Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pagan Conference in Pougkeepsie, NY

EtheraCon-a Pagan Conference

EtheraCon is coming to Upstate NY. This con features speakers, workshops, and a very cool dealer's room. This will be the first year I'm attending, and I've heard nothing but good about it. Here's just a quick example of two workshops/classes:

Celebrating the Pagan Soul - Laura Wildman
Our stories of transformation and community A book reading. Celebrating the Pagan Soul is a collection of personal experiences, magical tales and insights. Including stories from both those who are well known within the Pagan Community along with experiences of individuals whose smiles appear only on the fringes of Pagan circles, it offers a unique view into the fascinating, and usually private, lives of Witches, and Pagans. Come relax, unwind and enjoy listening to a few very personal and incredible Pagan experiences.

Gods, Demons, and Imaginary Friends - Philip Farber
(Whether You Believe in Them or Not) Are you familiar with the recent discoveries concerning human neurology which suggest that the magical operation of evocation - contacting and communicating with spirits - has a biological basis? Our gods, demons, angels, loas, and imaginary friends are there for reasons beyond the obvious. Don't let them tell you you're crazy if you talk to your imaginary friends; come to this workshop and learn new, exciting, and practical ways to play with and learn from our less corporeal colleagues.

Sounds great! I hope to attend Saturday.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dr. Laura VS Evolution

I am the proud owner of what I thought was the worst board game in the world: THE DR. LAURA GAME. Yes, I actually own the thing. I cannot begin to describe the complete and abject horror one must undergo to play this game. Just opening the box, you feel like a character in an HP Lovecraft story, about to unleash some unspeakable pan-dimensional horror. "What" you might as, "could possibly be the point of such a game? How do you win?" You draw a card and are presented with a situation like "My daughter came home with a nose-ring. What should I do?". Your answers can be:

a)show her more love.
b)get one yourself.
c)ask your daughter to discuss such things with you in the future.
d)pack your daughters belongings in boxes, dump them on the curb, change the locks, disown her, then have your tubes tied so you'll never bare such demon spawn again.

If you picked a-c, the jaws of Hell have opened just a bit more for you. But if you picked d), then you scored a point! Good for you!

Of course, I'm being sarcastic. But the point of of the game is not to figure out your life, be a better parent or human being, but to become---Dr. LAURA!
The winner is the first person who best answers like her! Mind-melding with her! Won't life be so much simpler once you internalize Dr. Laura's special breed of loathing and tough-love? I pity the poor troubled unfortunate who turns to the Dr. Laura's of this world for help. (I should point out, for anyone who has forgotten: Dr. Laura's mother starved herself to death, shuttered up in her apartment, estranged from her daughter. What nice family dynamics.) The bad news is--for any parent who had their hearts set on raising serial killers--this game is longer sold. But all is not lost. There is now even a more mind-numbingly stupid game to be had:

Intelligent Design versus Evolution!

“Intelligent Design versus Evolution” is a new board game that was designed by actor Kirk Cameron and best-selling author Ray Comfort, to help fight against the what they maintain is the brainwashing of an entire generation...“We are very excited about this game because it...shows that the contemporary theory of evolution is perhaps the greatest hoax of modern times.”...Intelligent Design Versus Evolution is unique in that the playing pieces are small rubber brains...

Rubber brains! I shit you not! Can anything actually be this unintentionally funny? Like others, at first I thought this was a hoax. For a moment, I was actually so naive to believe nobody could ever think up anything this wrong. But once again, my complete lack of faith in humanity was reinforced when I saw the original web site. As advised in the link above, it's best not to be eating or drinking when you check the original pages, as you'll spew all over your keyboard.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Adopt a Polar Bear

The Polar bear is about to be protected. The sad image of a Polar Bear, drowning in the mud, has become an amulet to hang around the necks of those who still deny global warming. It's fitting that this majestic and powerful animal may bring about a sea-change in our willfully ignorant government. Besides the bear, the loss of polar ice will have a devastating impact on all polar species, such as penguins and seals. But we can help now, even before our woefully inept government gets goaded into action. Adopt a Polar Bear!!!:

