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Gender: Male
Hometown: Northern VA
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 10:34 AM
Number of posts: 43,051

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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. Armyís 28th Infantry Division, arrived in newly liberated Luxembourg.

The two soldiers had survived a harrowing battle in Germanyís 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.


ďA young corporal from the U.S. Armyís 28th Infantry division called Richard Brookins decided to bring cheer to the children of the town by dressing up as St. Nicholas,Ē Juncker said.

ďI didnít know who Saint Nicholas was, so I didnít know what he did, and I didnít want to spoil it for the kids,Ē 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 priestís robes, a beard made of rope, a staff and a bishopís miter. On Dec. 5, Brookins was driven through Wiltz in an Army jeep flanked by two local girls dressed as angels. They visited the townís 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 ďfourth degree of initiation,Ē 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

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

To be fair, the hallway of arterial-red stalagmites ó which we are told are actually berry-covered trees ó look less sinister in an artistís 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 Lydiaís inspection of red-robed slaves in the dystopian TV show, ďA Handmaidís Tale.Ē






Moving into nonfiction horror, The Washington Postís Rick Noack reports that thereís a real ďred forestĒ 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.

ďI 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, Iíve done my job.Ē

More By Cathy Free at the Washington Post at:

Scientists: Doomsday Asteroid to Collide with Earth; GOP: We Feel Like It Won't

From Tom the Dancing Bug

Think Melania's red forest is kooky? Consider the Christmas tree once hidden in a White House closet

White House Christmas trees fell out of favor around the turn of the 20th century. Conservationists denounced cutting down young trees in forests to make Christmas trees, calling it ďarboreal infanticide.Ē Some critics wrote President William McKinley in 1899 urging him to drop the White House ďChristmas tree habit.Ē McKinley did, except for a small tree in the kitchen for the maids.

The policy continued when President Theodore Roosevelt took office in 1901 after McKinley was assassinated. An ardent conservationist, Roosevelt banned cut Christmas trees in the White House. But even Teddy had to laugh when in 1902 his young son Archie secretly set up a small Christmas tree in a White House closet.

Much more WH history and a video from Washington Post's Ronald G. Shafer at:


A Very Melania Christmas!

Actually her design makes me feel sorry for her. What a joyless, cold, barren world she inhabits. The most humble, meager Christmas display either constructed by a child or some inartful person would contain more happiness than Melania could ever understand. Very sad.

Why Thanksgiving isn't necessarily a celebration: a Native American writer's take

Itís that time of year again. As the season turns, so does our attention to Native Americans. Itís Native American Heritage Month, and ironically, of course, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. Or maybe it isnít irony but something else. Itís that we celebrate the holiday while trying to acknowledge the history of a people often remembered wrong. So the celebratory spirit feels wrong, because we still arenít willing to acknowledge what actually happened. Kids in schools dress up as Indians and Pilgrims as if it were a nice meal and a peaceable time generally, even after the fact.

Plenty of native people still celebrate the holiday, too. Everyone has the time off, and no one is against gratitude. Itís complicated. And I would never condemn a native person or family for having a meal together. The problem is deep and systemic. I donít have any good answers about what to do instead or whether people should continue to celebrate the holiday. Thinking about what actually happened is a good start. Talking about it, even if the meal still happens, is a good beginning. But what actually happened, and according to whom, further complicates things.

Itís hard to know exactly how to feel about months of the year singled out to celebrate any people or culture or history anyway. Itís sort of like being a Native American author or writer. White men get to be writers. White people and history according to them get the rest of the attention when itís not one of the months. And here I am, worried again about sounding mad or angry or bitter ó about what exactly? A celebration of my people?

Itís just that we recently watched native people getting shot with rubber bullets while praying to keep clean water and not have a pipeline get put into the ground. And, of course, we have a president in office whose favorite president in history was the worst for Native Americans, Andrew Jackson.

More by Tommy Orange and some book recs here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/why-thanksgiving-isnt-necessarily-a-celebration-a-native-american-writers-take/2018/11/14/c4516a2a-e2d8-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html?utm_term=.1832179af7cc

In case you are wondering why Stan Lee was important, here's his column from

the December 1970 issues of Marvel Comics. He was editor-in-chief then and this would have appeared on the letters page of every Marvel Comic.

Matthew Whitaker is a crackpot

The acting attorney general of the United States is a crackpot.

Matthew G. Whitaker, installed in the job by President Trump to replace Jeff Sessions, was asked in 2014, during an ill-fated run in the Republican senatorial primary in Iowa, about the worst decisions in the Supreme Courtís history. Whitakerís answer, to an Iowa blog called Caffeinated Thoughts, was chilling.

ďThere are so many,Ē he replied. ďI would start with the idea of Marbury v. Madison. Thatís probably a good place to start and the way itís looked at the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of constitutional issues. Weíll move forward from there. All New Deal cases that were expansive of the federal government. Those would be bad. Then all the way up to the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate.Ē

Reasonable people can differ over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Maybe thereís some space to debate the New Deal-era cases that cemented the authority of the regulatory state. But Marbury? This is lunacy. For any lawyer ó certainly for one now at the helm of the Justice Department ó to disagree with Marbury is like a physicist denouncing the laws of gravity.

More the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus at


I like her conclusion:

Marbury was wrong. Religious tests for judges. If you thought the big worry about Whitaker was how he would handle special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, that might be just the beginning.
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