I just saw the news. Time is crunch right now, and I'm sure others with far more credentials will comment on his life and papacy.
Pope John Paul II passed shortly after we began our journey into the Church. Therefore Pope Benedict was pope by the time we officially entered. That's why we have a special place in our lives and a feeling of connection with him.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.
That's a composite image I spliced together from the Columbus Dispatch piece. The Dispatch is sort of the flagship paper for Ohio, right ahead of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Cincinnati Enquirer. The other bookstore mentioned is one that used to be a teacher's supply store. It recently overhauled and went with being a children's bookstore. Not too much competition in product or, quite frankly, in ideology. If you get my drift.
This unexpected exposure seems to have helped them since traffic has upticked significantly in the wake of this issue. They need it, because of the two lost days right before Christmas due to the storm. That hurt.
On the positive side, they are busy getting the online part of their store up and running. They already have egiftcards, which brought in a surprising amount of sales (though payback, you don't get the money later unless they decide to purchase more).
All in all, we've been pleasantly surprised that things have worked out, and the two youngsters have made quite a splash in the community. Given some reviews and input I've read, they have forged a sort of 'two versus the world' reputation that many admire. Especially because of times being what they are. Even now, he received yet another boatload of donated books he needs help unpacking (and that has aided them immensely).
They'll need the help, because anyone who has worked in retail knows they're heading into the Dead Marshes season of retail sales. They'll need to pull some big rabbits out of their hat, and of course when the online store is up and going that can only help.
Hope all have had a safe and warm Christmas. Our second oldest is going through withdrawal at the moment, since his fianceé and her family are on their annual Christmas trip to Canada. Both of her parents hail from the lands of the great north. I think he's secretly looking forward to the chance to accompany them in the future. This year, however, he's here with the us.
Our two others are done with school, obviously. Our oldest experienced his first B+ ever, owing to a brutally tough seminar professor. We told him to brush it off and keep going. Our youngest is just happy to be on vacation. Meanwhile, our third oldest, and manager at a local restaurant chain, moved heaven and earth to have as much time off as possible. He refused to ask for the week, since he fears the earth will open up and swallow his charge if he's not there to keep it going.
But he did manage to strike a balance with working, and doing so in as few days with the most forgiving schedule possible. That way, accounting for our second son manning the book store in a solo act, we will still have time to spend through the upcoming week.
Therefore, time will be funneled to the necessities in order to accommodate what free time we have with the four boys. This being a sort of 'last hurrah', we want to make sure things are moved about on our side to enjoy the time we have together. When things are wrapped up, I'll likely post on some reflections, new traditions and golden times and ancient rhymes.
Until then, continue to enjoy and be blessed during this happy Christmastide. And for our soon to be daughter in law and her family, a fun and enjoyable Boxing Day. Be back soon. God bless and TTFN.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
It's cold out there! For those who wished for a white Christmas, read The Monkey's Paw next time. Or accept things as they are, sit back and enjoy the following clip. In a string of reports that would make Bruce Nolan proud, we learn that some reporters can be very honest, and wear their hearts on their sleeves:
Reagan addresses a relieved world in November, 1985
The best year of my life - before I met my wife (nice save) - was 1985. Not 1984, though my boys would think otherwise. They always laugh because almost anything we talk about when discussing events or releases or just general news from our past seemed to happen in 1984. From Van Halen to Orwell, it was a year fully aware of itself. But for me, the best year ever was 1985.
That was the year I graduated high school. The summer after graduation was just what you'd want a summer after high school graduation to be. Someday I might post about some of our adventures. I just need to research the particulars regarding the statute of limitations.
My first quarter of college was every bit as good and, to be honest, the best time I had in college. There would be other good years in school, but that first quarter of my first year was what you would want your first experience in college to be.
I only went to the nearby branch at OSU (we called it The Twig since it consisted of only one building). But new friends, new girlfriend, still visiting old friends, visiting my best friend on the Columbus campus, and just a flood of memories of good and satisfying events made it the best of times. There were parties with new acquaintances, being out and about in a new city, and just getting to know people I'd never met in a brand new setting.
The Twig as it looked when I attended
Even the Christmas break was wonderful. Old friends came back home and we attended parties, and watched movies, and played cards, went to arcades, attended more parties, and generally hung out together for what in many cases would be the last time. On one weekend - my first after exams - my best friend and several others literally chugged through almost three straight days of round the clock parties and fun and shopping and games and movies. By that Monday night, we had slept about four hours in three days. I was sitting at my best friends house and the TV show Newhart was just coming on. The next thing I knew I woke up the following afternoon at about 2:00 PM on their sectional. It was that kind of a time.
I also remember it was a time that seemed - no doubt coincidently - to be surrounded by pop culture nods to the Cold War and its waning presence. One was a spoof, one a drama and one a Rocky movie. Spies Like Us, which I wrote about before, was a John Landis project with SNL alums Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd; a lampoon of Reagan era patriotism and the much maligned Star Wars program. Rocky IV was ham-fisted on the opposite side, with Rocky practically winning the Cold War against what could only be seen as cardboard cutout Russians. Finally White Nights, starring Gregory Hines and defecting dancer extraordinaire Baryshnikov, was a drama with dancing. In it, audiences were reminded that, for all its sins dragged out by Raymond Greenwood, the USA was still a better option than Soviet Russia. All were late Cold War themed, and all were released within a week of each other around the first of December.
So charging into the end of the quarter towards that wonderful break, things were still soaring, despite yet another loss to Michigan. On top of everything, all of that fun and all those Cold War movies were given a boost because of a news story right around Thanksgiving. It was a little meeting in Geneva between Ronald Reagan and the latest Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev.
By then I was paying attention to news, probably more than many of my friends. I saw the laments of editorials worried that Reagan might botch this historic chance given us by the Soviets. When he was there, I still recall some media generated outrage over something Reagan did when he grabbed Gorbachev by the shoulder and said something I can't remember.
But as if to add cake to the year's icing, when Reagan returned from Geneva and addressed Congress, it was a strange moment. Even Reagan's staunchest critics joined his supporters, and even most of my peers, and heaved a great sigh of relief. For the first time it looked like we might really, really come through the old Cold War without mushroom clouds and Skynet strikes. Hard to believe, but that was a light at the end of the tunnel many my age didn't think we would see in our lifetimes - if at all.
Not a bad way to spend an already wonderful first college Christmastime. A fine year capped off by a fine time entering college. A first quarter in school that rose to the occasion and was all I could have hoped. And on top of it all, a meeting with our president that suggested what many were beginning to suspect: That the Soviets were through, and we were going to come out of it all not only peacefully, but victoriously. For a couple weeks that December, everything seemed focused there, and if that wasn't a happy holidays, I'm not sure what it would take.
Official 1985 Cold War video
Bonus update! The aforementioned best friend emailed me even as I was putting the finishing James Browns on this post. I hadn't heard from him for some time. His parents are getting down health wise and that took from his time, as it will. He'll be getting in touch after the holidays, so that was a nice little bonus. He lives in Las Vegas, but should be around some after the first of the year. And yes, he's the best friend I often reference in various posts of nostalgia. So a nice convergence heading into another Christmastide, you might say.
Every now and then I'm reminded just how much of a loss to the world of gourmet cooking that my son's food allergy caused.
This year, owing to some unforeseens, as well as conflicting schedules and obligations among the boys, our birthday dinners were split and separated by a couple weeks from our actual birthdays. Nonetheless, my wife decided to build on our third son's request from a past birthday - an African menu. The boys got the ingredients, and my oldest spent a day working around an outpatient surgery and final exams preparing the meal.
This request was in part because of my son's involvement in that project I mentioned some months ago. He's been working on compiling information about African Muslim immigrant communities here in the central Buckeye State. The results of the project will be compiled and used for academic and government use. Among other things, that saw him step out of his introverted comfort zone and interview people from those communities.
In his class most of the students were of that bent - African, immigrant, Muslim, Middle Eastern, and so on. My oldest was an outlier, being mostly white, Anglo-American and Catholic. His professor was Nigerian, and the helped. Despite my son's demographics, we've had the opportunity to meet and get to know a variety of people from a variety of cultures over the years. And in that group, Nigeria has been well represented.
So while he made a generic 'African' (meaning south of the Mediterranean Sea) meal for his brother, this time he zeroed in and built the dinner strictly from Nigerian recipes he found:
From L to R: Yum; Yum Yum; Yum, Yum, Yum; Fabulous!
Except for the roast chicken, which was generic except for a Nigerian spice rub, the rest was straight from the Nigerian dinner table. They were each a separate main course combined into one meal. Lamb was the showcase meat of the hour, and the spices were, well, spicy. Not in a 'burn your mouth like a flamethrower' manner, but still able to bring tears to the eyes. All I can say is 'Yum!' I could eat like that every day of my life.
What a loss. I've told him there is no rule against developing many skills and talents in one's life, even if you don't make a living from them. Consider the late Vincent Price, who saw acting almost as a means to an end. For him, his great passions were art and gourmet cooking. Acting, as he once pointed out, merely paid the bills.
Whatever my son does in life, and I know where he's planning - I'm just not saying yet - it will never hurt if he can whip up a five star dinner for those around him on his journey. Just leave the fish.
Because what was that NPR piece other than manipulation? Power of suggestion. Note that there is nothing in it that screams 'propaganda piece for the Left!' Nonetheless, you can't miss that the piece is nothing but that. And you know, in your gut, exactly what you are supposed to think about the situation once you're finished reading the piece.
It can be spotted, however, for several reasons if you think on it. First we have context and know what it's all about. We get the fact that parents, in 2020, were suddenly confronted with what their children were really learning or not learning in schools. Then concerns brought to educators and school boards were met with pushback rather than dialogue in more than one instance. Sometimes flagrant and condescending pushback. Teachers, acting as if the Internet isn't a thing, were found on Zoom or other platforms calling hellfire down on conservatives or explaining why parents don't have the right to know what their kids are learning.
All of which prompted parents to begin confronting the school boards when the opportunity presented itself. No doubt some parents behaved as inappropriately as some of the teachers and school boards. Note, however, the focus in the NPR piece.
The piece also does the usual, emphasizing vast conservative funding networks, something almost never mentioned when the press discusses liberal activism. Likewise, it suggests that the 'silent majority' is really on the side of the teachers and school boards who want this to go away. The reporter knows this because it's the silent majority.
Perhaps the giveaway part, however, is this little bit on down in the piece, quoting an anonymous principal who identifies as a Republican in a predominantly conservative district:
"You can't [use newspapers] anymore. You can't use CNN because the parents will go nuts on you. You can't use Fox because it's so out there. It's hard to teach kids about what's going on in any kind of context, because there is no context anymore."
Note that. You can't use CNN - because of those rascally parents going nuts on you.. Not that CNN is a problem. The problem is those nutty parents. You can't use FOX either. Why? Says the Republican in the conservative district - because FOX is "so out there". The problem in this case being Fox, not the nutty parents.
And I'm supposed to believe this is some conservative Republican principal who sees no problem with CNN but considers FOX out there? This is as if to say 'see, Republican Conservative says FOX is a problem, but otherwise it's the parents when they question CNN'. The power of suggestion. A big thing in our modern institutions and our modern media. But if you step back and don't let distraction or misdirection fool you, and think things through, you'll be able to spot the illusion almost every time.
Yeah. Liars and cheaters make bad opponents. When you literally call someone a Nazi for doing what so many you support proudly and openly did themselves, all hope for rational discourse and good will is officially lost.
That Donald Trump is a liberal mole. I know, I know. I'm half joking. But there are times when he does things that seem 100% to do no good for conservatives, to play into leftwing stereotypes and hysterics about conservatives, and goes a long way toward undercutting conservative concerns about the emergent Left.
So news headlines exploded that Trump came out and said the election was so corrupt and illegal, it's time to ditch the Constitution. Now there have been radicals wanting to abolish the Constitution since I was in school. In recent years, the 'Constitution as racist slave doc' has picked up steam thanks to BLM and similar activism. On Memorial Day in 2021, ABC News reported on a survey that found over 40% of Americans believe it's time to burn the old thing and start anew. And this doesn't count those calling for parts of it, particularly certain Amendments to the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, to be rewritten, reimagined, or done away with.
Conservatives are rightly incensed by this development. Not because they think the Constitution is holy Scripture, or God, or Gospel - a charge often leveled at them by those on the Left. But because, just like those who say this non-heavenly planet is important in terms of climate change, how we order society is also important, even if society isn't Heaven. And in the history of the human race, our Constitution is about as good as you get. So the strong case for preserving it can be made.
Then lo, along comes Donald J. Trump and, according to media reports, says 'burn it, burn it now.' Well conservatives just received another stone in their shoe when it comes to stopping this. Oh, they can condemn Trump's statements, but it just gave those who want the Constitution burned an extra name to drop, and it gives the Left in general the chance to rise up and be bold defenders of our founding documents!
As a bonus, Trump did this just as the first Twitter dump occurred. The dump suggested strongly that not only was Twitter purposefully targeting conservative accounts, but Democrats may have been party to the tactics. This was a first in Elon Musk's grand restructuring and revealing of Twitter and its policies. It should have been headline news. But thanks be to Trump, most MSM outlets played an easy misdirection by plastering across the headlines that Trump was calling for an end to the Constitution. The Musk and Twitter story being relegated to page fourteen behind the grocery ads.
I get that Trump did some good things. The Supreme Court likely being the best. But there are times when he seems to go out of his way to harm the conservative brand as much as possible, to affirm leftwing stereotypes about conservatives, and undercut whatever opponents of the Left are trying to accomplish. So while I wouldn't say I'm really 14% convinced he's a leftwing mole, I would put it around 4%.
Any connection to the age of mass killings is pure speculation
Is a lesson we don't want to admit. Basically, it taught us what AIDS already taught us: That we will never admit we have been wrong in recent years, no matter how many millions die or thousands of children are murdered.
Guns. That's the thing. AIDS? Hardly ever mentioned, even if the number of Americans murdered by guns in an average year are only a few thousand more than those who die of HIV/AIDS each year. Betcha I know which cause of death you hear more about from our media, our pols, our educators and even our religious leaders*.
Of course basic horse sense and concern for the common good would make it easy for us to realize guns existed aplenty when I was growing up, yet we didn't have regular 'mass shooter drills' in school. That's because mass shootings in school didn't happen on a regular basis. They do now.
Common sense and good will would lead us to realize we might have made changes in our society, somewhere between the time when such horrors didn't happen regularly and the time when they did, that shouldn't have been made. But that is something we will not do. Ever. We will not admit we've been wrong.
One of the morning news shows earlier this year reported on a NYT article that basically said fewer parents than ever spank their children, while violence among our youth is at all time highs. Don't let that fool you, however. Turns out spanking still makes kids more violent. Again, we will not admit we were wrong. Ever.
If millions die of AIDS? So be it. We're not going to stop pushing our sex and drugs culture.
