Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah 2016

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Some positive stories to share, because we need positive stuff and hope at this time.

From NPR’s Goats and Soda blog, on stories on global health and development: An Ebola vaccine that might be safe and effective? That’s really good news! Hope this does work out well!

Also from Goats and Soda: 9 Feel-Good Stories from 2016.

An interesting profile on the new Cardinal of the Newark Archdiocese, in the NY Times.  The new Cardinal Tobin sounds humble and compassionate; here’s hoping that this will bring new hope to Newark.

At NPR: A Christmas story, indeed: a London restaurant to serve the elderly and homeless for free on Christmas, so that no one has to be alone on Christmas.

If it’s on PBS, it must be true: there’s a grain of truth to the idea that reindeers’ noses glow red (from Nature, on PBS, via tumblr).  Even if it’s not all true, it’s still nice to imagine, even if in infrared.

A NY Times article on the (crazy) lights of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. I haven’t checked them out in years (at some point, they got very over the top and concocted for me, and anyway, I don’t hang out in Dyker Heights), but I’m sometimes amazed by how people make this into a tourist thing now.  Anyway, Gothamist had photos of what they thought were the best of the Dyker Heights lights for this year.

According to Gothamist: New York Public Library is putting on display its copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which he annotated and used for his public readings.  The exhibit, “A Writer’s Christmas: Dickens and More,” is going on until January 8, 2017, at the Stephen A. Shwarzman Building.

About two weeks ago, I saw “The Hard Nut” at Brooklyn Academy of Music.  It got me in the right holiday mood, I have to say. I never quite get my (entirely secular) Christmas unless I get a Nutcracker fix.  Here is a video of the BAM TV spot from last year:

NY Times dance critic Alistair Macauley analyzes one of the party dance scenes of “The Hard Nut” in the NY Times earlier this month.

I’m pretty sure that I shared this on Triscribe; I know that I shared this on Facebook, but I’m too lazy to check. Anyway, here it is again:

I’m a sucker for a capella, but this is just great: over at NPR, presenting the Maccabeats’ parody mashup of “Hamilton,” with the Hanukkah story. A bad king (or some kind of oppressor); war; and history. Toss in a miracle. Serve. (the Maccabeats were/are a Yeshiva University group – their other Hanukkah video from last year is also pretty good too).

I apparently shared this previously on Facebook, but I can’t locate it (and I’m too lazy). The Maccabeats’ other memorable Hanukkah video, from 2012. (the NPR segment about here).

Oh, and a parody “Hamidolph” – Rudolph meets Hamilton, in a cappella by Eclipse 6.

The link to my post from last year on triscribe.

And this 2014 post included links to prior Christmas posts on triscribe.

Eventually, there’s the usual wall-to-wall Christmas NBA basketball on tv, and the return of Doctor Who, who might not have such an emotionally embroiled Christmas this time?  (the last two Christmas specials were heartrending – reminding of us of time running on us, but still giving us hope).

Happy holidays! Stay tuned for possibly another post as a year end thing.

Chicago Cubs Won the World Series!

It has happened: after midnight of November 3, 2016, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series!  They did it – they finally did it, after a 108 year drought. That Game 7 was insanely ridiculous – an extra inning, and a rain delay!   The world as we know it has changed; just please don’t let the world go completely crazy and don’t make it the end of the world… btw, and nice fight, Cleveland Indians.

The World Series was a nice distraction from Election Day madness.

So, it turns out that there was a reason why we didn’t vote on November 1, the actual first Tuesday of November:  we don’t vote when the first November Tuesday lands on November 1 apparently as a religious accommodation to those who observe All Saints Day.  I liked the explanation from NPR’s Domenico Mantanaro: convenience due to a 19th century agrarian society, religious accommodation, business-related reasons, and politics.  It always goes back to politics.

Ok, staying away from more politics. On to looking for more distractions… New York City Marathon and getting an hour back.  Enjoy the week!

Happy Halloween 2016!

Happy Halloween! (or for some of us: National Novel Writing Month Eve!). May you have the sincerest pumpkin patch! (to quote Linus, from Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comics).

Let me get on the soap box for a moment: as we get closer to Election Day, please do not forget to vote. I’ll point to the ABA’s site on Vote Your Voice. This election season has been horrific, but this does not mean that you do not have a civic responsibility. The system is only as “rigged” as it is because we the people don’t take responsibility to do what’s right.

By the way, that doesn’t mean that you get to vote twice, as with this bizarre story, reported over at Slate about how this lady allegedly voted twice out of fear that her vote was going to be counted for Hillary Clinton. She was so afraid that the system was “rigged,” she self-fulfilled a prophecy by voting twice and rigged the system herself because she was NOT supposed to vote twice.

Fear is speculative; don’t make  a bad situation worse. Sigh. This would be funny if it wasn’t stupid, assuming this story is even true at all (I’m hoping it isn’t, but…?)

So, yeah, spooky Halloween all right.

The latest late October revelation about Clinton e-mails, with its knowns and unknowns, is something that Hollywood couldn’t have written (I think so, anyway, but what do I know?).  I’m disappointed in Americans (the so-called undecideds, anyway) for taking this out on Hillary, when there are too many unknowns about this. Otherwise, let the FBI figure this out, you know, with a warrant. Figure out facts, not speculation, of which there’s too much. I don’t want to hold it against FBI Director James Comey (I’m glad that I don’t have his job).

But, (a) this is NOT Watergate; (b) you can’t tell me that voting for a Republican candidate who can’t even be honest about his basic charitable giving, or how he treats women, is somehow “better.” And, (c) focus on having a Congress that does its job. Don’t get distracted and don’t let this stop you from voting.

(as a sidenote: even John W. Dean in today’s NY Times says that the Clinton e-mail situation is not comparable to Watergate, and he ought to know, having been the former White House counsel involved at the time!).

Frankly, I don’t know what people are thinking. Nothing seems to matter anymore – not that the Republican candidate probably treated women terribly and lied about his charitable donations (as in, he gave far less than he exaggerated about giving). Slate’s Jamelle Bouie said it this way, which I’m very sympathetic:

The folk theory of American democracy is that citizens deliberate on the issues and choose a candidate. That is false. The truth is […] that that voters are tribalistic. Their political allegiances come first, and their positions and beliefs follow. [….] When it comes to elections—or at least, presidential elections—this leads to an important conclusion: What a candidate believes is less important to voters than his or her partisan affiliation. [….] Simply having the nomination is sufficient to put anyone in firing distance of becoming president, regardless of larger circumstances or events or personality deficiencies. There are still battles to fight, but they happen on the margins and involve a small share of voters. This polarization is so strong, in fact, that it renders the gaffes and incidents of recent elections almost irrelevant.

So, as much as I’d like to think that people would deliberate (as in, think rationally), they probably won’t. Facts? Nah. Personally, I think it’s barely party affiliation, really, but I’ll concede to Bouie’s analysis that we’re in a pretty partisan condition at this point. So, maybe the e-mails won’t hurt Hillary as far as the election is concerned. But, they won’t help in the long run.

I wish people could just put aside the pettiness after Election Day and focus on proper governing. But, that’s probably wishful thinking on my part. The gridlock and do-nothing will probably continue and we’ll go to hell in a handbasket. Or maybe a miracle might happen.

After all, hey, Chicago Cubs won Game 5 yesterday, in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians, preventing the Indians from winning the World Series at Wrigley Field. Who knows what can happen? I’d rather have nice distractions than post-apocalyptic scenarios, though.

Meanwhile, here’s hoping that this crazy election season mobilizes Latinos and Asian Pacific Americans to be engaged. AALDEF will poll APA voting and watch out for problems.

First-time voters might feel a little disappointed, since this isn’t exactly an uplifting election, but there are still lots of reasons to vote, as this op-ed by Emma Roller over at the NY Times points out (I liked how the article quoted the people who do not take voting for granted). Here’s a thing: voting is disappointing; it can be exciting, but you don’t always get what you want. Plus, after voting comes governing – and nothing is easy. Don’t take anything for granted. But, hey: breathe!

BTW, I found this fascinating profile on Ronny Chieng, the Daily Show’s correspondent, on his take on becoming more engaged as an Asian in America, after he did his takedown of the offensive FOX News man-on-the-street bit in Chinatown. (Chieng was a law student in Australia before he went to comedy; apparently, there really is a path other than the law). (h/t Museum of Chinese in America (MoCA)‘s post on its Facebook page).

In the meantime, FC and family are in California. And the NAPABA Convention 2016 is in San Diego this week (so… stay tuned: I might wind up posting a “Not in San Diego” post the next couple of days).