Science Friday Politics Friday, Sep 15 2006 

eris.gifFollowing hot on the heels of the recent (and to some, heretical) demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status, and the promotion of Ceres from asteroid to dwarf planet, the International Astronomical Union (via the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams!) has finally seen fit to rename the dwarf planet UB313, more commonly known as Xena:

Following near-unanimous acceptance by the Committee on Small-Body Nomenclature and the Working Group on Planetary-System Nomenclature (in consultation with the discovery team), the IAU Executive Committee has now approved the names Eris for (136199) and Dysnomia for its satellite (136199) Eris I [formerly S/2005 (2003 UB313) . . .

But hold on to your horses! A wing-nut fighting keyboarder has uncovered a liberal plot in choice of the names Eris and Dysnomia.

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Plutomomentum! Friday, Sep 1 2006 

hades_persephone.jpgAlthough not widely reported, Pluto did make a (sort of) concession speech:

Tomorrow morning, our campaign will file the necessary petition with the International Astronomical Union so that we can continue this campaign for a new astronomy of unity and purpose. I will always do what is right for my orbit and Solar system regardless of what the political consequences may be.

Tomorrow is a brand new day. Tomorrow we launch a new campaign — Team Pluto — Asteroids, non-conforming celestial objects and planets.

So this should come as no surprise:

Only a week after Pluto was stripped of its status as a full-fledged planet of the Solar System, rebel astronomers have launched a campaign to have it restored in pomp and glory.

A petition already signed by more than 300 professional researchers is attacking the International Astronomical Union (IAU) decision to expel Pluto from the Solar System’s A-list and doom it to the status of “dwarf planet”.

“We as planetary scientists and astronomers do not agree with the IAU’s definition of a planet, nor will we use it. A better definition is needed,” says the protest, placed on the Web . . . .

After all, as Clyde Tombaugh pointed out, “It’s there. Whatever it is. It is there.”

A Retrograde Mercury Signals Disaster Friday, Jul 21 2006 

300px-reprocessed_mariner_10_image_of_mercury.jpg
According to Sheldon Drobny (of Air America) over at the Huffington Post, the recent outbreak of war in Lebanon can be at least partially understood by the fact that the hostilities commenced while Mercury is [apparently] traipsing backwards.

The global crisis has intensified recently with the recent Israeli military incursions into Gaza and Lebanon. This intensity of human crisis has fallen into an astronomical period in which the planet Mercury is in retrograde. In astronomical terms, retrograde is a time when the planets appear to have a backward movement in the sky.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I just have to mention a few factoids: (more…)

Anyone Can Do Astrology on TV Friday, Jun 30 2006 

greg-tufaro.jpgEven voice-overs named Greg Tufaro.

Yesterday’s New York Times features a hilarious article about about how a Brooklyn, New York couple gamed a new reality show “What’s Your Sign? Design” (debuting on cable’s Home and Garden channel) to get a free do-over done on their neglected front parlor.

Alex (wife) and Andrew (husband) Postman put their heads together to present a captivating (for a tv producer, at least) dilemna. She hates color and likes it, though in reality, he doesn’t much care and she really really doesn’t like it. It didn’t hurt that they are a good-looking couple (Alex is “glamorously Pregnant”) and (theoretically) it can’t be hard to make a front parlor room of a Brooklyn Brownstone look good. Eventually they were chosen to be the headline couple:

Can a practical Capricorn and a headstrong Taurus really agree on the look of a room? Find out on What’s Your Sign? Design where zodiac charts and fresh paint mix to create incredible makeovers. Watch an expert designer and a talented astrologer make it work using creative design and a little help from the stars in this innovative series that brings design harmony to couples all over the country.

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The Magi Society Jumps on the ID Bandwagon Thursday, Jun 29 2006 

momaadditionciti.jpgI gotta tell you — even though I thought I had seen every single possible kind of stupidity which falls within the signification of stupid, nothing, and I mean nothing prepared me for this.

The secretive Magi Society (which I have heard from a number of well-placed sources is really nothing more than the latest venture of Henry Weingarten, formerly of 666 Fifth Avenue in NYC) is trying to find common cause with the likes of Pat Robertson and James Dobson. Now referring to him themselves as The Christian Guardian’s Fellowship, they have announced that “Evolution is nothing but a hoax.” The site basically says that since the Magi visited the baby Jesus in the manger, and because the Magi were astrologers, astrology can prove that, according to the Bible, the universe was designed by an Intelligent Designer. Then (as any good salesperson will, they ask money question and immediately answer it):

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Political Astrology Tuesday, Jun 27 2006 

“The report that important decisions in the White House were based on astrological advice is most disturbing. The results could undermine faith in astrology.”

