12/25/2012 archive


First of all, evidently someone in my family reads my sites.  Alas, perhaps not so closely.

I was quite looking forward to this though everyone went out of their way to tell me what terrible reviews it got.  At least I won’t have to worry about borrowing.

And I got one of these which is quite handy as I have a habit of forgetting to take them out of my pocket before I wash my clothes.

“Breaking the Silence”

When you see a wrong there is only one way to right it, shout it to the skies.

Break the silence. Silence Kills.

I hear some distant drumbeat

A heartbeat pulsing low

Is it coming from within

A heartbeat I don’t know

A troubled heart knows no peace

A dark and poisoned poolOf liberty now lost

A pawn an oppressor’s tool.

Oh my heart be strong

And guide when eyes grow dim

When ears grow deaf with empty words

When I know there’s life within.

A gunfire shatters silence

Where birds once sweetly sang

A mother cradles a child now dead

Now death where life began

From the troubled heart of South Africa

Nicaragua’s festering sore

The turmoil on the streets of China

Death crying out for more

A change is slow in coming

My eyes can scarcely see

The rays of hope come streaming

Through the smoke of apathy

But oh my heart be strong

And guide when eyes grow dim

When ears grow deaf with empty words

When I know there’s life within.

May the spirit never die

Though a troubled heart feels pain

When the long winter is over

It will blossom once again

May there yet be Peace On Earth.

The 12 Gifts of Christmas Aftermath

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the day. Merry Day to those who don’t.

White ek’smas

We have the perfect dusting here in Stars Hollow.

Happy Holidays to our readers and thank you.

On This Day In History December 25

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 25 is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are six days remaining until the end of the year. This day is commonly known as Christmas Day.

On this day in 1818, the first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.

The original lyrics of the song Stille Nacht were written in Austria by the priest Father Joseph Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1859, John Freeman Young (second Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida) published the English translation that is most frequently sung today. The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber’s original, which was a sprightly, dance-like tune in 6/8, as opposed to the slow, meditative lullaby version generally sung today. Today, the lyrics and melody are in the public domain.

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: Unpacking Christmas

Almost everyone who keeps Christmas seriously and loves this season for reasons secular or sacred cherishes the ritual of going through the decorations that have gathered over time. Each year, the Christmas archive is unpacked again. Here are the oldest ornaments for the tree – hand-me-downs over several generations, terribly fragile, their color faded but no less powerful in memory for that. [..]

It is the same with the cast of characters – not merely Clauses and Cratchits, Scrooges and Grinches. Survey the landscape of this season and you see that all of culture’s many brows – middle, high, and low – come together here. Bach or Bing? Swan Lake or swans-a-swimming? It really makes no difference.

At the heart of this season is that farther country, where the old phrases still sound fresh, where shepherds keep watch by night in hopes of peace on earth and good will toward men.

Michael Moore: Celebrating the Prince of Peace in the Land of Guns

After watching the deranged, delusional National Rifle Association press conference on Friday, it was clear that the Mayan prophecy had come true. Except the only world that was ending was the NRA’s. Their bullying power to set gun policy in this country is over. The nation is repulsed by the massacre in Connecticut, and the signs are everywhere: a basketball coach at a post-game press conference; the Republican Joe Scarborough; a pawn shop owner in Florida; a gun buy-back program in New Jersey; a singing contest show on TV, and the conservative gun-owning judge who sentenced Jared Loughner.

So here’s my little bit of holiday cheer for you:

These gun massacres aren’t going to end any time soon.

Washington Post Editorial: Christmas 2012: A day of sorrow mixed with joy

Of the four Gospels, this story of the “slaughter of the innocents” is told only in Matthew, and there isn’t much historical evidence for it other than Herod’s established record of murders and atrocities committed against those whom he saw as threats to his throne. Scholars say that if it did occur, it was not a major event: Bethlehem was a little town, as the carol says, and the number of children killed would have been accordingly small – about 20 or so. By Matthew’s account, after it was done, “what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’ ” [..]

The people in Newtown, Conn. , are in one of those times when the true meaning of the Christmas holiday is felt and expressed by all people of the community, regardless of faith, wealth or social standing. It is a time for coming together and for understanding and consideration, for seeking whatever solace can be had. It is a time not only for joy to the world but also for hope that there is truth in the words found further on in the Book of Matthew: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

John Nochols: ‘A Christmas Carol’ (The Unemployed Are Not Boehner’s Business Remix)

Charles Dickens would find these times rather too familiar for comfort. In seeking to awaken a spirit of charity in his countrymen, the author called attention to those who callously dismissed the poor as a burden and the unemployed as a lazy lot best forced by hunger to grab at bootstraps and pull themselves upward.

Dickens was, to be sure, more articulate than House Speaker John Boehner and the members of Congress who on the cusp of this Christmas season left Washington without extending jobless benefits for 2 million long-unemployed Americans. But surely he captured the essence of their sentiments with his imagining of a certain conservative businessman’s response to a visit by two gentlemen-“liberals,” we will call them-on Christmas Eve.

Paul Buchheit: The 12 Days of a Capitalist

On the first day of Christmas my employer gave to me ONE penny for every $3 the richest 130,000 Americans make. It’s been a national tradition since 1980.

On the second day my doctor showed me TWO Americans needing mental health care, but only one of the two could afford treatment. The doctor informed me that the fifty states have cut $1.8 billion from their mental health budgets during the recession, and that the 2013 Republican budget proposes further cuts. “It’s crazy,” I protested. “Some states are allowing guns in schools and daycare centers and churches and bars and hospitals, but they’re cutting mental health care?” The doctor just nodded in frustration.

Michael I. Niman: If You’re Reading This, the World Hasn’t Ended – Yet

But give us another 100 years of climate change and we’ll get there.

During the previous month, we’ve all heard about the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, which isn’t actually ending. Except for a handful of cranks, we also knew the world wasn’t going to end on December 21. But the media still covered the story. And they covered it well. The Nexis/Lexis database shows that during the past 30 days the US newspapers and “news wires,” which are the sources for much of what is broadcast and distributed online, ran twice as many stories mentioning the Mayan calendar as they did mentioning the UN Climate Change Conference. This fact alone is terrifying on many levels.

Climate doom isn’t a certainty-that is, we still have a very small window of opportunity to take some very drastic and radical action to avert the worst effects of global warming, and prepare for what’s already heading our way. This is a tale of two doomsdays. One is nonsense, but it entertains us. The other is real, and unless we change the way we live, it will destroy us-or, more accurately, it will allow us to destroy ourselves. And that’s why we’d rather talk about the end of the 13th baktun.

Marley was dead.

Marley was dead: to begin with.  There is no doubt whatever about that.  The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner.  Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.  Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind!  I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail.  I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.  But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.  You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead?  Of course he did. How could it be otherwise?  Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years.  Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend and sole mourner.  And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from.  There is no doubt that Marley was dead.  This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.  If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot — say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance — literally to astonish his son’s weak mind.

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley.  The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley.  Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names: it was all the same to him.

Oh!  But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!  Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.  The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.  A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin.  He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dogdays; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge.  No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him.  No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.  Foul weather didn’t know where to have him.  The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect.  They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you?  When will you come to see me?”  No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge.  Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”

But what did Scrooge care?  It was the very thing he liked.  To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call “nuts” to Scrooge.

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house.  It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: and he could hear the people in the court outside go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them.  The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already — it had not been light all day: and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air.  The fog came pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without, that although the court was of the narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms.  To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that Nature lived hard by, and was brewing on a large scale.

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters.  Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal.  But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part.  Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge’s nephew out, had let two other people in.  They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge’s office.  They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

“Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe,” said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list.  “Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?”

“Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years,” Scrooge replied.  “He died seven years ago, this very night.”

“We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner,” said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.

It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits.  At the ominous word “liberality,” Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.  Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.  “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.  “And the Union workhouses?”  demanded Scrooge.  “Are they still in operation?”  “They are.  Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”  “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.  “Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh!  I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge.  “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth.  We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.  What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge.  “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer.  I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.  I help to support the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”  “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.  Besides — excuse me — I don’t know that.”  “But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.  “It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned.  “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s.  Mine occupies me constantly.  Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

Marley’s Ghost

The First of the Three Spirits

The Second of the Three Spirits

The Last of the Spirits

Why is there never any Rum?  Oh, that’s why.

The End of It

Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo