Monthly Archive: October 2011

Oct 31 2011

A Halloween Story

So it was the 4th Annual Masquerade Ball (at least that’s what the commemorative sport bottle says) and I was a young politician on the make, sucking up to locals in the entourage of the second best attorney I know (his only flaw is he thinks he’s perfect) along with 2 other people who preceded me as capo di tutti.

I had dressed with my usual imaginative style in the battle tux I’d inherited from a dead former Master of my Lodge (you do know I’m a member of the Illuminati, don’t you?).

With me it’s all about the shtick and on this occasion I’d prepared several copies of a Gothic Black “Contract” with Lorem Ipsum as the body and my Montblanc knockoff was filled with red ink.  I’d chat with people and when they mentioned my lack of costume I’d object that I was entirely in the spirit of the event and not at all in my normal regalia.

But you know, that’s not really why I’m here tonight.

I’m here for you.

And then I’d pull out the contract and try and get their autograph.  I have no idea why this freaked them out but I didn’t collect a single one.

Now in my club we’ve been known to unwind every once in a while as many hotels will attest and although my boss, capo di tutti at the time, drank very little and I contented myself with my commemorative sport bottle of champagne (with intermittent refills) our two companions were slightly more… enthusiastic.

With one it was only to be expected.  He’s the only person I’ve ever had the misfortune to be thrown out of an airport bar with while the flight was still delayed.  I’ve never quite forgiven him for that.

The other one usually stuck to a few Bud Lights, but he had a credit card and was flirting with the bar tender who made a mean Sea Breeze.

As all good things do it came to an end and my Sea Breeze friend was trying to extricate his father’s Cadillac from an up hill lie onto the Cart Path we had parked off of, but was constantly thwarted by the inexplicable trailer hitch on the back which dug into the asphalt because of the angle.

“Turn your wheels this way”, said my airport companion in tones that led me and my boss to seek a strategic distance from the scene of hilarity in shadows of plausible deniability.

“I got this”, replied the driver as with a great scrape we later learned jammed 2 feet of Macadam up the hitch mounting he bounced onto the road (facing the wrong direction of course) and flipped the car around so it pointed at the exit.

My boss said, “I’m driving with you”, to which my reply was, “So how much of a head start do we give them?”

Oct 31 2011

Mortgage Fraud: Selling Out To The Banks

The Obama administration is about to screw Main St. one more time by letting the banks get away with mortgage and foreclosure fraud with a pittance of a fine and indemnifying the banks from state-level prosecution for a series of crimes at practically all stages of the mortgage process. It has been pointed out that by not enforcing the law, which includes investigating and prosecuting fraud, Barack Obama is in violation of his oath of office. Remember? The one he took on front of a rapt nation on the steps of the Capitol where he swore to up hold the Constitution and Law. I don’t recall any part of that oath including letting the banks get away with bringing the US economy to its knees through fraudulent practices.

A Deal That Wouldn’t Sting

by Gretchen Morgenson

Cutting to the chase: if you thought this was the deal that would hold banks accountable for filing phony documents in courts, foreclosing without showing they had the legal right to do so and generally running roughshod over anyone who opposed them, you are likely to be disappointed.

This may not qualify as a shock. Accountability has been mostly A.W.O.L. in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. A handful of state attorneys general became so troubled by the direction this deal was taking that they dropped out of the talks. Officials from Delaware, New York, Massachusetts and Nevada feared that the settlement would preclude further investigations, and would wind up being a gift to the banks.

It looks as if they were right to worry. As things stand, the settlement, said to total about $25 billion, would cost banks very little in actual cash – $3.5 billion to $5 billion. A dozen or so financial companies would contribute that money.

The rest – an estimated $20 billion – would consist of credits to banks that agree to reduce a predetermined dollar amount of principal owed on mortgages that they own or service for private investors. How many credits would accrue to a bank is unclear, but the amount would be based on a formula agreed to by the negotiators. A bank that writes down a second lien, for example, would receive a different amount from one that writes down a first lien.

