December 11, 2014

Christmas in Africa

Filed under: Check It Out,Christmas Time!,Musical Musing,Teh Interwebs — Katrina @ 11:00 pm

You’d think I should know better now after what happened last week, but I’ve continued browsing cool Christmas stuff on Wikipedia. And so far there has been significantly less child abuse.

I was looking through the Christmas Traditions article, with what countries all over the world do at Christmas. It’s pretty neat. Haven’t gotten all the way through it yet.

I had the radio on, playing the Christmas music. And guess what notoriously geographically-impaired song came on!

“There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time. The greatest gift they’ll get this year is light. Where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow… do they know it’s Christmas time at all?”

Umm…

Christmas in South Africa is a public holiday celebrated on 25 December. Many European traditions are maintained despite the distance from Europe.

Christmas trees are set up in homes and the children are given presents in their stockings. Traditional ‘fir’ Christmas trees are popular and children leave a stocking out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. The gift bearer is Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

The Christmas meal is mince pies, turkey, roast beef or a barbecue outdoors. The meal is finished with Christmas Pudding. Christmas crackers are used to make noise.

Okay, I guess they don’t mean South Africa. Surely the rest of Africa is devoid of holiday spirit- oh…

Christmas Day is a public holiday in Nigeria which is always marked by the emptying of towns and cities as Nigerians that have been successful returning to their ancestral villages to be with family and to bless those less fortunate. As the towns and cities empty, people jam the West African markets to buy and transport live chickens, goats and cows that will be needed for the Christmas meals.

On Christmas Eve, traditional meals are prepared according to the traditions of each region. Rather than having sweets and cakes, Nigerians as a whole tend to prepare various meats in large quantities.

Huh. Okay, Nigeria seems to have this whole Christmas thing down. But then again, that song was more specifically about Ethiopia, right? And it’s not like they- oh, look at that!

Christmas Day in Ethiopia is celebrated on January 7. Many people who are Christian in Ethiopia, go to Church on the Eve of Christmas, and stay there all night until 4am the next day on Christmas while doing many spiritual prayer and rituals like Liturgy and Holy Communion.

Oh, snap!

Well, alright. Ethiopia has a lot of Coptic Christians. They in fact do know it’s Christmas time, just like Nigeria and South Africa. But maybe it’s just them, and that the rest of Africa doesn’t know about Christmas…

Or they do, since according to this map, only in Morocco, Mauritania, Libya, Tunisia, SADR, and Somalia is Christmas NOT a public holiday.

Though the song is from 30 years ago so who knows what’s different between then and now. And there’s some new version of it out now that seems to have changed the above line. That’s something. But the original is played frequently, complete with misleading information. And it’s stuck in my head now and I’m still annoyed because it’s three weeks into the Christmas music and I’ve only heard them play Canon twice with its nice lyrics of not-totally-sure-what-but-at-least-not-geographical-misrepresentation. :irked:

December 10, 2014

Tumblr Temps

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Teh Interwebs,What the hell? — Katrina @ 11:11 pm

So often on Tumblr when a post so much as includes mention of a temperature, I know what’s coming.

Let’s say it says something like “This is 50 degrees in Michigan” and there’s a picture of people wearing t-shirts, shorts, and sandals. Then it says “This is 50 degrees in California” and in that picture everyone is wearing heavy winter coats and shivering.

But in the replies, before long at all, there will be some idiot who says “I live in England where we use Celsius so I was confused.”

No you fucking weren’t. You’re pretending to be confused. You’re in England, so while the Fahrenheit scale is not in use anymore, you all are at least aware of it. Hell, you all switch back and forth between it and Celsius in some contexts. And even so, you’d know full well the US is on Fahrenheit and that the locations mentioned in the image are in the US, so you could probably deduce as much.

Enough of this “tee hee, I don’t know the other scale” nonsense. Context, people! If someone is referring to 35 degrees as being hot, it’s Celsius. If cold, Fahrenheit. If referring to the day’s weather being 80 degrees, it’s obvious Fahrenheit, because 80 degrees Celsius isn’t exactly livable.

But that one wasn’t as bad as a similar one, where the temperatures -40, -30, -20, and -10 were shown in four respective pictures, showing Canadians considering them warm comfortable weather. And even in this context, there was some temperature scale confusion.