By adopting a polar bear for yourself or for someone you care about, you are helping WWF safeguard the polar bear's Arctic home, understand and reverse the deadly effects of climate change on polar bears and work toward eliminating toxic pollutants in the Far North

What a great gift idea! Yeah, I know this is somewhat symbolic, but it's a great way to help out the WWF and the Polar bear. This Yule, give a gift back to the Earth. Don't you think she deserves it? Not only that, for a measly $40, you can feel like you just screwed the Theocons, ID'ers, Dominionists, and other Earth-haters, all for just $40! Feels good, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Carolyn Porco--Planetary Scientist!

Carolyn Porco 'doing the carl sagan thing'

The creatrix behind toomanytribbles made a meaningful contribution to the Carl Sagan Blog-a-thon. She now introduces us to Carolyn Porco, and her lecture at the Beyond Belief Conference:

dr. porco is a renowned planetary scientist, an imaging scientist for NASA and the leader for the cassini science imaging team, a truly inspiring speaker on science and spirituality. the conference, she addressed the subjects of religion and the existence of god, life, death, and the meaning we can find in both -- especially the importance our fear of death and how it may lead some of us to believe in the supernatural. her views on how we can replace this fear, especially in children, with a sense of wonder and one-ness with the cosmos, was, i believe, one of the best points in her presentation.

Catch a buzz from Sagan's stashbag! Expand your mind! You can download Session 3 of Carolyn's presentation.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Yule Gift to the Lungfish

Meeting seeks breathing space for native lungfish

What gift could be better than salvation from extinction! This is some very good news for the Lungfish. Seems that online petition is having an impact:

QUEENSLAND Deputy Premier Anna Bligh has agreed to meet lungfish champion Jean Joss, a move that may save the scientifically precious animal from extinction...a proposed dam on Queenland's Mary River will destroy habitat critical to Neoceratodus forsteri, the last living link to the first animals to walk on land about 350 million years ago...To date, 6718 scientists have...signed an online petition...While five other species of lungfish exist in Africa and South America, signatories claim that Australia's species is the oldest, providing a unique opportunity to study the genetic and physiological adaptations that made life on land possible. Professor Joss said lungfish genes may also lead to greater understanding of human physiology. "A lot of the genetic material I ship to overseas laboratories is for study of lung diseases," she said.

I have a feeling some Wiccans and NeoPagans are helping in this fight. It seems that Wicca and Pagan/NeoPagan spirituality is undergoing a meteoric rise in Australia. 'Holy marketeers want your soul' is an article about the book, Australian Soul: Religion and Spirituality in the 21st Century. From the article, Author Gary Bouma writes:

Diversity, he says, is the watchword for 21st-century Australia. "I have been studying Australian religion for a long time...What's been very clear in the first part of this century is not only the religious diversity but the impact of that for Australia, which has been to produce an increase in religious interest...What's not growing is dry, rational Christianity...mysticism is returning to the religious marketplace, a real sense of experiencing the presence of God or the beyond: that's what spiritualities give people, and usually in a fairly unmediated way."

Also from the article:

There was impressive proportional growth in adherence to religions such as Buddhism (up 79 per cent), Islam (up 40 per cent), Hinduism (up 42 per cent), and "nature religions" including paganism and Wicca (witchcraft, up 130 per cent), but these increases were off low bases and in some cases partly attributable to immigration or birthrates...According to Bouma, people are rejecting highly structured ways of conducting their spiritual lives. "The question of the soul is there: they are tired of materialism and an unexplained universe, they are searching for something that makes sense in the 21st-century environment.

And what makes more sense than Wicca and other Earth based religions? It's great to give back to the Earth some of the energy she has given us! 'Good on you', my Aussie friends!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy YULE, Orion!

I spent a wonderful Yule Sabbath with my friends! Thank you or embracing a newcomer like me! It's so nice to have left the angst and commercialism of "Xmas" for the Xtians.

Llewellyn Journal has some wonderful suggestions for Holiday Yule Crafting. Some great ideas for the whole family.

