternal love for young people. From the announcement of the host World Youth Day, the cross and icon travel ceremonially around the world similar to the Olympic torch relay. In the week preceding the main event, many young Catholic pilgrims spent time in different parts of Australia and New Zealand, staying with a local parish as part of the Days in the Dioceses. After their stay, they travelled to Sydney for the Opening Mass of the week-long main event; the Pope arrived at Sydney on 13 July at Richmond Air Force Base in North Western Sydney on a special Alitalia flight. Until 17 July he stayed in the Opus Dei centre, called Kenthurst Study Centre, 30 km from Sydney. On 15 July, World Youth Day 2008 began with the Opening Mass, celebrated by George Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, at Barangaroo.

This was followed by a concert. Each morning from 15 to 17 July, Catechists were held in 300 locations. Pilgrims received teachings from a Bishop and celebrated Mass. In the afternoons, pilgrims journeyed into the city and attend the Youth Festival consisting of a series of art exhibitions, concerts and conferences. On 17 July 2008, 500,000 attendees from around the world were present at Barangaroo to welcome Pope Benedict XVI on a day dubbed Super Thursday by the press; the Pope arrived on 14 July, but only appeared in public for the first time on the 17th. The event involved the Pope travelling around Port Jackson in a "boatacade" where pilgrims lined the shores to see him. However, there were many disappointed spectators in places like the Botanic Gardens and Circular Quay who did not see the Pope because of where he was sitting on the boat; the Sydney Children's Choir and Gondwana Voices performed at the event. The Pope spoke extensively to the pilgrims and greeted them in five foreign languages.

In order to let the pilgrims see him better the Pope was driven around Barangaroo through the crowds in his Popemobile. On 18 July, there was a live re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross at major city landmarks with an estimated 270,000 participants. Around 500 million people around the world followed the stations on television. On 19 July, around 235,000 pilgrims embarked on a 10-kilometre pilgrimage walk, beginning at the Mary MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and across the city to attend an overnight vigil before the Mass at Randwick Racecourse. 250,000 pilgrims slept overnight at Randwick, about 300,000 to 400,000 participants attended the Final Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday 20 July. Pope Benedict continued a tradition of Australian Papal Masses at Randwick Racecourse, following in the footsteps of John Paul II and Paul VI. At the conclusion of the final mass the Pope announced that the 2011 World Youth Day would be held in Madrid, Spain.

WYD 2008 was the first World Youth Day to take full advantage of telecommunications, with Pope Benedict sending text messages to the pilgrims during the week. Each pilgrim who registered for WYD had the option of providing a mobile phone number to which the Pontiff's message would be sent at the beginning of each day, it saw the launch of a new registration social networking site called, with the aim to connect young Catholics before and after World Youth Day 2008. On 8 September, a final message was sent via SMS to WYD2008 pilgrims registered on, marking 50 days after the closing Mass: Dear Friends,Fifty days ago we were together for the celebration of Mass. Today I greet you on the birthday of Mother of the Church. Empowered by the Spirit and courageous like Mary your pilgrimage of faith fills the Church with life! Soon I am to visit France. I ask you all to join me in praying for the young people of France. May we all be rejuvenated in hope! Pilgrims were served a traditional Australian menu.

Over the six-day event, 3.5 million meals were served. To cater for the masses, 210,000 slices of bread, 425,000 chocolate bars, 200,000 meat pies and 300,000 servings of Weet-Bix Crunch were ordered. "We want to provide pilgrims with a good feed and a little bit of an Australian taste," WYD director of services Geoff Morris said. Organisers held a "Big Aussie BBQ", which saw 200 barbecues lit up across Sydney. Pilgrims and the public were able to buy 470 different product


Qatana is a city in southern Syria, administratively part of the Qatana District of Rif Dimashq Governorate. Qatana has an altitude of 879 meters. According to the Syria Central Bureau of Statistics, the city had a population of 33,996 in the 2004 census, it is the administrative center of the Qatana Subdistrict, which contained 20 localities with a collective population of 147,451 in 2004. Prior to the Syrian Civil War, during which there have been armed confrontations in Qatana, the city had a mixed population of Sunni Muslims and Alawites; the Alawites were recent arrivals, who emigrated to the city during the 1970s. In December 2012, it was reported that 28 government checkpoints control this multi-ethnic regime stronghold. On 15 October 2013, there was shelling emanating from the Baath School area. Qatana has a cold semi-arid climate. Rainfall is higher in winter than in summer; the average annual temperature in Qatana is 16.1 °C. About 296 mm of precipitation falls annually

The Sum of Our Discontent

The Sum of Our Discontent is a nonfiction book by David Boyle. It was published by Texere in 2001; the tagline and theme of the book is "Why numbers make us irrational". The author's premise is that humans have been trying to improve the quality of life and happiness by using numbers to count an increasing amount of things, while it has worked in many ways, it has had a cost in sanitizing the representation of existence by trying to reduce everything to numbers, has not been effective; this tension is similar to the one described in the classic The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution of C. P. Snow; the first chapter is entitled "A Short History of Counting". It describes the progression of numbers from being considered divine in early history to their present-day pragmatism, it opens in 1904 Berlin with the story of a counting horse named Clever Hans, who was, to the relief of all, proved by psychologist Oskar Pfungst to not be able to count. This fit in with the earlier opinion of Nicholas of Cusa, a cardinal, a pioneer of quantification, that counting is what separates man from animals.

Boyle covers the history of counting in detail, starting with when numbers were considered to be divine and were the exclusive domain of the accountant-priests of the Assyrian Empire going on to Pythagoras and the Ancient Greeks who believed numbers represented the harmony of nature. Legend has it that Pythagoras may have studied with the Magi and been influenced by them after having been held captive in Babylon. A practical and scientific mathematician such as Heinrich Hertz agreed with this natural significance of numbers. Boyle goes to the medieval fascination and obsession with clocks that are thought to have been invented by Gerbert of Aurillac, a monk; the long and fascinating history of the abacus turns up time and time again in counting history. Luca Pacioli's invention of double-entry accounting further brought us to the present day situation of numbers being used to measure everything; the next chapters tell the stories of various historical figures and how they relate to the book's concept.

They are all good stories. It all starts with eccentric Jeremy Bentham who tried to measure happiness progresses to his utilitarian followers John Stuart Mill and Thomas Malthus. One problem with counting that became evident from this era was that it gave no solutions or causality, just data. Next he describes the political self-esteem movement started by California politician John Vasconcellos in consultation with his friend Jack Canfield, author of the popular self-esteem self-help book Chicken Soup for the Soul. A lot of Vasconcellous' ideas came from the Esalen Institute in the mountains near Big Sur, where Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of human needs theory was popularized. Boyle tells the interesting story of Frederick Winslow Taylor and his number-oriented scientific management, he covers the ethical investing fad, an attempt to measure by more than numbers that itself falls victim to counting irrationality. Next is the story of economist John Maynard Keynes; the chapter on "New Indicators" describes attempts to replace GNP with broader measures such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare that attempt to account for full environmental costs.

That index was popularized in a 1994 article in The Atlantic Monthly by Clifford Cobb about his new Redefining Progress think tank. Hazel Henderson's 1981 book Politics for the Solar Age was responsible for sparking the creation of the Air Pollution Index, one of many quality of life measurements that are now proliferating. An interesting point is that such measurements are most meaningful if created and made by the people who care about them; the next chapter covers the story of Edgar S. Cahn who came up with the time dollar as an outgrowth of his battles with proponents of cost–benefit analysis but more from his desire to make people feel valuable; the initial time dollar projects began in 1987 with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The book ends with a chapter named "The bottom line". Boyle summarizes. Measuring is necessary, but so is intuition and storytelling, which can express points much better than numbers can, he thinks we should try to bridge the gap between the eastern and western view of numbers, which have been in conflict since Pythagoras.

He ends with a relevant quote from Prince Charles from his millennium broadcast on the BBC. Boyle's bottom line is that measuring does not in itself improve anything; the beginning of new managerialism's end