First of all, it’s negative temperatures. That’s still below freezing on both scales and still fucking cold. What’s to be confused about?

Also, and to mimic Futurama’s Morbo for the moment…

MINUS FORTY FAHRENHEIT AND MINUS FORTY CELSIUS ARE THE SAME FUCKING TEMPERATURE! GOODNIGHT!

December 9, 2014

It Is the Season

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Shut the Hell Up! — Katrina @ 11:55 pm

Now for a holiday promotional edition of…

SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!

Unless you are currently singing “Deck the Halls”, please stop saying “‘Tis the season!” You sound like a loser. And you probably are one. It doesn’t make your sentence more Christmassy. It just makes your sentence completely stupid and murders innocent brain cells in the process. Why would you do that? Why?

It always sounds so cutesy and/or forced. When I hear it in an ad or something, it’s like I can tell the speaker is gritting her teeth, glaring at whoever wrote the dialogue, and with her eyes promising to disembowel him later with a cork screw.

We contract “it is” to “it’s”. So we’d say “it’s the season”. Do you typically contract “it is” to “’tis”? If you do, okay then. If you do not in any other context, then quit being a dumbass.

These are probably the same people who complete a list of things this time of year with “and a partridge in a pear tree”.

December 8, 2014

Social Justice Is a Waste of Time

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Decrees!,Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:57 pm

I hereby decree…

(See title.)

*trollface*

But seriously, yeah, it kind of is when you think about it. In the same sort of way that changing a tire after you get a flat is a waste of time. In that, yeah, changing the tire is necessary, but it was only necessary because some idiot left nails on the road.

Really any movement against oppression has only been necessary because some assholes decided to, well, be assholes. And they were assholes so much in particular ways that we got to the point we didn’t recognize many things as being the work of assholes and just called it normal. So now people who are hopefully not assholes must clean up the assholes’ mess.

And when I say hopefully not assholes, well, that’s wishful thinking. So many activists are most definitely assholes who are causing more mess for some other activists to clean up. So often they’re under the delusion that being assholes to the right people is going to further their cause. While many are assholes simply out of habit or convenience, these activists are being assholes out of believing it is helping the world. But in the end, it’s all still people being assholes to each other. What has been accomplished? How has the world or humanity advanced?

Hey, I’m not saying “asshole activism” isn’t sometimes effective. But in those cases it’s a side effect. It’s not something to strive for. We should be striving for… people not being assholes to each other. If that’s not your goal, then you’re just wasting everybody’s time.

We have science and art to do, damn it!

December 7, 2014

Prince Hans

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,Think About It! — Katrina @ 7:45 pm

You’ve seen Frozen, right? Of course you have.

Better have anyway, because after this sentence are SPOILERS!!!

So, in the tradition of countless Disney princesses before her, Anna falls in love with Prince Hans upon meeting him, they share the movie’s love song, and they rush off to her sister Queen Elsa for permission to marry. Elsa, breaking from tradition (in this and at long last being a Disney princess who was promoted to queen! and being a Disney queen with more than three lines of dialogue who isn’t a villain!), tells her that she can’t marry someone she just met.

Shortly after this, Elsa’s ice powers are revealed, and in fear and shame she escapes into the mountains, inadvertently freezing her whole country in the process. Anna goes off to look for her and leaves Hans in charge. Hans steps up and helps out the freezing citizens (who should be used to this, since this takes place in Norway, which is covered in ice like 10 months out of the year anyway, but whatever), and when Anna’s horse returns sans Anna, he leads a group out to look for her and Elsa, imploring them to not harm Elsa even though they all think she’s an evil witch now or something (probably because it’s a Disney movie, which up until this point Disney mostly painted queens as evil or at least unpleasant). Later, Elsa is captured and imprisoned, and then Kristoff rushed Anna back to the castle for Hans to kiss her, because Elsa accidentally cursed her again and only an “act of true love” can save her, which is assumed to be a “true love’s kiss” from the prince, because, again, Disney movie.

But in a whiplash-inducing twist, Hans refuses to kiss her and reveals that all along he’d been playing her in order to usurp the throne of Arendelle, and he locks her in a room to die.

