National Celibacy Day

I received an email today reminding me that Tuesday, November 2nd is National Celibacy Day. So remember next Tuesday: No Bush, No Dick.

00:00 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

The Chicken Cloud

For those readers who've ever wondered what 200 meat chickens and 26 laying hens (they're the colored birds in the foreground) looked like, we offer this photo, taken by Kris this morning when we had just opened the barn door to let the chickens run ... note that all of them had poured out of the door with the link gate just moments before this photo was snapped. I'm heading into the coop to refill the water and put down some feed. It's tough to walk thru this madness - they not only obstruct your feet, but will fly into you as well (note the bird on the wing over the main body of the flock, between me and the camara).

We lost two more meat birds Thursday to drowning - the stock tank got'em again, and we have since placed concrete blocks in it to at least give them a chance to get out when they fall in. Although I'm pretty sure it's pointless. Stupid chickens. And I had to kill another this morning: he (or she?) had overeaten to the point where it was unable to move, and was slowly being pecked to death by the others. We don't de-beak our chicks like some commercial operations do, because we feel it's an un-necessary cruelty and completely unnatural to boot. But if a bird goes down, the others have no mercy. Sad, in a sense, but it was completely out of the question to try to salvage it, as I won't take a sick bird to slaughter, and this one was most definitely sick. And I really don't want the others to learn to eat chicken - cannibalism can be real problem in a flock, even a free range one, although it more generally happens in confined birds, which is why they're frequently de-beaked.

That put's the total for this run at exactly 200 birds: which is great. Not a single meat bird has been lost to predators this time, and I think we've finally got that problem licked. However, it's forced a recalculation on the amount of feed required - I was only expecting to have around 180 at this point, and those extra twenty eat plenty.

But Tuesday's coming: I'll go vote in the morning and give the meat birds their last meal mid-afternoon. And by Wednesday afternoon they'll all be in my freezers. Little bastards! But tasty!

And then next March we start all over again ...

00:00 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Woman exhumed boyfriend's ashes

Well, I don't think anybody connected to this tale is a heathen - at least I hope not! What a bunch of jerks! But note that the deceased was buried with "beer and cigarettes". An archeologist would call them "grave goods", and it's obviously another pagan survival that is little noticed, but frequently practiced.

Of course, had this occurred in the elder days, the lady doing the drinking would have found herself drinking bog water in short order, courtesy of the family of the deceased.

A woman has been arrested for allegedly digging up her dead boyfriend's ashes from a cemetery and drinking the beer that was buried with him.

(link) [CNN]

00:00 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

A Very Heavy Heart

It is with a heavy heart that I write this, to tell you of the passing over the Rainbow Bridge of Jason Cope, Founder and Godhi of Gyrfalcon Hall, Oathed Kinsman of the Kindred of Ravenswood, on Friggas Day, the 22nd of Hunting, 2254 RE. He was 39.

His strength amazed us, his mirth delighted us, his lore inspired us, and his devotion to the Gods of the North, and especially to Thor, was legendary. He will be sorely missed.

Jason was a masterful high school English teacher and avid medievalist - the photo at left was taken at the Bristol Ren Faire, where he went by the name of Ulfgrim the Berserk. His antics - wearing his armor to school, for example, delighted and amazed his students, many of who picked up his fondness for recreating the past, and joined him in the NW Indiana Medieval Society.

Out of the classroom, and away from the Ren Faires, Jason took his troth to our gods and goddesses very seriously indeed, composing several fine blots, notably to Freyr and to Thor, with whom he had a special relationship. The physical distance between us had forced him to form his own hall, separate from Ravenswood, but we still considered him kin, and our godhi will deliver the services Tuesday for his family and friends.

I would ask those who honor the Shining Gods and Goddesses of Our Folk to raise a horn to the memory of Jason, my kinsman and my friend.


Cattle die, kinsmen die,
one day you die yourself;
I know one thing that never dies-
the dead man's reputation.
-- Havamal 76

00:00 /Asatru | 2 comments | permanent link

UK experts test for BSE in goats

Mad goats ... just what we need. Not.

British scientists have been asked to confirm the presence of "mad cow disease" in a French goat.

(link) [BBC]

00:00 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

NSA Security Guide for MacOS X

A very useful document if you have a Mac - and especially if you've had a Mac for years and are new to a Unix enviroment.

The National Security Agency has just released a Security Configuration Guide for Apple Mac OS X (pdf). The guide mostly contains common sense configuration information that applies to many Unix systems. It also includes specific discussion for Apple's unique features such as Keychain and FileVault.

(link) [Slashdot: ]

00:00 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Bush Asked to Stop Using 'Still the One' (AP)

This isn't really a "copywrong", but it's posted here to show the lack of respect the people (mostly Republicans, but it crosses party lines) who are pushing for Draconian new copyright law have for the existing copyright regime... I wonder if a radio station could be held liable for playing the tune, heard by Bush staffer and subsequently used in the campaign, for "inducing" the copyright violation? I wonder what Sen. Hatch thinks of this?

AP - The songwriter who helped pen the 1970s hit, "Still the One," is demanding that President Bush stop using the tune at campaign events, arguing that he's no fan of the Republican incumbent and the campaign never got permission to use the song.

(link) [Yahoo! News: Top Stories]

00:00 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Dept. of Homeland Security Enforces Expired Trademark

Here's the link to the story on Yahoo - truly mind-boggling...

Apparently the Department of Homeland Security does not have enough to do in keeping the US safe, and now is enforcing copyright law as well. The AP reports that a toy store owner in Oregon was requested by Homeland Security officials to remove a potentially copyright-infringing Rubik's cube-like toy from her shelves. The patent for Rubik's cube was issued in 1980, and so it is expired.

(link) [Slashdot]

00:00 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

The Thirsty Dead

Laudator Temporis Acti had this fascinating post yesterday on the practice of libations for the dead in ancient Greece, inspired by an article on what is essentially the same ritual among urban youth in Northern California.

We in modern heathenry are just developing our practice in this area, and I found this a revealing look into the mindset of Indo-Europeans regarding their ancestors and departed loved ones.

00:00 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

The Funeral for Jason Cope

Yesterday, Jason was formally committed to the Halls of the Gods - in a big way. My wife and I were honored to have been invited by the family to share in the private memorial service which occurred before the main visitation. I will confess to being a bit puzzled, initially, as to why the service was by invitation only, but soon found out.

The private service had perhaps 250 attendees. If they [the family] had decided on a public service, they would've had to have rented Wrigley Field to hold the crowds. The line(s) for the main viewing streched around the block - more than once, and despite a steady drizzle of cold rain. I would guesstimate that at least three thousands passed his coffin and paid their respects yesterday. The mortuary had to set up snaking lines, like the ones seen at state funerals and such, to handle the overflow.

The local paper had, besides the standard obit, a half page, four column article on Jason's life. Unfortunately, I can't find it online, but will type/scan it as soon as possible. Update:done.

To give you a better idea of his immense reach, after the services, our kindred stopped at a Friday's restaurant in Merrillville for a dinner together before heading to our homes. The hostess, a young girl of perhaps 20, spotted us together, all in formal attire, and asked what the occassion was - we replied that we had attended a funeral. At which point she said "I don't mean to be rude or intrusive, but whose funeral was it?" When we told her she began weeping - my wife held her for a few minutes - Jason had been her senior English teacher when she was in high school. She claimed not to understand what had made her ask: she had a "funny feeling".

Our kinsman Chuck flew in from Seattle Monday evening (he returned this morning at 4 am ... talk about a red-eye!). There were license plates from all over the Midwest, and other folks who flew in from nearly all over the country. And I would wager that most, if not all, of Jason's students, over his entire 14 year tenure at Portage High School, who had heard of the tragedy were there.

And the Thor's Hammers! At least one in three was wearing the Hammer of the Gods - including Jason's entire family! I have never seen such a number and variety of the token of Thor outside of a formal Asatru moot - and that's just a "maybe". We're talking hundreds of Hammers.

Alice, the widow, is Catholic, although she was very supportive of her husband's choice of religious faith. And although there was a Catholic priest who spoke (as well as our godhi) at the private service, the Christianity was very muted. His sisters committed him to Har's Hall, and hoped that Odin and Thor realized what a gift they'd received. His father Hammersigned the coffin before the service.

