Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nora in the snow

Lovely Gift

My Mother gave me this lovely stained glass piece for my window! As you can see we have about 14 inches of snow right now. The green glass at least makes me think of spring!

In defense of Faith and Justice

I have not forgotten George Bush nor have most other people forgotten the evil misuse of faith. Using religion as a weapon of war is not new. Bush used the oldest trick in the book. What we can't do is say all relgion is evil because someone used faith to do evil. You can twist anything into a tool to do evil if it holds any power. Shall we say no Black people can have organizations of any kind now because the Black Panthers existed? It's very un-American to persecute good people and group them all together. Religion is nothing more than people's value systems or way of seeing the world. The communists killed millions and millions of people in Russia and so did the Chinese and they both wanted to get rid of religion and replace it with complete loyalty to the state. If you want to advance free thinking and be true to the constitution you can't try to make someone's value system and beliefs a scapegoat. The persecution of people of faith will backfire in the most horrific way imaginable because when you attack people's core beliefs and their traditional way of life you attack their very existence. You can't separate a person from the things they hold most dear without an incredible backlash. Most cultures look at the decadent, materialist culture that is America today and they see clearly where forsaking faith leads. Most of the West has replaced faith with narcissism and materialism. We have more people accessing hard porn and violent videos on YouTube now than attend religious services or volunteer on a weekly basis to help others. The violent reactions you see in the developing world are a reaction to our sick culture and you can't blame them for that. We tell them of human rights violations while we sexualize children in our own culture and consume more illegal drugs than any other nation in the world. America spawns the violence in Mexico with its endless lust for drugs. Is it any wonder people of faith from other cultures look in horror on American influence on their societies? I love my country but we need to clean house and change if we want to be respected or have any positive influence in the world.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Liberalism, atheism, male sexual exclusivity linked to IQ

Wow talk about Pseudoscience. This piece is so outrageous I shudder that CNN published such garbage. This reminds me of Nazi eugenics and Phrenology. My Father was a scientist and was a brilliant man and he believed in God as do I. Elizabeth Landau have you ever heard of Quantum Physics? I know allot of very brilliant conservatives and although I myself am liberal I would never be so arrogant as to think I am smarter than someone else based on my politics or even on the level of my education. It seems to me American conservatives keep outsmarting smug liberals over and over much to my dismay.
Liberalism, atheism, male sexual exclusivity linked to IQ

(CNN) -- Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds.

Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

The IQ differences, while statistically significant, are not stunning -- on the order of 6 to 11 points -- and the data should not be used to stereotype or make assumptions about people, experts say. But they show how certain patterns of identifying with particular ideologies develop, and how some people's behaviors come to be.

The reasoning is that sexual exclusivity in men, liberalism and atheism all go against what would be expected given humans' evolutionary past. In other words, none of these traits would have benefited our early human ancestors, but higher intelligence may be associated with them.

"The adoption of some evolutionarily novel ideas makes some sense in terms of moving the species forward," said George Washington University leadership professor James Bailey, who was not involved in the study. "It also makes perfect sense that more intelligent people -- people with, sort of, more intellectual firepower -- are likely to be the ones to do that."

Bailey also said that these preferences may stem from a desire to show superiority or elitism, which also has to do with IQ. In fact, aligning oneself with "unconventional" philosophies such as liberalism or atheism may be "ways to communicate to everyone that you're pretty smart," he said.

The study looked at a large sample from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which began with adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States during the 1994-95 school year. The participants were interviewed as 18- to 28-year-olds from 2001 to 2002. The study also looked at the General Social Survey, another cross-national data collection source.

Kanazawa did not find that higher or lower intelligence predicted sexual exclusivity in women. This makes sense, because having one partner has always been advantageous to women, even thousands of years ago, meaning exclusivity is not a "new" preference.

For men, on the other hand, sexual exclusivity goes against the grain evolutionarily. With a goal of spreading genes, early men had multiple mates. Since women had to spend nine months being pregnant, and additional years caring for very young children, it made sense for them to want a steady mate to provide them resources.

Religion, the current theory goes, did not help people survive or reproduce necessarily, but goes along the lines of helping people to be paranoid, Kanazawa said. Assuming that, for example, a noise in the distance is a signal of a threat helped early humans to prepare in case of danger.

"It helps life to be paranoid, and because humans are paranoid, they become more religious, and they see the hands of God everywhere," Kanazawa said.

Participants who said they were atheists had an average IQ of 103 in adolescence, while adults who said they were religious averaged 97, the study found. Atheism "allows someone to move forward and speculate on life without any concern for the dogmatic structure of a religion," Bailey said.

"Historically, anything that's new and different can be seen as a threat in terms of the religious beliefs; almost all religious systems are about permanence," he noted.

