Category Archives: Winter Solstice

Hot Air

Let There Be Light

Hallelujah!

Winter solstice zips in tonight at 11:49pm in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States.

danilo_pivato_solstice-590x255

Winter Solstice Sequence

[Image: Danilo Pivato]

The days, after that moment, will become longer, brighter, and more amenable to my overall mental health.

Yay.

Talking Headless

It is important not just to shoot, but to aim.

That’s the advice Barack Obama would give his successor regarding how to kick the crap out of ISIS. He was talking with NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep in the public radio network’s annual end-of-the-year chat with the boss of this holy land.

It’s vintage Obama — measured, considered, sober, calm.

As opposed to, say Sen Ted Cruz, the foreign-born pretender to the throne who not long ago told the same interviewer that Murrica oughtta “carpet bomb” ISIS.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.22.51 AM

Carpet Bomber Cruz

That’s something your idiot, uninformed brother-in-law would say in the midst of a holiday meal pontification. What’s scary, natch, is the fact that Cruz is a valid contender for the 2016 Republican nomination for president.

Cruz tried to justify his remark by saying this country has dropped more and bigger bombs many a time before so why in the world aren’t we doing so now?

Do we really have to answer that? Okay, let’s say we must. The reason we dropped more and bigger bombs in other wars was because we were trying to destroy an enemy’s war-making capabilities, its factories, its railroads, its air bases, its military installations and key infrastructure sites. None of which ISIS really possesses. What Cruz doesn’t grasp is, ISIS is a marauding band of lunatics invading semi-urbanized, semi-permanent outposts, terrorizing frightened tribal groups, and imposing its will mainly through the use of scimitars and other medieval tools of war. Obama said earlier in his interview, “Well, who is it you are going to bomb? Where is it that you are going to bomb?”

But what Obama doesn’t understand is Cruz’s blatherings resonate more with the American people than his own rational utterances. The vast majority of citizens herein want the bold, decisive, action-oriented palaver of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump more than the aforementioned measured, considered, sober, calm reasonings of Obama.

I don’t suggest that Obama start word-vomiting à la Cruz, Trump et al. I do insist he begin talking more to the limbic brain of the American electorate. Be more of a cheerleader, Barack. Tell us you’re gonna stand on your head to beat ISIS. Reassure us that we’re the biggest, strongest, baddest-assed nation on Earth. We want to hear it. It doesn’t matter if it’s all bullshit. We want the bullshit.

We have no interest in wonk-think. Obama can continue to be the policy wonk behind closed doors. He should be. He must be. But when he’s addressing Murrica, he’s got to be more Ronald Reagan than the University of Chicago senior lecturer he once was.

You’ll pardon me while I go drink my depression away now.

Vox Pop

So, Bob Zaltsberg and the brain trust over at the Herald Times have decided to suspend public comment on stories during the holiday season.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.12.08 AM

H-T Chief Zaltsberg

Hmm.

I can’t figure out why readers’ sensibilities might be more fragile during this two-week period than any other. Zaltsberg writes that he and other gatekeepers have had to delete a few dozen comments in recent weeks because the commenters violated the paper’s civility policy.

Me, I’d leave even the most egregious, insulting, offensive stuff in — with the proviso that everybody who comments use their real names. I like the idea of knowing who the haters and flamboyant ignoramuses are in our town.

Cosmic Comedy

The contestants from Uranus, the Andromeda Galaxy, and Kepler 452b protest.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.07.04 AM

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“This preposterous idea, that things must pay their way or be dispensed with, is perhaps the most intractable legacy of the Thatcher years, so much so that it has become received wisdom even among many liberals. But when you think about it even for a nanosecond, it is perfectly obvious that most worthwhile things don’t begin to pay for themselves. If you followed this absurd logic any distance at all, you would have to get rid of traffic lights, schools, drains, national parks, museums, universities, old people and much else besides.” — Bill Bryson

Author Bill Bryson & Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

CREEPY, SPOOKIE, ALTOGETHER OOKIE

Cartoonist Charles Addams was born on this day in 1912 (h/t to Google). His work graced the pages of The New Yorker magazine for many years. His fictional “Addams Family” eventually became the eponymous sitcom.

