"…the closest many people will ever get to seeing what large parts of a dinosaur actually looked like, in the flesh…"

“Using tiny brushes and chisels, workers picking at a big greenish-black rock in the basement of North Dakota’s state museum are meticulously uncovering something amazing: a nearly complete dinosaur, skin and all.

Unlike almost every other dinosaur fossil ever found, the Edmontosaurus named Dakota, a duckbilled dinosaur unearthed in southwestern North Dakota in 2004, is covered by fossilized skin that is hard as iron. It’s among just a few mummified dinosaurs in the world, say the researchers who are slowly freeing it from a 65-million-year-old rock tomb. (Discovery News)

Finality over Fairness

The Supreme Court denies right of appeal to a condemned man who may well be innocent, clearing the way for his execution. (He is an African American, of course, convicted of murdering a white police officer.) Most of the non-police eyewitnesses on whose testimony his murder conviction was based have recanted, some filing sworn affidavits saying they were coerced into giving the evidence which corroborated his guilt. One of the remaining witnesses is the principal alternative suspect, and there is considerable sworn testimony implicating him. Yet the Supreme Court is denying Troy Davis further appeals on procedural grounds, because the evidence of police coercion was not introduced soon enough. You can send a letter to the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles advocating for fair treatment for Davis, or download a petition from this advocacy site. (Amnesty International)

E. J. Dionne Jr. :

“Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard.” (Washington Post op-ed)

Whether it is a ‘bailout’ or not has become as much as a charged buzzword as whether it was an ‘invasion’ or not, whether it is an ‘amnesty’, or whether we are in favor of ‘choice’. Whichever side of the debate one is on, one should decry the mind-numbing use of buzzwords to replace nuanced discourse.

Happy Ostara

It is the vernal equinox for all my readers in the northern hemisphere (both of you?) and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere (anyone following FmH from south of the equator?). The earth’s axis is perpendicular to its orbital plane and the north and south poles are equal distances from the sun today, so that day and night are of equal length (equi-nox) It is the pagan festival of Ostara in the north and, if there are pagans south of the equator, Mabon, observances which reflect the sense of balance inherent in this astronomical event.

“The name Ostara goes back to Jacob Grimm, who, in his Deutsche Mythologie, speculated about an ancient German goddess Ostara, after whom the Easter festival (German: Ostern) could have been named. Grimm’s main source is De temporum ratione by the Venerable Bede. Bede had put forward the thesis that the Anglo-Saxon name for the month of April, Eostur-monath, was named after a goddess Eostre.

…In the book Eight Sabbats for Witches by Janet and Stewart Farrar, the festival Ostara is characterized by the rejoining of the Mother Goddess and her lover-consort-son, who spent the winter months in death. Other variations include the young God regaining strength in his youth after being born at Yule, and the Goddess returning to her Maiden aspect.” (Wikipedia )

This year, we have the added exact coincidence of the full moon with the equinox. The sun and moon are, symmetrically, opposite each other, the axis of the earth and the solar-lunar axis orthogonal, and thus the coincidence with Easter, which the early Church grafted onto the pagan equinoctal observance (while removing the nod to the Goddess). Easter, and the equinox, of course, celebrate rebirth and the promise of renewal as well as balance. These are embodied in the symbol of the egg, smooth, round and full of potential ready to burst forth. Rumor has it that on the equinox you can balance an egg, pointy side up. Do it at midnight, when the moon is as close to overhead as it will get at your latitude and the tidal forces are balanced.

And with sadness, at this change of the seasons, I have to note the passing of the man for all seasons. R.I.P. Paul Scofield.