December 6th, 2006

Shaw

Night Science

I've got a whole bunch of science links that have been piling up the last few days, things I've meant to post and haven't...but this first one is the biggest and the best of the lot:

From Nasawatch.com: Water Spotted on Surface of Mars: That is, liquid water. Aqua vitae. The wet stuff. I quote:

According to an item first posted by Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine: "NASA is ready to announce major new findings about the presence of water currently emerging onto the surface of Mars.

If confirmed, this would increase the possibility that microbial life could have existed recently or possibly exists now on the Martian surface. The potential seepage of ground water onto or near the surface has been a key area of investigation by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft (AW&ST Nov. 27, pp. 53-55).


Also...from NewScienceSpace: 13 things that do not make sense. Which is to say, the mysteries of science that make science so damn wonderful. Dark matter. Dark energy. Tetraneutrons. Etc.

And...at Geotimes...Meteorite pre-dates solar system.

Finally, another bit of good news: House GOP Pulls Offshore Drilling Bill:

House Republicans abruptly pulled from floor action Tuesday a bill to open a large area of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling after it became clear the legislation lacked the two-thirds vote needed for passage.

It would open 8.3 million acres of the Gulf that is now off limits to drilling...Republicans leaders gave no reason for the decision.

But an aide to a lawmaker strongly supporting the legislation said that a number of Republicans withdrew their support at the last minute and some Democrats also had signaled they would not support the measure.


That's 8.3 million acres that are safe...at least for the time being.

Okay. Brush teeth. Beg Spooky for story. Sleep.
Mars from Earth

Confirmed: Liquid Water on Mars!

The anticipated press release from NASA confirms new photographic evidence for liquid H20 on Mars within the last seven years!

NASA Images Suggest Water Still Flows in Brief Spurts on Mars

NASA photographs have revealed bright new deposits seen in two gullies on Mars that suggest water carried sediment through them sometime during the past seven years.

"These observations give the strongest evidence to date that water still flows occasionally on the surface of Mars," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, Washington.

Liquid water, as opposed to the water ice and water vapor known to exist at Mars, is considered necessary for life. The new findings heighten intrigue about the potential for microbial life on Mars. The Mars Orbiter Camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor provided the new evidence of the deposits in images taken in 2004 and 2005.

"The shapes of these deposits are what you would expect to see if the material were carried by flowing water," said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. "They have finger-like branches at the downhill end and easily diverted around small obstacles." Malin is principal investigator for the camera and lead author of a report about the findings published in the journal Science.


Martian microbes ahoy!
Shaw

you and your troublesome hole

Poking about the web yesterday, I came very unexpectedly upon a review of Silk and Murder of Angels at BlogCritics.org, the two books reviewed together. A right grand review, at that, which I'd never before seen, even though it was posted October 8th, 2004. Someone who — mostly — gets it, and the review is intelligent and insightful. Being described as "H.P. Lovecraft's spiritual granddaughter" made me smile for hours, even though I suspect I'd probably scare the bejesus out of poor old H. P. ("At least," says Spooky.) By the way, my offer of free signed copies of the tpb of Silk still stands for any new Sirenia Digest subscribers...by the way.

Today, I begin an experiment in which my usual morning post is replaced by an evening post. Here's the deal. There's so goddamn much work right now, the only hope I have of having time left to walk and exercise during the day is to bump the blog entry to the evening. And exercise I must. So, we'll see how this works out. But it's only temporary. I'm gonna go back to morning entries sometime this spring, at the very latest.

I wrote 1,188 words yesterday, and 1,341 today. Then Spooky and I spent the rest of the afternoon getting started on the proofreading of Low Red Moon for the mass-market paperback. We made it through the prologue and chapters One and Two. I had forgotten how much I love this book. At this point, it's my second favorite of my novels, after Daughter of Hounds. I do hope that this new edition (the third since 2003!), gives it another shot and a wider readership. Many typos and errors will be corrected in the text. Also today I dealt with the last bit of Tales from the Woeful Platypus, which is no longer mine to deal with. It's out of my hands now. Which is a relief. That's one thing off my plate.

In the comments to Tuesday's entry regarding my reworking of Wicca, my use of the Sindarin word sigil rather than the "traditional" athame for the black-handled ritual dagger, someone noted the parallel with the English word sigil and all its connotations (some of which I admit I find annoying, because of chaos magick's use of the word). Today, I recalled the name Sigel, which, despite spelling differences, is actually closer to a genuine homonym of the Sindarin sigil ("see-geel"). Sigel is the Old English incarnation of the Norse sun goddess Sól, which actually works out very nicely. I'm sure Tolkien must have been aware of this parallel.

Someone else asked what I thought would be left when I'd finished purging Wicca of all Gardner's Judeo-Xtian elements. Which is a good question. The answer is likely complex, though I might, for the time, say "Very little, I suspect." Indeed, so little will likely remain that I shall have to abandon the name Wicca in favour of something else. A lot of the elements in question are not only to be found in Wicca, but in NeoPaganism, in general. The pentagram or pentacle, for example. That's not a pagan symbol. Though it is not impossible to imagine that some Celtic or Norse or Eastern European architect or proto-mathematician might have stumbled upon this geometric configuration, it comes to Wicca directly from ceremonial magick, Freemasonry, the Order of the Golden Dawn, etc. Instead, I am employing a simple circle to define "sacred" ritual space. Many other basic elements of Wicca have already been discarded — calling to the four quarters, for example, another thing which Gardner borrowed from ceremonial magick. And the "Rede," which likely comes to Wicca via Aleister Crowley's formulation of the Laws of Thelema. The "Three Fold Law" seems more like a weird marriage of Buddhism and Xtianity than anything else, and is a concept which I find fundamentally absurd (for reasons discussed in earlier entries). Likewise, I have no use for Wicca's obsession with gender duality, which is, at best, dated and rendered irrelevant by transgenderism and over-population and a number of other things. At worst, it is sexist, homophobic, and skewed towards the cisgendered. The system which will work for me must regard gender not as a duality, but as a continuum.

So, as you can see, it looks less and less like Wicca all the time. I am keeping many of the ritual tools — the black-handled dagger (as mentioned above), the chalice (as it has mythic resonance beyond the Xtian "grail"), the cauldron, the broom, the altar stone, and so forth. In the end, this is about my belief that a) NeoPaganism should not be infused at every turn with Judeo-Xtian elements, b) that a Nature religion should be a Nature religion, reflecting the complexities of the natural world instead of outmoded human dualisms, and c) the belief that while a NeoPagan may reach back for myth and tradition and history, sheheit must also reach ahead. As I've said before, we need a paganism for the 21st Century, not the 17th or 5th.

We shall see where all this leads. Comments and feedback is welcome on all these points, by the way.

I'm still giving Heroes a chance. The last couple of episodes have hooked me again, as they have seemed less bland, less televisiony. Maybe I just have a crush on Hiro.

Oh! I almost forgot. I got Zoe, which pleases me immensely.

What Firefly Character Are You?



Zoe Alleyne
Above all things, you're tough. You're also very private and prefer to keep your personal life just that. You know what to do to get the job done, and can always be counted on. You may not have much of sense of humor, but you're strong, reliable, and loyal.
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