Merry Christmas

by Brad Nelson12/10/15

As the chief cook and bottle washer here, I thought I’d take a moment to say thanks to all those who post here and who contribute articles.

This site is an ongoing experiment. If I had to tell you its guiding principles, well, I might have to stop and think. We have no Establishment Republican agenda nor do we repeat vapid slogans such as “Black lives matter.” (Don’t all lives matter?)

Much like you’ll find in life, we’re a somewhat odd assortment of people — but with one difference. We are willing to stick our necks out and write something that doesn’t sound like the same-old, same-old that you’ll find out there. Now, this style has its severe (and I do mean severe) drawbacks. People like their egos being boosted. They like (despite all the “No fear” shirts) to be surrounded by convention. They like “likes,” for all intents and purposes.

Another thing we have going against us is that we are opinionated. What’s worse, our opinions are often spot-on, so sloppy thinking and writing often gets chopped on here, whether home-grown or something we find around the web. We may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer but we know how to cut.

And too much of that can be bad for one’s health and for one’s willingness to write, so I always try to stress that we not be nit-pickers. Whatever the case may be, this site provides opportunity for serious thinkers who have at least an ounce of iconoclast in them to write what they want, when they want it. And I’ve been somewhat amused at times both by the willingness of some people to actually do so and by the stage fright that keeps so many away.

But we are who we are. We’ll be doing this for at least another year, come what may. I prefer a spirit of inquiry rather than the usual pissing contests. But people are who they are. I prefer original opinions written with a bit of wit and style, but it’s inevitable that people pick up the idea that “serious” writers all have to sound a certain serious way. I say screw that but I’m decidedly in the minority.

So we trudge on in a world going mad with misdirection and half-truths. Vapid and just plain stupid sloganeering passes for serious thought in our culture now. For now, we are free to prick this ridiculousness. In the future? Who knows? Most of us here see where this is all heading. The restrictions on thought now common in the university setting have already infiltrated corporate culture to a large degree. Soon we may be speaking a language that might as well be Martian as far as the rest of the PC culture is concerned — if we’re allowed to speak it publicly at all.

So thanks for hanging in there. You certainly give this place direction by what you submit. I don’t have a strong hand on the tiller, for better or for worse. This might seem weird given the typical nature of internet sites to be bolted down pretty tightly. But I’m willing, however difficult sometimes, to continue the experiment. All I ask is that people give their best, nurture their talent (as opposed to just parroting the culture, even the conservative part of that culture), and think outside the box once in a while.

I am here because I can’t stand the vacuousness of Facebook, nor the pointlessness of writing profound thoughts at the bottom of someone’s pseudo-conservative article that is here today, gone tomorrow. I might not have as much faith in some things as I did a couple years ago, but I do have faith in one idea: The true, the good, and the beautiful can still gain some purchase in this world even though much of our culture celebrates the false, the bad, and the ugly.

So if you have something to say, and are willing to spend at least a little time refining what you have to say, then say it. And remember that we prefer substance over style here.


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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33 Responses to Merry Christmas

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    We may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer but we know how to cut.

    What?

    I see myself as something of a meat cleaver. But sometimes, I can back away and return as a knife for filleting fish.

    In any case, I suppose I will keep on cuttin’ in this meat market.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Switch Blade Zu, we’ll call you.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I would also accept, “Kung the Kleaver”.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Be careful. Note that one of Mark Steyn’s songs this weeks was “Mack the Knife”. Macheath was a vicious thief and killer, so it wouldn’t do to be compared to him. Unless you’re a Democrat, of course. (And after all, Bertold Brecht was a Communist.)

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I had more in mind, the old Chinese butchers I used to see in Singapore chopping up the carcasses of pigs.

            Oft times, I would wander back home after a late night out and pass by an open air butcher shop and see trucks delivering whole pigs to be chopped into smaller pieces.

            If one looked around, there were always enormous rats waiting near the drains where pig’s blood and various pig pieces were disposed of. I have no doubt the rats were sometimes disappointed as the Chinese use every part of the pig except the squeak.

