Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 - The Year in Review

Much like it's predecessor, 2016, this year, 2017, has been strange.

Same old same old on the political front? Well, in some ways yes, and of course, in some ways, no. Things are never normal when you have someone like who we have now in charge. But you elect a clown, like this nation did in 2016, and you have to expect a circus.

This was the year that Donald Trump officially became President when he officially went through the Inauguration and took the oath of office.

Since then, it has largely felt like a nightmare on many levels ever since. The United States just passed this horrendous tax bill, where some high-ranking Republican government officials that made sure it would become the law of the land - specifically, Senator Marco Rubio and, most noticeably, Donald Trump himself - have admitted that this bill primarily benefits the wealthiest Americans, with Trump telling all of his rich, elitist friends in Mar-a-Lago that he made them all a lot richer, and Rubio recently admitting that the bill probably goes too far in benefiting corporations.

This year, under Trump, we also saw the United States become the first country to withdraw from the Paris Accord, and we now stand as the only nation to reject it on the premise that we do not fully believe in the science. In 2017.


Trump also stood before the United Nations, right around Peace Day, and threatened to wipe another nation off the map. Nazis marched on the streets of one American town, and Trump seemed very hesitant to criticize them. And those are just some of the news stories from Washington, but enough about that idiocy.  Enough about Trump. Let me try to make this a bit more optimistic and positive than that.

So, 2017 was a cool year in some other ways. Science and technology continue to amaze, and to define our age. A mission to Mars will begin in the not so distant future. A new fast train was announced for the United States by Elon Musk. And digital currency, the Bitcoin, really took off in value, although there are some serious questions remaining about it. 

There were some good movies, including "The Promise," which featured a song by the late great Chris Cornell, who died this year. Some other great musicians who died this year include Tom Petty,  Chester Bennington, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino. 

This was the year of the release of the second Star Wars, although the jury is still out on that one. Some fans loved it, and some hated it. I personally appreciated some aspects of it, and could have done without other things that were in the movie.

It was a good year for my son and I. We did not go on another huge western trip, although we took some smaller trips, including going up to Ottawa, Canada, for the 150th anniversary of Confederation. We also made it up to Québec City for a Tintin exhibit. We also took several trips to New York City, including one for the Paul McCartney concert that I really wanted to take him to for years! 

Finally, it was a very nice year here on the Charbor Chronicles! Earlier this year, I reached half a million views, far earlier than I could possibly have imagined! It was amazing! And recently, I noticed that there are some new followers, which is really cool and greatly appreciated. Welcome, old and new followers! I lost more than half of my followers when Google decided that only people with Google accounts could follow blogs like mine, which was annoying. But it is nice to see some new faces, some new interest. Overall, this was a good year for my writing, as I finally started getting a bit more serious about putting that first book together. Stay tuned for that!

All in all, a mixed year. Some things that I will not miss, but some things that I am grateful for, including the relative good health and happiness of family and friends.

Let's hope that 2018 is even better!

Amazing Acoustic Version of Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly"

I saw this video earlier today, and thought it sounded just amazing!

Always loved this song before. Like some of Tom Petty's other incredible works ("Runni' Down a Dream" and "Free Falling" come immediately to mind), this song rally allows your mind to wonder, to dream.

It can be rocking, but it can also be stripped down and done a little more slowly, on the down low, if you will.

This version features Stevie Nicks (of Fleetwood Mac fame, of course, but with a notable solo career as well).


Saturday, December 30, 2017

"The Last Jedi" Reached $1 Billion in Revenue Today

I usually am not one who follows the business numbers of artistic things that I like, such as music, books, or movies, or other arts.

However, this seemed like something worth sharing, because I know that the sales for this movie have been impressive. 

Now, I will not lie. Again, I do not usually care about these kinds of stories and, quite frankly, found myself growing very bored, very quickly in trying to read this attached article, which delved into minute details about sales of Star Wars (and other) movies, past and present.

Still, an impressive achievement, and since I am taking my son for a second viewing tomorrow, I guess we are contributing as well to these numbers still.

Here is the link to this article about at least the financial success of "The Last Jedi."

Box Office: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Topping $1 Billion Today by Scott Mendelson , December 30, 2017:

NFL 2017-18 Week 17 Preview

Buffalo at Miami - The Bills may or may not qualify for the playoffs, but they need a lot of help. Before anything else, however, they have got to get the job done this weekend and beat the Dolphins first and foremost, and then worry about whether or not they receive the help that they need.How motivated will Miami be to win this one? My guess is that they would love to at least play spoiler, and shatter Buffalo's playoff dreams, as well as avenge their loss a couple of weeks ago up in Buffalo. But the Bills also have a history of beating the Dolphins far more often than the Finns beat them in recent seasons. Plus, the Bills appear to be the better team this year. With everything to fight for in this game, I see the Bills coming out with the win, albeit barely. My pick: Buffalo

Carolina at Atlanta - The Panthers need to win this, and need New Orleans to lose, in order to take the NFC South. The Falcons need to win this to avoid needing help, and just to win that last playoff spot outright. This will be an intense game, with the Panthers being able to clinch either the second seed throughout the playoffs (with considerable help), or settling for the fifth seed, more likely. But Atlanta needs this one to stay alive, as it is either them or Seattle in the NFC. Win today, and Atlanta is in. Lose today, and likely, Seattle will pull through. My suspicion is that home field plays an important, likely deciding roll in the outcome. My pick: Atlanta

Chicago at Minnesota - Chicago has pulled off some surprises this season, but this one would truly be a stunner that they would remember for years. I know, on any given Sunday, anything could happen. But the Vikings have been among the hottest teams in the league all season long, and they seem to be ending the season with a head full of steam. They have a real chance to qualify for the Super Bowl this season, particularly since the Eagles are a weakened and compromised team without their star quarterback. The Vikings should win that first home game, or at least have a strong chance, and that would mean that either they would go to Philly to face a weakened Eagles team, or they would actually host the NFC Championship Game. Either scenario is realistic, and would give the Purple People Eaters a real chance to returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in over 40 years! But they need to secure the playoff bye first, and they should get by the Bears to do just that in this one. My pick: Minnesota