If students by the hundreds are killed in school shootings? So be it. We'll deflect to guns or bigotry if possible.
If suicide among children reaches all time highs? So be it. We couldn't be wrong about our changes in family and child rearing.
If drug overdoses, non-gun related suicides and AIDS kill more than 100,000 Americans a year? So be it. Except for those haters over there, we're the best.
If drug addiction, drug dependency and emotional and psychological problems continue to plague our nation and our children at unprecedented rates? So be it. Focus on opioids and ignore the rest.
We'll talk of guns and laws and cabbage and kings. But we will never, ever admit that we've been wrong over the last half century or so. That is a sacrifice we simply are not prepared to make. Not our press. Not our politicians. Not our national leaders and celebrities. Not our educators. And with few exceptions, not our religious leaders. And if a million children must be aborted and a thousand children killed and ruined to avoid the horrible confession? That is a sacrifice we are more than prepared to make.
God bless those killed at Sandy Hook and in all such violence that defines the society we have built. Let strength and peace be given in abundance to the loved ones left behind. And may God have mercy on a nation that would allow this to continue rather than in humility concede what we will never admit.
*Except Orthodox Christian leaders. I noticed that many of them are willing to step up and say there just might be a connection between the global cultural and sexual revolution of the 1960s and the sudden spread of a disease driven largely by drugs and sex that to date has killed over 35 million people.
One of my longtime readers sent me a link to a video here. In it we learn that E. Gary Gygax and David Arneson, who created the famous and of much maligned roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, were Christian. At least Arneson was. Gagyx was technically a Jehovah's Witness, though in later years I believe he did convert to Protestant Christianity.
By Gygax's admission, that's why the early versions of the game sported demons and devils as possible opponents, but there were no stats for Satan. Much less stats for Jesus. It's also noteworthy that while such demonic foes were out and about, there were no angels. Gygax said he didn't feel right since 'demon' can be a generic bad guy found in many cultures, but angels were more specific to the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Now this wasn't a shock to me now, or when I first heard of it when I began researching the game ages ago. I've said it meant little to me for most of my life. It was that game the press attacked that was based on things like The Lord of the Rings. Only years later did I learn Gygax himself insisted any connection to Tolkien's works was just cheap marketing. According to him, he personally despised Tolkien's works (at least LoTR). I actually don't believe it, and have concluded Gygax is to be trusted with his memories in the same way George Lucas is to be trusted when talking about Star Wars.
When I first heard they were Christian, however, it didn't surprise me. For that matter, when I read this little article, it made perfect sense. Not only were they Christian, but the game itself was infused with an implicit Christianity. Beyond the clear biblical or cultural Christian references, an underlying Christian look and feel was there. The early art and references to pop Christian religious attitudes and items (such as crosses) were plentiful.
That's because the game was first published in 1974. That was the year I was in first grade. Believe it or not, a sort of Christian residue was still the default religious cultural reference in America at that point. In my public schools, the first few teachers I had brought a tremendous amount of 'Christian' into various subjects. At Thanksgiving we learned much about the pilgrims' Christian beliefs. At Christmas we learned about various Christian elements of the holiday, as well as learning and hearing the Christmas story itself.
Christian looking clerics in 1978 Players Handbook
Two developments are noteworthy, however. By the time I was in late elementary school, the Christian elements of anything were fading. No more guest speakers presenting stories about the first Christmas. No more lessons about mangers. By the time I was in high school, the 'keep Christ out of Christmas' movement was taking hold. We hadn't gone to BCE/CE yet, but we changed our homeroom Christmas decorating contest to our homeroom holiday decorating contest.
It was at this time, in ninth grade, I first heard of the game D&D. By then the recent editions of the game no longer had much in terms of Christian influence. New editions invented pantheons of fictional gods and goddesses, and explicitly Christian imagery and references were fast being replaced. Crosses were now generic 'holy symbols' and artwork was becoming more religiously, if not culturally, androgynous.
Beyond the clear pushing of Christianity out of the social fabric, there were also generations at work. When I think of those teachers in my school teaching us about that baby in the manger, they were old. I mean near retirement. The first couple would retire only a few years after I had them as teachers. That means they were likely in their late 50s, early 60s. Meaning they started teaching when my parents were in school in the 1930s! Meaning they were schooled around then as well.
It's worth noting my kindergarten teacher was young, and an exception. In hindsight, we were likely her first teaching job. And while I have vivid memories of that first school Christmas, I remember nothing about the religious part. We read The Little Match Girl. We did Christmas bell art (I remember that like yesterday). We had a Christmas party with Santa. But nothing about the religious side. She would have been schooled in the 1960s. After third grade, my teachers were all in their early 50s to late 40s. None of them brought religion into the discussion either.
Contrast: A modern cleric pic
That's because in the time from the early 70s to early 80s, America went from a vague Christian identity to that identity and all of its references being eradicated from the popular culture. That's because somewhere between the 1930s and 1960s, we were taught to do just that. If Gygax and Arneson had published D&D in the 80s would their Christian influence have shown? By the 80s, even while Gygax was still there (Arneson parted ways in the mid-70s), it was already being stripped away from the product.
