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135 countries committed to International Year of Astronomy 2009: "The Universe, yours to discover." Began on 1 Jan

the Cygnus X-1 binary star system contains one of the best candidates for a black hole

(quote)

Stargazers around the world are busy preparing for the International Year of Astronomy. A staggering 135 nations are collaborating to bring the Universe closer to Earth. Events and activities will take place over the coming 365 days and beyond, in a spectacle of cosmic proportions.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) has been launched by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under the theme, "The Universe, yours to discover". Thousands of IYA2009 events are described on the national websites, as well as on astronomy2009.org, and a few of the global projects are listed here.

official name of this global celebration is the International Year of Astronomy, abbreviated IYA2009  read more »

"Thank you for dancing with me!" Matt invited people in 39 countries on all 7 continents to come out and dance...

dancing in Istanbul, Turkey

(quote)

Matt Harding is a 32-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. Matt achieved this goal pretty early and enjoyed it for a while, but eventually realized there might be other stuff he was missing out on.

dancing in Poria, Papua New Guinea

In February of 2003, he quit his job in Brisbane, Australia and used the money he'd saved to wander around Asia until it ran out. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he is. A few months into his trip, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea. They were standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, and his friend said "Hey, why don't you stand over there and do that dance. I'll record it." He was referring to a particular dance Matt does.

dancing in Paris, France  read more »

Poet in solitude. Voice out of silence. "Love's Footsteps ~dedicated to a Bridge for Wisdom to Walk on" by LuCxeed

Book front cover: Love's Footsteps ~ dedicated to a Bridge for Wisdom to Walk on
"Love speaks for Romance, Love speaks more for Compassion." New book release. A gift, inspirational & motivational

Poet in solitude. Voice out of silence.
Journey after journey, over decades, along a lonely path
filled with perilous adventures and distinct accomplishments
paralleling constant pondering in various schools of thought.
Thus,
the poems are wide-ranging in topics,
many inspired by true events, by true stories
while alongside, photographs and art, by nature.
Uncommon.

Book back cover: Love's Footsteps ~ dedicated to a Bridge for Wisdom to Walk on

Poet in solitude.
Voice out of silence.
For years, LuCxeed has led a mostly solitary
existence, dedicating life and passion to thought,
paying homage to philosophy & poetry, photography & art.

In equanimity, and more than often, the poet travels
back and forth, between West and East,
back and forth, between nature and society.

Journey after journey, over decades, along a lonely path
filled with perilous adventures and distinct accomplishments
paralleling constant pondering in various schools of thought.
Thus, the poems are
wide-ranging in topics,
many inspired by true events, by true stories while
alongside, photographs and art, by nature.

Poetry from life is presented to Life - the release of
more than 100 poems in five books by LuCxeed,
inviting readers to enjoy Poem in Art, Poetry in Gallery,
voice and visual art under one roof. Each page  read more »

Once upon a time: Christmas celebration outlawed in Boston; anyone exhibiting Christmas spirit fined 5 shillings

December. Christmas stars. Sisimiut

(quote)

Christmas is the most popular holiday of the year in the whole world. About 400 millions people celebrates Christmas holiday each year in winter. In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday. The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America.

Christmas at North Pole: what’s the thought of the dear deer in front of the chubby and jolly Frosty?

From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident. After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution.  read more »

Economic woes push Vancouver 2010 Olympic organizers to consider canceling the evening award ceremonies

Whistler, B.C., mayor Ken Melamed says residents don't support the proposed cancellation by Olympic organizers of the evening award ceremonies at Whistler Village

(quote)

WHISTLER, B.C. - Vancouver 2010 Olympic organizers are considering canceling the evening award ceremonies and giving the medals out at sport venues to save money.

Gary Lunn, the minister of state for sport, said that in tough economic times the Vancouver Organizing Committee has to look at its bottom line.

"They are looking at all of their options and that is the right thing to do in today's economic climate . . . They have to prepare for the unknown," he said.

A statue of runner Harry Jerome stands against the Vancouver skyline

But Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed said residents do not support the cancellation.

"We know there are challenges but this would be a huge blow to Whistler," he said.

Whistler is planning to throw a $18.5-million party, slated to run 24 hours a day for the duration of the Olympics, which will include concerts, shows and celebrations.

The party will be held at Whistler Village and at the Celebration Plaza Olympic venue, the construction of which is due to be completed in September.  read more »

Plan in Brazil bears vision of forest protector shot to death 20 years ago trying to save the Amazon rain forest

Amazonian landscape, with a shaft of light

“Development” or destruction of the planet? The value of a standing forest could be more than the value of a forest burned and logged in the name of development. How many more trees would be cut, forests burned down in the name of development in days not far behind us, and time ahead?

(quote)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Twenty years ago, a Brazilian environmental activist and rubber tapper was shot to death at his home in Acre State by ranchers opposed to his efforts to save the Amazon rain forest. After his death at age 44, Francisco Alves Mendes, better known as Chico, became a martyr for a concept that is only now gaining mainstream support here: that the value of a standing forest could be more than the value of a forest burned and logged in the name of development.

This month, Brazil took what environmentalists hope will be a big step forward in realizing Mr. Mendes’s vision. The government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva introduced ambitious targets for reducing deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions in a nation that is one of the world’s top emitters of this heat-trapping gas.

Francisco Alves Mendes, pictured in 1988, was killed by ranchers opposed to his efforts to save the rain forest  read more »

Cartoons: Noah’s Ark - recession edition, Christmassy profit chart, Obama’s senate seat for bail-bonds, & more...

cartoon: Size of bailout request vs. Automakers’ mode of transportation arriving at hearing

Not Lincoln’s seat too?

At least, it’s Christmassy.

funny photo: a surprising episode on the road on wedding day

No…you can’t use that for collateral.

cartoon: Hey, it is my turn, my term!

Noah’s Ark: Recession Edition

Images courtesy of John Klossner, Mike Peters / Dayton Daily News / King Features Syndicate, P.C. Vey, humor-in-photos-and-pictures.blogspot.com, Nick Anderson / Houston Chronicle, Hajo / CWS, and Riber / Cagle Cartoons

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