Cincinnati at Baltimore - The Ravens are right on the verge of a playoff berth, but they first need to take care of business. But since they are at home against a weak Bengals team, that should not be too difficult. Cincy has been remarkably inconsistent these last two seasons, and they just do not appear to have what it takes to win a road game like this and play spoiler. The Ravens are hot right now, and it is hard to imagine that the Bengals can really stand up to all of that for too long. I see Cincy getting blown out in this contest. My pick: Baltimore

Cleveland at Pittsburgh - The Steelers still have a chance at home field advantage, if they win and the Pats get upset by the Jets. It is not necessarily likely, although it could happen, possibly. In any case, I am quite sure that the Browns will be out of luck with their hopes to see Pittsburgh's starters sitting this one out, which means that they likely will be out of luck for this game and, with it, for this season, in terms of producing at least one win. Yes, this should fulfill Cleveland's bottoming out with a rare winless season. Few teams have "achieved" this, with the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers being the only teams in recent decades to have done so. But Cleveland is likely to join them after this one. My pick: Pittsburgh

Dallas at Philadelphia - Nothing is really riding on this game for either team. The Eagles already locked up the top spot in the NFC playoffs, come what may, while Dallas already lost the crucial, absolutely must win game last week against Seattle, which means that they are out of the playoffs, no matter what the scenario. Philly is the better team, and plus, they are at home. However, the also barely beat a weak Raiders team at home last weekend, and that was with their remaining starters. Can they expect to beat the Cowboys with most of the remaining starters sitting it out for the duration of the game after the first or, at latest, the second quarter, most likely? Methinks not, actually. My pick: Dallas

Green Bay at Detroit - Neither team is playing for anything in this one anymore. The Lions should have had a shot, and probabyl, had Aaron Rodgers remained healthy, Green Bay could have been there, as well. Instead, the season will end in the Motor City with this last game before a long offseason for both franchises, as both have a lot off issues and questions to address. Hard to tell who will win this one, although I am guessing that the notion of a season sweep over the Packers this season might go some ways towards salvaging some self-respect and feeling better about where they are overall. No real reason that I can see for why they would not be able to do that. My pick: Detroit


Houston at Indianapolis - One of those "who cares?" games. The lowly Colts host the lowly Texanson the final Sunday afternoon of the regular season. These two teams won the last nine division titles combined between the two of them, but they both have been out of the running for it this year for a long, long time. Hard to tell which team will win, because they are both so bad. But the Texans were notoriously bad on the road for years, and the Colts are overdue for another win, so I will go with the home field in this meaningless contest. My pick: Indianapolis


Jacksonville at Tennessee - The Jaguars might rest their starters, which would be great news for the Titans and horrible news for the Chargers. But after getting their butts kicked last week in San Fran, the Jaguars seemed intent on playing much better this weekend, and they are facing a Titans team that has grown ice cold at precisely the worst time. If Jax comes out swinging, this could make it four games in a row, and an end to the Titans playoff hopes. I liked the Titans earlier this season, but this three game skid has really shaken that faith quite a bit. The Jaguars want to enter the playoffs as hot as they looked this season prior to the loss to the 49ers, so I see them coming to play in this one. My pick: Jacksonville 

New Orleans at Tampa Bay - The Saints can finally clinch the NFC South title with a win here, and lock up the third seed in the process, if the Rams also lose (the Rams are going to rest their starters, so there is a good chance of this). Tamp Bay is probably better than their record indicates, but they still are a losing team for a reason. The Saints have been winning in different ways all season, and are possibly the second hottest team in the NFC, after the Vikings. It would be madness to predict an upset win by the Bucs here. My pick: New Orleans


N.Y. Jets at New England - I would like to say that the Jets have a chance in this one, but that is difficult to suggest. The Patriots, after all, are trying to clinch home field advantage throughout, which would be mighty helpful for them to reach their second straight Super Bowl, and their third in four years. Only Gang Green stands in the way, and frankly, the Jets should not be too much of an obstacle for a motivated and hungry Pats team to overcome in this one up in Foxboro. Hard to see how the Jets can win in this one. My pick: New England


Washington at N.Y. Giants - Most of the time, it is the Jets who can use their name to say "Just End the Season). But this season, it is the Giants, because they stand at a miserable 2-13, the second worst record in the league. Evne more astonishing, they are absolutely winless against NFC teams, as all of their wins came against AFC West opponents (at Denver and against KC). They play Washington, which is a better team, and how much motivation can they possibly have to win this one, anyway? This is a "who cares?" kind of a game, even though no one on either side will admit to it. The G-Men have been hugely disappointing all season long, and it would be fitting if they end the season the same way that they have played it all year long, with another loss. My pick: Washington

Arizona at Seattle - The Cardinals have been atrocious on the road, while the Seahawks have been inconsistent all season. But if ever there was a time for the Seahawks to show how tough they can be, especially at home, this is it. Even if Seattle wins, they are not guaranteed a playoff spot. In fact, it seems likely that they will not qualify. But one way or the other, they need to win this game to keep that hope alive and, failing that, at least then to end the season on a hopeful not. That should not be too difficult against the Cardinals. My pick: Seattle

Kansas City at Denver - The Chiefs finally clinched the AFC West, so they will rest their starters, including quarterback Alex Smith. They will need the rest, too, because they have a far more important game that they will be hosting next weekend, so that means that the Broncos have a good chance at ending this season on a high note, delivering a holiday gift for their fans in the form of a win against the Chiefs, which likely will happen here against an obviously watered down KC team. My pick: Denver 

Oakland at L.A. Chargers - The Raiders look absolutely abysmal as their season comes to an end. The Chargers, meanwhile, still have a shot at making the playoffs. There are scenarios where they are out, even with a win, but they have been too hot to have a letdown now. To become only the second team in NFL history to overcome an 0-4 start to qualify for the playoffs (the first team to do it also happened to be the Chargers back in 1992), they will need a lot of things to go right. But first and foremost, they need to win, and that they should do against the Raiders. My pick: L.A. Chargers

San Francisco at L.A. Rams - The Rams were much better all season long, but they are resting their  resting their starters, which gives the 49ers an excellent shot to stay hot at the end of the season and win this one. Los Angeles does not have all that much to play for, and have announced already that they will be sitting their starters, so they clearly do not intend to place too much of an emphasis on winning this one, which gives the road team an excellent shot at ending the season on a very high note. My pick: San Francisco

Friday, December 29, 2017

Debating Guns With a Gun Rights Activist

A few days ago, I posted something on Facebook about how maybe guns should be required to have permits and licenses, kind of like driver's licenses.