Don't forget to go outside and honor our friend Orion! You can see him from even the most light-polluted skys. He holds court in the Winter night sky. If you want to learn about Orion, please check out the excellent article by Trevor O'Donoghue about the constellation posted at Cloudy Nights: Beyond M42.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Carl Sagan Blog-a-thon Success --Thanx, Joel

Carl Sagan 'blog-a-thon' is well underway

The Blog-a-thon now has over 70 meta-posts! It's been a great success. Good job, Joel. Of course, some in the MSM are comparing it more to a "geek-a-thon". Figures they'd say something like that. Me, I think more "bong-a-thon", Heh. However you cut it, it's getting some great publicity.

Heres my post:

Carl Sagan Blog-a-thon

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Celebration of the Jesus Lizard

Virgin Komodo dragon is expecting

It's Christmas and Jesus is coming back! I told all you heathens! Who's laughing now? This time he's coming back--virgin birth and all--as a giant LIZARD! What a great Christmas gift! I hope he bites your foreskins off, you filthy traitorous anti-warmongering hippies!

Flora, a pregnant Komodo dragon...has never mated, or even mixed, with a male dragon, and fertilized all the eggs herself, a process culminating in parthenogenesis, or virgin birth. Other lizards do this, but scientists only recently found that Komodo dragons do too.

He is the Lizard King, he can do anything...

Monday, December 18, 2006

So This is Christmas...

Christians Protest Halloween Then Push for Christmas

I know a school teacher who had a parent go ballistic just because she dared have a picture of John Lennon in the classroom. Yes, Filthy Hippy numero uno, that evil Destroyer of Worlds--JOHN LENNON. I suppose she'd have been fired on the spot if she wore a pentacle around her neck! I know a couple of Wiccan leaning teachers who feel threatened at work, settling for a closeted existence rather than lose their jobs. (Of course, there's no problem talking about Creationism, or saying Evolution is 'controversial'.) Such bullying becomes brutal around Yule; the phony "War on Christmas" is a holiday centerpiece of Xtian arrogance and selfish entitlement. Any request for tolerance, equal time, or a mere crumb of recognition, gets labeled as "an act of War". I guess such labels appeal to a certain mindset. Kirsten Anderberg's article on the theme of Halloween vs. Christmas lays bare the hypocrisy of the "War on Christmas" bloviators. She covers many topics, supplying much needed fodder against those trying to torpedo Yule. Not only does she come armed with facts, and we know the cold fear 'facts' instill in cultural warriors, but she fights from the gut:

The patriarchal roots of Christianity, the conquer and destroy, or smiting, philosophy of Christianity and the sense of entitlement Christians flaunt, all really explain their campaign against Halloween and pagans. Pagans allow female godheads. Most pagans reject the conquer mentality Christians have towards nature, and instead respect and revere nature... Pagans threaten Christianity due simply to the inclusion of women as godheads and their reverence for nature. Just as feminism threatens sexism, paganism challenges Christianity at the root of its patriarchy and exploitive natures...Today a Christian friend of mine told me how mad she was that they wouldn't let Christmas and prayer into public schools but they have books with witches in them about Halloween in the school library...My first response was "but you have the whole school pledging allegiance to "one nation under *God*" every single morning in most U.S. public schools!" Reality is that Christianity and the male Christian godhead mythology gets much more airplay than WICCA, and all other religions combined, in public schools...

That warrior conqueror attitude is common in Monotheism. Just look at the Crusades! It's one of the reasons so many Wiccans and Pagans think "evangelizing" is in such bad taste. It's so insulting for someone to come up to you and say, "My religion is better than yours, let me now convince you..." Besides this, currently the disease of intolerance has indeed taken root in number of monotheistic religions.

Kirsten has a great site featuring some fine Pagan Politics.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Our God is a ...small God?

