Yes, Virginia, Santa Claus Is Black As Hell

As a child growing up in the 1970’s, I heard evangelical Christians on the religious TV channels complain about the commercialization of Christmas as mass-market retailers emphasized the importance of giving—and receiving—gifts to the extent that God was often forgotten during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Unlike the Puritans who actually cancelled Christmas for two decades in the 17th century, these Christians wanted people to slow down, consider the birth of Christ and their relationship with God.

Never mind that Christmas was a Roman pagan festival called Saturnalia that celebrated a weeklong period of lawless, as the courts weren’t open and no crime committed during that time was punishable. Some communities even designated an unfortunate soul to become the “Lord of Misrule,” encouraging that person to indulge in all kinds of pleasure, and then brutally killing that person at the end of the holiday. Which, ironically, is what Black Friday has become these days with all the mayhem over getting the best holiday deal.

Fast forward a generation, evangelical Christians on Fox News are complaining the mass-market retailers are removing Christmas from the holidays by changing “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” in their greetings. There’s a “war on Christmas” to prevent evangelical Christians from shoving the spirit of Christmas down everyone else’s throat.

Did that make your head spin like the little girl’s in “The Exorcist” movie? Mine did too.

Now it didn’t help that Fox News host, Megyn Kelly, proclaimed that both Santa and Jesus were white and tough luck for anyone who wanted to believe otherwise. Saturday Night Live has a great skit about Santa Claus being black as hell. I wrote a tanka poem about Santa Claus being black from climbing down so many chimneys that his old lady called the cops because he forgot his keys.

Of course, this nonsense had to spill over into the real world. A white teacher told a black student that he couldn’t play Santa. A black Santa was shot in the back with a pellet gun at a toy drive. The famed Macy’s of “Miracle on 34th Street” has a white Santa in front for everyone to see, and a black Santa hidden away in the back, where you need to ask an elf inside the Santaland maze for to find his secret location. Seriously. I even wrote a tanka poem about that.

Did anyone noticed that the controversy of a white Jesus was quietly dropped by the news media? No one wanted to open that particular can of worms. Most evangelical Christians haven’t read the whole bible and memorized only certain scriptures on sin to hurl into someone’s face. That Jesus was a Jewish carpenter might unsettle some folks. Fox News published an article that the race of Jesus is unknown.

As a white Christian who read the bible from cover-to-cover six times, I’m going to have a very Jewish Christmas by seeing “47 Ronin” at the movie theater and eating orange chicken from Panda Express. On that note, happy holidays!

Shipping Wars Delivers The Star Trek Bridge

One of the highlight of the 2013 Las Vegas Star Trek convention was the display of the Enterprise-D bridge that Houston Huddleston, founder and CEO of New Starship, has touring around the country before the bridge eventually goes into a permanent museum. My friend already had a “Captain, I saved the bridge!” t-shirt before we arrived at the convention. We met Houston, sat down in the chairs and had our pictures taken. The latest episode of the reality TV series, “Shipping Wars,” shows how the bridge got shipped to the convention.

If you’re not familiar with the show, a motley group of transporters bid on moving a shipment from Point A to Point B without loosing money. Chris and Robbie won the bid to deliver the bridge to Las Vegas and deliver the Doctor Who TARDIS console to California from the same science fiction convention in Texas with a four-day deadline. Jarrett won the bid to deliver five giant pumpkins from Ohio to Kentucky in one day. Meanwhile, the other transporters deliver their colorful commentary as events unfold on the show.

Chris and Robbie are perhaps the most clueless people ever to walk into a science fiction convention without knowing anything about Doctor Who and Star Trek TV series. The bridge arrived in Las Vegas without incident. The lid for the disassembled crate to ship the TARDIS console in got tossed en route because it kept falling on top of the bridge. Worst, they demanded full payment even though they failed to deliver the entire shipment to the customer. The stopped by the convention in Las Vegas on their way back home from California.

Jarrett was no better. Being the less experienced transporter out of the group, he finds himself in trouble when he comes around a corner too fast and a 1,000+ pound giant pumpkin goes flying off the trailer into a ditch to make pumpkin. He abandons the destroyed pumpkin, buys a similar giant pumpkin and almost gets away with not telling the owner what happen. Of course, the owner does figure out that this particular giant pumpkin wasn’t his. But Jarrett insisted and got full payment because the owner was in a bind, surprising himself that he can actually make money doing this.

While my friend and I were at the convention, we noticed quite a few camera crews running around the place. The end credits for the episode shows Chris in a Federation shirt and Robbie in a Federation skirt uniform and Vulcan ears, walking through the dealer room and sitting on the bridge with Houston. We may or may not have seen them being filmed.

Has Koch Brothers Infiltrated The Huffington Post?

Commenting On Huffington Post ArticleAs a long-time political junkie since I watched Richard Nixon resigned the presidency on live TV in 1974 as a toddler, I subscribed to a number of political emails. A few days ago I received an email that the Sierra Club was endorsing Congressman Mike Honda for his 2014 re-election bid in the California 17th congressional district. That’s odd, I thought. Congressman Honda has a safe seat. Since the California GOP has more in common with the spotted owl than one-sixth of the U.S. population, they’re not mounting a challenger.

I later read on the Huffington Post about the Sierra Club endorsement. Congressman Honda has a Democratic primary challenger, Ro Khanna. Now that’s really odd. Democrats don’t challenge veteran incumbents unless their districts get merged or a scandal blows up. Neither has happened to Congressman Honda. Although some people think the Democrats need a tea party to push it further to the left (oh hell no, we need more moderates than extremists in politics), I don’t think that’s what happening here.

Khanna has a more pro-business agenda than the progressive agenda that California Democrats support, raising more money than Congressman Honda from the top CEOs and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. If Khanna ran as a Republican, this would make sense. Being a Democratic challenger is something of a head scratcher.

If you look at the political leanings of the CEOs supporting Khanna, you might think that the Koch brothers—the billionaires behind the tea party—might be trying to undermine the Democrat Party from within. The Republican Party had run fake Democratic primary challengers in California and across the country to confuse the voters. With President Barack Obama enacting much of the Republican agenda over the fierce objections of extremists on the left and the right, the Republicans can no longer run on ideas and must resort to electoral trickery to stay in power.

Which is why I’m a Democrat again.

As for the Huffington Post article, I tried to leave a comment that this particular House race was a head scratcher and maybe the Democratic challenger had indirect support by the Koch brothers. The comment got deleted before being posted. I tried again, deleted again. As a computer programmer, I recognized that an automatic word filter didn’t like what I wrote. No moderator can humanely delete my post the moment I submitted it.

I changed “Koch brothers” to “K-o-c-h b-r-o-t-h-e-r-s” in the comment, where it appeared for a few hours before a moderator manually deleted it. Tried a few variations, same result. If I toss in “brown shirts” and “jackboots” (an indirect reference to far right extremism in the 1930’s), those comments were automatically deleted. I’ve seen other people use “Koch brothers” in their comments, but for some reason it was taboo on this particular post.

This begs the question: Has the Koch brothers infiltrated the Huffington Post?

Probably not. While the Huffington Post is a liberal bastion for news, it’s also a corporate entity with close ties to the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley. God forbid if any unwashed commentator links the uber-rich Silicon Valley CEOs to the political underbelly of the tea party movement. Especially on a post that no one else is reading.

Black Friday 2013 (From The Sidelines)

Coming of Black FridayI’m not sure why anyone would go out on Black Friday—or, lately, Thanksgiving Day—to brave the mayhem, riots and crowds for a few door busters that could be bought online. The last time I physically prowled the stores on Black Friday was for the mythical Wii-Beast when the Nintendo Wii first came out in 2007, which I didn’t get then and never got after it became widely available. A few years before that, my father and I arrived at the Wal-Mart in Mountain View to find 16 police cars in the parking lot after a riot broke out over a flat screen TV.

Since I’m still unemployed, I had to make every Black Friday purchase worthwhile.

A big-ticket item I would have gotten if Newegg had it at the right price was an Acer 23″ monitor to replace my eight-year-old Samsung 19″ monitor that recently died and match the Acer 23″ monitor that I already have. My right price was under a hundred bucks with free shipping. Didn’t happen. Newegg had that monitor listed with the suggested retail price of $199.99 USD and sold it for $129.99 USD with free shipping. Alas, $129.99 USD has been the regular price for many months. Even when the price dropped to $119.99, it still wasn’t a Black Friday deal.

An email from OfficeMax arrived the night before Thanksgiving Day. One item that popped out was the Skullcandy earbuds for $4.99 (50% off). I listen to audiobooks on my iPod Touch while walking, working out or waiting for the light rail. A pair of earbuds can last three months before disintegrating from wear and tear. I tried to order four pairs of the black earbuds, but the website limited me to two pairs of any color. So I ordered two pairs each of black and purple. Since I was four cents shy of getting free shipping, I added a canister of Clorox disinfecting wipes for a buck.

I downloaded “The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition” by William Peter Blatty at $1.99 USD for the Amazon Kindle. Despite being a short story writer who published in a dozen horror anthologies over the years, I haven’t read the classic novels that defined the genre. After watching horror movies since I was a toddler in the 1970’s (I’m a big “Creature Feature” fan), and reading almost everything that Stephen King wrote, I knew enough horror tropes to wing it without being widely read. Reaching the next level of writing requires some extensive reading.

My final Black Friday purchase was the “CCNA In 60 Days” program for $70 USD (30% off). This is the first time that the author, Paul Browning, has ever offered a discount for his 60-day program on getting the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification. After building out an equipment rack of Cisco routers and switches, and reading every available study book, I haven’t committed myself to knowing the certification beginning to end between my ears. If everything works out, I’ll take the first exam in January and the second exam in February.