One friend and former coworker responded dismissively, asking what that would accomplish. 

This guy disappointed me when he proved to be a Trump supporter in 2016, and he has remained a supporter since. I have debated with him about Trump and other things and, despite the uselessness of the debate, thought I would respond to his comment with some facts about gun violence here and abroad. 

I just posted this, so he has not had time to respond just yet. 

I should not that I broke this up into different paragraphs, even though on Facebook, it came all in one big clump of commentary, due to the format there. 

Also, it will become obvious that I am not mentioning him by name, for reasons that should be obvious. Here is what I wrote to him:

Well ___, let's see. 

In 1990, New Zealand had a major mass shooting by a madman in Aramoana. Tighter gun laws were passed and, low and behold, we never heard of a major mass shooting there since. In Port Arthur, Australia, in 1996, a madman went on a killing spree, with 35 people killed. They passed tighter laws and, low and behold, we have yet to have seen a mass shooting in that country in the 20 + years since. In Great Britain, there was a mass shooting in Dublane, Scotland, and 12 people were killed. Gun laws were tightened, but there was another mass shooting a decade and a half later. They tightened gun laws again, and they have not had a major mass shooting since. There were two mass shootings in Germany, one in 2002, and one in 2009, and tighter gun laws were passed, gun violence went down, just like in Britain. 

These are all affluent, western countries, just like the United States. When  there were images of senseless mass violence in their countries, the citizens actually demanded action, and got things done, lessening the likelihood of it happening again. 

Here in the United States, the nation was shocked when there was a mass killing in a Killeen, Texas, with over 20 dead. No laws were passed to protect people. by the mass shooting at Columbine High School, but nothing was done. We had another huge mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 (and there were plenty of smaller ones that did not stick on people's radars in between), but again, nothing was done. We had another mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009. Shocking images once again, but also once again, nothing was done. We had another major mass shooting that shook the country in Tuscon, Arizona in 2011, but again, nothing was done. We had another mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, just a few miles from where the Columbine school shooting took p[lace, as I understand it, and this shocked people, again. Yet also again, nothing was done. Are you starting to notice a pattern yet? Later that year, we had the most shocking school shooting in this country's history, as 26 people, most of them roughly 6 and 7 year olds, were killed, because a lunatic who never should have had access to a gun instead had easy access, and he went on a rampage. The whole world was shocked once again, yet once again, absolutely nothing was done. Another mass shooting in San Bernardino, California in 2015 shocked the country, but no laws were passed. In 2016 in Orlando, yet another mass shooting - the largest mass shooting in this country's history at the time - killing 49 people. Yet again, a lot of shock, but zero action was taken. Then earlier this year in October in Las Vegas, yet another mass shooting as a gunman sprayed bullets from a de facto machine gun onto a crowd at a concert. 58 people dead, and much shock and debate. No action was taken. A little more than one month later, another mad man with a history killed 26 people in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the largest mass shooting in that state's history. Again, a whole lot of debate, but by people in power, again, nothing. Just a whole bunch of "thoughts and prayers." 

The NRA and it's sympathizers keep insisting that any restrictions - even the smallest ones - will inevitably lead to a Nazi style takeover, although there is no evidence of this. In fact, those other countries I mentioned are probably freer than we are in almost every way, and people can still get guns there. Just not unconditionally, because there are restrictions. But not here. God forbid we ever learn from the lessons of the past. We lead the entire world in gun violence among supposedly peacetime nations. Over 1 million people have died because of gun violence since John Lennon was shot in 1980! We have far and away the most deaths by gun violence of any industrialized nation, and it's not even close. So my thinking is that, indeed, maybe we should do SOMETHING at some point. Or, maybe, this is a problem (and a major source of embarrassment for Americans here and abroad) will somehow magically resolve itself if we keep doing nothing, and just hope it goes away. But look how well it has worked so far. Three of the largest mass shootings in history have taken place in the last year and a half or so. Doing nothing has not worked, but maybe we should keep trying to do nothing, in hopes that something will change eventually, eh, ____?

But you know, I heard somewhere that trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity. So my thinking on this subject is that it is time for us to actually try doing something. Or are we going to wait longer, until the death tolls start to reach even higher? Maybe we need them to reach into triple digits, or into the thousands. Maybe we need one major mass shooting ever few days, instead of weeks, for us to wake up and recognize that this is, indeed, a problem. 

So, I am thinking that this might be a good first step. It does not take away the right to bear arms. There will not be some kind of massive gun grab by the government, and there most assuredly will not be another Holocaust or takeover by the next Stalin or Hitler. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that life goes on more or less as normal, except maybe we will have fewer headlines about gun violence, and particularly major mass shootings. Maybe this could be a good first step, or maybe some other action needs to be take place. But I think that SOMETHING needs to happen, at some point. A vast majority of Americans agree, including those who identify as Democrats and Republicans. Hell, I heard that even a majority of NRA members agree that there should be some kind of sensible gun legislation, such as background checks, passed at some point. Perhaps you think that we should go on doing nothing? Do you think that doing nothing has worked to this point? And if you think that we should do something, what, exactly, would that be?

How other countries changed their gun policies after mass shootings By Melissa Etehad June 16, 2016:

Thursday, December 28, 2017

“The Last Jedi” Remains Consistent With Links to Star Wars & Buddhism

A couple of days ago, I published a blog that spoke about the mythology of Star Wars, including a video of an interview between George Lucas and Bill Moyers on that theme.

Well, it is no secret that Star Wars seems to borrow quite heavily on Buddhism in particular, and especially when it comes to Jedi and their use of, and philosophy towards, the force.

Jedi seem to have a tradition and way of thinking and doing things that bares some considerable resemblance to eastern philosophies and traditions in our own world. Perhaps the fact that we in our complex society, often feeling overwhelmed with increased and rapid changes in modern technological innovations that are fundamentally changing our experience, expectations, and understanding of our world, and our own place in it, tend to be attracted to the mysticism and mystery of eastern philosophies is telling. After all, the same can be seen in the Star Wars universe, where the Force was dismissed as an "old religion" that clearly is outdated in a universe completely dominated by seemingly unreal technology which makes almost anything possible.

