Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year -- New Moon -- Good Health and Happy New Year!









BOSTON'S FIRST NIGHT

FIREWORKS

Family Fireworks |Boston Common Ballfield, corner of Boylston and Charles streets | 7 p.m.

Midnight Fireworks | Boston Harbor




ICE SCULPTURES | 

Beginning at midday 

One of the landmark First Night traditions is ice carving. 

This year’s frozen creations include a bench, sleigh, family and World Series trophy at Fanueil Hall Marketplace, 1 Fanueil Hall Square; 

Kraken’s lair at the Boston Common Frog Pond; 

a lighthouse at District Hall, 75 Northern Ave.; 

a sailboat at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, 20 Maverick Square; 

a replica of the USS Constitution ship in ice at the USS Constitution Museum, Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard; 

a ram at Two International Place, corner of Purchase and High streets; 

and a whale at Boston Long Wharf Marriott Hotel, 296 State St. 

Additional locations include: Copley Square; 

the ice rink on Atlantic Avenue in front of the Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf; 

Aragosta Bar and Bistro Patio, 3 Battery Wharf; 

and Boylston Plaza at the Shops at the Prudential Center.




MORE EVENTS FOR BOSTON'S FIRST NIGHT HERE.








Photo taken by Shaw of swan swimming in Boston Harbor 3 PM, December 31.

Monday, December 30, 2013

BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI!




Got your attention?

Good.

Unfortunately, the folks who should read this, won't because it interferes with their cockamamie conspiracy theories surrounding the Benghazi tragedy and because The New York Times.  

Before the victims were buried, the cray-crays on the right were calling for Mr. Obama to be impeached for treason.  And they were not shy, either, about slandering Susan Rice.  Naturally, they were entirely mistaken on everything their fevered little minds conjured up about what happened in Benghazi that terrible night, and the recent report in the NYTimes lays out in detail how utterly WRONG the extremist TeaPublicans were and still are.



Steve Benen sums the NYTimes piece up nicely.


For the White House’s far-right critics, for whom the notion of a Benghazi “cover up” is practically a foregone conclusion, the exact details of the allegations can get rather convoluted. That said, the basic gist of the argument is that al Qaeda, on the anniversary of 9/11, led the attack that left four Americans dead. The White House knew this, the conspiracy theory goes, but chose to lie and hide the truth. Why? According to the unhinged, President Obama was in the middle of his re-election campaign, during which he boasted about his counter-terrorism successes. To acknowledge that al Qaeda killed four Americans in Libya would, according to the theory, undermine the narrative, making a cover up necessary. 

 The problem with the allegations, of course, is that facts keep getting in the way, and the NYT report obliterates the conspiracy altogether. Republicans insist al Qaeda led the attack, but it didn’t. 

Republicans insist the attack had nothing to do with the right-wing YouTube video, but it did. Republicans insist the violence was carefully planned, but it wasn’t. Republicans insist the White House deliberately misled the public, but it didn’t. Indeed, looking back, the initial remarks Susan Rice made in the immediate aftermath of the attack look pretty accurate a year and a half later. 

 I’m reasonably confident Rice would be gracious and accept apologies from the Republicans who smeared her, but first they’ll have to acknowledge how painfully wrong they were. 

 By any fair estimation, the Benghazi conspiracy theories unraveled a long time ago, but this latest report serves as a powerful coda. 

Republicans will be reluctant to accept this, but the right’s obsession is no more. GOP policymakers and media invested heavily in their fevered dream – even using our money for a series of baseless investigations – but the political scandal was a mirage.


Will there be any apologies forthcoming from the hysterics who slandered President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Susan Rice? 

 Are you kidding? 

 We'll hear Sarah Palin utter a coherent sentence before THAT happens!

Funny Stuff from 2013, Part IV: TV News and Weather Bloopers, With Goats









Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stupid Stuff from 2013: FOX NEWS Edition


Too many to include in one post, but according to Salon, these are the top five.



STUPID:


Bill O’Reilly says Asians aren’t liberals because they’re “industrious and hard-working.”





 





STUPIDER:


Megyn Kelly insists Santa Claus is white.



 



STUPIDEST:

Ben Carson compares LBGTQ people to NAMBLA, bestiality supporters.



.
   






Can FAUX NOOZ get any dumber?



Yes.  This is a special kind of dumb:


Geraldo Rivera says jurors would have shot Trayvon Martin sooner than Zimmerman did.






 And  THIS.


h/t Salon



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Funny Stuff from 2013, Part III: Texas, Kenyans, and Fainting Goats




Missing their traditional grub, two Kenyan guys visit a Texas farm to buy a goat. But these goats aren't like the goats back home!  --From National Geographic





Friday, December 27, 2013

Funny Stuff from 2013, Part II: A Book Review





Found on the internet in 2013:  





The Book:

How to Avoid Huge Ships


The title itself left me curious.  How many people need help in dealing with this particular matter?  Apparently lots of folks out there have gallantly faced this immense problem, and this book has been an immeasurable resource for them in their ongoing struggle to avoid huge ships.

The reviews:




A Parent's Review
By Noel D. Hill
Format: Paperback

As the father of two teenagers, I found this book invaluable. I'm sure other parents here can empathize when I say I shudder at the thought of the increasing presence of huge ships in the lives my children. I certainly remember the strain I caused so long ago for my own parents when I began experimenting with huge ships. The long inter-continental voyages that kept my mom and dad up all night with worry. Don't even get me started on the international protocols when transporting perishable cargo. To think, I was even younger than my kids are now! huge ships are everywhere and it doesn't help that the tv and movies make huge ships seem glamorous and cool. This book helped me really approach the subject of huge ships with my kids in an honest and non judgmental way. Because of the insights this book provided, I can sleep a little better and cope with the reality that I can't always be there to protect my kids from huge ships, especially as they become adults. I'm confident that my teens, when confronted by a huge ship, are much better prepared to make wiser decisions than I did. At the very least my children certainly know that they can always come to me if they have any concerns, questions or just need my support when it comes to the topic of huge ships.



Reads like a whodunnit!
By Citizenfitz
Format: Paperback

I bought How to Avoid Huge Ships as a companion to Captain Trimmer's other excellent titles: How to Avoid a Train, and How to Avoid the Empire State Building. These books are fast paced, well written and the hard won knowledge found in them is as inspirational as it is informational. After reading them I haven't been hit by anything bigger than a diesel bus. Thanks captain!



Urgent information
By J Aubrey
Format: Paperback

Does anyone know of a book called 'How to avoid huge ice bergs'? I need an answer really, really quick!

Cpt. Edward Smith

 ***Message delayed due to weather conditions***



Large beamed, please!
By Altair Voyager
Format: Paperback

I am a huge ship. Imagine having an entire book devoted toward actively avoiding you and your kind. I have always been bigger than other ships - and yes, I have endured years of being moared in the distance, never being able to enter the shallower bays, requiring tugs to guide me in - but now THIS! Mr. Trimmer, you sir, should be ashamed! Please do not be swayed by his drivel. I ask that you judge me not by the size of my cargo hatch but rather the content of my wheelhouse.



Caution: Check the title before purchase
By Graham Thomas
Format: Paperback

I live near a park and frequently walk around the local area. Given the amount of dog mess that is on the pavements I thought this book would be the ideal read to stop me having to scrape my shoes on the grass before going home. It was only after it arrived that I looked closely at the title and realised it said 'How to Avoid Huge SHIPS'. A simple error that means I am still treading on massive examples of canine excrement. Having said that, I read the book anyway, and I'm pleased to say I'm not even having near misses with huge ships anymore. No sir, they aint getting anywhere near me!



And this one appears to have been inspired by a certain half-term governor from Alaska:

 Wake Up, Haters! 
By Madeleine B. 
Format: Paperback 

I'm a little annoyed with the sarcastic "reviewers" of this book. You all seem to think it's funny that some people would honestly like some expert advice on ways to avoid huge ships. What, you've never been traveling at a very, very slow speed straight toward something really, really big that you could see for miles and miles away, and wished you'd known what steps you could take to avoid crashing into it? Well, all I can say is "congratulations!" What's it like to be so perfect? You haters just keep on enjoying your huge-ship-collision-free little fantasies. I for one am going to buy this book and learn something, because I live in the real world, where huge ships and the dangers they present to people like me are actually a serious issue.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Funny Stuff from 2013, Part I



A young Canadian woman tries to sing U.S.A's national anthem at a minor league hockey game in Canada.

A for effort, honey, and we don't mean to laugh.  But...damn! That's funny.







Could YOU sing the Canadian national anthem in front of hundreds of people?

It's the only other national anthem I know by heart because of the hockey players in our family.  

One evening a year or so ago a man and woman were walking in my North End neighborhood.  The man was wearing a red and white leather jacket with the Canadian flag on the back.  My companion and I, walking behind the couple, started singing "O Canada!"  The couple turned around and listened politely until we finished and joined us in laughing, then thanked us for making them feel so welcome in the city of the Big Bad Bruins.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Feast of the Seven Fishes



Growing up in a southern Italian family, I participated each Christmas Eve (La Vigilia di Natale) in the tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  I've never been able to find definitively where the tradition started or why seven fishes.  Here are some suggestions:



The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church -- baptism, penance, Holy Eucharist, confirmation, marriage, holy orders and the sacrament of Extreme Unction.



The seven sins of the world -- pride, envy, anger, gluttony, sloth, lust and greed.


The seven days it took Mary and Joseph to travel to Bethlehem.


Some say it's the seven hills of Rome, some say it's the seven winds of Italy, or the Seven Wonders of the World.

Another theory is that seven is a number representing perfection: the traditional Biblical number for divinity is three, and for Earth is four, and the combination of these numbers, seven, represents God on Earth, or Jesus Christ.

I have no idea why seven fishes were used, but it doesn't matter, since the idea of the feast was to carry on a tradition that was started somewhere in the obscure past and to celebrate a holiday in a manner that Italians know best--with lots of incredibly delicious food. 


My childhood memories are of my mother, grandmother (nonna) and aunts all working in the kitchen while the men smoked cigars, talked politics, and played cards in the parlor. [Beh!] 

One aunt made her famous ricotta filled ravioli.  Nonna made the dolci:  biscotti di regina, struffoli, pizzelle, pizza dolce, casatelli.   My mother, aunts and older cousins cracked steamed lobsters, picked the succulent meat from the knuckles, claws, 
and tails and put it into a marinara sauce that was ladled over piping hot bowls of linguini or fettucini. [We kids got to suck the little juicy bits of lobster meat from the legs, which were discarded because there wasn't enough meat in them to bother with.] I remember sweet, tender razor clams, stuffed with anchovy, parsley, and garlic flavored bread crumbs;  baccala--salted cod--made into a heavenly dish with hard-boiled eggs, floating in a savory sauce along with little salty green capers and bright red pimentoes.  The table was loaded with platters of lightly fried smelts, delicate sweet slender fish dredged in flour, sauted in olive oil, and served with cold lemon wedges; spicy, plump mussels in marinara sauce; scungilli salad; and my favorite, delicately battered and fried calamari.  One Christmas Eve, my mother prepared eel, which was surprisingly delicious--it tasted like chicken.

After everyone's bellies were filled, the uncles took out their musical instruments--violins, guitars, the older sisters and cousins played the piano, and we sang traditional Italian Christmas songs. [One of my childhood favorites was "Tu scendi dalle stelle." I just called it "Bambino."]  Finally, it was time for midnight Mass.  We all left the house and walked to church.  When we returned, we opened our gifts, played more music, ate more dolci and fell into bed by 2 am, exhausted, full, and happy.  Christmas day we all gathered again for our Christmas dinner--lasagna (in those days lasagna was made only for special occasions), followed by a meat course--roast beef or turkey, verdure (vegetables), salad, fruit, nuts, roasted chestnuts.  And later in the day, dolci--cannoli, pizza dolce, baba rum, and for the adults, caffe correcto (espresso coffee with a shot of sambuca in it).

I continued the tradition of cooking the seven fishes on December 24 when my children were at home, but now that they're living all over the country, it isn't as easy to do so with all of them so far away and on their own schedules.  But here is a feast of seven fishes meal I've made since then and am happy to share with everyone:


Feast of the Seven Fishes



Mussels with orzo (serves two)


2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
4 Tablespoons good fruity olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium stalk of celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
4 plum tomatoes, diced with skin and seeds
1 cup good burgundy wine
2 Tablespoons of minced fresh herbs (basil, mint, oregano, thyme, parsley, tarragon)
12 pitted black olives, sliced in half
1 tspn. anise seeds, crushed
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
3 Tablespoons minced parsley
1/4 pound of orzo


Boil water for orzo. Put orzo in water and cook until just tender (al dente).


Wash and scrub mussels and set aside. In a large, deep saute pan, saute the next 4 ingredients in olive oil until golden and tender, add plum tomatoes, and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add wine and simmer until alcohol evaporates. Place mussels in pan, turn up heat and cook just till the shells open. Remove from heat. Stir in herbs, olives, anise seeds, salt and pepper. Add orzo to pan and stir so that the little rice-shaped pasta gets into the opened mussel shells. Place in deep pasta bowls and sprinkle with minced parsley. Serve immediately






Smelts with lemon (serves 2)


1/2 dozen smelts
3/4 cup flour
salt, pepper
4 Tablespoons olive oil
lemon wedges
1 Tablespoon minced parsley


Go to your local fishmonger and select the freshest smelts. Their eyes must glisten like the newly fallen snow. No cloudiness in the eyes. Ever.


