Beautiful Science

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council photo competition allows researchers and doctoral students to share their work in pictures, with winners from categories ranging from eureka to weird and wonderful. Award winning images of science in action. Thanks to Opus for the heads up.

A rotating jet of a viscoelastic liquid, which won first place in the weird and wonderful category Photograph: Professor Omar Matar/EPSRC/PA

A rotating jet of a viscoelastic liquid, which won first place in the weird and wonderful category
Photograph: Professor Omar Matar/EPSRC/PA


The Grackles are back. I look forward to this every year, I’m very fond of grackles. They are astonishingly beautiful birds, with a metallic rainbow hidden in that black. They can look wonderfully fierce and raptorish, but they are endearingly clumsy, and there’s that fabulous puff ‘n’ whistle business. Grackles are always shy at first, as they tend to be high on the enemy list here in farm country. The last couple of years, there’s been an increase in leucism in grackles. There’s one leucistic grackle in particular, I call Pye, and I hope he is back again this year. (The last shot is Pye, from last year). Click for full size.







Books: Goodbye Victoria

WoLI recently read Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, and I’ll have more to say about it in a bit (I loved it). Now, I want to mention one thing that delighted me absolutely – the book is set a wee bit in the future, in 2025. I was downright grateful for that. As to why that was so delightful, it leads to rant about the love affair too many authors have with the Victorian era, whether they can honestly say their book is steampunk or not. And even if a book is steampunk, or has steampunk elements, that doesn’t mean it must be trapped in Victorian times. I’ve now read enough books set in Victorian London that it’s time to say Goodbye, Victoria. I just can’t take any more. Not only has Victorian London become a mostly snore-worthy bore, with some authors, it’s much worse than that.

[Read more…]

The Revival of Indigenous Ink

A nice article on the revival of indigenous tattooing, by Ruth Hopkins. And yes, I have a wrist tattoo, for a lot of years now.

Due to colonization and the spread of Christianity throughout Native lands, Indigenous tattooing became taboo during the assimilation era. Even today, it’s discouraged. As a result, the practice went underground. Thankfully, genocide was unsuccessful and Native Nations remain, along with their languages, customs, belief systems, and rich heritages. As Native people begin to return to their traditional ways, we are starting to see a resurgence of the ancient art of tattooing.

. . .

Indigenous tattooing is part of who we are. As non-Native hipsters and popstars display generic dreamcatchers and Americans get so-called ‘Tribal’ tattoos on their flesh en masse, it becomes even more vital that we save the art of Indigenous body design from the brink of extinction, thereby preserving its true meaning and place in Native history so we may pass it down for generations to come.

There’s more about Indigenous ink here, about Nahaan.

Secularity rises, but…


A research team that included Ryne Sherman from Florida Atlantic University and Julie J. Exline and Joshua B. Grubbs from Case Western Reserve University analyzed data from 58,893 respondents to the General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults administered between 1972 and 2014. Five times as many Americans in 2014 reported that they never prayed as did Americans in the early 1980s, and nearly twice as many said they did not believe in God.

Americans in recent years were less likely to engage in a wide variety of religious practices, including attending religious services, describing oneself as a religious person, and believing that the Bible is divinely inspired, with the biggest declines seen among 18- to 29-year-old respondents.

Okay, this is pleasant news, but drowning in the current tide of clowns which is our electoral system at work, and religious belief fueling horrendous acts, killing people, and increasing hate and fear, it’s hard to get excited. There’s also the constant tide of idiocy which rather belies any growing secularism in the States:

BOISE – Legislation saying the use of the Bible as a reference in Idaho’s public schools is “expressly permitted” passed the Idaho House on Monday and headed to the governor’s desk – even though the state attorney general concluded such a law is “specifically prohibited” by the Idaho Constitution.

North Idaho Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay, the bill’s House sponsor, told the House, “The little Supreme Court in my head says this is OK.”

Dixon and other supporters argued that the Bible is nonsectarian and nondenominational, and that the reason the bill mentions only the Bible and not other religious texts is because the Bible alone is “under attack.” “There are many religions that refer back to the Bible in their tenets,” Dixon said.

Boy, does the “little Supreme Court” in my head ever differ. Full story here.



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Guess the Heresy

Serge Serebro, Vitebsk Popular News / Wikicommons

Serge Serebro, Vitebsk Popular News / Wikicommons

Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill denounced as “heresy” those human rights that he said contradicted the Bible, and proclaimed fighting them the goal of his church, the Interfax news agency reported Sunday.

“We are seeing how efforts are being made in many prosperous countries to establish by law the person’s right to any choice, including the most sinful ones, those that contradict god’s word, the concept of holiness, the concept of god,” Patriarch Kirill said after a Sunday service at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, Interfax reported.

He did not specify which human rights he found offensive, but called for Russian Orthodox believers to “defend” their faith, the report said.

“Today we are [dealing with] a global heresy of worshipping the human, the new idolatry that removes god from human life,” Kirill was quoted as saying. “Nothing like that had even happened on a global scale before. It is specifically at overcoming this present day’s heresy, the consequences of which can become apocalyptic, that the church must aim the force of its protection, its word, its thought.”

I expect we could all easily guess those human rights the Patriach considers heresy. Orthodox or Roman, the Catholic church remains one of the most dangerous forces in the world to humanity in general. [Article.]