Yet, it is the more simplistic and "outdated" religion of the Force that seems, in the end, to be the strongest factor in determining the outcome of events. That is not all that dissimilar to the way that more and more people in Western societies are feeling, as the sense of empowerment, serenity, and focus help us feel more balanced and centered in a world that often seems intent in shaking our foundations and pulling the very ground out from under us.

Well, this article was one that discusses the links between Star Wars and Buddhism, and it was quite interesting reading. Enjoy!

“The Last Jedi” Cranks Up Star Wars’ Buddhist Themes by Matthew Bortolini,  December 20, 2017:

A Steelers Fan Reaction to Loss to the Patriots Underscores Ugliness of Sports Culture

It is almost playoff time for the NFL, and that means a few things. Games and action often get more exciting. Teams will be eliminated with each passing week, until we have the two Super Bowl participants battling it out for the title. Heroes and, most likely, goats will emerge in this process. In the end, the best team will be crowned champion.

But there are other stories that go unreported, as well. Domestic violence goes up a notch or two in the city where their team has just been eliminated. Sometimes, there are violent riots and gatherings, in both winning and losing sports cities. And you can count on ugliness in general from overzealous fans for all teams.

There is a video an reaction of the reaction by a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers from that team's loss to the New England Patriots this past Sunday that has been generating some publicity. I ran into it a few days after this video was apparently taken.

When I was a kid, and throughout my teenage years right into young adulthood, I was much more into sports than I am now. One of the things that I did to compensate for never going to games back then was to go to a ton of games once I could. And perhaps what surprised me most about doing this was that it was not nearly as exciting as I thought it would be.

In fact, on many levels, it was downright depressing!

How? Well, frankly, because of fans like this. 

Yes, I know that it was not this guy, specifically. He is a Steelers fan, and I have no idea who he is, or if he is from Pittsburgh or not. But what I found was that there were a lot of fans almost exactly like this. 

Now, I do not want to sound judgmental, although it will be difficult to make the points that I want to make here without passing some judgment. But what I saw, time after time, were people very much like this. People who were pretty transparently unhappy with their lives, and who got way too into sports, beyond all reason, frankly. People who's fandom became the equivalent of ugly nationalism, if you will. People who would consume the products of their team and wear them proudly, and who became visibly unhappy when their team loses big games. Kind of like this guy.

I read some of the comments posted on Youtube to this video, and some people seemed to get the point of what is going on here, and some people do not. Some of the people commenting seemed not to think it strange that this man would react in this way, and they focused on the legitimacy, or lack thereof, concerning a controversial touchdown call that might have changed the outcome of the game. Some fans insulted the New England Patriots (and their fans), others fans insulted the Pittsburgh Steelers (and their fans), but all of them seemed to be way off the mark, and miss the point of why this video has generated as much attention as it has. And that blindness is probably the main problem with sports fan culture.

Whoever posted this video either thought it was a funny reaction by a friend, or a crazy/scary one. One way or the other, it is obviously an unusual reaction, and it is this reaction that personally scared me once I began going to the games. No, not by this particular fan, but by the legions of fans just like him. They might not look exactly like him, and surely their lives are different. Also, different fans like different teams. But for all intents and purposes, when you go to the tailgates scattered around the parking lots just before NFL games (and presumably, perhaps those of other major sports as well), and seated next to you inside of the stadium, these are the kinds of people, and the kinds of responses, that you will surely see.

That was what frightened me, when I went to those games. There was an anger that smacked of  deep and very serious unhappiness with life in general, and a depressing and deflating emptiness in so blindly turning to sports for escapism in these fans. And I saw myself walking among them, seeing it time and again. I enjoyed going to games then, and still do to some extent now. Yet, some aspects of it were not so pleasant, and almost everything unpleasant that I saw - from rising ticket prices, to annoying lines of traffic and even lines to get into the stadium itself, to  mind-numbingly stupid and often violent interactions between fans of competing teams - stemmed from this ugly and excessive sports fan culture.

Yet, many of the comments seemed to totally ignore this. Typically for sports fans, some of the comments betrayed this very blindness. Some were from Steelers fans who could sympathize, and some were from Patriots fans, who blasted this and other Steelers fans, and suggested that these were the rules, and to stop hating on their team.

It seemed to me obvious that they were all missing the point of this video, and why it has generated the reaction that it has.

Obviously, this man is completely overreacting to what is happening on the television screen, which is showing a bunch of spoiled millionaire athletes in one uniform playing a game against another bunch of spoiled millionaire athletes wearing another uniform. These men have no real loyalty to this particular fan, and in many cases, they do not seem to care much about the fans in general, even though it is the fans who essentially pay for the hefty salaries of these athletes.

And in the case of the star quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, let's face it: he is a rapist who was able to get away with his crimes because of who he is, because of what he is able to do on a football field, and for the big money that he brings to his team, and to the league in general, as well as other sponsors for the Steelers.

This mindlessness and blind devotion towards something that actually is not a real prat of a fan's life, - and certainly nothing that this man, or other dedicated fans, can control - is exactly what I saw all around me during those games, and whenever I see people (mostly, but not exclusively men) who are proud fans of this or that franchise.

I felt extremely lucky to see the Giants host the best team of the first half of the 1990's, the Dallas Cowboys. Not once, but twice. The first time was great. It came in 1994, and we took off work on Christmas Eve for the game. We got scalped tickets for less than I imagined, and we saw a good game, which the Giants won. The second time came two years later, I got tickets well in advance, and they cost far more. And the crowd was ridiculous, almost violent at times. There was a guy seated behind us who was so drunk, he could not fully stand on his own. Yet, he kept trying, and was yelling at the top of his voice, yelling at Michael Irving (as if he could hear this clown), and claiming that he was no role model, with his history of substance abuse (except he was using very crude and, frankly, incomprehensible language at times, often slurring his words). At one point while doing this, he actually fell, almost right onto my girlfriend/future wife. I had to physically hold him up, and he was a big guy, so it took some doing. Had she not been there, I would simply have let him fall, and hopefully hurt himself enough to perhaps learn a lesson. The Giants ended up winning a shocker, but I still remember not enjoying that game, and my memories have remained sour. That was the first time that I began to really get sick of going to these sporting events, but it was not the last time.

Don't get me wrong: I obviously like sports, and write about them quite a bit here, to boot. And will continue to do so.

But I think that we need to start taking the kind of blind and dangerously obsessed behavior that we see in video like this a lot more seriously, and start asking questions, about people like this, and about our own conduct if it is even remotely similar.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mark Hamill Regrets Airing Public Criticism of "The Last Jedi"

Over the course of the last couple of weeks or so, I have posted quite a lot on Star Wars and related themes, and it seems that a good portion of these have at least included, if not mostly focused on, Mark Hamill.

He has been everywhere lately. Obviously, he has a prominent role in the newest Star Wars movie, "The Last Jedi." And he has voiced his concerns and disagreements with director Rian Johnson's interpretation of the Like Skywalker character very publicly. Hell, he has even sparred politically with some prominent figures in Washington, particularly Ajit Pai and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

Perhaps the news that has generated the most headlines and received the most attention, and likely undermined the movie's success and/or credibility in the eyes of many Star Wars fans has been the very public disagreements that he had with Johnson over the Luke character. Here, in brief, is a summary of Hamill's criticism in his own words:

“I’ve had trouble accepting what [Rian Johnson] saw for Luke but again, I mean, I have to say, having seen the movie I was wrong. I think being pushed out of your comfort zone is a good thing because if I was just another benevolent Jedi training young padawans, we’ve seen it!”

Now, however, Hamill is expressing some public regret for his criticisms of Rian Johnson, and the new film overall. I am guessing that he was reprimanded and/or criticized in some manner, and probably was made to have a different take on "The Last Jedi" by someone. Here is his latest comments on the controversy, which he published yesterday:

I regret voicing my doubts & insecurities in public.Creative differences are a common element of any project but usually remain private. All I wanted was to make good movie. I got more than that- @rianjohnson made an all-time GREAT one! #HumbledHamill …  5:32 PM - Dec 26, 2017

And the saga continues...

It is interesting, this latest turn in the controversy surrounding the newest Star Wars movie, which seemed at first to be loved by critics and the first viewers, but which since has received some much more Luke warm support and, in some cases, downright dislike and even hated by some.

Now, I promise that I will stop procrastinating and publish my own, spoiler-filled review soon. There has just been so much about the movie that I have wanted to say, both good and bad. Because Star Wars does mean a lot to me, and has since I was a kid!

So, it will be done and published soon. But in the meantime, how fascinating is it to see the various reactions from fans and, in this case, some actors, alike?

Mark Hamill Regrets Criticizing Rian Johnson’s Portrayal of Luke Skywalker in ‘Last Jedi’ by Kirsten Chuba, December 26, 2017:

Movie Review - Idiocracy

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

~ Isaac Asimov

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...  

“The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”  

~  Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

The two quotes above are far from cheery or encouraging messages, and perhaps it is scary and depressing to grapple with these kinds of issues. After all, it brings to mind another telling quote, this one from Bill Murray, that is particularly apropos these days:

"It's hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it's damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person."

Yet it feels more urgent to actually begin to tackle this issue, because most people are beginning to recognize that anti-intellectualism is starting to be a very serious problem in this country.

For a very long time in the United States - far too long, frankly - we have collectively sat back and watched a serious deterioration occur within the country. Since roughly the early to mid-seventies, the nation's standard of living has consistently fallen behind that of several other nations of the world. During that time, we have found ourselves too often electing "leaders" who smile in our faces and tell us pretty lies. They tell us what we want to hear, rather than what we need to hear, and so we as a nation collectively never allow ourselves to be challenged. The results can be downright frightening. We saw that with the rabid intolerance targeting those opposed to the Iraq invasion during the Bush years. And we are seeing that now by the rabid intolerance targeting people who are sickened by Donald Trump, and/or the gun lobby, and/or the rejection of science which, frankly, is beginning to feel more and more like national policy.

In 2016, the United States elected a man as the President who fits into a lot of the worst stereotypes that people around the world have of Americans. Donald Trump is a monstrous narcissist of epic proportions. This man is a pig in the way he treats others, and he is offensively arrogant and ignorant of so much, to the point that it is difficult to claim that he is not outright stupid. This man is full of himself. An elitist from birth, this man has been handed some incredible, staggering blessings. Yet, he is the first to complain and suggest, straight-faced, that he has been cheated or treated unfairly. He is the poster child for all sorts of elitism and an inflated sense of self and entitlement, and yet far too many Americans completely sympathize with him, and feels that he "gets" them and cares about them, although there is absolutely nothing in this man's past or present to suggest that he does. 

Obviously, it is depressing to see such an imbecile ascend to the highest office in the land. Yet, it also triggered something hopeful. There was a strong reaction, as finally, millions of Americans reacted to the shocking, yet undeniable evidence that we truly have allowed this country to decline so low that a man like this could be elected President.

During this holiday season, you get to see and talk to family more frequently than usual. One family member that I saw more of was my brother, and naturally, Trump came into the conversation. Fortunately, no one in the family is a fan or supporter of Trump, so it was not a dreaded discussion in that regard, although we all feel depressed and discouraged at the still unbelievable notion that this man is now officially the President of the United States.

One thing that my brother mentioned was a movie, Idiocracy, which he had actually mentioned once before. It was a kind of science-fiction comedy movie, where a man and a woman are basically frozen in what is supposed to be a one-year experiment. But through a series of unusual circumstances, they are frozen for 500 years, and when they wake up, the future is more than a little bleak. People have grown incredibly stupid during that time, to the point where a man of, at best, medium intelligence in the present age qualifies in this future as far and away the smartest man in the world. Specifically, My brother mentioned one scene where the President of the United States in this future needs a teleprompter to say some unimpressive things that most people today would think are actually quite dumb and unthinking remarks. 

Well, I found this movie for free online, on Youtube. It played a little fast, which made the voices and other sound effects almost comical. I would have preferred regular speed, of course, but you cannot beat the price of being totally free, and so who would I be to complain about the speed or sound? Besides, this is a comedy, and the points made came across very clearly.

Indeed, Luke Wilson plays a soldier who is singled out for how remarkably average he is in every sense. He lacks ambition, and just basically wants to literally sit in a room for the remainder of his nine years, so that he can retire and get collect his pension. But he is chosen by military leaders to basically sit out, frozen for one year. But as already mentioned, something goes wrong, and he gets sent hundreds of years into the future.

