Dec 31 2008

More on Swedish Xmas Traditions

The recent article I did on the Swedish Christmas goat got me reading up a little on the subject. In the process I learned about shape-shifting Santa and the Xmas goat’s relationship to Thor. That’s one connected goat.

Although now either confused with, or replaced by, the more mainstream image of Santa Claus, Tomte is actually a gnome, a figure harking back to Norse paganism.

Tomte has been described in many different guises; indeed some believe he has the ability to shape-shift at will. However, he is usually depicted as a bearded old man with a tall, pointy red hat.

Living under the floorboards of the house or barn, Tomte is fabled to protect the family and livestock. Since the late nineteenth century, Tomte has come to be associated with Christmas, appearing with the Christmas goat (julbock) who gives out presents to children.

The julbock is most probably descended from the Norse mythology of Thor, God of thunder, whose chariot was pulled by goats.”

This quotation humbly nicked from here.

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Dec 29 2008

Before Santa, there was… a goat.

And not just one, by the sound of it. Whole herds of them. Well, it’s logical: lot’s of stops, only one night, etc…

“Goats have a special place in Swedish tradition. According to folklore, they delivered festive gifts before Father Christmas took over.

So it’s sad to see that despite their past generosity — or perhaps because of it? people sometimes don’t like feeling beholden — a certain three-ton goat has become a repeated target of ill-will. Personally, I’d like to know what possible grudge the American tourist had against him.


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Dec 27 2008

Non-Realism in 75 words or less…

So, very briefly: realists think that mathematical truth is discovered, whereas non-realists about maths think that maths is a complex collection of useful games invented by us. Realists think that scientists discover ‘the laws of Nature’, readymade and out there, whereas non-realists think that scientists invent theories that help us to tell stories about why things go the way they do, and to predict outcomes successfully….

Realism tries to turn cultural fictions into objective facts.

For more on non-realism and its application to world views, religion and atheism, read the full article the above was quoted from or listen to the “Philosophy Bites” podcast interview with Don Cupitt.

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Dec 23 2008

Cheap shot

I know I should aspire to the high road and in so doing always avoid the proverbial “cheap shot”.

Oh, but I just can’t resist this one!!!

Today a headline caught my eye: “Pope attacks blurring of gender”. Cheap shot: “Pretty rich from a guy in a dress.”


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Dec 11 2008

Heads up!

“The bag is estimated to be more than 200 miles above the Earth and travelling at 15,000mph.”

No, my laundry hasn’t escaped, but an astronaut’s tool bag has. Read how to spot it in the night sky and what will eventually happen to it (”Queen Mum Flattened in Freak Accident!”)

I wonder if they take that out of the astronaut’s paycheck, like when a waiter drops a plate?