Take the smelts home. Take a pair of scissors and snip off their heads, then run the scissors down the front of the fish and degut them. Very easy.


Wash and dry the smelts. Put the flour on a platter and generously season with salt and pepper. Roll the smelts into the seasoned flour and set aside. Place olive oil in saute pan and heat. Saute the smelts over gentle heat until they take on a golden color. Do not overcook. Place on a platter and squeeze some lemon on them. Serve with more lemon wedges and garnish with minced parsley.






Lobster meat with fresh tomatoes and linguini (serves 2)


1/2 lb. lobster meat (buy shelled at fishmonger or cook your own)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3 plum tomatoes, diced, with skin and seeds.
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon minced parsley


In a medium saute pan, saute the onion and garlic until soft and golden in the combination butter and olive oil. Add the diced plum tomatoes. Simmer for 2/3 minutes. Stir in basil and thyme leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in lobster meat and heat through. Serve over linguini. Sprinkle with minced parsley.






Shrimp Scampi (serves 2)


3/4 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 oz. of shitake mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 dozen cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 oz. good quality feta or goat cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 Tablespoons combination minced fresh herbs (basil, thyme, mint, tarragon, parsley)


In a medium saute pan, saute the garlic and onion in olive oil until tender, add the mushrooms and simmer for 1-2 minutes, add the white wine and simmer until alcohol burns off. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add shrimp and saute just until they turn pink, do not over cook. Remove from heat. Serve in shallow bowls. Sprinkle cheese and parsley just before serving.






Crabmeat and scallop stuffed filet of sole (serves 2)

2 good sized filets of sole pieces (approx. 1/2 lb. in total weight
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup crab meat
3 large scallops, cut in pieces
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
salt and pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
2 Tablespoons minced fresh herb combination (basil, thyme, parsley, tarragon, cilantro)
1 Tablespoon toasted pignole nuts
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Lemon wedges


Place the olive oil and butter in saute pan. Add the scallops and cook to tender, add crab meat and heat through. Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, cumin seeds, pignole nuts and herbs. Take the two sole filets and spoon mixture evenly on each filet. Carefully roll up the filets and place in glass baking pan. Dot with butter and squeeze lemon on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with minced herbs and serve with lemon wedges.



Pass the Alka-Seltzer and have a Happy Holiday, however you celebrate!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’



Timothy Eagan of The New York Times sums up, for me anyway, the heart of darkness that is the basis of conservatism in this country.  

It is interesting to note that the Catholic Church's new pope is morally, entirely NOT in step with how these conservatives view the poor and needy.  As we go forward in the coming year, it will be instructive to see how the pompous Princes of The Church and their conservative political supporters will reconcile the message from Christ's Vicar on Earth with their own morally bankrupt policies on treating poor and needy Americans.




Eagan:

As the year ends, this argument is playing out in two of the most meanspirited actions left on the table by the least-productive Congress in modern history. The House, refuge of the shrunken-heart caucus, has passed a measure to eliminate food aid for four million Americans, starting next year. Many who would remain on the old food stamp program may have to pass a drug test to get their groceries. At the same time, Congress has let unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million people, beginning just a few days after Christmas. 

These actions have nothing to do with bringing federal spending into line, and everything to do with a view that poor people are morally inferior. 

Here’s a sample of this line of thought: 'The explosion of food stamps in this country is not just a fiscal issue for me,' said Representative Steve Southerland, Republican from Florida, chief crusader for cutting assistance to the poor. 

'This is a defining moral issue of our time.' It would be a 'disservice' to further extend unemployment assistance to those who’ve been out of work for some time, said Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. It encourages them to sit at home and do nothing. 

 'People who are perfectly capable of working are buying things like beer,' said Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, on those getting food assistance in his state. 

No doubt, poor people drink beer, watch too much television and have bad morals. But so do rich people. If you drug-tested members of Congress as a condition of their getting federal paychecks, you would have most likely caught Representative Trey Radel, Republican of Florida, who recently pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine. Would it be Grinch-like of me to point out that this same congressman voted for the bill that would force many hungry people to pee in a cup and pass a drug test before getting food? 

Should I also mention that the median net worth for new members of the current Congress is exactly $1 million more than that of the typical American household — and that that may influence their view? 

 For the record, the baseline benefit for those getting help under the old food stamp program works out to $1.40 a meal. And the average check for those on emergency unemployment is $300 a week. If you cut them off cold, the argument goes, these desperate folks would soon find a job and put real food on the table. They are poor because they are weak."

These are the same folks who proclaim America is a "Christian" nation and then pass laws that punish the very people Christ ministered to in the N.T. and  to whom Pope Francis urged all nations to give succor.