But unlike many of our most hopeful notions of a more enlightened future, this future is very grim. Human beings are incredibly, mind-numbingly stupid, or at least they are in the United States. This man of average intelligence in our time and place is far and away the most intelligent person in the world, and before long, once this is discovered, he is sent to the White House and ordered by the President to fix all of the obvious problems. There are food shortages, and problems with avalanches because of the literal mountain range of garbage everywhere. The world has been totally and unashamedly been taken over by commercial culture, and people are fixated by sex at every turn, and by such a level of immature humor, that it even makes asinine shows like "Ridiculousness" and some reality television shows like "Jersey Shore" look sophisticated by way of comparison.

Perhaps inevitably, because the problems are not fixed literally immediately, he is sentenced to death. At every turn, he finds himself stunned by the levels of stupidity that he encounters. And whenever he tries to speak, people dismiss him and are angered by him. They literally cannot keep up with anything that he is saying.

In other words, it is a very bleak and depressing take on the future that we sometimes certainly seem to be headed towards. We might not be there, and frankly, if and when you see the movie, you will probably understand that we cannot get there, because humanity would literally have killed itself well before things reach that point. 

Yet, I must say that this film is also very entertaining and hilarious. It is meant as a comedy, even though it sometimes seems like an alarmingly accurate forecast of where we are headed.

This movie is a bit crass at times, although this is perhaps necessary, given the nature of the statement being made. And let me say that I personally found it hilarious, in an almost tragic sense. I think this one is worth a watch, and most likely, you'll be tearing up at some things in this movie, as well. 

Whether or not the tears are from laughter, or from sadness at how scary and accurate the similarities are getting to our own world is the question.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Star Wars is American Mythology

As I have mentioned before, one of the main things that I really, really appreciate about Star Wars is that, to me, this is nothing short of American mythology. It aspires to the future, yet the coolest aspects of the modern technology on display (and perhaps more importantly, taken largely for granted by the characters themselves, thus giving the technology a more realistic feel) tends to mask the simple themes of the main story line resonate with class Greek mythology.

That combination of the two, with a film/saga that blends a mixture of our society's collective interest of and influence by a seemingly simpler past fused with our collective fascination with modern technology and the future, understandably appealed to people. The genesis of the idea began with George Lucas, of course, but has since continued to expand, until it has reached worldwide popularity, understandably. 

To me, that indeed validates the notion that Star Wars is, quite legitimately, one of the finest examples of mythology to have come out of our modern American society. It is one of the things that, as an American, I take pride in. The imagination that started it was incredible, and yet, there really are no limits to just how far this thing can go.

Yet, all of the great things that make people's imagination fly tends to mask one of the major things that makes Star Wars great: the basic conflicts within ourselves, that pull of good and bad, or the light and dark sides. We feel the conflict within the characters when the movies are done right. We cheer truly heroic feats, especially if we understand that these characters are doing these thing at great risk to themselves, but because they believe in the greater good far more than their own selfish interests. These are issues that all of the worlds great religions and philosophies grapple with.

On that level, it is hard not to recognize it as a certain measure of escapism, of course. However, there are intellectual themes to Star Wars that I think it would be important for more fans to recognize. 

To that end, it seemed worth sharing this rare video of George Lucas speaking with Bill Moyers, which is literally titled "The Mythology of Star Wars:"

NFL 2017-18 Week 16 Monday Night Football Games Review

Monday Night Football 

Pittsburgh Steelers


Houston Texans

Pittsburgh 34, Houston 6 - This one was all too predictable, was it not? The Texans have been one of the worst teams all year long, while the Steelers have been on the opposite end of the spectrum, with one of the best records all year long. Admittedly, I did not watch either of these games this weekend, but when I checked the score and saw Pittsburgh up 20-0 in the third quarter, I was rather happy about that. In the end, the Steelers walloped the Texans in Houston, 34-6, in a totally one-sided affair. Again, no surprise, because it is almost astonishing how badly Houston has played at times, particularly late this season. They seem to be one of those teams that essentially has given up, and they had nothing to play for in this one. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was trying to clinch a playoff bye (they did) and still has hopes to get home field advantage, so they were fighting for the highest stakes. The end result here is what you get.  My pick: Accurate

Oakland Raiders


Philadelphia Eagles 

Monday Night Football - Philadelphia 19, Oakland 10 - This game, like the one before it, also featured one of the best teams all season long (the Eagles) against a disappointing playoff team from last season (the Raiders). Oakland had long ago unofficially been eliminated from the playoffs, while Philadelphia had already clinched a playoff bye, and were hoping to clinch home field advantage throughout. However, this contest was a lot closer than the first game, despite the Eagles being the host team! In fact, up until the very end of this game, it seemed like the Raiders were bound to lose. Yet, a flurry of strange incidents right at the end allowed Philly to squeak past the Raiders and avoid the letdown. With this win, Philly locks up the top seed in the NFC and remain unbeaten at home, with one last home game next weekend against Dallas left. Chances are, the Eagles will rest their starters, although who knows how tough the 'Boys will play or not. This is tied for the best mark (13-2) this late in the season that I have ever seen the Eagles have, and they went to the Super Bowl last time, ultimately losing to New England. Not sure that the Eagles will go back to the Super Bowl this season, although if they beat the Cowboys, they will likely set a new franchise record for the most wins and most successful regular season in franchise history!   My pick: Accurate

Boxing Day

My family took a nice holiday trip to Montreal way back in 1988, for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. It was a trip that allowed my family, which has French roots, to really fall in love with Canada, and particularly with Quebec province.

But there was one thing that I remember seemed a mystery to me. The day after Christmas, there was this strange holiday that I had never really heard of. It was called "Boxing Day".

It sounded so strange, so....foreign, to me. It felt like there was a measure of exoticism in the holiday.

What was this "Boxing Day", anyway? Did it really have something to do with the sport of boxing, which was the first image that came to my mind? Did it perhaps have more historical roots, perhaps some sort of association with the Boxing Rebellion in China?

I really did not know. And, truth be told, it seems like it is a mystery to many others around the world, including many Americans.

