Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Virgin Birth, or "Here, there be Dragons"

Essentially what we have here is an immaculate conception," he said...

"We will be on the look-out for shepherds, wise men, and an unusually bright
star in the sky over Chester Zoo,"

That's because the virgin in question is Flora the Komodo dragon, a giant lizard at Chester Zoo in England that has laid fertile eggs despite never having had a mate.

DNA tests confirmed Flora was the sole parent, says Chester Zoo curator of lower vertebrates Kevin Buley.

Mama? That you?

Quote of the Day:

The political worldview in Washington right now is schizophrenic: cautious at
home and a daredevil abroad. Sending 140,000 predominantly Christian troops into
the heart of Islam and expecting them to be greeted as liberators - that is a
faith-based initiative. But on the domestic front, our government seems to have
given up trying to make a difference. Our health care system is broken, our
transportation system is breaking, our education system is a tale of two cities,
we are more dependent upon oil, and our deficit is about to fall off the cliff.
Washington responds with a tax credit here or an earmark there. Iraq is sucking
all the oxygen out of the real policy debates, which are long overdue.

Ned Lamont, the guy Connecticut did not elect instead of Liebermann.


At 7:22 pm EST this evening the tilted Earth's path around the Sun will produce, for those in the Northern hemisphere, the longest night of the year. The moment of the Winter Solstice has been predicted with calculation and astrolabe by the scientific members of societies for thousands of years. Some of these knowlegable individuals used this information embellished with charlatanry to gain influence and power over their tribal associates, and some did not. In religious societies, the former tended to be revered and the latter...burned at the stake. This societal tendency continues even today, but I digress...

The further from the equator the more valuable the ability to calculate the event of the Winter Solstice. After all, what difference does it make to a culture living in grass huts and able to pick fresh fruit year round? If a tribe faces short days and long 40 below zero nights, the ability to predict the moment of the year in which the light of day begins to increase...well that's an important skill. As societies evolved and populations increased, the burdens that humans placed upon the Earth's ability to support them became increasingly tight, until making it through the Winter was more and more difficult and rationing of provisions collected in warmer months became necessary for survival. It had to be depressing, hanging out in the dark and cold waiting for it to warm up outside. With the occurrence of the Winter Solstice, the days would increase and there was cause for the celebrations of rebirth and renewal.

Winter Solstice celebrations take many forms and have been coopted into religions other than their indiginous ones. Preachers of all sorts and through out history have known a good bandwagon when they saw it, and today we have this hodge podge of rituals known as "The Holidays". Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanuka, Festivus, and on and on and on...Preachers keep inventing them and we keep celebrating them. Some folks pick and choose amongst them, and some old miscreants deny every one of them...I propose to celebrate them all.

In order to make sure I have enough time to properly celebrate all the different holidays, I started a couple of weeks ago and plan to continue until the event of the Vernal Equinox, whereupon I shall immediately start celebrating the various Spring rituals, such as the easter Bunny, which may be the weirdest of all the western concoctions but at least it has the redemptive value of chocolate. This continues through the Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox until it is time to start the rotation all over again. A bit of a bump in the year round celebrations should be reserved for Mother's Day, which is supposed to be about ending all wars, and Thanksgiving, which is supposed to be about... well... being thankful. And I am!

So sometime after dark today, the exact moment being irrelevent until the Sun comes up anyway, our days will become longer and longer and brighter and brighter for the next six months. So in keeping with spirit of the spirits, I propose a toast that all of us should be able to share...

"To the coming of the Light...In all it's meanings"



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