“It’s said that All Hallows’ Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin . . . Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.” ~ Erin Morgenstern


“I think if human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween. Wouldn’t life be more interesting that way? And now that I think about it, why the heck don’t they? Who made the rule that everybody has to dress like sheep 364 days of the year? Think of all the people you’d meet if they were in costume every day. People would be so much easier to talk to—like talking to dogs. ” ~ Douglas Coupland, from The Gum Thief

Some early Halloween silliness for you, including some monsters from Dr. Who, a clip from The Daily Show, and a nice bit of history:

Happy Halloween, Whovians

(reblogged from through the motions).


For those who are interested in more of the history of Halloween, I came cross a really nice write-up on Intelliblog, which is hosted by Nicholas V. (reprinted here under a creative commons license):

Tomorrow is Halloween, which is the last night of the Celtic year and is the night associated with witchcraft, fairies, elves and wicked spirits.  In countries where the Celtic influence is strong, customs surrounding Halloween are still current and relate to pagan rituals celebrating the beginning of the Winter cycle.  Tales of witches and ghosts are told, bonfires are lit, fortune-telling and mumming are practiced.  Masquerading is the order of the night, making of jack-o-lanterns and the playing of games pass the hours pleasantly. Bobbing for apples in a tub of water is an age-old custom.  These pagan practices have been incorporated into the Christian tradition through association with All Saints’ Day on November the first.

The seasonal association of the apple with Halloween goes back even to Roman times.  November 1st was the time when the Romans celebrated Pomona’s festival.  She was the goddess of orchards and ripe maturity.  Her festival was the time to rejoice in the fruits of the season and also the time to open up the Summer stores for Winter use.  In Celtic tradition the apple was the fruit of the Silver Bough of the Otherworld and symbolised love, fertility, wisdom and divination. The hazel was a sacred Celtic tree and the hazelnut symbolised wisdom, peace and love. A hazel tree grew by the sacred pool of Avalon and was described as the Tree of Life.

As Halloween is the night when witches and evil spirits, the souls of the dead and wicked fairy folk roam the earth, numerous superstitions surround the night and have as a characteristic and apotropaic or protective function.  The fire on the household hearth should on no account be left to die on this night, else evil spirits will descend down the chimney.  Bonfires were lit on hilltops to drive off witches.  Purification by fire ordained that people jumped over the flames, in some parts even cattle driven through the embers.  In some parts many an unfortunate old woman was burnt in these fires because she was suspected to be a witch.  The fires of purification were called Samhnagan.  Often, food offerings were left out for the fairies on this night.  Travelling was to be avoided at all costs as one could be led astray by the spirits and fairies.  If one had to go out, pieces of iron or cold steel were carried on one’s person as a repellent against witchcraft.

Hey how for Hallow E’en
A’ the witches tae be seen
Some in black and some in green
Hey how for Hallow E’en.

Other traditions surrounding Samhain (i.e. November 1st and beginning of Winter), involved the reversal of order and normal values, the reign of chaos.  This involved deriding figures of authority, hurling abuse and cabbages at notable people, playing tricks and practical jokes on friends and relatives.  Parties of “guisers” went around from house to house collecting apples, nuts or money while riding a hobby horse or carrying a horse’s head.  The association of the horse with this festival may go back to the ancient Roman festival of the October Horse, the last of the harvest feasts.  Such customs are still very active in some countries, especially the USA, where Halloween has been revived with vigour, no doubt because of its appeal but also because of commercial potential.

It was customary at this time of dying vegetation and the fall of the year to decorate houses with evergreens such as holly, fir or mistletoe.  This harks back to druidic tradition, which ritualised Autumn’s passage into Winter, the evergreen being a reminder that all was not lost, and life went on, ever vigilant of the return of Spring.  Pliny records a Druidic ritual where the mistletoe was cut with a golden sickle, to fall onto a white cloak and not allowed to touch the ground.  Two white bulls were sacrificed and a feast held.  The ritual sacrifice and slaughter of animals at this time was also seen in Gaul and Teutonic lands.  It was as much a Winter feast and laying in of Winter stores as it was also a killing of animals to conserve the meagre fodder during the harsh Winter months.

In even older times, human sacrifice was practised and this was to appease the Winter gods and to ensure the return of Spring and bring fertility.  The Welsh festival of the Black Sow held at this time is a vestige of the human sacrifice rituals.  The whole village ran down a hillside as fast as each could, shouting all the while: “Black Sow take the hindermost!”. The last person down the hill was the victim to be claimed by the Black Sow, the spirit of evil, cold and death.

Samhain was also a time of peace and all forms of violence, warring and fighting being suspended.  No divorces were allowed, making it therefore a time for celebrating marriages.  This also made it a time of the year when all sorts of love oracles were performed. A form of love divination was practised in Scotland and Northern England with hazelnuts on this night.  A group of young unmarried women gathered around the fire and each took a hazelnut and threw it into the flames, saying:

If you love me, pop and fly,
If you don’t lie and die.

