The Wires

Public Service Announcement

Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Here's a Houzz feature on Frederick Douglass's D.C. home. Since it's not far from Donald Trump's new (temporary) digs and is every bit as fancy, the Trumpster might want to pay a visit to someone who's done such "an amazing job" that he's "getting recognized more and more." SCROTUS may be surprised to discover that Mr. Douglass is not at home. Too bad, because if Mr. Douglass weren't dead, he could have showed Donaldo his portrait, which for some time was owned by W.E.B. Du Bois (or DeBois or whatever).

Politico's Late Nite Jokes:

Rosie O'Donnell's new Twitter profile pic. Thanks to Unwashed for the link. -- CW 

CNN: "The book publisher Penguin is printing more copies of George Orwell's dystopian classic '1984' in response to a sudden surge of demand. On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon's computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales. The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1." -- CW 

Los Angeles Times: "The nominations for the 89th Academy Awards were revealed this morning in Los Angeles. 'La La Land' did what 800-lb gorillas are supposed to do: dominate the Oscar nominations tally, pulling down 14, including actor, actress, director and picture. Ava Duvernay’s '13th' joins 'O.J.: Made in America' among best documentary feature nominees, continuing our ongoing conversation about race in the United States. Speaking of which, with Viola Davis, Dev Patel, Octavia Spencer, Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris and Ruth Negga getting acting nominations, the 89th Academy Awards will definitely not be so white." This article includes a complete list of the nominees.

New York Times: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever. In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year." -- CW 

The Washington Post publishes a series of photos of the Vice President's residence.

Los Angeles Times: "Perhaps fittingly for an industry that has been trying to console itself in the wake of a presidential election result few saw coming, the 74th Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton, proved a big night for the fizzy romantic musical 'La La Land,' a love letter to Hollywood itself that is widely considered the film to beat in this year’s best picture race." -- CW ...

Marisa Kashino of the Washingtonian: "... multiple real-estate sources say [Ivanka] Trump and husband Jared Kushner will move into 2449 Tracy Pl, NW, in Kalorama. That will put the couple less than two blocks from the Obamas, who will reportedly move here post-White House." Realtors' photos of the Kushner-Trump house are here. The six-bedroom house ... sold on December 22nd for $5.5 million, though it is unclear whether Trump and Kushner bought it, or will rent it from the recent buyer." -- CW 

Daniel Politi of Slate: "Los Angeles residents got a little surprise when they woke up on the first day of the year and realized one of the city’s most famous landmarks had been vandalized to read 'HOLLYWeeD' — at least for a few hours. Police say the vandal used tarps to change the sign’s O’s into E’s. Security cameras caught the vandal — likely a man — changing the sign between midnight and 2 a.m. but police can’t tell the person’s race or height from the footage, reports KTLA. If caught, the vandal could face a misdemeanor trespassing charge." -- CW 

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December 22 & Etc.

Here's a short post on celebrations of the Winter Solstice. And how will you be celebrating Yule?

Update: let's continue. Besides, I would not want readers to miss yesterday's responses, which were quite beautiful. It is not, however, necessary to try to match them or follow in the same vein. Whatever interests you will be fine.

BTW, my column for the New York Times eXaminer just went up. It's on Part 2 of Brooks' list of best magazine essays -- so the boxed set made in out in time for Christmas. I'd like to box Brooks' ears. Ho ho ho.

Update 2: okay, we've found a place where we all differ. I thought maybe this year, since a number of you had suggested some good Christmas songs, I'd also do a post on the good ones. I listened to several of your suggestions -- they would definitely have fit well into my Worst Songs scheme! There's no accounting for taste, especially in music. So here's one I like (and so do almost 36 million other people):

Then there's this from the 1998 Olympics. I was living in Italy at the time & I watched it live on a little 15" TV with lousy audio. It still gave me chills. As it does today:

Reader Comments (6)

Amid all those terrifying images of police state gifts, I hesitated to talk about the gift I have already been given by the littlest one in the family. About a week ago, he announced that he could read. He can. He has been going around reading everything with an aggression no different from how he approaches the soccer ball on the field. While he sees reading as Power in relation to the larger people in the family, I see this as immunization against the plague of agitated aggressive police state technological propaganda.
What a gift: I will definitely celebrate this on the Yule. Hope for tomorrow. Maybe.

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

@Today's Assignment;
Thank you Marie. For the first time this year I felt The Spirit as I read the Wiccan piece on the Yule.
Blessed Be.
As for myself I'll hope to find some time to work. "Good" days are rare things these days and if I get one for Christmas I'll use it to get something done.
I'll be sure to count my many blessings.
I am truly thankful for Reality Chex.
I hope you have an Awesome Winter Solstice Marie.
Blessed Be To All Indeed.

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Doktor

A large part of this Yule season is spent remembering past events, many from childhood, which shaped my feeling about these holidays and taking stock in the fact that I have been truly blessed with family and friends.

. . . making hard rock candy, divinity, fudge, sugar cookies, stringing popcorn and cranberries, and decorating the tree.

. . . being warm and snuggly on Christmas Eve in the back of the 1956 Dodge under blankets with my younger brother and sister, knowing that the gifts you just opened at grandma’s house on Christmas Eve were in the trunk.

. . . driving home in a blizzard to the farm after the one of these celebrations at grandma’s and hearing the chained tires fight to bust the last drift as the car went forward and backward just before you did finally bust through that drift and make it home.

. . . running inside to beat your little brother to plug in the bubble lights on the tree while knowing they would probably not light because one of them had cooled and gone out not to light again and the entire string was dark.

. . . feeling the patience of your dad while you helped him change out each single one until you found the culprit. Sometimes hitting the lottery when the bad light was among the first of the string, and learning the patience to continue the process even though it probably was among the last on the string.