Talk is cheap, so the saying goes, and so are those politicians and their supporters who strut and fret their hours upon the stage, mouthing platitudes about the poor while taking away what little crumbs they've been given.

It's a phony Christianity those politicians and their supporters cling to.  Christ never abandoned the poor nor did he ever preach that their lives be made more miserable and the rich more comfortable.


The spirit of the season?  Yeah.  Right.

HUMANS ETC.




Enjoy!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sol Invictus


December 21, 2013




Sol Invictus ("the undefeated Sun") or, more fully, Deus Sol Invictus ("the undefeated sun god") was a religious title applied to at least three distinct divinities during the later Roman Empire. 




RING OUT, SOLSTICE BELLS, JETHRO TULL













"Solstice comes from Latin – 'sol' for 'sun' and 'sisto' for 'stop.'

For the winter solstice, the sun will stop moving southward, pause, and then begin to move northward. 

So the first day of winter occurs when the North Pole is tilted the farthest away from the sun. Less sunlight reaches the Northern Hemisphere during the winter because of the planet’s extreme tilt. 

Although the solstice is an astronomical event, there really isn’t anything to see in the sky. However, winter is the best time for stargazing because the air is cold and does not hold as much moisture, meaning there are fewer clouds. 

If you do want to look out your window and see something, look for Orion, a brightest of the winter constellations. Orion, recognizable for his 'belt' of three stars, can be seen clearly when looking due south around midnight. 

In many cultures and religions, the winter solstice is used to mark the beginning of a year or seen as a cause for celebration. 

The winter solstice signifies rebirth, a theme which can be found in many winter holidays.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Tis The Season to be Scroogey"




It makes one wonder.

How deficient in charity and understanding can a man be to propose singling out poor kids so that their unfortunate circumstances, over which they have no control, will mark them for ridicule in front of their classmates. Ebenezer Scrooge would have been proud to belong to the same group this tin-headed Congressnutter belongs to.  And yes, the Congressnutter has an "R" after his name.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Scrooge) wants to teach poor hungry kids a lesson, because coming from a deprived and possibly abusive household isn't instructive enough on how miserable life can be when you're a child. Kingston believes making poor hungry kids sweep floors and drop nickles or a dimes in a bucket will teach them something or other.  I'm pretty sure his proposals won't teach any of them "Good Will Toward Men."  



"For I was an hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in."   (And I didn't have to sweep the floors and scrounge around in my pockets for change!)







Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), who from 2011 to 2012 chaired the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for school nutrition programs, told party activists that kids receiving free breakfast and lunch should either be asked to pay for part of their meals or earn them by sweeping the floor.

The 11-term Congressman, who is seeking his party’s nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat next year, said Saturday that he had suggested the idea to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.



KINGSTON: On the Agriculture Committee, we have jurisdiction over the school lunch. [The] school lunch program has a 16 percent error rate. [The] school lunch program is very expensive. Of course, it looks good compared to the school breakfast program that has a 25 percent error rate. But one of the things I’m talking to the Secretary of Agriculture about: why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickle, to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch. Or maybe sweep the floor in the cafeteria. And yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem and I understand that it would probably lose you money — but think what we’d gain as a society in getting the myth out of their head that there is such thing as a free lunch.



Kingston follows in the footsteps of his former colleague, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who argued in his own unsuccessful 2012 Senate campaign that the federal government should “end its support for school lunch programs,” because they he believes the program unconstitutional. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) also argued that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to feed poor students. Another former colleague from Georgia, ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R), suggested in his unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign that kids should become assistant janitors.


The GOP's solution for dealing with childhood hunger?   



Child Janitors!








"Are there no prisons; are there no workhouses?"

Bah!  Humbug!
h/t Infidel753

My Santa Claus Is a Dead Ringer for Barry White, by Sheria of The Swash Zone

Our friend, Sheria, from The Swash Zone, wrote a very thoughtful post about FAUX NOOZ's talking hairdo Megyn Kelly's idiotic segment that told her viewers that Santa Claus and Jesus were white.  Here's a perspective from someone who knows a lot about this subject:


Sheria:


I wrote the following post for my personal blog and had no intention of publishing it here. However, although well-intentioned, I think that the good Captain's post and the comments fail to fully perceive that when it comes to images in America's culture, they may be regarded differently depending on one's own cultural experiences. Aisha Harris wasn't talking out of her ass and her points were valid to this black woman. She is not trying to stir up a tempest in a teapot, nor is she trying to ruin Christmas. I ask that you read my post with an open mind and that you do not take it as an attack on anyone here. After all, I wrote it well before I read the post here regarding Megan Kelly's assertions about Santa and Jesus.


My Santa
Okay folks, let's reconnect with reality. I've been reading some odd comments on Facebook regarding Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly's assertion that Santa Claus and Jesus are white and everybody knows it. 
For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is maybe just arguing that we should also have a black Santa. But, you know, Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we're just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.--Megyn Kelly
Kelly was responding to an article by Aisha Harris, a black writer, who proposes that in an America that is culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse, perhaps it is time that Santa's image as an old white guy gets a makeover. 

Most of you appear to think Megyn Kelly is a flake, but I've read these lengthy discussions in which people dismiss Kelly as a nitwit but engage in serious debate that Santa is white or that there's no reason to mess with Santa's traditional appearance (white, fat, bearded guy).  


Kelly is a twit, but her assertion of the whiteness of a fantasy figure does reflect white privilege at its overblown best, as do some of the comments that I've read on Facebook. As Santa is not real, he can be any color that we like, including purple with green polka dots and red stripes. So why should a little black child have to imagine that Santa Claus is white? I have more than one black Santa in my house. My favorite does a sassy dance to "Jingle Bell Rock." Declaring that Santa is white is just as nonsensical as declaring that the Easter Bunny is a white rabbit and everyone knows it. 


We can adapt folklore and legend to reflect our own cultural identity. One of the biggest misunderstandings that I frequently encounter when it comes to white people interacting with black people is a failure by so many whites to step into the shoes of being black in a culture which has consistently and traditionally devalued blackness. 


Imagine living in a country in which you see nothing that reflects your image. When I was a child, I remember very clearly the first time I saw a black doll in a store, a pretty black doll with brown skin and brown eyes and curly hair. I also remember having to reach adulthood before black dolls with kinky hair like mine became available. Our mother brought black dolls for me and my sister after we first spotted them in the store and I was in love with that bundle of plastic parts because she looked like me.



Look Megyn, I have a black angel!
Megyn Kelly's assertion was thoughtless and arrogant. However, I would never waste my time trying to explain that to her because she wouldn't get it and I would only end up frustrating myself. I am sharing this with you dear readers because I believe that some of you, a lot of you, will listen to what I am saying and truly hear me. That's all that I ask. Step out of your comfort zone and try to understand why I've taken the time to write about a fantasy man who exists only in the imaginations of children. 

I also noticed that quite a few people seemed a bit confused as to the origins of Santa so I've provided a bit of clarity on that topic.


1. Santa Claus is not real (if you're under the age of 10, I'm sorry.)

2. Santa is a fantasy figure cobbled together out of Nordic, Scandinavian, Turkish, Greek, and Germanic (includes English and Old English) cultures. The Catholic church does not recognize Santa Claus as a saint. There was a 4th century Christian Bishop, St. Nicholas of Myra who contributed to the concept of Santa Claus, but he is not Santa Claus.


3. In addition to St. Nicholas, Santa Claus is a mixture of the Norse God Odin, Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, and Christian beliefs in the Christ Child. The essential quality of the benevolent figure was as a gift-giver to children.


4. The image of Santa as the jolly guy in red with reindeer and a house at the North Pole emerged in the 19th century based on the poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas (aka The Night before Christmas) by Clement C. Moore. Cartoonist Thomas Nast solidified Moore's description of Santa in an illustration for Harper's Weekly in 1863. Note, this image of a large white man with a beard and a bunch of elves is an American concept fabricated from old legends by Clement in his poem and Nast in his drawings. 


5. I repeat, Santa is not real. The fantasy figure reflects American and European cultural norms, he is therefore depicted as white. The growth of media has made the image available worldwide but do not arrogantly presume that Santa Claus is eagerly awaited by children all around the world. Different cultures have different images of the gift giver. American traditions are not the traditions of the world. Santa does not fly around the world on Christmas Eve.


If you want more information on the origins of Santa Claus, follow this link to an informative history.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jesus: The Only Reason for the Season? Not Quite.









The month of December is a time for many cultures and religions to celebrate their various traditions. 

Here's a list of the different cultures and religions that enjoy their holidays at this time of year:


  • Advent: four weeks prior to Christmas (Western Christianity).
  • Chalica: A holiday created in 2005, in the first full week in December, celebrated by some Unitarian Universalists.[4]
  • Saint Nicholas' Day: 6 December
  • Bodhi Day: 8 December - Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gautama) experienced enlightenment (also known as Bodhi).
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe: 12 December - An important honor of Mexico's Patron Saint before Christmas officially begins on December 16th[5]
  • Las Posadas: 16 December -24 December - procession to various family lodgings for celebration & prayer and to re-enact Mary & Joseph's journey to Bethlehem [6]
  • Saint Lucia's Day: 13 December - Church Feast Day. Saint Lucia comes as a young woman with lights and sweets.
  • Winter Solstice: 21 December-22 December - midwinter
  • Dongzhi Festival - a celebration of Winter
  • Soyal: 21 December - Zuni and Hopi
  • Yalda: 21 December - The turning point, Winter Solstice. As the longest night of the year and the beginning of the lengthening of days, Shabe Yaldā or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil. Shabe yalda means 'birthday eve.' According to Persian mythology, Mithra was born at dawn on the 22nd of December to avirgin mother. He symbolizes light, truth, goodness, strength, and friendship. Herodotus reports that this was the most important holiday of the year for contemporary Persians. In modern times Persians celebrate Yalda by staying up late or all night, a practice known as Shab Chera meaning 'night gazing'. Fruits and nuts are eaten, especially pomegranates and watermelons, whose red color invokes the crimson hues of dawn and symbolize Mithra.
  • Mōdraniht: or Mothers' Night, the Saxon winter solstice festival.
  • Saturnalia: the Roman winter solstice festival
  • Pancha Ganapati: Five-day festival in honor of Lord Ganesha. December 21–25.
  • Festivus 23 December
  • Christmas Eve: 24 December
  • Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Day of the birth of the Unconquered Sun): late Roman Empire - 25 December
  • Christmas: 25 December
  • Twelve Days of Christmas: 25 December through 6 January
  • YulePagan winter festival that was celebrated by the historical Germanic people from late December to early January.
  • Anastasia of Sirmium Feast Day: 25 December
  • Malkh: 25 December
  • Boxing Day: 26 December - Gift-giving day after Christmas.
  • Kwanzaa: 26 December - 1 January - Pan-African festival celebrated in North America
  • Saint Stephen's Day: 26 December
  • Saint John the Evangelist's Day: 27 December
  • Holy Innocents' Day: 28 December
  • Saint Sylvester's Day: 31 December
  • Watch Night: 31 December
  • New Year's Eve: 31 December - Last day of the Gregorian year
  • Hogmanay: Night of 31 December - Before dawn of 1 January - Scottish New Year's Eve celebration
  • Hanukkah: A Jewish festival celebrating the miracle of oil.


We learn from the above that the birth of the Christian god*** isn't the only reason for the season.  There are dozens of reasons to enjoy December.


Happy Holidays and celebrations to everyone!






***Biblical Evidence Shows Jesus Christ Wasn't Born on Dec. 25 

 Is it even possible that December 25 could be the day of Christ's birth? 

 History convincingly shows that Dec. 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun. 

But is it possible that December 25 could be the day of Christ's birth? 

"Lacking any scriptural pointers to Jesus's birthday, early Christian teachers suggested dates all over the calendar. 
Clement. . . picked November 18. 

Hippolytus . . . figured Christ must have been born on a Wednesday . . . 

An anonymous document[,] believed to have been written in North Africa around A.D. 243, placed Jesus's birth on March 28" (Jeffery Sheler, U.S. News & World Report, "In Search of Christmas," Dec. 23, 1996, p. 58). 

A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that Dec. 25 is an unlikely date for Christ's birth.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Big Meat



Blogger Infidel753 linked to a devastating article in Rolling Stone, and it is, IMO, important for as many people as possible to read it.

Although I'm not a vegetarian, I do not include much red meat in my diet, or much meat at all. But after reading this expose in Rolling Stone, I will find it very difficult to continue my quasi-vegetarian eating habits and not go full vegan.

I was horrified to read about how our food animals are treated--actually tortured, abused in the most horrific manner.  How can food taste good that has been stressed and subjected to this sort of hellish treatment?

And what is more, who would want to eat it?

Why must we lose our humanity in order to feed ourselves?

I urge everyone to read this and ask themselves why we should continue to accept this hideous sort of abuse and slaughter that delivers meat to our tables:


"In its scrutiny of Big Meat – a cartel of corporations that have swallowed family farms, moved the animals indoors to prison-style plants in the middle of rural nowhere, far from the gaze of nervous consumers, and bred their livestock to and past exhaustion – the Humane Society (and outfits like PETA and Mercy for Animals) is performing a service that the federal government can’t, or won’t, render: keeping an eye on the way American meat is grown. 

That’s rightfully the job of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the agency is so short-staffed that it typically only sends inspectors out to slaughterhouses, where they check a small sample of pigs, cows and sheep before they’re put to death. That hour before her end is usually the only time a pig sees a government rep; from the moment she’s born, she’s on her own, spending four or five years in a tiny crate and kept perpetually pregnant and made sick from breathing in her own waste while fed food packed with growth-promoting drugs, and sometimes even garbage. (The word “garbage” isn’t proverbial: Mixed in with the grain can be an assortment of trash, including ground glass from light bulbs, used syringes and the crushed testicles of their young. Very little on a factory farm is ever discarded.) Save the occasional staffer who becomes disgruntled and uploads pictures of factory crimes on Facebook, undercover activists like Juan and Sarah are our only lens into what goes on in those plants – and soon, if Big Meat has its way, we’ll not have even them to set us straight. 

A wave of new laws, almost entirely drafted by lawmakers and lobbyists and referred to as “Ag-Gag” bills, are making it illegal to take a farm job undercover; apply for a farm job without disclosing a background as a journalist or animal-rights activist; and hold evidence of animal abuse past 24 to 48 hours before turning it over to authorities. 

Since it takes weeks or sometimes months to develop a case – and since groups like HSUS have pledged not to break the law – these bills are stopping watchdogs in their tracks and giving factory farmers free rein behind their walls."  



Since we now live in an era where our laws are proposed and written by big corporation lobbyists, and not "the people," it is very likely that passage of the "Ag-Gag" bills will protect the agri-businesses that allow the continued inhumane treatment of our food animals.  This is not acceptable.

What will you do about it?



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Farewell to one of the best of the best








"Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre." --Michael Higgins, President of Ireland








As T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia









As King Henry II, in The Lion in Winter








As a younger King Henry II, in Beckett








The Ruling Class







My Favorite Year







Peter O'Toole interview











Farewell.

A Happy Holiday Happy Story



Yakima, Washington, company's Facebook response goes viral.


A Washington company has a rapidly growing fan base thanks to a Facebook response from the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer. 

Yakima-based Liberty Bottleworks brands their business as"The ONLY American made  metal bottle in the marketplace." When an unhappy customer expressed her frustration on the company's Facebook page, co-founder Ryan Clark decided to respond. The following exchange has since been removed from the company's Facebook page:




Thoughts?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

ONE YEAR AGO, DECEMBER 14, 2012
















This Saturday, December 14, will mark the one-year anniversary of one of the most devastating events in Connecticut history—the fatal shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. 

 This unspeakably tragic event hit the University of Hartford community especially hard. Among the heroic adults who lost their lives that day was Rachel D’Avino '07, a behavioral therapist who earned a BA in psychology from the University of Hartford. Two other alumni—Jimmy Greene '97 and Nelba Marquez-Greene ’97—lost their precious 6-year-old daughter, Ana Grace. 

 On Friday, December 13, the University will be distributing green ribbons at various locations around campus in observance of this difficult anniversary. 

Green and white are the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and green ribbons have come to symbolize support for the victims, their families, and the residents of Newtown. 

 I encourage all students, faculty, and staff to pick up a green ribbon and wear it on Friday—and throughout the weekend—to honor the memories of Ana Grace, Rachel, and all of the Sandy Hook victims, and to show support for their families and the Newtown community.--Walter Harrison, President, University of Hartford










 Here's A Look At All The Gun Control Laws Congress Has Passed Since Newtown:






















Friday, December 13, 2013

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio...



     

s  Obamacare!












"As news breaks that enrollment has surpassed one million, it turns out one of Obamacare's fiercest critics is among Republicans showing some "secret love" for the law. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) signed his family up on the federal healthcare exchange and has opted to take a federal subsidy offered to lawmakers and staff, the Tampa Bay Times reports. 

"Senator Rubio spent time looking at all the options and decided to enroll through the D.C. exchange for coverage for him and his family," Rubio's spokeswoman Brooke Sammon told the Times, adding that "Senator Rubio is following the law, even though he opposes it." 

The Washington Post notes that Rubio's fellow 2016 GOP presidential prospects Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have also joined the D.C. exchange. 

Rubio has previously tried to kill Obamacare, even declining last March to support a stopgap bill to fund the government unless it also defunded "this Obamacare bill that is going to be an absolute disaster for the American economy." 


 Read Rubio's top five fibs about Obamacare at Politifact."





Texas leads nation in Obamacare enrollments 
Texas TribuneDec 11, 2013 12:00 p.m. 

 AUSTIN, TEXAS - More people in Texas have purchased health plans through the embattled online insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act than in any other state, according to enrollment figures for October and November released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

But as a percentage of the uninsured in the second-largest state - which has the nation's worst rate of health coverage - the number is tiny: 14,000 Texans had purchased coverage through healthcare.gov by the end of November.