Sure, $5 billion in cash isn’t nada. But government officials have held out this deal as the penalty for years of what they saw as unlawful foreclosure practices. A few billion spread among a dozen or so institutions wouldn’t seem a heavy burden, especially when considering the harm that was done. {..}

The deal being discussed now may also release the big banks that are members of MERS, the electronic mortgage registry, from the threat of some future legal liability for actions involving that organization. MERS, which wreaked havoc with land records across the country, was sued last week by Beau Biden, Delaware’s attorney general, on accusations of deceptive trade practices.

The MERS registry was also subpoenaed last week by Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, as part of his investigation into the fun-while-it-lasted mortgage securitization fest. If he were to sign on to the settlement, his investigation into MERS could not move forward.

Angry yet?

Latest Leak on State Attorney General Mortgage Settlement: A Shameless Sellout to the Banks

by Yves Smith

Morgenson highlights another feature of the plan:

   One of the oddest terms is that the banks would give $1,500 to any borrower who lost his or her home to foreclosure since September 2008. For people whose foreclosures were done properly, this would be a windfall. For those wrongfully evicted, it would be pathetic. Roughly $1.5 billion in cash is expected to go into this pot.

“Pathetic” isn’t strong enough. Let’s look at the damages sought by Nevada attorney general Catherine Masto in her second amended complaint against Bank of America: civil penalties of $5000 per violation, or $12,000 for elderly or disabled borrowers. An individual loan can, and likely does, have multiple violations. The suit also seeks restitution, costs for wrongful foreclosures, plus the cost of damage to municipalities and homeowners from unnecessary vacancies. Note that an AG victory on the issue of wrongful foreclosure would pave the way for private lawsuits, and here the damages would be massive, particularly if state law or precedent allows for penalties (as we’ve noted, Alabama has statutory tripe damages for wrongful foreclosure, and recent rulings have had applied penalties in excess of nine times).

And what did Masto get from a different servicer, Morgan Stanley’s Saxon? The settlement is estimated to average somewhere between $30,000 and $57,000 per borrower. And the basis of action wasn’t erroneous or fraudulent foreclosures, but deceptive practices in mortgage lending and securitization.



Look at the MERS compplaint filed by Delaware AG Beau Biden. He’s suing MERS over deceptive practices, at $10,000 per violation. It’s quite possible that he may find more than one violation per mortgage. And I would imagine that success against MERS would pave the way for actions against servicers who relied on MERS in the face of knowledge of its deficiencies.

In other words, the suits filed by two AGs alone make a mockery of these negotiations.

So, how much are the banks contributing to the president and the attorney generals who are going to try to let them off the hook?  

Oct 31 2011

St. Paul’s Dean Folds

A brief summary-

#OWS protests have spread internationally and one such location is London, in particular the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral in what is called ‘The City’ near the London Stock Exchange.

Last week the Dean of St. Paul’s, the Rt. Rev. Graeme Knowles, announced that the Church would sue protestors to seek their removal.  This was rapidly followed by the resignations of 2 prominent subordinates- Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, the Canon Chancellor, and part time chaplain, Rev. Fraser Dyer.

The struggle for St Paul’s

The anti-capitalist protest outside the gates of St Paul’s has sparked a moral battle inside the cathedral.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious and Media Affairs Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph

7:00AM GMT 30 Oct 2011

The split tearing apart the nation’s church was not just damaging its reputation, but leaving its staff exhausted.

Martin Fletcher, the clerk of the works, who had given the initial advice for the cathedral to close, had been rushed to hospital in an ambulance after collapsing from stress. He is still on sick leave.



One figure who is understood to have taken a particularly dim view of Canon Fraser’s outbursts is the cathedral’s registrar, Nicholas Cottam, a retired Major-General.

He has, so far, managed to keep a low profile, but he is described as “the power behind the throne”, and central to convincing the dean to support evicting the protesters.

Having served as a Commanding Officer in Northern Ireland in the early Nineties, he is said to have acted as an enforcer who didn’t like the clergy stepping out of line.

The Dean and his former Canon Chancellor only live a few houses apart, but they have been pulled in different directions, with Dean Knowles being leant on by senior political and ecclesiastical figures, in addition to his registrar.



Senior figures at the City of London Corporation had decided that the protesters must be evicted, and backing from the cathedral Chapter was the last touch needed to give it moral authority.

As the fallout from the Chapter’s poor handling of the row has descended into an embarrassing debacle, it has cast the Church in an unflattering light.

The canons have been accused of selling out to the wishes of politicians rather than carrying out their gospel duties to care for the poor and downtrodden.

Others are incredulous that a great symbol of London has been closed for the first time since the Blitz because of health and safety concerns posed by the camp.

The Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said that it was not just the public who were bemused by the closure.

“Cathedral deans I’ve spoken to are mystified as to why they would do it,” he said. “It’s made them look like idiots. Anyone who looks at the camp can see that it is complete nonsense to claim that it was done for health and safety.”

The health and safety report published on Monday listed “rope/guy-lines” and rodents among potential dangers posed by the presence of the camp.

Sources close to the Dean say that he was baffled as soon as he saw how weak the evidence was, and moved to have the building reopened as quickly as possible.

The cathedral charges £14.50 for entry and, with its restaurant and gift shop also shut, is estimated to have lost more than £100,000 in the week it was closed.

Today, the Dean has resigned.

Rowan Williams warns of ‘urgent issues’ raised by protests as third St Paul’s clergyman resigns

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that “urgent” issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s Cathedral must be properly addressed as the Dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, resigned.

By Victoria Ward, The Telegraph

2:55PM GMT 31 Oct 2011

Speaking publicly about the crisis for the first time, Dr. Williams added: “The urgent larger issues raised by the protesters at St Paul’s remain very much on the table and we need – as a Church and as society as a whole – to work to make sure that they are properly addressed.”



Dean Knowles said today: “It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as Dean of St. Paul’s was becoming untenable.

“In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St. Paul’s, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised. I do this with great sadness, but I now believe that I am no longer the right person to lead the Chapter of this great cathedral.”

Yesterday, he addressed protesters at the camp, insisting that he was keen to listen and to answer their questions.

However, he looked distinctly uncomfortable on the podium and was heckled as he failed to answer why legal action had been sought.

He admitted that he found it “quite difficult” that the protesters assumed he did not share their views simply because he used different methods of expressing them. Just hours later, he advised the cathedral Chapter of his decision to step down.

Good.  He should be uncomfortable, the pompous hypocrite.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is technically the ‘second in command’ of The Church of England since it’s titular head is the British Sovereign.

Oct 31 2011

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”.

Paul Krugman: Bombs, Bridges and Jobs

A few years back Representative Barney Frank coined an apt phrase for many of his colleagues: weaponized Keynesians, defined as those who believe “that the government does not create jobs when it funds the building of bridges or important research or retrains workers, but when it builds airplanes that are never going to be used in combat, that is of course economic salvation.”

Right now the weaponized Keynesians are out in full force – which makes this a good time to see what’s really going on in debates over economic policy.

What’s bringing out the military big spenders is the approaching deadline for the so-called supercommittee to agree on a plan for deficit reduction. If no agreement is reached, this failure is supposed to trigger cuts in the defense budget.

New York Times Editorial: Flat Taxes and Angry Voters

By wide margins, Americans are now telling pollsters they want a tax system that raises more money and is more fair by asking the rich to pay more. They are connecting the dots between the lavish high-end tax cuts of the past decade and today’s serious problems – including widening inequality and mounting deficits – and demanding change. The Republican presidential candidates aren’t listening.

