Christmas Grinches

Christmas is almost upon us and no Christmas season would be complete without the Grinches coming out to steal Christmas from all of us. I’m putting together a few stories I’ve found here and there.Grinches come in all shapes and sizes. Some ruin Christmas for a single family. Others try to ruin Christmas for whole communities.

First, there is the attempt by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to force a Texas Town to take down a nativity scene. I have already mentioned this here.

The so-called War Against Christmas is coming to a head in a Texas town Saturday, as protesters from across the country will be rallying against a nativity display put up in front of the town’s courthouse.

A Wisconsin-based group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation took major issue when they heard that the Christian display was put up outside of the Henderson County courthouse, prompting them to write a letter of complaint.

But a letter from out-of-state isn’t going to leave the people of Henderson rattling in their cowboy boots, as the Attorney General Greg Abbott has boosted the beef to a Texas-sized proportions.

ur message to the atheists is don’t mess with Texas and out Nativity scenes or the Ten Commandments,’ Mr Abbott told Fox News & Community.

Fair warning: The Attorney General stood up for the town’s right to a nativity

The FFRF sent a banner to the court house that it wanted displayed, with a very different message then the birth of Christ.

The group’s banner read ‘At this season of the Winter Solstice, let reason prevail.’

‘There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but a myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds,’ it finished.

A mystery man put the sign up on Wednesday on a tree next to the nativity scene in Athens, Texas, about 70 miles south east of Dallas, but it was removed shortly by sheriff’s deputies about 10 minutes later.

Though Judge Richard Sanders may have ordered its removal because of the missing forms and compliance with city procedures, the state’s Attorney General is taking a much more philosophical stance.

There is a school district in New York that has banned the phrase “Merry Christmas”.

New York State’s Batavia City School District is taking the “merry” out of Christmas. The school board is banning the use of the phrase “Merry Christmas” and they have a list of other holiday activities deemed “unacceptable”.

The school board has asked principals to enforce a policy banning Christmas and Hanukah decorations in classrooms.

In a memo titled “Religious expression in the schools” the board lists unacceptable holiday activities. Teachers have been told they cannot use the phrase “Merry Christmas” and it quote “should not be included in any spoken or written remarks.” That includes songs.

I guess the war on Christmas has expanded to include Hanukah. Maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised at that. A festival commemorating people who fought for the freedom to practice their religion is not the sort of thing we want to teach kids nowadays.

Here is a neighborhood association that takes exception to one man’s Christmas decorations.

It is not unusual to see a crowd in front of Thyno Zgouvas’ house.

“We come out every year. It’s probably the best show in town,” says one passerby.

For eight years Zgouvas has wowed folks with 70,000 blinking lights.

This Christmas, that number was cut in half.

“The homeowner’s association decided that it was a nuisance–which I completely disagree with,” says Zgouvas.

But other residents–like Terry Phillips–raised concerns about the amount of traffic the show brings to the neighborhood.

“I’ve come home sometimes and it’s taken me 30-45 minutes to get to my house.”

Others worried it would be difficult for emergency vehicles to find homes because of it.

Zgouvas downsized the show to appease the homeowner’s association–all the while making a point of his own with HOA signs and blow-up grinch figures behind them.

“They’ve blown it way out of proportion, I feel,” says Zgouvas.

Each year Mr. Zgouvas puts music to his light show and all you have to do is turn up your radio. He says he does it to keep music from blaring out into the neighborhood.  This year, it’s the theme to the Grinch.

“I have to take my stand just because it’s Christmas lights,” he says.

I understand their concern about traffic, but still.

The Obama Administration tried to get into the season with a Christmas Tree Tax, but wisely backed off. I hope Obama fired whoever came up with that idea. Actually, it seems that the Christmas Tree growers wanted it.

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset: Yes, the Obama administration did propose a tax on Christmas trees, and no amount of obfuscation by its knee-jerk defenders can change that fact. The Department of Agriculture planned to impose a 15-cent duty on every Christmas tree sold by tree-sellers who unload more than 500 trees a season. That is an excise tax — a tax on a specific product, levied per unit of sale, just like federal taxes on tobacco and gasoline.

The proposal provoked an uproar, and the White House will now “revisit this action.” That’s politician-speak for “run from the issue like a scalded dog.”

Was the tax sought by Christmas-tree growers? Indeed it was. They wanted the federal government to run a Christmas-tree promotion campaign, much like those it runs for eggs and other agricultural products. But that’s no excuse. As Ilya Schapiro of the Cato Institute notes, this little tale epitomizes everything wrong with government today.

Here is a Grinch that really did steal one family’s Christmas.

A family came home to find the gifts under their Christmas tree stolen.

The family arrived at their apartment in the 500 block of F.M. 1488 in Conroe Wednesday and found that their front door had been kicked in.

“Someone came in and took away my hard work,” mom Felicia Cunningham said. “My hard work and what I’ve done for my kids.”

Conroe police said the thieves unwrapped all the presents before taking off with the ones that they liked.

“The ruined my Christmas because they took my stuff,” Cunningham’s 9-year-old daughter said. “They just came into the wrong house.”

Cunningham, a single mother, also has an 11-year-old daughter whose Christmas was destroyed.

“Why me? Why this apartment? Why here? Why my kids’ gifts?” Cunningham asked.

I am sure that Santa has lots coal to put in the stockings of all of these Grinches

Here is a slightly different take on Christmas.

Few people engaged in the “War on Christmas” are aware that at one time it was a crime in Massachusetts to celebrate Christmas. Oh sure, some will say, count on liberal Massachusetts to pass a law against Christmas. But it was Calvinist Massachusetts, in the days of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, the Pilgrims and Puritans, that established penalties for the observance of Christmas Day “by abstinence from labor, feasting, or any other way.”

Those Puritans seem to have been as much fun as modern secularists.

And, finally, to end on a lighter note,  here  is a scientific discussion over just how strong the Grinch actually is.

 

RIP Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens
Image via Wikipedia

Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, ending his battle with esophageal cancer. I would not say that he was my favorite writer and I didn’t often agree with his positions, yet what he wrote was always worth reading and he had the ability to make you think. The one good thing that I can say about him was that he was always his own man. He did not follow any orthodoxy but his own conscience. He was a life long Marxist who abandoned Marxism when he realized that capitalist America is really the most revolutionary country in the world. He spoke out against the threat that militant Islam poses to freedom when it was not politically correct to do so and defended Salman Rushdie when many feared to. He supported the US invasion of Iraq, alienating nearly all his friends on the Left, because he realized that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous tyrant who needed to be stopped. And yet, he criticized President Bush for some of his policies. As Hitchens himself said,

My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, anyplace, anytime. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.

In his later years, after the publication of god Is Not Great, he was best known as a advocate of the New Atheism. I would have to say that I didn’t much care for god Is Not Great. It was not because the book is an argument for Atheism, but because it was a poor argument for Atheism, more of a prolonged, angry rant than a reasoned apology. One Christian who he debated summarized Hitchens’s argument as “God does not exist, and I hate Him”.

Cover of "God Is Not Great: How Religion ...

Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, Hitchens was always interesting and he will be missed.

Scientists on Track of the Elusive God Particle

Here is some exciting news from the world of particle physics. I wrote about this once before and it seems that they have made some progress.

Physicists are closer than ever to hunting down the elusive Higgs boson particle, the missing piece of the governing theory of the universe’s tiniest building blocks.

Scientists at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, announced today (Dec. 13) that they’d narrowed down the list of possible hiding spots for the Higgs, (also called the God particle) and even see some indications that they’re hot on its trail.

“I think we are getting very close,” said Vivek Sharma, a physicist at the University of California, San Diego, and the leader of the Higgs search at LHC’s CMS experiment. “We may be getting the first tantalizing hints, but it’s a whiff, it’s a smell, it’s not quite the whole thing.”

Is it just me, or does the beginning of the article sound like they are on the trail of some obscure species of squirrel? Kind of like a hunting magazine?

Tally-ho!! We've got that higgs boson cornered!!!

Or maybe like something from Croc Hunter.

“Crikey!! Today mate, we are on the trail of the elusive higgs boson! It’s hard to find because nobody knows exactly what its mass is!?

Large Hadron Collider Physicist tackles Higgs boson

I really miss that show. Okay, I’m being silly. Here is a bit more from that article.

The Higgs boson is thought to be tied to a field (the Higgs field) that is responsible for giving all other particles their mass. Ironically, physicists don’t have a specific prediction for the mass of the Higgs boson itself, so they must search a wide range of possible masses for signs of the particle.

Based on data collected at LHC’s CMS and ATLAS experiments, researchers said they are now able to narrow down the Higgs’ mass to a small range, and exclude a wide swath of possibilities.

“With the data from this year we’ve ruled out a lot of masses, and now we’re just left with this tiny window, in this region that is probably the most interesting,” said Jonas Strandberg, a researcher at CERN working on the ATLAS experiment.

The researchers have now cornered the Higgs mass in the range between 114.4 and 131 gigaelectronvolts (GeV).For comparison, a proton weighs 1 GeV. Outside that range, the scientists are more than 95 percent confident that the Higgs cannot exist.

Within that range, the ATLAS findings show some indications of a possible signal from the Higgs boson at 126 GeV, though the data are not strong enough for scientists to claim a finding with the level of confidence they require for a true discovery.

“Based on the predicted size of the signal, the experiments may have their first glimpse of a positive signal,” University of Chicago physicist Jim Pilcher wrote in an email to LiveScience. “It is especially important to compare the results of two independent experiments to help reduce statistical fluctuations and experimental biases.”

But it shouldn’t be much longer before scientists can be sure if the Higgs exists, and if so, how much mass it has.

“We know we must be getting close,” Strandberg told LiveScience. “All we need is a little bit more data. I think the data we take in 2012 should be able to really give a definitive answer if the Higgs boson exists.”

I hope they will have a definite answer soon and they win the Nobel Prize.

For more information, here is a blog by a real scientist. I believe that he has just attended a conference where they discussed their latest results.

 

%d bloggers like this: