Eags (Timothy Egan) is a devout Roman Catholic. This blogger not so much (of anything). However, the header for today's post gives a clue as to what made this blogger LOL. But, wait there's more... (snark). Bad Santa as essayist? If this is (fair & balanced) uncheer, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
A Handful Of Christmas Miracles
By Eags (Timothy Egan)
Tag Cloud of the following piece of writing
Christmas, a time of hope in the murk of early winter, is the best occasion to bring some good news onstage. Here are some snippets of qualified joy:
Jimmy Carter holds off cancer. He’s 91. A few months ago he was given a diagnosis of melanoma that had spread from his liver to his brain. But recently the former president announced that his latest brain scan showed no sign of the disease. Carter is being treated with a drug that uses the immune system to battle cancer cells — another bright light, if the cost can be made affordable.
No matter what you think of his presidency, Carter has been a force for global good since he left the White House, with energy that Jeb Bush should bottle.
Alexander Hamilton lives, for now. This founding father is the rage on Broadway, with a smash musical. The man behind our financial system, the immigrant son of a single mother, Hamilton was killed in a duel. His handsome visage covers the $10 bill.
When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that a woman would replace Hamilton, a wave of sensible outrage followed. Keep Hamilton on the 10, and bounce the slavery-defending, Indian-hating brute Andrew Jackson from the 20, putting a woman in his place. Earlier this month, Lew announced he would delay the $10 redesign, giving time for the right thing to happen — for women, for Hamilton, for paper currency.
Free Willies. SeaWorld said that it would begin phasing out orca shows at its San Diego park. This is a good start for our fellow warm-blooded mammals. Orcas, any one of which is smarter than most of the Republican presidential candidates, should never be in circus-style shows, preening for food. Over the last six months, three of these whales have died at SeaWorld San Antonio. But with the California Coastal Commission banning the breeding of orcas in captivity, the days of enslavement for one of the world’s most magnificent free-swimming creatures may be reaching an end.
Literary fiction lives.You see a lot of Fox News-generated trash and formula fiction on the best-seller lists. American reading tastes have gone the way of the American diet. Yes, but. This year, All the Light We Cannot See (2014), Anthony Doerr’s magical, World War II-era story of a blind French girl and a Hitler youth nerd continues to sell like tickets to “Hamilton.” The prose is luminous, the characters unforgettable, the themes universal.
This follows the great success of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (2013), 771 pages of delight. Both books won the Pulitzer Prize. A related Christmas miracle: Independent bookstores are resurgent, as e-book sales have leveled off. The obituary for the bound, printed word was written too early.
Campus free-speech censors are on the run. Across the political spectrum, people have had enough of pampered college students who are afraid of words and ideas that offend them. Of late, a small but growing number of schools have eliminated the despicable speech limitation codes. And despite all the news generated by closed-minded kids with megaphones, the number of colleges with restrictions on freedom of speech has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in years.
“Education should not be intended to make people feel comfortable,” President Obama said the other day. “It is meant to make them think.” Which leads to…
Obama finds his voice. Well, and then he lost it after the Paris attacks. Over all, the prez had a very strong year. His leadership was crucial in what could be breakthrough pacts to lessen climate change and keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But I say “could be,” because both agreements might still unravel. If they work, the world will be safer, and more livable.
And it’s a minor Christmas miracle that the American economy continues to purr along, while those of Europe and China stumble. Over a 69-month streak of growth, the economy has added 13.7 million new jobs, while the unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent. Bravo.
Trump and Putin find each other. The bromance between two of the most odious, bullying, narcissistic tyrants has been building for some time. Now, they have professed their mutual affection for each other. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, invades countries, stifles dissidents and has been accused of killing those who oppose him. For that, Donald Trump says he is worthy of admiration. Trump sneers at women, the disabled, blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, veterans and anyone who is unattractive. “He is a really brilliant and talented person,” said Putin. The vulgarian and the war criminal, together at last.
The American people. Had my doubts. Still do. I mean, climate change a hoax? Obama a Muslim? Rooting for the New England Patriots? But a Quinnipiac poll this week found that 50 percent of the nation’s voters would be “embarrassed” to have Trump as their president. In this age of the rude and crude, a glimmer of decency. Good night to all. Sweet winter dreams. See you next year. Ω
[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]
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