Take the flat tax plan of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. For all his talk about how it would make filing easier – that is dubious – what it would really do is give high-income Americans a big tax break, while almost everyone else could expect relatively modest tax savings or none at all.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.: 3 Signs Anti-Wall Streeters Are Succeeding

We may be reaching an inflection point, the moment when the terms of the political argument change decisively. Three indicators: An important speech by Rep. Paul Ryan, the increasingly sharp tone of President Obama’s rhetoric, and the success of Occupy Wall Street in resisting attempts to marginalize the movement.

The most telling was Ryan’s address at the Heritage Foundation last week. House Republicans regard Ryan as their prophet, their intellectual and their resident wonk. Usually, he carefully lays out the numbers and issues visionary promises of how cutting government (and taxes on the wealthy) will lead us down a blissful path to prosperity. He’s sunny when everyone else is grumpy.

John Nichols: ‘Idolizer of the Market’: Paul Ryan Can’t Quite Hear the Catholic Church’s Call for Economic Justice

Paul Ryan accuses President Obama of engaging in “sowing social unrest and class resentment.” The House Budget Committee chairman says the president is “preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment.”

Paul Ryan accuses Elizabeth Warren of engaging in class warfare. The House Budget Committee chairman the Massachusetts US Senate candidate is guilty of engaging in the “fatal conceit of liberalism.”

But what about the Catholic Church, which has taken a far more radical position on economic issues than Obama or Warren? What does the House Budget Committee chairman, a self-described “good Catholic,” do then?

If you’re Paul Ryan, you don’t decry the church for engaging in class warfare. Instead, you spin an interpretation of the church’s latest pronouncements that bears scant resemblance to what’s been written-but that just happens to favor your political interests.

Leslie Savan: The ‘War on Halloween’: A Trick or a Treat for Conservatives?

Have you heard? The War on Halloween is on! But, unlike other culture wars, this one could become very confusing for conservatives to decide which side they’re on.

The “War on Halloween” is not as simple as the “War on Christmas,” that package of phony fury O’Reilly and Limbaugh give to the nation annually. The politics of that holiday are clear-cut: Christmas=America. Those who don’t obey the equation are essentially crucifying Christ, nailing Him to the cross with the dozens of flag pins they ripped from the lapels of His tunic.

But Halloween is a trickier matter. Many on the religious right have long shunned the holiday as a force of evil. As a Christian website puts it, “Halloween is based upon modern Wiccan interpretations of pre-Christian paganism and involve occultic rites and practices that Christians should have no dealings with.”

Francis Beinecke: One More Reason to Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline: Questions about State Department Handling of Review

On Friday, I joined several environmental leaders in calling for the State Department to conduct an investigation into the department’s handling of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. More than a dozen members of Congress also requested an inquiry into potential conflicts of interest.

Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth examined relevant documents and found that TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, was allowed to screen the companies bidding to do the project’s environmental impact study; the company that was chosen listed TransCanada as a “major client.” It also does business for many of the same oil companies that stand to benefit from the pipeline.

Meanwhile, State Department officials coached TransCanada on messaging-and seemed to be in cahoots with them on skirting safety protections.  From the start, they have shown a disposition towards the pipeline proponents at the expense of public – exemplified by the Secretary’s comments a year ago that she was “inclined” to approve it.

Danny Schetcher: The Question OWS Hears Most: ‘What’s Your Agenda?’

One of the most frequently repeated, recycled and dismissive questions about Occupy Wall Street is its supposed lack of an “agenda.”

The “what do you people want” question has featured in media interviews almost to the exclusion of all others.

It’s as if the movement won’t be taken seriously by some, unless and until, it enunciates list of “demands” and defines itself in a way that can allow others, especially a cynical media, to label and pigeonhole it.

Many are just frothing at the mouth for some political positions they can expose as shallow or absurd. Teams of pundits are being primed to go on the attack once they have some bullet points to refute.

Oct 31 2011

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 45

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com

OccupyWallStreet

The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet

Occupy Oakland Calls For City-Wide General Strike, Nov 2

Below is the proposal passed by the Occupy Oakland General Assembly on Wednesday October 26, 2011 in reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza. 1607 people voted. 1484 voted in favor of the resolution, 77 abstained and 46 voted against it, passing the proposal at 96.9%. The General Assembly operates on a modified consensus process that passes proposals with 90% in favor and with abstaining votes removed from the final count.

Proposal

We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

The whole world is watching Oakland. Let’s show them what is possible.

Oct 31 2011

On this Day in History October 31

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.

October 31 is the 304th day of the year (305th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 61 days remaining until the end of the year.

This day is internationally known as Halloween, also known as All Hallow’s Eve, Reformation Day, and Day of the Dead for the Philippines

On this day in 1926, Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital.

Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, the son of a rabbi. At a young age, he immigrated with his family to Appleton, Wisconsin, and soon demonstrated a natural acrobatic ability and an extraordinary skill at picking locks.

He went on his first international tour in 1900 and performed all over Europe to great acclaim. In executing his escapes, he relied on strength, dexterity, and concentration-not trickery-and was a great showman.

In 1908, Houdini began performing more dangerous and dramatic escapes. In a favorite act, he was bound and then locked in an ironbound chest that was dropped into a water tank or thrown off a boat. In another, he was heavily bound and then suspended upside down in a glass-walled water tank. Other acts featured Houdini being hung from a skyscraper in a straitjacket, or bound and buried-without a coffin-under six feet of dirt.

In his later years, Houdini campaigned against mediums, mind readers, fakirs, and others who claimed supernatural talents but depended on tricks. At the same time, he was deeply interested in spiritualism and made a pact with his wife and friends that the first to die was to try and communicate with the world of reality from the spirit world.

Eyewitnesses to an incident in Montreal gave rise to speculation that Houdini’s death was caused by a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead, who delivered multiple blows to Houdini’s abdomen to test Houdini’s claim that he was able to take any blow to the body above the waist without injury.

The eyewitnesses, students named Jacques Price and Sam Smilovitz (sometimes called Jack Price and Sam Smiley), proferred accounts of the incident that generally corroborated one another. The following is Price’s description of events:

   Houdini was reclining on his couch after his performance, having an art student sketch him. When Whitehead came in and asked if it was true that Houdini could take any blow to the stomach, Houdini replied groggily in the affirmative. In this instance, he was hit three times before Houdini could tighten up his stomach muscles to avoid serious injury. Whitehead reportedly continued hitting Houdini several more times and Houdini acted as though he were in some pain.

Houdini reportedly stated that if he had time to prepare himself properly he would have been in a better position to take the blows. He had apparently been suffering from appendicitis for several days prior and yet refused medical treatment. His appendix would likely have burst on its own without the trauma. Although in serious pain, Houdini continued to travel without seeking medical attention.

When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theater in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 1926, for what would be his last performance, he had a fever of 104 F (40 C). Despite a diagnosis of acute appendicitis, Houdini took the stage. He was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit’s Grace Hospital.

Houdini died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31, aged 52.

After taking statements from Price and Smilovitz, Houdini’s insurance company concluded that the death was due to the dressing-room incident and paid double indemnity.

Houdini’s funeral was held on November 4, 1926 in New York, with more than 2,000 mourners in attendance. He was interred in the Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York, with the crest of the Society of American Magicians inscribed on his gravesite. To this day the Society holds a broken wand ceremony at the grave site in November. Houdini’s widow, Bess, died on February 11, 1943, aged 67, in Needles, California. She had expressed a wish to be buried next to him but instead was interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester, New York, as her Catholic family refused to allow her to be buried in a Jewish cemetery out of concern for her soul.

Oct 31 2011

Pique the Geek 20111030: Heat and Temperature

This might sound like a foolish title, but actually the concepts of heat and temperature are quite different.  Obviously things that feel “hotter” must have more heat in them, right?  Actually, that is not always, and is often NOT, the case.  The two concepts are quite different, but are related.

In a bit we shall go into specific definitions of what heat and temperature actually are, but it is more interesting to look at the historical thoughts about them.  Back before quantitative physics, the higher the temperature that an object had, the more heat that it was thought to have.  That is correct for a specific object, as the temperature increases, the amount of heat in it also increases.

But it is easy to show that for dissimilar objects, the amount of heat is quite unrelated to the temperature.  I shall show you that ice might contain more heat than red hot steel!  Ready to look more deeply?  Then let us go to it!

Oct 30 2011

Samhain: The Thinning Of The Veil

Samhain is one of the eight festivals of the Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Years that is celebrated as the new year with the final harvest of the season. It is considered by most practitioners of the craft to be the most important of the eight Sabats and one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Beginning at sundown on October 31 and continuing through the next day, fires are lit and kept burning to recognize the shortening of days and the coming of winter’s long cold nights.

Many of the traditions practiced in the US have come from Ireland, Scotland and Whales. The carving of gourds and pumpkins used as lanterns, the wearing of costumes and masks, dancing, poetry and songs, as well as some traditional foods and games can be traced back to medieval times and pre-Christian times.

Two Roman festivals became incorporated with Samhain – ‘Feralia’, when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, and ‘Pomona’, when the Roman goddess of fruit and trees was honoured. The Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples is thought to derive from the ancient links with the Roman fruit goddess, Pomona, and a Druidical rite associated with water.

It is also the time of the year that we reflect and honor our ancestors and especially those who have departed since last Samhain. According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. The fires and the candles burning in western windows are believed to help guide the spirits of the departed to the Summerlands. Like all Wiccan festivals, Samhain celebrates Nature’s cycle of death and renewal, a time when the Celts acknowledged the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature. Samhain marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the New Celtic Year. The first month of the Celtic year was Samonios – ‘Seed Fall’.

The Catholic church attempted to replace the Pagan festival with All Saints’ or All Hallows’ day, followed by All Souls’ Day, on November 2nd. The eve became known as: All Saints’ Eve, All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallowe’en. All Saints’ Day is said to be the day when souls walked the Earth. In early Christian tradition souls were released from purgatory on All Hallow’s Eve for 48 hours.

We decorate our homes with candles, gourds and dried leaves. Meals are traditionally lots of veggies, fruit, nuts and breads served with wine, cider and hearty beer. We make a hearty stew that is served with a whole grained bread and deserts made with apples, carrots and pumpkin. One of the sweet breads that is traditionally served is barmbrack, an old Irish tradition. The bread is baked with various objects and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, “to beat one’s wife with”, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year. Today, the bread usually contains a ring and a coin.

What ever you believe or not, Samhain has meaning for us all since the Wheel turns for all of us. So light a fire or a candle and dance with us as the Veil Thins.

The Veil Is Getting

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a wisper wispering.

I heard a wisper wispering,

Upon this fine fall day…

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a laugh a’laughing.

I heard a laugh a’laughing,

Upon this fine fall day…

I heard this wisper and I wondered,

I heard this laugh and then I knew.

The time is getting near my friends,

The time that I hold dear my friends,

The veil is getting thin my friends,

And strange things will pass through.

Blessed be.

Oct 30 2011

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert

War on Halloween – Costume Swapping & Jesus Ween

Planet huggers turn America’s Almond Joy into almond shame, and a Christian group in Texas hands out Bibles instead of candy.

Oct 30 2011

On This Day In History October 30

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.

October 30 is the 303rd day of the year (304th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 62 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles scares the nation.

The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938 and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds.

The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated “news bulletins”, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a ‘sustaining show’ (it ran without commercial breaks), thus adding to the program’s quality of realism. Although there were sensationalist accounts in the press about a supposed panic in response to the broadcast, the precise extent of listener response has been debated. In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage. The program’s news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast, but the episode secured Orson Welles’ fame.

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