Thursday, July 31, 2008

Celebrate Pagan Tattoos

Livia Indica, of MagicHills, has a companion blog called NeoPagan Ink. From her new blog:

...I love tattoos! And so do a lot of my fellow NeoPagans. But, for some reason, I've always had a hard time finding pagan-specific tattoo art online. So I started a new project. This blog is a place for NeoPagans of all kinds to show off their ink. Tattoos with pagan-specific themes are welcome as are any kind of tattoos you have on your NeoPagan body. Feel free to also submit images of your piercings, brandings, scarifications or other body mod art. To submit your images, and a little background about your art, please email me at:

I'm happy to report that Livia has posted a pic of my beetle tattoo! Thanx, Livia.

Hands off the Astrolabe!

British Museum buys medieval astronomy tool

A mere toy when compared to the Greek Antkythera Mechanism:

...LONDON - A rare astronomy tool that helped medieval scientists tell time will remain in Britain after the British Museum scrambled to come up with the money to buy it. The brass device, called an astrolabe quadrant, had been sold at auction last year, and the museum was outbid. But money from the National Heritage Memorial fund, The Art Fund and the British Museum Friends helped the museum purchase it recently for 350,000 pounds ($700,000)...

But seriously, it's sad that museums have to scramble to scrape up funds to preserve national treasures. Astrolabes were a critical tool in astronomy and astrology. A similar situation is happening at the world's libraries. Over at Wildhunt, there's an interesting post about the possible breakup of an occult book collection:

"...A remarkable collection of rare and ancient volumes on the arts of magic and summoning ghosts could be broken up and sold off due to a funding crisis. The Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, based at the University of London, is the UK's largest of its kind ...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Antkythera Mechanism keeps rocking

Discovering How Greeks Computed In 100 B.C.

More and more is being deciphered about the amazing 'Antkythera Mechanism':

...After a closer examination of a surviving marvel of ancient Greek technology known as the Antikythera Mechanism, scientists have found that the device not only predicted solar eclipses but also organized the calendar in the four-year cycles of the Olympiad, forerunner of the modern Olympic Games...Only now, applying high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography, have experts been able to decipher inscriptions and reconstruct functions of the bronze gears on the mechanism. The latest research has revealed details of dials on the instrument’s back side, including the names of all 12 months of an ancient calendar...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vigil for Victims of Knoxville Shooting (Updated)

Yvonne says:

...If anyone wants to send condolences, you can do so at this special blog set up by the Unitarian Universalist Association...

Thanx, Yvonne. People from across the spiritual spectrum are holding vigils. Our coven will be participating this weekend. Check the UUA link above for more information and find out ways to help.

(Update--There's now a relief fund setup for the victims: Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Association Launches Relief Fund. Thanx again, Yvonne.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Attack on Unitarian Universalist Church, two dead.

Man Charged in attack at church

Deranged man enters Unitarian Universalist church with shotgun, kills two people:

...An unemployed man accused of opening fire with a shotgun and killing two people at a Unitarian Universalist church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its support of liberal social policies, police said Monday...

Yup, police found a note in the guy's vehicle, mentioning his hatred of progressive values. From the article:

...The Unitarian-Universalist church promotes progressive social work, including advocacy of women and gay rights. The Knoxville congregation also has provided sanctuary for political refugees, fed the homeless and founded a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, according to its Web site...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Mummy

New DVDs: ‘Vampyr’ and ‘The Mummy’

I recenlty read a brief review of the original 1933 version of "The Mummy", starring Boris Karlof. I have the blank version of the film, but another print is being release in conjunction with the newest mummy movie.

Critics are certainly welcome to their opinions. But the review makes some statements that I think should be challenged. First off:

...there are no sinuous camera moves...Rather, the film is characterized by the stillness within its vertically composed images and the studied stiffness of the performances, particularly that of Karloff, who holds himself ramrod straight, barely moving a muscle of his body or his face, which is covered in a network of narrow wrinkles..."

On the contrary, there's some inspired camera work. The scene near the beginning where the just discovered box containing 'The Scroll of Thoth" is opened is particularly memorable. In regards to Karlof's "stiffness", is he not 'of the living dead'? In "The Mummy", the character of Im-Ho-Tep wields his power through mastery of Egyptian magic and mysticism. Although immortal and able to magically effect those around him, he is a fragile being, kept alive through a curse and by his own will. People fear him, not because of his physical prowess, but because he can control--even kill--by thoughts and words alone.

But then the reviewer makes this comment:

... Disguised as a wealthy Egyptian aristocrat, he is in fact Im-Ho-Tep, a priest of Isis executed 3,600 years ago for daring to love a temple virgin...

Well, that's factually wrong. In the movie, Karlof's Im-Ho-Tep was a High Priest of Anubis, not Isis. It was the female lead, Im-Ho-Tep's love interest (in the played effectively by Zita Johann) who was a High Priestess of Isis. As far as I recall, the status of her maidenhood was never explored.

Btw, Zita Johann was an inspired choice for the roll of Anks-En-Amon/Helen Grosvner. According to the commentary, she practiced spiritualism. Someone even states that she 'cast circles'! However, I cannot find any independent confirmation of that.

I have the Universal "Legacy Collection" for 'The Mummy'. It's excellent and has good commentary. Sadly, the sequels Universal dreamed-up in the 40's, and included in the 'The Legacy' collection, were rather piss-poor. They didn't advance the story and the mummy devolves into a hulking murderer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Invite the Bees II

In my post "Invite the Bees", I discussed making a simple beehive for solitary bees. I hobbled together such a beehive from pieces of scrap 2x4's. 4 wood screws hold the three pieces together nicely.

As recommended by the Xerces society, I drilled holes of several diameters, as different species tend to be fussy concerning the size hole they choose for depositing their eggs. Each species seems to prefer different materials for sealing up the nests once eggs are deposited, such as wax, mud, or plant material.

That is born out by the bees that found a home in my hive! Yes, I have bees!

Here is a pic of my do-it-yourself hive:

A close-up of some of the holes:

In the upper left, you see one hole filled with a brownish material. You also see that in the hole in the extreme lower right. At first, this substance was green, appearing to be chewed-up plant material, but over time, it turned brown. Underneath that hole, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th are plugged with a waxy polymer sort of substance. The 3 holes starting from the upper right are plugged with mud. If you look carefully, you'll see the 3rd hole has a tiny opening. Bees have natured their and burrowed out.

When I first placed my hive up, it was shaded under a bush. No bees came. After giving it a couple of weeks, I moved the hive to my porch. There it got a couple of hours of sun, face on. Within just a few days, bees showed-up.

I know you can buy these things pre-made. But all I've seen only have holes of one size, so you will be only attracting bees which prefer that size. You'll be helping bees, which have been under a lot of stress lately. If you have children, have young friends, or are a teacher, this is a great way to encourage and interest in science and entomology.

Few things bring one closer to the Goddess and God, than the study of insects.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Only when the clock strikes 13..."

Don't drink and practice wicca

Someone please tell me this is not true:

"...Gunther told police that she and several friends were in Oak Hill cemetery in Lebanon around 12:15 a.m. practicing a Wiccan ritual involving candles, incense and driving swords into the earth during the full moon. During this ritual, Gunther accidentally ran the sword through her foot; she also admitted to having consumed alcohol earlier in the evening...

Hysterical. Booze, graveyards, swords, and Wicca! Was this a ritual or someone's idea of re-staging "Horror Hotel"? Goddess, you instruct us all.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Frankincense: It's what's good for you

Frankincense and Mirth

Many ancient cultures knew of the healing and spiritual benefits of Frankincense. There's now tentative scientific confirmation of the healing power of this remarkable tree resin.

...Pharmacologists in Israel have found that frankincense... relieves anxiety and depression, at least in mice...researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and elsewhere report that the active ingredient in frankincense lights up brain receptors that play a role in the perception of warmth on the skin and might help...

Many of us use frankincense (often combined with other ingredients) in our rituals and magic. I fondly remember buying my first sizable quantity of frankincense (and myrrh) from Enchantments in NYC; when I made my request of the proprietor, he instantly pronounced me a 'frankincense and myrrh man'. He was right:

...spiritual adepts greeted the news with knowing nods...“I’m not surprised,” Stacy Rapp and Cat Cabral said in unison last Friday behind the cluttered apothecary counter at Enchantments, an occult supply shop in the East Village...“Any kind of magic you’re doing,” Ms. Cabral said, “frankincense would be great for...happiness, or success, or attention, even.” Ms. Rapp, the store’s owner...noted that frankincense is also a “solar scent” and therefore linked to joy and to life-giving forces...

