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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

For every action there’s a reaction.  –  Javier Ortiz

Here we are mid-month, and still few Christmas links worth repeating despite the fact that decorations have been up since before Thanksgiving.  So to counterbalance the first video (in which a cop stupidly admits on record that he’s going to file false charges against a cop’s daughter who was uploading the whole incident to the internet as it transpired), I present more heavy metal Christmas music from Christopher Lee (courtesy of Michael Whiteacre).  Nobody contributed more than one link, so I’ve collected the unattributed ones above the first video; those between the videos were provided by CliteratiJillian Keenan,  Mike Siegel, Eric Barry, Rick Horowitz, Radley Balko, and Clarissa (in that order).

From the Archives

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Mortal eyes cannot distinguish the saint from the heretic.  –  G. B. Shaw

Saint Nicholas & the three daughtersToday is the feast day of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of whores.  Yes, you read that correctly; the Christian saint most closely associated with Christmas (especially in his modern guise of Santa Claus) also has a special devotion to sex workers, which is why I devote a column to him every year on this day; he also appears in two of my fictional interludes, “Christmas Belle” and “Visions of Sugarplums”.  If you don’t understand why St. Nicholas (rather than St. Mary Magdalene) is our patron, you might wish to read my very first column for the occasion, from four years ago today:

According to the story, a formerly wealthy man who had fallen on bad times had three daughters, but could not afford dowries for them.  Because of this they would not be able to marry, and in the absence of other marketable skills would be forced into prostitution to support themselves.  But on the night before the eldest daughter came of age, Saint Nicholas threw a purse full of gold coins through the window so she would have a dowry.  He repeated the gift a year later on the night before the second daughter came of age, and the third year the father decided to lie in wait so as to thank his daughters’ unknown benefactor.  But Saint Nicholas wished to remain anonymous, so he climbed upon the roof and dropped the bag down the chimney instead…

Note that the story linking him with harlotry (actually with its avoidance, but one can’t have everything) is also the one which gave rise to the legend about his coming down chimneys; that article also explains the origins of a number of his other droll traits.  Last year’s column explains how whores even have a patron saint despite being “sinners”, and the year before that I looked at how his image is “pimped” to promote highly objectionable causes.  I don’t mean commercial products, by the way; this busy saint is also the patron of merchants, so I hardly think he’d object to his image being used to hawk Coca-Cola.  No, what I mean is that one of the most beloved symbols in the world, practically the image of loving generosity, has been used for decades by hatemongers to support their campaigns against one of the groups that Santa loves best; I’m referring, of course, to the vile Salvation Army, which helped invent the myth of “sex trafficking” in the late 19th century and is still heavily involved in pushing it today.  I don’t know if any of the money put into their kettles goes to support their hate campaigns, but it stands to reason that if they had less funding they might not be able to afford to do things like running re-education camps in which captured sex workers can be imprisoned by the Manitoba provincial authorities.  And lest you think sex workers are the only sexual minority targeted by these dangerous fanatics, consider that their official policy is that gay men and lesbians “deserve death”, and that death by hypothermia is preferable to “sexual violation”:

When it comes to helping families in need, the Salvation Army turns a cold shoulder to…teenage boys.  A family in Johnson City, TN, found this out recently when, on a freezing cold night, they asked the organization for shelter.  But because their family of five contained a 15-year-old boy, they were turned down… the dad, Tim Lejeune, explained:  “They said he’s too old to stay on the women’s side, because of the women running around in their pajamas and they said he’s too young to stay on the men’s side in case some pervert wants to do whatever”…So instead the family headed to their car.  The temperature:  18 degrees [Fahrenheit (-8o C)]…local police officers…brought them to the Johnson Inn…the night clerk…comped the room…after that, the Salvation Army did take the family in—minus the teen boy…[who’s] now in a mental health facility…[after having] a breakdown…because he thought it was his fault the family was turned away from shelter…

Please don’t give money to these sex-hating bigots; there are plenty of worthwhile charities, including my favorite Toys for Tots.  If you just can’t pass by one of their bell-ringers without depositing something in their kettles, I suggest you print out the protest slip below and give them that instead.  I have no real hope that they’ll ever see the error of their ways, but those who misuse the image of jolly old Saint Nick to collect money which helps them to hurt those he favors, certainly deserves as much coal in their stockings as we can give. Salvation Army donation