The study takes the American view of liberal vs. conservative. It defines "liberal" in terms of concern for genetically nonrelated people and support for private resources that help those people. It does not look at other factors that play into American political beliefs, such as abortion, gun control and gay rights.

"Liberals are more likely to be concerned about total strangers; conservatives are likely to be concerned with people they associate with," he said.

Given that human ancestors had a keen interest in the survival of their offspring and nearest kin, the conservative approach -- looking out for the people around you first -- fits with the evolutionary picture more than liberalism, Kanazawa said. "It's unnatural for humans to be concerned about total strangers." he said.

The study found that young adults who said they were "very conservative" had an average adolescent IQ of 95, whereas those who said they were "very liberal" averaged 106.

It also makes sense that "conservatism" as a worldview of keeping things stable would be a safer approach than venturing toward the unfamiliar, Bailey said.

Neither Bailey nor Kanazawa identify themselves as liberal; Bailey is conservative and Kanazawa is "a strong libertarian."

Vegetarianism, while not strongly associated with IQ in this study, has been shown to be related to intelligence in previous research, Kanazawa said. This also fits into Bailey's idea that unconventional preferences appeal to people with higher intelligence, and can also be a means of showing superiority.

None of this means that the human species is evolving toward a future where these traits are the default, Kanazawa said.

"More intelligent people don't have more children, so moving away from the trajectory is not going to happen," he said.

Lockerbie bomber may beat cancer, say family

By Sam Greenhill and Peter Allen
Last updated at 1:53 AM on 27th February 2010

Freed from his life sentence, the Lockerbie bomber was sent home by the Scots on compassionate grounds because he had 'just three months' to live.

But six months later, Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi is still living - and doing it in the lap of luxury.

Yesterday, his elderly father even held out the prospect of him beating the prostate cancer that doctors said would kill him by last Christmas.

Home comforts: Al-Megrahi with his family at their villa last year after he was freed on compassionate grounds

Mr Ali al-Megrahi believes that good genes, 'positive thinking' and alternative medicines could explain his son's remarkable survival.

Megrahi, 57, no longer receives hospital treatment after ending a course of chemotherapy.

Last night, the British cancer specialist who gave the three-month prognosis was forced to defend his prediction.

He insisted that Megrahi remained gravely ill and was not expected to live much longer.

He said the patient's survival may be due to his excitement over his reunion with family.

But Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski, chairman of the Commons all-party Libya group, yesterday tabled a Parliamentary question demanding Megrahi's medical records be published in full.

He said: 'He's still alive and we were told he had no more than three months to live. The Scottish Executive have a lot to answer for.'

Earlier this month it emerged that Libya was on the brink of agreeing £5billion in investment in Britain.

Critics believe Downing Street colluded with the Scots to pave the way by having Megrahi freed.

The news of Megrahi's survival has provoked consternation among those relatives of victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 who suspect he was never as sick as he claimed to be.

They believe it was an unforgivable mistake for the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to release him last August.

The Libyan - who days earlier had dropped an appeal against his conviction for the 270 deaths caused when Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie - flew home to a hero's welcome.

It later emerged he had a £2million fortune stashed in a Swiss bank account.

His father, who is in his early 80s and keeps a vigil at his son's side in the family's plush villa in the capital Tripoli, still believes a 'miracle' could happen.

He said: 'A close relative was diagnosed with a similar disease and he was treated and recovered completely. We hope that Abdelbaset recovers his health as well.

'I think that the sick are not just cured by medicine, but also by having a high morale and a sense of freedom, and these were not available to Abdelbaset in prison.'

Megrahi receives 24-hour nursing care and, though often heavily sedated, receives well-wishers.

The relaxed, peaceful atmosphere has enabled him to more than double his original survival prognosis, and he says he is 'inspired and feeling very positive' thanks to the support of family and friends.

The 1988 bombing of Flight 103 over Lockerbie killed 270 people

Mr Megrahi said his son was working on his autobiography, and was determined to prove that he had nothing to do with the Lockerbie bombing.

The Tripoli Medical Center, where Megrahi was treated following his initial release, said it would be 'quite normal' for him to use 'alternative medicine and positive thinking' to prolong his life, and that a good family medical history would also act in his favour.

East Renfrewshire council, which is in weekly contact with Megrahi under the terms of his licence, speculated he could even 'last a year or two years'. A spokesman said: 'Nobody knows. It was never that he was supposed to be dead by now, it was never a certainty, it was just the opinion of the experts.'

Megrahi's life expectancy was crucial because under Scottish rules, prisoners can be freed on compassionate grounds if they are considered to have fewer than three months to live.

Last July, the Libyan government paid for Megrahi to be examined by three cancer specialists, among them British expert Professor Karol Sikora. It was their prognosis that won his freedom.

