Black hole caught zapping galaxy into existence?

Steady state redux? Or something else entirely?

Which come first, the supermassive black holes that frantically devour matter or the enormous galaxies where they reside? A brand new scenario has emerged from a recent set of outstanding observations of a black hole without a home: black holes may be "building" their own host galaxy. This could be the long-sought missing link to understanding why the masses of black holes are larger in galaxies that contain more stars.

(link) [EurekAlert!]

20:24 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Tartan try-hards

It's not just the Scots, the Irish or the Welsh, nor is it just emigrants longing for the Auld Sod... it's about roots:

Why do so many people want be Scottish?

(link) [BBC News]

20:16 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Busy Times

Well, it's that time again, when we take the portable petting zoo up to Dull's, and the fun and mayhem begins! But it's also our most profitable time for farm products, so we're not complaining! Traffic has been great, and so far things are going very, very well! I should mention that the barn at the farm is part of a contest to get completely refurbished - vote for it if you can!

We took a somewhat different crew this year - here's one of the new ones:

Chunky Buns
Chunky Buns

I'll try to get some more pix up as soon as I can, and also some new photos of our newest grandchild - finally got to meet Drew yesterday, as the family came down from Chicago for a visit. The daughter will be back for a longer visit over Yule - and we'll get to see more of the little fellow then, I'm sure.

08:53 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Sheep in the News - Green Edition

Australia aims for 'green' sheep by cutting back on burps

I can attest to the fact that sheep breath is horrific - but given the way sheep work, with several stomaches, I seriously doubt they'll be able to breed the gas out, so to speak.

And I can't imagine the line of thinking that turns animals into pollutants - everything on our good green earth that breaths takes in oxygen and puts out carbon dioxide, a "greenhouse gas". What should we do: ban breathing?

Australian scientists are hoping to breed sheep that burp less as part of efforts to tackle climate change.

(link) [BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition]

08:50 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Copyright and Heathenry

As most readers of this blog are aware, copyright is a subject near and dear to me, and has been for several years. In my professional life, I depend on copyright to make my living (I'm a programmer for those unaware), and am fairly well versed in the legal aspects of the subject, though IANAL.

Everything one writes (publication aside) is considered copyrighted, and republication without permission of the copyright holder, whether for profit or not, is a criminal matter.

That being said, I believe that copyright will prove to be one of the greatest obstacles to the spread of heathenry if we collectively do not understand it, and continue to stand by it for matters of our writings and other works.

We (heathens) are a small group - no matter how you count us or whom you include as "us". The market for our written works is correspondingly tiny. Yet we are a scholarly lot, with a lot to say, and we produce (relatively) massive amounts of work analyzing and translating our lore, giving vision and voice to our worldview.

But look at the sales ranking on Amazon for our works. See how many of our most important books are available in your local public library. How much money has anyone made writing serious heathen tomes? Even the academics that are not heathen do not live by sales of their works: they'll all professors caught in the publish or perish world of the ivory tower.

This leads to an important side effect - how many of our organizations give away books (or even expanded pamphlets) at fairs, gatherings or moots? None - because none can afford to purchase the works from the author or artist, in additional to paying for printing or distribution. We have no organizations like the Gideons, passing out our lore or Eddas, because none of the modern translations of our lore are free from copyright.

How much different would Christian evangelical efforts look if they asked for a set price for the literature they drop off on nearly everyone's doorstep?

I'm not proposing that we go door to door with the Eddas and door hangers proclaiming that "Odin Hung on the Worldtree for YOUR Runes!" - I am proposing that our authors and artists, our scholars and godmen, loosen up on the copyright of their works and allow free distribution. This single step alone, in my humble opinion, would do more to "spread the word" than anything else we could do, while keeping us free from the taint of proselytizing.

I would suggest that we (as heathen authors and artists) look at what our real motivations are. Are we writing to earn a living? Some of us are, especially those of us who are established authors of fiction. Most of us are not. Most of us write (or paint, or draw, or sing and make music) out of our love for the Shining Gods and Goddesses, and out of a desire that our names be remembered in the long years that follow as one of those who first led the Folk back to the Tru path.

"Fair fame never dies for he who has earned it."

To that end, I have placed all of my written and recorded works into a Creative Commons attribution and share-alike style license. (In some cases, mostly from the early Nineties, I wrote my own, but would suggest others visit the Creative Commons or GNU Documentation sites for more information and a wider range of licenses). This includes all of my posts here, in other forums and on our personal site. Those words of mine which are unmarked I have insured are in the public domain, and can be copied, resued, mashedup and remixed at will.

My goal here is not my enrichment in Midgard - my goal is that all of Midgard will once again hear our voices from the North, and consider what they mean and can do. And hopefully remember my name as one of those who played a small part in our renaissance.

I ask all heathen authors and artists to consider this position.

08:13 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Houses of the rising sun

Interesting stuff - I can find no references to directional orientation of any known heathen temple in the the north. The east has always been associated in the Indo-European religions with beginnings, so I suppose it would make sense to orient temples towards the rising sun. Modern heathenry tends to face north a lot... but that's surely a modern innovation.

New research at the University of Leicester has identified scores of Sicilian temples built to face the rising Sun, shedding light on the practices of the Ancient Greeks.

(link) [EurekAlert!]

20:16 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Cops: Suicide made to look like murder

Interesting. I can see this: but I can also see why the authorities would like for this to be true. Perhaps enough to insist on it. I'm sure this'll ultimately add spice to conspiracy theories...

A Kentucky census worker who was found dead in September committed suicide and staged the scene to look like a homicide, authorities said Tuesday.