These folks aren't "heathen", in the sense of belonging to a kindred and identifying themselves as Asatru. None could recite the Nine Noble Virtues by heart - they probably couldn't name any of the gods and goddesses outside of Odin, Thor and Frey or Freyja. But they knew, instinctively if not explicitly, that Jason was on the road to Asgard, and they honored the memory of their departed kinsman and friend in the best way they knew how - wearing the Hammer of Thor.

Their lives had been touched, and they knew it and acknowledged it. And they knew the driving force behind the person: even though Jason was not an "Edda thumper", and often complained of being unable to reach people (!), ultimately his honor, and his deeds touched their lives in ways he could never have imagined.

These folks, nominal Christians though they may remain, will remember Jason, and remember his troth, and remember his effect on them. They will keep their Hammers, sometimes about their necks, sometimes in a jewelry box or a closet. But they will keep them. And they will remember.

Heathens are sometimes self-critical for not being open enough, or up front enough. We berate ourselves for not advertising, much less proselytizing. Jason's life should teach us all that the best way to bring others home to the faith of their fathers is by our deeds - our lives do effect others, and often in ways we cannot even see. If we live with honor, courage, truth and loyalty others will see, and they will know the source of our strength and conviction.

Christianity did not sweep the North in a day - or a week or a month or a year. It took decades, sometimes even centuries before the new ways had supplanted the ancient traditions of our folk. Why should we expect the reverse to happen overnight? Why do we forget that it is our lives that matter: not our marketing campaigns, our literature and our "outreach" efforts? Those are important, to be sure, but when you get right down to it, if every heathen fulfills their duty to the gods and lives by the values we cherish, the rest will take care of itself.

Funeral homes in America always print up little cards for the deceased, listing their birth and death dates and some appropiate religious text. Alice chose for her husbands card the text of the Norse funeral prayer recorded by the Arab historian Ibn Fadlan in the ninth century. The private service concluded with this prayer, led by Alice, recited by the attendees en masse:

Lo' there do I see my fathers.
Lo' there do I see my mothers,
Lo' there do I see my brothers and my sisters.
Lo' there do I see the line of my people
    back to the beginning.
Lo' they call to me.
They bid me to take my place among them,
    in the Halls of Valhalla,
where the brave may live forever.

00:00 /Asatru | 3 comments | permanent link

Study: Sleepy Doctors Make More Errors (AP)

I'm sorry: I can't help it. This has got to be filed under 'Humor'. I suppose I need a seperate category for 'stupidly obvious'. I have to wonder who funded this. Maybe I could snag a couple of hundred grand for proving that "sleeping drivers have more accidents", or that "mean people suck".

AP - From prescribing overdoses to sticking a tube in the wrong vein, doctors-in-training made one-third more serious mistakes during typically long shifts than they did during "short" 16-hour ones, a Harvard study found.

(link) [Yahoo! News: Top Stories]

00:00 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

India Outsourcers Find Back Door in Canada

Technically, this is how my former programming job headed to Bangalore... I have also heard of this same bit of legal legerdemain being used in the EU.

Metro International newspapers Toronto edition reports that more Indian companies are opening back doors into the United States by setting up shop in Canada.

(link) [Slashdot: ]

00:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Farting robot wins toy of the year

We don't need one - we have two dogs ... and my wife would probably add that she has me.

The Robosapien claims to be the first robot based on "biomorphic robotics". It is also almost definitely the first robot capable of both farting and belching. If these forms of communication fail him the robot can also manage "fluent international 'caveman' speech".

(link) [The Register]

00:00 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

E-voting paper suit dismissed in Florida

This is just more fuel for the legal fires that will ignite in Florida on November 3rd - a disaster waiting to happen.

The state does not need to create a paper record for touch-screen voting machines in case recounts are needed in tight races, a federal judge ruled Monday, upholding the state's emergency rule that set standards for e-voting recounts.

(link) [CNN]

00:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Would President Kerry defang the DMCA?

Ye gads: a positive reason to vote for Kerry. If he's serious - which given the level of support the Dems traditionally get from Hollywood and the music biz, one must certainly doubt. Those lobbies don't want the DMCA defanged, they want it strengthened!

CNET Washington watcher Declan McCullagh says the senator's first major departure from Bush hints at bolstering consumer rights over copyrights.

(link) [CNET]

00:00 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link