Intelligent Design and the Tame Lion

I wish more Xtians who think the Religious Right's embracing of Creationism (aka: ID) is dangerous would speak-up. Fairling's Parish has an excellent post arguing against Creationism based on religious grounds:

Intelligent Design encapsulates what I am coming to think is wrong with the extreme evangelical church as represented by certain influential groups in America, and the danger of the milder evangelical tradition in which I was brought up. It is a confidence in knowing God which leads to a false and in the end patronising confidence that therefore you know what God is like...So the evangelical willingness to pray to God about tiny things, like “where is my pencil case?” (a favourite of my childhood) is on the one hand a willingness to let God into every corner of my life and a belief in his total love for me, and on the other hand has a danger of my making up narratives to wind God into in order to control him...

A true and good read. I don't understand why so many Xtians envision their God as small, limited, and anthro/ethnocentric. All "He" cares about is the nitty gritty of our lives (like, if we're gay or something), and the rest of the Cosmos be damned! Real strange, that one.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Carl Sagan Blog-a-thon

Announcing the Carl Sagan memorial blog-a-thon

Dec 20th marks a decade that the great scientist Carl Sagan passed over to SummerIsle. To commemorate this event, Joel Schlosberg is hosting a Carl Sagan memorial blog-a-thon!

This is for you, Carl:

Carl Sagan made a huge difference in our world. His accomplishments run the gamut from obscure elements of planetary science, all the way to factors which influence the survival of our species. He inspired millions with his groundbreaking PBS series, Cosmos; he explained the wonders of the world through a number of best-selling books, and authored scientific publications and pieces for the popular press; he was always in the public eye, never dodging a chance to explain the universe through interviews, press conferences, and guest spots on television talk shows. With his friendly and oftentimes humorous approach, he rendered some of the most complex issues understandable to a scientifically tin-eared public.

Carl showed us the universe was remarkable and awe inspiring. It did not need the policing of superstitions to make it more wonderful. He taught us that we could be spiritual, even devoutly so, yet not be tied down to a dogmatic or archaic religion. In Cosmos, arguably one of the greatest science series ever produced, Carl spent considerable time delving into the history of science. We learned how badly intolerance impacted the well-being of civilization. What struck home for me was the brutal murder, in 415 AD, of the Alexandrian philosopher, Hypatia. By all accounts she was beautiful, and rose to intellectual stardom in a world dominated by men. She was targeted by an early Christian Church Archbishop, Cyril:

"In great personal danger, she continued to teach and publish, until, in the year 415, on her way to work, she was set upon by a fanatical mob of Cyril's parishioners. They dragged her from her chariot, tore off her clothes, and, armed with abalone shells, flayed her flesh from her bones. Her remains were burned, her works obliterated, her name forgotten. Cyril was made a saint."

Here is a prime example of empowered religious intolerance, gleefully stamping out beauty and intelligence. Carl points out that the 'new learning' was feared by early church founders, who considering such knowledge "Pagan" and in need of eradication. It was a revelation to learn, that during times of oppression, scientists were burned along with heretics and witches. How tragic that is! Can someone tell me if such fanatical oppressors have ever been right about anything?

Look at what's happening in the US and the world: scientists who study global warming are ridiculed; environmental regulations are cut back for short term financial gain; extinction advances on a near cataclysmic scale; the teaching of 'evolution', one the most beautiful and enlightening concepts ever revealed--the pillar of biology, and by extension all other sciences--suffers unrelenting attack from religions and political extremists. The very planet that birthed us, our 'Mother Earth", is unrelentingly being defiled.

Once again, Alexandria is poised to be ransacked and destroyed, our library burned. But now, not only do we have each other, we are armed to the teeth with the words and deeds of Carl Sagan. And if someone wants to lay a finger on Hypatia, it will be over our dead bodies!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Board of Edu Allows Kids to Read in Georgia

State to side with county on Harry Potter

You know, there's so many frightening varieties of Absolutist xtians to worry about. But the Laura Mallory flavor is particularly troubling. It's tragic that someone has a phobia about reading and thinking. You have to admit, going through life fearing one's own brain must really suck! But what could possibly posses someone to want to contaminate others with such a disease?

ATLANTA - It's still unknown if Harry Potter will ultimately prevail over Lord Voldemort, but it appears the well-known fictional wizard will remain in Gwinnett County schools. The state Board of Education voted Wednesday to include in its consent agenda a decision to sustain the Gwinnett County Board of Education's decision to keep the Harry Potter series in local school media centers. Loganville resident Laura Mallory...had argued the books in J.K. Rowling's best-selling series contain evil themes such as witchcraft...She also contended the books promote the Wicca religion...Gwinnett County school officials have said the books are good tools to encourage children to read and to spark creativity and imagination.

More great info @ Guntotingliberal

Actress Julia Roberts at peace with Spiders


This could be publicity agent hype, but would sure be nice if true. Charlotte can still work her magic.

"...I will actually try and be brave and steel myself and capture them in Tuppeware (containers) and get them out of the house..."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Eclecticism is a Good Thing!

Eclecticism In Wicca

Great article about the concept of science and eclecticism in Wicca:

All Wicca must be eclectic because it is a religion that is by nature both Gnostic and scientific – it is never enough for a Wiccan to accept statements about the nature of reality "on faith," and stop there, as is the rule in many non-Wiccan religions. The Wiccan practitioner, before accepting any belief, practice, code of conduct etc., must personally experience those concepts to hold true or be of value in reality. What does not work, what does not prove to be true in experience, must rightly be jettisoned...This style of eclecticism – which bears a striking resemblence to the scientific method, and is, in fact, western physical science's true spiritual counterpart – and the constant personal change and growth it engenders, is indicative of Wicca and any other truly living religious tradition...

Via Esra Free @ The Witch's Ground

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Geminid Meteor Shower

The best meteor shower of the year peaks this week on Dec. 13th and 14th.

In my area in the NE USA, looks like we might be rained out. :(

"It's the Geminid meteor shower," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, Alabama. "Start watching on Wednesday evening, Dec. 13th, around 9 p.m. local time," he advises.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Mystery Stone Head of New Paltz

The Bayer Stone Head: What is it?

I went to college in New Paltz, but I never heard of this thing! To me, the pics look like a re-worked natural stone, but who knows:

What face stares out from the nearly thirty-pound stone head found in the ground in 1932, in New Paltz, New York?...It was dug up by William Bayer at the age of 9 while he was helping dig a grave. As the young Bayer related the story to his son (who is David Chisholm’s friend) years later, he surmised it was at about four feet deep when he found it. There was no Indian mound involved.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Science wins in the UK

Ministers to ban creationist teaching aids in science lessons

It seems some flaky creationist organization called "Truth in Science" got the bright idea to peddle their propaganda in the British school system. They took it upon themselves to mail-out "information packs" to schools. Well, it looks like the Brits did not take to kindly too the effort:

...The government is to write to schools telling them that controversial teaching materials promoting creationism should not be used in science lessons. The packs include DVDs and written materials promoting intelligent design, a creationist alternative to Darwinism, that were sent to every school in the country by the privately-funded group Truth in Science...Last week, the Guardian revealed that 59 schools had told Truth in Science the materials were a "useful classroom resource...The government has already stated that the Truth in Science materials should not be used in science lessons. On November 1, the education minister, Jim Knight, wrote: "Neither intelligent design nor creationism are recognised scientific theories and they are not included in the science curriculum. The Truth in Science information pack is therefore not an appropriate resource to support the science curriculum."

Don't you love the mature way this was dealt with! Congrats to the people of the UK! No arguments, protests, fights, or flame wars, or other Theocon funded media stink. I only wish it were so simple in the USA. How 'bout that name "Truth in Science"! Isn't it hysterical how an org which knows nothing about "truth" and nothing about "science", puts the two terms together, thinking that legitimizes their silliness.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Famous Telescope Threatened

Future Dimming for Puerto Rico Telescope

The Arecibo Radio Telescope, which featured prominently in the Film Contact (based on the novel writen by Carl Sagan), and starring Jodie Foster as an astronomer, is facing crippling budget cutbacks.

"The whole world loses if funding is lost for Arecibo," said Lance Benner, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He uses the telescope to track near-earth asteroids. "We're a very inexpensive form of insurance for the whole planet." The telescope is so prized that astronomers let out a collective shudder in November when a review panel recommended the U.S. cut 25 percent of the observatory's $10.5 million astronomy budget next year and consider eliminating it entirely at the end of the decade. The panel suggested that the private sector or overseas institutions could pay part of Arecibo's costs..."

One plot element in the film concerned the actions of a crazed xtian fundamentalist who tries to sabotage our first contact with intelligent extraterrestrials. Once again, reality imitates art: Arecibo is engaged in SETI! Hopefully, with the new line-up in the US House and Senate, the funding of this beautiful telescope will be restored.

Interested in actually helping in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence? And have some spare computer power to donate? Check out SETI@Home, and soon you'll be joining others across the world in this remarkable quest.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Archeologists unearth fossil Misogynist!

Remains of St. Paul May Have Been Found

Vatican archeologists (?) say they have discovered the remains of the Apostle Paul. I just hope they don't pull the stake out of his heart! (Heh, apologies to my vampire friends.)

"Our objective was to bring the remains of the tomb back to light for devotional reasons, so that it could be venerated and be visible," said Giorgio Filippi, the Vatican archaeologist who headed the project at St. Paul Outside the Walls basilica..."

(Thanx to Wren's Nest @ Witchvox)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Sexually equality: Neanderthals were first!

Neanderthal Women Joined Men in the Hunt

There may not have been a sexual division of labor in Neanderthal culture.

"Unlike modern humans, who had developed a versatile division of labor between men and women, the entire Neanderthal population seems to have been engaged in a single main occupation, the hunting of large game..."

Original article in Current Anthropology

Monday, December 4, 2006

Church severs tie with branch over pagans

The Gathering chastised for getting too close to witches

I guess the Foursquare Evangelical Church thought Paster Phil Wyman's Pagan outreach efforts were a little too much in the 'going native' department:

"...The trouble began two years ago, Wyman said, when he inadvertently posed for a photo on the Essex Street pedestrian mall with a woman calling herself the “Countess Bathoria,” who had stirred up controversy by appearing in a promotional poster for a vampire ball wearing a bikini and covered in blood. She was being paraded around by two local witches that day when Wyman said he went over to greet them and was photographed as he bent down to kiss the woman’s ring...The photo made its way to the Web site of a local pagan event, The Festival of the Dead, and was seen months later by church leaders, Wyman said..."

Thanx to Angeleternyti for this one.

Cosmology and the Kabbalah

The creation of the universe became clearer this year

Discussion of the book, Let There Be Light: Modern Cosmology and Kabbalah, a New Conversation Between Science and Religion.

"Meaning conveys ethical imperatives, and there is a long tradition of deriving moral lessons from cosmology...The ethical issues are clearest in issues where politics pits science against religion - stem-cell research, the teaching of evolution, or research into the origins of human nature, for instance. Cosmology and Kabbalah illustrate that science and religion, presupposed opposites, speak to the same mysteries. Their perspectives, while different, are not necessarily contradictory. Both science and religion assure us of progress, but remind us of ignorance..."

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Pentacle Quest: The Right Wing Meltdown

American's United for Separation of Church and State is an organization I am proud to be a member of! Their e-zine (and print zine) has two excellent articles relevant to witches and scientists everywhere:

Right-Wing Meltdown

"The tone of the evening was set early...Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), the number three man in the Senate and a great champion of Religious Right causes, was soundly beaten... Religious Right-backed candidates in Ohio, Missouri, Florida and other states were soon to follow....A slate of candidates who favor teaching evolution in public schools won election to the Ohio Board of Education, after being endorsed by a pro-science group. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer put it, 'Ohio's scientists laid down their test tubes and flexed some political muscle Tuesday as four pro-evolution candidates they backed were on their way to capturing or retaining seats on the state Board of Education.'"

Pentacle Quest:Americans United Brings legal Action To Halt Discrimination Against Wiccans By Veterans Administration:

The fight of war widow Roberta Stewart has received a good deal of deserved coverage. There's been a concerted effort by the Religious Right to rid the US military of again and Wiccan influences. Mrs Stewart says: "I have had reporters and friends ask me why I continue to be prominently involved in this battle, now that I have indication that I'll receive the proper marker," Stewart said. "I choose to stay on the forefront for humankind, for America and the Constitution of the United States."

