December 2008


A lot of people think swears from other countries are funny, or absurd, like the Dutch kut met peren, which means, literally, cunt with pears. It’s an exclamation analogous to yelling son of a bitch after stubbing your toe.

But consider how weird the phrase son of a bitch is. It means the male child of a female dog. Basically, it is a puppy. People from the U.S. get angry and yell puppy!

AWESOME.

Apparently, some Jews don’t even celebrate Hanukkah at all. It’s really easy to ignore, like St. Jean Baptiste Day or something.

Man, who doesn’t celebrate St. Jean day? You get to talk in a snooty accent and insist that everything be written in French as well as English!

It’s true! In many ways, St. Jean Baptiste day is superior to Hanukkah.

Right. You give up the latkes and the candles, but instead there’s poutine and bonfires. St. Jean Baptiste day rocks!

 
 

The End

 
 
 
 
 

 

This June 24th, Celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day! The only holiday named after John the Baptist that is also a celebration of French Canada!
 

 
Cet vingt quatre du Jun, fairez une fête por le Jour St. Jean Baptiste! Le seulement jour férié appelles por St. Jean Baptiste c’est aussi une fête du Canada Français!

AWESOME.

I’m basically out of material on Hanukkah, but I will say this: Latkes are delicious. Thanks Jews!

The sun is down in Seattle. That means it’s tomorrow, as long as I’m discussing a Jewish topic.

JEW FACT: Like most Jewish holidays* Hanukkah is about remembering a time when Jews in history were going through some rough shit, and then either eating, or expressly not eating. Really, the exceptions that leap to mind are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (and Tu B’Shevat, which is kind of like Jewish Arbor Day). Specifically, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the temple after a bunch of in-fighting had caused the king to basically “turn this car around, I swear to G_d” the entire religion. This caused the Jews to rebel wholesale, and they retook the temple. They needed to burn oil to purify the alter, but there was only enough oil for one day. Somehow, it lasted for 8, and the Jews partied the entire time. So today, Jews party in memoriam. This is way better than the Seder, where ancient Jews ate terrible food, so modern Jews have to have a big dinner with terrible food.

*Passover, Purim, Tisha B’Av, Sukkot, and so on.

I love that people wish a Happy Hanukkah, but no one gives a shit during Rosh Hashanah, one of the High Holidays. You know, the High Holidays, the holidays Jews actually care about. Hanukkah is a minor feast, and Jews just started giving their kids presents so that the Christian kids wouldn’t make fun of them. But our society is so Christian-centric that people see Hanukkah not as what it is (one of several Jewish holidays centered around going to your parents’ house to eat dinner) but instead as Jewish Christmas. Christmas is so great and universal that even Jews celebrate it, they just have that fancy candelabra instead of a tree.

This is, by the way, the only reason Kwanzaa has any traction at all. White People just think of it as Black People Christmas.

The still active Neo Geo Pocket fan community* is, for the most part, extremely liberal in its political views**. And I’m talking actual extremely liberal, not the “extreme liberal” in Fox News terms. We are talking about “Socialism is a fundamentally sound practice” being on the more conservative side with “Anarchy + Social Programs” being the preferred form of government for several of them. As a result, Barack Obama, while certainly the preferred candidate, did not bring about universal cheers of joy.

I like Barack, but the fact is, he’s really not liberal enough for me in several ways. I want a President who will take a firm stance in favor of things like Equal Marriage rights; who will actually support an Equal Rights amendment for women; who would work on some kind of reasonable immigration reform; who would be willing to lift the absurd sanctions on Cuba, and put some on China until they sort some of the environmental and human rights violations; who would make the massive cuts and restructuring needed in our defense department***; and on and on and on. That’s not Barack Obama.

So why am I excited? It honestly has less to do with Barack****, or the specifics of his platform than it has to do with the people who voted for Barack, and the tone of his platform. For several years now, really, dating back to Nixon, Leo Strauss, and the birth of the Neo Conservative movement*****, the driving force behind these people, and yes, it is a small, specific group, has been fear. Fear of our enemies, fear of the danger out there, and the promise that only they can protect you, and only if you shut up and do what they say. Otherwise the commies/terrorists will get you. And if you stand up to this fear, if you reject their proposal, it is simply because you WANT TO LOSE.

And Lord, how this has worked. For the last several years, the enemies of the United States have been at their strongest not in Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan, but in the minds of the American people. We have imagined an enemy that, for the most part, does not exist. We have given this enemy a funding and motivation he does not have. In responding to this enemy, we have actually helped create a perfect environment for him to grow and develop. And we have done grievous harm to the rule of law and the soul of our nation. The things we have allowed in the name of safety have been abominable.

And that’s what made this election important. When presented with one more election where the choice was between an old soldier who will protect you from a danger that doesn’t exist, and a largely unknown quantity, the people of the United States did not do what we have done for so long. We did not vote with fear, we voted with hope.

Sure, this is only the very beginning, but if you’re in a car being driven straight for a cliff, you have to take a little relief when the driver finally takes his foot off the gas.

 
 
 
*Yes, this is a real thing.
**Basically everyone except Jeremy. Also a surprising number of them speak Dutch natively, coming from either the Netherlands, or the Flanders region of Belgium.
***It’s difficult for the mind to process just how much money we’re spending of defense, and how badly a lot of it is being wasted. We’re using F/A-18s as bombers, which is a lot like using a Porsche to pull a semi trailer. Meanwhile, soldiers hit the ground as recently as six months ago without combat armor. We’re going to spend more than $1,000,000,000,000 on it in 2009. To give a little perspective, that’s more money than anyone has spent on anything since the advent of commerce.
****Though I think he’s a good politician who has held forth solid plans on issues like Security, Health Care and Energy.
*****The parallels found between this culture of fear and that which was used to found fundamentalist Islam is examined wonderfully in the documentary The Power of Nightmares.
******Nothing to see here.