Happy Birthday IKE


Sir Isaac Newton, the founder of modern physics and mathematics, and the greatest scientist of all time was born on December 25th. Which itself is recalling Richard Dawkins’s own “Happy Newton Day!” from last December’s New Statesman.

My deeply entrenched but only newly exposed atheism has been pushing me towards finding celebratory days of my own. I have always been hypersensitive to the creeping over-religiosity in society it seems to annoy me less in middle age.

Christmas is a odd duck as holidays go, after being co-opted by Christianity for so many centuries, our midwinter feasting has grown beyond the deity-based religion and into some sort of secular capitalist competitive binge eating. Surprising myself I have learned to ignore the most irksome parts and enjoy the harmless pleasant features. I stopped being annoyed at the publicly finance town Christmas tree, just about the time the city decided to leave the lights on the poor thing year round. I am lucky that my burg doesn’t go so far as to finance a creche, perhaps it is because we already have one planted on each church lawn, and another would appear excessive.

Paraphrasing my beloved Feynman, “what do I care what other people believe?” truthfully I don’t care what other people believe unless they foist it on other people, or their children…or the public at large…..of blow themselves up in public places. Otherwise, I’m fine with folks believing in fantasy creatures; deities, angels, demons, ghosts, hobbits, jedi masters. Hey whatever opiate the masses need to consume so they don’t start running over cliffs en masse. Some days it’s all I can do not to do that myself.

So how does one go about celebrating a Newtonian holiday that makes creches and carolers pale in comparison? Olivia Judson has provided us with a cheerful Newtonian Carol, celebrating the 10 day span between Newton’s Julian calendrical birthday and his Gregorian one (two birthdays! cool beans)

“Ten Days of Newton”

On the tenth day of Newton,
My true love gave to me,
Ten drops of genius,

Nine silver co-oins,

Eight circling planets,

Seven shades of li-ight,

Six counterfeiters,

Cal-Cu-Lus!

Four telescopes,

Three Laws of Motion,

Two awful feuds,

And the discovery of gravity!


Obviously Apples will play a huge part in the festivities, with 10 days of endless apple dishes to feast on…pies, crisps, dowdys, bettys, cobblers, strudels, dumplings, carameled, perhaps even apple Newtons!

For decorations I suggest prisms of all sorts, hanging in all the windows, twinkling up and down the streets. And rainbows, yards and yards of rainbow colored streamers, they must have lots leftover from gay pride parades……and we will have lots of hula hops and tops…and my favorite part dropping things from great heights….perhaps a few pumpkins and winter squash would come into messy play here.

Now all i need are a few millennia to recruit recruits.

Happy Newton Day children…. go eat an apple.

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