Free Forum Friday December 24 edition

Thanks to Claire Frisbee for this wonderful photo.

’Twas the day before Christmas; all over the blog
Many creatures were posting, like shortchain and GROG.
The blog posts were queued on the server with care
In hopes that the web traffic still would be there

My laptop was sleeping, the lid it was shut.
On politics my mind had anything but.
No ’treme at his keyboard, and no fili too,
We all settled down; there was nothing to do.

When up on the ’Net there arose such a clatter
I had to log on and start reading the chatter!
Away to my laptop I flipped up the lid
To see what those awful Republicans did!

The comments I saw that were posted by Bart
Predicted the Senate would not pass New START
And not only that but also it would seem
Republicans wouldn’t allow votes on DREAM!

McConnell, the Senate Minority Lead,
Insisted the Omnibus Bill they would read.
And rapidly he put the brakes on more bills,
Opposing so clearly constituents’ wills.

“Now Bennett, now Brownback, now Corker and Cornyn,
On Inhofe, on Grassley, on Enzi and Ensign,
Let’s mark up a bill to toss over the wall
With tax cuts for rich folks, or no cuts at all!”

And then in a twinkling I heard on the news
Of a bunch of left-wingers crying their boo-hoos.
For though unemployment’s extended, the hitch
Was the deal required tax cuts for the rich.

Obama, in order to sell to his base,
Recruited a familiar Democrat face.
Bill Clinton got up to endorse compromise
Claiming this deal will help our employment to rise.

So, with Bill’s endorsement, the House voted Aye,
And so Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would at last say goodbye
For the Senate, although it was very lame duck,
Proved to us that at least some of them give a…darn.

Yet we heard Senators who complained from the right
That they might end up working on Christmas Eve night!
Never mind that obstruction from them was the cause,
They behaved as if someone kidnapped Santa Claus.

“It’s the most sacred holiday of all the year!
When it comes to good Christians the day has no peer!”
Yet debating went on, and the business got done,
So it turned out that they didn’t fool anyone.

And so Congress left town, and they headed back home,
Leaving empty our nation’s grand Capitol dome.
But I heard Reid call out, as he ran to his flight,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Merry Christmas to all prairie dogs and those who love them—like filistro.

About Monotreme

Monotreme is an unabashedly liberal dog lover, writer, and former scientist who now teaches at a University in an almost-square state out West somewhere. |
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39 Responses to Free Forum Friday December 24 edition

  1. Mr. Universe says:

    That was awesome. Clement Clarke Moore would be proud.

  2. Mainer says:

    Yeah that was cool Mono. A great way to start the day before. I suspect that traffic on here will be a little on and off today as every one surries about with last minute stuff. Some times I thing the day before is almost as much or more fun as tomorrow.

  3. Monotreme says:

    Michael Weiss wrote the poem. I had just posted up the photo (which was a chance find from a friend’s Facebook feed) and the italicized comment at the end. I get terse with the FFF intro.

    MW came along and added that fantastic poem. He is a multi-talented guy. I am lucky to know him.

  4. Mainer says:

    The regulars on here seem to be a very talented lot. I have my moments when I wonder what in comparison I bring to the table. Think about all of the geat threads we have already had on here. I figure on an average day I learn about 7 or 8 things I really had no idea about. I can’t tell you what a great gift this site has been.

    By the way the photo is just too funny. I can’t get this image of several hundred of those furry little varmints all in harness pulling Santa’s Sleigh. You know kind of like how they hook all kinds of PC’s together to make a semi super computer. Every one is downsizing and going for better fuel economy so why not Santa?

  5. Monotreme says:


    You are valued. Every bit of colored glass adds to the kaleidoscope of ideas.

    Claire was in charge of a “Pet Photos with Santa” where she lives in Florida. (Which is ironic, because she’s Jewish.) Apparently, someone brought their pet prairie dog and it was captured on film. Looking at Santa’s hands, I’m pretty sure that Santa is a woman.

  6. Just Sayin' says:

    What a great post and a great site. Merry Christmas!

  7. shortchain says:

    Bah! Humbug! I’m not sure it was really Weiss to mention both GROG and me in the same line — and as “creatures”. Now, a “creature” could be a creature of habit, which GROG certainly is, but as for me, I’m more of a spirit, or wraith. Speaking as the ghost of Christmas future, isn’t it quaint — and utterly typical of the strategic methodology we’ve come to expect of the Democratic leadership — that the Senate is, apparently, going to get reformed just in time to make it easier for the GOP to peel off a few quislings and get past a filibuster to pass dreck that the House of Boehner sends it?

    Have a Merry Christmas and some happy holidays. I’m going to take advantage of the faster internet service while all you people are arguing politics with your relatives to download a few gigabytes of updates.

  8. filistro says:

    Hey, there’s a picture of my cousin Ralph up there!

    Who’s that bearded lady with him?

    Merry Christmas, everybody. Travel safely, overeat massively, have lots of fun and hurry back… we’ll be waiting for you. 🙂 🙂

  9. shiloh says:

    It’s my sister’s birthday today and all thru the house, not a creature was stirring, except Susan …

  10. drfunguy says:

    I feel the same in terms of wondering what I contribute and what I learn.
    Plus I don’t really have time to put I lot into what I do contribute, just the occaisional quickie…
    Fun none the less.
    Thanks so much to the site management team.

  11. drfunguy says:

    Cross-posting from the succession thread since it seems appropriate here:
    While I’m on the topic of Canada it reminds me of a gripe with the US.
    What is with the continued use of english units of measure?
    We are doing our children no favors in their science education by making them learn a parochial measurement system.
    We got well on the path to converting to metric in the 70’s then along came Ronnie and we scrapped it. Such idiocy. We are handicapping our entire citizenry and reinforcing the insularity of American culture by sticking with oz. lbs. feet and miles.
    Yet another refreshing and rational Canadian characteristic: metric units!

  12. drfunguy says:

    “We are handicapping our entire citizenry and reinforcing the insularity of American culture by sticking with oz. lbs. feet and miles”
    Not to mention a crazy abitrary temperature scale!

  13. Monotreme says:

    Not to mention the sheer, visceral pleasure of seeing the speedometer needle on “100” as you drive.

  14. mclever says:

    Just stopping in for a quick Christmas wish…
    The poem to start was quite a stitch!!

    Hope you all have a very merry holiday! 🙂

    (Just for today, I’ll save the politics for my folks…)

  15. Mainer says:

    Not to mention never knowing what damned sized wrench to use. Cherokee parts out of Canada are generally metric and every thing else is US…….I have more danged wrenches. It would help if the wife wasn’t always asking why I have so many wenches.

  16. filistro says:

    @Mainer.. It would help if the wife wasn’t always asking why I have so many wenches.

    LOL… now I’m picturing Mainer as Henry VIII, in velvet tunic and hose….

    Nope, I can’t do it. 😉

    Doc, funny you should feel you don’t contribute much. I’ve always considered you one of our smartest and most interesting commenters. As for the metric thing… I belong to the transition generation, still struggling to think in metric. It always tickles me when my grandkids are playing some game or other and the 5-year old will say, “I missed it by just a centimeter!”

  17. shiloh says:

    kos Abbreviated Pundit Round-up:


    Earlier this week, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, among the most independent Senate Republicans, expressed disgust that the GOP leadership allowed Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to enjoy the most successful lame-duck session in decades.

    “Harry Reid has eaten our lunch,” Graham told Fox News radio. “This has been a capitulation in two weeks of dramatic proportions of policies that wouldn’t have passed in the new Congress.”


    Charles Krauthammer:

    The great liberal ascendancy of 2008, destined to last 40 years (predicted James Carville), lasted less than two. Yet, the great Republican ascendancy of 2010 lasted less than two months. Republicans will enter the 112th Congress with larger numbers but no longer with the wind – the overwhelming Nov. 2 repudiation of Obama’s social-democratic agenda – at their backs.