Whoa! They go through the whole love song and his whole looking-at-her-lovingly-as-she-walks-away only to reveal it was all a lie? And that he’s actually the villain? That… doesn’t even make sense.

Actually… it makes perfect sense, if you read between the lines.

When Kristoff and Anna visited the trolls after she was cursed, they initially thought she was Kristoff’s girlfriend and tried to force-marry them in that annoying Fixer Upper song. Kristoff finally yells that she’s engaged to someone else. The song resumes and includes the following line: “So she’s a bit of a fixer upper. Her brain’s a bit betwixt! Get the fiancé out of the way and the whole thing will be fixed!”

Up until that song, he’d seemed perfectly okay. That line in the song implies the trolls intend to remove Hans from the picture because they so badly want Anna to be with Kristoff.

So what I’m trying to say is that the trolls cursed Hans. Perhaps cursed Anna actually so that the moment he was about to kiss her, he had the sudden change of heart. Cursed him with a frozen heart, I suppose. So when he went to kiss Anna and the curse took effect, any love for her was gone and he became greedy and backstabbing.

There’s a couple of ways to look at that. The trolls were worried primarily about Kristoff and Anna getting together that they didn’t realize this curse on Hans nearly got Anna killed. Or maybe they saw far enough ahead that it was now-evil Hans’s attempt to kill Elsa being thwarted by Anna sacrificing herself (surprise! said act of true love was sororal love, not romantic!) that solved pretty much every problem. Though that part could still have been luck.

Or maybe they didn’t actually care about what happened to the others. They just wanted to fuck with Hans and know that his curse would wear off while he was in that little jail cell on that ship and he’d be all “wait… WTF just happened?”

They are TROLLS, after all! 😉

December 6, 2014

Goblet of Fire

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Dead Tree Sandwiches — Katrina @ 1:25 pm

So I’ve been rereading the Harry Potter books lately (most of the way through Order of the Phoenix right now).

The fourth one, Goblet of Fire, is interesting in several spots.

Earlier on, there’s the Quidditch World Cup, with Ireland against Bulgaria. Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge is trying to communicate with the Bulgarian Minister of Magic, who doesn’t seem to be able to speak English, through silly pantomiming and whatnot. When the match is over, the Bulgarian Minister makes a comment, and Fudge is like “what? you do speak English?” and it turns out the Bulgarian Minister was just fucking with him the whole time for teh lulz.

Every time I read this part I find myself wondering, “So there’s the Bulgarian Minister of Magic. Where’s the Irish Minister of Magic? He or she would surely be there, too.”

Then I realize that Cornelius Fudge is probably Ireland’s Minister. In reality, Ireland is a separate country from the UK. But it seems in the Wizarding world, Ireland’s magical society is under the same jurisdiction as the UK’s.

Of course, when you think about it, it isn’t that weird that international borders in the Wizarding world might be drawn a bit differently. But interesting that the way it’s demonstrated is implying Ireland is not its own country.

A little later, delegations from two other magical schools arrive at Hogwarts. One is Durmstrang, which Dumbledore says is “to the north”, and if Hogwarts is in Scotland, I guess that school might be in Norway. Though the name of the school is a play off the German expression “sturm und drang” (storm and stress). Though the headmaster, Igor Karkaroff, is Russian. And one of the students, Viktor Krum, is Bulgarian.

The other is Beauxbatons, pretty clearly French. They moment they arrive at Hogwarts, they’re full of nothing but snooty complaints. When Fleur Delacour is chosen Triwizard Champion, the others literally fall into crying and tantrums.

And in the tournament itself, while Cedric, Harry, and Viktor are all doing well, Fleur is just terrible. Got attacked by grindylows. Though her failure in the maze was of course not her fault. At first, it feels sexist, that the only female champion is doing so badly. Then I remember that, no, her doing badly is not because she’s female. It’s because she’s French.

Between this and the Ireland thing…

Yes, yes, Rowling. We get it. You’re British. 😆

December 5, 2014

The Ninth One

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing — Katrina @ 9:07 pm

*begins music and chimes and crap*

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen

Are they the guys who own that gay bar down the street?

Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.

I only see Donner. With Comet’s, Cupid’s, and Blitzen’s antlers in front of him on his dinner plate.

But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?

If I know the less famous ones, I’d probably know the most famous. Unless I’m some kind of hipster.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, had a very shiny nose

Why is that? Does he have a cold?

And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.

That’s a serious cold.

All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.

Hehe. Good friends ripping on each other. What fun.

They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Okay, that’s not friendly. That’s just bullying and bigoted.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say,
“Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

The millennia-old saint with flying reindeer and elves and a home at the North Pole who can break all of the laws of physics delivering gifts all over the world is stymied by fucking FOG!

Then how the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee,

So basically they changed their tune completely once he proved to be useful. Flaky assholes. Or did Santa make up all that “I can’t fly in fog!” crap just to pretend Rudolph was useful so the other reindeer would stop being dicks to him?

“Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer! You’ll go down in history!”

Brought to you by Montgomery Ward.

December 4, 2014

Good Kids, Bad Kids, Rewarded Kids, Murdered Kids

Filed under: Christmas Time!,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:44 pm

I’m so tired of the “naughty or nice” theme around Christmas giving. I’ve said before that Santa Claus doesn’t work that way and that those who say he does are assholes. Santa Claus is awesome and his story doesn’t need to continue being polluted with this manipulative nonsense.

There’s so much more to Christmas than this. There are legends and folklore from all over the place associated with the season. Let’s have a look!

First, here’s Befana:

In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal.

D’oh! That’s no better. Still the good-bad nonsense.

Oh, well. Let’s try the Belsnickel:

The Belsnickel shows up at houses 1–2 weeks before Christmas and often created fright because he always knew exactly which of the children misbehaved. He is typically very ragged and mean looking. He wears torn, tattered, and dirty clothes, and he carries a switch in his hand with which to beat bad children.

What the holy fuck?!
(more…)

December 3, 2014

The Rest of Life

Filed under: Assorted Politics,Christmas Time!,Science,Think About It! — Katrina @ 11:28 pm

There’s a quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson floating around, from an appearance with Bill Maher a few years ago, where he recalls noticing that the backgrounds of many Congressmen and Senators is law. And that he wondered “where are the scientists? where are the engineers? where is the rest of life represented?”

I’ll admit when I started writing this, already intending to speak on this quote, I hadn’t heard/seen the quote in context. When searching for the exact text, I instead found the above-linked video and heard his whole spiel. He precedes the above discussing that, with all these politicians having a law background, being trained specifically to argue, they are trained to basically argue their side and never come to an agreement. Okay, I may or may not be summarizing it well. Just watch the video and let him speak for himself!

The context doesn’t change what I intended to say, though. In fact, it just confirms it. He asks where the scientists and engineers are. I’ll tell you where they are… being awesome scientists and engineers and not wasting their time with political bullshit!

You know what’s extremely expensive? Scientific research. Even the smallest simplest research is really damn expensive, let alone the dizzying costs of medical research or the astronomical costs of, well, space exploration. But it’s all worth it, even the research that turns out to be a dead end, because it’s the noblest cause of all. It’s gaining information and developing things with that information to make our lives better, to advance, to reach untold unimagined heights. There is no greater investment in humanity and in, well, all of life and the universe.

By contrast, you know what else is really expensive? Political campaigns. Politicians are always raising money to beat the crap out of their opponent. We’ve got people dying from cancer, Ebola, AIDS, and countless other maladies and afflictions, which many millions spent in research can do something about. What do politicians spend millions on? Running mind-numbing advertisements calling their opponents douchebags.

So I’d say we’re better off with the scientists and engineers continuing to be scientists and engineers!

Of course, before I heard the rest of Tyson’s speech, my point was going to pretty much end there. He’s right, though. It makes sense. Politicians are trained to argue incessantly, so that’s exactly what they are doing, with their campaign funds, with their House and Senate votes. They don’t want to make the world better. They just want to pretend they do in order to get money and votes, in order to beat the Other Guy, to defeat the Other Party.

He’s implying that, if more politicians had backgrounds in science and other fields, we may have politicians who don’t have that urge, who are more interested in facts and solutions and improvement than in demolishing one another. It’s certainly plausible, right?

Then I remember Ben Carson, former neurosurgeon now vocal Tea Partier who may or may not try to run for President in 2016, who equated ObamaCare with slavery.

Yeah, never mind. :irked:

December 2, 2014

No Salvation for Male Teens

So apparently a homeless family of five sought shelter from the cold weather with the Salvation Army. Four of them were welcome, namely both parents, their 16-year-old daughter, and their 5-year-old son. The fifth, their 15-year-old son, was not welcome.

According to the guy’s father:

“They said he’s too old to stay on the women’s side, because of the women running around in their pajamas and they said he’s too young to stay on the men’s side in case some pervert wants to do whatever,” Lejeune said.

So he’s too dangerous to be with the women, while the men are too dangerous to him for him to be with them. Oh, God, it’s like wolf-sheep-watermelon riddle!

But seriously… what?! The Reason article calls it pedophile panic, but it’s quite a bit more than that. It’s yet another manifestation of the idea that teens equal trouble, both for themselves and for others. They are a danger to everyone, and everything is a danger to them. The curious ageist paradox that always seems to yield fewer rights for teens, who are never allowed a word in edgewise.

And it’s more ephebiphobic paranoia. “Help! It’s a teen! Is it a child? Is it an adult? Oh, Lord, I just don’t know. Let’s just shove it out of sight and not have to worry our heads with this freaky age-hybrid.”

The result? A young guy, whose only crime was existing and happening to be part of a family that fell on hard times, is forced to stay out in the cold, as is his family.
(more…)

December 1, 2014

O Canon, Where Art Thou?

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Musical Musing,What the hell? — Katrina @ 11:52 pm

It’s Christmas time! It’s that magical time of year when the regular mundane world undergoes some little festive changes. Greensleeves becomes “What Child Is This?”. Forest Green becomes “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. Little Deuce Coupe becomes “Little Saint Nick”. And Pachelbel’s Canon in D becomes Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Canon“.

Christmas Canon!

When local radio station 97.1 WASH (dear God, I mention them a lot on here!) switched from their usual light pop to Christmas mode the Friday before Thanksgiving, I stayed by the radio, even while at work, all day, as I usually do when the Christmas songs start, to hear songs I hadn’t heard in 11 months. Songs I have mixed reactions to. But eventually they would play Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Canon”! The lovely piece of music that when I first heard it about eight years ago on this station on my alarm clock radio I thought the radio had somehow turned to a classical music station. Then I became a little obsessed with the song, because damn it, it is beautiful and YOU WILL BOW TO CHRISTMAS CANON!

So Friday before Thanksgiving I listened to the station at first on my alarm clock radio and later through their website when I got to work.

Canon?

No, just It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.

Next song. Canon?

No, just O Holy Night.

Next song. Canon?

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s… Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24 (the rockin’ Carol of the Bells rendition we all know and love). Welp, no more TSO for the rest of the hour then. I’ll get coffee.

Now what?

Oh, Caroling Caroling. I like that song. It’s cute.

Alright. How about Canon?

Nope. It’s the infamous Do They Know It’s Christmas?.

Come on! Many of these songs have been played several times already. Where the hell is Canon? It usually gets pretty frequent play.

Ugh, not Santa Claus Is Coming to Town!

Now yet another rendition of Silver Bells!

At least Happy Xmas (War Is Over) is getting a lot of play. That’s another one I don’t get tired of, whether John Lennon or one of the covers.

But where the hell is Christmas Canon? It’s been all day.

You know when I finally heard it? When I went home and played it on Winamp because of course I have the damn song. But I didn’t hear it on the radio station until the following Monday afternoon. Did they play it before then? I don’t know. Even I finally gave up after a while. But even though I’ve still had the station on during the day at work, I haven’t heard it on there since then.

In fact, Trans-Siberian Orchestra is touring right now, and will be in DC on the 17th. You know what the tour is promoting? Their album “The Christmas Attic”. The album which contains… Christmas Canon!

I mean, you’d think the station would want to play it more then! And even so, why not? They can play I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus as often as they do, which I really really doubt anyone actually likes, but the sweet aurally-pleasing Christmas Canon is getting totally snubbed this year.

So maybe I need to head over to the station with an ultimatum. And a cannon. Because apparently we’re all cartoon characters and thus have ready access to cannons. And I’ll say “Canon? Or cannon? Choose wisely.”

At worst, a miscommunication might leave me with a rather nice copier.

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