So, for this Boxing Day, I thought it would be appropriate to do some research on it, and explore it further, in order to slake my own thirst of knowledge on the subject. This is some research that I have been meaning to do for some time, and actually did a long while ago. But, with the renewed activism on "The Charbor Chronicles", it also seemed an appropriate subject for this day in particular.

Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated in Great Britain and the British Commonwealth nations, including Canada and Australia. The idea behind it is that those who are more fortunate and better off generally are to give gifts to those who are less well off. It seems more or less like an extension of the most idealistic notions of gift giving during the Christmas season, along the lines of Charles Dickens in his famous "A Christmas Story".

Boxing Day is not a national holiday in the United States, although it is recognized in some measure in northern parts of the nation, particularly areas neighboring or near Canada.

So, why is it called "Boxing Day"? That much remains unclear. There are theories, of course. The one that seems to make the most sense is the close association to "Christmas boxes" as presents, and this term would then be an extension of that.

Now, Boxing Day is known as a shopping day, not unlike "Black Friday" in the United States. It may seem odd to you, as it kind of does to me, that this shopping holiday falls on literally the day after Christmas, when most people's Christmas shopping is done, and many people are thinking of saving up. But, there you have it. It almost makes me wonder why Boxing Day has not become an American holiday yet, because any holiday associated with shopping seems capable of taking off in the most consumer obsessed culture on the planet.

Also, not unlike Thanksgiving in the United States, Boxing Day is apparently a huge day for sports in participating countries, sure to get an unusually large audience because of the holiday.

For now, however, Boxing Day remains relegated to Commonwealth nations.

Please take a look at my published article on the Guardian Liberty Voice that explore the history of Boxing Day in greater detail:

Boxing Day History and Traditions

Here is the video attached with my GLV article, which you can view here as well:

Here are some websites that helped me in writing this particular blog entry:

Wikiepedia page on Boxing Day:

"What is Boxing Day?" on under British & Irish Food:

Here is a fascinating piece on the history of Boxing Day by Time magazine: "A Brief History Of Boxing Day" by Claire Suddath of Time magazine,  Friday, Dec. 25, 2009:,8599,1868711,00.html

"All you need to know about Boxing day matches – History and memories" bySakshi of Sportskeeda – Tue 24 Dec, 2013:

Monday, December 25, 2017

Star Wars & Political Expression

Every now and again, Star Wars has gotten political. And I guess I can admit that it really does not bother me when it has done so.

I remember when people were suggesting (some were complaining) that Anakin talling Obbi Wan that "You're either with me, or you're my enemy" was a not so subtle swipe at the Bush administration's approach towards things, particularly towards maintaining loyalty regarding the so-called "War on Terror."

Frankly, admittedly, I liked that. It actually gave me more respect for George Lucas and the makers of Star Wars, rather than less. And I had no complaints like so many others about this being entertainment and an escape from reality, because what it really is is art, and art sometimes is influenced by and comments on reality.

With that in mind, this article that I ran into actually discusses the political significance of each Star Wars era in a way that, truth be told, I had never really thought of before. And it was fascinating, to boot!

Just look at the way that this article begins in just the first couple of paragraphs:

Star Wars has always had its finger on the pulse of the cultural fear of the moment. In the original trilogy in the 1970s and early 80s, it was The Man– an evil establishment that needed to be purified by a younger generation. In the prequels of the 90s, it was evil corporations secretly colluding with a corrupt government to create endless war.  

Now, in early 21st century America, the villain is an unstable young white man who had every privilege in life, yet feels like the world has wronged him. Unbeknownst to his family, he finds and communicates with a faraway mentor who radicalizes him with a horrific, authoritarian ideology. By the time his family finds out, it’s too late, and now this unstable young white man has this horrific ideology, access to far too many weapons, and the desperate desire to demolish anything that he perceives as a threat– or is told to perceive as a threat.

Hmmm...interesting take, is it not? An unstable white man with every privilege in life, yet thinks that the world has wronged him? Sounds familiar, somehow.

Well, take a look, although be warned: if you have not seen "The last Jedi" yet (or "The Force Awakens," for that matter), this has some spoilers in it. Don't say that you were not warned!

“This is Not Going to Go the Way You Think”: The Last Jedi Is Subversive AF, and I Am Here for It  melissahillman, December 20, 2017:

Winter Wonderland Sunrise Early on a White Christmas!

Today in Northern New Jersey, we had our first white Christmas in many,  many years.

The early morning sun rises on a winter wonderland for the first white Christmas in many years!  Got to enjoy another Christmas with family and friends.  Feeling very blessed and grateful! Joyeux Noël!!!! Merry Christmas!!!! Wesołych Świąt bożego Narodzenia!!! Feliz Navidad!!!

Christmas History Predates Christianity

So, I wrote a blog years ago, where I explored a little bit about the origins of the Christmas holiday, just out of curiosity (reprinted below).

However, I was not feeling fully satisfied with it, and so this year, with the pressure of having editors checking my work, as well as certain criteria that need to be met, I decided to do a more extensive article on the history of Christmas, including the pre-Christian origins of the holiday.

It was pretty fascinating, and I can honestly say that I learned quite a bit while doing the research. It is a more informative piece than my Christmas article from last year. If you are interested, I urge you to go ahead and click on the link below so that you can read the article, which also has a video attached. There is some fascinating material there.

Some of the things I did not know, and even though I tried to make the history of Christmas complete, there are some things that I had to leave out, because the article was already growing too long for that site. I needed to rein it in a bit, and so it did not include all of the information that I encountered.

That said, I will now try to add some of the information that was missing, which I did not include in the article, since this is my own blog page.

"The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan value and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism."

~Reinhold Niebuhr  

If you are reading this blog page, I have to imagine that you are an adult. And since we are all adults, I wanted to discuss something that has been on my mind lately - specifically because it is Christmas time.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. It really can bring out the best in all of us, the best in humanity, because of the emphasis on giving. If human beings are not at their best then, then when are we at our best, anyway?

The Significance of December 25

The oldest is Horus (circa 3000BC). He was also born on December 25th, and born from a virgin, with a star in the east. There were three kings present for his birth. He was teaching people at 12 years old, and leading a ministry at 30, with exactly 12 disciples to spread his word. He walked on water and healed the sick, was crucified, and came back to life three days later.

There was Attis (circa 1200BC), who was also born of a virgin on December 25th. He was crucified, and raised from the dead after three days.

We also have the Persian God Mithra (circa 1200BC), who was honored by a popular cult known as the Mystery Cult, which honored the virgin birth of Mithras on December 25th. Placed on a manger as a baby and attended by shepperds. he had 12 disciples and performed miracles. His message was to personally sacrifice for the greater good of the world, and ascended to Heaven. He was known as the way, the truth, and the light. He also was crucified and resurrected after three days.

There was Krishna (circa 900 BC), who was also born of a virgin when there was a star in the eastern sky. Like Jesus, Krishna also performed miracles and was known as the "son of God." He also happened to be the son of a carpenter, and was resurrected after his death. 

Finally, we have the Greek god Dionysius, the god of wine (circa 500BC). he also was born of a human mother impregnated by Zeus on December 25th (he was later reborn by Zeus, who used a piece of his own leg), and performed miracles, including turning water into wine. Dionysius taught and traveled widely in his day. He was known as the "Holy Child" and was also resurrected after his death.

So, we can see that all of these mythical figures had their birthday on December 25th, which was picked (yes, picked, because there is no actual concrete proof) as the day to recognize and honor the birthday of Jesus. It was both a way to blend the long established traditions of worship on a sacred day for pagan faiths, while simultaneously replacing it, which is to say accelerating the process for many in forgetting it.

December 25th is also significant for another reason, as well. The ancient Romans honored this day as the Winter Solstice to honor the "Unconquered Sun". Indeed, it is right around the time when days begin to get longer, even though the winter season has essentially just begun. So, Pagans recognized this as a time to worship the sun, understandably, even with months of often harsh winter yet to come. One can see the positive and hopeful motives behind this. Generally, it is roughly three or so days after the winter solstice, and this was indeed recognized by many so-called pagans before Christianity, so the date was already significant. It would be easy enough, and very convenient, for Christianity to pick up on this significance for one of the most important dates in the Christian calendar.

There is no mention of the birth date in much of early Christian writing. Celebrating the birth of Jesus was hardly a unanimous, undisputed thing when it was first instituted, and Origen of Alexandria (circa 165-264) even mocked the practice of recognizing this particular date, and considered them remnants of "pagan" traditions.

Overall, celebrations during this time of the year in recognition of the winter solstice are actually quite widespread. Many of them I get into in the article for the Guardian Liberty Voice, and again, I do hope you will take a look at it. But in the interest of space and time (I had to make sure it was actually published by Christmas day itself), not everything was mentioned. One thing that I left out, for example, was a tradition recognizing the sun god for the winter solstice, although the Spanish banned this tradition when they tried to convert the Incas to Catholicism. Yet, in the 1950's, a small group of Quecia Indians from Cusco, Peru, resurrected the tradition, and it has grown into a major festival in the present day.

There are the St. Thomas' Day celebrations honoring St. Thomas the Apostle. That falls on December 21,the shortest day of the year. Mayan Indians in Mexico and Central America honored the sun god in what was known as polo voladore, or “flying pole dance”.

For the Kalasha or Kalash Kafir people of northwestern Pakistan, there is something called Chaomos, which lasts no less than seven days, and always includes the winter solstice. There are baths that represent cleansing, as well as a torchlight procession, singing, dancing, and feasts complete with bonfires.

There are plenty of others, as well. The yule was a Scandinavian god of fertility, and the tradition of Yuletide carols and greetings seems to have stemmed from that. Decorating with wreaths was a Wiccan tradition, adopted by practitioners of Christianity for Christmas. Druids began the tradition of putting up a mistletoe with hopes of getting a kiss as reward. The tradition of putting in a decorative tree into your home seems to have stemmed from the older tradition of putting a Saturnalia tree to honor Saturn. The fairy tale of some jolly stranger entering your home and giving gifts for the holidays existed in other traditions, with Thor, Odin, and St. Nicholas all establishing that before the more recent myth of Santa Claus. Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged horse, who predated the eight reindeer that brought Santa across the globe to slide down chimneys and give those wonderful gifts to the children of families. Mithras celebrated the sun's rebirth on December 25th. Finally, let us remember that the name Christmas came from the original celebration, which honored Jesus and was known as Christ's Mass.

There may be other celebrations involving the winter solstice that I have not yet gotten around to. However, I suspect that this list this year is far better than the one I did last year, if you include the Guardian Liberty Voice article.

In any case, this was a topic that interested me quite a bit, and which I always wanted to learn more about. Below are some of the links that helped me to understand this history a little better, and greatly assisted me in writing this particular blog entry. Of course, you are free to do your own research, and come to your own conclusions. But these websites seemed a good starting point to getting the debate going:

 Horus was born of the reanimated and reassembled body of his father Osiris.   Mithra was just born. No mother.   Krishna had a mom and dad and has no real parallels with Jesus.   Dionysus was son of Zeus and Hera got pissed off because as usual he was out banging mortals.

Okay, before the links and video, I just thought that it would be fitting to share the following quote by comedian Chris Rock, which I think illustrates the paradoxes between what Jesus taught and represented, and what the holiday officially celebrating him and his birthday has come to represent and be in reality:

"Christmas is Jesus' birthday. Now, I don't know Jesus, but from what I've read, Jesus is the least materialistic person to ever roam the Earth. No bling on Jesus! Jesus kept a low profile, and we turned his birthday into one of the most materialistic day of the year.

"Matter of fact we have the Jesus Birthday Season... 'We had a horrible Jesus' birthday this year, hopefully business will pick up by his crucifixion.'"

Chris Rock pushes close to the edge with Jesus and 9/11 jokes on SNL by Christian Today staff writer, November 3, 2014:

Here is the article of mine that was published on Guardian Liberty Voice. Please take a look:

Christmas Celebrations Predate Christianity [Video]

"Dionysus: Born of a Virgin on December 25th, Killed and Resurrected after Three Days"  by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S

"WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF DECEMBER 25?"  By Dr. Lee Warren, B.A., D.D.   (c) 2002 PLIM REPORT, Vol. 11 #5:

"What pagan holiday falls on December 25?" In: Paganism  [Edit categories] for

"How December 25 Became Christmas" by  Andrew McGowan   •  12/07/2012:

Facebook post by Elizabeth Ruth

Christmas History Lessons by Jennifer Czepiel, December 9, 2014