    “Harry Reid has eaten our lunch,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, lamenting his side’s “capitulation” in the lame-duck session. Yes, but it was less Harry than Barry. Obama came back with a vengeance. His string of lame-duck successes is a singular political achievement. Because of it, the epic battles of the 112th Congress begin on what would have seemed impossible just one month ago – a level playing field.

    So Bart, do you disagree w/Graham and Krauthammer ?!? just wonderin’

    One for the road … “Harry Reid has eaten our lunch,”

  18. Brian says:

    A- That poem was awesome. Well done.

    B- I despise the US measurement system. The US is one of three countries that hasn’t converted to metric (the other two being Liberia and Burma) and it is indeed a hindrance to people training to be scientists. If we had switched, mistakes like this wouldn’t happen.

  19. dcpetterson says:

    Damn it, the U. S. of A. is the greatest nation on Earth. The rest of the world needs to come around to our way of measuring things. That metric system is so frickin complicated! Why, to use centimeters, I keep having to multuply the inches by 2.54! And to use kilometers I have to multiply by whatthehellisit, about 1.6 or something? And temperature — what the hell, how can you guys do all that arithmetic in your heads?

    Our system is so much easier! One pint is 32 ounces (or is it 16? I forget) and two pints is a quart and four quarts is a gallon. What could be easier? 12 inches is a foot, 3 feet is a yard, and 5280 feet is a mile. Simplicity itself!

    Sheesh, I bet you’ll be screwing with the clock and the calendar next …

  20. drfunguy says:

    Fili – Thanks.
    Guess I just feel I don’t really take/have time for really thoughtful correspondance like you, monotreme and so many others. You will notice most of my posts are quite short (and often typo-ridden), because I am hurridly squeezing them in between operations in my home lab business…
    Thanks for all of your hard work!

  21. dcpetterson says:

    And to convert miles per gallon into kilometers per liter — my gods, just don’t go there at all ….

  22. dcpetterson says:

    drfunguy, I echo filistro’s sentiment. You’re a valued commenter. Please keep coming back.

    And that goes for all the rest of you as well. 538Refugees couldn’t exist without people to read and comment.

  23. drfunguy says:

    And are those US dry gallons? US liquid gallons? or Imperial gallons?
    btw my favorite quote from The Fellowship of the Ring (the movie):
    “It comes in pints? I’m having one!”

  24. dcpetterson says:

    Thanks shiloh, it’s the quote of the month —

    “Harry Reid has eaten our lunch.”

    — Sen. Lindsey Graham

    Closely followed by:

    “Obama came back with a vengeance.”

    — Charles Krauthammer

    I do not expect Obama or Congressional Democrats to roll over and play dead the way the GOteaParty wants them to. In the next two years, you’ll seem then effectively defending the gains we’ve made in the last two, and forcing the obstructionist Republicans farther into the tiny corner of their own making.

    It’ll be fun watching the establishment Republicans fighting the Teapers, while another faction emerges that had actually listened to the Will of the People, and tries to work with the Democrats to get things done. All the opinion polls show that the We the People want the Democratic agenda to keep moving forward — the 2010 election was frustration over the economy, and a repudiation of the Blue Dogs. The sooner the obstructionist GOteaParty realizes that, the better for our nation.

    The Democrats have found their spine, and the Lame Duck sessions proves that. It’s time to keep moving forward, not to allow the regressive adgenda of the fascist totalitarian astroturfed Teapers and their corporate masters to take over this great nation.

  25. While I agree that metric works better for many things, the 12-inch foot is a wonderous thing. 12 is a magic number in mathematics, allowing for division into two, three, or four parts. This works really well in many facets of the physical world, where we often find ourselves dividing things into three parts. Try doing that in metric, and you end up with unending threes or sixes (plus a horrible seven on the end).

    Note that the day is divided into two halves, each of which is divided into 12. Makes many sorts of even division work well.

