Get out Your Ice Skates ‘Cuz We’re in an Ice Age

It might not look like it when you look out the window, but we’re in the middle of an ice age. Just because the upper half of North America isn’t covered by a mile and a half to two and a half miles of cruising glaciers doesn’t mean they won’t come back.

Our current ice age started about two and a half million years ago, give or take a couple three tens of millennia. The last glaciation started about a hundred and ten thousand years ago and ended about twelve thousand years ago. It hit a maximum of ice coverage of North America about twenty six thousand years ago. Glaciations last about a hundred thousand years and inter-glacial periods between ten thousand and fifty thousand years, depending. We’re past the ten thousand year mark. The ice sheets could start cruising back anytime now.

What does the timing of ice ages depend on, you might well ask? Depending, mainly, on where we are in a Milankovitch cycle. What the hell’s a Milankovitch cycle, you might well ask?

Ah, good old Mulutin Milankovitch, the well known Serbian geophysicist and astronomer. Back in the 1920’s, he took all the known data about the earth’s orbit, how it varies from nearly a circle to slightly elliptical, how that orbit also wobbles up and down like a spinning coin at the end of its spin, and the fact that, as the earth spins about its axis, that axis also wobbles about a bit. He took all that and figured out that, since all this affects how much sunlight hits the continents during the changing seasons, that the effect was that, when the axial tilt was steepest, and the earth’s orbit was most elliptical, we got colder. Earth is known to have had 5 serious ices ages in its four billion plus year history. A couple of them made earth resemble the ice planet Hoth, except for some areas around the equator. No fossil tauntauns have been discovered as of yet.

Milankovitch’s theory matched what was known about ice ages back in the 1920’s, more or less. These days it has been modified by throwing in continental drift, which was merely an unproven hypothesis back when he was hypothesizing away. Where the continents are affects ocean currents, which affects the distribution of heat around the planet, etc, etc, etc.

There’s a moving image for you: continents scooting around, the planet wobbling on its axis while whipping around the sun, orbit stretching back and forth while wobbling up and down. Throw in the fact that the whole solar system bobs up and down across our galaxy’s equator while orbiting around the galaxy. Makes you wonder why we aren’t all nauseated.

Maybe that’s why there are volcanoes. Our mother earth, good old Gaia, gets spin dizzy and just needs to barf occasionally.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

‘Tis the Season to be Sneezin’

I have a cold. A rather annoying cold. My wife gave it to me. She got it when she went to the doctor’s office. It’s been a week since it started on me. It’s the first I’ve had in several years, despite my wife trying to give me hers a couple of times a year.

Here’s where I do the required quote from Wikipedia:

They usually resolve in seven to ten days, but some can last for up to three weeks. The average duration of cough(ing) is eighteen days and in some cases people develop a post-viral cough which can linger after the infection is gone.” I had to modify that quote a bit because the author apparently didn’t understand common English usage.

Great. They might as well have said,”You’ll feel like crap for a couple three weeks. Get used to it.”

The most annoying thing about a cold, to me anyways, is when you sneeze or cough and somebody says, “God bless you.”

If you believe that God will somehow cure someone because you declared that God should bless you, aren’t you trying to countermand God’s will? Didn’t God give that cold to that special someone to begin with? Isn’t everything God’s will? And which God? I find it difficult to believe that the presumed creator of the heavens, earth, and hell, well, hell, let’s through in all the possible other universes and alternate timelines and sub-dimensions and all things quantum… where was I? Damn sneezing attack made me lose my train of thought. I edited it out of the audio. No need to splatter my audience with it. Bad enough it splooshed my monitor and keyboard.

Oh, yeah, God. That’s where I was. Okay, so if you insist that God cure someone’s cold, and you want God to then cure that cold, aren’t you, basically, trying to order God around? Sounds like you’re treading on dangerous grounds there, my friend. Time for some Our Fathers, Hail Marys, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishnas, and maybe an Om Nama Shivaya or two.

What if you’re a pantheist with a whole pantheon of gods? Which god, or goddess, is the god, or goddess, of the common cold? What do you offer that god, or goddess, as a sacrifice to bribe him, or her, into curing a cold? Burnt Kleenex? Light up a lamp filled with high octane, high alcohol content cough syrup? Gallons of orange juice spiked with vitamin C?

No best leave God, and/or Gods out if it.

You could say, like the Germans, “Gesundheit!”, which literally means, “Be in a state of wellness!”. But that’s essentially an order, and we all know what can happen when Germans start issuing orders.

Now, I’ve gotta go blow my nose and hawk up a lung.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

 

Why We Don’t See the Squatch in Front of Our Nose or Ya Can’t See the Trees with All That Forest in the Way

The Reverend Jeff suggested I do a quasi on why we can’t see things that are physically there, like, maybe, a Sasquatch hiding behind a bush that is too small for it to hide behind. I quote him, “How about a quasi on what the mind sees it doesn’t really see. It only sees what it wants to and why many Bigfoot go unnoticed as the brain can’t acknowledge what it sees.”

I Googled about for a good half an hour and found no evidence to support his theory, at least not in terms of actually not visually seeing an object because you don’t believe that type of object exists. Humans are pretty good at not recognizing social conditions they think don’t exist, as in, not recognizing that people born poor simply don’t have the same opportunities as people born middle class. But physical objects are not blocked by disbelief.

You might interpret something you see to be something else, like the mommy who sees her beautiful baby, while onlookers wonder where she got the ugly little ape from.

No, you don’t see the Squatch squatting behind the too small shrubbery for the same reason you got hit by a car while texting while crossing the street. Your attention was elsewhere.

Your attention is rather like your eyesight. The only thing in clear focus is in the central part of your total field of view. The stuff off to the side gets fuzzier and, when you get to the edges, it’s almost not visible.

Or think about hearing things. If you are watching TV, and the action has really got your attention, and your significant other is asking you to let the dog out, do hear them right away? Not until they yell at you and get right up in your face does your attention turn to what they are saying.

So, you’re strolling through the forest and it’s cold, or it’s hot, or the bugs are biting, or the trail is rough, or you’re listening for wood knocks and whoops, or prints, or oddly stacked broken branches, just when you pass that almost obvious Sasquatch. If it doesn’t jump up and go “Oogah-boogah”, you’ll probably just waltz right on by. You weren’t paying attention.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

Valentine’s Day, Shmalentine’s Day

February 14th is St. Valentine’s day. Exactly who was this bugger and why do we care?

Officially, his full moniker is St. Valentine of Terni. Officially, he was the bishop of said town, although some sources say he was also the bishop of Narnia. No kidding. Really. Narnia. It’s now the Italian city of Narni, but back in old Rome it was Narnia. Also, officially, he was buried at a cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of Rome on the day he was martyred. But he didn’t stay there long. He got dug up by some of his disciples a day or two later and hauled back to Terni to be buried again, for awhile.

I say for awhile, because, as Wikipedia says:

St. Valentine’s remains are also believed to be in Dublin. In 1836, some relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina… were identified with St Valentine; placed in a casket, and transported in a procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love.

Also in 1836, Fr. John Spratt, an Irish priest and famous preacher, was given many tokens of esteem following a sermon in Rome. One gift from Pope Gregory XVI were the remains of St. Valentine and “a small vessel tinged with his blood.” The Reliquary was placed in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, and has remained there until this day. This was accompanied by a letter claiming the relics were those of St. Valentine.”

How he got from Terni to the catacombs in Rome is anybody’s guess, along with how anybody could tell the body was his. Maybe he tunneled, burrowed his way. All roads lead to Rome, as the saying goes.

He was supposedly beaten and beheaded on the 14th of February in the year 269CE, or maybe 270, or 273, opinions vary. The day remains consistent, despite the conflict of years; therefrom we get Valentine’s day.

I say supposedly beaten and beheaded because he is not in the earliest list of Roman martyrs, the Chronography of 354, and only pops up in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, which was compiled between 460 and 544. He must have gotten on the list before the final version, because he got his official feast day declared in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” I take this to mean that Pope Gelasius I hadn’t a clue as to who Valentine was or why he was put in that list of martyrs. The feast date is our modern St. Valentine’s day, of course.

St. Valentine is the patron saint of epilepsy, fainting, plague, bee keepers, betrothed couples and other lovers, chocolatiers, and greeting card companies. I threw the last two in for obvious reasons.

Nobody associated him with the last three until Chaucer showed up and wrote his Parliament of Fools, written sometime in the 14th century.

Now here’s where I go quasi on the whole St. Valentine thing, the man, the day, the whole shebang.

No one knew he existed until that list from the late 5th century, around two hundred years after he became a wandering corpse.

The Roman church was big on absconding with pagan stuff and re-branding it. Christmas, Easter, plopping cathedrals down on old pagan temple sites, swiping pagan gods and renaming them as Christian saints and martyrs, the list is near endless.

The old Roman pagans had a holiday they celebrated on the ides of February, the 15th of February. It was the Lupercalia and it honored the goddess Februata Juno, one of the many goddesses of sex and fertility.

There’s your start of it all: goddesses, sex, and fertility. Nuff said. I rest my case.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

 

Get My Drift?

We all know about Pangaea, the super continent that formed when all seven continents smooshed together back around 335 million years ago. But what about Gondwanaland? Or Proto-Laurasia?

Before Pangaea, Gondwanaland had formed by the collision of the early versions of South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica. It had formed pretty much by 500 million years ago, when the Cambrian period began. It was largely south of the equator.

Proto-Laurasia was North America and Eurasia, which had formed by 750 million years ago, when an earlier supercontinent, Rodinia broke up. There’s been any number of supercontinents, apparently, what with all the slippy sliding about of the buggers. Proto-Laurasia was north of the equator. But Gondwanaland and Proto-Laurasia were both on the same side of the planet. I’d think that would make the whole Earth’s rotating about its axis more than a bit wobbly. It certainly makes my brain wobble just thinking about it.

Then, as I said, 335 million years ago, they tied the knot, enjoyed connubial bliss, as it were, slamming merrily into each other, and became Pangaea, which was mainly south of the equator and still all on one side of the planet. You’d think riding on the earth would have been a lot like riding on a tilt-a-whirl, what with all that mass wobbling about in a sort of planetary version of twerking. Maybe paleontologists should be looking for fossilized proto-dinosaur barf. Tilt-a-whirls certainly make me upchuck, along with some twerking butts I’ve seen.

Luckily for us, in terms of evolution, the marriage only lasted 160 million years. The breakup began in the early Mesozoic. Gondwana was back on its own, dropping land from its name, and Proto-Laurasia, having matured, became Laurasia.
Alas, they couldn’t maintain their separate identities. Maybe it was the psychological damage of the breakup, maybe it was the twerking, but both supercontinents simply drifted off into more pieces. Seven pieces, technically, but not the ones you learned in school. Or should have learned. Europe has been slammed up against Asia since Proto-Laurasia, and is still moving east, hence Eurasia. India is the one that cruised off on its own, cruising up into Eurasia much later. There really are only six continents.

Take heart, though, Pangaea fans. North and South America are cruising west and will slam into Eurasia. The other continents are heading largely northward, also into Eurasia. They’ll all be in the northern hemisphere in a couple of hundred million years. I expect it will be an earth twerking event.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

An audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

A Yuletide Rant

So, Yuletide. Yuletide means the time of the Yule. It’s the celebration of the winter solstice, usually lasting about twelve days, with the Solstice in the middle of it, although it was as long as two months, going from late November and ending in early January, with some peoples. Yule is largely a Germanic holiday.

The word Yule is the modern English version of an old Germanic word, géol. That’s “g with a dot over it, “e” with a slanty apostrophe over it, “o” and “l”, géol. Old Germanic, as an etymological term, includes all the Nordic languages, as well as the Anglo-Saxon Ones.

So, Yuletide. Last time I explained how the Christians slipped old Saint Nick in on us, while slipping a mickey to Odin. I also explained why December 25th became the date the winter solstice was typically associated with. Now, why would they want to distract us from a pagan god? Any hardcore Christians out there may want to plug your ears and sing “O Holy Night”, or something else Christmassy, about now. You may not like what’s next.

