Christmas

"Until You Pin Me, George, Festivus Is Not Over!"

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Festivus comes to Florida:

When a church group insisted on putting a Nativity scene on Polk County public property, officials warned it might open the door to other religious, and not-so-religious, displays.

It turns out the warning was on the mark.

Since the Nativity was erected, displays honoring Zorastrianism and the fake holiday Festivus, featured on an episode of the TV show Seinfeld, have also appeared.

The Polk County Commission voted Wednesday to permit the Nativity scene to remain on the grounds of the administration building, across the street from the courthouse, but agreed to make that area a "public forum" open to any type of display.

This is, by the way, roughly equivalent to the solution I'd prefer in South Carolina's perennial battles over the Confederate flag. Let the rebel banner fly, I say, but open the same space to all the other pennants that someone might want to hoist: a communist flag, a pirate flag, a McDonald's flag…

NEXT: A Good Thing

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  1. How about we let that idiot in Alabama post his 10 Commandments, but we get to put a ceremonial Festivus pole in the rotunda next to it?

  2. Better yet, he can erect a giant cross, climb up on it and tell everyone how liberals are preventing him from practicing his religion.

    And how about that religious group boycott of stores that say “Happy Holidays?” Apparently, if you want to work in a department store, saying “Merry Christmas” is mandatory or they’ll run you out of business.

    Is it just me or does the south seem determined to perpetuate the stereotypes they hate so much?

    I’d like to see a giant whiskey bottle in celebration of Bacchus.

  3. The link requires registration. Were those real Zoroastrians or just goofballs ?

  4. Were those real Zoroastrians or just goofballs ?

    Just a sign by a random person.

    http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041223/NEWS/412230359/1039

  5. Remember, Mithra is the Reason for the Season.

  6. What is this about Festivus being a “fake” holiday?

    Where’s the cultural sensitivity???

  7. Next year I am going to stick atheist/non-religious signs up on the green.

    Examples:

    A sign with two pictures and captions under each:
    “This Is Your Brain On Science!” [Shows a perfectly rational person doing embyronic stem cell research.] “This Is Your Brain On Religion.” [Shows A Terrorist.]

    A sign which states: “Getting Shit Is The Reason For The Season!”

    Obviously not an exhaustive list. 🙂

  8. My favorite pre-fab holiday is “Christma-Hanu-Kwanzaa-Ka,” from those Virgin Mobile commercials: “It’s OK, if you’re a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew/It’s OK, if you’re agnostic and you don’t know what to do…”

  9. Gary,

    What does a person doing embryonic stem cell research look like?

  10. Merry Gravmas
    by James P. Hogan
    originally published in Minds, Machines, and Evolution

    It is a fact that Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25 (in 1642). I mentioned this one evening when Jackie and I were with a group of friends in a Sonora bar. After some debate, we decided that the date is too much to be a coincidence: Providence is trying to tell us something.

    We finally agreed that the time has come for a change. We?re all part of Western scientific civilization, after all, and things have been dominated for too long by traditions rooted in ancient Palestinian mysticism. In the future, therefore, we have decided as far as we are concerned, the customary holiday season celebrates the birthday of the intellectual founder of mathematical, analytical method. Further, to commemorate the formulation of his famous universal law, the name of the feast shall be changed from “Christmas” to “Gravitational mass,” or more simply, “Gravmas.”

    Who knows? — the whole thing could spread like wildfire. Two thousand years from now, it might form the basis for the philosophy and worldview of a whole, new global culture, which by that time may revolve around a dominant race of supertech, spacegoing Chinese . . .

    * * *

    “Is that you, Li?” Cheng Xiang called, looking up from the notescreen propped against his knee. He had been amusing himself with a few tensor integrals to clear his mind before taking his morning coffee.

    The sounds of movement came again from upstairs. Moments later, his ten-year-old son appeared, floating down the staircase on an anti-g disk. “Good morning, father.”

    “Merry Gravmas.”

    “And to you.” Li hopped off the disk and stood admiring the decorations that the family robot had put up overnight. There were paper chains hanging in hyperbolic catenary curves and sinusoids, Gaussian distribution bells, and pendulums wreathed in logarithmic spirals. In the corner opposite the total-sensory cassette player, there stood a miniature apple tree with binary stars on top, a heap of gaily wrapped gifts around its base, and its branches adorned with colored masses of various shapes, a string of pulsing plasma glows, and striped candles shaped like integral signs. “It looks nice,” Li said, eyeing the presents. “I wonder what Santa Roid has brought this year.”

    “You?ll have to wait until your brother and sister get here before you can open anything,” Xian told him. “What are they doing?”

    “Yu is sending off a last-minute Gravmas present to a schoolfriend over the matter transmitter to Jupiter. Yixuan is helping Mother program the autochef to cook the turkey.”

    “Why does everyone in this family always have to leave everything until the last minute?” Xiang grumbled, setting down the screen and getting up. “Anyone would think it wasn?t obvious that the ease of getting things done varies inversely as the square of procrastination.”

