Daily Archive: 12/24/2012

Dec 24 2012

The 12 Awkward Days of Xmas

12 Awkward Days of Xmas by the Miskreant Muppets

Dec 24 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial: Could A.I.G. Happen Again?

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, policy makers in Washington, London and elsewhere began working to address the shortcomings exposed by A.I.G. Congress passed the Dodd-Frank reform law that imposes new controls on financial activity but leaves it to regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to fill in the details.

While those agencies have made some progress, like requiring derivative trades to be more transparently traded and reported, they have completed just one-third of the rules required by the law. The things regulators have yet to finish include imposing limits on the size of bets investors can make using credit default swaps and other exotic financial instruments, and also requiring investors to maintain sufficient reserves to make good on all of those bets.

Paul Krugman: When Prophecy Fails

Back in the 1950s three social psychologists joined a cult that was predicting the imminent end of the world. Their purpose was to observe the cultists’ response when the world did not, in fact, end on schedule. What they discovered, and described in their classic book, “When Prophecy Fails,” is that the irrefutable failure of a prophecy does not cause true believers – people who have committed themselves to a belief both emotionally and by their life choices – to reconsider. On the contrary, they become even more fervent, and proselytize even harder.

This insight seems highly relevant as 2012 draws to a close. After all, a lot of people came to believe that we were on the brink of catastrophe – and these views were given extraordinary reach by the mass media. As it turned out, of course, the predicted catastrophe failed to materialize. But we can be sure that the cultists won’t admit to having been wrong. No, the people who told us that a fiscal crisis was imminent will just keep at it, more convinced than ever.

Mark Weisbrot: U.S. Military Needs to Leave Afghanistan and Stop Widening Drone Strikes

Our country and our media have too much reverence for the U.S. military and the CIA, which are not making us safer but rather helping to create new threats. As the Washington Post reports, some of our generals have an “array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards.” Even worse, many officers later join the boards and executive suites of military contractors, where they rake in millions making corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman richer at taxpayer expense, and sometimes promoting war itself on the network news. Our military-industrial complex is as corrupt and rotten as any institution of America’s broken democracy, and more deadly than most in its consequences.

We need to end this war in Afghanistan and the other operations that are making Americans less secure and recruiting new enemies daily. Then we can focus on fixing our broken economy at home.

Robert Kuttner: The Zombie Party

Public opinion is steadily moving away from the Republican Party, as is America’s demographic future. President Obama’s three-point re-election win understated that reality, while events since Election Day have underscored it.

Public opinion dramatically favors restoring higher tax rates on the top 2 percent. Large majorities oppose cutting Social Security or Medicare. Acceptance of same-sex marriage is increasing, and is already the overwhelming majority view of those under 40 — the future electorate. Most Americans don’t support the absence of any regulation of combat weapons. [..]

And yet a Republican Party, as personified by the House Majority, is the zombie that has been overtaken by public opinion but will neither change nor get out-of-the-way.

So reforms desired by most American voters will be a long time coming.

David Paul: The Absolutist Politics of Norquist and LaPierre Will Destroy the Republican Party

National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre really out-did himself this week. Speaking in response to the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, LaPierre concluded that armed guards in the schools were the answer. Like those old time liberals he so disdains, LaPierre’s solution to mass murder in schools was to throw money at the problem, demanding that Congress “appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation.” [..]

Better that he had kept his mouth shut.

In one week, the two major planks of the Republican Party have demonstrated later stages of rot. Even more than its anti-abortion stance, the Republican Party is bound to its anti-tax pledge and pro-gun commitments. And those two political shibboleths are enforced by the organizational and political skills of the two men who are their public personae: Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist and LaPierre.

Robert Parry: The Real Rationale for the 2nd Amendment, That Right-Wingers Are Totally Ignorant About

A big obstacle to commonsense gun control is the Right’s false historical narrative that the Founders wanted an armed American public that could fight its own government.

Right-wing resistance to meaningful gun control is driven, in part, by a false notion that America’s Founders adopted the Second Amendment because they wanted an armed population that could battle the U.S. government. The opposite is the truth, but many Americans seem to have embraced this absurd, anti-historical narrative.

The reality was that the Framers wrote the Constitution and added the Second Amendment with the goal of creating a strong central government with a citizens-based military force capable of putting down insurrections, not to enable or encourage uprisings. The key Framers, after all, were mostly men of means with a huge stake in an orderly society, the likes of George Washington and James Madison. [..]