(link) []

19:50 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Sheep in the News - Geriatric Edition

What an appropriate name: that was an ancient ovine!

Lucky, the world's oldest sheep, has died at the age of 23 - twice the normal life expectancy - after a record heat wave in Australia.

(link) [BBC News]

08:41 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

English Shell Code Could Make Security Harder

Ah, the resemblance of script to prose! Remember the Unix command line for sex?

gawk; grep; unzip; touch; strip; init, uncompress, gasp; finger; find, route, whereis, which, mount; fsck; nice, more; yes; gasp; umount; head, halt, renice, restore, touch, whereis, which, route, mount, more, yes, gasp, umount, expand, ping, make clean; sleep

An anonymous reader writes to tell us that finding malicious code might have just become a little harder. Last week at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, security researchers Joshua Mason, Sam Small, Fabian Monrose, and Greg MacManus presented a method they developed to generate English shell code. Using content from Wikipedia and other public works to train their engine, they convert arbitrary x86 shell code into sentences that read like spam, but are natively executable. "In this paper we revisit the assumption that shell code need be fundamentally different in structure than non-executable data. Specifically, we elucidate how one can use natural language generation techniques to produce shell code that is superficially similar to English prose. We argue that this new development poses significant challenges for in-line payload-based inspection (and emulation) as a defensive measure, and also highlights the need for designing more efficient techniques for preventing shell code injection attacks altogether."

(link) [Slashdot]

22:40 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Program to help truckers attracts drug smugglers

A global economy, indeed.

AP - A U.S. program that offers trusted trucking companies speedy passage across American borders has begun attracting just the sort of customer who places a premium on avoiding inspections: Mexican drug smugglers.

(link) [Yahoo! News: Top Stories]

21:37 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Exposure to lead, tobacco smoke raises risk of ADHD

If the conclusions of this study are accurate, then why has the rate of ADHD climbed steadily while the use of lead paint has been banned, and the smoking rate has been cut in half?

Perhaps it's because there is no such thing as ADHD. Perhaps it's a symptom of Totalitarian Medicine:

This is the most peculiar epidemic in history--a so-called disease that isn't traceable to any medical malfunction, can't be cured, and can only be controlled by administering costly, medically invasive drug treatment for which school systems receive lucrative subsidies.

It will be interesting so see what new "miracle treatment" emerges for treatment of ADHD when Ritalin goes off patent in 2015... qui bono?

Children exposed prenatally to tobacco smoke and during childhood to lead face a particularly high risk for ADHD, according to research done at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. The new study appearing online in Pediatrics estimates that up to 35 percent of ADHD cases in children between the ages of 8 and 15 could be reduced by eliminating both of these environmental exposures.

(link) [EurekAlert! - Breaking News]

07:53 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Patent Issued For Podcasting

You've gotta wonder if our patent examiners have been living under rocks or in holes for the past decade. How could anyone using a computer be so completely unaware of podcasting and RSS as to think it a "novel innovation" deserving of patent protection?

The EFF is reaching out for help after a company called Volomedia got the Patent Office to grant them exclusive rights to 'a method for providing episodic media' that could threaten the community of podcasters and millions of podcast listeners.

(link) [Slashdot]

18:53 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Apple Voiding Smokers' Warranties?

I think I'll call bullshit on this one: I smoke, and have had two Mac's repaired under warranty (the Mini just this past August). Nobody said anything about biohazardous residues, and the service was excellent.

In addition to being a programmer, I've done my share of hardware hacking over the years. And I've never found noticeable residue build up inside a machine - and I've smoked around all of my machines. Pet hair and dander can be a problem if the machine's on the floor, and general dust can clog cooling systems. The only other environmental damage I've ever seen to a computer has been either water damage, rodent damage (I once had to repair a printer for a customer's shipping department where a mouse had decided to have a nibble at one of the incoming power lines) or plain old electrical surges.

Consumerist reports that Apple is refusing to work on computers that have been used in smoking households. 'The Apple store called and informed me that due to the computer having been used in a house where there was smoking, [the warranty has been voided] and they refuse to work on the machine "due to health risks of second hand smoke,"' wrote one customer. Another said, 'When I asked for an explanation, she said [the owner of the iMac is] a smoker and it's contaminated with cigarette smoke, which they consider a bio-hazard! I checked my Applecare warranty and it says nothing about not honoring warranties if the owner is a smoker.' Apple claims that honoring the warranty would be an OSHA violation. (Remember when they claimed enabling 802.11n for free would be a Sarbanes-Oxley violation?)

(link) [Slashdot]

Update:Apparently, it's for real. If they every try to pull this on me, I may switch back...

22:46 /Technology | 2 comments | permanent link

Squatters Unite for World Toilet Day

Darn! I missed it! Here's some history.

Since 2001, November 19 has marked World Toilet Day as part of an effort to break the silence surrounding sanitation issues in both richer and poorer countries. The World Toilet Organisation's initiative for 2009 is The Big Squat, and participants have been getting down on their haunches for charity.

(link) [The Independent]

08:41 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Can These Parents Be Saved?

Mercifully our kids have avoided the extremes of this behavior with our grandchildren, but all have told tales about the high weirdness they've witnessed at schools and playgrounds by "helicopter moms".

The backlash can't get here soon enough.

The insanity crept up on us slowly; we just wanted what was best for our kids. We bought macrobiotic cupcakes and hypoallergenic socks, hired tutors to correct a 5-year-old's "pencil-holding deficiency," hooked up broadband connections in the treehouse but took down the swing set after the second skinned knee. We hovered over every school, playground and practice field "helicopter parents," teachers christened us, a phenomenon that spread to parents of all ages, races and regions.

(link) [Time]

08:38 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link