Saturday, February 28, 2009

Witches burned in Kenya

Five suspected witches burnt to death in Kenya

More horrifying murderous persecution:

NAIROBI: Five elderly people suspected of practising witchcraft were burnt to death in western Kenya, police have said..."They include four women and a man in their 80's who were accused of having abducted a child," Kisii deputy police Commander Manasseh Musyoka said yesterday.

Besides the hideousness of this, I can't help but think it should give pause to all the well meaning scholarly Pagans out there who deny or trivialize the 'Burning Times'.
(thanx GreenGhost, for sending me the link)

Stop tracking mud in here!

Prints Show a Modern Foot in Prehumans

In a recent comment to this blog, in regards to a post about fossils, Riverwolf asked:

"I realize there are exceptions, but i was discussing this with a friend about how some Christians say these "discoveries" are all lies mention to destroy belief in God. What? Like, someone has enough money to go around creating fake bones and burying them??..."

Dammit! He's onto me! Yes, I fess-up. I'm the one who's been doing it. I hope Riverwolf and all you other lost/dammed souls appreciate my last effort:

...Footprints uncovered in Kenya show that as early as 1.5 million years ago an ancestral species, almost certainly Homo erectus, had already evolved the feet and walking gait of modern humans...An international team of scientists, in a report on Friday in the journal Science, said the well-defined prints in an eroding bluff east of Lake Turkana “provided the oldest evidence of an essentially modern humanlike foot anatomy.” They said the find also added to evidence that painted a picture of Homo erectus as the prehumans who took long evolutionary strides — figuratively and, now it seems, also literally...

OK, that's enough stomping around in the Antediluvian mud right now, I gotta go wash my feet...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Philip Jose Farmer on his way to Riverworld

Philip José Farmer, Daring Science Fiction Writer, Dies at 91

One of the Greats has died:

...Philip José Farmer, a prolific and popular science fiction writer who shocked readers in the 1950s by depicting sex with aliens and challenged conventional pieties of the genre with caustic fables set on bizarre worlds of his own devising, died Wednesday. He was 91 and lived in Peoria, Ill...His official Web site,, announced his death, saying he had “passed away peacefully in his sleep.” ...Mr. Farmer’s blend of intellectual daring and pulp-fiction prose found a worldwide audience. His more than 75 books have been translated into 22 languages and published in more than 40 countries. Though he wrote many short stories, he was best known for his many series of multiple novels. These sprawling, episodic works gave him room to explore the nuances of a provocative premise while indulging his taste for lurid, violent action...

Along with many short stories, his Riverworld series is the most famous.

Friday, February 20, 2009

It Came From La Brea

Los Angeles Tar Yields Mammoth’s Skeleton

Another creature has emerged from the famous La Brea Tar Pits. This time, it's a rather complete Mammoth:

...LOS ANGELES — The excavation for a parking garage near the La Brea tar pits here has yielded the site’s first intact mammoth skeleton as well as a trove of other bones that could double the size of the site’s already large collection of fossils from the last ice age...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Darwin!

Of Darwin, Dover And (Un)Intelligent Design

In order to honor Darwin's birthday, I'd like to post some snippets from the latest issue of Church & State Magazine, the zine of American's United. Please check out the above article, which is an interview with Kenneth Miller, who was a star witness in the landmark 'Kitzmiller v. Dover' case. Dr. Miller is one of the heroes who helped prove--in court--that 'intelligent design' is nothing but a scam:

Q. Religious Right activists would have us believe that all evolutionists are atheists. Is this true?

A. Of course not. Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the great evolutionary geneticists of the 20th century, was a professing Christian, as are scientists like Francis Collins, who directed the Human Genome Project. The tired stereotype of science vs. religion is often used as a weapon against the teaching of evolution in our schools, but it makes no logical sense. A recent survey of the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest scientific organization in the United States, showed that fully 40 percent believed in a God to whom one could pray, expecting an answer.

Q. As a Christian, do you ever find there is a conflict between your religious beliefs and your scientific work?

A. Certainly not in my own work. If faith and reason are both gifts from God, they should complement each other, not provoke conflict. To a person of faith, science is the activity of applying human reason to explore the work of God, and religion should support it completely.

Q. Are you optimistic that this battle can be won?

A. If I wasn’t an optimist, I wouldn’t be a scientist. Science is built around hope and faith – the hope that new discoveries and new ways of understanding are possible, and the faith that the world will be a better place as a result of that. If we apply those values to politics and popular culture, I am convinced that the American people will choose science every time. The outcomes of recent elections in states like Ohio and Kansas convince me that we can win the contest for public opinion – but only if we take our case directly to the people.

Well said! But it'd be nice if some Pagan scientists would speak up from time to time.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Green Comet

Green Comet Approaches Earth

It would be great if this comet becomes visible to the naked eye. But even if it does not grow into something special (that catches the traditional media's attention), it probably will be amazing to behold in a small telescope or binoculars:

...The comet makes its closest approach to Earth (0.41 AU) on Feb. 24, 2009. Current estimates peg the maximum brightness at 4th or 5th magnitude, which means dark country skies would be required to see it. No one can say for sure, however, because this appears to be Lulin's first visit to the inner solar system and its first exposure to intense sunlight. Surprises are possible.