Well, fictional to an extent. It’s said both his wives looked uncannily like Morticia Addams. And by the way, if you’re making a list of very hot female sitcom stars, Carolyn Jones as Morticia has to rank at least in the top five.

Gomez And Morticia

SPEAKING OF GHOULISH WOMEN

Back to Maggie Thatcher. Is it my imagination or is her image is being remade these days, thanks in part to that new movie, “The Iron Lady,” starring Meryl Streep?

All of a sudden it seems Thatcher is being repositioned as a great icon in the history of the advancement of women. Never mind that she rose to the top employing all the mannish characteristics that have pushed the world to the brink of catastrophe time and again. She was stubborn, insensitive, bellicose, nationalistic, and smug. She cared far more for an economic philosophy than for trivial things like human beings.

When she pushed her country to go to war for some godforsaken piece of rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I observed that she was merely trying to show the world that her dick was as big as any man’s.

In fact, there’s a scene in the movie dealing with the lead-up to the Falklands War. The character playing US Secretary of State Alexander Haig, himself a former Army general, cautions her against being so gung-ho about sending battleships full of soldiers to fight over the little islands.

Thatcher: “We will stand on principle or we will not stand at all.”

Hiag: “But Margaret, with all due respect, when one has been to war….”

Thatcher (interrupting): “With all due respect sir, I have been to battle every single day of my life. And many men have underestimated me before!”

Need I mention that there’s a huge difference between breaking the glass ceiling and a “principle” which cost 907 lives, 1843 wounded, 11,428 taken prisoner, a cruiser, 2 destroyers, a submarine, two frigates, four cargo vessels, a half dozen other sea craft and 75 aircraft?

By the way, British warships and submarines that were part of the expeditionary fleet were armed with tactical nuclear weapons, just in case, I suppose, the Argentinians failed to grasp Thatcher’s “principle.”

Argentine Dead After The Battle Of Goose Green

OCCUPY UPDATE

As of last night, one woman remained in People’s Park, refusing to leave despite Mayor Mark Kruzan’s eviction order. She’d chained her tent to a tree and stayed inside, refusing to come out when city workers descended on the scene to clear away any personal belongings that were left by the protesters.

Apparently, the city is not going to force her to leave just yet. Officials are hoping to avoid an unpleasant scene.

City officials lauded the Occupiers for the most part, saying many of them helped city crews clean up the park.

Now Bloomington police will again enforce the regular 11:00pm-5:00am park curfew.

And yesterday, Josh Johnson was was arraigned before Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff. He’d been arrested during the New Year’s Eve Dance Party disturbance Saturday night and Sunday morning. He was charged with two felony counts of resisting arrest with injury to a police officer.

SNICKERS

Ranker.com today presents a list of the best candy ever made. Snickers is ranked number one.

I have absolutely no quarrel with that.

SUNRISE, SUNSET

Finding it difficult to wake up in the morning these days? It may be because these days have the latest sunrises of the year, according to Earthsky.org.

The science site explains why the late sunrises in the Northern Hemisphere and the concurrent late sunsets in the Southern do not coincide with the solstice (which, in 2011, was December 21st.)

WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT PEACE, LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING?

Elvis Costello once said he couldn’t wait for Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral so he could dance on her grave.

The Pencil Today:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“How did it get late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness, how the time has flewn. How did it get late so soon?” — Dr. Seuss

MORNING BECOMES NIGHT

Yep, I’m late with my post today. Sue me.

OH, THOSE WACKY PAGANS!

Happy Winter Solstice!

The Shortest Day At Stonehenge

LET’S GO HALVSIES

Conventional wisdom has it that Congress isn’t working. It’s broke.

Pundits, wags, and the guy behind you in the grocery checkout line all agree — our men and women in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate can’t compromise, can’t work together, and flat out can’t effectively legislate anymore.

Only a fool would say otherwise.

Call me a fool.

Maybe — just maybe — Congress for the first time in generations is actually representing the people.

The Representative Of Our Dreams

I know this sounds crazy coming from a guy who firmly believes far too many of our politicians are in thrall to huge corporate interests and the bushels-full of cash wealthy campaign donors throw at them.

That’s still all true. But, strangely, I believe a bothersome percentage of the citizenry also buys into the thought processes and philosophies of plutocrats, robber barons, hyper-capitalists and other frightening creatures.

I’m not happy about it. I wish all people would understand that the interests of transnational corporations and Midas-rich individuals are at best not their interests and at worst — and far too often — exactly opposite our needs.

Gold-Leaf Toilet Paper

But that would take education, calm discussion, and rational discourse — none of which is terribly thrilling to a huge swath of residents of this holy land.

So, they believe unfettered capitalism equals freedom and that the market is protected by some mystical, god-like invisible hand. And that the rich are just like us. It’s this nation’s semi-official religion.

And, as I do whenever I pontificate about religion, I call bullshit.

Nevertheless, the vicars of Adam Smith and Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan are still among us, muttering incantations and sprinkling holy water on us in the form of grudgingly dispensed tax holidays and insufficient incentives.

We’re a species that needs to believe even (or, especially?) when the belief is based on nothing.

A Lot Of Us Actually Do Want A Solid Gold Toilet

So, if half of us believe in economic ghosts and I think they’re as wrong as flat-earthers, that half is still out there and they vote. And their guys are in office.

Those guys used to be called, simply, Republicans. What depresses me is that a pile of Democrats are buying into that religion now, too.

Sure, there’s talk of the 1 percent and the 99 percent. Street protesters and my leftie friends say, How can anybody defend the 1 percent?

Easy, I say. The religion of these Great United States, Inc. holds that any of us can become part of the 1 percent, if only we work hard enough, are crafty enough, and ignore messy government regulations enough.

If only.

Now, back to Congress.Why does it seem to be stuck?

Can it be that at this moment in history half of us buy into the prevailing economic religion and half of us don’t?

That half of us want our fellow citizens to be self-sufficient and hard-working because that’s the magic formula for prosperity?

And that the other half think the deck is stacked against the little guy so we need to help people when they’re unemployed, when they’re sick, and even when they go to jail?

A Lazy Bum Or A Brother In Need?

That half of us are scared to death that we’re fouling our air, water, and land to such an extent that disaster is right around the corner? And the other half is just as scared that environmental protections will shatter the economy?

I can go on but you get the point. This is a weird era — call it the Era of the Two Halves. And Congress’s seeming inability to work is merely a reflection of the duality in our national consciousness.

A simple historical example. When Harold Washington was elected the first black mayor of Chicago, the city population was almost precisely divided into black and white.

Just about half of Chicagoans suffered the vapors when Washington was sworn in. The other half danced in the streets.

Dancing In The Streets

The city’s aldermen split similarly. Washington allies like Tim Evans and Bobby Rush bickered daily with the anti Washington bloc, led by Ed Vrdolyak and Ed Burke. I don’t think I need to identify any of these esteemed statesmen by color, do I?

Anyway, over the next four years, until Washington gorged himself into a fatal heart attack, the two sides of the City Council couldn’t get a thing done. The stalemate became a punchline. National politic wags snorted in derision.

My old pal, the comedian Aaron Freeman even created an entire act based on the city’s troubles. He called it Council Wars. He’d go on stage around the city and the country, telling the tale of Darth Vrdolyak battling Harold Skywalker.

Council Wars

The real funny thing was, it was the epitome of democracy. No matter that one side was at very least crypto-racist. That was a given.

Even if I completely disagree with the other guy’s side, if I’m a true democrat (small d) I have to accept his or her position. Believe me, I didn’t like it then as much as I don’t like it mow.

But it doesn’t really matter what I like or dislike in a democracy, does it?

In any case, as I said, Washington stuffed sandwiches into his mouth until his heart grew to the size of old Comiskey Park. On November 25, 1987, he dropped a pencil next to his desk during a meeting, bent over to pick it up, and his heart’s electrical system exploded. He was dead before the other people in the room started to wonder why he wasn’t sitting back up.

Only two years later, Richie Daley was elected mayor on the strength of a coalition of voters that was black and white. People forgot what Council Wars was all about. And now the city even has a Jewish mayor.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Stalemates never last. This one won’t either.

%d bloggers like this: