The Origin of the Celestial Lion

LEO IN 1500 BC

This is how Leo appeared shortly after sunset, about a month before the summer solstice in 1500 BC.


One of the questions arising from my work is, “When were the stars in Leo first pictured as a lion?”

The most comprehensive historical resource I’ve seen is Gary David Thompson’s writings. He indicates that the earliest reference in Egypt is found in Senmut’s tomb, dating it to approximately 1500 BC. In Babylon, the earliest date is roughly the same: about 1530 BC. These are both before the time of the celestial interaction recorded in the Samson story.

As both constellations are linked to the same stars (A, B), the next question is, “How much historical interaction existed between these cultures during those times?” (And remember that Israel neighbored both these societies.) The Amarna Letters show the influence is more than one may first think, and the Samson story confirms the link.

Another question is “Why were they pictured as a lion?” Viewing the previous graphic, you can see that the stars do resemble a stick-figure lion. There may have been more at play in our ancestors’ minds. The following is conjectural, because I am not very familiar with lion habits, but according to rainfall and other sites, June was the beginning of the hot part of their year. (I haven’t seen any indication that their rainfall patterns have significantly changed in the last thirty-five hundred years.) Lions may have become more active at that time, although such isn’t mentioned on Wikipedia’s treatment. If you know more about lion habits in this regard, feel free to leave a comment.

The animation is derived from Stellarium, a wonderful open source planetarium program. Thank you, Fabian, and all those who helped out on that fantastic project!

Goose bumps to a cemetery

While putting the finishing touches on the 4th edition of Laughing at the Devil I wondered if ‘goose bumps’ should be hyphenated. A quick search revealed it shouldn’t, but, even more interestingly, I found the term once referred to sexually-transmitted diseases. The cause is said to be (for England and the associated Western civilization:) the bishop of Winchester licensed prostitutes outside of London, associating the symptoms of diseases linked to that profession to goose bumps. The term ‘Winchester goose’ became a permanent nickname for those poor ladies.

Several years ago an author seems to have been led to this history when one of his supposedly-fictional characters indicated she was buried in a cemetery not far from him. Today those thousands interred there are honored by the locals, as well as visitors from afar, who decorate the gates and graves, and celebrate the memory of the not-so-fortunate ones of previous times. Perhaps someday I will make that pilgrimage myself.

Web Programming

Welcome to a very dated ‘small slice of web programming’ page. This page contains some information you might find useful if you ever play with the nuts and bolts of web programming via PHP. It also contains a few SQL queries for WordPress sites you might find useful.

I’ve long since moved on to using WordPress without the low-level tinkering the first portion of this page contains, and I recommend it to you as well, as doing so will save a bunch of time in the long run.

One of the items I fought with back in that stone age Continue reading “Web Programming”

Nero Installation Tip

If you have a Samsung DVD recorder/player, and your install disk contains Nero Express 7 and is labeled “[BG68-01353A REV. 02],” do yourself a favor, and DON’T INSTALL IT! Well, do install it, but not the way you would normally think to do.

The engineers who created this disk and allowed it on the market should be ashamed of themselves! Installing the Nero suite is INCREDIBLY SLOW! Over the course of 30 minutes, it had only copied about thirty percent of the files to my drive.

Continue reading “Nero Installation Tip”

Creating an Index in MS Word

One of the major tasks while completing a book such as Laughing at the Devil is creating the index. If you don’t like drudgery, or are unsure what words to include, you might want to hire a professional. But if those ideas don’t scare you and you can figure out what searchers may really want to look up, the following will be helpful for MS Word users. (Seth Maislin’s tips at will also be of assistance.) Continue reading “Creating an Index in MS Word”

Undo / Redo in C++


I was unable to find any source code for an undo/redo system on the web when I needed it. Maybe this will help someone else in the future.

In the Borland environment (the mere mention of which dates this article something fierce), the Visual Class Library cannot use multiple inheritance with ‘forms’. Multiple inheritance must be accomplished via aggregation. (That held true until BCB6, I believe.) The following framework proved useful for implementing an undo/redo system in those conditions. Continue reading “Undo / Redo in C++”