Thursday, February 3, 2011

Year Of The Rabbit

Rabbit Intigration


"You looking at me?"


More Bunnies!

"Eh...what's up, doc?"
Today we celebrate the Chinese New Year (or the "Spring Festival" which occurs in winter), and the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit (or Hare, which ever you prefer).
The Rabbit is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.
"Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade. The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calender the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-year cycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family." -The Holiday Spot

Anyone who happens to be born today and through the 22nd of January of 2012, can be said to be born in the Year of the Rabbit, with an elemental sign of Metal (There are four other elemental signs, Fire, Earth, Water and Wood. They constitute an ancient mnemonic device. "The system of five phases was used for describing interactions and relationships between phenomena," whatever that means).
Here is how the Chinese zodiac came to be (based on a true story I'm told):
Once upon a time, the Jade Emperor thought it'd be better to assign an animal to each year so people could more easily remember the Zodiac cycle. So he decided to hold a meeting with all the animals and he would choose 12 of them to be the Zodiac animals. At that time, Cat and Rat were close friends. They were very excited about the meeting and decided to go early. However, Cat was a sleepyhead. He hardly ever woke up before noon. On the night before the meeting, he asked Rat to wake him early the next morning. When morning came, Rat got up early and quietly left for the meeting alone. When Cat finally woke up in afternoon, he knew it was too late. Feeling betrayed, he vowed that henceforth Rat would be his enemy. That is probably the main reason Cats are always chasing after Rats.
According to the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco:
"People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise. They are most compatible with those born in the years of the Sheep, Pig, and Dog."
The Metal elemental sign refers to this:
Metal (Chinese: pinvin: jin), is the decline of the matter, or the matter's decline stage. Metal is the fourth phase of Wu Xing (the five phases mentioned above, Earth, Fire, etc.). Metal is yin in character, its motion is inwards and its energy is contracting. It is associated with the Autumn, the west, old age, the planet Venus, the color white, dry weather, and the White Tiger (Bai Hu, one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations). The archetypal metals are silver and gold.
In Chinese Taoist thought, Metal attributes are considered to be firmness, rigidity, persistence, strength and determination. The metal person is controlling, ambitious, forceful and set in their ways as metal is very strong; and they are self-reliant and prefer to handle their problems alone. The metal person is also materialistic, business oriented and good at organization and stability. However the metal person can also appreciate luxury and enjoy the good things in life. Just as metal can conduct electricity, the Metal person has strong impulses and generative powers and can bring about changes and transformations for those who come into contact with them.
In Chinese Medicine, metal governs the lung and the large intestine, nose and skin. The negative emotion associated with metal is grief, while the positive is courage. Many sources aimed at a Western audience equate Metal with the attributes of the element Air.
The Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
I have to thank Wikipedia for providing almost all of the above information.
Thank you Wikipedia!
And I think it wonderful that Chinese New Year is upon us, and that Chinese people are all happy about it and all.
But as far as the Chinese zodiac is concerned, and the Rabbit Year, well I don't buy it.
It is a form of astrology, a pseudoscience science, which means "a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific methodology, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status." -Wikipedia again.
In other words it's bullshit, pure and simple.
See how the descriptions of those born in the Year of the Rabbit, and with the Metal elemental could easily apply to anyone. And I bet there a whole lot of people, a whole lot, who are born during this time and like to gamble.
I believe wholeheartedly in science, and the scientific method, which is simply a way to test knowledge and ideas to see if they are really valid. It does this in 3 steps. 1. Come up with an idea, or as scientists like to say, a hypothesis. 2. Come up with an experiment that tests your hypothesis, one that can be repeated by your peers, or other scientists. And 3. Submit your results to your peers for their review. If they can repeat the results of your experiment, and can find nothing else that proves your hypothesis to be wrong, then you've added to the storehouse of human truth and knowledge. If not, well you'll have to start all over again. At least you have found out that something doesn't work so well, and use that knowledge to your own benefit, as when Thomas Edison was asked was he discouraged that he failed 10,000 times to try and build a light bulb. "I haven't failed," he said, "I've found 10,000 ways not to build a light bulb," or something like that.
People like astrology though. They talk about it all of the time. There was a big uproar recently when Minneapolis astronomy instructor Parke Kunkle affirmed that the Earth’s “wobble” has shifted the zodiac signs. For instance, I thought all of my life that I was born under the sign of Scorpio, and have gotten used to it. Scorpions are cool. I've seen them walking around the parking lot of my old apartment building in Arizona. Now I've learned that because the Earth tends to wobble a bit in it's rotation, I'm a Virgo instead.
How disconcerting. Are they trying to say I'm a virgin, or something? bastards!
My whole world view has changed and quite frankly I don't know if I'll be able to take it. I may have to commit seppuku, the form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment.
But besides myself there are many people who follow astrology and believe in it, that this change affects deeply.
But the point of Kunkle's report, to my way of thinking, is this proves astrology is a bunch of BS, as it's main stipulation, or condition is that you're born under a precise sign of the zodiac, that somehow influences who you are and what will happen to you. Besides there being no evidence whatsoever to support that amazing hypothesis, it seems that the constellations in regards to the Earth's rotation changes in a continuous basis, although slowly. It's always changing. It always will change. Indeed the stars in their orbits around the galaxy will constantly be changing. The sky as it is now, will not be the sky 10,000 years from now. So how does astrology work under these conditions. The answer is... it doesn't.
But astrology is so fun. There are like a million astrology related pages in the daily news all around the world concerning astrology and horoscopes, compared to a handful on science and technology. It is good to think one can simply look up your daily horoscope and have some kind of advantage in life by knowing what is likely to happen.
But does it ever really happen, more than pure chance would have it? I doubt it.
As my dear late friend and mentor, Dr. Carl Sagan pointed out, the only effect the stars and planets could possibly have on a newborn child would be that of the star or planet's electromagnetic energy (light), or gravity reaching the baby. Now it is true that a star or planet like Mars is much more massive than a pediatrician. However, the pediatrician is much closer.
Scientists get disappointed all of the time when their ideas don't stand the rigors of the scientific method. They're only human. However, if we are going to live with a worldview that is based in reality, not what we would like to be real, then we must courageously go where the evidence takes us, not where we would wish it to go because it makes us feel better.
It's a hard truth that even grown ups need to face from time to time.

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