The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 weren’t precursors to France’s Robespierre or Russia’s Leon Trotsky, believers in perpetual revolutions. In fact, their work on the Constitution was influenced by the experience of Shays’ Rebellion in western Massachusetts in 1786, a populist uprising that the weak federal government, under the Articles of Confederation, lacked an army to defeat.

Dec 24 2012

On This Day In History December 24

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 24 is the 358th day of the year (359th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are seven days remaining until the end of the year. This day is commonly known as Christmas Eve.

On this day in 1955, NORAD begins tracking Santa in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition.

According to NORAD’s official web page on the NORAD Tracks Santa program, the service began on December 24, 1955. A Sears department store placed an advertisement in a Colorado Springs newspaper. The advertisement told children that they could telephone Santa Claus and included a number for them to call. However, the telephone number printed was incorrect and calls instead came through to Colorado Spring’s Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center. Colonel Shoup, who was on duty that night, told his staff to give all children that called in a “current location” for Santa Claus. A tradition began which continued when the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) replaced CONAD in 1958.

On Christmas Eve, the NORAD Tracks Santa website videos page is generally updated each hour, when it is midnight in a different time zone. The “Santa Cam” videos show CGI images of Santa Claus flying over famous landmarks. Each video is accompanied by a voice-over, typically done by NORAD personnel, giving a few facts about the city or country depicted. Celebrity voice-overs have also been used over the years. For the London “Santa Cam” video, English television personality and celebrity Jonathan Ross did the voice-over for 2005 to 2007 and the former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr narrated the same video in 2003 and 2004. In 2002, Aaron Carter provided the voice-over for three videos.

The locations and landmarks depicted in some of the “Santa Cam” videos have changed over the years. In 2009, twenty-nine “Santa Cam” videos were posted on the website. In previous years, twenty-four to twenty-six videos had been posted.

NORAD relies on volunteers to make the program possible. Many volunteers are employees at Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base. Each volunteer handles about forty telephone calls per hour, and the team typically handles more than 12,000 e-mails and more than 70,000 telephone calls from more than two hundred countries and territories. Most of these contacts happen during the twenty-five hours from 2 a.m. on December 24 until 3 a.m. MST on December 25.Google Analytics has been in use since December 2007 to analyze traffic at the NORAD Tracks Santa website. As a result of this analysis information, the program can project and scale volunteer staffing, telephone equipment, and computer equipment needs for Christmas Eve.

By December 25, 2009, the NORAD Tracks Santa program had 27,440 twitter followers and the Facebook page had more than 410,700 fans.

Official NORAD Santa Tracker

Dec 24 2012

Cranberry Canes

A holiday tradition at my house, I enjoy them any time of year.

Cranberry Canes are basically a stuffed yeast bread roll up, like a Cinnamon Roll.  It’s the presentation of twisting the prepared strips and putting a crook at one end that gives them their distinctive appearance.  There are 3 basic elements-

Dough:

Scald 1 Cup Milk, cool to lukewarm
In a large bowl combine:

4 Cups Unsifted All Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Zest

Cut in 1 Cup (2 Sticks) Margarine until like coarse meal
Dissolve 1 Package of Dry Yeast in 1/4 Cup Warm Water
To Flour Mixture add Yeast, Milk, 2 Beaten Eggs.  Combine lightly, dough will be sticky.
Cover dough tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.  When ready to bake prepare filling.

Filling:

In a pot or pan combine:

3 Cups finely chopped Cranberries (about 2 12 oz. bags, freeze before chopping)

1 Cup Rasins (about a 16 oz box)

2/3 Cup Chopped Pecans

2/3 Cup Honey

3 Teaspoons Grated Orange Zest

2 Cups Sugar

Bring to a smimmer over Medium heat.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Cool.

Frosting:

A basic buttercream flavored with some frozen concentrated Orange Juice.

Preparation:

Divide dough in half.  On a floured board roll out the half into an 18″ x 15″ rectangle.
Spread half the filling on the dough.  Fold dough into a 3 layer strip 15″ long and about 6″ wide.
Cut dough into 1″ strips.
Holding the ends of each strip twist lightly in opposite directions.  Pinch ends to seal.  Place on greased baking sheet, shaping the top of each strip to form a cane.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Bake in a hot oven, 400 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes or until done.
Cool on racks and frost.

Dec 24 2012

Henri Le Chat Noir: The Worst Noël

The Worst Noël

h/t twolf at Dependable Renegade