Friday, December 21, 2012

Annual Christmas Photo Caption Contest

Yes, it's that time again - craft your best caption for the photo above and you too can be a WINNER!

What will you win? A giant heapin' helpin' of my love and devotion, that's what. Not too shabby. (And of course, you'll receive the satisfaction of a job well done!!)

A caption to get you started --

"Say Mayan Apocalypse one more time, and there will be something way worse than coal in yer stocking."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Annual Christmas Music Sampler

I like many of the traditions of Christmas, especially music. But it's kind of sad how older Christmas songs swamp anything newer. There are tons of forgotten and/or obscure Christmas songs too that are great fun. The nearly year round collections of Christmas tunes via Check the Cool Wax blog are a great way to while away hours online during the holidays.

Hearing many of the tunes played during the holidays instantly conjure powerful memories for most of us - but don't hesitate to make new memories with friends and families.

For the last few years, I've really enjoyed the Christmas music sampler issued by Paste magazine, which offers many new bands and musicians performing their own works for the holiday. Below, a collection from their 2011 and 2012 samplers, and a few other favorites.

And a most merry and happy Christmas to one and all!

Christmas 2012 by Joe Powell on Grooveshark

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Napsacks, Moustache Straws, Instagram Cookies and Christmas Dinner in A Can

Time for something completely whimsical.

Still seeking a rare, useful and perhaps energy efficient gift? Why not try the Napsack, a wearable sleeping bag, suitable for camping or just around the house to keep your heating costs lower? This is no Snuggie or Slanket. It's a Napsack. And it is not a Canadian Thuggie either.

Or maybe you could use a Napsack for those days when you feel the need to insulate yourself from the world and all it's harsh realities. I think it's a far better solution than sticking your head into the sand, is obviously more comfortable, plus you can hang onto your coffee as you seek some solace from the cold, cruel world.

And if you do feel the need to hole up and hide from the world, you can still enjoy holiday goodies thanks  to Christmas Dinner in a Can!

Well, that is, you could have enjoyed it, but they are all sold out. :( 

Speaking of treats for the holidays, bring home the fun of all the fairground and have something On A Stick -- like Hot Chocolate On A Stick. Just swirl the cube of handmade Belgian chocolate goodness around in your steamy mug of milk and enjoy.

And have you noticed how oddly popular fake moustaches have become? Darned things are popping up everywhere, for reasons I know not. 

But you can add some 2012 Cool to your Yule events with the Stache Straw - yep, everyone cool at the Christmas party will be sipping in style this holiday season, so don't miss out.

(And while it is too late to arrive in time for Christmas, you can still place your order for Instagram Cookies - a box of treats made from your own personal visual history, and you can send from one to six pics to turn into snacks.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sen. Niceley Wants Secret Armed Guards In TN Schools

Worst idea I've heard yet (and there is no shortage of bad ideas) in response to the massacre in Newtown, CT is from Tennessee Senator Frank Niceley, who wants to create secretly armed staffers and teachers in public schools. Worse, Governor Haslam seems to think this wackadoodle notion is worthy of consideration.

"Say some madman comes in. The first person he would probably try to take out was the resource officer. But if he doesn’t know which teacher has training, then he wouldn’t know which one had [a gun],” Niceley said by phone. “These guys are obviously cowards anyway and if someone starts shooting back, they’re going to take cover, maybe go ahead and commit suicide like most of them have.”

"Tennessee’s governor told reporters Monday that he’s open to including it on the agenda for a January conference to discuss school safety. Nicely said he expect the governor “to be receptive” to his plan to use tax money to arm and train teachers."

SEE ALSO: Newscoma points out that TN Senator Lamar Alexander says video games are to blame for the massacre in Newtown and former TN legislator Debra Maggert dared to oppose a NRA-supported gun-totin' bill and was quickly ousted from office.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mass Murder, Guns and Americans

The Misunderstood? (via)

In the face of deadly events and violence aimed at children, it seems the most sane response is the expressed desire for it to never happen again. Prevention is far more difficult a task than most might imagine. The causes and cures aren't easy. But as so many have said in the last few days, it's a grim task but we must attempt to rise to it's challenges, to discuss a myriad of problems and solutions with a goal of improving our world.

I offer a few links to explore below. 

 -- Just prior to the massacre in Newtown, CT, Mother Jones magazine provided an overview of mass shooting events from 1982-2012, noting among other aspects that "Of the 142 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. The arsenal included dozens of assault weapons and semiautomatic handguns."

-- As recently as August of this year, residents in Newtown debated adding restrictions to the growth of shooting ranges in their town. Complaints were growing as many of the ranges began loading shooting targets with Tannerite, which can create large explosions when struck by high velocity ammo:

"Something needs to be done,” said Joel T. Faxon, a hunter and a member of the town’s police commission, who championed the shooting restrictions. “These are not normal guns, that people need. These are guns for an arsenal, and you get lunatics like this guy who goes into a school fully armed and protected to take return fire. We live in a town, not in a war.

"I’ve hunted for many years, but the police department was getting complaints of shooting in the morning, in the evening, and of people shooting at propane gas tanks just to see them explode,” Mr. Faxon said."

One of the nation's largest political lobbying groups for gun ownership, the National Sport Shooting Foundation located just a few miles away from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, sent a spokesperson to the city council debates on restrictions. He said:

"Among the speakers was a representative of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, who was described as saying he believed there was a greater danger of swimming accidents. “No privileges should be taken away from another generation,” he said. "No safety concerns exist"

-- Those who call for more guns as a problem-solver, as an expression of liberty and freedom are making a critically flawed argument. An opinion piece by Firmin DeBrabander provides this viewpoint:

"This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

"As our Constitution provides, however, liberty entails precisely the freedom to be reckless, within limits, also the freedom to insult and offend as the case may be. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld our right to experiment in offensive language and ideas, and in some cases, offensive action and speech. Such experimentation is inherent to our freedom as such. But guns by their nature do not mix with this experiment — they don’t mix with taking offense. They are combustible ingredients in assembly and speech."

Both in Newtown and earlier this year in Aurora, CO,  the killers used a semi-automatic weapon, variants of the AR-15. In Aurora, the killer used a Smith &Wesson M&P 15-22 model of this rifle, outfitted with a 100-round drum magazine. The American Rifleman magazine writes of this military-styled weapon this way: 

"It has many of the features of a tricked-out AR tactical rifle, but is light enough for easy all-day carry on small game hunts for squirrels, rabbits or prairie dogs. It's also really fun to shoot in informal training exercises in an attempt to get to know this tactical-looking .22 rifle.

"The M&P 15-22 pointed easily and with its 25-round magazine, chewed through ammunition. It was so easy to send multiple rounds downrange that one shot just never seemed enough."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In Memoriam of The Children and Educators of Newtown, CT

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6
Rachel Davino, 29
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
School principal
Nancy Lanza, 52
Mother of gunman
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
School psychologist
Victoria Soto, 27