Some researchers are questioning the studies findings, as mice are certainly not a perfect analogies for humans. But one of the studies co-authors is Rapheal Mechoulam, who has considerable clout in the field of psychoactive substances, as he's one of the people who discovered the active ingredient of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol. Dr. Mechoulam defends his study:

“...There is a complete parallelism between this test and human tests in other drugs,” Dr. Mechoulam said. “Valium will do exactly the same...”

Wow! Frankincense is as good as valium! I nearly just fell over on the dash to the censor. But not everyone like the incense. Ms. Rapp of Enchantments said:

" makes me think of church, which is not a good association...”

How true. Last year I burned a little at a Christmas party. The people who hosted the party had their place done-up in typical seasonal fashion. Just about everyone seemed of an earthy, older hippie persuasion. Of course, I asked if it was OK to light some up. After a few minutes, a couple people there were completely freaking out. I'm talking shear panic. Turns out a big chunk of the people there were hard-core Atheists. One said the smell reminded them of church, which caused a holiday bunch of "not good association" to descend on the crowd. I brought the censor outside.

A few days later, I went to another Christmas party. This one was hosted by a friend of mine who happens to be very politically conservative. (For example, car of the fellow hosting the party sported 'GW' and "NRA" bumperstickers.) Most of the crowd lean to my friends persuasion. Playing guitar at the gathering was a local Xtain pastor. I could not resist, and struck up a coal and plopped on some frankincense and myrrh. The scent generated immediate interest, people asking what it was. Everyone seemed to like it. When the pastor got a good whiff, he asked "Is that what I think it is?" I told him, and he jokingly asked "So where's the gold leaf?"

I'm fascinated by the two different reactions. Here's a direct link to the abstract for the paper: "Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain".

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is "Darwinism" a bad word?

Let’s Get Rid of Darwinism

Charles Darwin's name is right up there with the other giants of science, like Newton and Galileo. He is such a scientific super-star, the term "Darwinism" is often substituted for the means of evolution, "natural selection", described by Darwin. In fact, in the popular press, the entire field of evolutionary science is often simply termed "Darwinism". In "Let's Get Rid of Darwinism", NYTimes blogger Olivia Judson suggests that Darwin's fame and intimate association with evolution may be causing problems for the advancement of the field and it's understanding by the general public. Darwin's fame, it seems, comes with a price:

...But his giantism has had an odd and problematic consequence. It’s a tendency for everyone to refer back to him. “Why Darwin was wrong about X”; “Was Darwin wrong about Y?”; “What Darwin didn’t know about Z” — these are common headlines in newspapers and magazines, in both the biological and the general literature. Then there are the words: Darwinism (sometimes used with the prefix “neo”), Darwinist , Darwinian....

...Why is this a problem? Because it’s all grossly misleading. It suggests that Darwin was the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, of evolutionary biology...

...He wasn’t, and it has. Although several of his ideas — natural and sexual selection among them — remain cornerstones of modern evolutionary biology, the field as a whole has been transformed...

The author brings up a number of recent discoveries in evolutionary science, all of which were unknown to Darwin, such as the concepts advocated by EO Wilson:

...natural selection does not just shape individuals — It can also act on family groups, and thus drive the evolution of cooperation and other altruistic behaviors...But because individuals have some genes in common with their family members, they can make an indirect genetic contribution if they help their relations to reproduce instead of reproducing themselves. Such “kin selection” is thought to have contributed to the evolution of the social insects — especially, ants, bees, wasps and termites — where only a few individuals reproduce and everyone else looks after the offspring...

Because the field of evolution is currently so diverse, the author has a suggestion:

...I’d like to abolish the insidious terms Darwinism, Darwinist and Darwinian. They suggest a false narrowness to the field of modern evolutionary biology...Obsessively focusing on Darwin, perpetually asking whether he was right about this or that, implies that the discovery of something he didn’t think of or know about somehow undermines or threatens the whole enterprise of evolutionary biology today...

...Darwin was an amazing man, and the principal founder of evolutionary biology. But his was the first major statement on the subject, not the last....

Uncoupling Darwin's name from evolution at first struck me as somewhat odious. However, besides Darwin's name being overused in the serious press, isn't it also used nearly as a curse by Creationists, Young-earth Fundamentalists, and Dominionists? Such people love to demonize the man.

Many Wiccans and Pagans believe names and words have power. Darwin did enough for the Science of Evolution, literally risking all and dedicating his life to it. Why not let him rest. Maybe now is the time to gently take it from his arms and continue the fight ourselves.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

EO Wilson, of Ants and Humans

Taking a Cue From Ants on Evolution of Humans

Harvard entomologist EO Wilson just celebrated his birthday. He is in his 80's, yet does not shy away from a fight, although he rarely goes looking for one. But this is an exception:

...The issue is the level at which evolution operates. Many evolutionary biologists have been persuaded, by works like “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, that the gene is the only level at which natural selection acts. Dr. Wilson, changing his mind because of new data about the genetics of ant colonies, now believes that natural selection operates at many levels, including at the level of a social group....

Soon after Wilson and co-author David Sloan Wilson published this work, they were attacked by Richard Dawkins:

...Their statement evoked a heated response from Dr. Dawkins in New Scientist; he accused them of lying on a minor point and demanded an apology...

You know you must be on the right track, when you illicit personal attacks from Atheist front-man Dawkins! Wilson's hypothesis basically boils down to this:

...It is through multilevel or group-level selection — favoring the survival of one group of organisms over another — that evolution has in Dr. Wilson’s view brought into being the many essential genes that benefit the group at the individual’s expense. In humans, these may include genes that underlie generosity, moral constraints, even religious behavior. Such traits are difficult to account for, though not impossible, on the view that natural selection favors only behaviors that help the individual to survive and leave more children...

This flies in the face of "selfish gene" advocates (like Dawkins) who at best feel religion and spirituality are archaic traits of no use today (such as our appendix), or at worst dangerous virus-like mutations which need to be immunized against.

“...Groups with men of quality — brave, strong, innovative, smart and altruistic — would tend to prevail, as Darwin said, over those groups that do not have those qualities so well developed,” Dr. Wilson said...“I believe that deep in their heart everyone working on social insects is aware that the selection that created them is multilevel selection,” Dr. Wilson said...

Don't you love that a fellow who studies ants (well, admittedly he is the world's leading authority on the critters) can cause such a ruckus!

I always encourage any new Pagan or Wiccan to immerse themselves in the study of nature. Pick some '...ology' and read all you can on it. Birding is great. So is gardening. How 'bout rocks and minerals? But in my humble opinion, the two most valuable fields to embrace are entomology and astronomy. And both are open to people of limited funds and time, and amateurs are welcome and can even make contributions.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Drewl...(drool, even), The Women of Hammer

The Women of Hammer Films

Dr. Zauis has a great post today featuring links to pics and bios of the the various actresses who appeared in Hammer films. Oh, the pic above is Valerie Leon in Blood from the Mummy's Tomb.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Ego eats

Great Stewart Wilde video; starts slow, but comments about ego and the Pan's Labyrinth type creatures are great. (Thanx GreenGhost, for sending this).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Name calling and Bullying II: PZ Myers channels Soupy Sales

It's a Frackin Cracker

Years ago, the TV comedian Soupy Sales cluelessly begged his young audience to search the pockets of their parents for "green paper", and to mail that green paper into him. It got him suspended for two weeks. It appears biologist PZ Myers is channeling Soupy Sales.

PZ Myers, scientist and outspoken critic of religion and all things spiritual, has composed a blog entry that many feel constitutes "Hate Speech". If you are familiar with some of Myer's anti-religious screeds, you knew this was coming. I'm not going to go over his post in detail, but it's the story of a prank-like theft of communion wafers from a University church, and the subsequent brew-ha-ha that ensued. The post is chuck full of Myer's normal rant against religion, using familiar snark and self-important snickering so endearing to his regular readers.

The portion of his screed which many feel crosses the line follows:

...So, what to do. I have an idea. Can anyone out here score me some consecrated communion wafers? There's no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I'm sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart. If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I'll send you my home address...

So this is the sparkling truth of Atheism! Now we understand more fully. This incident will certainly help the "A" cause. But I wish some of PZ Myer's ardent defenders would cut out the "he's just being funny" excuse, which is such a favorite of right wing ideologues like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. Can I ask a question of Myers and all his fans? If you miraculously found yourself in Alexandria, at the moment of Hypatia's martyrdom, would you proudly display the bloody abalone shell you hold in your hands?

Sarcasm aside, I wish to assure my NeoPagan friends that PZ Myer's comments in no way represents the behavior of the majority of Atheists.