The State of Nevada agrees Stewart should have her marker. This Saturday (12/2/06), an interfaith ceremony commemorating the placement of the marker and sacrifice of Patrick Stewart will take place.

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Insect Wars

An Entomologist's plea: Governor, save that tree!

Grrr! A scientist figures out an ecologically friendly way to battle an insect invasion, yet a Republican Governor does everything he can to screw things up. Why am I not surprised?

"A species of moth is destroying trees in the Northeast US. Joseph Elkinton, professor of entomology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, says he has the solution but no money. Elkinton breeds the moth's nemesis, Cyzenis albicans, a parasitic fly that has quelled similar infestations in Nova Scotia and British Columbia. Cyzenis eats the caterpillars from the inside out. In June, the Legislature passed a $150,000 initiative to fund a large-scale release of the flies. Governor Mitt Romney vetoed the measure, but the Legislature overrode his veto. Then earlier this month Romney used his emergency spending powers to again slash the funding as part of a $425 million budget cut..."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New and amazing findings about Antikythera Computer!

Early Astronomical 'Computer' Found to Be Technically Complex

"The instrument, the Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world's first computer, has now been examined with the latest in high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography...their findings showed that the inscriptions related to lunar-solar motions, and the gears were a representation of the irregularities of the Moon's orbital course, as theorized by the astronomer Hipparchos. They established the date of the mechanism at 150-100 B.C. The Roman ship carrying the artifacts sank off the island of Antikythera about 65 B.C...The researchers said that Hipparchos...might have had a hand in designing the device..."

UPDATE:Great pics!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It was upon a Lammas night...

...when the corn rigs were Nessie!

The Lock Ness Monster is a better-known Scot than Robert Burns or Sean Connery, according to a survey.

"More than 2,000 adults across the UK were asked to say who they believed to be Scotland's most famous figure. Poet Burns came second place in the poll, actor Connery was third and Robert the Bruce was fourth. The Loch Ness Monster took almost a third of the votes in the survey, which was commissioned by Crabbies Green Ginger Wine."

Green Ginger Wine? Yum! Sounds great for a fall/winter Sabbath. Here's the list of Top Scots:

1 Loch Ness Monster 29%
2 Robert Burns 27%
3 Sean Connery 12%
4 Robert the Bruce 9%
5 William Wallace 7.5%
6 Robbie Coltrane 6%
7 Billy Connolly 4%
8 Lorraine Kelly 2.5%
9 Ewan McGregor 2%
10 Lulu 1%,

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let's sing XTC's 'Dear God' this Yule!

The 17 Books I Read Along The Way

Actress Julia Sweeney's blog features a excellent list of her 17 favorite religious books. Most are scathing critiques of the Judeo-Christian interpretation of "God". I feel books like these should be embraced by Wicca, as a healthy dose of skepticism is a always a good thing. Not only that, but such clear thinking helps our evolving spirituality avoid some of the devastating pitfalls of Monotheism. Several also serve as good rebuttals to the disingenuous idiocy of Intelligent Design and Creationism.

I can't think of better stocking stuffers this Yule, especially if you have any faith obsessed friends or family members. My favorite on the list is Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan's "The Demon Haunted World, Science as a Candle In The Dark". Sweeney mentions the chapter 'Real Patriots Ask Questions'. Isn't it amazing how prescient the scientist authors were!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Save the Aussie Lungfish!

The Australian Lungfish is one of the world's most remarkable animals. It has survived for 100 million year, yet is considered threatened by habitat destruction. There is a budding movement afoot to save this unique and beautiful animal.

You can sign the online petition.

A great article and interview from ABC-AU.

Josh Larson's page has many links and contacts.

PZ Myer's excellent Pharyngula has more information

Sunday, November 26, 2006

To see God in the Eye of a Fly...