            In any case, I’m ok if you just don’t call me Haarmann the Butcher

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    #blackslavesmutter……

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      And, Glenn, thank you for kick-starting this site. You’ve been the most prolific contributor here, besides yours truly. When I began this venture, I knew I’d take a lot of hits (not internet hits, but criticism) for being somewhat free-form and iconoclastic. I won’t say that we were Trump before Trump because I don’t want to be Trump. I like the outspoken part. But he’s still way too PC when it comes down to a lot of the Progressive stuff he’s absorbed from the culture at large.

      What are we doing here? Can we make a difference? Has society reached a tipping point? My answer is “Hopefully having fun, “Not much,” and “Yes.” The rational soul of America has been ripped from it. Actually, most people have willingly adopted nonsense as a way of life. What can one really do in the face of that? Annie’s latest article takes up that topic.

      The most difficult thing to do is to walk the high wire, neither falling off to the side of being the dumb fishy swimming around in the cultural stew and never seeing the water…nor falling off to the side of unreflective rejection of the newfangled.

      I hope you can write more. You’re very good at it. And given that no one (including me) is making any money at this, the guiding light will be scratching that writer’s itch. I don’t expect to turn back the culture. Still, it’s nonsensical enough to make for humorous, if not poignant, commentary. Who knows when the next Ronald Reagan will be inspired by something he reads here? You never know.

      So have a Merry Christmas. And thanks for your support and friendship.

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    I appreciate your sentiments, sir. Since I have grown to despise politics deeply, I haven’t felt the desire to comment on the obvious. You have better men than that on ST.
    I would like to take the time and tell you all that my wife has been battling stage 4 endometrial cancer and this has taken top priority in my life. Similarly, I am manifesting Stage 0 CLL as a sort of Sword of Damocles. This has necessitated a re-thinking of my health regimen and a weight loss of about 40 pounds, so far. My blood sugar dropped 4 points and I am now clear of Stage 2 diabetes without the use of insulin. It has not been easy, but I ran a 27:43 5k race Saturday. So I got that slow old man thing going for me.
    Time is so precious to us, and I pray it is precious to you all. God bless……

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Here’s a song dedicated to you, Glenn: On a Snowy Christmas Night

      Midnight’s prayers so softly whispered in
      A cathedral’s candle light
      Bring the message of the holidays
      On a snowy Christmas night

      Holly reeds and hidden mistletoe
      Symbols of the season’s might
      Joyful faces everywhere you go
      On a snowy Christmas night

      Give thanks for all you’ve been blessed with
      And hold your loved ones tight
      For you know the Lord’s been good to you
      On a snowy Christmas night

      Mother Nature wears a bridal gown
      For the world is dressed in white
      There’s a silent glow that fills the earth
      On a snowy Christmas night

      Give thanks for all you’ve been blessed with
      And hold your loved ones tight
      For you know the Lord’s been good to you
      On a snowy Christmas night

      For you know the Lord’s been good to you
      On a snowy Christmas night

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I want to send out a special thanks to this site’s Koch Brother, Pat. Maybe he’s not as libertarian as they are. And certainly he’s not a 1-percenter like they are. But he made a substantial 3-figure contribution to this site as a Christmas gift.

    There’s a lot of work behind the scenes making this site go…and along with my regular job and stuff, that doesn’t leave a lot of time. It’s still in the back of my mind to promote the site better, to continue to reach out to the kind of quality writers who can work without a net and without a lot of fanfare. Along with our core of writers here, I’m thankful that such quality people as Selwyn Duke and C. Edmund Wright allow me to share their material.

    Deana, Tim, Annie, Patricia, and Mr. Kung continue to be the core here with great contributions by Steve Lancaster, Tim Jones, Nik, Leigh, Jon, Jerry (haven’t seen him in a while), James, FJ Rocca, Cato, and others. Our goal here is not perfection. But it is to be a mix of truth and non-PC dialogue that is becoming increasingly rare, mixed with a spunky and somewhat irreverent creativity. Not all can work within those confines. Some are looking for too many “likes.” My attitude here is that we are doing good work without (so far) a lot of fanfare. We’re like a monastery, doing vital work unseen by most of the world.

    I’d like to spend more time recruiting more great writers. Certainly my ambitions going into this were higher than they are now. But what can just one little site do when people such as Paul Ryan out there can, at the stroke of a pen, sell out and undermine everything we believe in with a flood of dollars…many of them borrowed, of course?

    So I don’t have grand world-killing hopes. But let us be a place that is not corrupt in an increasingly corrupt nation. Let us be a place that is generally smart and of good taste in a culture that increasingly is vulgar and juvenile. Let us not be an arrogant elite who tries to set ourselves over others in a land where people can only ever seem to measure via celebrity.

    One needs faith the size of a mustard seed to do this stuff. So far, I have at least that. And when I get a big contribution from our resident Koch brother, it helps…not just financially but as positive affirmation in a world that increasingly honors falsehood.

    So have a Merry Christmas. Let our house not be the house of the father of lies but the opposite.

  5. Timothy Lane says:

    Whatever its flaws, the Curious Journal does recognize Christmas (and not Kwanzaa or winter solstice or “winter holiday” or whatever). One thing they did today is to print the whole of Moore’s “A Visit From Saint Nicholas”. So I will repeat the final words of the poem:

    Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

  6. Anniel says:

    Hard to believe that it’s Christmas Eve already. Winter Solstice was supposed to take place over 3 days this year, but I didn’t understand why that was. At any rate, we’re now beginning to add a few seconds more of precious light each day. Appropriate for the Giver of light in our lives. Merry Christmas to you my friends!

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Wouldn’t it be something to go back to Christmas Eve, 1818, at St. Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf where Franz Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in a nearby village, played the music he had written only earlier to Father Joseph Mohr’s lyrics?

      They say it can be difficult to touch the divine. And I agree. But in music we have that special avenue. Who can doubt that The Master had a hand in that collaboration?

      May we find that stille in our own lives to make that kind of music. Despite the craziness and crassness of people, in general, we are not meant to be products of mere hypnotic vulgar culture. May you all find that silent night, holy night tonight.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        If one has ever been in the mountains in winter, surrounded by several feet of snow, especially if it is still falling, one knows the peace which one can feel. I think it is like the flip side of the feeling one can get alone in the desert.

        And we all know the word music does not begin to define that gift of sound which can calm the heart of man.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I’ve never had any such experience, though I have read about a notorious example of people caught by winter snow in the mountains: Ordeal by Hunger by George R. Stewart, the history of the Donner party.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            The peacefulness of a snowy night is best enjoyed when one can go back inside one’s chalet to a nice hot mug of Gluhwein and a crackling fire.

  7. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, Elizabeth and I just had our gift-opening, such as it was. She gave me a copy of Joel Rosenberg’s The Third Target. In return, she gets two free meals (I buy the Christmas dinner, which is the lunch buffet at Shalimar Indian restaurant, and later she’ll get her “official” gift, which is dinner at Red Lobster). She also gave me a box of Queen Anne cordial cherries, which of course we’ll be sharing at future lunches.

    My sister gave her a trio of Mercedes Lackey books she wanted, and gave me 2 books from my book list: Seeds and Empires of Light, both of which I got from here. Later I’m supposed to get Trial by Fire, about the making of the English language Bible. (The title is literally accurate, since the Catholic Church at the time severely punished those who created vernacular Bibles.) Of course, our gifts to her haven’t even been mailed yet, since Elizabeth didn’t feel up to standing in line to mail them. Well, they should arrive before Epiphany, which is the day the magi gave Jesus their gifts.

    And I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      She also gave me a box of Queen Anne cordial cherries, which of course we’ll be sharing at future lunches.

      Oh ho! I gave my wife a box of Queen Anne Milk Chocolate cordial cherries and she gave me the French Vanilla version. Who says, cheap can’t be good? (We bought them at Walmart.) In any case, there are probably just as many calories in these as in more expensive brands!

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        My father was fond of chocolate-covered cherries. I didn’t like them. But keep me the hell away from the Hershey’s kisses and those miniature chocolate bars. Indeed, Mr. Kung, cheep can be good…and filled with calories as well. The diet starts today. I hope.

        Christmas Eve we had a family get-together at my mother’s house, which will probably be the last. She is losing mental and emotional acuity rapidly and she kept saying how overwhelmed she was by having eleven people in the house — even though we did most of the work. I find the Christmas Spirit difficult to stoke in such drama-intensive surroundings. My younger brother has specific orders to shoot me if I ever turn into a cranky old Scrooge.

        Christmas Day we had dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. She’s a very good cook. We had ham (not too salty), bean casserole, some kind of shredded potato and cheese casserole, rolls, and then apple pie. Their parents (who are fairly well off) got everyone in their family an Amazon Fire tablet, so I got to play with one of those. A nice product. The screen is too small, though, but fine for reading a book.

        Some of the guests went home and I stayed behind and watched a movie: “The Blind Side.” It’s an okay little movie. Mr. Kung would love it because the essence of it, although this truth would be offensive to many if placed before them, is “the white man’s burden.” Sandra Bullock plays the aggressive Christian of good heart who takes Michael Oher into her family. He was abandoned by his crack-whore mother who, like a lot of black families in much of dysfunctional black culture, keeps pumping out kids that she can’t take care of.

        Michael Oher, of course, has gone on to a good career in the NFL. He is portrayed as a gentle giant. S.J., the young son in Bullock’s family, particularly takes “Big Mike” under his wing, and there are some nice heartwarming moments between the two of them. This isn’t an especially detailed biographical film. It’s simply a vehicle for tugging on heartstrings which it does to some pedestrian effect (I found “Radio” to be much more powerful in this regard…anchored as it was by the spectacular performance by Cuba Gooding, Jr.)

        So see “Radio” first if you haven’t, then move onto “The Blind Side” if you want something of a little more made-for-TV quality. And the general feel of the latter film is that it’s glossing over what probably really happened. But it’s fun to watch Sandra Bullock in her role as the ballsy woman. For the cinematically astute, it’s also interesting to note the two “Deadwood” alumni in “The Blind Side” (the Preacher and Joanie Stubbs).

        Did I mention that the diet starts today?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I have a simple approach to dieting: don’t bother. Our usual lunch has 3 courses, in effect. First comes the “salad”, which generally involves fruit. Sometimes this means bananas or grapes (depending on prices), but otherwise I have Granny Smith apples and Elizabeth has either apples (not Granny Smith) or oranges/tangerines. Then comes the main course, either chips (low-sodium due to my cardiac problems, but there are plenty of good options there) or something based on cheese (cheese crisps, cheese toast, or cheese and crackers). Finally comes the dessert, usually candy but sometimes cookies.

          Most of the people we know do little visiting with relatives on Christmas. Elizabeth got a call from her brother Bill on Christmas Eve (he lives here, but his wife doesn’t like in-laws, so he calls when he’s at work and has some time) and talked to her sister on Christmas (her other brother lives in Japan). I talked to my sister as well as a couple of close friends here.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          In reading Hanson’s Seeds (which I’ve already mentioned as one of my Christmas gifts), I’m currently in the chapter on Almond Joy (apparently his long-time favorite candy, and indeed it’s quite good, though difficult for my approach to lunchtime candy, which relies on individual bites). Of course, he studies it from the standpoint not of eating (something he can manage quite easily without all that knowledge), but of the energy content of seeds and where it comes from.

          And this comes after the chapter on grains and their roles in human evolution and history, including the possibility that the use of fire drove the later stages of human evolution and supercharged the development of large brains.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I’m with you on the Hershey’s Kisses. In fact, I don’t much like Hershey’s chocolate in general. Give me Lindt or Ritter.

          I have not seen “The Blind Side”, and will have to wait until it comes on antenna TV.

          When I first heard of this movie and Oher, I thought I would be embarrassed for my bad luck story to be on the big screen if I were Michael Oher.

          He was abandoned by his crack-whore mother who, like a lot of black families in much of dysfunctional black culture, keeps pumping out kids that she can’t take care of.

          Sadly, the type you describe is not uncommon in the black community, yet little is said about them when the extremely harsh truth should be broadcast daily. People’s noses should be rubbed in it. But this will not be done as crack-whores and their offspring can vote and the politicians don’t want to offend them.

  8. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    Came late to the thread – Merry Christmas, everyone!

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I was going through some old papers looking for something else when I found this from The Seattle Times, dated Sunday, December 25, 1983. I had saved this out of the funny pages. Click on the thumbnail to get a readable size:

    Garfield

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Clearly this is taken from the Gospel of Luke where Jesus praises the widow who gives two mites being all she has in the world.

      That bad old Jim Davis must be a Christian.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        That’s undoubtedly the original, though the concept has been used elsewhere as well. In My Fair Lady (and I think also in the original play, Pygmalion), Henry Higgins notes that Eliza’s offer of a shilling for a single language training session, if considered as a percentage of her income, was the biggest offer he ever received.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That bad old Jim Davis must be a Christian.

        That’s funny, because I think the odds regarding anyone who is published in the comics (let alone The Seattle Times) being a Christian are not good. Conservatives often note that many who superficially align with the label “liberal” often otherwise live and think in quite traditional and conservative ways. They are simply captured by their prejudices of what a Christian or a conservative is.

        Thus you can sort of understand these wobbly, weak, vapid “no labels” guys. They just don’t have the balls to declare either that they are liberals trying to masquerade as otherwise or that they are conservatives and don’t have the gonads to admit it.

        The truth is, most of us have made a shambles of Christmas, including myself.

        “Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer…. Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously? ” ― Bill Watterson

        Now, I do keep in mind that sentiments are easy. It’s easy to put on a Christmas movie or read a funny-pages cartoon and get moist in the corner of the eye. And I do enjoy my Christmas movies. But at the same time, I’m careful to not make it sentimental masturbation. It’s one thing to get all warm-and-fuzzy over a movie. It’s another thing to orient to life and to other people that way.

        And, frankly, other people don’t make it easy. And our society is way too governed by masturbatory sentiment rather than sincere and helpful personal action. But I shared this cartoon because it expressed a profound truth. And it’s not so much about the proportion of one’s wealth that one has given away that matters. It’s that one has given sincerely.

        I soured on Christmas long ago when the presents became little more than an obligation. A lot of people try to find a way out of the Christmas black hole, whether by going to church, working a soup kitchen, having holiday parties, or whatever. But I believe there is a whole lot of whistling past the graveyard. The tinsel is a lot brighter than what we feel inside.

        Still, none of this is something that a little Frank can’t fix.

        He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

        I suspect most of us need a good tasering by a Christmas Spirit or two in order to keep Christmas well on Christmas, let alone the rest of the year. I think we become too comfortable in our miseries. And, again, dealing with actual people is no picnic. That’s why they are called Saints. It’s not because they are kind to animals, wish to “save the planet,” or are vegetarians. It’s because they nurture people, particularly those poor in spirit. To deal with normal people, let alone the disheartened and embittered, takes something special.

        “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

        Yeah. What if?

        “CALVIN: This whole Santa Claus thing just doesn’t make sense. Why all the secrecy? Why all the mystery? If the guy exists why doesn’t he ever show himself and prove it? And if he doesn’t exist what’s the meaning of all this?

        HOBBES: I dunno. Isn’t this a religious holiday?

        CALVIN: Yeah, but actually, I’ve got the same questions about God.”

        Love this one as well:

        “In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukkah’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukkah!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!” ― Dave Barry

        Or…

        “The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” ― Jay Leno

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