Science Saturday

Seeing stars. CNET reported earlier this week that Google Earth has a new feature called Sky, which prompted me to finally download Google Earth (noCassiopeia.  Copyright Torsten Bronger.w that it is Mac friendly). I’ve spent the last hour or so zooming across Ohio and into the night sky. If my pop was still alive, he’d be astounded. When I was a kid, we would sit in the backyard while he was burning leaves in the wire bin (a big no-no today) and he’d point out the constellations. All these years later, the one that sticks out in my mind the most is Cassiopeia, probably because I could never see it. He made a valiant effort to take my hand and trace the stars, pointing my finger at each one and drawing the jagged connections between them. And now here it is, in my virtual night sky above Pigspittle (which, incidentally, is a big blur on Google Earth). I also went back to my hometown on Google Earth and found the house I grew up in—someone added a porch to the backyard and cut down nearly all of the trees.

Oh, Those Liberal Dark Ages. ScienceDaily reports that a “new study from the September issue of the Journal of Modern History reviews historical evidence, including documents and gravesites, suggesting that homosexual civil unions may have existed six centuries ago in France.” Men—often brothers, but also non-related and single— were permitted to form legal contracts, called affrèrements, that protected inheritance and shared property ownership. The study’s author contends that the contracts give “considerable evidence that the affrèrés were using affrèrements to formalize same-sex loving relationships. . . . I suspect that some of these relationships were sexual, while others may not have been. It is impossible to prove either way and probably also somewhat irrelevant to understanding their way of thinking. They loved each other, and the community accepted that.”

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