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Sunday: Solstice is coming!

Update: Atrios seems to be depressed and cynical about our politico-financial class and what it is carelessly doing with other people’s money. I’m sure that this whole screwed up system struck him as brutally unfair before but now that it seems like all we have left is 401Ks and IRAs that rely on the good faith of people like Jon Corzine, it seems even more unfair, doesn’t it?

And *I’m* the one who was called one of a shrieking band of paranoid holdouts, crazy, racist, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum.  Let’s recall that it was Jon Corzine who rejected Hillary, dumped her actually, and went with Barack Obama.  There had to be a reason.

I guess I wasn’t the crazy one after all.  Just remember that when the day comes that the middle class turns on their 401Ks, I was there first.

************************

My resident atheist informs me that my Christmas celebrations violate her first amendment rights or something {{rolling eyes, where *does* she get that??}}.   I’m oppressing her and discriminating against her right to be non-religious.   So, this year, we’re celebrating Solstice.  We’re having a Raclette party followed by sleepover for those who want to stay.  When it gets dark, and we’re sure the neighbors aren’t watching, we’re going to light skylanterns.  The kid wants to build a nest for the Solstice Weasel, her own invention, in the living room.  But I told her that she’d have to take the damn nest downstairs into the basement.

Bringing in the Yule Log

I won’t have any more bits and pieces of construction paper and string in the living room. We’re having a tree, dammit.  Besides, the Christmas tree was originally a Yule tradition and Yule is the English name for the 12 day pagan Solstice celebration.  It gives me great delight to launch another salvo in the war on Christmas by erecting a Yule tree in my living room.  Take that, Bill O’Reilly! Bwahahahahahahaaaaaahhhh!

***************

In other news:

Hillary Clinton launched a new initiative to promote women in public service called The Women in Public Service Project.  The State Department will be pairing up with 5 women’s colleges to conduct research and to educate for the purpose of increasing the number of women in government and the private sector.

By the way, Obama guys, if you think that women of Hillary’s stature have gotten over what happened in 2008, you are very much mistaken.  Even Christine Le Garde, head of the IMF, made mention of it.  When watching the video below, you’d have to be tone deaf to not hear the undertones of anger and steely resolve.  Women who came of age in the feminist revolution are not at all content to gain this level of education and experience to be told that we’re not to be taken seriously.  No, not at all.  In fact, the macho assholes who brought us the 2008 election season have pissed off just about everyone they need for a replay in 2012: unions, working people, families and, most egregiously, women.  If you think we’re going to roll over a second time, you are very much mistaken.

In any case, they’re not getting mad, they’re getting even.  Part of the goal of this new initiative is to bring 40 female leaders from all around the world to a summer institute at one of the colleges in the coalition to train them in the art of politics.  Hillary explains why it is so important to train women to embrace politics.  Pay attention at minute marker 41:00.  Superficially, she’s referring to women in Arab Spring countries.  On a deeper level, I hear quite a different criticism.  Tell me what you think.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Who’s sorry now?

This project is greatly needed and long overdue.  But it’s not just other countries that need to train women in politics and public service.  Our own country’s legislative body has a pathetic 17% representation by women.  We should be training our own.  Let’s hope that doing just that is part of this project.  And wouldn’t it be sweet if it turned out that it was Hillary that helped get us to that magic 30% representation that would usher in a change in policy in government?  Success is the best revenge.

**********************

The Layaway Project.  I saw this article a couple of days ago but was really delighted to see Lambert at Correntewire pick up on it.  It turns out that anonymous donors have been going to stores like Kmart and Walmart and paying off layaway accounts for people who are in danger of being delinquent.  Yup, they just go into the store, pay off someone’s account and leave.  Sort of like the Lone Solstice Weasel.  Or Santa, if you’re into imaginary beings:

The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.

He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter.

“She told him, ‘No, I’m paying for it,'” recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. “He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn’t, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears.”

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn’t afford, especially toys and children’s clothes set aside by impoverished parents.

Hey, we can all do this, even those of us on unemployment can dig a little bit into the savings and help pay off a layaway.  Can I get an “Hell Yeah!”?  I stood in line in the grocery store yesterday behind a woman who was paying with food stamps.  In my suburb, where the median salary is $106,000/year, there are people who are on food stamps.  And she didn’t look poor or dirty or lazy.  She just looked like a suburbanite who’s suffering at the hands of stupid political and economic policy.  As a kid whose parents didn’t believe in Christmas presents, I know how hard it is on a kid to go back to school in January and feel isolated from the rest of the crowd because they have no presents to talk about.  It’s just devastating on a social level.

In years when I was employed, I would pluck a wish list off the Salvation Army Christmas tree in the cafeteria and then make that kid’s wish come true.  I’m not working but if there is an account at Kmart that needs a little extra and I can help get presents to those kids, why not?  We can’t let Lambert’s blog get ahead of us here.  We need some healthy competition.  Game on!

