December 8th, 2012

Godzilla, default

The ironies of the War on Christmas:

Let's start with the first obvious points of the War on Christmas:

1) Christmas as it's presently celebrated is not celebrated on the actual birthday of Joshua Ben Joseph of Nazareth. That would have been in the spring/early summer. Shepherds would not have sheep grazing at the start of a Palestinian winter. Christmas also is a holiday that has origins in the pagan calendar of Rome, with the Carnival-like holiday of Saturnalia, and which has folded in the also-pagan-but-different culture holiday of Yule, as well as elements of Germanic paganism. The day is celebrated on a Graeco-Roman holiday, the tree comes from the Heathens, and the term Yule from the Celts.

2) Christmas, at least in the United States was not celebrated until the mid-19th Century. The Puritans outlawed it and the original-generation Southerners were irreligious anyhow and didn't give a damn on the one hand or alternately were as puritanical as the Puritans on the other. We owe our modern concepts of Christmas to Charles Dickens, the famous writer of what a crapsack world Victorian times actually was. Christmas was outlawed by the Puritans and not practiced in early US culture, BTW, because it was considered too rowdy for a 'city on a Hill' to practice.

3) Christmas as per the 21st Century is a great ode to the commercialist/greedy/gluttonous tendencies of society. It's an excuse to shamelessly indulge in at least four of the Seven Deadly Sins and perhaps six (Sloth is not really possible to indulge in with all the shopping that the 'ideal consumer' would do unless they're Magnificent Bastards). This is completely unrelated to the tenets of Christianity, in any form, in any fashion. Those that take the Bible literally have no excuse, those that do not have even less.

4) Thus, the War on Christmas is an annoying meme fostered by a 24/7 cable channel run by Australians and Saudis that needs something to do on a slow news day and turns to kicking hornets' nests.

5) Happy Hanukkah to all Jews on T_P and also to those who aren't.

6) TL;DR: The War on Christmas is a bunch of nonsense so let's not hear about it like it actually means anything.
The Captain's Prop

Trillion Dollar Pennies

Got a heads-up today about a notion I've heard before, but which now seems to be getting some actual attention: What if the Treasury minted a couple trillion-dollar platinum pennies?

Thanks to an odd loophole in current law, the U.S. Treasury is technically allowed to mint as many coins made of platinum as it wants and can assign them whatever value it pleases.

Under this scenario, the U.S. Mint would produce (say) a pair of trillion-dollar platinum coins. The president orders the coins to be deposited at the Federal Reserve. The Fed then moves this money into Treasury’s accounts. And just like that, Treasury suddenly has an extra $2 trillion to pay off its obligations for the next two years — without needing to issue new debt. The ceiling is no longer an issue.

In fact, the most disturbing aspect of this follows immediately: Collapse )

A new country emerging

"At long last, the international community has signed the act that paves the way to a Palestinian state - and long overdue". This is how Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas commented on the UN vote from last month, where the Palestinian autonomy was upgraded to "observer" status. Still not a full member, but definitely a progress. Israel, of course, was quick to retaliate, followed by vast international condemnation.

The point is, this UN move indirectly acknowledges that the Palestinians are in control of a certain territory. And it is not the UN itself that is recognising the emerging of a new future country - it is all the separate states. The vote has a deep symbolic meaning too. And in the Middle East, symbolism is important.

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