Lenore Skenazy: A Jew Walks up to St. Peter... (Creators Syndicate)
You'd think this would be good news to a Jew like me: The Vatican has declared that my tribe can get into heaven. In a statement recently released in honor of the 50th anniversary of the "Nostra Aetate" - itself a high point in Jewish-Christian relations, in that it stated that Jews should not be considered "accursed by God" (yea!) - the Vatican has gone one step further. The new document says, "It does not in any way follow that the Jews are excluded from God's salvation."
Lenore Skenazy: Songs From the Lobby of Life (Creators Syndicate)
Yiddish is the language that used to work like magic for the Jews of Europe. You could be from Russia, Romania or France, and even if you couldn't understand a lick of others' official languages, you could almost certainly speak the Jewish language of Yiddish and all talk together. Or sing.
Froma Harrop: "'Bond Predators' on Puerto Rican Debt Want Their Bailout" (Creators Syndicate)
Guess which path the hedge funds want to take? The taxpayer bailout, of course. And guess which side Washington Republicans are on? The hedge funds'. Funny how fast these "fiscal conservatives" forget their distaste for bailouts when their Wall Street benefactors come knocking for theirs.
Froma Harrop: Knowing Who's on Your Airplane (Creators Syndicate)
I don't know about you, but I'd like to think that the feds have screened the other passengers sitting on my airplane. To do that, they also have to screen me. That's the deal.
Susan Estrich: The Meaning of Christmas (Creators Syndicate)
A real leader starts a parade; he doesn't look for one and position himself in front. This is a time when we need every presidential candidate to appeal to the better angels of our nature, to remind us that we are a nation of immigrants, that the sins of the few should not be visited on the many, and that we should lend a hand to the stranger in need. Isn't that what Christmas is about? Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. And God bless.
Susan Estrich: The Donald vs. Big Bill (Creators Syndicate)
Not satisfied with hurling sexist invectives at Hillary Clinton, the Donald has turned his ire on her husband, the former president, claiming he has "a terrible record of women abuse." Really? Does anyone recall Bill Clinton ridiculing women reporters (as Trump did with Megyn Kelly), insulting the looks of a female candidate (as Trump did with Carly Fiorina) and introducing a generation to Jewish slang for a male organ (his description of Barack Obama's '08 defeat of Hillary Clinton)?
Oliver Sacks remembered by his nephew, Jonathan Sacks (The Guardian)
A personal reminiscence of the writer and neurologist's towering physique, his role as a defender of those with mental illness and his love of family.
David Bruce's Amazon Author Page
David Bruce's Smashwords Page
David Bruce's Blog
David Bruce's Lulu Storefront
David Bruce's Apple iBookstore
David Bruce has over 80 Kindle books on Amazon.com.
Michelle in AZ
Gary in PA
Flooded Apartment Update
So, we're slowly making headway in straightening up our home
after being flooded out for about 6 weeks.
Our neighbors left, & never returned. The last time I saw them, they were sweeping water out their front door with a broom. ( As I was doing ) No repairs have been attempted on their vacated place.
So far, two landlords have been dismissed by the owners.
( Presumably for incompetency )
The refrigerator was completely a loss, & they had to replace it with a new one.
I expect the oven, & dishwasher will be next.
It breaks my heart to toss out so much, but many, many items were fully f*cked.
We're having some help come in from Church over the next few days to finish the last of the major cleaning.
The donated air filter machine has helped a lot to remove the mold & mildew smells.
My allergies are complaining for more relief, anyway. Achoo.
If all goes as planned, a new, donated, king-size bed will arrive today. A BED! Ahhh!
Luckily, the frame is fine from the last bed.
Meetings with lawyers are scheduled this week. Really anxious for that.
Remember, all, don't give up, no matter how dire all appears.
I can hardly believe we made it through, but I somehow had faith, after all.
Good news is always welcome!
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
TRUMPENIS UPS THE ANTE!
FLY THE FRIENDLY SKIES!
REPUBLICANS ARE RACISTS.
GET A GUN AND SHOOT YOUR MOTHER!
THE GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES.
"IT'S NEVER TO LATE TO LEARN PIANO."
WHAT A DOPE!
Visit JD's site - Kitty Litter Music
In The Chaos Household
My computer isn't happy. At all.
Missed Book Deadline
George R.R. Martin
For fans of George R.R. Martin, winter is not coming - at least not right away.
The "Game of Thrones" author says he missed a Dec. 31 deadline to finish "The Winds of Winter," the sixth book in his popular fantasy series. That means the next HBO season based on the novel will start airing in April, before the book is published.
The words "you won't like it" appeared Saturday on Martin's blog, reporting that "the book's not done. ... I tried, I promise you. I failed."
Martin says he is working with HBO to ensure the show reflects the next installment of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" books - in which characters warn of impending doom with the phrase "Winter is coming."
"You can blame my travels or my blog posts or the distractions of other projects and the Cocteau and whatever, but maybe all that had an impact," he wrote, referring to the single-screen Jean Cocteau Cinema he purchased and fixed up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives.
George R.R. Martin
Dismisses Concept Of Religious Neutrality
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (R-Corrupt) said Saturday the idea of religious neutrality is not grounded in the country's constitutional traditions and that God has been good to the U.S. exactly because Americans honor him.
Scalia was speaking at a Catholic high school in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, Louisiana. Scalia, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 is the court's longest serving justice. He has consistently been one of the court's more conservative members.
He told the audience at Archbishop Rummel High School that there is "no place" in the country's constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence.
"God has been very good to us. That we won the revolution was extraordinary. The Battle of Midway was extraordinary. I think one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor. Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name we do him honor. In presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations and in many other ways," Scalia said.
TV Ratings Down
New Year's 6 Bowls
Lopsided games and playing the College Football Playoff semifinals on New Year's Eve for the first time led to a 13 percent drop in TV ratings for the New Year's Six Bowls from last year.
The Rose Bowl on Friday drew its lowest rating (7.9) since it became part of the BCS in 1999.
The overnight ratings for the big New Year's Day bowls were announced Saturday by ESPN, which broadcasts all the games.
ESPN has the rights to all six games. This is the second season of 12-year contracts worth a total of $7.3 million to the major college football conferences. The Rose and Sugar bowls have separate television deals with ESPN that lock in their prime New Year's Day time slots. When the College Football Playoff semifinals are played in the other four games in the New Year's Six rotation, they will be played on New Year's Eve.
New Year's 6 Bowls
Er - they're all on cable - think that makes a difference?
An agreement signed last year making the Vatican's de facto recognition of Palestine in 2012 official has come into effect, the Holy See said on Saturday.
The Vatican signed its first treaty with the "State of Palestine" last June when it called for moves to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and backed a two-state solution.
The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2012 recognizing Palestine as an observer non-member state. This was welcomed at the time by the Vatican, which has the same observer non-member status at the United Nations.
In October 2014, Sweden acknowledged Palestine, a decision that drew condemnation from Israel and led to tense relations between the two.
Gaming Revenue Falls
Macau's gambling revenue ended 2015 with a whimper, falling for a second straight year as China's corruption crackdown continued to keep high rollers from the Asian gaming hub.
Revenue slid 34.3 percent to a five-year low of 230.84 billion patacas ($28.92 billion), according to numbers released by Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Gaming revenue fell 2.6 percent in 2014.
The slowdown in Macau, a semi-autonomous Chinese city, has been in part attributed to a high-profile corruption crackdown led by Chinese President Xi Jinping with Beijing making it clear it wants the former Portuguese colony to move away from gambling.
Casino operators in Macau -- the only place in China where casino gambling is allowed -- are trying to lure mass market visitors to make up for the drop in high-roller gamblers who comprise the bulk of the city's gaming income.
Wynn Resorts in November said the opening of its new $4.1 billion Wynn Palace -- a floral-themed 1,700-room resort featuring a lake with gondolas -- would be delayed by three months to June 25, 2016.
Priests offering New Year's prophecies from Cuba's Afro-Cuban religion forecast an explosion in migration and social unrest worldwide in 2016.
Many on the Caribbean island eagerly wait for guidance from the Santeria religion's annual forecast. Santeria, with roots in West African tradition brought to Cuba by slaves, is practiced by millions of Cubans.
This year, the island's official association of priests, known as babalawos, predicted an "explosion" of migration and "social unrest provoked by desperation."
"The predictions of Ifa (divination system) warn world leaders that if no action is taken, we may lead our people to a massive migration provoked by different things, desperation among them," priest Lazaro Cuesta told a news conference in Havana.
Cuesta said war, economic hardship, political conflict and terrorism are sparking worldwide migration.
US Tuna Fleet
The US tuna fleet has been blocked from fishing in the lucrative western Pacific for the first time in three decades as a conflict over fees remains unresolved.
The US Department of Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has told all US vessels they are prohibited from fishing in the region from January 1 until new licences are issued.
Nearly 40 US vessels usually work in the region and are estimated to catch US$300-$400 million worth of tuna annually.
The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), an umbrella group representing the island states, is refusing to issue new licences because the US tuna industry will not make a quarterly payment of US$17 million due Friday for 2016 fishing access.
The US industry agreed in August to buy 5,000 "fishing days", but when some companies said they could not afford their share, the US government asked the FFA in November to take back 2,000 days.
US Tuna Fleet
As the days get shorter, first grade teacher Esmeralda Jiménez watches the dimming afternoon sky outside her classroom window the way her pupils watch the clock at dismissal time.
The studio apartment Jiménez rents for $1,783 a month, or 43 percent of her salary, is located in one of San Francisco's sketchiest neighborhoods. Getting home involves running a gauntlet of feces-strewn sidewalks, popping crack pipes, discarded needles and menacing comments - daily irritants that become more daunting after dark.
"If I lived in a better area, I wouldn't feel so scared going home and I would be able to stay at school a little longer," Jiménez, 26, said. "You have so many things to do to prep for the next day, but it's gotten to the point where even if I leave at a decent time I will walk three blocks out of my way to avoid some streets."
It's a scenario that has Jiménez wondering if she should find a profession that pays more, and public officials here and in other cities looking at housing as a tool to prevent the exodus of young educators like her.
In San Francisco, where many of Jiménez's colleagues have roommates or long commutes, addressing the affordability crisis for teachers was one of the main selling points of a housing bond voters approved in November, the first to pass in a generation.
Slow To Arrive In Hawaii
December usually marks the start of humpback whale season in Hawaii, but experts say the animals have been slow to return this year.
The giant whales are an iconic part of winter on the islands and a source of income for tour operators. But officials at the Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary said they've been getting reports that the whales have been difficult to spot so far.
"This isn't a concern, but it's of interest. One theory was that something like this happened as whales increased. It's a product of their success," said Ed Lyman, a Maui-based resource protection manager and response coordinator for the sanctuary.
More than 10,000 humpback whales make the winter journey from Alaska to the warm waters off Hawaii to mate and give birth.
Lyman said the whales' absence could just mean they're spending more time feeding in northern waters, possibly because of El Nino disruptions or because their population has gone up.
Jason Wingreen, who played Harry the bartender on All in the Family and Archie Bunker's Place and provided the voice of the bounty hunter Boba Fett in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, has died. He was 95.
The recognizable character actor, who has almost 200 credits listed on IMDb, died at his home in Los Angeles on Christmas Day, his son, Ned, told The Hollywood Reporter.
The Brooklyn native appeared in three episodes of The Twilight Zone, most notably portraying the real train conductor in the 1960 episode in "A Stop at Willoughby." He played a Chicago police captain on The Untouchables, a major on 12 O'Clock High and Judge Arthur Beaumont on Matlock; did six episodes apiece of The Fugitive, and Ironside, appearing as 18 different characters; and died a memorable death as Dr. Linke on the 1968 Star Trek episode "The Empath."
And in Airplane (1980), he played a doctor from the Mayo Clinic who is seen talking on the phone as a beating heart bounces all over his desk.
Wingreen portrayed Harry Snowden, the Kelsey's barkeep with the sympathetic ear, for 117 episodes and seven seasons of the CBS sitcoms All in the Family and Archie Bunker's Place, both starring Carroll O'Connor. The role, which kept him employed from 1976 until 1983, "allowed me to retire, let me put it that way," he said in a 2010 interview on The Classic TV History Blog.
On The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Wingreen auditioned for the part of Yoda. He didn't get that role (Frank Oz did), but he was given four lines of dialogue spoken by the masked Boba Fett, the feared bounty hunter who captures Han Solo (Harrison Ford).
The son of a tailor, Wingreen was born Oct. 9, 1920, in Brooklyn and raised in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens. He wanted to be a sportswriter and attended Brooklyn College, where he took his first acting class. His first show business job was with a marionette company.
After serving in World War II, Wingreen was one of the founders of the famed Circle in the Square theater company in New York's Greenwich Village, and he appeared for the first time on Broadway in two 1954 plays: The Girl on the Via Flaminia and Fragile Fox.
In 1956, Wingreen starred on the first installment of the CBS anthology series Playhouse 90, an episode that was written by future Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling.
He made his movie debut in The Bravados (1958), starring Gregory Peck, and also appeared on the big screen in A Guide for the Married Man (1967), Marlowe (1969), They Only Kill Their Masters (1972), The Terminal Man (1974), and Oh, God! You Devil (1984).
He retired after appearances on Seinfeld and In the Heat of the Night in the 1990s.
In addition to his son, survivors include two grandchildren and his sister, Harriet Wingreen, for decades an orchestra pianist for the New York Philharmonic.