Myers asks for help from his community, asking his supports to inundate the dean of his college with notes of support, as he's feeling the heat right now. It's ironic that he asks people writing in to "Be polite and rational, too!" The polite and rational thing would be for PZ Myers to apologize.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Name calling and Bullying

I'd like to point out an important post over at the Official blog, by Andrea Rubenstein [tekanji], Feminists are fine with being bigots if it’s just ableism.

Her thoughts were inspired by a back-and-forth among bloggers, reacting to comments by a strident anti-choicer (Stanek). If you want to check out the nitty-gritty, it's explained in her post. But what struck Rubenstein was how frequently some posters rely on terms such as "crazy" or "insane", when discussing political aponants. She direclty addresses one commenter:

...I agree that what Stanek said was both ridiculous and vile, but the sheer number of times you casually threw around ableist slurs like “crazy” and “nutbag” really doesn’t sit right with me. Whether or not Stanek actually has a mental illness, it’s still not cool to use slurs degrading people with mental illnesses to attack her...

I have often called somebody I vehemently disagree with "insane", a "nutbag", or (my favorite), "bat shit crazy". Am I being ableist? Am I cheapening the suffering of those struggling with mental illness? In addition, I've felt very uncomfortable with the tone of some "A" blogs, in how people with spiritual concerns are framed as "ill", "crazy", or just simply "liars".

A post by Nicole Bell over at CrooksandLiars, "C&L Bookchat: Outright Barborous by Jeffery Feldmen", discusses a book which explores a similar topic:

...Jeffrey’s latest book, Outright Barbarous: How the Violent Language of the Right Poisons American Democracy, looks at something that we have had no little amount of experience with here at C&L. Who can forget Ann Coulter calling for John Murtha’s murder, Bill O’Reilly telling San Francisco that al Qaeda could attack them, Dinesh D’Souza suggesting that liberal weakness encouraged al Qaeda to attack us on 9/11, Tucker Carlson bragging about beating up a man he thought was hitting on him in a bathroom, Limbaugh encouraging riots, Michael Savage calling for the execution of Madeleine Albright...

People using language to demonize others or frame a debate have an agenda. But this issue cuts both ways. We in the Pagan community fancy ourselves to be open minded and tolerant. Yet, there's a number of times I've seen some severe incident's unfold.

Name calling and bullying can and does occur in our community, and this topic is explored in a post over at Deborah Oak's blog branchesup, "i feel pretty oh so pretty":

...I've been thinking a lot lately about narcissism and how my spiritual traditions seem to exacerbate and sometimes even create it...

She states how certain traditions are...

...fertile ground for extroverted narcissistic tendencies to blossom, what with easy access to being in the center of the circle, a focus on empowerment within a climate of no accountability... character assassination and female style bullying are rampant...

I use to think such behavior was more evident in Solitaries, but I'm finding among Coven oriented people as well. In fact, I've been member of a number of 'scenes', and all of them exhibited to varying degrees what Deborah is talking about. She asks:

...Is it possible to create spiritual community where healthy narcissism is encouraged, but not the disorder? In the over-culture ruthless self interest is encouraged above all else, and those who are narcissistic tend to be successful in business. Is it really that different in spiritual communities...?

I agree that a healthy ego and a touch of narcissism is a good thing. Those of great experience should be heard. It's beautiful when someone wants to share their knowledge and contribute. Every group has its host of dynamic people, those characters who rush to chime in and dominate discussions. I'm rather vocal and extroverted, but lately I've tried to hold my tongue and call on the quieter members of our group--purposefully making the 'loud mouths' (heh, guilty as charged) wait till the others have expressed their opinions. Is this helping? I don't know. But I guess one has to do something to fight being a slave of group dynamics. Deborah Oak continues:

...Fame can create pathological narcissism ...There is danger in being looked up to. Especially spiritually. We can start to expect this and see it as the natural order of things, creating grandiosity that is fed by adoration and that grows hungrier and hungrier instead of becoming satiated...

For those with big egos and in love with themselves, being looked up to is an endorphin rush. Conducting classes, giving lectures, and being a guest speaker on panels and at conventions can groom your cult of personality. (Related to this, in another interesting post, Deborah discusses the problems of the growing commercialization of our religion).

My HPS has a saying, "When in circle, check your ego at the door". That's a good place to start.

I remember watching an interview with the painter Salvador Dali, that occurred rather late in his life. The interview asked what contributions he thought he made to the Surrealist movement. The painter grew wide eyed, exclaiming, "NOTHING! I've contributed nothing." He then listed painters who he felt more significant than himself. What a beautiful outlook.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Zeus is close

Get out your optical aids and get under the night sky. From

...JUPITER AT ITS BRIGHTEST: Jupiter reaches maximum brilliance this week, on July 9th, when it makes its closest approach to Earth for all of 2008. At sunset, look low and southeast for a beacon of light brighter than any star. That is Jupiter rising for an all-night transit across the southern sky. During this time of closest approach, Jupiter makes a wonderful target for backyard telescopes. Even small telescopes reveal the planet's cloud belts, its four largest moons, and the Great Red Spot, an anti-cyclone twice as wide as Earth. Just a few days ago, the Great Red Spot ran over a sibling, the Little Red Spot, and may have destroyed the smaller storm. Amateur images of the collision are featured on today's edition of .

I'm what's called a 'planetary' amateur astronomer. I love gazing at the planets. Jupiter is my favorite. Even half-way decent binoculars will reveal its moons. Even if you have only a low-end telescope, Jupiter's brightness and size can overcome your instrument's limitations. Not only will you see the moons, but you should be able to make-out banding on the planets surface. A moderate instrument will reveal a wealth of detail. Remember that even if you don't have a telescope or binoculars, you do have some of the best optical aids ever evolved--your eyeballs. To the unaided eye, bright Jupiter is a wonder to behold.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Listen to the little things

Climate change: disease spread fears

In the novel "War of the Worlds" by HG Wells, you'll find one of the most famous quotes in SciFi history. Near the end, the narrator stares in wonderment into a huge dug-out pit, a sort of bivouac for the invading martians and their machines of war, now miraculously stopped in their tracks:

...And, scattered about it, some in their overturned war machines...and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the martians--dead! Slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared...slain, after all man's devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth...

We should listen to the littlest things. At the 23rd International Congress of Entomology , a dire warning was issued:

"...Today's lifestyles are energy dependent and the increased demand is leading to an increased warming in the atmosphere," said Dr John Githure of the African Insect Science for Food and Health based in Nairobi, Kenya. He told fellow entomologists that the most worrying effect was the spread of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, on the African continent...

Not only is Global warming bringing about an increase in the populations of insect vectors, it is allowing them to increase their range:

...Githure explained that his study had documented an "intensified transmission to areas that weren't affected before, as parasites were finding new places to breed...The external changes in the temperature have a direct effect on the metabolism and development of parasites," said Githure...

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Beetle God has spoken!

African dung beetles interested in U.S. presidential candidates

Now I'm feeling good that I have a dung beetle (Khepri) tat:

...African dung beetles have been observed rolling dung balls that resemble U.S. presidential candidates, according to entomologists who have been studying the insects...

(Thanx to Bug Girl's Blog for this interesting item)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Spiritual Scientists are speaking up

Science Finds God

Sharon Begley wrote an well researched article, illuminating the debate between science and religion:

...But now "theology and science are entering into a new relationship," says physicist turned theologian Robert John Russell, who in 1981 founded the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Rather than undercutting faith and a sense of the spiritual, scientific discoveries are offering support for them, at least in the minds of people of faith...

I've discussed before the inappropriateness, on display on many "A" and "ScienceBlogs" (who won't be linked here), of labeling anyone expressing even an inkling of spirituality or agnosticism 'crazy' or 'retarded'. The article addresses that concern:

...Today the scientific community so scorns faith, says Sandage, that "there is a reluctance to reveal yourself as a believer, the opprobrium is so severe...

So, some scientists are spiritually closeted! Wonderful! Grrr... But getting back to the article, it's only a matter of time before evolution raises its head:
...Evolution, say some scientist-theologians, provides clues to the very nature of God. And chaos being interpreted as opening a door for God to act in the world...

I think I have a better grasp of Chaos Theory, now that I know of the Machine Elves. The fact that Sharon's article appeared in the traditional media (Newsweek) indicates a hunger for the war between science and religion to end, or at least reach a truce.

Friday, July 4, 2008

MST3K: Jesus Camp

I did my best to try to sit through "Jesus Camp". I got about 3/4 of the way through, then I just could not take it any more.

I'm a big fan of horror movies. Although I dearly love the classics (such as the Hammer vampire flicks and the Corman/Price/Poe epics), I'm certainly not a reactionary fan-boy: There's much modern good stuff, such as Haute Tension. Of course, there's some films I won't sit through (such as misogynist stuff, or the recent crop of 'torture porn' tripe such as the 'Saw' and 'Hostel').

I appreciate campy material as well, like Ed Wood's movies. Come to think of it, that's the sort of thing Jesus Camp really needed to make it more palatable. It needed the MST3K treatment. It would have been so comforting to see Mike (or Joel), Crow, and Tom Servo there in the corner of my screen, hurling insults and providing inane commentary.

The problem with "Jesus Camp" is that it's real. The cliche horror tagline to 'Just keep telling yourself it's only a movie' won't work. You see it all: home schooled families scoffing at evolution and the scientific method, textbooks espousing a perverted history of our country, the creepy android-like Pastor Haggard (now fortunately disgraced) gleefully predicting the Dominionist take-over of our country, and children who are not even near puberty confessing their sinful lives. But worst of all is the queen mother, rousing her hive of soldier drones to swarm over all us heathens.

If you are made of stronger stuff than me, I can offer one bit of cautious advice: don't watch it alone! After it's over, smudge your DVD player. :)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hitchens gets Waterboarded!

Hitchens get Waterboarded: Believe me, it's Torture

When I saw this item over at CrooksandLiars, I thought "Oh no, the Dominionists got hold of him!". I mean, all us Pagans would ever have done was slip some shrooms in his tomato sauce! Heh. But seriously, this makes for some intense reading.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The God Plant

Long-Term Benefit Found in Drug from 'Magic Mushrooms'

Tripping on psychoactive 'shrooms appears to impart long term benefits in the form of sage-like calm. At least this was the outcome on a recent group of test subjects. A number reported that the experience was the most intensely spiritual experience they every had. One humorous bit from the article:

...Griffiths also said that despite the spiritual characteristics reported for the drug experiences, the study says nothing about whether God exists...``Is this God in a pill? Absolutely not,'' he said...

Uh, I got news for you Doc... :) In the 60's and 70's, a number of researchers were carrying out such investigations. But the work was abandoned when the nation spiraled into a decade long anti-drug hysteria and the consequent "War on Drugs". In addition, our Xtain nation has always been suspicious of anything that can cultivate a spiritual experience, unless it comes from being brainwashed with the bible.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Goddess Isis: Unfit Mother!!!

Over at memeton blog, the always interesting Yvonne posted about an article, "There's nothing magical about fathers", which deals with Lesbian households. Yvonne contributed her thoughts about the 'nuclear family', which generated some discussion in the Comments section. I agreed about the silliness demonizing such family structures:

...But I don't believe the nuclear family is that recent of a development. It's ironic that the definition of a 'nuclear family' can also include a single parent and child, the parent almost always being the mother. So when dominionist Xtains pick on single parents, they are denigrating the nuclear family. Isis raised Horus for a good bit on her own, and he turned out alright. :)

I get the feeling Yvonne enjoyed my take on Isis, and she put together a hysterical post:

Ancient Tabloid Frenzy: Queen Isis in Single Mother Row

Please check it out for yourself, but one of the high points for me was, "...A spokesbeing for the government said, "We are concerned about the absence of a positive male role model for the boy. His uncle Set is currently standing trial for murder, and Isis has been seen to be accompanied by Sekhmet, who is known to have had violent episodes, and Ishtar Kilili, who was last week arrested for soliciting..."

Heh! Thanx, Yvonne. But here's a few juicy tidbits I can add to help the powers that be determine the parenting abilities of Isis:

First off, she has often been seen in the company of other men besides her husband Osiris, namely Ptah, an elitist artist, and Sarapis--a foreigner! Besides these questionable associations, she is often seen in the company of her adulterous sister, Nephyths. The fact this adultery involved Isis's husband Osiris should come as no surprise. But what will shock even the most jaded among us is the fact that Isis forgave her sister, and even adopted her sister's love child. Besides her rage-aholic gal-pal Sekhmet, Isis's posse includes scorpions and poisonous snakes! As she is also purported to be "the wisest of magicians", she should be considered armed and dangerous. Her whereabouts are currently unknown, but it's reported she is hiding out with her unfortunate son Horus in a crocodile infested swamp.