Christmas Season Ending Earlier, Say Scientists

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The interminable United States holiday season, long considered a key indicator that the climate is doing just fine, thank you very much, may be ending earlier than we think. “The data shows that the Christmas season in the U.S. is actually ending earlier, and that the rate of change has accelerated over at least the past ten years,” said Harvard climatologist Dr. Noelle Baker-Taylor. Her team’s findings will be published in the next issue of Nature.

While those findings are likely to be controversial, they are based on solid science, says Baker-Taylor. “If you look at previous studies, they tended to rely on measurements of the entire holiday season, which show that the absolute length of the season has remained stable. But our analysis shows that the Christmas season now begins much earlier, too.” Baker-Taylor says that another possible factor is that Thanksgiving, which has traditionally demarcated the “no-earlier-than” date of the Christmas season, may have have deteriorated significantly. “There’s evidence that Thanksgiving’s influence has been steadily eroding since the 1980s, and in some areas it may no longer be enough to delay the start of Christmas.” Asked if Thanksgiving could be in danger of collapsing, Baker-Taylor said, “It’s a concern, definitely. That’s one of the things we need to look at.”

“I’m not a scientist, but my opinion is it’s bullshit,” said Oregon tree farmer Kenny Bupkis. “I mean, according to science, a bumblebee can’t even fly. So they have their opinions, but I have mine.” But Kenny’s sister and business partner Doris Bupkis wasn’t so sure. “I go downtown and I see Valentine’s day stuff in the windows in early January. So yeah, maybe. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist. After I left home, Mom used to keep her tree up till Easter some years. She just called me up the other day and asked me to haul her tree for her so she could put up her Presidents’ Day decorations. So maybe, I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.”

U.S. President Donald Trump disputed the study in an angry early-morning tweet: “So-called scientists must stop their War on Christmas! FACT: Even Darwin said global warming wasn’t real! SAD!”

The Museum Elephants

Elephant in Rotunda of Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Within the murmurous expanse
Beneath the bas-relief-ringed dome
The taxidermied elephants
Reign over their eternal home:

With tiles for the grass-giving earth;
For sun-burnt destinations, walls.
Eight times a week, the monkey mirth
Of school groups echoes through the halls

While in and out the galleries
Architectonically discrete
The docents’ high-toned rhapsodies
Contend with sounds of scuffling feet.

And once a month someone comes in
Brushes the dust from wrinkled skin
Sweeps cobwebs from the painted skies
And polishes the glittering eyes.

 

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Edna St. Vincent Millay (a clerihew)

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Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare…

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Was frequently heard to say
That only the author of Euclid’s Elements
Had ever seen Beauty without habiliments.

What would she have said if she’d lived to learn
About the physicists at CERN
Who have seen the Higgs Boson
Without any clothes on?

 

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Albert Einstein got panics (a clerihew)

“As I have said so many times,
God doesn’t play dice with the world.”

Albert Einstein

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Albert Einstein got panics
From quantum mechanics;
He would have found the world far nicer
Had God not been a dicer.

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How lovely is the semblance

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How lovely is the semblance
Eternity is come
And Past and Future gathered are
In compass of this room;

How beautiful the sleeping form
The eyes that look within
The hands that do not seek to grasp
The legs that will not run;

Though Memory’s in water writ
However still it pools
This vision having once had
I cannot bear to lose;

I shall become a student
At that patient school of art
That studies years to draw one line
Direct from eye to heart.

 

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There you were

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There you were
helping your friends
who were not yet married
before their reception
by cutting something small
smaller,
carrots or cucumbers,
something.

You were being mindful
of the knifeness of the knife
and how strange it was
not because it cut
but because of the way
it cut

and in consequence
you were working
slowly,
holding up
everything and everyone
that depended on you.

I loved you for
your mindful sluggishness,
and how you were unconscious
of your beauty
in the beautiful moment

so now
I think sometimes
how if that beautiful moment had lasted
I might have married you
and you me
and how eventually
someone else would have had to take over
for both of us.

And I think:
how lucky
one moment
doesn’t lead to the next.

 

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Song that Came to Creeping in His Dream

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Dragonfly, dragonfly,
Dragonfly, dragonfly,
Unstitch his eyes, unstitch his eyes.
The snow flies, the river is frozen,
Unstitch his eyes.

From tent to tent I go,
I go where I am wanted,
I go wherever they can pay my fee,
I go with the dragonfly,
Together we unstitch his eyes, we unstitch them.

This song is my breath,
Dragonfly, dragonfly,
This song is my breath.
Dragonfly, dragonfly,
My breath is this song.

They come by their twos and threes,
But we will come by our fours.
Stitch up their eyes,
Dragonfly, dragonfly,
Stitch up their eyes, stitch up their eyes.

 

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A Song for Music, with Music, and Ham Kicker

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“A Following Song” is a songAlex Floor wrote the music and recorded it. As songs sometimes do, this one has changed its monicker: you may call it “They Went Their Ways.” It joins Stone’s Throw, which the redoubtable Godescalc (more mundanely, James) brilliantly set to music some time ago…

The thing came about this time because I once happened across the oddly-named Ham Kicker website, “an exhibition of collaborative musical work”:

Poets are encouraged to submit poetry. Songwriters are encouraged to work with poets and their poems to develop songs. Performers are encouraged to interpret or reinterpret songs.

So I sent Ham Kicker’s proprietor (turns out his name is Joe) a poem to put up on the site, and forgot about it for more than a year. And then, a while ago, Joe let me know that Alex had written and recorded music for what is now indisputably a Song. Which made me happy, as you might guess, for it’s a lovely song.

Here is the Hamkicker post introducing the thing; here (again) is the song in all its mp3-compressed glory; there’s sheet music! (I love sheet music!) Here, for some reason, is an undated interview with Joe.

And why not, here’s the poem again, with its new title:

They Went Their Ways

Down by the hill, or lower down,
The larks and lizards built a town.
They sang for fun and lay in the sun
And life was easy.

Seasons came, and came, and came,
And some were different, some the same;
The flowers grew, and blossomed, and blew,
And life was easy.

But a lark grows bold to stretch its wing
While a lizard sleeps and dreams of spring.
So the larks forgot – what the lizards did not –
That life is easy.

Then they went their ways, no one knew why,
Some to the desert and some to the sky,
With the turning spheres and the passing years,
Like life, so easy.

 

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Paradise (pt.10)

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One walked in silence,
remembering Paradise,
Mourning for Paradise,
the Paradise that was in desire,
and remains in desire,
Stones gathered together never to be used aright,
Paradise too long in the building,
Ruin of nothing,
lapped by the sea,

Surge of the sea…

* * *

“‘No ideas but in things,’
Bill Williams said,

“But as for me,
& I’ve minted a slogan or 2
in my day,
slogans thick as money,
words heavy as coins

& would have minted more
had my time not come…

“But as for me,
let me assure you,
“There are ideas
and not only in things,
“There is nothing easier than to get ideas,
let me assure you,
let me assure you of this.”

* * *

What can only be communicated in silence,
Darkness and silence….

 

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