Friday, February 29, 2008

Hand of Homeland Security snares Wiccan

Athame's, Airlines and California State Law

Lydia Crabtree was coming home from a NeoPagan convention had a nasty experience why passing through the airport:

...As I waited for my luggage to pass through, I am approached by a TSA agent who asks if I have anything metal in my suitcase. I said, "Not that I can think of." He unzipped my bag and I got a glimpse of my ritual box, my heart sank. From my box he pulls out my athame looking at it with surprise and curiosity...

When Lydia tries to explain what the dagger is for, she's in for some real fun. She says the item is for ritual purposes. She tries to explain what Wicca is:

"...Wicca. It is a federally recognized religion. I just came from a convention with over 3,000 others who have a similar belief system as I do and more than likely travel with their athames."

The response from our patriotic TSA employee:

"...We will be looking for them then and they will be detained too...

Check out the link above and read the whole story.

Thrilling Radar Maps of the Moon

New Radar Maps of the Moon


"...We now know the south pole has peaks as high as Mt. McKinley and crater floors four times deeper than the Grand Canyon," says Doug Cooke, deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters...

Check out the above link for some great images:

"...I have not been to the Moon, but this imagery is the next best thing," says Scott Hensley, a scientist at JPL and lead investigator for the study. "With these data we can see terrain features as small as a house without even leaving the office."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Make'em pay!

School Board to Pay in Jesus Prayer Suit

Nothing hurts a fundamentalist packed school board more than having to pay for their endless bible thumping:

...A Delaware school district has agreed to revise its policies on religion as part of a settlement with two Jewish families who had sued over the pervasiveness of Christian prayer and other religious activities in the schools...

It all started when a local Jewish family got fed-up of having to listen fire & brimstone toned prayers at just about every school board or town meeting. The breaking point came for Mona Dobrich at her daughter Samantha's graduation, when a preacher proclaimed the only way to salvation was through Jesus. Mona asked the school board if maybe some less strident and exclusionary prayers might be in order. Community reaction was swift--and typically Xtain:

...As news of the request spread...Anger spilled onto talk radio, in letters to the editor and at school board meetings attended by hundreds of people carrying signs praising Jesus...

Ah, such heart-warming displays of Lamb-O-God mercy. But news of the recent settlement has rekindled the effort to bring back the BurningTimes:

...On local blogs, the anger many people felt toward the families for protesting Christian prayer at school events has flared anew...Mona Dobrich...said such a furious reaction had exacted a profound toll on her family and might indicate that the settlement would alter little on the ground...

In the face of threats, the family has had to flee. So mote it be.

Let's form "a Wicca"

Rumors of 'big war' spur police response

I don't mean to make fun of this, as I know threats of school violence must be taken seriously, but this is too weird:

...Detectives...determined a student had allegedly said a "big war" would occur. They also learned that a group of students had allegedly formed what they referred to as a "Wicca" and had carried out "certain ritualistic ceremonies that included self-mutilation of their arms and legs,"...

Yup. That's what we call it: all us Pagans are forming 'a Wicca'. As soon as our 'Wicca' is formed, the first thing we do is cut ourselves to ribbons. If nobody is cool enuf to cut me, I'll cut myself! The God and Goddess will be so proud of me! Now, here's the punch line:

...Sheriff's deputies and Farmerville police were equipped with a K-9 unit and searched the entire building, locating only a box-cutter in the possession of a female student...Buckley said the girl was arrested, and that incident was not related to the threats...

Not related! Every Pagan knows your trusty box-cutter is your most sacred ritual too! The initiated know them as 'athames'.

...A number of students were interviewed on Monday, and officials learned two students had expressed thoughts of suicide...they were referred to the Union Parish Coroner's Office and hospitalized pending a mental evaluation...

I'm sure electro-shock is on the agenda for them. If I was trapped in the school district of Union Parish, I'd also contemplate suicide.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Religion in America

Poll Finds a Fluid Religious Life in U.S.
Amazing survey of the religious attitudes of Americans, conducted by Pew. According to Michael Lindsay, of the Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life at Rice University:

“...Religion is the single most important factor that drives American belief attitudes and behaviors...It is a powerful indicator of where America will end up on politics, culture, family life. If you want to understand America, you have to understand religion in America...”

That's a remarkable statement. One interesting fact is the rise of people who consider themselves 'unaffiliated'. However:

...The rise of the unaffiliated does not, however, mean that Americans are becoming less religious. Contrary to assumptions that most of the unaffiliated are atheists or agnostics, most described their religion “as nothing in particular...”

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sorry, been sic and away a bit...

I just want to let my friends know I've been super busy lately, an that's why I've fallen behind in posting. Also, I caught the darn flu...seems I'm one of the 60% who got no protection from the flu shot! Anyway:

Had a great Esbat where we got to see the Lunar Eclipse, using my Astroscan. It was fun getting people outside (even thought it was very cold) after the ritual to check-out the moon through my telescope. Science and Wicca do indeed mix! :)

Had some progress on getting a couple of Atheists to attend a ritual or sabbat! A partner of one of our members knows an Atheist couple and they've expressed an interest in at least seeing WIITWD. How exciting!

I recently had my Dedication ritual. This was my first one. Wow! As things are panning out, it looks like I might be initiated into the Coven sometime soon. I'm very flattered about the whole thing. As I started out as a Solitary, I never really pictured myself doing coven work. But I am lucky in that I met a real cool bunch of people. Isis and the Dark Goddess have been very good to me, and I am lucky to have found such a great High Priestess who always encourages me, challenges me, and is tolerant of the times I screw-up. In addition, our little group here in the New Paltz area has some great people--getting to know them and do ritual with them has been a fantastic experience.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beelzebufo: The Frog From Hell

Ancient frog was as big as a bowling ball

...A frog the size of a bowling ball, with heavy armor and teeth, lived among dinosaurs millions of years ago -- intimidating enough that scientists who unearthed its fossils dubbed the beast Beelzebufo, or Devil Toad...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hatshepsut's Honor Guard

Spanish team unearths a unique find in Luxor on excavations in the necropolis of Ancient Thebes

Archeologists unearthed the tomb of a high ranking official from the Court of Queen Hatshepsut:

...A team led by a Spanish archaeologist has discovered the burial chamber of an Egyptian warrior who died four thousand years ago...the excavation site is at Dra’ Abu el-Naga, where the team’s investigations are centred on the tombs of Djehuty and Hery, two high-ranking dignitaries of the court of Hatshepsut...The tomb discovered in the necropolis is that of Iqer, whose name was found inscribed on the wooden coffin which contained his mummified body. His name means ‘the excellent,’...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Billions and Billions of Stamps

Proposed Carl Sagan commemorative stamps unveiled at Ithaca Sciencenter

Gracing our snail mail with the image of the Great Astronomer just might speed things along:

...A movement to immortalize famed Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan with a U.S. postage stamp was launched Feb. 11 for local media at the Ithaca Sciencenter...Patrick Fish, founder of the Utica-based grassroots Sagan Appreciation Society, and Charles Trautmann, executive director of the Sciencenter, unveiled four renderings by three artists or artist teams of proposed Sagan memorial stamps that the society plans to submit to the U.S. Postal Service for commissioning...

All three renderings are wonderful. The one above is my favorite, submitted by Pat Linse of California. I like the fact he's holding a candle, signifying a theme he returned to often: a candle in the dark as a symbol of science and reason holding back the darkness of a demon haunted world. He is also dressed in his characteristic turtleneck and jacket, so familiar to fans of the 'Cosmos' series. In addition, at least in my mind, the comet and observatory in the background speaks to history and archeology, subjects he loved to explore. And the way the candle illuminates his face grants a overall transcendental quality to the image. I think this image would delight someone who use to light up a bowl from time to time.

Greg Mort's submission also has a lot going for it. It's a simple pic of Carl outside in the evening, the Cosmos holding court above him. He has a friendly expression and seems caught in mid sentence, as if is taking you into his confidence, about to explain some impossibly complicated astronomical concept--in the simplest and most easiest to understand manner. Even though it is cold and dark, you are glad you came outside with the astronomer, for some secret of the uncharted universe is to be revealed. He has on his turtleneck, but is protected from the chilly night by a windbreaker.

The submission by Lisa Hutter and Chris Fix shows Carl later in life, his hair gray. He has a suit on and is smiling. Behind him are depictions of the planets. As Carl was a planetary scientist, this is certainly appropriate. Although my first impression of this image was that it was a bit stilted, Carl has such a big smile on his face it sort of won me over.

Please check out the images for yourself.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Giant Freshwater Shrimp of Jamaica

In Remote Valley, a Grim Redefinition of ‘Fishing’

I had no idea there were 'lobster size' freshwater shrimp inhabiting remote streams in Jamaica. Unfortunately, greed has reared it's ugly head to cause ecological destruction: the Blue Mountains and John Crow Mountains here, people go fishing by dumping poison in the Rio Grande. Any toxin will do. Some favor the pesticide used to keep insects off the coffee plants. Others use the potent solution used to rid cows of ticks. When subjected to the poison, the shrimp — large and small — float right to the top. So do the fish. Catching them is as easy as scooping them up before the river washes them and the poison away...

Monday, February 4, 2008

Insult to Witches the World Over

Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "Liberal Bias in the media" makes me seem Witchy

"...It's bizarre. People are, like, she must be witchy. I think it's the liberal bias in the media that I'm the one who's argumentative..."

What an A-hole.