Monthly Archives: December 2015

Happy Holidays and Hopes for a Peaceful New Year

I just returned from serving as an usher and candlelighter at the three Christmas Eve services at the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Society of Burlington. The first was at 4 in the afternoon and was the unrehearsed Nativity Play that is put on every year with the assistance of the Director of Religious Education as the Master of Ceremonies. She would read part of the story and then call for volunteers for the important parts. As this is the children’s service, there are plenty of volunteers, with many antics to show they are the correct ones to be picked to be Wise Men or shepherds or sheep. This is an acquired pleasure. The first time I saw it, I watched in horror as squealing children seemed to run around with no guidance, making a mess of the Sanctuary and vocalizing some brutal highs.

Now I watch in amusement and amazement at the controlled chaos, the interruption of traditional Christmas carols coming as a new group of characters gets attired in the front of the vast room. I watch with wonder as the Director manages to get in most of the students there from the RE program as well as the few new faces of Christmas guests. Two of the new faces this year were the sweetest little girls, done up fancy and dressier than is common for our little spot of the world, hair nicely coiffed, and prim manners on display until they finally raised their hands to play. They were included and their delight was apparent in their running to get their costumes. The nativity story is played out in all its detail with stars and angels, Mary and Joseph, sheep and shepherds, wise men and others bringing gifts.

After the excitement of the children’s service, the staid middle service, starting at 6 pm and the most crowded one, seems almost placid. Lots of carols, candles lit for “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and the lights extinguished. A wonderful homily by our Interim Minister, while our regular one is home with her newborn son, Cassidy. Trying to get them all out at the end of the service was difficult logistically, but the joy and togetherness on all but the youngest of faces was enough to get us through the bottleneck.

The last service at 8 pm, it was clear that the choir and the minister were getting a little tired, although someone who had not been to the prior services would not have noticed. My legs were aching a little (it’s hard squatting at every row to light the candle of the person in the aisle seat! for three services!) and my throat was a little parched by all the singing. But the joy remained, the feeling of fellowship, warmth and love filling the hall with lightness. We  were all family, and it was worth it to feel the hope for peace and justice in the coming year.

I have all this extra good will and joy, and so I am sending it out on the internet to grace as many people as can be graced. May you all have love and joy in your lives, and peace on this poor earth. The new year is around the corner. Make it the best one yet!

What If We All Behaved In Real Life Like We Behaved Online?

The Irish Wit has again shown truth to the world!

Tara Sparling writes

Sometimes I feel like I’m very harsh on authors for merely doing the same things everyone else does. Granted, sometimes it’s deserved, for being too pushy, or rolling out marketing techniques that were last employed by the Stasi or the KGB. Earlier this year, I did a pillory piece on authors who are so pushy that they end up alienating potential readers; set at a hypotheticalparty, with the reader as a bewildered guest. However, it’s not fair to point the finger of ire and bile towards authors alone. Therefore, inspired by this post, I would like now to expand the theory somewhat.

What if everyone behaved in real life like they behaved online?

What If We All Behaved In Real Life Like We Behaved Online?

Imagine you are walking down a busy city street. It is early morning. You enter a café to purchase a hot beverage. The barista hands you your cup.

You: I like your coffee.

Barista: Thanks. That’ll be…

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Bernie and the MSM

As you may know, I support Bernie Sanders in the primaries and caucuses that start in January. CBS recently produced a graphic that exemplifies the treatment Bernie receives at the hands of the mainstream media. The Harvard Institute of Politics recently did a study of millennials and their positions with regard to the upcoming elections. The numbers in the Harvard study were quite clear that Bernie leads Clinton, 41% to 35%. So why did CBS create a graphic showing that Clinton led Bernie by 41% to 35%? Try to find the graphic now, two or three days after it appeared, and you probably won’t be successful. But many local CBS channels are posting a correction on their Facebook pages or their home web pages. And some of them are removing the correction, and posting instead a correct graphic. But here it is as posted to Facebook as  a screenshot thanks to an astute viewer.

Now my first thought on seeing the graphic on TV on CBS was that it was an odd result. So I went to the site of the Harvard study and found that the graphic was incorrect. I returned to CBS and saw the graphic a few more times, and then it stopped. It still exists on Facebook at the link above. Think about how an image like this gets onto a major network. Think of the various editors and fact checkers who are employed specifically for this function. And ask yourself how this could slip through in error. If you come to the same conclusion that I have, you will realize that this was no error. This was allowed to air to give a false impression of Clinton’s strength, to discourage Bernie supporters and to suppress the likelihood that millennials will feel empowered by the Sanders campaign.

A number of newspapers and pundits have questioned Bernie’s recent attacks on the mainstream media. ABC last month gave 81 minutes to Trump and one minute to Bernie. Are Bernie’s attacks unwarranted in light of that statistic and CBS’s perfidy? I needn’t tell the world about the nonstop reporting of Trump’s idiocies and the frequent reference to Hillary Clinton as the presumptive democratic nominee. Listening to the mainstream media, one could be excused for believing that no one was challenging Clinton.

Bernie supporters have assumed that the media’s neglect of him was initially because he was given no chance of success. Once he started drawing large crowds in the summer, there was certainly evidence that his campaign has staying power. After the first two debates, though the pundits claimed Clinton won both, internet and nonaligned polls all suggested that Bernie had won both.

Bernie wins the Google race. He wins the internet. And where do you think most millennials get their news? Certainly not from the mainstream media! I suspect egg on the face of many of the pundits and their media partners when Bernie wins both Iowa and New Hampshire. I will apologize if he doesn’t win both of them. But I bet you’ll never hear it!

Trump, the Idiot

I am not alone in finding the rants and idiocies of Donald Trump offensive and unAmerican. I will chime in for a short period, but much has already been said that doesn’t need to be repeated.

First, has he ever read the Constitution? Does he understand that the oath of office for the presidency requires dedication and adherence to the terms of that document? Does he understand that freedom of religion is the first right in the Bill of Rights? His idea to ban Muslims, even American citizen Muslims who travel abroad, from entry to the this country is purely and simply unconstitutional. And it smacks of Nazi Germany, Hitler, and all those other memes that get flaunted to easily in the hyperventilation of discourse in this country. But here it’s apt. There may not be a gold star on coats to identify the unwanted ones, but his ideas are as toxic as the Nazi scheme for extermination of the Jews.

Second, his claim that FDR did something as bad when he interned Japanese Americans and others during the second world war is amazing. If there is one official act, other than slavery, of the US government that is now uniformly condemned, it is the internment of citizens of this country because of their country of origin during a time of war. We did something nearly as bad after 9/11 with the Patriot Act, but we’re too close to it to see how insane that particular piece of legislation is. Wikileaks and Edward Snowden have shown us precisely how unAmerican the US government has been in implementing that act.

The dog whistles in Trump’s speeches have been noted before by the pundits as worrisome. What has now happened is much worse than that. What Trump has said actually helps Daesh (the so-called Islamic State) in its war of terror against Islam and the rest of the world. It confirms what Daesh has been claiming from the beginning, that the western world is anti-Islam. Trump’s most recent tone-deaf blatherings are in fact anti-Islam, and he is the leading contender for the Republican nomination for president. The world is listening in horror to him. His pandering to a small segment of the Republican right was acceptable, if appalling, when his words didn’t affect foreign affairs. Now he has gone too far.

I suggest that Trump’s current actions amount to treason. Legally, treason has been committed when one gives “aid and comfort” to an enemy. We are, heaven forfend, in a war against terror, and Daesh is our current target of choice. While Trump may not have been trying to comfort Daesh, he certainly aided it by proving that some Americans at least intend to enact laws that are anti-Islam. No one in a position of authority is likely to say that Trump has committed treason by interfering with the war we are waging against terror because no one wants to arrest him and antagonize a specific segment of the population whose care for the constitution has been suspect for some time.

No one has the balls to do anything about it except act appalled and upset. It’s a shame, and I don’t particularly want to give aid and comfort to the Republicans, but the arrest of Trump for treason would go a long way to obliterate the harm he has done. It would also save the Republicans from themselves, but that can’t be helped. Enough, already, with the complaints. Act, damnit!