She then started to recite the names of possible suitors, her husband being indicated by the popping of the nut in the flames.  A variation on this practised in Wales was the throwing into the flames of apple pips by two lovers.  The same rhyme as above was recited and if the two pips popped simultaneously the lovers would marry happily.  If the two pips exploded at different times, the two lovers would part.

Another divination involved a young woman taking a candle and going alone into a dark room with an apple.  The candle was placed in front of the mirror and the apple was consumed while the woman combed her hair, looking into the mirror all the while.  The face of the woman’s future lover (or of the Devil!) would then appear over her shoulder.


Music by Saul, “Little Prince”

Obamacare: Nazis, Kutcher, and Cruz . . . oh my!

I am so sick of those fallacious commercials in which someone is looking earnestly into the camera and telling the world how Obamacare is going to ruin their lives, keep their child from getting necessary medical care, and otherwise making bald-faced statements not of fact. Yes, Obamacare is not perfect. Yes, it could use some serious tweaking. But no, it’s not going to send our elderly to death camps, and no, it’s not going to keep you from getting the treatment you want/need from the physicians you choose.

What it is going to do is help people like me and my son Brett who have pre-existing conditions.

And by the way, all of those claims that Obamacare has led to this crisis or that crisis? How is that possible when it doesn’t even begin to take effect until October 1st of this year? And why, oh why, are the Nazis always dragged into any Republican argument.

Bah, I say. Bah.

[hulu http://www.hulu.com/watch/537646 start_time=07 end_time=747]

If only I were making this stuff up . . .

Jon Stewart Trashes Fox News For Throwing Out The Constitution: The Law Is ‘No Match For Freedom Math’

by Josh Feldman | Mediaite

Jon Stewart took on one of his favorite punching bags, Fox News, in a segment calling the network out for always praising the wisdom of the Founders in creating the Constitution, only to discard over half of the Bill of Rights when talking about the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. Stewart noticed every amendment seemed negotiable to people at Fox News except the second, and any legal arguments to the contrary were “no match for freedom math.”

Stewart likened terrorists hating the U.S. for its freedoms to Anne Hathaway: “you hate us, only because you can’t get with this!” He ran clip after clip of Fox News hosts praising the Constitution, only to then show them throwing out the Constitution in talking about the case of the Boston Marathon bombers. On their questioning of whether or not the alive suspect should have been read his Miranda rights, Stewart pointed out he still has them even if they don’t read them, because “you don’t have to say them out loud for them to become real.”

Stewart ran the gamut from treating the suspect as an enemy combatant to calls for torture to even suggesting that the FBI should wiretap all mosques to show how amendments are just being dumped like wildfire. Stewart was particularly struck by Ann Coulter saying the dead suspect’s wife should be jailed for wearing a hijab, remarking “she wants a fashion police state.”

Of course, in the interest of fairness, Stewart showed some Fox News personalities injecting their legal perspective into the mix, but as far as the rest of the network is concerned, the law is “no match for freedom math.” Of course, Stewart noticed the only amendment not being discarded willy-nilly is the second, and wondered what would happen if terrorists decided to establish a well-regulated militia of their own.


Full transcript of April 24 The Daily Show segment below:

But we begin tonight with a celebration of what makes America the home of the brave and the land of the awesome, and why our enemies don’t get it.

BRIAN KILMEADE (1/4/2013): Hey, the Constitution founded our great country.ERIC BOLLING (7/6/2011): The American Constitution, the blueprints for our way of life…

SEAN HANNITY (7/2/2012): I really worry if we have lost an understanding of our Constitution, our founding principles, an understanding of what makes us strong.

LAURA INGRAHAM (8/27/2009): They hate our freedom, they hate our way of life, they hate who we are, they hate our liberty.

It is like we are the Anne Hathaway of countries.  (audience laughter)  You hate us, but only cuz you can’t get with this!  (Jon finger snaps)

Why do you hate America?  Is it that we’re too nice, that we sing too well, or that we’re too hot?  ♫  “I dreamed a dream….”

And that’s why how we handle Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is so important.  For the strength of our system lies in how durable it is, even for our most heinous citizens.

SEAN HANNITY (4/22/2013): I’m a little bit concerned because now he’s, you know, he’s got his Miranda rights, the right to remain silent.ERIC BOLLING (4/24/2013): Miranda.  Mirandize the guy or not?

GREG GUTFIELD (4/24/2013): I don’t understand the point.

BRIAN KILMEADE (4/23/2013): First thing you gotta tell him is, you have the right to remain silent.  Fantastic.  So the bombs that could be exploding and the plots that could be unfolding, we can’t ask him.

