It’s Monday, December 26: the day after Christmas and time to return those ugly gifts. It’s also the second day of Coynezaa and National Candy Cane Day. Here’s how they make them:
Below: these are the best candy canes, which are not hard, like the regular ones, but have a softer, toothy texture and a great flavor. You can buy them at Amazon. The King Leo store, an old Southern tradition (since 1901), is here.
It’s also National Whiner’s Day, Boxing Day in the UK, Mauro Hamza Day in Houston, Texas, Mummer’s Day in Padstow, Cornwall, the first day of Kwanzaa, celebrated until January 1 (United States; note that this is NOT “Coynezaa”), the first day of Junkanoo street parade in the Bahamas (the second day of Junkanoo is on the New Year’s Day), Wren Day in Ireland and the Isle of Man, and the second day of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Western Christianity).
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the December 26 Wikipedia page.
*The Taiban in Afghanistan have not only barred women from secondary and university education, but have now stopped them from working for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This is, I think, part of a Taliban religiously based strategy to prevent women from working in any jobs. But they shot themselves in the foot this time:
Four major international aid groups on Sunday suspended their operations in Afghanistan following a decision by the country’s Taliban rulers to ban women from working at non-governmental organizations.
Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council and CARE said they cannot effectively reach children, women and men in desperate need in Afghanistan without the women in their workforces. The NGO ban was introduced a day earlier, allegedly because women weren’t wearing the Islamic headscarf correctly.
The four NGOs are providing healthcare, education, child protection and nutrition services and support amid plummeting humanitarian conditions.
“We have complied with all cultural norms and we simply can’t work without our dedicated female staff, who are essential for us to access women who are in desperate need of assistance,” Neil Turner, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s chief for Afghanistan, told The Associated Press on Sunday. He said the group has 468 female staff in the country.
This is, of course, coming on the heels of the oppression of women barred from getting an education. Now a lot of suffering Afghanis can’t get help, either. I blame the Taliban and Islam, on this dire state of affairs, as it would not be happening in a secular state.
*Once again Tish Harrison Warren, an Anglican priest fills the op-ed pages of the NYT with Christian theology, all somehow excused by telling us “Christians believe that. . . ” (i.e. what SHE believes), swaddled in a warm blanket of sympathy. This week’s sermon, called “Having a Hard Christmas? Jesus did, too,” includes these inspiring words.
Christians believe that, unlike my father, Jesus was not simply a human messenger visiting us in our suffering. He was God-made flesh, “infinity dwindled to infancy,” as the 19th-century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote. The Christmas story tells us that therefore Emmanuel — which means “God with us” in Hebrew — is in fact with us in the whole of our actual lives, in our celebration and merrymaking, in our mundane days, and in sickness, sorrows, doubts, failures and disappointments.
Christians believe that because God himself entered humanity, humanity is being transformed even as we speak. Because God took on a human body, all human bodies are holy and worthy of respect. Because God worked, sweating under our sun with difficulty and toil, all human labor can be hallowed. Because God had a human family and friends, our relationships too are eternal and sacred. If God became a human who spent most of his life in quotidian ways, then all of our lives, in all of their granularity, are transformed into the site of God’s surprising presence.
. . . I believe that this baby born in Bethlehem is the mystery our hearts keep chasing, the end of our all quests and the longing we cannot shake.
What was the sweating God trying to say?
Well, frankly, I don’t give a rat’s patootie “what Christians believe.” If Jesus didn’t exist, would human relationships lose their preciousness? (And does Warren think that Jewish bodies aren’t “worthy of respect, or their friendships not as precious as those of Christians?) And what about those Hindus, Jews, and Muslims. Didn’t Jesus say, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”? I await Rev. Warren’s answer about what she (i.e., “all Christians”) believes about that. Either the Bible is wrong, and accepting Jesus isn’t the route to heaven, or many of us are damned.
*A piece in Quillette by Jonathan Kay shows that although the James Webb Telescope’s name is now fixed, after claims that he was a homophobe and fired gay people at the government’s behest were proven wrong. (This was detailed in a recent NYT piece.) That didn’t stop the haters (and yes, they’re haters) from making up assertions that one of the man who cleared Webb, Hakeem Oluseyi (former headacted of science education at NASA and now president of the National Society of Black Physicists) was guilty of sexual harassment in a previous university job. That, too was unsubstantiated.
But once the woke have determined to end someone’s career, they never give up. Kay shows that, leading the continuing campaign against Webb (which has now morphed into a campaign against Oluseyi) is Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, an assistant professor of physics at the University of New Hampshiire.
I would urge everyone to read Oluseyi’s report for themselves—as it provides an absolute master-class in how a dedicated, intellectually curious person, acting in good faith, can debunk the received wisdom of an entire online subculture. By his own account, Oluseyi had few allies in his fact-finding mission, because denouncing Webb was seen as the ideologically fashionable thing to do.
Leading the charge against Webb (and now Oluseyi) is Prescod-Weinstein, who also lead author of an article in Scientific American calling for the renaming of the Webb as the man “acquiesced to homophobia”.
The first listed author in that Scientific American piece, it’s worth noting, is Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a University of New Hampshire theoretical cosmologist and book author. Through articles such as Science Shouldn’t Come at the Expense of Black Lives, and Making Black Women Scientists under White Empiricism: The Racialization of Epistemology in Physics, Prescod-Weinstein has built a brand as a vocal and implacable advocate for social justice in STEM. She casts her campaign against Webb in religious terms, telling Powell, “this is about who we canonize and who are our real saints … We can’t just exonerate a dead white guy [Webb] who was in the thick of a repressive government.”
. . . By way of response to Oluseyi’s report, Prescod-Weinsteintweeted a lengthy thread in which she accused him of “writing poorly researched articles that are basically hit pieces on me, and I am fucking tired,” while also cryptically suggesting that the issue was somehow related to a “procedural disagreement” that the pair once had at a 2011 National Society of Black Physicists “business meeting” (a disagreement she subsequently described as being related to a “Hitler-was-a-good-guy joke” that someone had apparently told). She also claimed that Oluseyi “doesn’t like me very much”; that “I have had [Oluseyi] blocked on twitter for a couple of years”; and that Oluseyi was “justify[ing] historic homophobia.” Meanwhile, [science writer Matthew] Francis is promising his readers that he “will not be writing about JWST [the James Webb Space Telescope] or its science,” as “NASA destroyed any enthusiasm I had for this telescope.”
In her Substack response to Powell, Prescod-Weinstein argued that her naysayers’ motives should be situated within what she describes as the misogynistic culture of the organization that Oluseyi now leads—the National Society of Black Physicists. In this vein, Prescod-Weinstein offered a long list of accusations, including that she “was sexually assaulted at NSBP meetings twice.” That’s an extremely serious claim to make, though Prescod-Weinstein provided no further details about the alleged assailants or the circumstances in which their alleged crimes were committed.
As for Michael Powell, thereporter who put this controversy on the front page of the New York Times, Prescod-Weinstein claims that “since I started writing about my experience with this yesterday, multiple people have reached out to me to share stories of Powell’s inappropriate handling of stories and interviews.”
It’s time for Prescod-Weinstein to lay off, apologize to those she’s defamed, and move on But she’s constitutionally incapable of that. In addition, she’s rendered herself immune to criticism by emphasizing her quadruple victim status (black, gay, Jewish, female) and characterizing anything well known who criticizes her as “punching down.” This is while she’s trying to destroy careers and reputations. The woman is a hater: the very thing she claims to attack.
*When Dave Barry’s at his best, he is really funny. He’s on show in the Washington Post with his “2022 Year in Review“.
And there were other positive developments in 2022:
— Millions of Americans on social media realized — it took them a while, but they finally got there — that nobody wants to know how they did on “Wordle.”
— For the 13th consecutive year, the New York Yankees failed to even get into the World Series.
— Best of all, the looming apocalyptic threat of catastrophic global climate change was finally eliminated thanks to the breakthrough discovery that the solution — it has been staring us in the face all this time — was to throw food at art.
… Will Smith slaps Chris Rock during the Oscars and is arrested for assault.
No, that’s what would happen to a noncelebrity such as yourself. Will Smith, on the other hand, sits back down and shortly thereafter receives an Oscar and a standing ovation. This incident results in a massive outpouring of media think pieces from media thinkers pondering the significance of The Slap. This story dominates the news for days, receiving far more coverage than the war in Ukraine, which is still going on but which unfortunately, from a public relations standpoint, does not involve any American celebrities.
*It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of the few Christmas movies I can stand; in fact, it’s an excellent movie regardless of the season. And it’s wildly popular. Yet, as the WSJ relates, its success is a quirk. At the time it was made, movies were copyrighted for 28 years, and copyrights could be renewed for another 28 years just by filling out paperwork. But the movie, made in 1946, it was a big flop, and the studio didn’t renew the copyright.
