Friday mystery object #163 answer

On Friday I gave you this object from the collections of the Horniman Museum to identify:

The specimen had lost its label at some point in the past, so I had to identify it myself and was hoping to get your opinion on what it might be.

When I first saw it I noticed an odd scar running diagonally across the top of the cranium, which made me wonder if it was some kind of marine bird with an odd salt glad. Then I realised that the scar indicated something else entirely, which gave me the clue I needed to make the identification.

It seems that most of you also noticed the scar and came to similar conclusions, so  23thorns, cackhandedkate, Ric Morris, Jake and Steven D. Garber all recognised it as a woodpecker of some sort and given the length of the skull rachel and henstridgesj arrived at the same conclusion about species as I did, which is the  Continue reading

Friday mystery object #163

I have another bird skull for you to identify this week – sorry if all the bird skulls are getting repetitive, but that’s what I’ve been working on!

This specimen had no identification and had me stumped for a little while, but I now think I’ve worked out what it might be and I’d appreciate your input to see if you agree:

As usual, you can put comments, questions and suggestions below and I’ll do my best to respond. Enjoy!

Friday mystery object #161 answer

On Friday I gave you this bird skull to identify:

Most of you managed to identify it pretty easily – Robin suggested something in the right family, while Ric Morris, henstridgesj, Matthew King and Jake all managed to work it out to species. This is the skull of a  Continue reading

Church of England upset by possibility of equal marriage

Once again it seems that the Church is getting its collective knickers in a twist over ‘gay marriage’ or equal marriage as I prefer to think of it.

The Coalition for Marriage has a consultation out at the moment, which is heavily biased towards unequal marriage, but which does provide a way of feeding back to government a more equal view. Here’s what I said

Marriage is a contract between two people, providing legal acknowledgement of their partnership. It is also a social declaration of partnership and a celebration of love. This contract, declaration and celebration should be available to any couple, regardless of their sexuality.

Marriage is a legally secular activity and it is inappropriate for religious groups with a homophobic agenda to interfere with updates in the law that would bring equality to marriage legislation.

To be honest I hope that this legislation is ‘one of the most serious threats to Church in 500 years’, since any institution that is unwilling to support equality doesn’t deserve to be supported itself. The CofE needs to grow up and realise that we no longer live in a world governed by superstition and indoctrination. If they want to be a useful part of the modern world they need to realise that change is inevitable and when the change leads to greater equality it is change for the better.

Normally they’re a bit more progressive than their Catholic congeners, so let’s see if they have a change of heart on the issue.

Rhinos at risk

I know I’ve discussed the situation regarding rhino horn before, but I recently had an article published in NatSCA News that goes into a bit more detail about the thefts of rhino horn from collections in Europe, the current status of rhino populations in the wild and the huge increase in levels of poaching. I thought it might be useful to share the article a bit more widely by making it available here: The Horns of a Dilemma: The Impact of the Illicit Trade in Rhino Horn.

rhino-dehorned via everything.co.za

 

Normally NatSCA News articles are published online a year or so after they are published in hard copy, but the article I wrote will be out of date by then and I will have to spend the next year or so getting annoyed by newspaper articles talking about the market for horn as an aphrodisiac (which is nonsense), without being able to easily share the results of my research into the subject.

One element of my research has been a map that shows the places in Europe from which rhino horn has been stolen in the last 18 months or so (I will keep updating it):

The situation for rhinos is bad and it’s getting worse.

However you dress it up…

I know Christmas has been and gone, so this post is far from breaking news, but I’ve been meaning to write it ever since I saw this advertisement on a local bus stop:

Now although I’m an atheist, I really don’t have a problem with the advertisement for any reason beyond the utter banality of the message. It’s a bit like saying this:

For both there is an etymological root linking a supernatural figure to the name of a day – it’s very common, just think of other supernatural figures that lend their names to days, like Tiw, Wodin and Freyja. I wonder if we should also remember these deities on their appropriate days? That seems to be the logical implication of the Christian advert.

But then, what should be done about Easter? Maintaining the logic of the Christian advertising around Christmas, it would seem that we should remember that Easter is named for the pagan goddess Ēostre. This seems doubly reasonable since there is hardly any difference between the Christian celebration and the Pagan fertility festival, with all it’s rampant rabbits and eggy delights.

The fact is that by following the logic of the advertising we should either be utterly ignoring the etymological root of Christmas, as we do for Easter and Tuesday, or we should be acknowledging the etymological root for all days named after supernatural beings.

I’ve decided to make sure I remember that Christmas is about Christ, Easter is about Ēostre and Thursday is most definitely about Thor, which is presumably what constitutes hammer time: