Count me among the staunchly pro-Christmas atheists. I may not be religious, but I'm all about the loot. If the price of getting presents is the ostentatious display of a few borrowed pagan images around Winter Solstice time, I can deal.
So our gift from Cosmic Variance to you is -- new blogs! New to us, anyway. First up is inkycircus, a very fun site from three British journalists who are in the process of starting their own science magazine (found at Element list). The twist is that Anne, Katie and Anna are all women, and seem to be having a great time with the whole operation. (Men would feel the pressure to be all ponderous and serious-sounding, if I may venture an unsupported generalization.) My favorite category of post is men whose babies we want to bear, even if it is somewhat unrepresentative of the larger project and despite the fact that Jon Stewart makes the list and I don't.
The other new site worth checking out is systemic by Greg Laughlin, discussing the search for extrasolar planets. ("systemic" is the name of a Java applet for analyzing data collected in the search for such planets.) In addition to cool science, it's full of great images like the one at left. Unfortunately this is a map of light pollution in the vicinity of Lick Observatory (see the Bay Area coastline outlined in white?), but it's still a great image. Finally, I note that Cosmic Variance is currently ranked 374th in the Truth Laid Bear ecosystem traffic rankings, one slot above HorsesAss.Org. Draw your own conclusions. Happy holidays, everyone.