    Li walked over to the window and gazed out at Peking?s soaring panorama of towers, bridges, terraces, and arches, extending away all around, above, and for hundreds of meters below. “How did Gravmas start?” he asked his father.

    “Hmph!” Xian snorted as he moved to stand alongside the boy. “Now isn?t that typical of young people today. Too wrapped up in relativistic quantum chromodynamics and multidimensional function spaces to know anything about where it came from or what it means. It?s this newfangled liberal education that?s to blame. They don?t teach natural philosophy anymore, the way we had to learn it.”

    “Well, that kind of thing does seem a bit quaint these days,” Li said. “I suppose it?s okay for little old ladies and people who –”

    “They don?t even recite the laws of motion in school every morning. Standards aren?t what they used to be. It?ll mean the end of civilization, you mark my words.”

    “You were going to tell me about Gravmas . . . ”

    “Oh, yes. Well, I presume you?ve heard of Newton?”

    “Of course. A newton is the force which, acting on a mass of one kilogram, produces an acceleration of one meter per second per second.”

    “Not a newton. The Newton. You didn?t know that Newton was somebody?s name?”

    “You mean it was a person?”

    Xian sighed. “My word. You see ? you don?t know anything. Yes, Newton was the messiah who lived two thousand years ago, and came to save us all from irrationality. Today is his birthday.”

    Li looked impressed. “Say, what do you know! Where did this happen?”

    “In a quasi-stable, in a little town called Cambridge, which was somewhere in Britain.”

    “That?s in Europe, isn?t it?” Li said.

    “Oh, so you do know something.”

    “My friend Shao was in Europe last year,” Li went on distantly. “His parents took him on a trip there to see the ruins. He said it was very dirty everywhere, with the streets full of beggars. And you can?t drink the water. It sounds like a strange place for a civilization like ours to have started from.”

    “Strange things happen?” Xiang thought for a while. “Actually, according to legend, it didn?t really start there.”

    “What?”

    “Gravmas.”

    “How do you mean.”

    “Supposedly it was already a holiday that some ancient Western barbarian culture celebrated before then, and we stole it. It was easier to let people carry on with the customs they?d grown used to, you see . . . At least, that?s how the story goes.”

    “I wonder what the barbarian culture was like,” Li mused.

    “Nobody?s quite sure,” Xiang said. “But from the fragments that have been put together, it seems to have had something to do with worshipping crosses and fishes, eating holly, and building pyramids. It was such a long time ago now that?”

    “Look!” Li interrupted, pointing excitedly. Outside the window, a levitation platform was rising into view, bearing several dozen happy-looking, colorfully dressed people with musical instruments. The strains of amplified voices floated in from outside. “Carol singers!” Li exclaimed.

    Xiang smiled and spoke a command for the household communications controller to relay his voice to the outside. “Good morning!” it boomed from above the window as the platform came level.

    The people on board saw the figures in the window and waved. “Merry Gravmas,” a voice replied.

    “Merry Gravmas to you,” Xiang returned.

    “May the Force be proportional to your acceleration.”

    “Are you going to sing us a carol?” Xiang inquired.

    “But of course. Do you have a request?”

    “No, I?ll leave it to you.”

    “Very well.”

    There was an introductory bar, and then,

    “We three laws of orbiting are,
    Ruling trajectories local and far.
    Collisions billiard,
    Particles myriad,
    Planet and moon and star.
    O-ooo . . .”

  11. “When a church group insisted on putting a Nativity scene on Polk County public property, officials warned it might open the door to other religious, and not-so-religious, displays.”

    How to have peace and good will?
    No public property. Duh.

    Now, who wants to slide down my Festivus pole? I’m not speaking to any of your gnarly dudes out there.

  12. As a practicing Seinfeldian, I am offended by the suggestion that Festivus is a fake holiday. Not that there’s anything wrong with nativity scenes…

  13. “But the commission also required that anyone with an existing or potential display provide a letter asking permission to join the free speech zone that will exist through Monday”

    Love that freedom of speech…Merry Christmas y’all!

  14. crimethink,

    Quite obviously a person in a white lab coat using a pipette. 🙂

    ___________________________

    Anyway, I love the idea of undermining Christmas (and other holidays – no matter what the religion they are associated with) by turning them into largely secular affairs where we celebrate humanistic values, science, capitalism, etc. 🙂

  15. Festivus is made up nonsense. You should celbrate a real holiday like Christmas. Or Kwanzaa.

    What?

  16. Here’s my place to remark that what a State chooses to display is properly held to to different standards than an individual display. A display on public-owned ground is, too, different from a public-owned display.

  17. As a free-market godless harlot, I celebrate by buying all the stuff people paid through the nose for on December 23 and before, and getting it deeply discounted on December 27 and beyond! Joyeux Consumerisme! (I’ll let you know if my Visa card starts sporting any stigmata.)

  18. How many dead squid does it take to make an altar to The Nameless Ones? And do the townspeople get eaten alive if they complain about the smell?

  19. Well, everyone gets eaten, but they would get eaten first.

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