Sunday, March 31, 2013

The War on Easter!

Thank goddess, Christians are constitutionally protected from having to participate in pagan rituals!

Mark your calendars, NiftyReaders. Today, I agree wholeheartedly with a fundamentalist Christian argument. According to online sources for Christian correctness, Christians have a big problem with Easter. The problem is that Easter is not Christian enough. In fact, Easter is not Christian or Biblically endorsed at all.

Hot cross buns?
Now let’s go to the other scriptures authorizing Easter. This presents a problem. There are NONE! There are absolutely no verses, anywhere in the Bible, that authorize or endorse the keeping of Easter celebration! The Bible says nothing about Lent, eggs and egg hunts, baskets of candy, etc., although it does mention hot cross buns and sunrise services as abominations, which God condemns. (The True Origin of Easter, the Reformed Church of

The name “Easter” has its roots in ancient polytheistic religions (paganism). On this, all scholars agree. This name is never used in the original Scriptures, nor is it ever associated biblically with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For these reasons, we prefer to use the term “Resurrection Sunday” rather than “Easter” when referring to the annual Christian remembrance of Christ's resurrection. (What is the origin of Easter?

Oh, those pagans with their "Happy Easter/Happy Holidays"! Unbelievers have been distracting Christians from the true meaning of Christianity's most important holidays for too long! Easter is all about springtime, flowers budding, bunnies, chicks and sex. So unChristian!  Resurrection Sunday is about the story of a dead man who disappeared from his tomb and is believed to have risen from the dead after a horrific execution. That's more like it! Ask any Christian, he will tell you: holidays don't get much more joyful than that!

Coloring eggs? 
That's a no-no, Christians!
For these reasons, I would prefer that Christians use the term "Resurrection Sunday" rather than Easter, too. It makes perfect sense for Christians - who happily profess to be washed in the blood of Jesus, after all - to name their own holiday something more appropriate to what it really is about. I enthusiastically support their right to begin calling their holy day by this name forthwith. Keep the Resurrection in Resurrection Sunday!

And while we are on the subject, why do devout Christians allow the secularists to win on Good Friday, too? Why accept the politically correct - and frankly much too bland - "Good Friday"?  Christians, call it what it is!  It is Crucifixion Friday! It is high time that Christians admit to the rest of the world - loud and proud - that their holiday is about blood, torture and a terrible death, not the Easter Bunny, jellybeans and a chocolate coma!

And about those Easter Eggs. No, no, no, Christians. Do you have any idea of the depraved history of these pagan symbols? Easter eggs are pagan symbols of a fertility goddess! ChristianAnswers can fill you in:

Most children and families who color or hide Easter eggs as part of their Resurrection Sunday tradition have no knowledge of the origin of these traditions. Easter egg activities have become a part of Western culture. Many would be surprised and even dismayed to learn where the traditions originated.
“The egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians. They believed an old fable about an egg of wondrous size which was supposed to have fallen from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvelous egg - according to the ancient story - the Goddess Astarte (Easter) [Semiramis], was hatched. And so the egg came to symbolize the Goddess Easter.”
Sneaky... but they're still eggs.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The idea of a mystic egg spread from Babylon to many parts of the world. In Rome, the mystic egg preceded processions in honor of the Mother Goddess Roman. The egg was part of the sacred ceremonies of the Mysteries of Bacchus. The Druids used the egg as their sacred emblem. In Northern Europe, China and Japan the eggs were colored for their sacred festivals.
The egg was also a symbol of fertility; Semiramis (Easter) was the goddess of Fertility. The Easter egg is a symbol of the pagan Mother Goddess, and it even bears one of her names.

Do you hear that? Fables! Fertility! A Mother Goddess! The horror! Now, do you see why no true Christian should ever be caught dead dyeing eggs or participating in Easter egg hunts? Instead of an almighty (yet silent and invisible) creator god, the humble egg has been universally celebrated as a symbol of fertility and new life for thousands of years only because those people chose not to know any better. Dozens of cultures who observed the natural world around them, recognized the natural cycle of birth, life and death and celebrated the life-giving sunlight, moon cycle (reproductive cycle) and motherhood in the form of goddess worship were clearly unChristian, evil and pagan.

Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and marshmallow chicks are all very seductive. They seem like delicious innocent fun, but they are not. They are dangerous temptations down the road to unbelief. They suggest natural sources of life and, with those eggs and chicks and hens and such, they are also suggestive of all of the necessary and naturally-occurring components of reproduction. They suggest that the plants and animals on the earth - including human beings - are actually born, live and die without the aid or interference of any deity. Of course, throbbing, pulsing, thriving, living reality cannot compete with the power of fervent, mystical religious belief (right? amirite?), but why should Christians risk it?

And just in case you didn't catch the recurring motif of feminine power in those evil, pagan myths, just look what else this Easter/Eastre "holiday" is all about (according to ChristianAnswers):

Nice try, Christians, but no.
... this adulterous and idolatrous woman gave birth to an illegitimate son, she claimed that this son, Tammuz by name, was Nimrod reborn.” Semiramis “claimed that her son was supernaturally conceived [no human father] and that he was the promised seed, the 'savior'” - promised by God in Genesis 3:15. “However, not only was the child worshipped, but the woman, the MOTHER, was also worshipped as much (or more) than the son!” Nimrod deified as the god of the sun and father of creation. Semiramis became the goddess of the moon, fertility, etc.

The woman, the MOTHER (!!1eleventy1!) was worshipped! If ever there was proof that Easter is an unChristian festival, this creation of a female god is it. Any mythology that pays respect to women - let alone that elevates one to goddess status - autonomous, powerful and life-giving - is a mythology that is antithetical to everything that patriarchal Christianity stands for.

And come on, look at that silly fable! It cannot hold a candle to the 100% true, God-breathed, divine message in the Bible describing the singular Truth of Christianity: An innocent and immaculate young virgin miraculously gave birth to a son. The Bible claims that this son, Jesus by name, was the son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit (no human father) and that he was the promised Messiah - the "savior" promised by God in Genesis 3:15. Not only is the child, Jesus, worshipped as he should be, but his mother, Mary is also paid deference as only the Mother of God deserves to be.

Now, that is a story that has the ring of ultimate Truth™!

In the old fables of the Mystery cults, their 'savior' Tammuz, was worshipped with various rites at the Spring season. According to the legends, after he was slain [killed by a wild boar], he went into the underworld. But through the weeping of his mother… he mystically revived in the springing forth of the vegetation - in Spring! Each year a spring festival dramatically represented this supposed 'resurrection'...

In the old holy scriptures of the One True Faith, the Christian savior, Jesus Christ, is worshipped with various rites at the spring season. According to the inerrant word of the Bible, after he was slain (killed by Roman occupiers), he died and descended into hell. But according to the will of his father, he mystically revived - bringing "new life" to the world - in Spring! Each spring, during holy days, worshippers dramatically re-enact the utterly unverifiable story totally true Biblical account of this real resurrection.

Thus, a terrible false religion developed with its sun and moon worship, priests, astrology, demonic worship, worship of stars associated with their gods, idolatry, mysterious rites, human sacrifice, and more. Frankly, the practices which went on were so horrible that it is not fitting for me to speak of them here.

Exactly.  We will speak no more about it. The Christian religion with its divine Son worship, priests, mysticism, belief in angels and demons, worship of holy shrines associated with visions of their gods, angels and saints, mysterious rites and liturgical human sacrifice ritual is so much more than this terrible false religion from which Easter has sprung. For one thing, Christians add ritual cannibalism after the ritual human sacrifice! Frankly, these practices are so obviously correct, righteous and good, that it is not fitting for any Christian to participate in anything else. The source of that whole springtime/ new life/ bunnies and eggs/ ickily feminine, fertility cultish, Eastery thing is a terrible, false religion. What kind of a legitimate spring/rebirth festival elevates a MOTHER over a son? Definitely not a Christian festival!

Easter is clearly an evil pagan festival which Christians ought to decry.

Absolutely not!
Christians ought to take a stand against this tawdry commercialization of Christianity's most glorious holiday and simply refuse to partake in it. Perhaps they could demand that retailers post Happy Resurrection Sunday signs in their stores. Insist that schools and businesses should be closed out of respect for Crucifixion Friday. Fight for the power to teach schoolchildren the Good News™- whether they are Christian or not - through faith-building activities. Why shouldn't they be able to put on an annual Passion Play in public schools? What little boy wouldn't love to portray the crucified Jesus? What little girl hasn't dreamed of being cast as the Blessed Virgin grieving over the broken body of her murdered son? Even the littlest Christians can partake in the spirit-filled fun by baking Resurrection Cookies with Mom. As Mom reads the appropriate scriptures, the little ones can beat nuts into pieces with a wooden spoon and imagine they are breaking the bones of their long-suffering savior†. Godly, wholesome, fearsome fun. Now, that is the way to celebrate Easter Joy Resurrection Sunday!

One might wonder if there is a better way for Christians to celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection, the most important of all Christian holy days. In retrospect, it seems obvious that it would have been a better witness to the world if Christians had not attempted to “Christianize” pagan celebrations* - adopting the name “Easter” (Ishtar/Semiramis) in remembrance of Christ. Jesus has been obscured by painted eggs and bunnies. Attention has been shifted away from spiritual truth and toward materialism (clothing, products and candies with the wrong symbolism). Stores merchandise the name of Easter (not “Resurrection Sunday”) and sell goods that have nothing to do with Christ's death and resurrection.

I couldn't agree more. Leave that pagan Easter business to the heathens, Christians! Resurrection Sunday belongs to you and Easter belongs to the rest of us. You glorify divine capital punishment, substitutionary atonement and human sacrifice - we prefer bunnies, eggs and chocolate. You keep the Crucifixion in Crucifixion Friday and the Resurrection in Resurrection Sunday and we will keep the Easter in Easter. Sounds fair to me.

† Read the Resurrection Cookie link. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.
Can I get an "Amen" to this, brothers and sisters?

That's right, Easter Bunny, just keep on hopping right out of the Christian calendar. 
And you can take your abominable eggs with you!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Classic Easter Special - Here Comes Peter Cottontail!

via BearclawsVillage

Attention, NiftyReaders! Gather the kiddies around!

It's time for a classic holiday special, replete with bunnies, spring flowers, candy and bubblegum, coloring Easter eggs, music, dancing and even a time machine! In short, this film has everything necessary for some real Easter fun!

