Monday, November 30, 2015

Charlie Brown Christmas Special

Earlier this evening, while visiting my parents, there was a special that came on ABC. It was the 50th anniversary of Charlie Brown airing at 8pm, which was followed by the annual Charlie Brown Christmas Special that aired at 9pm and went until 10pm.

My son was with me, and he was interested in watching it. This was mildly surprising, although a real surprise came a couple of weeks or so ago, when a classroom full of elementary school children spoke excitedly about watching the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special that was to air later that evening.

I am not unhappy about this, having grown up on Charlie Brown myself. However, it made me mildly irritated at ABC, for the decision to air the Charlie Brown Christmas special after the 50th anniversary program, coming at the relatively late hour (for children) of 9pm. My son is supposed to be in bed at that time, and was unable to watch it. It seems frankly illogical to me that ABC would air the 50th anniversary program at 8pm, since this did not appeal to my son so much, and my gut tells me that it would not interest other kids his age and younger, either. At least, it would not interest them nearly as much as the cartoon special itself, which aired too late for many other disappointed children (I am assuming my son was not the only one).

So, I went looking for the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on Youtube, so that he could watch it in the future at his leisure. It seems to be a sped up version, as everything moves fast, and the voices sound really babyish. Still, it seems to be the special in it's entirety, and seemed fitting to share here:

Oh, and since I mentioned it, here is the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special from 1973:

NFL 2015-16 Week 12 Review

And then there was one.

Yes, as the NFL now enters December, there is only one undefeated team left, as they beat down the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving, while last night, the Denver Broncos pulled off a come-from-behind victory in the snow to force overtime, where they ultimately managed to defeat the New England Patriots.

There were other important games with playoff ramifications as well throughout the league yesterday, so let's take a look (excluding the Thanksgiving games, which I already reviewed):

Washington 20, NY Giants 14 - The Giants decided to show up in the fourth quarter with a relatively furious rally. The only thing is, where were they during the first three quarters? Had that team that showed up in the final quarter shown up in the other three, the Giants would be well on their way to a division title right now. Instead, they are behind Washington (in terms of the tie-breaker, having the lesser divisional record), and sink down to 5-6.

Oakland 24, Tennessee 21 - The Raiders were not looking good early, but they came all the way back to pull off a hugely important win that keeps their playoff hopes alive. Oakland got a rare road win out east, while the Titans suffered another close call loss.

Kansas City 30, Buffalo 22 - The Bills jumped out ahead, and looked capable of pulling off a big road win. But the Chiefs got going, and even though Buffalo hung in there, they could not come up with the goods at the end, allowing the Chiefs another win, which places them right in the position to be in the playoffs at this point. The loss, in the meantime, was a real hit for Buffalo's playoff hopes.

Minnesota 20, Atlanta 10 - The Falcons continued their collapse with another home loss, this one to the Vikings. This time, it proved extra costly, since they have now moved out of that sixth and final playoff spot for the time being, which means that if the season ended now, Atlanta would not advance.

Houston 24, New Orleans 6 - Two teams heading in opposite directions here. The Texans are hot and looking like a legitimate contender for both the playoffs and the AFC South title, while the Saints have been reeling. New Orleans actually tightened up a bit on defense, but they still got blown out in this game in Houston.

NY Jets 38, Miami 20 - The Dolphins are fading fast. They got pounded in an embarrassing game that was not even as close as the score would indicate. The Jets dominated Miami, with only garbage time touchdowns serving to make this look like a more competitive game than it actually was. The win kept New York's playoff hopes strong, while it seems to have largely extinguished Miami's playoff hopes.

San Diego 31, Jacksonville 25 -  This was a real hit to the Jaguars playoff and division title hopes. An embarrassing home loss to the lowly Chargers, who had not won in what felt like forever, pretty much should end the Jaguars slim hopes of pulling off a miracle.

Cincinnati 31, St. Louis 7 - The Bengals returned to their winning ways of earlier in the season, while the Rams continued their landslide back down to Earth after flirting with playoff status. The Bengals pounded the Rams, and this was never really much of a game. Cincy kept pace with the Broncos for that number two seed, and are only one game behind New England for home field advantage now.

Indianapolis 25, Tampa Bay 14 - The Colts had to win to keep on pace with the surging Houston Texans, while Tampa Bay is fighting with all that they've got to stay in the NFC playoff picture. The Colts managed to hold off the Bucs for a needed win.

Arizona 19, San Francisco 13 - This one was probably the final nail in the coffin of the 49ers playoff chances for this season, which were not very bright heading into the game, anyway. But the Cardinals managed to plug away, playing it safe and winning a solid divisional road game to improve to 9-2 and keep their three-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers, wearing those ugly black uniforms, dropped to 3-8, and are pretty much eliminated from the playoffs now.

Seattle 39, Pittsburgh 30 - Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives. The Steelers were trying to hold onto that AFC Wildcard spot that they were in position to get heading into yesterday's game, while the 'Hawks were on the outside looking in. In a back and forth game between two quality teams, Seattle was able to get the best of the Steelers, with the obvious advantage of playing at home, where they are very tough to beat. Both teams come out of this game with identical 6-5 records.

Denver 30, New England 24 (OT) - What an exciting game this was! Perhaps the best active rivalry in the sport, between two of the teams with the best records in the league. The pats were hoping to more or less clinch at least a playoff bye, if not home field advantage, with a road win at Mile High. It would have put them three games ahead of Denver, and two ahead of Cincy. And it sure looked like that was where they were heading, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, and then having a 21-7 lead in the second half. But Denver came roaring back, taking a lead late in the fourth quarter. New England was able to get a field goal to force overtime, but it was the Broncos who managed to score the touchdown for the win, handing New England their first (and so far only) loss of the season. Brock Osweiler played extremely well, and C.J. Anderson broke free in a run for the winning touchdown. Now, the Pats are only one game ahead of Denver and Cincinnati for home field advantage.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

What Can Get Voters Back to the Polls For Elections?

