"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
The once mighty St. Louis Post-Dispatch, flagship of Joseph Pulitzer’s publishing fleet, announced in a small online posting December 17 a warning from its company’s accountant that it may no longer be, by the year’s end, a “going concern.” The value of stock in the Post-Dispatch’s publisher, Lee Enterprises, Inc., has dropped by about 97 percent since the beginning of the year. The company has lost more than 65 percent of its market value during the past 30 days alone.
Less than four years ago, Lee Enterprises purchased the entire Pulitzer company, then publishers of 14 daily newspapers, for $1.5 billion in cash. A share of Lee stock then sold for $45; today a share sells for 34 cents. (Note how prescient the Pulitzers were to sell for cash, not for stock.) With the parent company’s market capitalization now only $22 million, what might the Post-Dispatch be worth by itself -- $200,000? Maybe $400,000 at most?
The Post-Dispatch announcement came a week after the privately held Tribune Company, publishers of such leading dailies as the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and Baltimore Sun, filed for bankruptcy protection. E.W. Scripps Company, whose stock has fallen nearly 90 percent in 12 months, is trying to sell its Denver daily, the Rocky Mountain News. McClatchy, owner of the Miami Herald and other properties of the former Knight-Ridder chain, has seen its stock drop by more than 90 percent this year. The Herald reportedly also is for sale. This month the New York Times Company, owner of the eponymous Gotham daily as well as the patrician Boston Globe, sought to mortgage its new headquarters building and sell its partial stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise to meet urgent cash needs. Detroit's two newspapers announced they would curtail daily circulation of the print edition. One will cut back home delivery to three days a week, the other, only two days a week.
An institution, once grand and powerful, is vanishing into the ether, with no small assist from the Ethernet.
Conor Cruise O'Brien, who has died aged 91, was the leading Irish intellectual of his generation, though he assumed so many guises – diplomatist, historian, literary critic, proconsul, professor, playwright, government minister, columnist and editor – that he defies further categorisation.
I remember one editorial dinner at Van Galbraith's (WFB must have been out of town). Much wine had been served, and Conor was declaiming against the third president. He banged his fist on the table and cried, "Jefferson was a sh*t! Jefferson was a sh*t!"
Not the Holy Land post one would wish after Christmas.
But such is the state of the world.
* * *
QassamCount carries updates on rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.
Bookmark that site, writes JG Thayer at the Commentary blog.
Keep it handy should you find yourself discussing the current fighting in the Gaza Strip. And always remember that the disproportionate numbers of casualties are not because the Israelis are more bloodthirsty, but because they have a greater respect for civilians (both protecting their own and minimizing those they injure) and Hamas is so utterly incompetent. The latter party rejoices in civilian casualties — dead and injured Israelis are signs of victory, dead and injured Palestinians are martyrs they can avenge.
Hamas is getting a very harsh lesson — Israel doesn’t bluff. And it is getting it in the only language it has ever truly understood — blood and violence.
* * *
Between 2001 and November 2007, 2,383 Qassam rockets hit Israel, and more than 2,500 mortar shells were fired.
This statistic doesn't take into account the rockets fired this past year.
There was one commenter at FireDogLake who felt that instead of striking militarily, Israel should have “negotiated in good faith.”
Just how would that happen?
Negotiations are how civilized people settle their disagreements. But for negotiations to succeed, there have to be two parties interested in settling their differences peacefully. And Hamas has — by word and deed — consistently asserted its utter disinterest in settling its differences with Israel peacefully.
The recent events are no aberration, but affirmation of that policy. They unilaterally declared a “truce” that was merely a diminution of attacks. Then, they declared an end to the truce and escalated the attacks.
Hamas has also repeatedly affirmed their commitment to their charter:
* Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.
* Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.
* There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.
These are the words and deeds of Hamas. They offer no reasonable hope for negotiations or compromise. #
Thursday, December 25, 2008
He was in the world,
and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto
His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to
them He gave power to become the sons of God; to them that believe in His
name: who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of
man, but of God. AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, and dwelt among us,
and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of
Q. My question isn't very deep, but with Christmas coming I am concerned about the attitude of some friends who don't want their children to "believe in Santa Claus."
From almost infancy, they tell their children there isn't really a Santa and that it was all made up to sell more things at Christmastime. I think they're missing something, but I'm not sure how to tell them. What do you think? (Florida)
FATHER JOHN DIETZEN: I too think they are missing something - very big. It's always risky to analyze fantasies, but maybe it's worth trying for a moment.
Fantasies, perhaps especially for children, are critical ways of entering a world, a real world that is closed to us in ordinary human language and happenings. They are doors to wonder and awe, a way of touching something otherwise incomprehensible. Santa Claus, I believe, is like that.
No one has ever expressed this truth more movingly and accurately, in my opinion, than the great British Catholic author G.K. Chesterton in an essay years ago in the London Tablet. On Christmas morning, he remembered, his stockings were filled with things he had not worked for, or made, or even been good for.
