Christmas Eve 2012

Merry Christmas!  It’s that time wherein the folks at NORAD (that Cold War remnant) is on the lookout for Kris Kringle.

Santa Claus traveling via wormholes makes a heck of a lot more sense, though… (Science of Santa, via NPR).

If you’re reading this, you must have realized by now that the alleged Mayan Apocalypse, 12/21/12, did not happen (feel free to check out this interesting PBS NewsHour item on the subject), but hopefully it meant that people had an opportunity to think about the Mayans (and other doomsayers who really doomsaid and didn’t prognosticate correctly (like this item that I shared from FC on Facebook  – where the Economist discusses such doomsayers as… the prophet hen of Leeds, who thought the world was going to end in… 1806. Wonder what happened to her…).

David Stuart is the foremost expert on the Mayans (at least that Nova or Nat’l Geographic episode years ago made it seem that way), so he ought to know and did know what the Mayans might have meant; so, feel free to check out what he said on NPR about what he’d do to celebrate the new baktun: “‘I’ll be here in Austin that night,’ he said, ‘and probably raise a glass of wine to the end of the baktun, and the beginning of a new one.'”

What a nice way to think of the new cycle, whether it’s a multi-thousand year cycle like a baktun or a new year, and after all, remember that the Mayans were/are incredible people, until a lot of other bad other things happened. You know, have a teachable moment.

From the ABA Journal:

Just what we all need: a zombie law casebook. Hopefully answering such questions as “Are you legally responsible for destruction you cause because you have no brains/need brains/fighting those who want your brains?”; what about consequences arising from zombie apocalypse? Etc. Funny thing: I’m pretty sure most of “The Walking Dead” aren’t in the law (not talking about Rick or the Governor either, and yes, I have been watching “The Walking Dead” earlier this season).

ABA Journal on a lawyer with a llama sanctuary.  Seriously, where do they find these stories?  And the headline: “Shama Llama Ding Dong: Attorney Establishes Llama Sanctuary” –  I don’t know whether that’s cute or sad, or a ridiculous of both.

Meanwhile, we still have no hockey because of the NHL lockout, with no end in sight.  NY Rangers fans, as this nifty little post notes, should boo the hell out at NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, because the Rangers aren’t in pursuit of the Stanley Cup at this time of year and Bettman has no resolution to the lockout.

NY Giants are so pathetic, as one wonders whether they should even make the playoffs, as this post asks.  The inconsistency is truly sad, and the recent consistent badness – sigh…  But, at least they’re not the Jets, with copious amounts of quarterback controversy.

I never quite like a year’s in review in advance, since the year’s not over yet and then we’d miss such notable recent passings:

The passing of Dave Brubeck, jazz pianist.

The passing of US Senator  Daniel Inouye  (D. – Hawaii), 1st Japanese-American elected to both House & Senate, & World War II hero, an inspiration for all Americans and an Asian Pacific American pioneer.

(h/t: Angry Asian Man’s Facebook page – I had no idea that Sen. Inouye was into punk rock or at least got involved because his kid was in that field of the music industry. Talk about supportive dad.)

The passing of Judge Robert Bork.  Over at Slate, interesting commentary from Judge Richard Posner, in light of the passing of Robert Bork. (I don’t like how the Bork process got us where we are now with all kinds of Senate confirmations, but politics is a dirty business, and I’m surprised that Bork didn’t realize it at the time of his nomination, or so it seemed to me).

The passing of actor Jack Klugman, formerly Oscar of TV’s “The Odd Couple” and the former Quincy of the tv show “Quincy,  M.E.”  (NY Times obit here).

It has been more than a week after the terrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT (see here for the PBS NewsHour coverage – I have found the PBS NewsHour’s work to be the most responsible, after gnashing my teeth over the endless media speculation that came without substantiation during an ongoing investigation over this heart breaking situation), and I’m still getting my head wrapped around the issue of gun control versus the NRA’s non-approach to the issue (see here for the PBS NewsHour coverage on the NRA’s weirdness of last week).

I have especially found these articles interesting on the subject, which I shared on Facebook:

Slate’s Emily Bazelon writes persuasively on what will make us candid about the subject; she closes the article that we need social transformation/cultural shift – it’ll take a lot, but will it happen? I’m doubtful of that (I’ll try to keep hopeful about it), but I did like these paragraphs of Bazelon’s:

We are saturated with 300 million guns but we are not truly a country of guns, because that would means we collectively understood and respected them. [….] In the United States, we’re divided, and we have no universal basic knowledge of weapons. We make it incredibly easy to buy the kind of weapons that shoot and shoot again instantly, but we don’t search people at the doors of schools or malls or movie theaters, and we don’t post armed guards in these places. We have the guns without the safety checks. We call that freedom. We invoke the current Supreme Court’s understanding of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. [….] The cost of this definition of freedom is too high: That’s the point advocates for gun control make, over and over again.

Slate’s William Saletan is quite right, as he writes:

I wish we could pass a magic law that would stop madmen from killing our children. We can’t. There will always be angry lunatics. There will always be knives and shotguns and gasoline. I don’t think banning guns will make the problem go away. We don’t need another all-or-nothing war between pro-gun and anti-gun ideologues. What we need is a frank, precise, constructive conversation about the problem of high-speed weapons. You don’t need rapid-fire weapons to hunt or defend your home. [….] And while it’s true that passing a law against them won’t eliminate them, that’s not an argument against legislation. It’s an argument for going beyond legislation. The community of gun sellers and enthusiasts must act collectively to track and control the technology of mass murder.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates raises a good question: how eager are Americans being armed on their own person? And, then how far do we go? Hmmm.

I wonder if we can find something reasonable – can we have sensible gun control, civil dialogue, and better mental health care (not to presume that mental health problems are the cause of mass shootings, but I would posit all factors get to be put on the table, simply to make for a better society); but then again, the Reasonable Person only existed in law school as this abstraction, so who am I kidding?

When we have a year of the consequences of Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy and the tragedy at Sandy Hook (and gun violence is this epidemic that never stopped during the past several years, in all honesty), I’m really hoping that 2013 will be better.  When I’m hearing that Hurricane Sandy victims are giving to help the victims at Sandy Hook – and the idea of paying it forward – it’s kind of heartbreaking, but maybe there is hope amid all the madness.   Let’s hope that we would have a better year next year; I’m always reminded how much hope springs eternal.

I’m also hoping for one more post before 2013. No guarantees of a “best of” list or a year in review, but we’ll see.

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