June 20th, 2008

Mars from Earth

Late-Nite Science vs. Word Cloud!

Marvelous news from the Phoenix lander. To quote to NASA website, "Dice-size crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench where they were photographed by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander four days ago, convincing scientists that the material was frozen water that vaporized after digging exposed it." Read more here. Be sure to select "Play animation" on the right side of the screen.

"It must be ice," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "These little clumps completely disappearing over the course of a few days, that is perfect evidence that it's ice. There had been some question whether the bright material was salt. Salt can't do that."

And now the "word cloud," or "wordle," which I was able to create thanks to a link posted by nineweaving:

It began as two paragraphs near the end of Chapter One of The Red Tree. Make of it what you will. Ignore the stray hyphens. I could only link to the thumbnail, without creating some sort of account or another, so screw that. Click the image to see it BIG. Or don't. But..there are words. From the book. And like cut-up poetry, this fascinates me...
Early Permian

"I'll wrap my wire around your heart and your mind..." (Solstice)

The world was deprived of no great entertainments that I posted no entry yesterday. It all goes back to the book I agreed to review for Publisher's Weekly. And the fact that I never do today what I can put off until next month. So, Wednesday was reading, reading, reading — and then I finally wrote the review yesterday. After this, I send it to my editor at PW. But. I was not meant to be a book reviewer. I don't know who would want to be. We'd all be better off without book reviews. And the pay, even when it's good, is for shit. So, yeah, likely I shall not do that again. I have no business mouthing off — in print — about an author many, many years my senior who has written and published far more than have I, and has awards out the wazoo, and so forth. And getting paid for it. But, you know. I'll try anything once...or twice, if it leaves a nice scar.

Congratulations to the winners of the "cephaloflap" and "doodleflap" auctions. They ended while I was looking the other way.

Er...yesterday. Well, besides finishing the novel I had to review, I moved the CD shelf, all the hundreds and hundreds of CDs (and no one should own hundreds and maybe thousands of CDs) from the "middle parlour" to the kitchen. More unpacking. After 5 pm, Spooky and I went to the little farmer's market at the Dexter Training Ground, to pick up our weekly bag of produce (it's a local farmer's support thingy), and this week we got apple butter, a mescaline salad mix, three tomatoes, apple mint, a cucumber, strawberries, and sugar snap peas. And then we went to Whole Foods, and East Side Market. Providence is at its most stunning in the late afternoon sunlight of summer. I'm going to have to walk out onto the Point Street Bridge soon, late in the day, and take some photos. Many boxes were broken down and carried to the street yesterday, as this morning the recycling truck came. No, they're not yet all unpacked, the boxes from Atlanta, but we're at least 90% of the way there. This is coming out all higgledy-piggledy, my recollections of yesterday, but who cares, eh? Late, late, I did some ritual work and also some writing in my Book of Shadows for this evening's seaside Solstice ceremony. Spooky and I took a very short walk about 2:45 ayem (I stayed up too late), and the moon was full (well, one night past) and beautiful hanging over all these old Victorian rooftops. Spooky trimmed my hair, which badly needed it after the ravages of the move. The postman brought the June 2008 Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, and it looks to be a great one, lots of dinosaurs and non-archosaurian herps. Oh, and I got a package from Writer's House (the lit agency that handles me), with half the advance for the German-language editions of Low Red Moon and Threshold, and that was a welcome sight (Amazon.com has gone back to making it a pain in the eema to find the new mmp of the former, by the way). For dinner, Spooky made bow-tie pasta with an arugula pesto and spicy Italian sausages. I read more of Fraser's book on the Triassic (I wish I were being paid to review that). And, give or take, that was yesterday.

Oh, I've made another "word cloud," this time from three paragraphs near the middle of Chapter One of The Red Tree. Also, this one uses two hundred words, whereas the last one used only one hundred and fifty (just click to see the larger version):

Today, well...there's some work, though there likely won't be much. We're getting ready for Solstice tonight and for sovay's arrival tomorrow afternoon. Monday, though, I make one more trip over to Moosup Valley, and on Tuesday I nail myself inside this office and don't come out until The Red Tree is written (fortunately, there's an entrance to the bathroom from my office). I have lost far too much time, and have far too little time until the book is due. And I know it will refuse to be rushed, even if I had the will to rush it, which I don't.

Yesterday, nullmode wrote: Having been involved with wicca some years ago and being disappointed by the fro fro nature of what I found there I gave up on it. However, reading your blog and the comments of some of your readers I find myself inspired by the fact that there are intelligent people out there practicing in a meaningful way. So, although I know that discussion indicates that there are not many great books out there, do you have any recommendations? I'd like to re-explore a bit and I was wondering what you've read and liked.

And I replied: I have found very, very few.

First, and foremost, I would recommend Ronald Hutton's
Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford; 1999). Also, something of a classic and slightly dated (but maybe good for that reason), Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess Worshipers, and Other Pagans in America Today (Penguin Compass; 1979, 1986). Those are, by far, the two best that I have found. Starhawk's The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (HarperSanFrancisco; 1999), in its 20th-anniversary incarnation, is not so bad as many who disparage "fluffy-bunny" Paganism make out. Sure, Starhawk is still full of it as regards buying into Murray's ideas about there having once existed a universal goddess religion and a race of Pictish dwarves and all that, and she can go a bit twee at times, but she has a poet's ear. Too many Wiccan books read like bad goth poetry. Starhawk also gets points from me for at least trying to embrace science and rationalism, for her ecological emphasis, and for generally seeming to regard magick as a matter more of psychology than of manipulation of cause and effect and matter.

Anyway...those are the three I'd recommend at this point. Hutton is the best. Adler shows us what Paganism in America was like before the Coming of the Fluffy Bunnies and the subsequent loss of diversity, before wishful thinking overtook common sense.

Okay. Gotta go. Merry Litha, to thems what observes it. Miles to go before I sleep, and all that rot.