***********************

Finally, macaroons.  Swoon.  I love them and appreciate their decadence.  Turns out that good lovers know it too:

“Your slacker boyfriend gives you a cupcake; your lover gives you macarons.” Thus quoth the New York Times last week in an article about the sexy qualities of macarons, the airy pastry that’s been taking New York by storm for the past year or so. We love the idea of gifts from a lover. A boyfriend or girlfriend might give you a first-edition copy of a meaningful book, a framed picture of your first date, a video game you’ll both play for hours, a nice dinner for two. A lover’s gifts will all be of a sexier ilk..

[….]

1. Macarons
Macarons are airy, almond cookies with a creamy filling — and they are sexy. In the words of the New York Times, “A macaron teases. Dainty, nearly weightless, it leaves you hungrier than you were before. It is but a prelude to other pleasures.” What’s more, they usually come in a sexy box tied with a ribbon — whomever you send these to will feel quite woo’d.

They used to make these at my local Wegmans and called them Nicolettes.  (Hmmm, was that the name of the rose in Romance of the Rose or some other piece of medieval literature?  And didn’t her bud get plucked at the end?)  Anyway, macaroons are divine.  They’re full of luscious flavor and a melt in your mouth texture.  Alas, their freshness is as ephemeral as a love affair.  You need to eat them quickly.  By the next day, they’re already stale.  But, oh, for those brief hours, orgasmic.  Keep the ribbon.

32 Responses

  1. I was at the grocery store Friday and an elderly (e.g, older than me….if you can imagine that!) was having the clerk take back items that he couldn’t afford – I gave the clerk the money to cover the difference (about$15) and the man went on his way…but the kid-clerk was so surprised and thanked me for that.

    And yes, I did tell him it was on behalf of Occupy Tucson.

    I would have preferred to have done it on the QT, but you do what you can…..

  2. Call it what you want, this is the best couple of weeks in the year!

    I’ve been making gifts this year and I’m REALLY glad I started last June — I’ve got a gorgeous pile of 11 gifts ready to wrap and I could never have done it if I’d waited ’till my traditional Dec 23 buying spree date.

    And the really wonderful thing is that I spent hours thinking nice thoughts and reliving fun memories of each person as I knit their item.

    …. Now I just hope I can stir my stumps to get them packaged for mailing today!!

  3. That’s “nauseam”, kiddo. With an “-am”. First declension, accusative case. 😉

    I, too, think the Yule log is a fine custom. Just remember to strap a Senator and a banker to it before you light it…

  4. I was going to take you to task for quoting the New York Times but I see that the link leads to Glamor and they quoted them. There is no way in hell that I would spin the hit counters at the NYT or the WaPoo after the mischief they helped cause between 2000 and 2008.

    I think this says it all:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-NklHksfxXig/Tu0rZCJ_K2I/AAAAAAAADE4/9NApIxgNcPI

  5. I suppose one way to reduce the amount of your money held hostage by the Corzines of the world is to invest in reducing your retirement cost, rather than attempting to increase your retirement income. After all, if the “retirement planners” are correct and you shouldn’t plan on pulling more than 4% of your savings in the first year of retirement, doesn’t it follow that every $1000 you reduce your expenditures is worth $25,000 in savings? It’s unlikely that even Goldman can figure out a way to embezzle the insulation you’ve put in your house ;-).

    • Harder to legally foreclose on your home when it’s paid for as well.

    • nope and they can’t do a thing with the mortgage you’ve paid off early or the income property you buy free and clear, if you can do so. There are lots of investments that can’t be screwed with.

      • Some Yves Smith Naked Capitalism posts have detailed banker and other aggression against free-and-clear homeowners with no mortgage at all. Naked outright strong-arm theft , even theftier than the organized fraud upon which the FIRE sector is based.

        Anyone who owns a house might well want to find out how to pre-prove that fact in case a bank accidentally on purpose sends house thieves and their police protectors to your house “by mistake”. That too is a legacy of the government support for organized looterism which will continue whether Obama is re-elected or Romney is elected.

        Of course, if Paylinn or Bachmann is elected instead, the chances are that many people here will be rounded up and sent to the Concentration Bible Camps, which will be a whole new world of worry.
        But at least you will have someplace to stay.

        • well first of all, where I live if some one tries to take your house with no mortgage on it they are liable to leave with an ass full of buck shot and the owner happy to go to jail just for the principal. But that is one of the benefits of living in east south hooterville Pa.
          Secoundly, why is it always the women who get attacked for their fundamentalism? Why do I never see attacks on Romney or Huntsman for their Mormonism? Do you have any idea how wacky Mormonism can be?
          In 2008 Huckabee was a serious contender and had he run this year he would probably be a front runner and his fundamentalism is way more to the right of Palin’s. She is more moderate and reasonable and she governed as such. On top of that she is not a member of the clergy. I have never seen Huckabee dismissed in quite the same way. It’s kind of sexist. I am sure you don’t mean to be sexist, but none the less……think about it. Bachman ate the lunch of a few candidates during the last few debates. She is even getting some credit for it on the right. But never ever in the left. Why is that? That’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder if sexism is worse on the left.
          Yes Bachman has made some mistakes…who hasn’t? Clinton made Obama look like a moron during many debates and there he is in the white house. He also once said we had 57 states. Imagine if Bachman had said that.
          Other than that…good point about swiping peoples houses for no reason whatsoever. Seems no one is really safe.

          ps…. I sincerely do not mean to jump on your case, but I kind of feel like, as a 2nd wave feminist, this is my unasked for job.