Today, of course, it is the eradication of the whole cultural roots of the game. New editions of the game make sure to avoid any faux European medieval setting, and to sever the literary roots of the game when those roots are deemed hateful or offensive today. Specific references to historical or cultural items or monsters are purposefully edited out. On the off chance an old game concept from the past remains, outrage ensues and the publishers quickly expunge the offending reference. It goes without saying that anything remotely Christian is as far removed from modern versions of the game as they are from most modern church events held in a public setting.
So no, I wasn't surprised when I learned Gygax and Arnseon were Christian or Christian influenced. Nor did it shock me to learn just how seeped with Christian concepts the early game was. By the time churches joined the media's assault on the game in the 1980s, however, that was already beginning to pass, as it was in our nation in general. Perhaps that will teach them next time.
David French, former 'conservative' turned leftwing activist, invokes the old 'it's only censorship if the government does it' canard. This uses deflection to help him avoid confronting the implications of Musk's release of docs pertaining to Twitter's collusion with progressives, and perhaps even Democrats, and suppression of dissenting posts.
When it comes to French's claim, anyone who went through college in the 1980s knows that's bunk. At least according to liberals of the day. Much was the time that my liberal teachers and professors spent declaring Big Brother fascist censorship whenever anyone - private interest or otherwise - tried to hinder liberal free speech.
I recall an old textbook from a Sociology class I took. In the section on freedoms and rights and free speech, it bent over backwards to say it's not just government that defines censorship. Censorship, as they stay, starts in the home. The minute you try to punish or oppress someone's attempt to express himself, that's censorship. It even had a handy sidebar article about the old Fantastic Beatles Boycott as an example. No government there, but as much naked censorship as anything Nazi Germany ever tried to do.
Of course like all things liberal, that's simply one more 'here today, gone later today' approach to principles and truth claims. As soon as liberals get caught doing something they condemn, they simply change the rules. Remember what my sons said about debating liberalism being like a game of Monopoly with someone who keeps throwing pots and pans at you?
What they mean is, liberalism understands Monopoly rules this way:
If liberalism owns a hotel on Boardwalk and you land on Boardwalk, then you owe liberalism $2000.
If, however, you own a hotel on Boardwalk and liberalism lands on Boardwalk, then you owe liberalism $2000.
And if you protest the obvious cheating, in come the pots and pans. It's how the Left plays the game. I'm fast becoming convinced that liberalism appeals to the amoral, the one with no core values, beliefs, or principles. The one who says yes when convenient, no when not convenient. Juror #7. Guilty. Not guilty. Who cares, just get me to the game.
Some say they're disappointed in French. For me, a person who can embrace such naked mendacity as has been the food and oxygen of post-war liberalism is likely someone whose values and principles were never deeply rooted in the first place. Which is something we're confronting every day as more and more who once waved the values of the Christian West like a war banner now trample that banner underfoot and happily toss it in the can.
As a person with a bit of art about me, I chuckle at the "How to Draw" books you can purchase. They often look like this. Same with "How to learn piano." They're basically like a book that says 'How to fix an automatic transmission if four easy steps. Step one: Remove the engine.'
Most 'How to books" could save trees and paper by saying the same thing: How to? Hard work, lots of practice and lots of trial and error.
My second oldest has said there are five basic categories of Christmas Song.
There is the historical secular, the old traditionals. You know, Boar's Head Carol, Here We Come A-Wassailing, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Deck the Halls, and so on. Some of these date back centuries and remind us that Christmas has always vied with the secular celebrations of Winter. It's not a new conflict.
Then there is the religious songs of all ages. Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Angels We Have Heard on High, O Holy Night. No matter what the age or century, the general subject matter of the songs are the same: Christian celebration and reflection plain and simple. The list of these songs is long but, significantly, confined largely to a pre-WW2 time period.
Then comes the 'Classical' Secular. Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride, White Christmas, The Christmas Song, Here Comes Santa Claus, Winter Wonderland. Some of these date as late as the 1960s, and stretch back to the 19th Century, but generally don't include the ones earlier (see Historical Secular above). They are also mostly confined to the 1940s or 1950s or before. Many were written in the context of the Americanization and commercialization of Christmas. This is likely the fuzziest category. After all, is Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree in this or the next category? How about Jingle Bell Rock?
Next is the Modern Secular. I subdivided this into two groups. The MS Frivolous, and the MS meaningful - but not Christian meaningful. In the first group is Feliz Navidad, All I Want for Christmas is You, Wonderful Christmastime, Merry Christmas Darling. Clearly Christmas songs but nothing more about the manger than Silver Bells. In the second is such fare as My Grown Up Christmas List, Do They Know it's Christmas and, most famously, Happy Xmas (War is Over). Songs that use Christmas to promote some meaningful message - but one shorn of Christian dressing.
Finally comes the secular non-Christmas. That is modern - meaning largely post-war - songs that have nothing to do with Christmas at all. They may not even mention winter. They could take place in August or March for all it matters. Sometimes they had nothing to do with Christmas but became associated with the holidays for this or that reason. Think Baby It's Cold Outside or Last Christmas.
The last one brought us to the video above. My son pointed out that the song could change its name to Last Arbor Day and not a speck of meaning would be changed. At least Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer mentions Santa. On the other hand, some of the classics, like Jingle Bells, are no more beholden to Christmas than Wham's little ditty. And perhaps in a hundred years it will be as engrained in the cultural mindset as Jingle Bells or Winter Wonderland.
But for now, that's a breakdown I can accept. And sometimes it might be a matter of how the song is presented as the song itself. After all, hearing it in the medieval style makes it seem almost plausible as a Christmas tune. Almost.
Yep. Stochastic Terrorism is all the rage. Apparently it's driven by the gay night club shooting that appeared to be the result of a member of the LGBTQ community (identifying as non-binary). I guess that's why I've heard little about the actual shooting.
But all of a sudden this term has exploded across the news and online outlets. What does it mean? I had no clue. Never heard of the term. The dictionary definition is this:
the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted:
In other words, you haven't really called for violence, but we know that's your intention. Hence whatever or whoever was responsible for the gay club shooting, it was really the fault of anyone who dares challenge the leftist sex culture. You see, any opposition to anything done by the non-heterosexual community is really terrorism, of the Stochastic nature. That is, you might say you merely question something about the LGBTQ revolution, but you're really calling on terrorists to murder gay people.
The same goes for BLM, drag queen shows for kids, people opposing Democrats, not supporting gun control as the solution to our mass killings, or anything on the Left. To question a leftwing dogma is now Stochastic Terrorism. In just a few days I've seen it applied to opposing trans and gay groomers of children, a Catholic bishop criticizing Hillary Clinton, and inciting anti-Asian hate crimes by asking about Covid's origins.
In short, it's the next step to the abolition of freedom. We must do anything to destroy terrorist threats to our country. Any attempt to question a leftist doctrine or agenda is a form of terrorist threat. Therefore, well, you know the drill.
It's that day. I almost forgot. Last year this day was actually swallowed up in some quarters by those wanting to ignore this particular anniversary in preference of remembering the beginning of the Japanese (not Italian or German) Internment Camps. This year there seems to be more focus on that day which will live in infamy.
I'm not a big Hawaii guy. I've never been particularly interested in going there. But if one thing could get me, it would be visiting the Arizona memorial. It was WW2 that got me interested in history. And it was Pearl Harbor that captured my attention more than anything else. I saw it as one of those thick dividing lines in history. There was America and the world on December 6th, and then there was an entirely new age in the world on December 8th. And what happened that day in between became one of my focal points in college and much of my younger life.
I'm of that group of historians who actually disagrees with the old adage that for Japan, the attack was a tactical victory but strategic disaster. Given America's predictable reaction, the strategic disaster is certainly true. But I've often disagreed that it was some wonderful tactical success for Japan. It wasn't.
And not just because those carriers famously weren't there. It failed on some levels because, in the end, Americans reacted far better than the Japanese imagined, and because the Japanese did far worse than we sometimes remember.
The iconic image of Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona crumpled and burning
Almost as soon as the first strikes from the first wave (the attack came in two separate waves) finished, the American anti-aircraft fire made subsequent attacks by Japanese planes far less effective. In fact, much of the damage inflicted on the legendary Battleship Row happened within the first minutes of the attack. Within about 20 minutes of the attack's opening, the AA fire was beginning to force the next flights of Japanese planes to improvise or abandon their planned runs, or to be less efficient with hitting their targets.
By the time the second wave came, the AA fire had formed a veritable canopy of explosions in the air over the harbor, and the second wave proved subpar at best. This was because they weren't prepared for the stiff resistance. Mitsuo Fuchida, the commander of the attack, said years later that the Japanese air crews were stunned by the speed of the American response.
Remember, the Americans had everything against them. Caught flatfooted, a blindside in a dark room, with the custom of locking things up on Sundays, or recovering from the previous night's festivities, and the general unawareness that comes with being at peace, led the planners of the attack to believe most of the first wave would meet with little if any resistance.
True, only 29 Japanese planes were shot down (roughly 8% - not a bad number if you're Japan) in the entire attack. But that's because the AA fire, while brutal and constant, was still from often antiquated or outdated guns that were better suited for old biplanes than the nimble Japanese planes in the attack. The real consequence of the AA fire was in breaking up the attack runs following the first dozen minutes or so and causing more and more of the Japanese, as often as not, to shoot wide of their marks.
Plus, you just had poor decisions on the part of the Japanese aircrews. The reasons have been kicked around for years. Were they just kids trying to go after big targets when there were none left? Was it being ill prepared for the US response? Was it simply Japanese military planners overestimating based on training versus what happens in actual battle? Hard to say. Probably yes.
But whatever the reasons, they missed many opportunities, especially in the second wave. Not just the oil fields, but the repair facilities and the all important cruisers. An often overlooked workhorse of the Navy, the Japanese could have added a dozen more ships to the casualty list, but seemed to almost purposefully avoid the less glamorous (but so crucial) cruisers in preference for battleships - even though most battleships by then were already sunk or were damaged or sinking.
The Pennsylvania sits behind the Cassin and Downes
In any event, it was not the great tactical smash hit that many suggest. It was a success. The Japanese did inflict casualties. They sank a few ships, a couple permanently. But almost nothing that had long term lasting consequences. If anything, it was the air bases around Pearl Harbor that marked the biggest success for the Japanese. The disastrous decision to pack the planes together in the middle of the airfields rendered them almost useless and, as one book put it, not just sitting ducks, but ducks in rows.
Still, in the end, only a few ships never returned to service. The Arizona, the Oklahoma and a training ship that was an ex-battleship - the Utah. They were the only total losses. Every other ship was eventually returned to service before the end of the war. Some of them seeing action against Japan itself. The planes were a big loss. 188 were destroyed and a similar number damaged. And worse than anything, 2,403 were killed. Almost half of those killed came from the two battleships Oklahoma and Arizona.
Compared to that, Japan lost 64 men, including the crews of several minisubs. 24 aircraft were shot down, but it's worth noting that over 70 aircraft were damaged. That's 30% of the air strike force destroyed or damaged. Again, the faster than expected response of the Americans.
Admiral Chuchi Nagumo, the commander of the actual Pearl Harbor strike force, received much criticism from Japanese in later years for not launching a third wave of attack. IMHO, he was correct not to. Already the second wave was far less successful than the first, and most of the planes destroyed or damaged came from that wave. It is unlikely the next wave would have capitalized on much more than the second wave. Plus most of Nagumo's worries about losing more planes and running up against logistical problems (like fuel) were reasonable concerns.
In the end, it also wouldn't have mattered. Unless a really lucky hit manifested itself, there likely would have been no more lasting damage, and the real harm - the rage ignited in the American mindset - was there and couldn't be taken away.
Japan - being a not-Western nation - has at times suggested that the attack was never meant to be a surprise. This is something it has bounced about for decades. If you watch the film Tora, Tora, Tora, it takes Japan's view that not only was the attack reliant upon surprise, but it clearly didn't want surprise and the lack of forewarning was simply a sad case of bad typing. That's non-Western nations for you.
Whatever was intended, however, the final assessment is one of ultimate failure. Little lasting damage was done, beyond the sad death toll. The attack could have been worse for America in the short term, but a series of failures and subpar performances on the part of the Japanese air crews caused many opportunities to be missed. And with all that, the horrible strategic nightmare of filling America with that famous terrible resolve was in the books and couldn't be taken back. Something that citizens of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would discover all too sadly before the end of the conflict.
For a bonus, I found the below photo. It is a photo I have not seen before. I always appreciate things I've not seen before. It is of Battleship Row three days after the attack:
The fires are gone and the smoke cleared. You can see the multiple rivers of oil, most pouring out of the Arizona. The Arizona is on the bottom right of the ships. If you look closely, you can see the shadows of its superstructures, striking that iconic image with the fore mast crumbled over into its bow. The explosion literally obliterated the front of the ship, causing a catastrophic breach straight down through the decks. The harbor waters rushed into every level and nobody below decks had a chance. Except for one sailor, nobody in the entire front half of the ship survived. Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, the highest ranking officer killed in the attack, was last known to be on the bridge. His body was never found.
In front of the Arizona is the Tennessee, nearest the island. It was damaged, but not badly. It was one of the first ships to return to duty, early in 1942. Next to it is the hapless West Virginia. Hit by everything, it almost capsized. The captain's decision to counter-flood kept it from doing so, instead it settled straight down, and you can see much of its port side is under water. It would be until 1944 before the West Virginia was back in service.
In front of them, nearest the island, is the Maryland. It was also lightly damaged and returned to service by early 1942. Next to it is capsized Oklahoma. Next to the Arizona, the Oklahoma had the largest single loss of life in the attack. 429 died, despite the best efforts to rescue them. Farthest ahead is the California, which actually sank, but returned to service in 1944.
The other two battleships are out of the picture. The Pennsylvania was in a dry-dock and barely touched, though two destroyers in front of it - the Cassin and Downes - were blown to pieces and would take several years to return to service. The Nevada was the other battleship. The fleet's flagship, it was located behind the Arizona. The only one to try to make a run for it, fear quickly arose that it would go down in the channel and block the opening to the harbor. Therefore it was ordered to cease its desperate gamble.
That's the gist of the battleships. It would be carriers, not battleships, that made the difference in the Pacific War. And by luck, fate or providence if you prefer, the American carriers were not there that fateful morning. The USS Enterprise was supposed to be there, but a sudden storm at sea damaged several of its escorting ships. Instead of going forward and keeping schedule, the captain decided to stay behind and help the ships damaged by the storm. As a result, the full wrath of the Japanese aircrews that morning fell on the capital ships - the battleships. Even when there were none left untouched, the subsequent waves would still attack targets that would have been better to ignore.
One final musing. Here is a scene from the movie Tora, Tora, Tora. A flop at the box office, it tried to be as accurate as two separate tellings of the same event - an American and Japanese perspective - would allow. On the whole, it succeeds. This is near the end of the attack. I've always loved the lone American machine gunner. His fellows are all dead. All around him is destruction and carnage. Explosions are everywhere. His cloths are in tatters and he is wounded and bleeding. But he'll be damned if he gives up. And the choice of the pilot he finally hits, as well as the gunner's own actions, perfectly embodies the attitude and grit and determination both sides would bring into the conflict. Wars are horrible things, but sometimes they bring out the absolute best in people. A lot better, as we've discovered, than peace and luxury and leisure tend to do.
Bob McGrath passed away. Who was Bob McGrath? He was one of the original cast on "Sesame Street". He was the one who reminded me of a friend and coworker of my dad. That's why he stood out in my mind as a child.
I was never a big Sesame Street fan. I didn't watch much TV growing up. As a kid, the only 'must see' kid's show for me was an old Japanese cartoon called 'Kimba the White Lion." In the evenings I watched reruns of "Hogan's Heroes" and "Combat!" Otherwise there wasn't much must-see television for me.
But Mr. McGrath holds a special place in my memories. When I turned five, my parents moved from our house in the country and bought a house in town. It was actually the house that was a nursery school my parents took me to the year before. A small little ranch next to a hive of troublemaking kids. My days of quiet and carefree fun in the county had come to an end.
It was right before Christmas, and I remember looking out the back sliding door at the row of snow covered houses facing away from us beyond our back yard. I remember the smoke coming out of their chimneys in a scene straight out of a Hallmark greeting card. Living in the country, I wasn't used to seeing that many houses in one place. Dad was busy working to improve the house we hadn't settled into yet. Mom was consoling me since it was a big move. The only house I could remember was a thing of the past.
To help, they got me, among other things that year, a record of Sesame Street sing-alongs. The first song on the record? "People in Your Neighborhood" by none other than Mr. McGrath. I can still see that little record player, and the primary colored record spinning as McGrath introduced us to policemen, mailmen, and others whose names would eventually need changed.
Again, I never watched Sesame Street much. For that matter I was one of the few in my school who didn't sit clued to the TV when "The Muppet Show" was all the rage. Just not my cup of tea. But I appreciated what it was in its early days and the genius that went behind its creation. Beyond that, one part is forever engrained in my childhood memories, and that just happened to involve Mr. Bob McGrath.
Is best summed up here. Some woman I've never heard of receives praise and adoration from her fellow sisters and an enthralled audience. Why? Because she boldly announced she is leaving her husband of fourteen years. Why? Because she wanted a life more focused on herself, that's why. And being a woman, she can proclaim such a reason as 'self-love' to an adoring world and receive endless accolades and high-fives.
Yep. I've said before that I haven't been able to find an earlier example of a group of people able to declare themselves the only thing that matters and being socially applauded for the trouble. Not that men haven't been self-absorbed, self-focused rascals over the ages. But they had to wrap it up in something pretty: God, king, country, providing for the family, helping the village - something.
But with feminism, at some point it stopped being about the right to vote and became 'women should focus on themselves - because, that's why.' Certain things, like sexual liberation, were eagerly welcomed by men who apparently thought this would solidify women as one dimensional sex objects for men's sole consumption. Women played along.
Now, of course, men have been all but emasculated by feminism and what women want. Think on abortion. The current dogma says a birthing person woman gets pregnant and can decide if it's a precious life or a worthless bunch of sludge to be eliminated. Men? What can they do? Not a damn thing, that's what. They stand in the corner wearing a 'castrated dunce' cap and wait for the woman to decide - keep the baby, at which point the man had better fork out the bucks to pay for it, or terminate the baby, sorry about your luck guy.
I've often said it's likely that men of this age will not be the men future generations of men look back to as anything other than a cautionary tale. So beholden to women did men become as sex became the only thing that mattered, they would happily sell their sons down the river in order to get some, no matter what women do, say, or grab for.
Naturally women aren't the only benefactors of this idea. The whole 'it's about me' has poured over into almost everything. So that most young radicals and activists are proud to say it's their world to save and inherit or drop dead. After all, why should women have all the fun?
By the by, if I could add one more thing. The power of this feminist narrative is such that when I bring things like this up, I can almost bet 50% of conservative men and 2/3 of pro-life, traditional Christian women will pounce on me with some version of 'Hey! Women should have rights!' As if raising a question or challenging the narrative in any way is the same as saying women should have no rights.
I know this for a fact. I can't count the times in conversations I've mused on the impact that this approach to feminism has had, and even some of the most down home, stay at home, Ephesians 5 women will fire back that I'm some how suggesting women should be what feminists say men have always wanted them to be.
That's power for a narrative. Beyond proving my axiom that no matter what liberalism hoists on the world, at least 1/3 of conservatives will jump on the bandwagon, it shows just how engrained the world's approach to feminism has become. That' s why most men, no matter how much they lament the state of things, stay quiet, at least in terms of looking deeply into the modern state of women's issues. Sort of like white people questioning not just BLM, but the whole modern culture of modern black Americans. You don't dare. And you can bet if you do, half of everyone who normally agrees with you will turn on you and fire.