Professor Sikora told the Mail: 'I am very surprised that he is still alive. He is not receiving any active treatment. The latest information I have from Tripoli is that he is not a well man, and I suspect he will be dead within a month or so.'

Professor Sikora said he suspected Megrahi was hanging on because he had received a ' psychological' boost from being reunited with his family and countrymen.

Indeed the former Libyan secret service agent and his wife and five adult children are treated like royalty in Libya.

Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am 103, which represents U.S. relatives, said: 'His people tried to have us believe he had one foot in the grave.

'Then to hear that he is doing quite well medically and is living in a luxury villa makes them all the more frustrated.'

Megrahi's lawyer in Scotland, Tony Kelly, declined to comment.


Yup they let this bomber free for an oil deal, like I said before!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Carmina Gadelica

The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of prayers, hymns, charms, incantations, blessings, runes, and other literary-folkloric poems and songs collected and translated by amateur folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912) in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910. The work was originally published in six volumes, with extensive footnotes containing further details as well as additional tales and folklore. Carmichael edited the first two volumes, published in 1900; volumes III and IV were edited by James Carmichael Watson (Alexander Carmichael's grandson) and published in 1940 and 1941; two final volumes, edited by Angus Matheson, were published in 1954 and 1971. A one-volume, English-language edition was published in 1992.

Initially highly praised as a monumental achievement in Scottish folklore, the Carmina Gadelica subsequently has received some criticism for Carmichael's interpretation and presentation of the material. Criticism has ranged from the opinion that Carmichael was excessive in his editing of the source material, to the accusation that some of his sources were fabricated. Some of his translations tend to sacrifice accuracy for a type of Victorian, anachronistic style which was popular at the time of the works' first publication. In other cases it is clear, from comparing his notes to the finished product, that in some cases he may have invented additional lines and verses and incorporated them into the poems he had recorded, without acknowledging these changes.

These criticisms acknowledged, the Carmina is still seen as essential to Scottish folklore studies. It is used as a source by respected folklorists such as F. Marian McNeill as well as contemporary students of Gaelic language and folklore.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Traveller's Prayer

I made this video today of The Traveller's Prayer. I have posted about this here before but this video slide show is new. John Renbourn wrote the words to Traveller's Prayer after researching the ancient songs of the Carmina Gadelica . This is based loosely on a prayer called The New Moon. There are several prayers with the moon as the main subject that are in this collection of ancient works collected by Alexander Carmichael. For the Traveller's Prayer see The CD ,Ship of Fools.

Praise to the moon, bright queen of the skies,
Jewel of the black night, the light of our eyes,
Brighter than starlight, whiter than snow,
Look down on us in the darkness below.

If well you should find us then well let us stay,
Be it seven times better when you make your way,
Be it seven times better when we greet the dawn,
So light up our way and keep us from all harm.

Give strength to the weary, give alms to the poor,
To the tainted and needy five senses restore,
Give song to our voices, give sight to our eyes,
To see the sun bow as the new moon shall rise.

Cast your eyes downwards to our dwelling place,
Three times for favour and three times for grace,
Over the dark clouds your face for to see,
To banish misfortune and keep Trinity.

In the name of our Lady, bright maiden of grace,
In the name of the King of the City of Peace,
In the name of our Saviour, who hung on the tree,
All praise to the moon, for eternity.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tonight I made this video slide show. I love this song, Christ Has My Hart, Ay. This psalm or carol first appears in the 'Gude and Godlie Ballates' first published in 1667. The Battlefield band created a new tune for this psalm as the old one has been lost. Provided to go with the music on the video are scenes and landscapes from Scotland and some classic religious art. Most of the photos I took in Scotland in 2005 and 2007. The very first photo was taken by Mike Abrams.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Roger is still going strong and this song still has its bite!

C.S. Lewis

We are all receiving Charity. There is something in each of us that cannot be naturally loved. It is no one's fault if they do not so love it ... You might as well ask people to like the taste of rotten bread or the sound of a mechanical drill. We can be forgiven, and pitied, and loved in spite of it, with Charity; no other way. All who have good parents, wives, husbands, or children, may be sure that at some times -- and perhaps at all times in respect of some one particular trait or habit -- they are receiving Charity, are loved not because they are lovable but because Love Himself [Christ] is in those who love them.

- C.S. Lewis, from his book, The Four Loves

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

- Ephesians 4:29

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Snowflake is part Jacob, part Shetland and part Scottish Blackface. I am starting to wonder if she will lamb in March and if her lamb will look like a purebred Blackface since her sire was a Blackface. I have to say for a mixed breed ewe she sure is pretty.

