Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas Message: Keep Out!

Is this the world’s most odious hypocrite?

The pope is reported as condemning the commercialisation of christmas in his midnight mass.

Erm, right, Your Holiness.  So what is the purpose of the fabulously wealthy organisation over which you preside?  Aha, yes.  Amongst the catholic church’s responsibilities, you maintain the communion of saints: individuals you bless as exemplary role models.  There’s a saint particularly associated with Christmas: St.Nicholas brings gifts to children.  Isn’t that the very commercialisation you condemn?

OK, the original St.Nicholas’s gift of gold was to the three daughters of a nobleman.  I guess if you limit your gifts firmly to a tiny elite, you’re distinct from our modern inclusive commercialisation.  I guess his message to the masses is to know your place, keep your grubby hands off our tradition, and don’t expect your worthless children to share the privileges of their betters.

Evidently the Victorians were wrong when they gave us the modern Christmas as a season of goodwill.  The true spirit of Christmas is that embodied by the unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge when he denounced as a humbug the commercialisation inherent in an inclusive Christmas.

But hang on!  Doesn’t the Christmas story also tell of rich gifts to one particular child?  A child who, unlike St.Nicholas’s beneficiaries, was a humble commoner by birth?  Well, no: that’s not necessarily inconsistent either: it’s the giving, not the receiving of gifts that’s inclusive in that story.  Maybe a narrative root for the church’s own fabulous wealth.  And besides, the three magi aren’t saints: their gifts to a commoner may be commendable by Victorian or modern commercialised values, but they’re not actually blessed by the church.

Good.  He’s not a hypocrite after all.  Just so long as we don’t get distracted by misguided notions of goodwill to all, his position is perfectly consistent.  That is (of course) provided his message didn’t include inconsistencies that the headlines omit.


Having all the shops shut for two days calls for a little discipline.  OK, I’m not going to starve if I run out of something and can’t go out and buy it, but I like a little bit of luxury.

And so it came to pass that while the fridge was not yet bereft of milk and fruit juice, yet were they not so plentiful as to last even unto the fourth day hence (Dec.27th) without undue frugality.  So doing epic battle with the crowds, I ventured forth even unto Morrisons wherein I stocked up on these things.  I’d hoped also to grab a couple of bottles of a wine that I’d recently picked up on half-price offer and which had mightily impressed, but alas it was no longer on offer.

Although the crowds in town were indeed mighty, those at Morrisons were surprisingly reasonable: much less than earlier in December.  So it was that I took a moment to see if anything interesting was on a good price reduction, and found myself so richly rewarded that I not only have tasty provisions for the days of total shutdown, but a surplus selected from such fresh items as are suitable for home freezing.  Delicious!

Also chatted to a lady who was loading up with bargains and described doing even better a year ago, when snow and ice kept most of the customers away and the shops had been truly desperate to shift the fresh food at any price.  Guess I should be shopping on Dec.24th more often!

Supreme importance

Julian Assange gets a supreme court hearing in front of no less than seven judges!  Is that a legal first since we had a supreme court?  No matter, it’s certainly exceptional.

And over what?  An extradition hearing.  That being extradition to a friendly European country whose democratic credentials and legal system are pretty-much as trustworthy as anywhere in the world.  Aren’t they?  And his alleged crimes for which he’s being extradited are also mundane, no matter how potentially serious.  How the **** is that so legally interesting and important as to merit a hearing in front of their Lordships, let alone seven of them?

The public line is that it raises a legal question over whether the authority requesting the extradition has the right to do so.  That’s a fine legal technicality, and one which under normal circumstances a judge would undoubtedly be happy to decide either way, depending on what outcome (s)he wanted.  So we must conclude there’s an unspoken point of legal interest to consider at the very highest level.

Well of course there is.  There’s the suspicion that the alleged sex crimes are merely a device in a politically-motivated persecution.  It’s hard to think of a less likely country than Sweden to engage in such political persecution, but that’s not saying much!   And in today’s decision, it seems Their Lordships are implicitly raising precisely that suspicion, and saying to the Swedish authorities we don’t trust your motives.  Interesting!

Of course if it had been extradition to the US to face charges in connection with Wikileaks, it would indeed raise important and unique issues of public interest to merit Their Lordships’ attention.  Gary McKinnon got a Lords hearing, but not Assange’s seven judges!

You read it here first

Reports in the press tell us particle physicists are getting excited at the prospect of experimental support for core elements of their mathematical models.

I look forward to the comedians’ take on this.  Who will be the first voice of the Higgs Boson to scream “leave me alone” to his observers?  If it happens while The Now Show is still on, I’ll guess at Punt & Dennis.

Bunkering down

This is unquestionably the worst time of year.  It’s dark most of the day, and to make it worse people are burning coal, wood, and other things turning the air foul.  This year remains thoroughly mild, in what may be a reversion to normal after two real winters.

And the season of humbug is in full swing.  I can cope with a few stupid lights – even flashing ones.  And a salvation army band (or whatever it was) in town playing lots of David Willcocks arrangements.

But the shops are a whole nother story.  Not just the display of ‘seasonal’ crap, but bigger crowds than at other times.  And that’s not gift shops, toyshops, or even clothes shops, it’s bloomin’ supermarkets.  Do they all eat twice as much for the whole month of December?

I wonder if I can bunker down and live on tinned/frozen/miscellaneous longlife food for the next three weeks?  Ugh 😦