    • Propertius,

      What you suggest is intriguing. I remember reading where the financial analyst/columnist Scott Burns called it “unspending”.

      I went to my High School re union some years ago. It was in Cortland, New York. An old friend tried to sell me on the concept of
      moving back to Cortland. A house costed $40,000. A crummy house costed $20,000. If I lived in a high cost area and had my own high costs and had been laid off from a just-high-enough-paying job and had no prospect of another such job, and my 401K were held hostage
      by a distant MegaCorp and subject to financialist looting before my age of retirement, what would I do? Would I say “Geronimo!” and drop and dump everything, take a total loss on my current townhouse,
      accept zero credit rating forever more . . . in exchange for cashing out my 401K and using what I had left to buy a cruumy house in Cortland, New York, for $20,000 ? I know I could get a crummy job to go along with my crummy house. I know I could survive, but could I really call it “living? On the other hand, if I stayed in my current high cost area, would I even survive in the long run?

      What to do…what to do…

      • You know, cashing in my 401Ks has crossed my mind many times recently. If I didn’t have a house payment, I could *almost* afford to live here. The problem is that my actual mortgage payment isn’t that bad. It’s the property taxes and association fee. That almost doubles my housing expenses every month.
        But anyway, I have thought about moving back to Pittsburgh where the living is much cheaper. And if I sell my house, I can pay for a smaller but nice house there- cash. Or I could cash in my 401Ks and buy it. But here’s the problem: if you cash your 401Ks in, you pay an excise tax. Here’s where the Democrats could presumably beat the heads of the Republicans if they introduced a bill to remove the excise tax. But we’re in year three of the little depression and there have been zero proposals to remove the excise tax. Why is that? Why is it that some jerk on Wall Street gets all of the tax breaks and ordinary people with housing emergencies have to pay this punitive tax? Also, why do you get taxed at all for removing your money from your 401K? Oh sure, you put that money in the account tax free to pay taxes on it when your income is reduced in the future. But that just means that the government is deferring collecting taxes on it until some future date. If your income is already reduced through layoff, why not just cash in the 401K and pay whatever payroll taxes you owe on it and be done with it? Think of how much money we could put back into the economy that way. And think of how much money we would remove from the shadow banking system. Oh sure they would howl about it. It’s practically the only thing that gets their attention. Just take away all of the money they think is just for play anyway.

  6. CannonFire: Ayn gets Gored

    “Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society. . . . To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.”

    — Gore Vidal

  7. The Solstice Weasel? A child is still a child however severely gifted. And that’s as it should be, no doubt. The ability to construct a contained parallel reality sphere to enter into and re-emerge from, even as one knows that reality is parallel the whole time; can be very valuable.

    It reminds me of an imaginary creation from the Ren and Stimpy Show . . . . the Christmas Shaving Yak, who paddles across the midnight sky in his magic canoe . . .

    • And wouldn’t you know, there are nest materials strewn all over my living room this morning. There is tinsel and yarn and glue. And bags and boxes of craft material. I finished the basement and gave her a craft studio to do this very thing and what does she end up doing?
      {{sigh}}
      I give up.

  8. We’re having Solstice Dinner Wednesday night (staying late to 12:30 to ring the bell for the actual solstice). Since very little our girl enjoyed with us The Longest Night from The Comfy Couch – one of the smartest kiddie shows – so we keep watching it every year
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ4onqY-_XA&feature=related and check part 3 as well.
    One fun thing we came out with – dark foods in the evening, yellow foods at breakfast the next day
    And on a related note, it’s Halcyon Days – December 14 to 28 – while the sun light is the least, one has to conserve their energy and it’s peace – no storms at see for the little Halcyon birds to lay their eggs in their floating nests. So, have happy and peaceful Halcyon Days!

  9. Here is something cute, “A Periodic Table of Cupcakes”

  10. How to get to DC on January 17th for OCCUPY CONGRESS:

    http://congress.occupybus.com/

  11. thanks. Marsha. 🙂

  12. Why can’t the kidlet celebrate Solstice and you celebrate Christmas if that is what you want? The first amendment pretty much guarantees that each of us has a right to our own belief system and to weorship as we see fit. That means if “mom” wants to celebrate she can and if daughter wishes to “ignore” those customs she can. You technically aren’t infringing on her rights unless you force her to participate.

    My state just released numbers, in a state with 8,000,000 people, 900,000 people are dependant on help to buy food. What a depressing state of affairs this country has become.

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