It turns out that there are pagan sons of gods, that were also born on the winter solstice, all of them before Jesus, most of them virgin births, as well.

The reason we use the 25th to celebrate the winter solstice now, is because it was the official Roman birth date of Solis Invictus, the conquering sun. The emperor Marcus Aurelius made the Persian version of Solis Invictus, Mithras, an official part of the pantheon. The day was called “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti”, “Day of the Birth of the Conquering Sun”. Now that has a ring to it. Dies Natalis Solis Invicti! So much for Christmas.

Let’s us list some of the other virgin birth sun gods with the same birthday.

First is the Egyptian Horus, of course. Son of Isis, the eternal virgin, whose father was Osiris. He may be the oldest version; version, not virgin. Osiris had the same birthday as Horus, oddly enough.

Then there’s Attis, Serapis, Heracles, a.k.a Hercules, Tammuz, Adonis, Apollo, Perseus, Jupiter, which is to say Zeus Pater, Father Zeus, Helios, and my favorite, Bacchus-Dionysos, Dionysius in Latin. There’s lots more, but I shan’t go on.

Most of these guys also have a worship ritual involving bread and wine: a ritual of communion, wherein the bread and wine symbolized the blood and body of the god. One communed with the god by consuming the sanctified fruit of the vine and wheat of the field, the which fact may be worthy of a Quasi of it’s own.

Most of these buggers also died at the spring equinox. Jesus probably originally did, too. Easter Sunday, is after all, always on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. Easter, the name of which derives from the old Germanic Oestre, the spring goddess of fertility. Oestre, Ishtar, Isis, always virginal, always giving virgin birth to the sons of god at Yuletide. You Christians may now unplug your ears and stop with the singing.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

An audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

Santa is the King of the Gods

 

Santa Claus, a.k.a. Saint Nicholas, is a fraud foisted on us pagans during the Christianization of Germanic and Nordic Europe. There, I said it.

Saint Nicholas, who lived in the late 3rd and early 4th century, belonged to a wealthy family, and is most famous for saving three poor, young sisters from a probable life of probable prostitution, by giving them money for their dowries, and thereby getting them married off. Why a man getting paid off to marry a women doesn’t make the man a hooker beats the hell out of me. But that is neither here nor there. The main point is that Nicholas gave away presents. His birthday is celebrated on January 6th. He was a skinny bugger, apparently, may or may not have had a beard, and certainly didn’t have much hair. His daddy, another priest (This was before the whole priests couldn’t get married, couldn’t have sex, silliness came about), gave him a tonsure when he ordained his little Nicky into the priesthood. A tonsure is the weird, partly shaved head sort of haircut they were into back then.

Old Saint Nick didn’t have diddly to do with December 25th, which was when the old pagan world celebrated the winter solstice. Why they did so on the 25th is a bit of a mystery, since they jolly well knew the solstice oscillates between the 20th and the 23rd. It was probably because the latest sunrise of the year is a couple of days after the actual solstice and, in the winter, you really want that sun to start coming up earlier and earlier. Making it a fixed date made it easier to know when you had to get all your solstice shopping done by, too.

Now, what happened on the solstice, and who did what that most closely resembles what our Santa Claus, taking into consideration that Santa first started showing up in Germanic and Nordic Europe?

The solstice is when Odin, the king of the gods, rode the midwinter sky on his eight footed horse, Sleipnir, distributing gifts to all his people. Odin, Woden, Wotan, also known as Julnir, he who is lord of the yuletide. Odin, with long white hair and long white beard, stout of figure. Odin, the leader of the Wild Hunt, the hunt that most often occurred at midwinter, hunting the souls of the departed, accompanied by his Valkyries.

The good children of Odin got presents, the bad got the Wild Hunt.

Odin was also the lord of Alfheim, the home of the elves, and those elves were not little guys who want to be dentists. They were fierce warriors, they were.

The pieces fall into place. This is what Christianity has left us with. No more Roman Saturnalia at the winter solstice, with its orgies and feasts. No more Wild Hunts with Valkyries. No king of the gods. Just a jolly fat man in a silly red suit.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

An audio version of this quasi theory may be found here: