Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

News & Submissions 3/22/2011

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

My Take: Japanese New Religions’ big role in disaster response
Devastating images of human suffering have been pouring in from Japan for over a week now and many of us have wanted to help. When news reports showed store shelves in Tokyo were emptying, I felt the irrational urge to mail necessities like rice, toilet paper and batteries to relatives and friends there.

Ultimately, I knew that by the time my care packages would reach Tokyo, store shelves would have been restocked. An organized relief effort requires pre-existing networks. After the Kobe earthquake in 1995, yakuza – Japan’s organized crime cartels – efficiently distributed food and water.

Since this month’s earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, other types of organized aid networks have also largely been neglected by the news media, including the Japanese news: those managed by religious organizations.

These charitable efforts include more than traditional Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines that many rightly associate with Japan. The thriving Japanese religious landscape is much more diverse than most outsiders realize, with many so-called New Religious Movements, in addition to Christian churches and Islamic centers. Read full story from

Among the Unbelievers
It has long been assumed that Western society in the modern age—with the rise of science and the broad intellectual legacy of the Enlightenment—must become increasingly secular. What is modernity if not the movement from the authority of tradition to the authority of reason? In this view, made famous by the German sociologist Max Weber, the “disenchantment” of the world is the price one pays for leaving the charms and consolations of religion behind. The non-believing Weber was himself nostalgic for an age when faith imbued life with meaning and purpose. But he never ceased to identify secular thinking with a decisive advance in human self- understanding.

In “Holy Ignorance,” the French social theorist Olivier Roy sets out to modify this secularization theory and to overturn its triumphalist message. He begins by noting that religion, though still obviously an important part of modern society, has been relegated to the private sphere, becoming mostly an “interior” search for spiritual well-being. In such a world, “faith communities” of every stripe increasingly withdraw from the broader culture, defending their doctrinal purity against the onslaught of coarse secular trends, what Mr. Roy calls “neo-paganism.” This withdrawal, though understandable, is a danger in itself. “Faith without culture,” Mr. Roy says, “is an expression of fanaticism.” Read full story from

Seconds Before the Big One
Earthquakes are unique in the pantheon of natural disasters in that they provide no warning at all before they strike. Consider the case of the Loma Prieta quake, which hit the San Francisco Bay Area on October 17, 1989, just as warm-ups were getting under way for the evening’s World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. At 5:04 p.m., a sudden slip of the San Andreas Fault shook the region with enough force to collapse a 1.5-mile section of a double-decker freeway and sections of the Bay Bridge connecting Oakland with San Francisco. More than 60 people died.

Over the years scientists have hunted for some signal—a precursory sign, however faint—that would allow forecasters to pin­point exactly where and when the big ones will hit, something that would put people out of harm’s way. After decades spent searching in vain, many seismologists now doubt whether such a signal even exists. Read full story from

My Voice: Abortion bill aims to halt coercion of women
The editorial roundup of the Argus Leader and Rapid City Journal have displayed many false allegations of what House Bill 1217 does and what it is intended to do for the women of South Dakota.

This is an entirely different bill than anything proposed in previous legislation and in statewide referendums.

This bill does not outlaw abortion. Its intent is to prevent women from uninformed and coerced abortions. Up to 64 percent of abortions are coerced against a woman’s will.

It is in response to Planned Parenthood’s sworn testimony under oath that abortions are scheduled with no history or examination of the patient by a doctor or even a nurse. The surgery is scheduled over the phone.

If a woman wants to discuss abortion, a non-medical worker schedules the surgery without determining whether it is appropriate, whether or not the woman is being coerced and without any assessment of the woman’s circumstances at all. Read full story from

Sammy Hagar says he was abducted by aliens
LOS ANGELES — No doubt Sammy Hagar, a former lead singer for Van Halen, has enjoyed a lot of far out experiences in life, but on Monday, the rocker told perhaps his farthest out tale to MTV. He was abducted by aliens.

Or, at least, his brain was.

In an interview for his new book, “Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock” at, Hagar lets go of what even he admits might make him “sound like a crazy person” to some readers.

He and the reporter are talking about dreams he claims to have had about UFOs, and when asked whether he believed he had been abducted, Hagar answers: “I think I have.” Read full story from

Experience: I feel other people’s pain
When I watch a film, I feel as if I’m in starring in it. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was horrific. My friend invited me to see it, and I had no idea what it was about – I normally try to avoid dramas and thrillers. When the character Salander was tortured, I felt as if my body was being beaten; I could physically feel the sensation of being attacked. It’s the same with emotions. If someone is happy, it’s like hearing an orchestra and I feel extreme excitement and joy. This is the reality of living with “mirror-touch” synesthesia, a rare neurological condition that causes sufferers to hyper-empathise.

My earliest memory of mirror-touch is standing in my parents’ garden in South Africa, aged six, watching butcher birds hang mice on the wire fence. I felt the tug on my neck and spine; it was as if I was being hanged. I remember crying to my mum, trying to explain what had happened. I wanted her to understand that I could see emotions as colours, and feel sounds; that someone else’s anger felt like heat running between my chest and stomach. “You’re just oversensitive, Fiona,” she said.

Eventually, she took me to the doctors, but they didn’t have any answers. My GP told my mum I had a lot of nervous energy. After that, she turned to the church. She’d take me in and have people place their hands on my body and pray for me. Read full story from

The science of spring: Plants rely on internal alarm clocks to tell them when to wake up from winter
Just in time for the birds and the bees to start buzzing, the flowers and the trees somehow know when to open their buds or start flowering. But the exact way that plants get their wake-up call has been something of a mystery.

“Why should plants care?” The general answer to that is that there are a lot of situations where it’s important not to do something developmentally until spring has arrived,” said Richard Amasino, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin Madison. “Trees want to make sure that their buds are protected until spring.”

Sibum Sung, a molecular biologist at the University of Texas Austin has an idea of how this protective action works on a cellular level. He discovered a special molecule in plants that gives them the remarkable ability to recall winter and to bloom on schedule in the spring. Sung published his results last December in the journal Science Express. Read full story from

News & Submissions 3/19/2010

Friday, March 19th, 2010

TV presenter gets death sentence for ‘sorcery’
(CNN) — Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to stop the execution of a Lebanese man sentenced to death for “sorcery.” Read full story from

Asheville Mother Grove Goddess Temple to celebrate spring equinox
ASHEVILLE — After making it through the harsh winter, people in Western North Carolina are looking forward to the warm sun of spring. Some are preparing to celebrate the season’s change with an ecumenical ritual. Read full story from

Towards gaining unique insights
It includes middle-roaders who say science and religion are two sides of the same coin since they both spring from human minds, while tacitly maintaining an eternal edge always separates the sides. And it includes those scientists who see some sort of deep mysterious beauty in the cosmos but remain atheists and religious mystics who shun dogma but retain a personal faith. REad full story from

Checklist: Spring is here, so pet your hares
All you pagan moonchildren will likely be petting your sacred hares this weekend when the vernal equinox rolls in from Spokane on Saturday. Read full story from

Celebrating Spring: The Vernal Egguinox
Since the earliest times, the egg has been humanity’s obvious and essential symbol for the significant atmosphere of the vernal season: birth, fertility, growth, eternity. The purely primal power, which comes from the handling of eggs at the equinox, has been a principle influence on many popular spring ritual practices throughout time and across culture. Read full story from

California first to create position for Native American vets
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On March 3, Roger Brautigan, director of the California Department of Veteran Affairs (CalVet), swore in Pedro “Pete” Molina, Pascua Yaqui, as the nation’s first assistant secretary for Native American Veterans Affairs. This position was created by the state to oversee the administration of services to Native American veterans in California, which boasts the largest population of American Indian veterans in the country. Read full story from