The only explanation people had was that a being called Santa Claus was somehow kindly disposed toward him. "We believed," he wrote, that a certain benevolent person "did give us those toys for nothing. And ... I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.
"Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
"Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking.
"Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic good will."
Are not parents of faith blessed, countless times over, to have for their children (and for themselves) such a fantastic and playful bridge to infinite, unconditionally loving Goodness, the Goodness which dreamed up the Christmas event in the first place?
Call Santa Claus a myth or what you will, but in his name parents, and for that matter all of us who give gifts at this special time of the year, are putting each other in deeper touch with the "peculiarly fantastic good will" who is the ultimate Source of it all. Plus, it's fun!
I know Caleb and his brothers will figure out the Santa secret eventually, but I'm with Chesterton in resisting the elevation of science and reason to the exclusion of magic, of mystery, of faith. That's why I'm not giving up on Santa without a fight. Not everything we believe, I explain to Caleb, can be proved (or disproved) by science. We believe in impossible things, and in unseen things, beginning with our own souls and working outward. It's a delicate thing, preparing him to let go of Santa without simultaneously embracing the notion that only what can be detected by the five senses is real.
This all sounds like madness, I know, to people like Mr. Dawkins. But Chesterton held that believing in impossible things is actually the sanest position. "Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not," he hastened to add, "in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination." The alternatives to embracing man's mystical condition, he argued, are either to go the way of the materialist, who understands everything according to scientific principles, yet for whom "everything does not seem worth understanding," or the madman, who in trying to "get the heavens into his head" shatters his rational (but woefully finite) mind.
Interestingly, the curse leveled by Lewis's White Witch on Narnia -- an endless season of winter absent Christmas -- evokes both: an unholy snow smothering wondrous creation in false uniformity, and at the same time a kind of madness well understood in snowbound regions. It's not surprising that one of the first signs of the Witch's coming demise is that Father Christmas appears: "'I've come at last,'" says Santa. "'She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last.'"
"I was raised... I guess sort of Presbyterian. But on the other hand, I wasn't, really, because I don't think it was anything my parents really believed in...
"I would go to different friends' churches, and I was always very interested in the Catholic ones, largely because of the mystery of it all. In fact, I was quite sorry when they stopped having the Mass in Latin, because after I could understand what everyone was saying, a lot of the mystery went right out of it." #
When Johnny McKenzie stepped on the ice, he was like a runaway grenade.
"My custom at the start of games was to take a run at somebody on my first shift," said McKenzie. "I just wanted to stir things up and plant the idea that if a squirt like me can go after them -- particularly if my target is a big star -- then why not everybody?"
He was born in Western Canada's cowboy country and made a living punching cows in the off-season.
On what was the Gashouse Gang of hockey, McKenzie was the perfect fit.
During the harsh 1971 Canadiens-Bruins playoff, McKenzie suffered a seven-stitch cut across the bridge of his nose. He continued to experience headaches after the series had concluded and was invited in for Xrays. It turned out that he had a fractured skull.
"It really wasn't much, as skull fractures go," said Pie. ~ Stan Fischler
The Neely House at Tufts Medical Center in Boston is a bed-and-breakfast style home away from home for cancer patients and their families.
Your $20 donation funds one night for one family at the Neely House.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Frank Sinatra: "The Christmas Waltz"
It's that time of year When the world falls in love Ev'ry song you hear seems to say Merry Christmas May your New Year dreams come true And this song of mine In three-quarter time Wishes you and yours The same thing too
A number of visitors have turned up looking for the lyrics.
We're happy to oblige:
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say, On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day, That's the island greeting that we send to you From the land where palm trees sway, Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright, The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night, Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way To say "Merry Christmas to you."
Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say, On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day, That's the island greeting that we send to you From the land where palm trees sway, Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright, The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night, Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way To say, "Merry Christmas, A very Merry Christmas to you."
(Click on the title to open the whole track in a new window.)
While you're here give a listen to another South Seas holiday favorite:
"Christmas Island," by Bob Atcher and the Dinning Sisters:
(Click on title to open track in new window.)
To get in the spirit Irish Elk recommends the Headhunter: rum, ice, Coco Lopez, pineapple juice and milk, mixed in a blender, and served in a coconut shell, to a little Sol Hoopii.*
Mencken was...a staunch wet, meaning he was against Prohibition from start to finish. He coined a term ombibulous to describe his prejudice in favor of alcohol and against the affront to liberty that Probibition imposed on the Republic. "I'm ombibulous. I drink every known alcoholic drink and enjoy them all." Bud Johns has written "The Ombibulous Mr. Mencken", a chronicle in book form of Mencken's views on the merits of alcohol and the demerits of Prohibition. Here's one such nugget from The American Mercury:
"Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished."
In honor of the day, let's sing along with Louis Jordan as he asks the musical question: