Friday, December 24, 2010

But you don't have to be an angel to sing harmony

Children carry through the streets
A brightly painted star
Angels gather 'round the hearth
Strumming on guitars
Men of great renown and faith
Say prayers on boulevards
It's the night before Christmas
-- "The Night Before Christmas," written by Carly Simon, first appears on the soundtrack to This Is My Life

Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) quotes
Shemmi Hanna stating, "I wasn't hurt but I wish that I had been killed. I wish I had become a martyr for this church, but God kept me alive for my daughters." Shemmi Hanna was in Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad when it was assaulted October 31st and she lost her husband, her son, her daughter-in-law and her infant grandson in the attack. The October 31st attack marks the latest wave of violence targeting Iraqi Christians. The violence has led many to flee to northern Iraq (KRG) or to other countries. Zvi Bar'el (Haaretz) notes, "This week the Iraqi legislature discussed the Christians' situation and passed a resolution in principle to help families who fled. However, the parliament does not know where the Christians are, how many are still in Iraq, in their homes, and how many have found asylum in Iraqi Kurdistan." John Leland (New York Times) reports:

The congregants on Friday night were fewer than 100, in a sanctuary built for four or five times as many. But they were determined. This year, even more than in the past, Iraqi’s dwindling Christian minority had reasons to stay home for Christmas.
"Yes, we are threatened, but we will not stop praying," the Rev. Meyassr al-Qaspotros told the Christmas Eve crowd at the Sacred Church of Jesus, a Chaldean Catholic church. "We do not want to leave the country because we will leave an empty space."

Meanwhile Taylor Luck (Jordan Times) reports on Iraqi refugees in Jordan:

Although the calendar will say December 25, for Theresa, Saturday will not be Christmas.
There will be no cinnamon klecha cooling on the dining room table, no outdoor ceramic nativity scene, no readings of hymns with relatives.
The 63-year-old Iraqi woman has even refused to put up Christmas lights in the crowded two-room Amman hotel apartment she has called home since fleeing Baghdad last month.
"There is no holiday spirit. All we have is fear," she said.
This holiday will instead mark another year without news from her 46-year-old son, who was kidnapped outside Baghdad in late 2006.

Jeff Karoub (AP) reports on the small number of Iraqi refugees who have made it to the US and how some of them "struggle with insomnia, depression and anxiety."

The following community sites -- plus Military Families Speak Out -- updated last night:

We are on holiday schedule. This has been addressed in the community newsletters. It hasn't been addressed here. I've generally done the morning entries in a taxi cab this week and when I got to my destination, I went ahead and hit "Publish." Each morning, I'd remind myself I should note the schedule but I never did. Just wasn't in the mood I guess. For this site, what does it mean?

We've got two entries this morning and we will most likely have a snapshot this evening. But, no, I didn't do "I Hate The War" last night. Next week will be the problem and we haven't even announced it in the newsletters. We'll have several end of the year pieces. Where and when? I don't know, we're trying to figure that out. Again, I'm speaking of this site.

Community sites aren't sure what they're doing on New Year's Eve. What are they doing today? They're posting if there's a snasphot (and I'm planning on one). Wally and Cedric took yesterday off and others did light posting.

We'll close with this from The Bat Segundo Show:

Greetings and happy holidays from The Bat Segundo Show, the long-running cultural radio program devoted to quirky and comprehensive conversations with the cultural figures of our time.

To skip this silly description, why not go to the main site and see what it's all about?

We have four new shows to tell you about

A few weeks ago, our crew trekked up to New Rochelle and met up with the legendary writer Cynthia Ozick, where the talk shifted to Henry James, Graham Greene, collage, postwar cultural tumult, and Twitter. Ozick insisted to us that she was a "musical imbecile," but her thoughts on voice and tense (among many other topics) suggest otherwise. You can check it all out here:

"If you see her tearing every single piece of meat and bone out of every one of her enemies, then you might not have that later empathy for her at the very end of the story"

When you're carving out dystopian worlds, it's important to answer such hard questions. Paolo Bacigalupi has won the Hugo, the Nebula, and was recently nominated for the National Book Award. In a brand new and far-reaching career conversation, Bacigalupi discusses (among other things) the logical fallacies in creating a really cool character, speculative narrative details extrapolated from the present moment, and the importance of manipulative violence.

Last but not least, our live conversation with Skippy Dies novelist Paul Murray has finally been released.

Murray and Our Correspondent apparently had such a good time talking at Word Brooklyn that we were forced to split the talk into two podcasts. This high-spirited conversation somehow managed to squeeze in Roland Barthes, the Celtic Tiger, video games, teenage reality, gamebooks, World War I, and a rather astonishing editorial confession involving cartoon characters that needs to be heard to be believed.

Part One features the initial Q&A between Murray and Our Correspondent.

Part Two features Murray reading from Skippy Dies (performing many funny voices) and a collective discussion with the crowd.

We'll probably have a few more shows to drop before year's end. But we wanted to let you know about these offerings if you were in need of vital audio entertainment while traveling!

If you wish to subscribe to the show with a podcatcher program (for later transfer to your iPod), copy and paste the following URL into your program:

On the main site, there is also a black box that is rather large but friendly, should you desire to subscribe to the show via iTunes.

Safe travels, happy holidays, and thanks again for listening!

The Bat Segundo Show

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oh boy it never ends