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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Northern VA
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 10:34 AM
Number of posts: 40,384

About Me

I've been a member of DU for over 14 years, but now it is time for me to check out. The glee people on this site took over bashing Gov Northam is too much. EW Jackson, VA's version of a RW troll is being respected and his options considered while the Gov who expanded medicare to 800,000 citizens of my state (including an adult son) is bashed over a 35-year old indiscretion. I see DU as being infected by RW trolls and ratfuckers while the admins are largely absent. See 2016 if you don't believe me. While Northam was being bashed, threads appeared bashing Harris (she took a hard stance against Franken) and Booker (he's corporate) and promoted people who will never be elected in America such as Gabbard and Sanders. Their indiscretions are ignored. For what reason? Their unelectability? The members here that aren't RW trolls or ratfuckers are attempting to achieve some type of purity that will never happen due to mankind's flawed nature. People ar human and prone to mistakes. The rhetorical tools that attack people such as HRC, Franken and Northam will be turned on people like Kamala Harris and Justin Fairfax. It is only a matter of time. I refuse to help the RW and the PURE destroy people and our party. DU was a noble idea, but is a tool on the internet being used to ruin the Democratic Party, suppress the vote, and destroy decent candidates. I won't take part in this crap any longer. To my couple of friends here, so long, it was nice chatting with you. You know how to reach me if you want.

Journal Archives

FSogol's 2018 Advent Calendar Day 6: Good King Wenceslas and Good Duke Wenceslas

One of my favorite Christmas Carol's s Good King Wenceslas. Wiki tells us:

"Good King Wenceslas" is a Christmas carol that tells a story of a Bohemian king going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26, the Second Day of Christmas)*. During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following the king's footprints, step for step, through the deep snow. The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia or Svatý Václav in Czech (907–935). The name Wenceslas is a Latinised version of the modern Czech language "Václav".

In 1853, English hymnwriter John Mason Neale wrote the "Wenceslas" lyrics, in collaboration with his music editor Thomas Helmore, and the carol first appeared in Carols for Christmas-Tide, 1853. Neale's lyrics were set to the melody of a 13th-century spring carol "Tempus adest floridum" ( "The time is near for flowering" ) first published in the 1582 Finnish song collection Piae Cantiones.

* The 2nd Day of Christmas called the Feast of St Stephen or more commonly boxing Day is a day for charitable giving.

His statue in Prauge. Legend has it that if the Czech Republic is ever in danger, he will return.

Wenceslas didn’t come from Christian stock: his grandfather had been converted to Christianity by Saints Cyril and Methodius. And his mother was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief – though she was baptized before she was married. When young Wenceslas’ father died there was a power vacuum: the young boy’s mother was banished and his grandmother killed by assassins – it’s said she was strangled with her own veil.

But once the dust had settled, the people of Bohemia decided they’d like Wenceslas to be their ruler. His mother ruled as regent until young Wenceslas reached the age of 18… at which point he promptly banished her. To try and avoid disputes, the country was split in two and half given to Wenceslas’ younger brother, Boleslaus.

But Boleslaus wasn’t happy with the set up and in September 28, 935 he plotted with a group of noblemen to kill his brother. The three nobles – Tira, Česta, and Hněvsa – stabbed Wenceslas – before his own brother ran him through with a lance.


He was promoted to Sainthood two years later due to his work helping the poor. His Saints Day is Sept 28. He is buried in St Vitus’ Cathedral (Prague) & his Saint’s Day is a public holiday in the Czech Republic.

This song has been performed by everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles. IMO, the best version of this song was performed by Dennis Day on one of the Jack Benny Christmas shows in the 1940s.

(For an explanation of my advent project and a link to last years posts, see
https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181152160 )

FSogol's 2018 Advent Calendar Day 5: The Fake Colonial Christmas Decorations of Williamsburg, VA

The pineapple-studded wreaths, oyster-shell-trimmed swags and apple fans are some of the highlights of the annual holiday tours at 18th-century Colonial Williamsburg. They're also the icons of what's become known as the classic Williamsburg look.

But when tour guides drop the bomb that none of these decorations, nor the single candles lit in the windows at dusk, would have been there in the 1700s, visitors sometimes gasp.

Very little documentation exists that the colonists who settled in Virginia did any kind of Christmas decorating inside or outside their homes — no wreaths of dried okra and lemons, no door fans of pomegranates and lady apples.

The truth is that if the colonialists had lemons, apples, and pineapples, they would have eaten them, not decorated with them. All of the fake colonial stuff came from John D. Rockefeller who restored the colonial town of Williamsburg in the 1920s.

The holidays in 18th-century Williamsburg were more low-key than we celebrate them today," says Joseph Beatty, Colonial Williamsburg's director of research and interpretive education. "People would go to church and have big meals and gather with families and friends. As far as decorations go, we are pretty confident that maybe a few people would put up a bit of greenery and hang mistletoe inside, as was English custom, but that was it."

(I wrote about Kissing Balls last December: https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181013422 )

Williamsburg also puts single candles in all the windows. This would have been considered wasteful and fire hazard to the colonialists, but they did do it from time to time. There is a whole history of candles in the window, but I'll leave that for another post.

More at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/the-history-of-williamsburgs-beloved-but-not-very-colonial-holiday-decorations/2017/12/19/0e24a5fe-c59d-11e7-aae0-cb18a8c29c65_story.html?utm_term=.9eb1f1e879c0

PS: These last two are Williamsburg's tribute to Star Wars from 2015, something that the early Americans clearly wouldn't have done. (I am not making this up.)

(For an explanation of my advent project and a link to last years posts, see
https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181152160 )

FSogol's 2018 Advent Calendar Day 4: The Yule Goat and Scandinavian Elves

Yesterday, I noted some references to the Christmas Elf, a mostly, British, North American, and Irish tradition about the worker who make Santa’s toys but in Scandinavian Countries, they are different.

Scandinavian elves would be more known as Gnomes to us. Called the Nisse in Danish, Tomte in Swedish, and Tomtenisse in Finnish, they wore red pointed hats, had white beards, and would appear around the Winter solstice. Garden gnomes are based on them. They were spirit guardians and hung around burial mounds. Many people believed they were the personification of a collection of dead ancestors.

According to tradition, the Nisse lives in the houses and barns of the farmstead, and secretly act as their guardian. If treated well, they protect the family and animals from evil and misfortune, and may also aid the chores and farm work. However, they are known to be short tempered, especially when offended. Once insulted, they will usually play tricks, steal items and even maim or kill livestock.

By the 19th Century, the nisse delivered gifts to doors at Christmas time often with the help of the Yule goat (but sometimes a pig.)

This was formalized by an 1881 poem by Viktor Rydberg with the following illustration from Jenny Nystrom.

The Yule goat is another pagan tradition that got wrapped up into Christmas celebrations as Christianity spread. The goat probably had his origins in the Norse god Thor who owned 2 goats.

The function of the Yule goat has differed throughout the ages. In a Scandinavian custom similar to the English tradition of wassailing, held at either Christmas or Epiphany, young men in costumes would walk between houses singing songs, enacting plays and performing pranks. This tradition is known from the 17th century and still continue in certain areas. The group of Christmas characters would often include the Yule goat, a rowdy and sometimes scary creature demanding gifts.

During the 19th century the Yule goat's role all over Scandinavia shifted towards becoming the giver of Christmas gifts, with one of the men in the family dressing up as the Yule goat. In this, there might be a relation to Santa Claus and the Yule goat's origin in the medieval celebrations of Saint Nicholas. The goat was then replaced by the jultomte (Father Christmas/Santa Claus) or julenisse during the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century, although he is still called the Joulupukki (Yule goat) in Finland, and the tradition of the man-sized goat disappeared.

The Yule Goat lives on in Scandinavian both in the form of Julebukking, (similar to the wassailing) as Christmas ornaments, and course in goat Burning Festivals.

Gradually, commercialism has made him look more and more like the American Santa Claus, but the Swedish jultomte, the Norwegian julenisse, the Danish julemand and the Finnish joulupukki (in Finland he is still called the Yule Goat, although his animal features have disappeared) still has features and traditions that are rooted in the local culture. He doesn't live on the North Pole, but perhaps in a forest nearby, or in Denmark he lives on Greenland, and in Finland he lives in Lapland; he doesn’t come down the chimney at night, but through the front door, delivering the presents directly to the children, just like the Yule Goat did; he is not overweight; and even if he nowadays sometimes rides in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, instead of just walking around with his sack, his reindeer don’t fly — and in Sweden, Denmark and Norway some still put out a bowl of porridge for him on Christmas Eve. He is still often pictured on Christmas cards and house and garden decorations as the little man of Jenny Nyström's imagination, often with a horse or cat, or riding on a goat or in a sled pulled by a goat, and for many people the idea of the farm tomte still lives on, if only in the imagination and literature.

Sadly, "commercialism has made him look more and more like the American Santa Claus" a theme across many of these Christmas traditions.

sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Goat

Netflix animated a Frank McCourt story: Angelas's Christmas

It's about his mother, growing up in poverty in Limmerick in 1914.

Angela is voiced by Lucy O'Connell, who voiced Saoirse in "Song of the Sea."


FSogol's 2018 Advent Calendar Day 3: Louisa May Alcott and the Creation of Santa's Elves

Wiki tells us:

In American, Canadian, Irish, and British cultures, a Christmas elf is a diminutive elf that lives with Santa Claus at the North Pole and acts as his helper. Christmas elves are often depicted as green or red clad with large, pointy ears and pointy hats. Santa's elves are often said to make the toys in Santa's workshop and take care of his reindeer, among other tasks


and we know that Clement Clark Moore described Santa as "He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf." in his 1823 poem, "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (more commonly known as "Twas the Night Before Christmas" ), but where did the idea of Santa's elves come from?

The answer? Louisa May Alcott (Little Women).

Santa’s elves, instrumental in getting all the toys made each year, were first mentioned by Louisa May Alcott in her book “Christmas Elves” finished in 1855. From her journal of 1855: “Finished fairy book in September.” “October. May illustrated my book, and tales called “Christmas Elves.” Better than “Flower Fables.” Now I must try to sell it.”

The book was illustrated by her little sister, May. Despite never finding a publisher, the idea caught on.

Two short years later, in 1857, Harper’s Weekly published a poem called “The Wonders of Santa Claus” which tells how Santa “keeps a great many elves at work/ All working with all their
might/ To make a million of pretty things/ Cakes,
sugar-plums, and toys/ To fill the stockings, hung
up you know/ By the little girls and boys.”

In 1876 Louisa May Alcott returned to the subject of Santa’s elves in a poem entitled “Merry Christmas:”

In the rush of early morning,
When the red burns through the gray,
And the wintry world lies waiting
For the glory of the day,
Then we hear a fitful rustling
Just without upon the stair,
See two small white phantoms coming,
​Catch the gleam of sunny hair.

Are they Christmas fairies stealing
Rows of little socks to fill?
Are they angels floating hither
With their message of good-will?
What sweet spell are these elves weaving
As like larks they chirp and sing?
Are these palms of peace from heaven
​That these lovely spirits bring?

Rosy feet upon the threshold,
Eager faces peeping through,
With the first red ray of sunshine,
Chanting cherubs come in view:
Mistletoe and gleaming holly,
Symbols of a blessed day,
In their chubby hands they carry,
​Streaming all along the way.

Well we know them, never weary
Of this innocent surprise;
Waiting, watching, listening always
With full hearts and tender eyes,
While our little household angels,
White and golden in the sun,
Greet us with the sweet old welcome, -
“Merry Christmas, every one!”

Note: This poem is in the public domain.

another early toy-making elf promoter was Godey’s Lady’s Book

Published from 1830 to 1878, Godey’s Lady’s Book was the most widely circulated magazine in the years before the Civil War. It published the first widely circulated picture of a decorated Christmas tree
and in 1873 it published a front cover engraving showing Santa Claus surrounded by elves at work.
Called “The Workshop of Santa Claus”, “Santa is shown directing his elves in the making of toys. We see dolls,
sports equipment, animals, musical instruments and the like. Little birds sit on the numbers of the 1873
date.” The caption was “Here we have an idea of the preparations that are made to supply the young folks
with toys at Christmas time.”


And the final early promoter:

Austin Thompson's 1876 work "The House of Santa Claus, a Christmas Fairy Show for Sunday Schools".

Many people credit Norman Rockwell, but he was working many decades after these earlier sources. This one is from 1922.

Just to keep things complicated, Christmas Elves also have a Scandinavian origin too. I'll write about them tomorrow.

(For an explanation of my advent project and a link to last years posts, see
https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181152160 )

FSogol's 2018 Advent Calendar Day 2: Gramado, Brazil - The Christmas City

Brazilian newlyweds Júlia and Marcos Muniz found what they were looking for when they picked Gramado for their honeymoon: peace, quiet and a refreshing break from the heat and humidity back home in Rio de Janeiro. And quite by accident, the couple's late-October visit coincided with the opening ceremony of Natal Luz, or "Christmas Light" — a pull-out-the-stops festival of traditional Christmas cheer that lasts nearly three months and is often referred to as the biggest in the world.

"Christmas is in December," said Júlia Muniz, standing in a plaza beside the Catholic church, where a large nativity scene had already gone up. Of course she didn't expect this to be going on in October.

In October, though, spring is in full, glorious bloom, with summer just around the corner. Not that this does anything to deter Santa Claus from jingling into town each evening in full red-robed finery or stop the choir on opening night from singing "White Christmas." There are flowers, there are chirping birds, there are giant nutcracker dolls and there are lights festooning the streets, where tunes such as "I Saw Three Ships" emanate from cleverly hidden speakers and tourist hordes snap selfies by the terabyte. (The selfie has come to rival soccer as Brazil's national mania.)

Imagine a Christmas of the most traditional, Hallmark sort, translated into Portuguese and stretched out over 81 days on either side of the summer solstice in a little Brazilian town channeling serious Swiss vibes. Depending on your holiday proclivities, the overall effect might either be irredeemably kitschy or simply enchanting.

By Andrew Jenner of the Washington Post

By Wait! This prosperity is causing other Brazillian cities to imitate.

From Forbes:

If green Christmases are your thing, but palm trees wrapped in white lights don’t put you in the spirit of the season, then boy does Brazil have a town for you. Actually, make that two towns.

Gramado and Canela enjoy a Christmas rivalry like no other. You know how it is when an American neighbor buys the big blow up Frosty the Snowman from Lowes, then the guy next door has to buy the entire cast of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to reinstate his dominance? It’s like that. Only this is a more sophisticated display in one of the richest parts of South America. The German architecture here make Gramado and Canela look more like towns in the Bavarian Alps than Brazil. With Christmas just days away, the friendly competition has turned these two small neighboring towns into hotspots for people looking to get their holly jolly on.

Both towns have a combined population of roughly 80,000. But this time of year, it swells to five times that. Foreigners haven’t discovered Christmas in the Gaucho Mountains of Rio Grande do Sul state yet. Despite the female dancers in red Santa skirts and the colorful, independently designed nutcrackers lining Hortensias Avenue, the entire shebang manages to be authentic even to northeastern Americans raised on Currier & Ives.

Gramado has its Natal Luz event. Canela has its Sonho de Natal event, a five minute drive away. Both towns are loaded with picturesque hotels and restaurants – the family kind and the romantic, foodie kind. Both towns have so many Christmas attractions going on that it would take a week to see them all, and cost thousands of dollars. But this is Brazil, not Monaco, and so in the spirit of sharing, there are plenty of free shows in decorated settings.


(For an explanation of my advent project and a link to last years posts, see
https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181152160 )

FSogol's 2018 Advent Calendar Day 1: A U.S. soldier dressed as St. Nick for kids in war-torn

Luxembourg. They never forgot him.

St. Nicholas Day was approaching in 1944 when Harry Stutz and Richard Brookins, corporals in the U.S. Army’s 28th Infantry Division, arrived in newly liberated Luxembourg.

The two soldiers had survived a harrowing battle in Germany’s Hurtgen Forest, where their unit suffered 60 percent casualties. Now their division had been sent to Wiltz, a small town in northern Luxembourg, to recover.


“A young corporal from the U.S. Army’s 28th Infantry division called Richard Brookins decided to bring cheer to the children of the town by dressing up as St. Nicholas,” Juncker said.

“I didn’t know who Saint Nicholas was, so I didn’t know what he did, and I didn’t want to spoil it for the kids,” Brookins told The Washington Post. After some cajoling by Stutz, Brookins relented, but he balked again when he realized that he had to wear a costume: the local priest’s robes, a beard made of rope, a staff and a bishop’s miter. On Dec. 5, Brookins was driven through Wiltz in an Army jeep flanked by two local girls dressed as angels. They visited the town’s schools where children sang and G.I.s passed out sweets.

The town revered Brookins so much that they reenact the event yearly and have invited him back several times.

Entire story by Patrick Martin here:

Video, including footage from 1944 here.

About my Advent Calendar Project: I started this last year (2017) and wrote something about Christmas each day of the advent. I started it with: Put me in the group that loves Christmas. While not being particularly religious (I did have a Lutheran upbringing), I've always enjoyed this time of year. To count down, I'll post a daily post here in the lounge with something, usually offbeat about Christmas.

My index of stories from last year with links:

1. The Scientific Reason Why Reindeer Have Red Noses
2. Deleted scene from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
3: The origin of writing letters to Santa
4: A Brief History of Gingerbread
5: History of the Kissing Ball
6: Santa's Home, Workshop, and Mailbox
7: Vintage Christmas traditions from the 1950s and 1960s
8: Don't Forget Santa's Milk and Cookies
9: Things you might not know about tinsel
10: Dreaming of a Green Christmas
11: Origin of the Christmas Tree
12: Who invented electric Christmas lights?
13: Creation Myths of the Candy Cane
14: How did coal become the gift choice for the naughty kids?
15: A Brief History of Advent Calendars
16: Why does Christmas get abbreviated to Xmas?
17: The Nutcracker
18: Life Lessons From Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer'
19: Why is Christmas Day on the 25th December?
20: The origin of Christmas Cookies
21: Origin of The Yule Log
22: Origin of Santa's Reindeer
23: The Origin of Santa Claus
24: Twas The Night Before Christmas
25: Merry Christmas and the Origin of the Nativity Play

Redaction ineptitude reveals names of Proud Boys' self-styled new leaders

The Proud Boys suck at redaction: as the white nationalist extremist organization struggles with a succession crisis following founder Gavin McInnes's departure (precipitated by a Freedom of Information Act request that revealed that the FBI called them "white nationalist extremists) have published a new set of bylaws for the organization with the names of the new leaders blacked out.

But the redactions were accomplished by drawing black rectangles over the text, which can still be copied and pasted to read it. This is a stupid mistake that most people stopped making a decade ago (with notable exceptions).

Beyond giving their names, the article is pretty funny and lists those loser's rules:

The new bylaws are more of the same weird Proud Boy shit, with some changes: no head punches on their weird beat-in ritual where they sock each other while chanting cereal brands; you can only jerk off once per month; and some new rulings on the “fourth degree of initiation,” which involves getting in a fight on behalf of the club and is usually achieved during shit-stirring brawls like the one outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in NYC last month, which got several Proud Boys arrested, contributing to the leadership chaos.


All the nightmares inspired by the White House's blood-red Christmas trees

All collected By Avi Selk at the Washington Post

It’s still a month until Christmas, but at the Trump White House, it’s never too early to start inducing flashbacks to phantasmal nightmares from our shared cultural memory.

To be fair, the hallway of arterial-red stalagmites — which we are told are actually berry-covered trees — look less sinister in an artist’s rendering, which is how they first appear in the video first lady Melania Trump released Monday, as the White House unveiled its holiday decorations.

But in the very next scene, Trump walks through the crimson forest in a dark overcoat, unfortunately recalling Aunt Lydia’s inspection of red-robed slaves in the dystopian TV show, “A Handmaid’s Tale.”






Moving into nonfiction horror, The Washington Post’s Rick Noack reports that there’s a real “red forest” around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. That one was caused by lethal radioactivity, rather than festive berries. Red is also the color of Danish Christmas trees infected by a mysterious disease, Noack writes.

more at:


This school cafeteria manager has gone bananas. The kids love it.

Early each morning, while students who attend Kingston Elementary in Virginia Beach are still asleep, school cafeteria manager Stacey Truman sits down at her desk and picks up a banana.

Actually, 60 bananas. Sometimes, bunches more. For the next 45 minutes, Truman patiently writes messages of hope on each banana with a black marker

Truman, 35, who has worked in Kingston's cafeteria for nine years, honed her banana-writing skills on messages that she'd tuck into lunchboxes for her two daughters, Mackenzie, 10, and Kayleigh, 7. Last month, she decided that the kids at Kingston might find the idea appealing as well.

“I want them to succeed in life and have an awesome day at school," she said. "Whenever I can put a smile on all of those little faces, I’ve done my job.”

More By Cathy Free at the Washington Post at:
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