Well, not a fly, but maybe an ant! Amazing pics of ant heads from an entomologist. Check out his web page concerning his research on the always facinating Army ants:

"Research on the relationship between biological diversity and environmental change is directly applicable to conservation and provides a background against which human influence on the environment can be evaluated...In its most general sense, my research seeks to elucidate the forces that shape and organize invertebrate communities... In particular, I have selected ants for the focus of my research..."

For any budding EO Wilson fans out there, the link section is great!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Better than Vacationing in the Forbidden Zone

Dr Zaius Nation: Some Apes Are More Equal Than Others

If given a choice, what seminal character from Science Fiction would you like to have a beer with? For me, it's simple: Dr. Zaius!

Damn Hippies! is perhaps the best take on the Antediluvian "BAWL" editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader, first exposed over at CrooksandLiars. Hmmm, Buddha-Allah-Wicca-Lenin...nice to know we are in such good company.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Witchy Thanksgiving

The Nina, The Pinta and The Religious Right:
A Misguided Voyage To Rediscover The Christian Nation.

Wren, over at Witchvox, has part one of an excellent article. Nothing is more incredible and fascinating than the truth. Looking forward to part two.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Neanderthal DNA secrets

Neanderthal DNA secrets unlocked

It's cool that long lost cousins the Neanderthals are back in the news. There have been a number of great scientific papers and articles in the MSM. The big question these days seems to be if we crossbred with them or not. When did our lines diverge? Are they alive today through our genes?

"A genetic breakthrough could help clear up some long-standing mysteries surrounding our closest evolutionary relatives: the Neanderthals... Studying the Neanderthal genome will shed light on the genetic changes that made our species what it is, after the evolutionary lineage of Neanderthals and modern humans diverged from one another...It could also reveal what colour hair, eyes and skin Neanderthals had, whether they were capable of modern speech, shed light on aspects of their brain function and determine whether they contributed to the modern human gene pool."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Teaching God and Evolution

Thank God for Evolution

There should be more workshops like this:

Washingtonville —The Rev. Michael Dowd and his wife, Connie Barlow, will present a free workshop, “Thank God for Evolution! How Science and Religion Are Spurring Each Other to Greatness,” at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday Nov. 19, at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, 175 East Main St., Washingtonville.

(Kudos to Darksyde over at Kos for this)

Gradual Evolution in Kansas

Pro-evolution standards could take months

Two new State Board of Education members take office Jan. 8, ending a conservative GOP majority and giving control to a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans. That makes a return to standards treating evolution as well-grounded science - not a flawed theory - seem inevitable...

Energy Dark Energy in the Young Universe

NASA's Hubble Finds Evidence for Dark Energy in the Young Universe

Einstein is right again!

Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that dark energy is not a new constituent of space, but rather has been present for most of the universe's history. Dark energy is a mysterious repulsive force that causes the universe to expand at an increasing rate.

Investigators used Hubble to find that dark energy was already boosting the expansion rate of the universe as long as nine billion years ago. This picture of dark energy is consistent with Albert Einstein's prediction of nearly a century ago that a repulsive form of gravity emanates from empty space.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Welcome all Witches and Scientists

During the Burning Times, scientists were persecuted along with those who practiced the "Old Religion". Fanatics viewed anyone different as being in league with "Satan".

How we act, treat each other, and treat the earth, defines our spirituality. What a modern NeoPagan actually does in life is more important than what they believe. We are not obsessed with the minutia of doctrine or slavish adherence to ceremony. Many Wiccans and Neo Pagans embrace science, and have a strong interest in the natural world. This is only natural, as the cycles of nature figure so prominently in their spirituality. Wiccans have no problem with Darwin, or understanding the facts about the devastating effects of Global Warming.

In fact, the denial of such knowledge is seen as a direct attack on the Goddess (aka: Mother Nature). Modern fanatics (some call them Absolutists, Dominionists, Authoritarians, or Theocons) target such people as "tree huggers" with their special brand of hate. Conservative radio personalities demonize as 'feminazis' those who embrace the Goddess. I'm reminded of a quote from Margot Adler's landmark book, Drawing Down The Moon, "life celebration is always a threat to those bent on destruction."