Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Abject Stupidity of Political Correctness

When did Christmas Trees, Candy Canes and Santa Claus become religious symbols that promoted Christianity? Anyone have a verse for biblical candy canes?

Proving once again that liberalism and foolishness are synonymous and that there is no where that is more obvious than in academia, my alma mater crosses the line into abject stupidity.

In a move that seems decidedly Orwellian, the University of Maine has removed images of Santa Claus, candy canes, Christmas trees, wreaths, and menorahs from public locations on campus in the name of "diversity." Instead of the highly offensive displays of evergreen arrangements and trees on the flagship university of the Pine Tree State, the University of Maine has chosen to decorate this year with snowmen, snowflakes, and decidedly non-denominational lights.

According to WABI, some members of the University of Maine's staff received the following email reminding them to avoid anything that could remotely be perceived as religious:

Good Afternoon Everyone,
Just wanted to remind everyone that Aux Services is not to decorate any public areas with Christmas or any other religious themed decorations. Winter holiday decorations are fine but we need to not display any decoration [sic] that could be perceived as religious.
This includes, xmas trees, wreaths, xmas presents, menorahs, candy canes, etc.
What is allowed our [sic] winter themes, plain trees without presents underneath, decorative lights, but not on trees, snow flakes, etc.
If you are unsure, best not to use or ask me for clarifications.

At least one of the trees taken down by the university was being used as an advertisement for a fraternity's food and clothing drive for a local charity.

UMaine released a statement explaining the new decorative policy, saying that by banning everything even remotely religious from being displayed in public, they want to reflect the diversity of their community.

“…the university makes every effort to ensure that all members – students, employees, alumni and the public – feel included and welcome on campus. Decorations on the UMaine campus are therefore reflective of the diversity found in our community.”

Never mind the fact that this statement makes very close to zero sense...actually, scratch that, it makes zero sense. It's not "reflecting diversity" by erasing all displays of religious and cultural diversity on campus and replacing them with weather patterns and anthropomorphic snow creatures. It's "reflecting" a bizarre and terrible world where everyone is the exact same. While many cultures and religions have celebrations at this time of year, how are students supposed to learn about different things if they aren't allowed to be displayed?

Santa Claus, wrapped presents, and Christmas trees, sure, I guess, are figures of Christmas. Granted, they're not religious figures (I don't think the Magi came to Jesus bearing gold, frankincense, and myrrh wrapped in a box with paper and a ribbon bow, but I could be wrong), but they're still symbols of Christmas in the United States. Menorahs, obviously, are a religious symbol, but from my experience as a Catholic who grew up in Maine, I've never exactly felt threatened or excluded when one was on display in a classroom or in a public space. Displaying a menorah is an opportunity to teach people about the story of Hanukkah and the reason as to why there are eight candles lit at different times throughoutthecelebration. Candy canes, while traditionally sold at Christmastime (a mistake, in my opinion, as candy canes are amazing and should be consumed all year round), are not explicitly tied to any religious celebration. People of all creeds and colors are welcome to enjoy hook-shaped peppermint candy. Wreaths are also not religious in nature and are simply decorations featuring the only plant in the state that still has something resembling color at this time of year.

UMaine is doing a huge disservice to their students with this bizarre ban of anything remotely religious and seasonal that isn't composed of crystallized water. While I'm glad the ban doesn't single out Christmas or symbols of Christianity, it's still very strange and a departure from past university policy with seemingly no real explanation other than "we're worried someone might be offended by a wrapped box or a tree with decorative lights." College is a time to learn about other people, not remove oneself from anything that might possibly be different than how you were raised. This is an incredibly misguided attempt at "diversity," and is in fact the complete opposite. This is political correctness at its worst.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Zephyr's 5th Birthday

Sabrina, Mom, Hailey, Christina, Sharleigh, Tess

The Birthday Boy.


Zephyr and Silas.


The cake.

In position.

Getting ready.

All set.

We are singing.

He is ready.

Now! Time to spit all over the cake.

I wan pizza.

Now I want cake.

The boys and me.


Hailey, Sharliegh, Sabrina.

Tess and Mom.

Don't point that crooked finger at me, Lady.

Silas' 5th Birthday

Both Silas and Zephyr turned 5 years old within two weeks of each other. Silas had his party at the local bowling alley.

Granddaughter Sabrina and her father John.

Daughter Amy with the birthday boy Silas.

Granddaughter Sharleigh.

Zephyr and Silas with Acea.




Birthday Cake.

Sleepy already.

Silas and Hailey.

She who thinks she must be obeyed.


Grandson Winter.

Let the games begin.

This guy ate the bowling alley food.


This little girl goes to school with Silas and has quite a crush on him.

Learning to bowl.

It was a gutter ball.

Silas and Dad and little girlfriend.

Tess and Zephyr.


Blowing out the candles.

I am getting tired.

Cool present, cousin. 

What's this?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

I Wouldn't Bet On It

When I was 8 or 9 I had acquired a silver dollar from somewhere. Even 50 years ago that was a big deal and I was in love with that shiny, heavy, dollar coin.

Uncle Duane was home on leave from the Air Force and somehow I got into an argument with him about something and in all my 8 or 9 year old self righteousness made a bet with him about something. The bet was for my silver dollar and, of course, I lost.
I was gutted.

After letting me mope and grieve for a couple of hours Duane gave the silver dollar back to me but only after extracting a promise from me that I would never bet again.

Fast forward 10 years or so. Mom and Dad had moved out to British Columbia and I was still attending the University of Maine. I was able to get a ride to Bridgeton where Duane was a Game Warden so it was arranged that I would spend the Christmas break with him and his family.

Sitting at home all day with Duane's wife and my cousins was not a lot of fun so I took to walking into town and going to the bowling alley every day and bowling a few practice strings. I was in a league at the University and I thought I was hot stuff. Actually, I was hot stuff, at least at the University of Maine at Orono.

Walking home one afternoon Duane pulled up beside me in his police car and offered me a ride home. I got in and he asked me where I'd been. I told him I had been doing practice strings at the alley and he asked me if I was any good. Of course I had to brag and that opened up some banter about who was the better bowler with me insisting I was better than Duane and indeed I did have a wicked average. The banter continued and Duane asked me if I wanted to put any money on who was the better bowler. I sensed a quick kill and an opportunity to make some easy cash which was always in short supply for a college boy. I asked him if $50 was enough and he threw on the lights and siren, spun the car around in the middle of the road and then headed back to the bowling alley.

When we went in to the lanes a few people said hello to him but I didn't think much of it. Everybody knew the local game warden. Duane stripped off his uniform top and we got down to business. Best of three strings.

It only took him two to do the job. Turned out my 190 average didn't stand up to his 230.

He put his uniform back on then just held out his hand without saying anything. I took out my wallet and paid him the $50 and then trudged back to the car and we headed for home. As we pulled into the driveway he said, "We had a deal you wouldn't bet again."

All those years and he remembered it. So did I and I knew I was not getting my money back this time. I could kiss that fifty bucks goodbye.

Once a year the Filipino community here rents the bowling alley for an afternoon and we all head there for bowling and pizza. Tess and I and Jamie and Lita won a trophy one year. I am not very good any more and if it were not for Lita there would have been no trophy. The next few years have been a bust.

This year Tess and I are bowling with Jamie and Lita again. We may get our names on the trophy once again. I am not betting any money on it though.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid. Home. Alone. In the Dark.

There is nothing quite like a good fright. Especially on Halloween. You are invited to gather your loved ones together in the living room with the lights turned low, cuddle up with some pillows and blankets in front of the radio (okay, in this case, computer), and enjoy some of the most frightening shows ever produced for the theatre of the mind.

Our evening begins with the December 5, 1946 episode of Suspense starring Robert Taylor.

A real estate agent finds a manuscript in a house that's never been lived in.  The manuscript tells the story of a couple that rented that house, and on their first night, strange noises are heard, then blood is found running from under a locked closet door.

And now, SuspenseThe House in Cypress Canyon.

We now bring you the March 17, 1950 episode of Escape starring Vincent Price - Three Skeleton Key

Tonight's feature episode is Mercury Theatre on the Air's October 30, 1938 production of War of the Worlds directed and narrated by Orson Welles and adapted from the H.G. Wells novel.

The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated news bulletins, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show (it ran without commercial breaks), adding to the program's realism. Although there were sensationalist accounts in the press about a supposed panic in response to the broadcast, the precise extent of listener response has been debated.

In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage and panic by certain listeners, who had believed the events described in the program were real. The program's news-bulletin format was described as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast. Despite these complaints, the episode secured Welles' fame as a dramatist.