11 November 2005

this time I really did learn from Wal-Mart

In response to a customer who wrote complaining that "Merry Christmas" had been replaced by "Happy Holidays" (via pandagon):
Walmart is a world wide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than "christmas" which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with "christmas" red and white are actually a representation of of the aminita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world.
The Christians respond:
Catholic League president Bill Donohue speculated the writer of that e-mail was perhaps drunk.
Which is actually pretty fair; I would write that sort of email while drunk myself.

Update: The NYT weighs in and even they can't help but be funny. Also a grad student in the Bristol German department says that not all the credit for the xmas tree should go to Baal; 16-17c Germany played a vital role as well.

05 November 2005

perhaps I myself am not guiltless

From Walt Whitman's "Democratic Vistas," quoted in a great article about why American political novels generally are moralizing crap that can't compare with what Europeans like Orwell and Stendahl have written.
It is the fashion among dillettants and fops (perhaps I myself am not guiltless,) to decry the whole formulation of the active politics of America, as beyond redemption, and to be carefully kept away from. See you that you do not fall into this error. America, it may be, is doing very well upon the whole, notwithstanding these antics of the parties and their leaders, these half-brain'd nominees, the many ignorant ballots, and many elected failures and blatherers. It is the dillettants, and all who shirk their duty, who are not doing well. As for you, I advise you to enter more strongly yet into politics. I advise every young man to do so.