Friday, March 28, 2008

Hypatia: The Movie

Hypatia Comes to the Screen

Article over by Jason over at Wild Hunt about the upcoming movie about the female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria:

...This film, more than any other recent film set during the classical period, will be closely watched by modern Pagans (especially Hellenic reconstructionists). Many of whom consider Hypatia to be one of the primary martyrs of pre-Christian pagan religion...

Many of us were first enlightened about Hypatia by Carl Sagan in his series Cosmos. The movie is being handled by a good director who is passionate about the material, so there's a good chance this will turn out well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Goodnight, Arthur C. Clarke

Science fiction author Arthur C Clarke dies aged 90
...Science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died aged 90 in his adopted home of Sri Lanka, it was confirmed tonight...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jason and the Argonauts

WINE, WORSHIP AND SACRIFICE: The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani

Of course, the story of Jason and the Argonauts has some basis in fact:

...Ancient Greeks did sail across the sea — the Black Sea — to Colchis (modern-day Georgia), a land rich in gold and other precious metals. It seems the Colchians had a technique, involving sheepskins, for extracting gold dust from running water — hence, the Golden Fleece...

You'll learn even more about Colchis if you visit the exhibt at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, at 15 East 84th Street, in Manhattan:

...In two small galleries the exhibition presents more than 100 objects unearthed on the site of Vani, a major Colchian city founded in the eighth century B.C. There is beautiful, intricate gold jewelry that once adorned the bodies of luminaries in their graves, where they were buried with many possessions, including slaves and pets. Wine vessels were commonly found in graves, too, as wine production and consumption were central to the Colchian economy...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Big win for Cosmologist-Priest

Priest-Cosmologist Wins $1.6 Million Templeton Prize

Here's something that must be pissing off the "A" crowd:

...The $1.6 million Templeton Prize, the richest award made to an individual by a philanthropic organization, was given Wednesday to Michael Heller, 72, a Roman Catholic priest, cosmologist and philosopher who has spent his life asking, and perhaps more impressively answering, questions like “Does the universe need to have a cause?”

I hear a collective grown over at Sciencblogs, heh:

...Michael Heller, 72, winner of this year’s prize. He says science and religion “are prerequisites of the decent existence...”

Well said. I like the concept of 'decent existence'. That's something to live up to. I wish more people were like this man. He is one of a growing number of science positive thinkers who are also deeply spiritual:

...Much of Professor Heller’s career has been dedicated to reconciling the known scientific world with the unknowable dimensions of God. Professor Heller said he believed, for example, that the religious objection to teaching evolution “is one of the greatest misunderstandings” because it “introduces a contradiction or opposition between God and chance.” In a telephone interview, Professor Heller explained his affinity for the two fields: “I always wanted to do the most important things, and what can be more important than science and religion? Science gives us knowledge, and religion gives us meaning. Both are prerequisites of the decent existence...”

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Bringing nature home

To Feed the Birds, First Feed the Bugs

A couple's attempt at planting a garden that is attractive to wildlife:

“...I’m not trying to recreate the ancient ecosystem,” said Mr. Tallamy, who is chairman of the department of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, in Newark, Del., 15 miles southeast of here. “That is gone. I’m trying to create biodiversity...”

It seems the real secret is providing habitat and food plants for a variety of insects:

“...I went to take this black cherry out and there were 13 tiger swallowtail larvae on it,” he said...“Anybody else would pull this out, but see this?” he asked, pointing to a drab little remnant of a leaf that some young larva had fashioned into a winter home. “That’s a little hybernaculum for the red-spotted purple, which is a butterfly that people want in their gardens...”

...Almost all North American birds other than seabirds — 96 percent — feed their young with insects, which contain more protein than beef, he writes. So the message is loud and clear: gardeners could slow the rate of extinction by planting natives in their yards. In the northeast, a patch of violets will feed fritillary caterpillars. A patch of phlox could support eight species of butterflies. The buttonbush shrub, which has little white flowers, feeds 18 species of butterflies and moths; and blueberry bushes, which support 288 species of moths and butterflies, thrive in big pots on a terrace. (Appropriate species for other regions are listed by local native plant societies.)...

What a great project for all us Green Wiccans! The book, by Mr. Tallamy, is called “Bringing Nature Home” (Timber Press, $27.95). It will be published in November.

“Take that, you dang heathens!”

District to Settle Bible Suit

Stealth religious indoctrination, in the form of bible study classes for high school students, just got torpedoed in Texas. I suppose the fact “the story of the creation, the life of Noah and his ark,” were treated as accurate history might have had something to do with it:

...A West Texas school district has agreed to change the curriculum for a high school course on the Bible to settle a lawsuit that said it amounted to religious indoctrination...The federal suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the People for the American Way Foundation on behalf of eight parents in the Odessa area. It argued that the course curriculum, adopted in 2005 by the Ector County Independent School District, promoted Protestant Christianity and a specific reading of the Bible as a literal historical document...

Now, here comes the punch line:

...When the Ector County district approved the council’s curriculum, the suit said, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, Shannon Baker, celebrated the decision in an e-mail message, which read in part, “Take that, you dang heathens!”

Way to go, Shannon! Thanx for letting the world in on your Dominionist agenda.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Didge virtuoso Alan Dargin dies

Singing home soul of the didgeridoo

If you play (or even just love) the didge, you've heard of Alan Dargin. Alan died Sunday in hospital from complications of a stroke. He was only 40:

...For more than 20 years, Dargin and his stick, as he called his yirdaki or didgeridoo, were fixtures at Circular Quay, where he was one of Sydney's best-known buskers. But his fame, and the rock'n'roll sensibility he brought to the most ancient of Aboriginal musical instruments, spread much further. Over the years, Dargin had played at festivals, clubs and concert halls around the world, from London's Royal Albert Hall to New York, Paris and outback stations...Hours later, a symphony of didgeridoo players "sang" Dargin's spirit back to his tribal homeland in Arnhem Land, a tearful crowd clapping in time to the clapsticks.

Above is a pic of my didge, "Taproot Dreaming". Every player knows you have to play your didge often often to give life to the spirit that lives inside it. Here's a few of my meager toots for you, Alan...