Scottish Blackface Ewe on Mull

A beautiful Ewe I admired on Mull in 2007

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog Day from Stedman, NY

How Did the Groundhog Get a Day of His Own?

The lowly groundhog, often called a woodchuck, is the only mammal to have a day named in his honor. The groundhog's day is February 2. Granted, it's not a federal holiday; nobody gets off work. But still, to have a day named after you is quite a feat.

How did the groundhog come by this honor?

It stems from the ancient belief that hibernating creatures were able to predict the arrival of springtime by their emergence.

The German immigrants known as Pennsylvania Dutch brought the tradition to America in the 18th century. They had once regarded the badger as the winter-spring barometer. But the job was reassigned to the groundhog after importing their Candlemas traditions to the U.S. That is why it is in Pennsylvania the number one weather hoggie is Punxsutawney Phil.

This is Stedman Phyllis.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Saint Brigid’s Day

Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland (Brigit, Bridget, Bridgit,or Bríd) (Irish: Naomh Bríd) (c. 451–525) is one of Ireland's patron saints along with Saints Patrick and Columba. Her feast day is February 1, or Candlemas, the traditional first day of spring in Ireland.

Ni bu Sanct Brigid suanach
Ni bu huarach im sheirc Dé,
Sech ni chiuir ni cossena
Ind nóeb dibad bethath che.

Saint Brigid was not given to sleep,
Nor was she intermittent about God's love of her;
Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek for
The wealth of this world below, the holy one.

Celebrating Saint Brigid’s Day was often focussed not only on the saint herself but also on cattle and dairy ... of which Brigid is the patron saint. Here is a list of traditional things to do on of before February 1st, Saint Brigid’s Day:

Make a Saint Brigid’s Cross (cros Bride or bogha Bride).

These crosses are traditionally made from rushes, but today many materials (and sometimes even different regional designs) are used. Any material used for making the cross should ideally be blessed. You may note that the design of the Saint Brigid’s Cross is straddling the pagan and Christian world – while it is a cross, it also is similar in design to a fylfot or swastika. The finished cross is hung on the inside of a thatched roof above the front door. In a pinch the inside of your front door will do. Saint Brigid’s Crosses are left in their place for the year and renewed on the following Saint Brigid’s Day.

Saint Brigid’s Day Food

Saint Brigid was known to travel the countryside, blessing households as she went ... accompanied by a white cow with red ears. You should make her feel welcome, just in case she passes by - placing bread and fresh butter on the outside windowsill, together with corn for the cow, usually does the trick. Also remember to lay out some rushes for her. These are to kneel on while blessing the household.

A piece of white cloth or a white silk ribbon was hung on the outside of the front door for the Saint to bless.

One was also advised to make fresh butter for Saint Brigid’s Day , maybe not a practical idea in modern times. You might, however, be willing to prepare a special dinner for Saint Brigid’s Eve. And remember that Saint Brigid’s Day was also a day for those who have to give food to those who haven‘t.

In many regions a special oat bread was baked for Saint Brigid’s Day - Saint Brigid’s Bread. You’ll find a recipe for Saint Brigid’s Bread on a separate page – but remember that ideally this should have been blessed by a priest and then shared.

Saint Brigid’s Day Family Activities

On Saint Brigid’s Eve, in many areas the Bridie Boys would tour the 'hood, carrying an effigy of the saint, called the Brideog ... basically a doll in white clothes. They had the right to pick up the offerings left out. Coming around they would chant some ancient (though not very poetic) rhymes like:

Something for poor Biddy!
Her clothes are torn,
Her shoes are worn!
Something for poor Biddy!

Another piece of doggerel went like this:

Here is Brigid dressed in white,
Give her a penny for her night,
She is deaf, she is dumb,
She cannot talk without a tongue.

Considering the quality of the verses, I cannot help but think that being deaf and dumb might have been a blessing in disguise.

In some areas the Brideog was not a doll but the purest girl of the village. One can just imagine the auditions for this and the reactions of unsuccessful candidates (and their parents).

On a smaller scale a door ceremony is held in many households. The eldest daughter will represent Saint Brigid, knock and ask to be let inside by intoning: „Go on your knees, open your eyes, and let Brigid in.“ The rest of the household would then answer: „Greetings, greetings to the noble woman.“ Cue a door flung open wide and a family dinner.

Give (Your) Animals a Share in Saint Brigid’s Name

Traditionally, farm animals would be especially well taken care of on Saint Brigid’s Day. There you go – if you don’t own a farm, give your companion animal a special treat. Or make a donation to the local humane society or animal shelter.

Raise a Glass to Saint Brigid’s Health!

An Irish celebration without a drink? Near impossible ... Brigid was after all famous for brewing ale. So feel free to have a pint. In honour of the saint, naturally

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