    Then again, the French (who else?) tried to do a metric calendar and clock, too. I’d imagine the right, if they knew about it, would be horrified to see “French Republican” on anything. 8)

  26. dcpetterson says:

    Whatever happened to the cubit? Why don’t we use that anymore?

  27. Whatever happened to the cubit? Why don’t we use that anymore?

    We use it all the time in the world of science, whenever we raise a number to the third power.

  28. Monotreme says:

    DC asked: Whatever happened to the cubit? Why don’t we use that anymore?

    MW said: We use it all the time in the world of science, whenever we raise a number to the third power.

    Or when we’re down at the Q Ranch, and we want to ride our Q around for a while just to relax.

  29. Monotreme says:

    I’m not as sanguine about the next two years as some.

    I think the whole motivation driving the frenetic lame duck pace was that both parties feel like they were in their best negotiating position right now. Come January 3, I think the legislative store is closed and no one on either side expects to get anything done between Jan 3, 2011 and whenever the 112th adjourns.

  30. Mainer says:

    Ok not science but it is about measurment. I have a number of really old recipes, some from the family, some from really old cook books. I can still get antsy when cooking some thing that calls for butter the size of an egg, a handful of any thing, a pinch or dab of some thing or lard the size of your fist………a favorite cousin and I have rather methodicly reworked them over the years to some thing more sane……yup English measurment…….now how many teaspoons in a tablespoon…….inquiring minds want to know and most people don’t. Hmmm now how many gills would be in a flagon?

  31. filistro says:

    My favorite measurement story (sort of) is the scoring for tennis. Back in the Middle Ages they used to hang a big makeshift clock face on the court, and the first point moved the hands to 15 minutes… then 30… then 45 (eventually shortened to “forty” because it’s easier to say.)

    And of course “love” comes from “l’oeuf” which is French for egg (“goose-egg” =nothing)

    I hope that story isn’t apocryphal. It all just feels so pleasantly ancient 🙂

  32. Monotreme,
    I suspect you’re right. But each party is going to try to build a narrative to explain why the other party is preventing “good things” from being done. Who knows whose story will end up being more credible in the end?

  33. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    12 inches in a foot.
    24 inches in two feet.
    24 beers in a case.
    24 hours in a day.
    Coincidence, I don’t think so!
    “A pint’s a pound the whole world round”

  34. dcpetterson says:

    @Michael Weiss
    Who knows whose story will end up being more credible in the end?

    Yes, because the Republicans have been so credible up until now.

    But I know you were talking about the people who watch FOX, not the ones who have access to, you know, facts.

  35. Monotreme says:

    Three teaspoons in a tablespoon. Four tablespoons in a quarter-cup. I’ve always remembered that (somehow) as four-four [quarter].

    Also — handy tip — you can put questions like that to Google and it does the conversion. For example, “4 tbsp in cups” (without the quotes) gives you 0.25 cups.

  36. Brian says:

    Fili, regarding the tennis scoring, you should hear Jerry Seinfeld’s bit regarding it. It’s quite amusing. I’d post a link, but I’ve got one foot out the door. I’m sure it’s on Youtube

  37. shortchain says:

    I’d rather drink a liter than a pint (of beer).
    I’d much rather take a teaspoonful of sugar
    than five cc’s to make the medicine go down.
    A yard may be just shy of a meter,
    but a league is how far you can walk in an hour,
    A kilometer is just over a thousand yards,
    which is an inconvenient distance — too short to
    be worthwhile as a walk, too long for a sprint.

    Decimal is dandy, but binary is better. If you don’t
    like writing all those 1’s and 0’s, use hexadecimal.
    Base 12 is fine for bugs and PDP-8 programmers.

    And then there’s all the possibility for error. When somebody
    says “I want a K”, you have to know whether they’re talking
    distance or drugs. No chance of that in the English system,
    but I say we re-brand it the “American” system. The Liberians
    aren’t big enough to complain, and the Burmese (Myanmarese)
    probably won’t even notice.

  38. Number Seven says:

    Reality is for those who don’t understand the square root of negative one.

    Have a merry Christmas everyone, and Festivus for the rest of us!

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