Letter to the Editor
New York Times
May 15, 1988

Sharks Bank Left at the Kuiper Belt Saturday, Jun 24 2006 

kuiper_belt.jpg

Update: Jerome Armstrong quotes J.P. Morgan (millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do), confesses his faith in our primate ancestors and invites the wingnuts out for a little vipassana meditation! (though Redstate.com is having way too much fun with this to let it go . . . )

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In his biography of the astrologer and mathematician Girolamo Cardano, historian Anthony Grafton likens the role of a modern economist to that of a Rennaissance astrologer.

How about the modern economist as astrologer aka political pundit?

I don’t even know how I stumbled over this — but a pack of rightwingnut bloggers have launched a witch hunt — and are celebrating the the revelation that blogger and author Jerome Armstrong (how many people do you know who have even heard of Jerome Armstrong?) was/is an astrologer as well as a day trader — hmmm, did he study with Ray? — before he became a political consultant.

I am not going to try to recount the particulars as how this came to light, as I am not sure I understand it myself, but one thing is clear — there are no secrets in the lands of the internets. None.

The gist is that apparently an email (alluding to some legal difficulties with the SEC a few years ago in connection to the daytrading dimension of life) circulating on a private list of lefty bloggers fell into the paws of a bigshot wingnut blogger (love to know how much he paid for it!). And somehow, that leaked email inspired/enabled computer wizards on the right to start combing the internet looking for more dirt, and well, to make a long story short, it turns out that Jerome Armstrong of mydd.com is none other than the completely unknown astrologer, Jerome Armstrong (I am serious, who ever heard of an astrologer named Jerome Armstrong?)

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An Old World View: Rehashed (Part 1) Saturday, Jun 24 2006 

tarnas_puer.jpgRichard Tarnas is a Swiss-born, Harvard Educated, Esalen Alumni and professor of philosophy and psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies, and is also the founding director of its graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. He is also the author of the best-selling Passion of the Western Mind.

But for 30 years, Tarnas has kept a [sort of] secret. He dabbles in astrology. Now Tarnas has written a new book about astrology; Cosmos and Psyche, published earlier this year. Apparently, it took Tarnas over 10 years to write this enormous (569 pages inc. notes) book, following a fair amount of anticipation for it in the “astro-world” (where his secret wasn’t such a big secret) prior to its publication, which included a lengthy pre-publication interview in the Mountain Astrologer Magazine in late 2005.

So when I stumbled over it this past February on the Barnes and Noble new non-fiction display shelf, I immediately bought it, and began to read it with a great deal of excitement. Subtitled, Intimations of a New World View and based, Tarnas claims, upon 30 years* of research, it strives to address what he calls “the profound metaphysical disorientation and groundlessness that pervades contemporary human experience” by suggesting a “new metanarrative that transcends separate cultures and subcultures, an encompassing pattern of meaning that could give to collective human existence a nourishing coherence and intelligibility.”

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Do You Believe in Astrology? Saturday, Jun 24 2006 

Usually a question to spice up a boring social gathering, but here it is used to introduce an anti-astrology editorial in a Yemeni (Yemeni?) Newspaper.

Another point worth noting: It is obvious that the writer knows astrology and is NOT conflating sun-sign astrology and “real” astrology.

They are told how mysterious forces in the universe around them, work to shape their intimate destinies. They are told relatively flattering things about their characters and life, and in the end they are naturally pleased that someone cares about them. In the hectic and generally disconnected modern society, they feel connected – both to another human being and to the world around them. Astrology shares this with many other beliefs, for example the idea that nothing in life is truly coincidental. On this view of life, everything which happens to us, even the smallest or seemingly most insignificant event, happens for some particular reason.

[snip]

A person who continually tries to live his life by a horoscope can become very depressed as he begins to see life as fatalistic, predetermined since his birth, with no opportunity to break free. “To believe in astrology, you must support the philosophy that you are either a ‘born loser’ or a ‘born winner.’’ A Psychologist said In spite that astrology is an attempt to find some sort of “meaning” or “influence” in the planetary positions. Oddly enough, considering that astrology has to do with planetary movements, astrologers no longer look at the sky, and haven’t for hundreds of years.

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