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Diary – Week 231

After all my many travels, I’m home again at last, but it’s been even more difficult this time to get back to the old grind.  When I returned home in September it only took me a few days to get back to work, and within two weeks I had restored my normal lead.  But this time was different; Seattle was such a powerful and transformative experience for me in so many ways that my mind has been busy processing it all, and with the Thanksgiving holiday on top of that I’ve had my hands full just keeping current (much less getting ahead).  Don’t worry, I’m not going to disappoint you; there will still be new columns every day for the foreseeable future.  However, it’s become obvious to me that I need to tweak my procedures a little more so as to free up more time.  In addition to more travel in the coming year and working on a new book (which will be all-new content), I’m going to be spending much more time on behind-the-scenes activism and pursuing a couple of new business ventures; several dear friends have also succeeded in convincing me of the necessity for taking more time out for (*gasp*) myself.  Look for a post in a couple of weeks detailing how it’s going to work, but I’ll tell you right now that it’s nothing more than a slight extension of a process that’s been going on since the beginning of 2012.

My first scheduled trip of the new year will be a return to Seattle to fulfill some commitments I made while there last month; I plan to do this in the touring car I mentioned last week.  So far y’all have given me almost $1000 toward the purchase, and today I’m out looking at a very likely candidate so if you haven’t yet donated and can afford to, please do as soon as you can!  I want to buy it ASAP so there’s no rush in having it checked over and prepared for the trip, which will be in the late winter (or early spring, depending on how you figure it).  Just send whatever amount you like to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net and be sure to note that it’s for the car.  Please be sure to get the address correct; I’ve had a couple of donations go awry due to incorrect addresses.  That’s it for now, but I’ll keep you posted as things develop!

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Angels we have heard on high,
Tell us to go out and BUY.
 –  Tom Lehrer, “A Christmas Carol

Though I should be used to it by now, the ridiculously-early Christmas displays still come as a shock to me.  The first one this year was at our local farm supply store, which was actually putting out Christmas merchandise (sans decoration) fully two weeks before Halloween.  Because this particular establishment has no Halloween merchandise, I was irresistibly reminded of my own statement from last year’s “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: “were it not for Halloween’s growing popularity as an adult drinking holiday [Christmas displays] might have broken into October by now.”  But all the non-farm-supply-venues didn’t wait much longer; the City of Seattle was putting up its decorations the Monday after I arrived, and I saw more than a few fully-decked houses from the train coming back into Chicago on the 21st.  And who could forget this cheery holiday scene from Ferguson, Missouri this past Monday, courtesy of Reuters? Ferguson 11-24-14

Actually, that’s an apt (if grim) metaphor for what Yuletide in the United States has become:  a superficial show of holiday cheer and “goodwill to Man” draped over the ugliness of a fully-realized fascist state.  Because my Outlook email filters don’t work on webmail, I was forced to hand-delete countless pieces of “Black Friday” spam while I was traveling, and some of them actually did what I’ve been grimly joking for years they soon would do:  refer to Thanksgiving Day as “Black Friday Eve”.  Words fail me.

Needless to say, I won’t be leaving my property today except perhaps to go to the mailbox.  Instead, I plan to find and decorate a tree, work on my blog, enjoy leftovers from yesterday and perhaps call a few of my friends.  Though I do indeed buy presents for those I love, that can wait for another day when the lemmings aren’t swarming quite so thickly (and dangerously).  And you can bet I’ll do as much of it online as possible, so as to avoid as much of the fake festivity of the stores as I possibly can.

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Thanksgiving 2014


As those of you who follow me regularly know, I have a lot to be thankful for this year.  That isn’t to say the year’s been uniformly wonderful, but I don’t think it has to be to inspire us to give thanks for the things that are.  And I have many of them, both professionally and personally; with a little luck, a great deal of hard work and the grace of the gods, next year will be even better.  Happy Thanksgiving and Blessed Be, dear readers, and thank you for all your support; I wouldn’t have had any of this without you.

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Man alone knows that he must die; but that very knowledge raises him, in a sense, above mortality, by making him a sharer in the vision of eternal truth.  –  George Santayana

It seemed to Sarah that Conclaves were getting closer and closer together, but she knew that was just an illusion of age; as one grows older it’s inevitable that the years seem to fly by more and more quickly.  All she had to do to remind herself that they were still as far apart as they had always been was to remember contemporary events:  when the last conclave was held the humans were plunging headlong into the madness of their First World War, and the time before that they were congratulating themselves on having got rid of that would-be Caesar from Corsica, unaware that he was about to stage a comeback.  And the time before that…Sarah sighed as she realized that she couldn’t remember.  Though the Elders had far longer lives than the humans they so closely resembled, their brains were no better; a humanoid brain can only hold so much information, and Elders above eight hundred or so began to find that older memories which hadn’t been accessed in a while were often quietly and unceremoniously dumped in order to make room for newer ones.  Of course, that only applied to healthy brains; the very old often went the opposite way, losing the ability to form new memories entirely and existing only in a twilight rooted in the experiences of centuries past.

Still, she wasn’t that old yet, and might never get there; medicines developed by human doctors worked just as well on their Elder cousins, and they were making great strides in the treatment of senile dementia.  By the next Conclave they’d probably have it licked. And Sarah was aging well; a human making a quick appraisal might’ve taken her for 40, and one who took the time to look at her hands and count her grey hairs would’ve called her a young-looking fifty.  Either one would have laughed at someone who told them she had been born at least one human generation before William the Conqueror.  Of course, not all of them aged so well; Aaron, for example, was almost four hundred years younger than she was, yet looked older than she did.  That was because his paternal grandmother had been human; his father aged more quickly still, and had passed away several Conclaves ago.  But what the halfbloods lacked in longevity, they made up for in virility; Aaron had at least seven siblings that Sarah knew of, and had himself sired three besides her daughter Deborah.  By contrast, her own brother Jacob had but one son to his credit, and she had never heard of any pure Elder, male or female, with more than three (and even that many was such a rarity it was occasion for the largest kind of celebration outside of the Conclaves).

Virility wasn’t the only reason halfbloods had no trouble finding partners, though; there was also that incredible human passion that no pureblood could match.  Sarah had often thought that perhaps all humanoids had only one measure of passion, which had to last the Elders for over a millennium but could be spent by humans in mere decades.  When Aaron had first seen her upon arriving at the meeting-place this morning, it was as though they had only parted as lovers three years ago rather than nearly three hundred; she had not been kissed so thoroughly since before his human kin had harnessed the power of steam, and though she knew his insistence that she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever known was a sweet lie intended to get her back into bed, it was more than convincing enough to win her consent.Mercury 7  Enoch had moved out to go over to America after becoming fascinated with their Space Program, and Deborah had been encouraging her to take a new lover for a few years now; wouldn’t she be confused if her father moved back in again, at least for a little while?  Sarah knew that was unlikely, though; Aaron seemed to be making the most of his remaining years, and rarely lived with his women any more.

She decided that after the Conclave, she’d go to visit her own father, whom she hadn’t seen since Deborah’s coming of age; he had never really liked Conclaves, and after the last one had declared them a “waste of time”, resolving never to go to one again.  It appeared he was as good as his word, because he would surely have sought her out if he was at this one.  But Sarah knew the real reason he wasn’t there:  he was a genealogist, and recognized better than most how their people were dwindling.  Every Conclave had smaller attendance than the one before, and every time the attendees were older.  While the ranks of the Younger Race burgeoned, the Elders couldn’t even replace themselves, and increasing numbers of halfbloods were choosing to live among and mate with humans, their bloodlines lost to the Elders forever.  In time, they would cease to exist as a separate race entirely, and they would be remembered only in human legends.  Though most of the Elders never thought about it, their wisest had understood and discussed it since soon after their short-lived kin had begun to build cities.  Since humans could never hope to see the future themselves, they strove all the harder to create things which would outlast them.  Since they could not live long enough to grow tired of life, they never lost their zeal for living.  And since they reproduced and came of age so much more quickly than their longer-lived kin, they had changed the face of the Earth more in the ten Elder generations since they had invented writing than the Elders had managed in all the eons before.  As in so many legends, the younger sibling had received a blessing that had allowed him to usurp the birthright of the elder; no power of Sarah’s people could possibly compare to the humans’ precious gift of mortality.

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As you plan your child’s Halloween costume, you must consider the district’s Zero Tolerance Policy.

The increasing trend of people saving Halloween links for the last three days before the holiday results in my not having any until the Links column after Halloween.  It’ll be just as bad next year, but the year after that Halloween’s on a Monday so that should be better.  Ah, well.  This week’s top contributor was Lenore Skenazy, with the first video and everything above it; the second video is from Franklin Harris, and the links between the two were provided by Cop Block (“protect”), Popehat (“clowns” and “chili”), Tauriq Moosa (“layout”), Kevin Wilson (“investors”), David Ley (“plastic”), Michael Whiteacre (“show”), Radley Balko (“sequel”), Molly Crabapple (“seizure”), Clarissa (“accidentally”), and Molli Desi (“together”).

From the Archives

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