OK, first of all, not reading someone their Miranda rights doesn’t mean they don’t have their Miranda rights.  (audience laughter)  You have Miranda rights under the Constitution.  You don’t have to say them out loud for them to become real.  You’re thinking of Beetlejuice.  (audience laughter and applause)

Now the only reason you have to read them is so that whatever the suspect has done or did, whatever they do say, is admissible at their trial.  It’s another hallmark of our constitutionally guaranteed right to due process.

4/22/2013:SEAN HANNITY: I think it’s a mistake not to treat him as an enemy combatant.

ANN COULTER: We ought to look at him as an enemy combatant, and moving him toward a military tribunal.

Yes, civilian trial for a terrorist, not gonna work!  It’s why Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, Ramzi Yousef, and the Blind Sheikh roam our fair country in a bus, going city to city singing medleys of original hits and….  (listens to earpiece)  What’s that?  Really?  They’re dead or in prison, huh?  Well, who am I thinking of?  Is it… oh, the Muppets.  Oh, all right.  I get it.  Well, to be fair, they both tried to take Manhattan.

So in the wake of an assault on our freedom and way of life, we have quickly jettisoned the Sixth Amendment’s right to a fair trial and speedy trial, and the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination!  What’s next?

SEAN HANNITY (4/22/2013): This guy ought to be, right now, being interrogated in a very intense way. … I’d waterboard him.  I don’t believe enhanced interrogation is torture.  I don’t.

You don’t believe enhanced interrogation is torture?  Because torture, like Tinkerbell, depends on if we believe?  So there goes the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  Any freedom lovers want to take a crack at some of the lower ones, your Thirds, your Fourths?

4/22/2013:ERIC BOLLING: Should the FBI be allowed to now go into mosques and wiretap and surveil? … I think this is a great case for opening up that.

BRIAN KILMEADE: I think that we should be able to put in listening devices in there.

Sure, illegal search and seizure, done!  The freedom lovers at Fox are jettisoning Amendments like Han Solo dumping cargo to make the jump to light speed at the first sign of Imperial Cruisers, right Chewie?

But you know what?  Anybody can toss away the lesser-known Amendments.  Only a true patriot can set a course straight for the First.

BOB BECKEL (4/23/2013): We really have to consider, that given the fact so many people hate us, that we’re going to have to cut off Muslim students from coming to this country for some period of time.

Yes, a religious litmus test for school enrollment!, says Fox’s most prominent liberal voice.  Holy shit, what’s left?  A prohibition on the unmentioned personal rights in the Constitution that are designated to the people?

ANN COULTER (4/22/2013): I want to know about this wife as well. … I don’t care if she knew about this.  She ought to be in prison for wearing a hijab.

(shocked and disgusted audience response)


Ann Coulter doesn’t just want a police state, she wants a fashion police state!

Now of course, to their credit, any of the Fox contributors or anchors who have studied law, have a somewhat different take on this subject.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO (4/23/2013): To try him as an enemy combatant … the government can’t just willy-nilly do that.MEGYN KELLY (4/23/2013): I think now you’re getting into a dangerous place.

4/22/2013:BRIAN KILMEADE: Is that possible?


But of course, these types of legal arguments are no match for freedom math.

ERIC BOLLING (4/23/2013): How many Muslims in the world, anybody? … 1.57 billion … Let’s just say 10% dislike us or hate us. … That means 157 million Muslims hate us.  If 5%, 10%, 1% are radicalized and would kill us, you know how much that is?  That’s one and a half million people who are radicalized to the point where they would want to kill you, kill us Americans.

Wow, that’s interesting.  Can I see a footnote citation for those figures?

Oh, that’s where he got them.  All right, I wasn’t sure.  (wild audience cheering and applause)

Well, hey, I have an idea.  Since we’re just throwing Amendments away willy-nilly, what if we wanted to, I dunno, track the weapons that any of these America-haters bought, or maybe do a background check, if any of them tried to purchase weapons here in America?  (audience applause)

ERIC BOLLING (7/19/2011): The right to bear arms is protected in the Constitution.SEAN HANNITY (6/28/2010): There’s no ambiguity here.  The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Oh, no ambiguity there.  You know, since, in the last few decades, there’s been 3,400 deaths from terrorism, Islamic and otherwise, and in that same period, we’ve had nearly, I dunno, a million deaths from gun violence, 30 to 40,000 a year, every year, is there anything we can do about that?

BRIAN KILMEADE (1/10/2013: What Constitution?  Vice President Joe Biden says the President may crack down on guns by executive order.ERIC BOLLING (4/3/2013): a.k.a., taking our right to bear arms away.

Yes, it turns out there’s only one Amendment in our Constitution’s pantheon that is exempt from statistical analysis or emotional freak-out-itude.  And it is the Second.  So God help us if the Muslims ever decide to form a well-regulated militia.

We’ll have no way to stop them.  We’ll be right back.