It was after the movie fell into the public domain in 1974 that the movie took off, and anybody could show it for free. (Movies now are copyrighted for at least 95 years.) “Bert, do you know me?”:
It’s around this time of the year when Americans return to a certain black-and-white film released in 1946. The demand for “It’s a Wonderful Life” on streaming platforms and linear networks over the past four holiday seasons was 11 times greater than the average movie, according to the research firm Parrot Analytics. It’s easily the oldest title in Parrot’s top 10 and right up there with “Home Alone” among the Christmas movies we can’t stop watching.
That is odd for many reasons. For one thing, it’s not exactly “Elf.” It was a dark movie about a financially devastated businessman who meets a guardian angel and peeks at a world in which he never existed. It was also a disappointment. This was a film by a legendary director featuring the postwar comeback of a huge star, and the publicity blitz included the cover of Newsweek and a Life magazine spread. But it fizzled at the box office. “It’s a Wonderful Life” actually lost money, according to film historian Richard B. Jewell, before eventually fading into obscurity.
It would take nearly three decades for it to be saved by a Hollywood miracle.
. . .The unplanned series of events behind the film’s second life wouldn’t have unfolded in the same way today. Movies are now protected for at least 95 years, no matter how many people might forget about them. Meanwhile, a studio began enforcing some of the old copyrights associated with “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the 1990s, based on a Supreme Court decision that rewrote the rules slightly. These days, it’s broadcast on NBC but isn’t available on every streamer.
But two decades in the public domain turned out to be long enough for a movie that was on its way to being ignored forever to become memorable. The renaissance was such a fluke of randomness that the person responsible for “It’s a Wonderful Life” couldn’t even take the credit. He knew better than anyone how a Christmas movie could be a testament to the value of chance.
“I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president,” Capra said. “I’m proud as hell, but it’s the kid who did the work.”
George comes back to real life:
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is chillin’:
A: What are you doing here?Hili: I’m observing the passing of time.
Ja: Co tu robisz?Hili: Obserwuję przemijanie czasu.
A SNL video from Jean: “Christmastime fr the Jews”:
From Science Humor on FB:
Santa makes a mistake and shows up in a Jewish home. But they forgot to offer him rugelach!
From reader David:
A tweet from God (his header at Mastadon says, “No, I will not now be “TheTootOfGod”. I’ve built too much brand equity.” His take on Christmas:
An interview with Masih, who details what crimes are being used to execute Iranian protestors:
“Waging war against God”
& “Corruption the earth”.
These are the crimes young protesters in Iran are charged with and get executed these days.
Iranian regime sees itself as representative of the God on earth.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) December 25, 2022
Dawkins calls attention to new findings, based on “fossil DNA”, highlighting a CNN article listing seven intriguing new results. Here’s one:
The Black Death, the world’s most devastating plague outbreak, killed half of medieval Europe’s population in the space of seven years in the 14th century, shifting the course of human history.
But research published in October suggested it was more than luck that determined who lived and who died. Analysis of centuries-old DNA from both victims and survivors of the Black Death identified key genetic differences that helped people survive the plague, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
Interesting miscellany of ancient DNA findings this year.https://t.co/LiBe2V0RWm
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) December 25, 2022
From Barry: A camera trap captures a rare Amur tiger.
An Amur tiger of the Russian Far East, caught on camera trap. Sent to me by my friend and hero, conservationist Victor Lukarevski, who continues to fight tirelessly for nature as we go about our daily lives.
Wishing you all a peaceful and restful festive season tweeps.
— Liz Bonnin 💙 (@lizbonnin) December 23, 2022
From the Auschwitz Memorial: an eight-year-old girl gassed upon arrival:
26 December 1933 | A French Jewish girl, Hélène Pokoïk, was born in Paris.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) December 26, 2022
Tweets from Matthew. First: being the center of the Dinner Circle:
merry catmas pic.twitter.com/Q8tRuriKwW
— Dont Show Your Cat (@DontShowYourCat) December 25, 2022
It's the most wonderful time of the year. pic.twitter.com/od8BjxDPxP
— Paul Bronks (@SlenderSherbet) December 25, 2022
Some light in Ukraine, even if it illuminates a church:
What an inspiring moment — despite the blackouts, Kyiv has illuminated St. Sophia’s Cathedral tonight for Christmas Eve. pic.twitter.com/HFhRgxkDsB
— Nolan Peterson (@nolanwpeterson) December 24, 2022