. . . learning that yes, you had to go to bed or else the “Santa” visit would not happen. There was still unquestioned magic about that. Knowing you would never go to sleep and then

. . . waking and running out to the living room to see what big present you had under the tree.

. . . going to the other grandma’s small, small house and having a Christmas dinner with so many people in the house that it was really elbow to elbow. Aunts and uncles and cousins, cousins, cousins racing around and being sent outside by the adults even though it could be quite cold and we did not care.

. . . making snow angels.

. . . trying to give our own children some of the feeling about Christmas which we felt as children.

. . . eventually figuring out that a Chautauqua with simple poems, stories, piano pieces, playing the bells, singing "Shalom to You, My Friend," and just being together was a better substitute for the physical gifts and commercialism of the Holiday.

. . . thinking back on it now with years and years of perspective and realizing that I do not remember one gift, but remembering the people and the relationships and the excitement of the trip to and from and not the objects received or the destination itself, but the journey. Remembering the journeys with the people!

So, I will cherish the journey, love my friends and family, give a good really big hug to each and every one, and start a new year! The journey continues.


December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrom-the-Heartland

To me, Yule and Christmas are synonymous. (After all, Christianity, like many religions before and after it, borrowed liberally from earlier traditions! The timing is no coincidence!)

So how will I be celebrating them?

Right now I am looking out at howling winds and blowing snow on the streets of Albuquerque. This is the third powerful winter storm that has blown through since our return from the tropics. I think of how wonderfully warm I was during that vacation that only a few people can afford these days, and I think of how wonderfully comfortable I am now in the shelter of my home, looking out on the growing blizzard. And I think how blessed I am, and I give thanks.

Today, as on Christmas day, I will be praying that those without homes, those who are hungry, and those whose homes offer shelter less extravagant than mine, will be finding the safety offered by the charitable institutions that I try to support, and which I will be trying to support even more in the coming year either with money or by volunteering my time.

I am—and will be—praying that compassion can be “re-learned” by those like myself who have somehow lost the ability to fully empathize with their fellow human beings.

@The Doktor today has given thanks for Reality Chex. Well, I’d like to second that, too. As I have said before, there are aspects of my personality and politics that you Progressive participants will be unable to change. And perhaps someday I will even be able to persuade some of you that some of my values actually do have their virtues.

But leaving that aside for today, you have all had a profound influence on me over the past half-year by providing me with links and references to news, op/ed pieces and books that I might otherwise never have found, and thereby persuading me that I have been listening to, at best, half the story.

Whether by flaming me mercilessly when I deserved it, or through calm and considered reasoning--which I much prefer--you have persuaded me that there is far more suffering in this nation than I had deigned to recognize, and that there is far more that I can and should do about it, without, perhaps, sacrificing my core beliefs. I will try to follow through on this new realization in the New Year with both time and treasure, as we Christians put it. ("Talent" fits in there someplace, too, but I don't have much of that.)

Doubtless, I will forget some names but:

Thank you, @Marie Burns for allowing me to participate, and for even giving air time to some of my thoughts to an extent far beyond my hopes or expectations.

Thank you, @Valerie Long Tweedie and @The Doktor for your patience and encouragement, and, Dok, especially for your boundless optimism in the face of pain and adversity.

Thank you @Kat for the books that you have pointed me to. I’ve finished Free Lunch, and will be picking up a copy of Perfectly Legal as my budget—and shelf space—allow. I think I’m going to need to buy a Kindle.

Thank you @JJG(08) for your unique sense of humor and wonderful perspective on all things.

Thank you @Haley Simon, @Carlyle(145), @James Singer, @Forrest Morris, @Fred Drumlevitch, @Akhilleus, @Karl Thompson and many others for your insights on numerous topics, all of which have given me pause to think.

@Victoria and @From-the-Heartland, thank you for your thoughts on Yule/Christmas today. I will be trying to keep in mind the simple and profound pleasures of family and friends at Christmas, instead of the transient joys of gifts received and then soon forgotten. (Except, of course, for that Kindle that I'd desperately like to find under the tree.)

Merry Christmas to all of you, and may we soon have “Peace on Earth and good will towards [all] men [and all women].”

December 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZee

When snow fell and buried the evergreens that were strung with colored Christmas tree lights. The different hues of each light glowing under the white, white fresh snow. Knowing that the naughty and nice list was as real as Santa and all past transgressions would be forgiven. (Except for the year when the fully decorated tree got knocked over due to roughhousing by my brothers and the cat. I still maintain my innocence in the matter and I still say a cat can and does make an excellent top-out ornament.)
The first Christmas in Southern California. Palm trees and the gold orange glow of winter sunsets. It's the saddest most wonderful time of the year.
Being alone and being taken in by ex-pats for Christmas in the Peace Corp. There was more of the true spirit in that little tin-roofed shack full of strangers then any where on earth that night. After dinner we stayed up drinking black rum and watched the fire turn to dawn. Feliz Navidad!
Walking with one of my seldom seen sisters on Christmas eve night during a blizzard in NYC. A silent blanket of white falling in the canyons of the city. We walked past all the landmarks, right down the center of the avenues. History Museum, Carnegie Hall, Metro Art; all in a strange silence of white. One or two taxis stranded in the snow, tail lights a slash of red in otherwise a mono-chrome world. It was as if the two of us were in a giant snow globe. It was the most beautiful and wonderful cityscape I have ever experienced.
So to all Merry Solstice and to all health in the new year.

December 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJJG

@Marie; Great column again. You got one thing wrong about Mr. Brooks place in Galt's heaven. He'll be honored guest on the menu when food runs a little short. Hum... Kobe Brooks, so ribboned with fat; so tender. Let's eat!

December 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJJG
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