For your Saturday Inspiration, Here Comes Peter Cottontail, narrated by Danny Kaye.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Have A Good Friday

                                                                                                                                               Artwork by cliodhna

If we want a signifier for the human condition, imagine the culture we would live in now if, instead of a dead corpse on an instrument of torture, our signifier was a child staring in wonder at the stars. That’s representative of the state of humanity, too; it’s a symbol that touches us all as much as that of a representation of our final end, and we don’t have to daub it with the cheap glow-in-the-dark paint of supernatural fol-de-rol for it to have deeper meaning. -PZ Myers

The resilience of nature, new life
and spring flowers. This is the
true meaning of Easter!
Even when I was a practicing Catholic, I never quite wanted to "celebrate" the Christian remake of Easter. I was happy to celebrate spring, rebirth, flowers blooming, days getting longer, the Easter bunny and coloring eggs to symbolize fertility and new life - in short, all the aspects of the ancient festival of Eastre that most people enjoy celebrating at this time of the year. But the human sacrifice myth that Christianity grafted on to Easter has always repulsed me.

I think one of the most puzzling and disturbing things about theism is this: belief seems to alter the human mind so that otherwise rational, good and decent people are able to accept a doctrine of "salvation through human sacrifice" without apparent discomfort.  In fact, Christians not only embrace this doctrine as the truth, but they consider it to be a beautiful proof of the love of the Biblical god.  Without any apparent irony, most Christians regard the story of the torture and execution of the son-god, Jesus, as the very zenith of joyful good news.

This is good?
In any other context, human beings who think bloody human sacrifice is acceptable, let alone good, would be considered sociopathic. An entire culture of them would be considered monstrous. Yet, human sacrifice to gods - bloodshed for religion - is accepted as a normal part of human culture even to this day in some parts of the world. Only in a religious context is such depravity considered not only acceptable but laudatory.

The concept of redemptive blood sacrifice disturbs me on many levels.  It disturbs me that people are told that humanity is in need of redemption - that we are sinful, "filthy rags" condemned by our very nature to an eternity of torture in hell unless we seek "salvation"from a deity - when it is the deity which they also believe created our human nature in the first place. More important is the chilling reality that people accept this vile, self-loathing doctrine. I wonder at the twisted psychology of a faith that teaches little children that they are sinful, hell-bound creatures, and then goes on to tell them that their only path to salvation must be through a bloody human sacrifice that allegedly occurred 2000 years ago.

It disturbs me that the deity that millions of people worship is believed to require a blood sacrifice to expiate the sinfulness of its own creation at all. It seems incredible that an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving god - whose alleged desire is to welcome humanity into its presence - would deliberately create humankind with a curious, independent and impulsively immature nature and then subject the first humans to a life or death test which requires incuriousness, unquestioning obedience and experienced maturity.

A god of constant fury
It disturbs me that millions of people worship a god that would condemn all humanity for all eternity because of the inevitable failure of the two prototype humans to pass that impossible test because of the limitations of the very human nature with which that god endowed them.  It could make sense if people acknowledged that the god is a viciously manipulative tyrant which only fear kept them worshiping, but instead Christians insist that the mythical monster is a "loving" god.

It disturbs me that the cruel, capricious, psychopathic behavior which is the nature of the Biblical god - it is evident throughout holy scripture that God is all that and worse - must be called just, holy and glorious by its worshipers. Believers never seem to wonder why their omniscient and omnipotent god would require total, abject obedience in the first place nor why it could not - or would not - think of a more humane way for its followers to avoid eternal hellfire for the "sin" of being what they were created to be. It never seems to occur to believers that the deity they truly believe in is actually awful, even evil.

Christians refer to the Passion and Resurrection stories as the most "joyful" part of scripture.  I understand that they think it is the most important part - indeed it is the very foundation of the Christian faith - but I do not understand how people can remain so uncritical of this "salvation".  I find myself wondering how people can suspend normal human horror at such violent cruelty in this one celebrated instance,  calling it necessary and good. Their insistence that a god that can do anything somehow needed someone to die a violent, painful death to satisfy its thirst for vengeance and that this capriciously cruel demand is the greatest love humankind will ever know strikes me as very sad.

Human beings fear death more than anything else. Al Stefanelli writes that through most of history, the horror of dying spawned many versions of the Savior story.  Probably human beings then, as now, felt an awful impotence in the face of their inevitable demise and that sense of impotence may explain the continued acceptance of a doctrine of human failure leading to misplaced faith in irrational belief.

Think about that...
But, while fear and a sense of impotence may explain the willingness of believers to accept a savior myth, I feel that it is early religious indoctrination and psychological manipulation which leads people to sublimate their normal, healthy human aversion to wanton cruelty and to accept the meanest of human impulses - in the guise of Godly judgement - with hardly a murmur of protest.  Cruelty is called kindness, evil is called good and contempt is called love. Such is the bizarrely twisted Christian moral compass.

I suspect that the early Christian conquerers co-opted the pagan Eastre celebrations of springtime fertility not simply to 'win over' pagans to Christianity (they generally achieved this through intimidation and persecution anyway), but to make Christianity more palatable to the masses by entwining the terrifying and immoral doctrine with the more hopeful, joyful celebrations that most psychologically healthy human beings naturally prefer. By fusing the repugnant with the refreshing, Christianity keeps its adherents off-balance and confused about what ought to be the clear difference between goodness and evil.

I do not believe that the Biblical god - or any gods - exist, but I do think that the idea of such a god - and the repulsive religious doctrines built around it - ought to be resisted by all morally healthy people with every ounce of vigor that they can muster.

Replica of torture/execution device is the universally beloved symbol for the religion of "love".

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Waly, Waly Gin Love Be Bony In An Upper Room

Every Maundy Thursday when I was a member of the church choir, we sang an evening service which was a remembrance of the Last Supper. The priest washed the feet of the alter servers (as Jesus was reported to have done for his apostles) and the choir sang the song "An Upper Room".

I've always loved the melody of that song and of course it is no surprise that it is yet another thing which Christianity "borrowed" from secular culture.

For your Thursday Tonic, you can enjoy James Taylor's version with "newer" (circa 1780 - a conglomeration of older songs in the verses) or read the even older version (1600's conglomeration of even older ancient songs) below:

Waly, Waly gin Love be Bony (old Scottish verses and ancient English air)

O, waly, waly, up the bank;
And waly, waly, down the brae;
And waly, waly, yon burn-side,
Where I and my love wont to gae.

I leaned my baek unto an aik (aik = oak),
I thought it was a trusty tree;
But first it bowed, and syne (syne = afterwards) it brake.
Sae my true love did lightly me.

O, waly, waly, but love be bony,
A little time, while it is new;
But when it's auld it waxeth cauld,
And fades away like morning dew.

O, wherefore should I brush my head?
O, wherefore should I kaim my hair?
For my love has me forsook,
And says he'll never love me mair.

Now, Arthur's Seat shall be my bed,
The sheets shall ne'er be touched by me;
Saint Anton's well shall be my drink,
Since my true love's forsaken me.

Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blow,
And shake the green leaves off the tree?
O, gentle death, when wilt thou come,
For of my life I am wearie.

'Tis not the frost that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snaw's inclemency;
'Tis not the cauld that makes me cry,
But my love's heart grown cauld to me.

When we came in by Glasgow town,
We were a comelie sight to see;
My love was clad in black velvet,
And I myself in cramoisie.

But had I wist before I kist
That love had been sae ill to win;
I'd locked my heart in a case of gold,
And pinned it with a silver pin.

O, faith is gone, and truth is past,
And my true love's forsaken me;
If all be true that I hear say,
I'll mourn until the day I dee.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Time For Marriage Equality

photo courtesy of Becky Kirkland Kremkau

The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments today and tomorrow which could have a decisive impact upon federal law regarding marriage equality. I'm traveling this week, so I'll drop off a roundup of good articles on the topic. This post will be updated later today.

History in Real Times, Charles M. Blow, New York Times, March 27, 2013.

Will we move into the future guided by ancient religious texts or current scientific ones? Will we follow the dictates of supposed deities or the prescript of universal dignity?
This is not to begrudge anyone their faith — whatever gets you through the night, brothers and sisters. Rather, it is to say that you should be free to have your faith govern your life but not to extend it to the governance of others’ lives.
I strongly believe in the sovereignty of self — the idea that you are the sole dictate of your own body and your own life as long as no one else is unwittingly or willingly negatively influenced by your choices.

The last, worst argument against gay marriage, Alex Pareene, Salon, March 26, 2013.
In other words, gay marriage is banned because the purpose of marriage, and the reason the state has an interest in involving itself with marriage, is to help ensure that as many children as possible are raised by their biological parents...But if the argument is that we have to go back to the day when marriage was effectively something society forced couples to do in order to make sure their children had stable homes, that argument should be made more plainly. Don’t just protect Traditional Marriage, Supreme Court: Ban divorce!

Gay Marriage Arguments: Cell Phones, The Internet and Fertility After 55, Liz Halloran, NPR It's All Politics, March 26, 2013.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard lively arguments Tuesday in a challenge to California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages.
And, as many learned painfully after last year's court decision to uphold Obamacare, it is risky business to predict how justices will rule later based on questions raised in arguments.
So we won't.
Instead, here are five areas of discussion we found interesting, even if they may not prove predictive of the outcome.

Human Rights Campaign Red Marriage Equality Sign Goes Viral, Nolan Kraszkiewicz, policymic, March 26, 2013.

You might have woken up this morning to find your Facebook or Twitter news feed covered in a pink and red equal sign and been curious as to the image's origin. Well, here are the details...

A Decision That Could Change America, Bill Mears and Michael Pearson, CNN, March 26, 2013.
As partisans argued pointedly over same-sex marriage outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, justices inside hinted at their disparate views on the hot-button issue -- with some of them questioning whether they should consider the case at all.
What's at stake, potentially, is whether the court extends a sweeping constitutional right for gays and lesbians to wed in all 50 states...

At Supreme Court, Marriage Equality Foes' Best Argument Is That They're Losing, Adam Serwer, Mother Jones, March 26, 2013.
Perhaps mindful of history, the conservative justices mostly argued that marriage was really old and shouldn't be messed with. Same-sex marriage is younger than "cell phones or the Internet," Justice Samuel Alito noted. Chief Justice John Roberts worried about change to an "institution that's been around since time immemorial." Later, Roberts suggested that since children of same-sex couples are doing okay there's no need to recognize their parents' relationships as marriages—an obvious catch-22, since if research showed children in families headed by same-sex partners doing poorly opponents of same-sex marriage would use that research to argue against allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Marriage Equality vs. Supreme Court: Our View, The Editorial Board, USA Today, March 26, 2013.
When the court issues its rulings, likely in June, the best outcome would be a guarantee of equal rights that leaves room for states to decide the means.
If that's not possible, public opinion and civil rights history both suggest the court's choice could be less whether to endorse gay marriage than when and how.

The Weight of History: Marriage Equality at the Supreme Court, John Becker, Huffington Post, March 26, 2013.
No one knows for certain how the arguments today or tomorrow will go, nor do we know how the Supreme Court will rule in June. But we do know that the day will soon come when LGBT individuals, couples, and families are equally protected under the law. We know it won't be long until we are fully and wholly included in the lofty American ideals of liberty and justice for all. And we know that we will win this fight.
The full weight of our history has come to bear today, and I know it will ultimately tip the scales toward justice, toward love.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Marriage Equality and the Supreme Court, Georgia Logothetis, DailyKos, March 26, 2013.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Music - The Logical Song

For your Monday Music, the classic anthem of youth: Supertramp's The Logical Song.

The Logical Song

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world's asleep,
The questions run too deep
For such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.

Now watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical,
Liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won't you sign up your name, we'd like to feel you're
Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!

At night, when all the world's asleep,
The questions run so deep
For such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
But please tell me who I am.

-Richard Davies, Roger Hodgson, Jorge Martinez

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!

Good Morning, Humans!

May I present to you some must-see video?

Our very own Apollo will demonstrate why no home should be without a cat.

Or three.

Definitely three cats.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Ying & Yang

One is a tortie, the other Ginger & White,
one loves to cuddle, the other loves to fight.

When they were born there was no one to care,
they were cold & hungry and had fleas in their hair.

Then came the day when they found a new home,
with food always there and toys of their own.

A meowmie to snuggle with and a daddy to play,
for the first time in their lives it's going their way.

Now nothing can hurt them, they can be cold again never,
they can finally be happy, for now and forever.

-Leanne Conway

Our "Yin and Yang",  Artemis and Apollo aka the twins!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Has Arrived!

                                                                                                                                                              photo by another peri

It is 11:02 GMT (6:02AM CST), our planet has aligned with the sun just so and - in the northern hemisphere where the NiftyFamily resides - spring has officially begun!

The March Equinox occurs each year on either March 19, 20 or 21. It is the moment when the sun crosses the imaginary line we call the equator and on that day, living things on earth experience roughly even hours of daylight and darkness. Equinox comes from the latin for "equal night".

Now, we in the north can look forward to lengthening days and shorter nights until June, while our southern hemisphere neighbors will experience shortening days and longer nights. Best of all, in my garden the earth is beginning to awaken. Yes it is! Even if you have a late winter snow, the earth feels that sunlight!.

Spring has sprung!

Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

For your musical inspiration today in the first moments of spring: a lushly beautiful rendition of Vivaldi's Spring (from the Four Seasons) performed by violinist Julia Fischer accompanied by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. Enjoy the glorious music punctuated by birdsong, presented in a gorgeous garden conservatory. This is about as good as it gets!

Seriously, listen to this and give yourself a little gift for spring.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - Find Yourself

via NewfoundlandandLabrador

I'm on the road, so posting will be light over the next couple of weeks.

Here is a few minutes of beauty to tide you over!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Music - Yer Spring (Hey Rosetta!)

It's nearly spring - hang in there, NiftyReaders!

Yer Spring

Long we were searching
These serpentine streets for the signs of a spark
Fucking around in the dark
Then long we were held
In the thrum and the desperate heat of the clubs
Drinking deep from that cup

We'd drink it up

Each step was something
The beat in the blood and the heat in our hands
Of twelve regular men
So when we come down cathedral street
Hollow and beaten, to the room that I rent
I'm going back up again

I'm going up

But while everything is blooming
You know the wilting always waits
To steal away your body, to steal away your brains

Oh man I hate this part,
When the car sails off the bridge
Am I the knuckles white inside? or am I the water rushing in?

Am I rising up?

Silent night, holy night
Take my eyes, take my mind and lay me down!
Oh! sweet winter kiss on these heavy lids!
Sweet winter gift of dreamless sleep, lay me down! draw me out!

Doctor unbandage my eyes
I feel the light and I'm ready to be out in it
Doctor uncover my ears
I hear the chorus weeping, I see the people singing:
Doctor unbandage my eyes
I feel the light and I'm ready to be rising!
Doctor uncover my ears!
I hear the chorus weeping! I see the people singing:

Let the loser up.
Let's get him up.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top O' The Morning To You!

When my children were young, we celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a party! Green food, seasonal crafts and of course, the wearin' of the green!

One of their favorite childhood songs was "The Unicorn". They knew all of the words, and we would sing along with Will Millar and the Irish Rovers on car trips, but on St. Patrick's Day a rousing rendition was a must!

For any NiftyReaders out there with young children (and to all the NiftyReaders who are young at heart and have a little bit of Irish in your soul), here is that song and the lyrics.

Top o' the morning to you all!

  The Unicorn Song    (listen to the classic recording here)

A long time ago, when the Earth was green,
There was more kinds of animals than you've ever seen.
And they'd run around free when the Earth was being born,
And the loveliest of 'em all was the unicorn.

There was green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born,
The loveliest of all was the unicorn.

Well now God seen some sinnin' and it caused Him pain.
And He said, "Stand back, I'm going to make it rain!"
He said, "Hey, Brother Noah, I'll tell you what to do,
build me a floating zoo,"

"and take some of them".......

"Green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born.
Don't you forget My unicorns."

Well Old Noah he was there and he answered the callin',
And he finished makin' the ark just as the rain started to fallin'.
Then he marched in all them animals two by two,
And he sung out as they went through,

"Hey Lord,"

"I got Your green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but Lord, I'm so forlorn,
I just can't see no unicorns!"

And Noah looked out through the driving rain,
Them unicorns were hiding, playing silly games.
They were kickin' and splashin' while the rain was pourin',
Oh, them silly unicorns!

There was green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Noah cried, "Close the door 'cause the rain is just pourin',
And we just cannot wait for no unicorn!"

The ark started moving, and it drifted with the tide,
And them unicorns looked up from the rocks and they cried.
And the waters come down and sort of floated them away,
That's why you never seen a unicorn to this very day.

But you'll see green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born,
You're never gonna see no unicorn!

-words and music Shel Silverstein, new verse Andrew McKee


For fans of the Irish Rovers or just anyone who would enjoy it - a blast from the past! This video is a compilation of clips from over the years as The Irish Rovers delighted audiences young and old with their beloved hit. This video was produced via CBC Vancouver, for their Silver Anniversary special.

via ST40TV

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!

Good Day, Humans.

Shhhh! My human is sleeping.

She has been very, very busy working on her computer.

She has been struggling with an enemy inside that computer that sounds like

"The edit from H E double hockey sticks!"
Shhhh, you two!

It is an epic battle.

But my human will win.

For now, though, my warrior human must sleep.


Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thorsday Tonic - It's Pi Day!

Today, March 14 (3.14) is Pi Day! The number π (pi) is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and is approximately equal to 3.14159. It is an irrational number...wait, you can go here to find out everything you ever wanted to know about pi, and here you will find probably a lot more than you want to know!

I don't know about you, but all this talk of pi has made me want to go straight to the kitchen and bake a pie!

Happy Pi Day!

Consider humble pi. It is a number never ending.

It never repeats itself as its value keeps ascending.

Based upon a circle, many men have tried

to calculate the ratio of its width to its outside.

It is called irrational because it can not be made a fraction.

The challenge of its nature has been a call to action.

The number pi has played a role in every life on earth.

From physics to statistics, its always proved its worth.

The tires that you ride on, the table where you dine,

little pi was there throughout its concept and design.

Humble pi is constant - its been a great addition

and quietly serves us each day without recognition.

If you can not appreciate why I hold this number high,

then shame! It is you that should be eating humble pie.

-- Ken Johnson

Uh-oh, but is there trouble in the kitchen? It looks like math whiz Vi Hart has a pretty convincing argument in the debate between Pi and Tau. Yes, that's right, there is a debate in math circles (heh) over Pi! Who knew? Watch this entertaining video and decide for yourself!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Isn't That Just Ducky!

Hello there!

Do you know that I like to play?

I like to run!

I like to run and play!

In the winter, it is hard for me to run outside.

The snow is too high and I am too little.

So, I run and play inside!

I am a good dog. I only bark when I am asking you to play with me.

And I am a good listener.

I am a good dog, and I like to run and play!

Isn't that just Ducky!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Tonic - The Bible in 10 Minutes

via Cult of Dusty

For your Tuesday Tonic, Comedian Dusty Smith gives a hilarious (but NSFW) recap of the History Channel's The Bible series. In under 10 minutes, Dusty strips away the religious mind-twisting (no, really! evil is good, brutality is love, insanity is a "plan"! Check it out in the Good Book™) and gets down to what the Bible actually says.

Seriously, I need to hire Dusty to revive my Barmy Bible Study series!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Music - The Sweetest Taboo

For your Monday Music, The Sweetest Taboo by Sade. A little sunshine and heat on a dreary March Monday when we have to suffer not only the last kick of winter (we hope!) but also a stolen hour due to Daylight Savings Crime. Waking in the dark this morning was only an inch short of too damn far.

Keep on, keep on bringing out the best in yourself!

The Sweetest Taboo

If I tell you
If I tell you now
Will you keep on
Will you keep on loving me

If I tell you
If I tell you how I feel
Will you keep bringing out the best in me

You give me, you give me the sweetest taboo
You give me, you're giving me the sweetest taboo
Too good for me

There's a quiet storm
And it never felt like this before
There's a quiet storm
That is you

There's a quiet storm
And it never felt this hot before
Giving me something that's taboo
(Sometimes I think you're just too good for me)

You give me the sweetest taboo
That's why I'm in love with you (with you)
You give me the sweetest taboo
Too good for me
(Sometimes I think you're just too good for me)

I'd do anything for you, I'd stand out in the rain
Anything you want me to do, don't let it slip away
There's a quiet storm
And it never felt like this before

There's a quiet storm
I think it's you
There's a quiet storm
And I never felt this hot before
Giving me something that's taboo

You give me the (you give me, you give me the) sweetest taboo
That's why I'm in love with you (with you)
You give me, keep giving me the sweetest taboo
Too good for me

You've got the biggest heart
Sometimes I think you're just too good for me
Every day is Christmas, and every night is New Year's Eve
Will you keep on loving me
Will you keep on, will you keep on
Bringing out the best in me

- Helen Folasade Adu, Martin Ditcham

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Daylight Savings Crime

For your Sunday entertainment, I am reposting an essay from the NiftyUniverse archives wherein my alter ego rails against Daylight Savings Time, NPR and whatever else that scattered mind gloms onto other stuff:

Good Day, NiftyReaders!

It's another glorious springlike morning,  the kind that just makes you leap out of bed ready to greet the day!  I love days like this, and I'd love them even more if they began on time instead of an hour too early!  As it is, I was forced to drag my protesting limbs out from under the duvet in the pre-dawn murk, call the boys for school, start breakfast and take the dog out before the first life-giving rays of that beautiful sunshine had even peeked over the horizon!  If a planet (or star?) could talk, I'm sure the good ol' sun would have said to me, "What the heck are you doing?  I'm fixing to shine down on you and the rest of this wonderful world in about 17 minutes--get back in bed!".

Unfortunately for me and the rest of civilized humanity, the Powers that Be™ are deaf to the whisperings of the stars and blind to the natural order of the universe.  They insist on the lunatic scheme of daylight savings time and because they are the Powers that Be, they can force the rest of us to arrange our affairs accordingly.  There ought to be a law against that.   If I had more time in my day (ahem! stolen hour?),  perhaps I would organize a grass-roots protest, but I am a busy woman and with even fewer hours in my day, I must redouble my efforts with the important tasks already on my To Do list!


Blog Post (obviously- in progress)
Photo Project (another obvious priority, although more difficult- don't know if I will get to it today)
Laundry-sheets, etc (a friend is arriving tomorrow for a quick overnight)
Lose Weight
Start Supper (hmm..)
Exercise (right after I finish this post!  Going for a walk in the lovely spring sunshine!)
Passport Application (Oops!  Forgot again!)
Plan Spring Roadtrip/ reserve hotel rooms en route (I have one already booked! Good!)

I've noticed that the order of priority seems a little off here.  Perhaps that has been the problem with my To Do lists.  Let me try sorting them in order of importance, then I can start at the top and work down, getting the most urgent tasks completed in a timely manner.  I am so glad that I have been blessed with good organizational skills!


Blog Post (always job 1!- started and first thing, too--excellent!)
Passport Application
Laundry (we need the sheets for tomorrow, so this must come first)
Passport Application
Start Supper (we have to eat!!)
Passport Application
Photo Project (good lord! this should be at the top of the list! It is job 1!)
Passport Application
Plan Spring Roadtrip (won't need any passports if we have no trip planned!)
Passport Application
Exercise (technically, this ought to be number 2 because it is the next thing I am going to do)
Lose Weight
Pay Bills (oops!  Nearly forgot that one! thanks for the reminder, Comcast,  although I must say that terse attitude was uncalled for)

Hmmm...there is a problem with the priorities on this list, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is.  Oh well,  it doesn't matter- it is the process which counts and I am nothing if not dedicated to the process!  Now that that's done,  I can get started on my great day!

But first,  I ought to mention something a little disturbing that I noticed this morning on the drive to school.  I had the radio tuned to NPR as usual,  and they are in the throes of their annoying annual Spring fund drive.  I tune in to NPR in the mornings because it is the only station from which I can get unbiased news and so forth without a load of irritating commercials and shouting deejays.  Every few months, however, I am subjected to annoying whining and begging for "pledges" and "support" (they call them "annual" Spring/Fall fund drives but they are lying through their teeth - they have them at least twice per year!).  It's really very aggravating!  I don't see how they can claim to be "commercial-free" when they subject their listeners to an hour or two of nearly non-stop pan-handling every six months, and I for one have had enough of it.

Certainly, I barely noticed the unnecessary interruption of my normal morning routines until this morning - when they mentioned a "special group of members" who are encouraging new members to join - but the principle remains the same: they promise annoyance-free radio and I expect annoyance-free radio!  Sure they have no commercials,  but is it not equally irritating to subject their listeners to this fawn-fest of shout-outs to their little favorites?  I bet that "special group of members" spends all their time annoying people instead of contributing to humanity like Yours Truly and Those in the Know!

Apparently, this is actually the last day of the Spring drive and I hadn't noticed it before now,  but standards are standards and I think NPR is letting down the side a little here.  Just what do they mean by a "special group of members" anyway?   I would have thought that I would definitely belong in the "special group of members" as I listen to the station every single day, but it appears that I have missed the memo!  Or rather, NPR has committed a grievous faux pas* by failing to recognise their real quality listeners!   I'm a little put out,  if the truth be told, although Those in the Know will remember that I am far too tolerant, not to mention busy with important stuff,  to give it a second thought.

(Fulminating pause) Who are these people whose membership is more special than mine, anyway?  It is all too vexing.  I'm going to have to ring them up and give them a piece of my mind...


Well, I've wasted enough time today on this blog post and going off half-cocked to call NPR, resulting in humiliating realization that I have forgotten to renew my membership for the past 3 years  other stuff.  I am a busy woman and people depend on me to make things happen!

Good Day to All!

* Those in the Know can "learn something new everyday" simply by reading my blog and soaking up the sophisticated foreign references!  Take that, NPR!

It's inescapable. Conquer it with humour!

Science Sunday - Reality of Climate Change

via melodysheep

For your Science Sunday, Al Gore and colleagues on the reality of global climate change.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pwned! (An International Women's Day Feature Presentation)

In honor of International Women's Day, may I present a great story about a remarkable woman. This story has it all: a courageous heroine, vicious enemies, conflict, cultural relevance, tension and drama. And a very satisfying conclusion. It's like the best video game ever!

Anita Sarkeesian is a young feminist. She has also been an enthusiastic video gamer since childhood. As she grew from happily video-playing child to thoughtful teen and feminist adult, Sarkeesian became increasingly disturbed by the portrayal of female characters in video games. It seemed that the vast majority of female-identified characters were either victims, trophies or wily (lying) temptresses - always, always hyper-sexualized and all too often brutalized as some part of the storyline.

Sarkeesian talked about this portrayal of women in video games on her video blog as part of the overall discussion of the issue of the negative depictions of women in all aspects of popular culture. She discussed it with other gamers, too, and while she did receive encouraging feedback from many, she also received angry blowback from some. Recognizing that this sexist portrayal of women characters was not accidental, Sarkeesian decided to try to examine the issue a little more closely.

But, it's just a game!
Why can't these b****es lighten up?
In 2012, Sarkeesian made the "mistake" of launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of videos examining the prevalence of sexist gendered stereotypes in video games. While the project was hailed as a great idea by many feminist gamers (both men and women), it was met with outrage by a significant subset of gamers and misogynists on the internet. The resulting firestorm of misogynistic harassment ranged from expletive-laced comments on the website to threats of rape, torture and death. Her blog, Feminist Frequency, was hacked. Enraged gamers created "games" featuring Sarkeesian as a character who is raped, beaten or killed (or all three) - one was called "Beat up Anita Sarkeesian" and featured the *fun* of punching the animated Anita until the blood-spatter turns the screen red. Furious gamers sent videos of the violence being done to her "game character", perhaps meant as a warning and a threat, but undoubtedly meant to harass, intimidate and silence her.

Fortunately for young women everywhere - and more directly for women gamers - Anita Sarkeesian did not let the harassment silence her. She persevered in her quest. Other feminist gamers supporting her effort spread the word about the Kickstarter and the rest, as they say, is history.  Here is Anita Sarkeesian speaking at TED+Women last fall telling the story in her succinct, engaging and calmly awesome way:

Online harassment - even harassment that reaches criminal levels - is almost never successfully prosecuted. The law has not caught up to the technology yet and in any case the anonymity and enormous size of the online population makes enforcement of any laws problematic.  The internet is the perfect home for enraged cowards who lob verbal and visual attacks at their targets before scuttling away into the shadows of the interweb. While it is likely that most of these lowlifes would never risk their own hides by coming out into the open and attacking the object of their wrath in real life, the sobering fact that no one can be certain about what rage-filled people might do is often enough to frighten a victim of online harassment into silence.

What? It's just a simple beach shot!
Why do those feminazis always get
their thongs in a twist, anyway?
The goal of the anti-feminists who perpetrated the campaign against her was to silence Anita Sarkeesian through online harassment so vicious and threatening that it is actually nauseating to read about.  Instead of achieving their goal, however, they inadvertently assisted her in her goal of funding the video series. With great courage and determination, Sarkeesian not only continued to promote her project but she actually used the online campaign of terror against her as a case in point supporting the need for exactly the series her kickstarter was attempting to fund.

The TED talk linked above occurred last fall and this week, Ms. Sarkeesian released the first video in the series, Damsel in Distress: Part 1 - Tropes vs Women in Video Games.

Upcoming videos in the series will include:

The Fighting F#@k Toy - Video #2
The Sexy Sidekick - Video #3
The Sexy Villainess - Video #4
Background Decoration - Video #5
Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress - Video #6
Women as Reward - Video #7
Mrs. Male Character - Video #8
Unattractive Equals Evil - Video #9
Man with Boobs - Video #10
Positive Female Characters! - Video #11
Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games - Video #12

In addition to what looks to be a fantastic series of videos about this issue, Sarkeesian is developing materials for a classroom curriculum kit to help educate a future generation of gamers and internet media participants. As she pointed out in her TED+Women talk, "video games are the fastest growing form of mass media today". This is a huge communication tool, with enormous power to influence and shape our culture. As a society, we can sit back and allow it to more deeply entrench harmful tropes which dehumanize, objectify and exclude women or we can use it to help build a more just and equitable society.

Clearly, a significant, vocal and vicious subset of society wishes to enforce compliance with the first option. But feminists like Anita Sarkeesian and her supporters have fought for and achieved a small step toward ensuring that the second option has a chance to flower.

In short, Anita Sarkkeesian pwned the very people who wanted to force her to shut up and go away.

Well done, Anita Sarkeesian!

Take a few minutes to view the masterfully done video below. It is entertaining, quick-moving, and makes its points clearly and concisely. The video clips from some of my favorite games are fun, too!

Best quote:

"In the game of patriarchy, women are not the opposing team; they are the ball."