We always hear about how voter turnout for each election is remarkably low, that people just do not seem interested in participating in our democracy. It is amazing in a sense, since people the world over have long fought for, and even died for, the struggle just to get the vote.

Now, we have a system where voting feels like part of the problem to people, rather than part of the solution.

It is exactly how things are not supposed to be.

So, how do we get things turned around? That becomes the question, rather than simply growing more depressed, or panicking about how things always just seem to get worse and worse and worse (which is the impression that some people undeniably have).

Below is a link to an interesting article that has an idea for what might bring people back to the voting booths.

The Big Idea That Could Bring Disaffected Voters Back to the Polls by William Greider, November 20, 2015:

Macri Wins Argentinian Presidential Elections, Ousting Peronists

Argentina's presidential elections were held last week, and the end results were rather stunning to many.

Mauricio Macri, the conservative candidate and former mayor of Buenos Aires, stunned many people by winning the election that brought to an end a dozen years of Peronist rule in Argentina. The Peronists have traditionally dominated Argentinian politics for many decades now.

However, they were blamed for the economic stagnation that the country - which has Latin America's third largest economy behind Brazil and Mexico - has suffered through. Many felt that the country was held back by the protectionist policies of the ruling Peronists.

Also, many Argentinians were sick of President Cristina Fernandez, who had a confrontational manner, Macri won over enough Argentines with his promises to liberalize the economy and weed out corruption.

Here is a link for more on this story:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pope Francis Argues for Helping Poor & Refugees, Speaks Out Against Capitalism

Just in case you were wondering about what Pope Francis's views on the Syrian refugees are, he has uttered numerous opinions on these over the course of years.

He reminded everyone that Jesus himself was a refugee, and has repeatedly suggested that the wealthy not sharing with the poor amounts to stealing. e has also been hugely critical of capitalism in general, insinuating that it has been shown to bring out the worst in human beings.

Here are a couple of links to articles should you wish to explore the topic on your own:

Pope Francis: 'Jesus Was A Refugee' The Huffington Post  |  By Yasmine Hafiz Email Posted: 06/23/2014:

'Not to share wealth with poor is to steal': Pope slams capitalism as 'new tyranny' Published time: 26 Nov, 2013

Pope Francis Visits Africa

Earlier this year, the Pope visited the United States on a tour of three cities - Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. I took my son to try and go see him while the Pope was visiting Philadelphia, and we were blessed enough to have gotten this chance.

Now, the Pope is in Africa on a three nation tour. The first stop was in Kenya, followed by Uganda, and then a visit to war-ravaged Central African Republic. There were some concerns and even doubts that he would be able to visit the Central Africa Republic, although he has been insistent to do so, and as of right now while I write this, there are no plans to change the itinerary.

In Kenya, Pope Francis spoke of the urgency of addressing action on climate change at United Nations headquarters in Nairobi, before visiting Kangemi, a large slum in Nairobi. There, he lashed out at the evil that creates such slums, and condemned the conditions that so many have to live under, calling them "new forms of colonialism." He urged the nation's elites, and more generally, the wealthy around the world, to rein in the excess greed that has allowed them to ignore such conditions.

These excesses, he argued, leads to the "dreadful injustice of social exclusion" that result in slums such as Kangemi around the world.

"Our world has a grave social debt toward the poor who lack access to drinking water because they are denied a life consistent with their inalienable dignity," the Pope said.  

Pope Francis slams nation's elite, corruption on his last day in Kenya  By Faith Karimi, CNN, November 27, 2015:

Paris Attacks Victims Honored


Attaques à #Paris: Solidarité avec la France contre le terrorisme. Ma prière pour les victimes.


La tour Eiffel illuminée en bleu blanc rouge - Fluctuat nec Mergitur - Liberté, égalité, fraternité

La tour Eiffel illuminée en bleu blanc rouge - Fluctuat nec Mergitur - Liberté, égalité, fraternité

La tour Eiffel illuminée en bleu blanc rouge - Fluctuat nec Mergitur - Liberté, égalité, fraternité

It took 11 minutes for the 130 names of the victims of the Paris attacks to be read. Most of them were under 35 years of age, as the terrorists responsible aimed for young people, specifically.

A ceremony marking the tragedy was held yesterday in Paris. The ceremony took place two weeks to the day since the actual attacks occurred, and was attended by high-ranking government officials, survivors of the attacks, and the family members of victims. There were roughly 2,600 people in attendance.

On this national service dedicated to the victims President Hollande gave his speech, which many believed was to be the most important speech of his entire presidency, come what may. Hollande discussed those responsible for the terrorist attacks, ISIS, and stated that France would "do all it can to destroy this army of fanatics".

He also stated that the victims had died believing in liberty, fraternity, and democracy, and he honored the "130 smiles and faces" of the victims..

Behind the scenes, Hollande has also been trying to build a military alliance, particularly involving the United States and Russia, to stomp out ISIS in Syria.

Here is the link to BBC News coverage of the story:

Paris attacks: France holds service two weeks after massacre by BBC World News Services Europe, 27 November 2015:

Friday, November 27, 2015

NFL Thanksgiving 2015 Review

There were three Thanksgiving Day games yesterday. The first two were blowouts, while the last one was a surprisingly close game, with a surprising outcome. 

Let's take a look:

Detroit 45, Philadelphia 14 - Detroit got on the board early, which as it turns out, was an indicator of things to come. The Eagles answered immediately, tying the game at 7-7. From that point onward, however, it was all Detroit, as the Lions managed to be on the right side of a Thanksgiving blowout, for once. Philadelphia remained stubborn with man to man coverage, even when it clearly was not working, and it cost them big time. A second straight blowout loss for Philly, while Detroit earns their third straight win.

Carolina 33, Dallas 14 - Last year, the Cowboys got a lot of breaks and stayed healthy. It was enough for them to post a 12-4 record, easily enough to win the NFC East. They were tough in the playoffs as well, beating Detroit before bowing out to the Packers at Lambeau Field. This year, however, the Cowboys cannot catch a break. They lost this game by a blowout, as the Panthers moved to 11-0. More importantly for the Cowboys, however, is the loss loss of quarterback Tony Romo for the remainder of the season.

Chicago 17, Green Bay 13 - Bret Favre returned to Lambeau Field and had his number retired at halftime, which was cause for celebration. Of course, the Green Bay faithful wanted to celebrate at game's end with another win, although that did not happen, as the Bears played very tough and held off the Packers, barely, to clinch a rare road win at Lambeau Field. The Bears remain in the hunt for the playoffs, while the Packers drop their fourth contest in five games, and again fall behind Minnesota in the divisional race.

Thanksgiving From a Native American Perspective

First Fun Thanksgiving, after J.L.G. Ferris

Okay, one more post about Thanksgiving, before this becomes entirely irrelevant and out of season.

Here is another link to an article from a Native American perspective:


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Native American Nuggets of Wisdom

Earth from Space with Stars

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey Flickr Page:

The old button from the Environmental Club days which I just happened to find on Earth Day! It is a little beat up (particularly the ends of the ribbon), but no worse for the wear, I think. And it is one of the few items that I have left from those days, so it carries a lot of great memories for me! Nothing Changes Until You Do!

Here is a picture of a very similar logo, with the same message, that was on the t-shirt that I purchased from the BCC Environmental Club and, if memory serves me correctly, may even have helped to make. There were a few projects like that which club members, myself included, were regularly involved with. It has been so long, however, that I no longer recall specifically if I actually helped to make these or not, although I do believe so, since I remember seeing the process of the t-shirts being dyed. In any case, I loved this t-shirt, and have kept it ever since, even if I do not regularly wear it. Since it was part of my experience with the BCC Environmental Club days, as well as more generally having an environmental theme, it seemed appropriate to share it here. 

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

~Mahatma Gandhi

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
~John F. Kennedy  

"The earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites one family. Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself."

- Native American Philosophy (sometimes attributed to Chief Seattle)

When I began college at Bergen Community College in the spring of 1993, everything felt new. While high school had been a time of conformity, where I never seemed to fit in and, thus, was kind of cast out and always on the outside, college was a place with new and far more interesting young people (although they were almost all older than me, and thus seemed worldly to me in a way that felt inaccessible to someone so simple as me). One girl in particular, who I had a massive crush on (but was too much of a coward to tell her that much) embodied all of that. Everything just seemed so promising. There was an energy and freedom that I was not accustomed to, and it was all exciting!

One of the first things that I did was join the Environmental Club, where I met many like-minded people. For the first time, really, it felt like there actually was a youth movement of sorts. People here were willing to try new things, to dress very differently than what had been deemed acceptable at the high school.

It felt like a time of new possibilities. The nation had a new president in Bill Clinton, and he was the first Democrat in the White House in a dozen years! There was an exciting new music scene that was not just emerging, but taking over. Nirvana was on top, although Pearl Jam was clearly on the rise, as were other Seattle bands. There were other great musicians, with a different image and sound, such as the 4 Non-Blonds, the Spin Doctors and Blind Melon. There were great albums emerging in the early nineties from a whole bunch of different bands. Yes, it was a great time to be a young man, full of energy, and I had a lot of hope that a better world was indeed possible.

Of course, I was young and naive. The world was not going to get better because a few young people at one particular college were relative environmental activists, or because a new, activist music scene was emerging in the public light, or because a Democrat had finally been elected president. The world did not shift on it's axis. Many of the young people that I saw elsewhere remained largely unmoved by the surprising activism that I witnessed at Bergen. They may have liked the Seattle scene, but only for the music, and likely because it was popular at the time. The anti-corporate, anti-commercial approach was lost on them.

In short, I wanted to convince myself that all of the exciting things that seemed to be happening at Bergen represented a new norm for youth, a sign of the changing world. It did not take long for reality to set in. Within a few years, the Seattle scene itself was copied, and alternative music became a parody of itself, with numerous copy cat bands just in it for the money. And President Bill Clinton did not look anywhere near as idealistic as he had seemed as a candidate, or as he has seemed since leaving office. In fact, some people referred to him as "Republican light".

The world went on as normal. Most of those exciting young people were gone within a year. Suddenly, I was no longer the youngest guy in the Environmental Club, and no longer a newcomer, either. I was elected Secretary for the fall semester, then Vice-President for the following spring, on my way to becoming President for the 1994-95 academic year. I had wanted to be among the leaders when I first joined, but it proved anti-climatic. There was so much that it seemed I needed to learn to catch up, if you will, with those others, who had seemed impressive and knowledgeable in ways that I could never be. Once it was just me, it was anti-climatic. As I mentioned in a blog entry a few days ago, I was just scared to fail, and basically retired from the Environmental Club after the big Earth Day celebrations.

There are some things, however, the stuck with me. That girl that I mentioned a little earlier? Well, she got involved with the Walden Pond Project. She was quite taken by Don Henley, and he was involved in an effort to save Walden Woods, where Henry David Thoreau spent two years, and wrote the brilliant book, "Walden", which he is most famous for. Many consider him the father of the environmental movement, and I began to gain a strong appreciation of him at that time, mostly through her. Since then, i myself have had some opportunities to visit Walden Woods, and have taken my son there once, even. I intend to do so again, once he is old enough to perhaps appreciate the significance of the place, and the history involved.

Another thing that stuck was a deeper appreciation for Native Americans. My parents, to their credit, had always tried to teach us of a different history than the one in school books or on television. To that end, they had taken us to some pow wows, and other things pertaining to Native American culture. That certainly would not score me popularity points in my high school filled with kids from either a redneck or yuppie upbringing, but it made me feel like I could relate to the young activists at Bergen. There was one quote in particular that was on some bumper sticker or other in the Environmental Club office at some point which resonated with me. It was from Chief Seattle, and although I tried to put it up on top of this post, it did not specifically suggest that he was the one behind this saying. But it was essentially this: “Earth does not belong to man; man belongs to earth.”

It was an impressive and thought-provoking quote. Certainly, it sounded good, and I believed in it, although in retrospect, I probably did not understand it all that well.

Years later, however, I think I understand it a bit better. Of course, that also comes after I took my own, independent interest in native culture, which was sparked again when another girl (this time, it was a girlfriend) introduced me to a writer who I now count as among my very favorites - Daniel Quinn. After reading him, I took a renewed interest in Native American culture and writing, and read one book that blew my mind away - Touch the Earth.

I began to read more and more Native American stuff, and by now, I had a more adult (some might say more mature) grasp of reality. Since those early days in 1993, there had been some personal growth, and of course, the world had changed. There was the 9/11 attacks, and there had been the Iraq war, and the obsession with oil. Bush even admitted that the country was addicted to oil. There were huge natural disasters, from the tsunami in Asia in 2004, to Katrina in 2005, to Japan in 2011, to Sandy (which I personally was in New Jersey for) in 2012. We still see extremes, with a record drought in California, and seemingly annual record flooding by the Mississippi. Even President Bush admitted that global warming appeared to be real, something that too many other Republicans have conveniently forgotten. Also, let us not forget the not so natural disasters, including some huge oil spills, particularly the one in the Gulf of Mexico, which just reached the five year anniversary. Also, the Fukushima disaster, where officials admitted that they could not contain the radiation, and even though it receded into the background and is no longer in the news, there is still nonetheless radioactive waste leaking unchecked into the Pacific. Also, there was a near economic collapse globally in 2008, and the same practices are back in place, almost assuring that there will be another economic disaster.

To sum up, the world seems to be getting worse, not better. That old idealism and hope for a better world has yielded to a grimmer worldview, one where it seems that our situation is hopeless and always getting worse.

Whether that is true or not, many of the dire prognostications and warnings by Native Americans of the excesses of our global culture seem to have largely come true. We should have known. We should have taken them seriously, instead of regarding them as savages and treating them like children.

Now, however, we can learn. There is a more balanced way of looking at our history, our culture. One in which we can actually admit to making mistakes (gasp!) and, even more shockingly, where we learn enough from them not to repeat them (double GASP!!).

I grew up, grew older. I am not the same dumb kid I was back then. If I could go back in time, I would do some things differently. But one thing that I am glad that I did do was hold on to some of that old idealism. Enough, at least, to get more acclimated with Thoreau and Native Americans, who warned us so long ago of what we were facing if we did not change our ways. I have spoken to and heard from many people who truly are idealistic activists, and now, I know that they are out there, and growing in numbers. Not all of my idealism and hope for the future is gone, even though much of it was buried under an avalanche of reality checks.

Ultimately, there is a better way of doing things, and we cannot afford to lose sight of that. So long as we are here, there is hope. I just enjoyed a beautiful weekend, soaking in the sun of a lovely spring, breathing the fresh air. Enjoying that time with my girlfriend and my son.

For his sake, and for the sake of all children, and our children's children, we had best not lose hope that a better way, a brighter future, is still possible.

In order to remind us of that, we should remember the lessons from the past, and accept that mistakes were made. Let us at least begin to undo some of the damage of the past, and learn more about Native Americans in particular. Let us grant them the respect that they were denied in their own day, and let us read their words and understand their lessons and warnings about our all-consuming culture.They understood something back then that we still do not understand presently, as the news headlines suggest each and every day.

What better time than now, on the eve of Earth Day?

Here is one place to start, by clicking on the links below:

10 Pieces Of Wisdom and Quotes From Native American Elders January 8, 2015 by Alanna Ketler.

10 Quotes From a Sioux Indian Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society

Alcatraz Hosts Native American Protest of Thanksgiving

Okay, Thanksgiving meals for most people are over for this year, although there should be plenty of leftovers in most cases for a good few days yet.

I know I had my fill today. It has been nearly six hours since my last bite, and I still feel filled to the brim!  But I would have to say that it was a good Thanksgiving overall. There are plenty of things that I am thankful for: having been able to share another Thanksgiving meal with family, for my family and I enjoying relatively good health, for relative financial stability (especially since last year, 2014, was kind of a rough year on my end financially), for being in a stable relationship, for the good times that I was able to share with friends and family alike, particularly with my son (with a trip to Arizona and several other memorable doings), and for his showing fairly strong progress in school.

Taking time to appreciate our numerous blessings is the best aspect of this holiday, I think. We should collectively do more of this - probably much more - because too often, our focus is on what we do not (yet) have, and fretting and fussing over that. And that is why it is so depressing that such a holiday is followed by Black Friday, when news reports of the results of excess greed and desire for more, more, more have become a common theme.

One other thing that I feel thankful for, though, is my childlike curiosity and sense of wonder, which seems to have largely survived the transition to adulthood relatively intact. This is definitely something that I feel grateful for, and which allows me to write these blog entries and continue "The Charbor Chronicles." And today, I had a decent amount of posts, particularly relating to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Well, here is one more (most likely the last, this time). This one is about American Indians gathering at Alcatraz, which has a symbolic significance for them. It was as a sort of protest against Thanksgiving, as well as a celebration of Native American culture. If so inclined, click on the link below:


Thanksgiving & Medieval Origins? Aye!

Still yet another aspect of the history of Thanksgiving, which I admittedly was not really aware of. Apparently, it can be traced further back even than the Pilgrims of America, and may have some roots in medieval Europe itself!

Here is the fascinating link:

Passeth the cranb'rry sauce! The medieval origins of Thanksgiving by Ken Albala Professor of History, Director of Food Studies, University of the Pacific, November 25, 2015

A Little More About Thanksgiving

First Fun Thanksgiving, after J.L.G. Ferris

First of all, I am trying to steer clear of National Geographic, ever since Rupert Murdoch took it over and made it a soundboard for his neocon ideology.

Also, I do not want to be the guy who brings everybody down by continually mentioning that the true history of Thanksgiving is a lot less innocent and noble than has been traditionally, popularly believed.

That said, I am adding this one link that brings out another aspect of Thanksgiving history, although doing so with this little aside: I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with not one, but two Thanksgiving meals with friends and family today. However, I will be celebrating by trying to emphasize all of the blessings that I have been truly blessed with. Also, we cannot change history, but we can try to understand it more accurately, and come to terms with it. I am not advocating scrapping Thanksgiving altogether, but the crimes committed in the past, which this holiday essentially honors, should be addressed plainly and truthfully. So, I am doing my part (or as much as I can right now) to spread the word. It seems particularly relevant right now, when the United States is under the microscope for all of the racial tensions that are rising to the surface at this moment in history.

A Few Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Thanksgiving by Becky Little of National Geographic, November 21, 2015:

Thanksgiving From a Native American Perspective is Nothing to Celebrate

First Fun Thanksgiving, after J.L.G. Ferris

I remember first rearing Ward Churchill explaining why he was not going to celebrate Thanksgiving many years ago, and it opened my eyes about this holiday. I have asked some Native Americans about it, and they made clear - crystal clear - they they never, ever celebrate on Thanksgiving. The origins that are commonly believed are mere myth, and the reality is far less flattering. Yes, I know this is depressing, but it is true history. Still, the holiday has grown into something bigger, and there are positive aspects to it. And I, for one, have always celebrated with family. Still, understanding the history and the controversy behind it is something worth keeping in mind, and we should understand and appreciate why natives not only do not celebrate, but feel that it represents a betrayal of their culture and their ancestors in a very real sense.

As I mentioned in my last couple of posts, Thanksgiving today has a certain beauty to it, a nobility of spirit with that increasingly rare purity of intentions. It seems relatively benign, although that purity is increasingly compromised by the sales of Black Friday, which has become a sort of madness that has overtaken both consumers and retailers combined. The doors opened their doors sooner and sooner, so that they went from opening at ridiculous, overnight hours, and now are opening their doors on Thanksgiving itself, right in the afternoon.

I mentioned in one of those earlier posts that one of my coworkers at my relatively new weekend job works at Walmart, and they are forcing all of their employees to come in on Thanksgiving afternoon proper. So, Black Friday is already now starting on Thursday afternoon, on Thanksgiving itself, which detracts from the very notion of being truly thankful for what we have. Personally, going out to the stores to do some shopping is the last thing that I want to do on Black Friday, and I try to avoid it like the plague. It brings the worst out in people. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a refreshing break from that, but apparently no longer.

Now, we will begin to hear horror stories of excess greed and a certain madness right on Thanksgiving itself, unfortunately. Perhaps it is fitting, since consumerism is what this society care about the most, if we are honest with ourselves. After all, one of the lesser known aspects of the history of Thanksgiving was, simply, that the tradition actually started the day after a massacre of Native Americans by the Pilgrims, when Governor of Massachusetts William Bradford wanted to honor the day by marking the date as something that should be celebrated well into the future. Thus, the tradition dates back to the massacre of the Pequots, and their essential removal from New England during the Pequot War in the 17th century. These are the words he specifically uttered in hopes of establishing a holiday of giving thanks for what he saw as a hard-won victory over natives (even while what was actually described sounds a whole lot more like a ruthless massacre):

“For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.” 

Is it not completely understandable that Native Americans refuse to celebrate?

So, it seemed appropriate on this day to present a very different angle of this holiday, by the perspective of the native people themselves. Here are a few links to articles from natives about Thanksgiving, in order to gain a deeper and truer appreciation of what it truly represents to them:

Thanksgiving, Hope and the Hidden Heart of Evil  by Jacqueline Keeler 11/26/14:

6 Thanksgiving Myths, Share Them With Someone You Know  Vincent Schilling 11/28/13:

The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story  Michelle Tirado 11/22/11:

Thanksgiving's Controversial History

First Fun Thanksgiving, after J.L.G. Ferris

A year ago, I wrote what may very well have been the best Guardian Liberty Voice article authored by me yet.

It was not read by too many people, I suspect. But that said, it was a good, solid article that explored the fascinating history of this holiday. I received compliments from the few people who I knew for sure had read the article, such as the editor. 

So, it seemed appropriate to publish it (or the link to it) yet again this year. Hope you enjoy!

I have wanted to do a history of the Thanksgiving holiday for a long time now. For whatever the reason, my assumption was that this had already been done to some extent on this blog page before but, when I checked earlier today, this was proven not to be the case.

Here is the thing about Thanksgiving: it is a great holiday, yet it also represents something terrible. That makes it a paradox, really. Let me explain.

The first time that I really came to understand the depth of the anger by Native Americans regarding the holiday was a number of years ago, after reading an article from Ward Churchill. He mentioned that celebrating Thanksgiving was essentially an insult to the native people, and that, in fact, it should be a day of mourning.

Since then, I have done further explorations, and even asked one native during a Pow Wow a couple of years or so back about it, and the answers have more or less been the same: Native Americans feel that this holiday represents an insult to their people, and a constant reminder that the holiday that we tend to think represents friendship and cooperation between Indians and Pilgrims actually represents the beginning of the end of their culture and traditional way of life.

For a little while, I was even entertaining the idea of abandoning the holiday, although this never actually came to pass.


Because it is a nice holiday, with a noble meaning, even if the holiday that it falls on is a bit tainted with history. But in researching for this article, and listening to Suzan Shown Harjo, as well as reading so0me of the arguments of those that went to Plymouth today to protest the holiday, made me realize that what needs to change is not perhaps the holiday itself, or what it is supposed to represent. Rather, what needs to change is the common misunderstanding about the origins of Thanksgiving, and why, specifically, natives find it offensive and representing something far more sinister than most popular perceptions.

If you are interested in finding out more, please start by reading my article by clicking on the link below, but also, do some of your own research. This is an important issue, and any American that feels some measure of patriotic duty should understand this history better, in order to come to terms with the darker aspects of our national past.

Also, one thing that bothers me about this holiday, or more this holiday weekend, is that it is immediately followed by Black Friday, which is perhaps the single day when, more than any other date on the calendar, represents our society's excessive greed and mindless consumerism. The fact that this comes literally the day after we are supposed to take time out to be thankful for all that we have been blessed with in life and that, furthermore, Black Friday is increasingly encroaching on the Thanksgiving holiday itself, is the height of hypocrisy. It suggests that there really is something wrong with this society, and we would do well, I think, not to simply shrug our shoulders or ignore it. We should recognize it, own up to it, and individually, refuse to participate in "Black Friday" deals and shopping, particularly with those stores that are trying to open up on Thanksgiving itself.

As I was driving past some malls earlier this evening, at an hour when the malls are usually closed and the vast parking lots normally deserted, I sighed at the sight of those parking lots almost filled to the brim. Thanksgiving was not yet officially over, and people surely were still feeling that heaviness from a huge dinner, and the fatigue from eating all of that turkey. Yet, so many people were out and about, hoping to horde as many great deals as possible, even though many retail stores jack up the prices prior to Black Friday before marking them down with significant seeming savings. It all seems so shady, such a scam, and it is more than a little disappointing to see greed win out on the part of all participants of this event.

Personally, I want absolutely no part of Black Friday, and urge any and all of you out there not to have anything to do with it, either. But ultimately, of course, that choice is yours to make.

Would have liked to get this published earlier. However, Thanksgiving is usually chaotic, between working overnight, getting a few hours of sleep, then eating a late Thanksgiving lunch with family, before going further south to meet my girlfriend, and head towards the place we have gone to the last three years. It has been a busy day, with very little time, as well as limited access, to the internet. So, I post this when I can.

Here is the link to my article, and I do hope that you take a look:

Thanksgiving Has a Controversial History

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thoreau Quote on Perpetual Thanksgiving

Well, here we are. Another Thanksgiving weekend is upon us.

While Thanksgiving has come to mean for many shared time with family (which can be viewed as a blessing or a curse, depending on the individual perspective), warmth, relaxation, football, and of course, food. Way too much food, in most cases.

However, I think that it is fair to say that it is important that we remember certain things on this holiday. First of all, we should remember that this holiday is seen in entirely different eyes by Native Americans, who feel it represents a betrayal, and the beginning of the end of their traditional lifestyle.

Still, I think that Thanksgiving has come to have a different meaning over time. A more hopeful one, where those who get together to enjoy a feast truly do take a moment to give thanks for all of life's blessings. This year, more than any other, I have been trying to share in that spirit of thankfulness, and have come to appreciate this sentiment for this particular holiday.

Of course, it sometimes makes me roll my eyes to think that this holiday, of all holidays, is immediately followed by Black Friday, when we see scenes of the worst that this culture of consumption brings out in people. Right after giving thanks for all of life's blessings, people will camp out all night and go to all lengths to visit stores and find the best deals, often getting into fights to do so. There are horror stories of violence and people getting trampled on, and these indeed show that too many people are not really taking the lessons of thanksgiving seriously.

Worse still, now Black Friday has moved earlier and earlier over the course of the years, so that it now starts right on Thanksgiving afternoon. So the worst excesses of the mindless greed of Black Friday shopping deals now fall on Thanksgiving proper. I was just talking to a Walmart employee over the weekend, and he told me that all employees will be obligated to work on Thanksgiving afternoon, forcing people to make accommodations and either eat their meals early, or not show up at all.

Indeed, this is a sign of the times.

However, we should remember the more positive and noble sentiments of Thanksgiving. And so in that spirit, here is a quote from Henry David Thoreau, in which he shares his thoughts on giving thanks not just on one day or before one meal, but being perpetually thankful for all that he has been blessed with. Admittedly, it is a different and unusual perspective, yet it should make you think. It is yet one more lesson from Thoreau that we can learn from:

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

~ Henry David Thoreau in a letter (1856)

NFL 2015-16 Week 11 Review

Usually, I write reviews of the NFL week that was for Monday morning. This came a little later than usual. Apologies for that.

Still, better late than never, right?

So here goes:

(TNF) Jacksonville 19, Tennessee 13 - The Jaguars defeated the Titans to remain relevant in the weak AFC South, where no team presently sports a winning record. Tennessee, in the meanwhile, is solidly in last place within the division.

Tampa Bay 45, Philadelphia 17 - Tampa Bay shocked the Eagles, finding a way to completely blow them out before their home fans at Lincoln Financial Field. Tampa Bay looks red hot, and they are suddenly seriously in playoff contention. As for the Eagles, they are only one game out in the NFC East, but this game was not a reassuring sign at all for them.

Houston 24, NY Jets 17 - The Texans stayed hot following their stunning victory at Cincinnati with a solid home victory against the tough Jets. Houston is keeping pace with the Colts, while the Jets continue to slide in the AFC East, and appear to be sliding right out of the AFC playoff picture with yet another loss.

Detroit 18, Oakland 13 - The Lions were able to produce yet another surprising win, suddenly roaring to life after a miserable, winless start made them look like the worst team in the league. But no more. They will not make it back to the postseason this year, but they are looking much, much better now. As for the Raiders, this was a disappointing loss, but they remain very much in the AFC playoff picture - for now.

Indianapolis 24, Atlanta 21 - Talking about teams on the slide, what happened to Atlanta? They started the season with an undefeated 5-0 run, and were 6-1 just a few weeks ago. But they keep losing games that they are on the verge of winning, and are looking like a typical Atlanta Falcons team on the verge of another collapse. As for the Colts, an important road win keeps them the favorites to win the AFC South.

Denver 17, Chicago 15 - The Broncos were able to stop the bleeding even without quarterback Peyton Manning. Denver was able to earn a tough road win at Chicago to return to their winning ways, and remain fully three games ahead of their closest rivals in the AFC West. The Bears, in the meantime, lost a costly game that pushes their fading chances at the playoffs that much further out of reach.

Carolina 44, Washington 16 - The Panthers improved to 10-0 with a solid, blowout win against Washington. It was tight at first, but the Panthers really exerted control as the game went on, and eventually completely shut down Washington, while putting up some serious numbers and points in the process. A major step back for Washington.

Dallas 24, Miami 14 - Dallas finally managed to snap a winless streak that had lasted two months with a road win at Miami, with Tony Romo at the helm. The Cowboys defense played well, and the 'Boys managed to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive with the win, coupled with losses by other NFC East teams, Washington and Philadelphia. This was a major setback for the Dolphins, who were hoping to sneak into the playoffs, but fell further behind the leading teams for those AFC playoff spots.

Baltimore 16, St. Louis 13 - Both teams are hugely disappointing, but someone had to win. It wound up being Baltimore, although the win proved costly, as they lost starting quarterback, and former Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco for the duration of the season. As for the Rams, they fell farther behind both Arizona and Seattle in the NFC West, and have not won now in quite some time.

Seattle 29, San Francisco 13 - The Seahawks were able to get a solid win at home, completing the sweep against division rivals San Francisco. Seattle jumped out ahead early and built a 20-0 lead, although to their credit, the 49ers tightened up and then battled back, making the final outcome more respectable. Seattle remains solidly in the NFC playoff race.

Green Bay 30, Minnesota 13 - It was hard not to wonder where the Packers had gone to, but they returned with a vengeance in Minnesota, dominating the Vikings and making Minnesota look bad in almost every facet of the game. The Packers would have gone from two games ahead in the NFC North race to two games behind with a loss, but the victory allows them to share a tie with Minnesota atop the division, with another meeting between the two teams set for later in the season, at Lambeau Field.

Kansas City 33, San Diego 3 - The Chiefs have now fully recovered from their five-game slide earlier this year, and now are looking fierce, pulling off their fourth straight win. Of course, it helps when the team that you are playing is playing as badly as the San Diego Chargers are. That said, the Chargers are reaching new lows with a home blowout loss like this. As for the Chiefs, they are really resembling a playoff caliber team right now, and are clearly a team to watch.

(SNF) Arizona 34, Cincinnati 31 - Like the Packers and Broncos before them, the Bengals followed up their first loss of the season with another loss. At least this time, it was not a home loss to a much weaker team. No, the Bengals went to Arizona, which is a tough place to play, and were simply beaten by a solid team that has plenty to fight for themselves. Arizona remains comfortably ahead in the NFC West, while the Bengals, who still hold a fairly comfortable lead in the AFC North race, need to win to stop the bleeding.

(MNF) New England 20, Buffalo 13 - The Patriots remained unbeaten, but only just barely. New England hardly looked as dominant as they had for much of the season, held to their lowest point total of the season, and having to do everything possible just to hold off the Bills towards the end of the final quarter. But they remain undefeated now at 10-0.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

NFL 2015-16 Thanksgiving Day & Week 12 Predictions

Thanksgiving Day Games:

Philadelphia at Detroit - The Eagles suffered an almost inexplicable, demoralizing blowout loss against Tampa Bay, and now have to go to Detroit, a team that is playing much, much better. This is the part of the season that becomes a little like a minefield for team teetering on the edges of playoff relevance. Philly should win this game, so why do I get the feeling that this will be another landmine that blows up in their face, and gets them a little further away from the playoffs?

Carolina at Dallas - The good news for the Cowboys is that they finally won again, for the first time since September. The bad news is that they now have to take on the 10-0 Carolina Panthers. Well, at least they have home field advantage, but the Panthers are solid, with a tough defense and an offense that can, at times, be explosive. Dallas finally has Romo back, but I still think the Panthers should be too much for them this time around. Carolina wins.

Chicago at Green Bay - This one should be a clear cut game, although you never know. Still, the Packers, after a slide, recovered nicely against Minnesota last week when it mattered the most. Now, they should be back on track, and back at home, against a team that they have largely mastered in recent years, Green Bay should be celebrating a second big, divisional game victory in a row. Bears could prove tough, though, as they are better than their record indicates, and definitely dangerous.


Oakland at Tennessee - The Titans seem to have new life in them, while the Raiders are battling for their playoff lives, and coming off a disappointing loss at Detroit. Once again, the Raiders are on the road back east, although they have a Titans team that has been tough, but hardly wins with any degree of consistency. Oakland needs this one more than Tennessee, and they are the better team, so I will say that the Raiders find a way, and come out of this one with a win.

NY Giants at Washington - This is a huge game with enormous playoff implications, as Washington, a scrappy team that keeps on winning when it is not supposed to, hosts the division leading Giants. Washington is tough and can play opponents well, although the Giants, when they play up to their potential, can really be quite strong themselves. The Giants should be playing on a high, having showed a lot of capabilities in the near miss against New England, and then having a bye week to rest. So, perhaps I am voting this way because of my heart, but the Giants will defeat Washington on Sunday.

Minnesota at Atlanta - The Falcons went from a hugely impressive 5-0 start, to a team reeling, on the verge of a total collapse. That makes this game huge for them, since the Vikings looked surprisingly vulnerable this past weekend against Green Bay. If the Falcons can snap out of their offensive funk, and can successfully emulate what the Packers defense managed to do against Minnesota, than Atlanta has a real chance at winning this. However, they are on the downward spiral, and there is no proof yet that the Vikings admittedly bad loss to Green Bay will continue on into their next few games. So, I'll take the Vikings on the road against Atlanta.

San Diego at Jacksonville - The Chargers are one of the biggest disappointments of the season. Many had them pegged as a playoff team this year. Instead, they look like they are in serious contention for the status of worst football team in the league. The Jaguars, in the meantime, are playing fairly well, and have every motivation to win this game, being just one game out from first in the weak AFC South. I will take Jacksonville in this one.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis - Who would have thought when the season began that this would be a huge game with playoff ramifications for both teams? For that matter, who would have believed that these two teams would have the same exact record at this point in the season? Not I, for sure. But the Colts have home field advantage, and have been playing better lately. That makes this an intriguing match. Although Tampa Bay has a chance at playing as well as they have recently, and taking the game, I believe the Colts should find a way to win.

Miami at NY Jets - The Dolphins just suffered a huge disappointment that may have pretty much been the death blow to their playoff hopes. The Jets are actively suffering a massive three -game losing streak that could signal the end of their own playoff hopes, especially if they do not stop the bleeding in this game against Miami. Home field advantage helps, and my heart tells me that the Jets should win. But my head tells me that the Dolphins have looked sharper lately, and will find a way to pull this one off.

Buffalo at Kansas City - The Bills almost pulled off a big game that would have stunned the NFL in Foxboro on Monday Night Football against the undefeated Patriots. Almost. But they went down in defeat in the end. Now, they go to Kansas City, which is always a tough place to play, to take on the red hot Chiefs, who have come all the way back from a miserable 1-5 start, to get back to even at 5-5. I believe that they should take this one, too, and should beat the Bills to get back to a winning record.

New Orleans at Houston - The Texans are hot, looking to continue their win streak, so that they can stay with the Colts for the AFC South, if not perhaps even take the lead. New Orleans, in the meantime, is a team in turmoil, with a defense that cannot stop anybody. Their playoff hopes are almost gone, and I just do not see them winning on the road against a hot Houston team.

St. Louis at Cincinnati - The Bengals followed in the footsteps of the Broncos and Packers by following an undefeated streak with a losing streak. Luckily, the St. Louis Rams are stepping up to the plate to assure that the Bengals have an excellent chance of breaking that. This should be a relatively routine win for Cincinnati. They need to take care of business here.

Arizona at San Francisco - The Cardinals own a comfortable three-game lead over the second place Seahawks, but they need to stay on top of that, and not suffer any letdowns. The 49ers are pretty much out of the running in the NFC West, and even the playoffs. Still, they have proven to be tough at home, although pulling off a win against first place Arizona would be a huge feat indeed. But my guess is that the Cardinals stay sharp and beat out the 49ers to stay well ahead in the NFC West. The Cardinals at this point would enjoy the second seed in the NFC playoffs, and I suspect that they are really determined to make this season something truly special. So they cannot afford to lose this one.

Pittsburgh at Seattle - This is an intriguing match! Two serious contenders, squaring off. The Steelers have a dangerous offense, while the Seahawks are still quite solid all around, despite having suffered through a disappointing season thus far. However, this game is crucial for them, since a loss would pretty much solidify that the disappointment would be the entire season, whereas a win would be their second in a row, and catapult them right back into serious relevancy in the NFC playoff picture. The Steelers are tough, but the Seahawks at home in Seattle are tougher. Look for the 12th man to help the Hawks through this one.

(SNF) New England at Denver - My guy tells me that this will be New England's first loss, although my head tells me that the crafty Patriots will somehow find a way in this one. Either way, it is almost too close to call, as it would not be all that surprising no matter who wins this contest. It should be another good one in one of the best rivalries that the sport has seen in years!

Baltimore at Cleveland - Argh! Who scheduled this MNF game? True, nobody could have predicted the Ravens fall from grace this season, but these two teams matching up on Monday Night Football makes this a really uninteresting match with little to spark anyone's interest. Neither team will be heading towards the playoffs, especially not with Flacco out for the remainder of this season. I will go ahead ad predict a Browns victory to give their fans something to cheer about this year.