Feb 142022
 February 14, 2022  Posted by at 9:33 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Leonardo da Vinci Saint John the Baptist 1513-16


“If There Were Side Effects, We’d Have Seen Them By Now” (Uncut)
Anti-vaxxers Who Changed Their Minds On Covid Vaccines (G.)
NZ Covid Outbreak ‘Like Nothing We’ve Experienced’: Ardern. Cases Skyrocket (G.)
Pelosi Just Gave The Game Away (CTH)
Zelensky Asks Biden To Visit Ukraine (RT)
Ukrainian Ambassador Says Kiev ‘Might’ Drop Bid To Join NATO (RT)
Putin ‘Doesn’t Give A S*** About Sanctions’ – Russian Diplomat (JTN)
‘Oligarchs’ Flee Ukraine – Media (RT)
Most Democrats Want Hillary Clinton Investigated For Russiagate (Sperry)
Free Speech Becomes Roadkill In The Crackdown On Canadian Truckers (Turley)
Monastiraki Kitchen On Greek TV














Yeah, we have to repeat this all the time, don’t we?

“If There Were Side Effects, We’d Have Seen Them By Now” (Uncut)

Changes to the Online Harms bill threaten prison for anyone spreading what the Government call “Covid disinformation”. Yesterday, the Financial Times newspaper carried a piece on vaccination for children, quoting paediatrician Petter Brodin, who says “vaccination offers safe, more controlled exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 than infection”. He goes on claim that “the jabs also carry a lower risk of unintended consequences”. If more children have a Covid-19 jab after parents read Brodin’s comments and subsequently suffer injuries or death – facts that have been reported to three separate adverse events reporting systems in the UK, EU and US – will Brodin be held responsible? Will he be threatened with prison for “Covid-19 disinformation”? Today, we are helping Petter Brodin by publishing – again – figures from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA], together with real-life accounts from two people severely affected after taking a Covid jab.

Read more …

“..kids becoming orphans before their time ..”

The Guardian brings you all the drama that vaccine profits can buy.

Anti-vaxxers Who Changed Their Minds On Covid Vaccines (G.)

Alexis Danielsen sat down and rolled up her sleeve. When the shot went into her arm, one thought flooded her mind: “Finally!” It was May 2021, and she was receiving her first Covid shot – in fact, her first immunization of any kind. She was 39. Danielsen grew up in an anti-vaccine household, views she held well into adulthood. When her son was born, she declined all vaccines for him. Then she hit a personal crisis, and started rethinking all of her beliefs – including on vaccinations. It was like pulling on a thread and watching an entire sweater unravel, she said. “The Covid vaccine was the only logical choice after really re-evaluating what I believe in, what I actually believe is true,” Danielsen said.

Danielsen partly credits her about-face to Lydia Greene and Heather Simpson, the Canada-based founders of Back to the Vax, a support group for people like themselves: one-time vaccine skeptics who’d had a change of heart. “I want to be able to help stop people from going down that road, having been down it myself,” said Greene, now a nursing student. They say their goal is to help families find evidence-based answers to their questions. Vaccine hesitancy was a growing problem even before the pandemic, particularly among parents. Now, nearly one-third of American parents are opposed to vaccinating their children against Covid-19. Although parents still have a lot of questions about vaccines, advocates say that answering them can help.

Online support and in-person community groups can help address longstanding hesitations, some of which arise from poor experiences in the medical system. For example, parents tell Greene they are still waiting for more information to come out on the Covid vaccines before deciding whether to vaccinate their children. “What’s missing is that, in the US right now, millions of children in that age group have been vaccinated and are followed closely with V-Safe and other databases to show the safety of the vaccine,” Greene said. Parents also believe that Covid is mild in children and poses a low risk to them. But kids can suffer from long-term effects – and continued transmission also affects their emotional wellbeing. In the US, more than 167,000 children have lost a caregiver to the virus, Greene said. “We’re seeing this massive epidemic of not just Covid but kids becoming orphans before their time.”

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At least admit that everything you’ve done has utterly failed for 2 years. And go hang your head in shame.

NZ Covid Outbreak ‘Like Nothing We’ve Experienced’: Ardern. Cases Skyrocket (G.)

New Zealand’s prime minister has warned that the country is entering a new phase of its pandemic response that is “like nothing we’ve experienced to date”, as case numbers begin to explode. “We are embarking for the first time in the two years since the start of the outbreak into a period where New Zealanders will see more Covid in the community,” Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. “It is a period of disruption and, I know, of risk and will be like nothing we’ve experienced to date.” Ardern was speaking to reporters after a political reporter produced a positive rapid antigen test moments before the press conference. The empty seats in front of her – and the decision to forge on with the standup regardless – helped illustrate the new era for New Zealand, in which the government expects Omicron to reach every part of the country.

New Zealand has been reporting near-daily record highs in case numbers, as infections begin to hit an exponential growth curve. On Monday, officials announced 981 cases in the community, up from previous all-time highs of 810 on Sunday and 454 the day before. The latest additions mean there are 4,960 active cases recorded across Aotearoa – but experts say the true number is likely much higher, given the lag in test results, and the fact testing is only advised for those with symptoms or who have been a direct contact of a case.

Haka NZ

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Yes, that was obvious. Can’t lose.

Pelosi Just Gave The Game Away (CTH)

We have been looking for this exact political construct and today we got it. Nancy Pelosi appears on ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos to discuss current events. This was all planned in advance. This is guaranteed to be a political pantomime. The first topic is the “Russia-Ukraine crisis,” with Stephanopoulos asking Pelosi directly if she believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is about to invade Ukraine. Nancy Pelosi’s response tells us all we need to hear:

PELOSI: “Well, I think we have to be prepared for it. And that is what the president is — yes, I do believe that he is prepared for an invasion. I also understand why the President of Ukraine wants to keep people calm and that he wants his economy not to suffer. But, on the other hand, if we were not threatening the sanctions and the rest, it would guarantee that Putin would invade. Let’s hope that diplomacy works. It’s about diplomacy deterrence. Diplomacy deterrence. And the president’s made it very clear. There’s a big price to pay for Russia to go there. So, if Russia doesn’t invade, it’s not that he never intended to. It’s just that the sanctions worked.” … “I’m very proud of the work that the president has done.”

Can you see the domestic political scenario that has been created out of thin air? Democrats need a win on something; anything, to shift the narrative and change the reality of their failure into an illusion of success. First, accuse Vladimir Putin of doing something he never intends to do, a fabricated scenario. Second, tell the world you will strongly respond to the fabricated scenario. Third, tell the world the exact date when the fabricated scenario is supposed to happen. Then, when the fabricated scenario never happens, it is because you are so brilliant and strong to have outmaneuvered and cowed the Russians.

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How likely is that?

Zelensky Asks Biden To Visit Ukraine (RT)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on his US counterpart Joe Biden to fly into Kiev “in the coming days.” The invitation, which was made by Zelensky during a phone call with Biden on Sunday, comes as several nations, including the US itself, ordered most of their diplomatic staff out of the Ukrainian capital citing fears of a possible Russian invasion. “I am convinced that your arrival in Kiev in the coming days, which are crucial for stabilizing the situation, will be a powerful signal and contribute to de-escalation,” Zelensky told Biden, according to a statement issued by his press service. As the US, UK, Israel, Australia and other countries have urged their nationals to leave Ukraine by all means available, Zelensky insisted that Kiev, as well as other major Ukrainian cities, were “safe and under reliable protection.”

A trip to the capital, however, does not appear to be on Biden’s schedule, CNN reported, citing US officials saying that such a visit would be “extremely unlikely.” “A senior Ukrainian official” told the channel that Biden gave “no positive response” to the invitation during the call. The White House’s readout of the Sunday call made no mention of the invitation either. It noted only that Biden promised Zelensky to “respond swiftly and decisively, together with its allies and partners, to any further Russian aggression against Ukraine.” Several media outlets have attempted to predict the most likely day for a Russian invasion, with Bloomberg reporting that it would take place as soon as on Wednesday – even though Russia has insisted it has no plans to invade its neighbor.

Read more …

Maybe they won’t if Biden visits?

Ukrainian Ambassador Says Kiev ‘Might’ Drop Bid To Join NATO (RT)

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko has appeared to raise the possibility that Kiev could give up its bid to join US-led NATO for the sake of preventing a major conflict with Russia, while admitting that such a proposition would go against his country’s principal law. Asked by BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Stephen Nolan on Sunday if his country might “contemplate not joining NATO” to avert a war, Prystaiko responded: “We might, you know, especially [having] been threatened like that, blackmailed by that, and pushed to it.” He then appeared to indicate that some representatives of the military bloc have also rallied behind that option. “You know, we will sometimes hear voices from NATO that ‘Guys, maybe, really, we will be able to avoid…’” the ambassador said, trailing off mid-sentence.

However, Prystaiko then went on to lament the fact that Ukraine is not part of any military alliance at present, unlike some other countries bordering Russia. He noted that Kiev will have to face the music alone if a crisis like the current one spirals into a military conflict. “We will again stay unprotected by anybody, by any friends, not being a member of any alliance, when everybody, all the neighbors of ours, are already in the organization,” the diplomat said, referring to Poland, the Slovak Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. He argued that these countries’ status as NATO member states “did not change the security of Russia,” insisting that the “addition” of Ukraine wouldn’t change it either.

Asked by Nolan to clarify his remark on NATO so that it is not “lost in translation,” Prystaiko appeared to confirm that Kiev might reconsider its aspirations to join the bloc, but admitted that by saying so he goes “a bit against” the constitution of Ukraine, which since 2019 includes a provision making membership in NATO a strategic goal for the government. “What I’m saying here is that we are flexible, trying to find the best way out. If you have to go through some serious concessions, that’s something we might do, that’s for sure,” the ambassador concluded.

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Translation, remember. But yes, sanctions have made Russia much more independent.

Putin ‘Doesn’t Give A S*** About Sanctions’ – Russian Diplomat (JTN)

Russian leader Vladimir Putin “doesn’t give a s***” about sanctions,” said Russian Ambassador to Sweden Viktor Tatarintsev. The sanctions even helped the Russian economy, the diplomat told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in an interview published Saturday evening which was translated by The Independent. “Excuse my language, but we don’t give a s*** about all their sanctions,” he told the outlet. “We have already had so many sanctions, and in that sense, they’ve had a positive effect on our economy and agriculture.” U.S. President Joe Biden has threatened sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine. The Kremlin is already subject to various sanctions over its 2014 capture of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and human rights abuses, among other things.

“New sanctions are nothing positive but not as bad as the West makes it sound,” Tatarintsev said. “The more the West pushes Russia, the stronger the Russian response will be.” He told the outlet that the sanctions have helped Russia make products that are “just as good.” “We are more self-sufficient and have been able to increase our exports,” Tatarintsev said. “We have no Italian or Swiss cheeses, but we’ve learned to make just as good Russian cheeses using Italian and Swiss recipes.” Even though about 100,000 Russian troops are massed along the Ukrainian border, the diplomat stated that the Kremlin wants to avoid war. “That is our political leadership’s most sincere wish,” he told Aftonbladet. “The last thing people in Russia want is war.”

Read more …

The most corrupt country.

‘Oligarchs’ Flee Ukraine – Media (RT)

Local media reports have suggested that an exodus of Ukraine’s richest people, including its so-called ‘oligarchs’, is in full swing. A report published by the Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper on Sunday claimed that “about 20 charters and private jets” departed from Kiev on that day alone. The newspaper noted that one of the private jets spotted leaving Ukrainian airspace on Sunday was allegedly owned by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akmetov, whose net worth is estimated at about $7.1 billion, according to Forbes. Pravda reported that the billionaire himself left the country on January 30, however. Ukraine’s second-richest man and fellow steel magnate, Victor Pinchuk, reportedly departed at the end of last month as well.

Both men help to fund The Atlantic Council, a NATO adjacent lobby group, which pushes for Kiev to join the military bloc. Those who Pravda alleged had “fled” Ukraine in the recent days included prominent politician and businessman Vadym Novynskyi, who has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion; Ukraine’s ninth-richest man, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky; former Verkhovna Rada lawmaker and businessman, Vadim Stolar; and several other high-flying figures – many of whom featured in Forbes Ukraine magazine’s list of its 100 richest people. A number of lawmakers also reportedly scrambled to exit Ukraine. The newspaper said, citing sources, that representative of the Eurosceptic Opposition Platform – For Life party and businessman Igor Abramovych booked a private jet for 50 people to transport them to Vienna, Austria.

Some of the people mentioned in the report as having “fled” Ukraine, however, have already dismissed the claim. For instance, businessman and leader of Ukraine is Our Home party Borys Kolesnikov, who, according to Pravda, left the country on Sunday, called the report “fake news.” “The deceitful and habitually manipulative outlet is, as usual, lying. I’m in Kiev, and I’m not going anywhere until March 1 (The Champions League Final, which takes place in Switzerland),” Kolesnikov wrote on Facebook, threatening to sue the newspaper.


Read more …

Wishful thinking?

Most Democrats Want Hillary Clinton Investigated For Russiagate (Sperry)

A surprisingly large share of Democrats wants to see Hillary Clinton investigated over her possible role in manufacturing dirt to try to tie Donald Trump to the Kremlin, a new poll shows. The survey, conducted by TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics in New Jersey last month, polled 1,308 Americans about the mushrooming investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the FBI’s probe of Trump’s alleged links to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Nearly three out of four of those polled who are following the story said they think it’s important prosecutors investigate Clinton for her role in the Russiagate scandal along with her top campaign advisers. That includes two-thirds — or 66 percent — of the Democrats polled who said they have been keeping up with the case.

That’s up 20 points from this past October, when TIPP asked the same question of a national panel, and indicates the Durham probe may be turning Democratic opinion regarding Clinton and the controversy. Meanwhile, 91 percent of Republicans in the same group and 65 percent of Independents also called for Clinton to specifically be investigated. Durham has already charged Clinton campaign subcontractor Igor Danchenko for allegedly lying about the sourcing behind the debunked so-called Steele dossier he helped compile, which attempted to frame Trump as a Kremlin agent. Danchenko, a former Brookings Institution analyst, completely fabricated the source for the dossier’s most explosive allegations, according to the indictment. It turns out he also allegedly used a Clinton campaign adviser as another key source for other dirt he gathered. Danchenko was arrested in October and has pleaded not guilty.

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“I have attended protests and rallies in the past when I agreed with the goals, when I supported the people expressing their concerns and their issues, Black Lives Matter is an excellent example of that.”

Free Speech Becomes Roadkill In The Crackdown On Canadian Truckers (Turley)

Canada appears to be facing its greatest threat since Benedict Arnold came close to seizing Ottawa in 1775. The source of this “insurrection” and “attack on democracy,” however, is not a foreign government but Canadians who have descended on their own capital to protest continuing COVID-19 mandates. The protest has been peaceful — and highly successful in cutting off key highways. But the most alarming development has not come from the convoy but from the commentary about it, including calls for mass arrests and even vigilantism. The Ottawa Police Services Board chairman has called it a “nationwide insurrection,” adding, “Our city is under siege.”

CNN analyst and Harvard professor Juliette Kayyem was apoplectic at the thought of truckers shutting down roads and interfering with trade. She tweeted out a call to “slash the tires, empty gas tanks, arrest the drivers, and move the trucks.” CNN correspondent Paula Newton said this act of civil disobedience was nothing less than a “threat to democracy. An insurrection, sedition.” Blocking streets, occupying buildings and shutting down bridges have long been tactics of protesters. Yet what constitutes a protest or an insurrection often seems to depend on the cause involved. When rioters caused billions of dollars in damages, burned police stations and occupied sections of American cities in the summer of 2020, for example, few in the media declared them to be terrorists or a threat to democracy.

But CNN’s Kayyem once called conservative protesters occupying a state capital to be “domestic terrorists.” GoFundMe, which previously helped fund arrested Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters, froze more than $10 million raised for Canadian truckers to prevent it from being used to support them. After the money was frozen by GoFundMe, supporters switched to GiveSendGo to “adopt a trucker.” The Canadian government then moved successfully to freeze millions of donations to the truckers, and the Supreme Court of Canada approved the freeze in a major blow to free speech and associational rights in Canada.

In the meantime, the government has demonized the convoy. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who praised truckers just two years ago as heroes, has denounced them as “trying to blockade our economy, our democracy.” This is the same Trudeau who praised BLM protesters and stressed that “I have attended protests and rallies in the past when I agreed with the goals, when I supported the people expressing their concerns and their issues, Black Lives Matter is an excellent example of that.”

Read more …

Greek national broadcaster ERT did an -almost live- item on the Monastiraki kitchen yesterday. My friend Vasso “translated” part of it. I don’t really know how to make it a separate article. The lovely Filothei is speaking.

Monastiraki Kitchen On Greek TV

She says they do not ask for money but for tomato sauce pasta rice or a voucher for a super market and they send you back the receipt. They also need volunteers to help in food preparation. Their saucepan is for 500 portions every Tuesday at 4.30. Then the reporter asks how the recipients find food the other days of the week and she mentions a place in Peiraeus as well as Allos anthropos. Then she is asked what she sees in the streets as a photographer and she says pain. Also at the beginning she says that they are now in the basement because of the rain.

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Home Forums Debt Rattle February 14 2022

Viewing 40 posts - 81 through 120 (of 127 total)
  • Author
  • #101277
    D Benton Smith


    You’ve been leaving out the “hunch backed” part of the moniker, please reinstate. “hunch backed lizard sucking . . . ” has a much better ring and rhythm to it. Rolls off the tongue with a right proper adamance.

    Veracious Poet

    Well thinking out loud online immediately after an epoophany isn’t something I normally do, although it seems to work for certain word salad personas on a daily basis ~ I need to absorb & process insights spiritually before broadcasting, to avoid brain farts 😉

    One thing that is certain, there are Givers & Takers, but mostly it’s a combination thereof…

    Trying to suss out human nature from the primordial amygdala to the “evolved” cerebral cortex is only one aspect of finite existence, although it may preclude enlightenment into the Infinite when it becomes the core focus.

    From time-to-time, I have been the beneficiary of many “givers” in my life, especially early on, who shared the most precious gift of all with me ~ Their Time & Love.

    Moreover, I have been affected by “takers”, not always in an adverse manner, many times as a cautionary tale through detached observance…

    Often I reflect back on the heartfelt generosity of an elderly widow that lived next door to us when I was in 2nd-3rd grade back in 1969-1970 ~ She was born on a Nebraska farm in the 1890s.

    There was a genuine earthy love that she exuded, that nurtured me though a dark time ~ My mother’s second husband had abandoned us for a sugar momma, while my mother was pregnant with their only child, placing us on welfare in a low rent area of Fullerton…

    I wish I could remember her name, but I can still feel her spirit, treating myself & another boy to bags of spanish peanuts + money to watch movies during the matinee showings at the Fox theater downtown (driving us to & fro, as well).

    The money & snacks were secondary to the loving care she bestowed upon us, a light in the darkness that countered immersion in a culture of “takers” ~ She always had a kind word of encouragement & a smile that would melt the Grinch’s heart…

    The other day I was packing my SUV with groceries & noticed a $20 bill on the ground on the passenger side of the car parked next to me. When I stood up I saw an older man in the drivers seat, so I knocked on the window to ask him if his wife was in the store & if she perhaps had dropped the money ~ He was awestruck by my honesty (I could see it in his eyes), but that was the “right’ thing to do in the Now (I intuited the whole scenario in a micro second).

    I was not “entitled” to that money, it was not mine ~ I learned from my mentors (outside of my family) that lying, cheating, stealing are not The Way, to be happy in the Now with whatever I have to work with…

    But I also witnessed others that chose the darkness of their self-obsessions, the sickness that crippled them, although they usually didn’t think so.

    Evil is a choice culminating from a gradual succession of lesser choices. It never sleeps, and is always open for business…

    Western civilization’s evil choices have resulted in Mass Formation Psychosis, something many of us have been aware of for a long, LONG time now.

    The path out of this (If we survive it), is patience, tolerance, kindness & love.

    I truly wish I could be hopeful for humanity, but it seems to be getting darker & darker as the malady unfolds…

    Still walking on the sunny side of the street,



    “You’ve been leaving out the “hunch backed” part of the moniker, please reinstate. ”

    I am such a cad. I know. I’ll remember from hereon. But… you haven’t given ME a special name. Maybe you don’t really love me? Maybe you’re just toying with me? Is that why I found a $20 bill under my pillow?

    Michael Reid

    @D Benton

    I’ve followed Kunstler for probably 15 years or so, even had a few email exchanges with him, and throughout that time he has consistently held to his mantra that he doesn’t believe in what he calls ‘conspiracy theory’.

    I’ve always found that a bit maddening about him but have chalked it up as a personal blindspot, which I believe we all have in one form or other.

    He is friends with Dr David Martin who couldn’t be more hard core ‘this is a planned premeditated depopulation holocaust” and recently podcasted Martin on his site.

    KunstlerCast 352 — Another Lap with Dr. David E. Martin Investigating the Origins of the Covid-19 Vaccines

    KunstlerCast 352 — Another Lap with Dr. David E. Martin Investigating the Origins of the Covid-19 Vaccines

    Listen to it

    Believe me, Martin would have called he out on it in some fashion, he is a nobullshit kinda guy if you have ever listened to him.

    Kunstler rarely provides me anymore with info I don’t already know, but I still find his writings amusing.

    Look at Bobby Kennedy having very cordial interviews with Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck. They absolutely don’t see eye to eye on many matters but come together to discuss urgent matters of common interest, the way public discourse should be.

    The Gulf of Tonkin incident was totally faked and lead to an eleven year war that killed over a million people. It was labeled a conspiracy theory that it was faked for decades. The list is to long to count of things labeled conspiracy theories that later were found to be true.

    You are witnessing what I consider to be a premeditated global mass murder with a weaponized pathogen and yet even two years into it and amazing number of otherwise ‘intelligent’ people just refuse to acknowledge something like that could be possible.

    Over the decades I’ve personally met and talked with many veterans of WWII, they are all gone now, including my own uncles and father who were all in frontline combat. Several of the WWII European vets I listened to had liberated concentration camps. They could not speak of what they saw for decades because when they came home nobody, family or friends, believed want they told them that they had seen with their own two eye. Nobody

    Probably because what they told was so horrible and terrifying to people listening that they could not even imagine such cruelty or depravity existing in the world they were familiar with. And most of these vets just clammed up and stopped even trying to talk about it.

    The mere thought of some hideous behavior frightens some people into a cognitive trance or a mental bunker of some type. Just look around now at that phenomenon manifesting in the Western World.

    Makes me just want to scream at some people point blank to their faces to suck it up and snap out of it, but I know even saying that would scare them even deeper down their own rabbit hole mental bunker.

    D Benton Smith

    Awright, one last smooch on the cheek and then we gotta get a room. I hereby dub thee, “The Boz” .


    You can demonstrate if you don’t violate the new laws that I made
    Suck it up I’m the boss .


    A rough view of where the story continues — as readable sequential narrative text, not a jumble of notes — so far:

    “Merry Christmas, Robin. You didn’t think I’d forget, did you?”

    It was a card. Hallmark. But the inside was covered with white construction paper painted over in highlight marker colors. It said:

    Dear Santa:

    I need a reason to believe in all this crazy shit.

    Harry Krishnas,

    Robin Morrison

    I’d mailed it a month ago helping my godchild write a letter to Santa. I’d slipped it in before sealing the envelope. She’d wanted to do it but little kids cut their tongue.

    “That’s you, right?”

    I looked at him.

    “Uh, how do you do it, Santa?”

    “I don’t, son. ”


    “What do you mean, ‘I don’t’?”

    “I’m not Santa Claus. No one is ‘Santa Claus’. I’m Nicholas, even Saint Nicholas, although I almost have to take that on trust, historical record, because I lost a lot of my original memories in the course of recovering from many, many head injuries. But I am the man upon whom that myth is centered. Some of the myths are much older than me but I am the one they gathered around as Xtian civilization became the world standard.”

    “Gathered around… like snow on your cape.”

    “I took you for a poet. Yeah, it’s a nice cape, isn’t it? I do remember that I faked my death after my immortality began to show and cause problems. Not to mention the miracles and wonders I caused. Faking your death without leaving a corpse, when you’re as big a man as I am, is difficult. Two men died in order to leave a corpse that would pass for me.”

    “You killed them?”

    “Of course. I do all my own killing. Grave, grave sin to have another man do your killing for you unless you’re, say, fighting together to defend your home or something. It looks like I’m going to tell you my life story. It’s only about 1700 years long. Or old. I normally don’t do it, but I like you. You make me feel like I want to be understood again, something I rarely bother with these days.”

    “This could take awhile, right?”

    “Not really. I can’t remember a lot of it.”


    “Amnesia isn’t the worst part. Just… centuries and centuries and centuries… I get lost in myself. I have nostalgia layered like an onion. The present is like an ongoing déjà vu that changes as it ever has but increasingly feels the same. Not boring, actually more like comforting – but confusing when it comes to telling one’s life story.”

    He began singing.

    “Parachutes, army boots, sleeping bags for two, sentimental jamboree…”

    “Who’s that?”

    “Don’t know, but it’s from your time. It has a nice minor key feels a bit like the music I grew up with. Some girl I shacked up with played it a lot. I think it’s, like, a Beatles tune? I also like the lyrics.”

    “What were your parents like?”

    “I don’t really know. Please. Best you let me talk. Not necessarily no questions, but think twice before asking. It’s touchy in here. I try to live in the present because the past, for me, is HUGE. Great big storage unit full of who knows what.”

    “Firstly, it helps to understand that I’m not really one person. Never mind that there are a million Santas running amok in red velvet giving away gifts and getting stewed on eggnog. I mean: me. I’ve been part of a more-or-less telepathic tag team since I was 44 years old. Somewhere between being possessed and being caretaker. It’s a benevolent entity. Holy Divine. An angel. A seraph, to be exact, although firebird is a much better translation and fits the reliable folklore better than that Biblical stuff. I call it Atse.”

    He grinned, made goggle-eyes, said, “Son, I’m a two-headed monster!”

    He let that sink in while I looked into his eyes with some difficulty.

    He giggled. Santa’s giggles are better than his laugh; it’s shared, not projected like those overwhelming ho-hos.

    “It needed a place to hide. It’s inside me and in this bag somehow even though it’s currently quite safely hidden far from humanity in my old forest home. We’re like Siamese twins, sort of.”

    It was awhile before I realized I’d just been staring at him, waiting for him to explain. His smile grew very wide, but gentle, lips slightly pursed, and I was sitting inside Santa’s Enormous bag, in his lap. I had just crawled on. It had been instinctive.

    “It’s… an angel, a firebird, is in here?”

    “Not physically. More like a radio transmitter hooked to it is in here. But it has often spent long periods of time in here. Weeks, months.”

    He hocked up a gigantic loogy.

    “Sometimes it’s a scary story, Robin. I mean… really scary. But that’s just life. Mostly it’s a good story. I’m oddly kind of excited to tell it to you. But not here. We have things to do, and you’re heavy on a man’s lap.”

    I crawled off and we shared the sack side by side.

    “Yes, I’m the ‘real’ Santa Claus, which is both more and less than your vision of who that is. But no, I can’t get to all the kids. No one can. Physics, right? They’re still here. A little magic doesn’t erase them, just exploits the cracks in their logic. A localized hyperspace is one thing, but being everywhere more or less at once? No. That sounds more like, uh, God. Giving gifts to children is kind of my hobby, but most of the giving I do is not toys and such; it’s more redemptive, rescue, escape, that kind of thing.

    “Yes, I have reindeer that fly… when lofted in a sling. Not something they enjoy but it has happened. I have good memories, Robin. I have even had a few elves at my service. And on one occasion I actually crawled down a chimney, once, but that was on a bet I lost.” More giggles. “Legends get around. Especially unbelievable ones. They spread better before the printing press, the yellow press, the tabloids, Hollywood, TV, the internet… now rumors spread so fast that legends die, from sheer Darwinian out-numbering, before they can establish a niche in the collective consciousness. I can’t even begin to keep up with the variations on me they put out every year.

    “Do the math, son. No one in their right mind believes Santa is real. What I’m supposed to do is impossible. A billion kids, a fat man down the chimney, runs a socialist workers’ elf colony at the North Pole… nah. Everyone knows that the parents do it. You guys do my job for me. What a lark. Got pert near the whole culture fulfilling the myth, doing my job. It doesn’t get better than that, I suppose. But man what a mess. I worked at Wal-Mart once. I know whereof I speak. But a few kids, every Xmas Eve, get a real visit from me…”


    “But — my helicopter. 1963. That really happened! And… there were muddy boot prints from the chimney!”

    “You know I didn’t go down your chimney.”

    I knew that. But it was impossible not to believe, sitting next to Santa Claus, snuggled inside a magical bag that smelled of everything from roast mutton (I didn’t even know that I knew what it smells like) to cedar wood to styrene plastic (do they still make anything with that stuff anymore?).

    The year I’d gotten that helicopter, Mom and Dad had made muddy boot prints from chimney to tree and back again. (Big brother Steve was, I believe, the driving force behind the farce.) I was 7 or 8. It was hard not to believe then. I was hooked: but I also recall using a certain amount of logic to compare the prints with the tread of Dad’s rubber galoshes.

    “No,” I said sheepishly. “That was a piped gas chimney that didn’t work. Flue’d probably been plugged for years. Like most of them.”

    “Wood burning era done come and gone by the time I stuck that one in your Dad’s back seat.”

    “So – you did give me that helicopter? That’s how…?”

    “Probably. I’m pretty sure that’s how it went. That’s how I did a lot of ’em. They don’t usually lock the car doors going into the big stores, only after they’ve been loaded up. Not back then, anyway. Today they practically put touch alarms on the packages under the tree.”

    This required some thought.

    “Do you think they knew?”

    “Well, it was wrapped and it said ‘To Robin From Santa’. Lord knows what they thought. But apparently, they were smart and gave it to you. Some of them don’t.”

    This required more thought.

    “It’s hit or miss like anything else, son. My guess is they had some kind of faith or whatever in Santa, because they muddied up some galoshes and stomped prints around the fireplace. It spooks ‘em a lot of times but more than not they go along with it and give the child the gift even if it seems a tad spooky.”

    “Fun kind of spooky, I imagine.”

    “Yeah. They briefly remember the time, when they believed, how it felt. Not that believing in me or the ‘spirit’ of some godforsaken holy day is the point.“

    “Xmas?!? Godforsaken?”

    “Yeah. He bailed, left it to His Son, bailed on Him.”

    It was like meeting God and having Him show you His secret porn collection.

    “Look, I’m the atheist here. You don’t believe in God?”

    “I believe in God, and I believe He left the scene and left us here. That’s what the Bible says and I’m inclined to believe it.”
    to be cnt’d


    bippity-bottity boo



    Junk for two…


    Re: Kunstler

    He has been so wrong, so many times I lost track. I can’t forget him waiting big revelations from that joke of a lawyer Sidney Powel who would release the Kraken of all Krakens, or the results from the recount, or the Muller investigation, or … you get my grip.

    But he is entertaining, I give him that and from time to time really funny. I even twitted some of his aphorisms.

    But I certainly would not form informed opinions based on what Kunstler writes.


    Executive Summary (nobody/read/ listened to)

    “You can demonstrate if you don’t violate the new laws that I made.” – Trudeau

    Veracious Poet

    D Benton Smith


    You speak right to my own experiences. The family background is 5th generation military (or the like), a few farmers and one wild-assed adventurer. I think that as a result of that we all got much higher than average dosages of reality. In my specific case I got a LOT more (almost got involuntarily “OD’ed” on that reality stuff a bunch of times)

    All through that I kept getting reminded, over and over and over to the point that it’s actually starting to sink in, that the path that can get you more or less successfully through Life is incomprehensibly complex, and different for every single person. You just have to let everyone pick their own way through it. I believe that’s why liberty, self determination and open communication must be as inviolate as humanly possible . . . and maybe a bit more.

    This includes matters of the ability, willingness and choice of confronting the actuality of evil. I do think that most people bite off as much as they can chew on that topic. It is just a tragic fact that this level of awareness is not enough in many cases, and those people fall prey to the evils that they chose not to see in time to get out of the way. We can do a lot for them, but we can not decide for them.

    Meanwhile the rest of us do what we can to help some of them to bite , chew and digest enough more than that, and thereby not fall prey.


    Me, I like truth. Just a thing I have. And talking, another thing I do. I have no desire to save humanity from itself because I view that as being less likely than FTL or time travel. I do try to warn people I care about who will, I believe, at least listen.

    My interest in this life is to try and be happy and avoid dispensing personally-induced misery. Luckily, this derangedly quixotic individual met a girl who likes him enough to stick around:



    Sometimes those Glitter Twins wrote mighty fine lyrics:

    Well I never kept a dollar past sunset,
    It always burned a hole in my pants.
    Never made a school mama happy,
    Never blew a second chance.
    I need a love to keep me happy,
    I need a love to keep me happy.
    Baby, baby keep me happy.
    Baby, baby keep me happy.
    Always took candy from strangers,
    Didn’t wanna get me no trade.
    Never want to be like papa,
    Working for the boss ev’ry night and day.
    I need a love to keep me happy,
    I need a love, baby won’t ya keep me happy.
    Baby, won’t ya keep me happy.
    Baby, please keep me
    I need a love to keep me happy,
    I need a love to keep me happy.
    Baby, baby keep me happy.
    Baby, baby keep me happy.
    Never got a flash out of cocktails,
    When I got some flesh off the bone.
    Never got a lift out of Lear jets,
    When I can fly way back home.
    I need a love to keep me happy,
    I need a love to keep me happy.
    Baby, baby keep me happy.


    RE: today’s art – Leonardo da Vinci Saint John the Baptist 1513-16

    Just waiting for Saint John’s finger tip to glow red – he’s in with the right crowd, knows the “big guy” upstairs.

    Without the glow: “I’ll be right there.”
    With the glow: “I’ll be right here.”

    Most believable delivery of a movie line – by the character (Elliot in E.T.):

    “I’ll believe in you all my life, every day. E.T., I love you.”


    DBenton and Bosco, that was my favourite tussle of the year so far. Much LOVE much respect. So much I would like to contribute but this one-armed (non-dominant) typing thing is slooooow.

    Oroboros. Thank you so much for the Martin Name and Shame list.
    If a rat is eating all your beans at the end of the day we must trap it and deal with it. I think chuck Assange in the cell with them so they get a real good look.


    dustin moskovitz


    “Most believable delivery of a movie line – by the character (Elliot in E.T.):

    “I’ll believe in you all my life, every day. E.T., I love you.””

    I realy like that. It must’ve been wild being that kid making that movie.


    Lots and lots of wordy kayfabe in the comments section today. I wonder who benefits?

    Re: Kunstler: he runs the “the perps-will-be-brought-to-justice-any-day-now” bit so often- and so wrongly, so far- that it makes one wonder about various arrangements.


    “So much I would like to contribute but this one-armed (non-dominant) typing thing is slooooow.”

    I’ve been wondering about that thing. Glad you liked the fight. You should see us get mad. Now that’s hilarious. Imagine a fight between Barney Fife and the Cowardly Lion.


    The Boz says ok but he’s only doing it with the fez on. Safe sex still matters, right?

    Surreal Disco Parody Extraordinaire


    Rather like RF “jamming”.


    “Lots and lots of wordy kayfabe in the comments section today. I wonder who benefits?”

    I think that maybe you should look into taking paranoia meds, Bill7. I’m all for skepticism, and don’t mind you thinking I’m a TPTB shill. Makes the movie more interesting. But srsly, you are so far off it’s hilarious. DBS and I met here over a year ago and immediately fell in love, is all. I could supply a zillion email links that show that he and I are real civilians NOT in TPTB employ, but I still think you need to deal with that paranoiac edge. Just joking about the meds: they’re evil. But a good counselor might help.

    Always looking over your shoulder like that s likely to get you into an accident:

    Watch Out for Those Sandstone Buildings

    Not to mention that it’s a wee bit insulting at this point. More insulting to public perception of your intelligence than my ego, but for the record, it’s a pointless insulting alienating exercise in, basically, making an ass of yourself in the process.


    “Re: Kunstler: he runs the “the perps-will-be-brought-to-justice-any-day-now” bit so often- and so wrongly, so far- that it makes one wonder about various arrangements.”

    That’s my take too. I see it partly him catering to his audience’s desire for successful reform, but mostly catering to his own such desire. He seems unable to quit that dream. But I’ve never caught him lying in its support. Speaking of which, get back to us with your pointless kayfabe remarks after you have some basis other your tingling Spider sense of whatevs. Srsly. UNtil then you’re just making shit up. It just makes you look like a shit, and I don’t think that’s what you want: that’s deflationista’s job here.


    @Dr D I greatly appreciate your daily commentary, many thanks and keep up the good work.

    those darned kids

    Crimes against humanity.

    I did appreciate Martins video. More answers and yet more questions.


    Santa cntd

    “Xmas is crazy, isn’t it? No one knows where to find me, everyone’s doing my job for me… it’s wild. I tried out for the lead in Miracle On 47th Street. Said I didn’t look like Santa Claus.”

    “Yeah, you are a bit olive, and that nose is decidedly Mediterranean.”

    “Yeah, if Christ came back I’m sure he’d be rejected for the same reason.”

    “But you ARE real, and you can fly, right?”

    “Yes, with some help. I suppose I was the only human who experienced flight until they invented the aerial balloon.”

    “And you bring toys to kids on Xmas Eve.”

    “Yes. I do. Not many. Did I say every Xmas Eve? Not really. But 9 out of 10 for so many centuries isn’t bad. I rarely fly anymore since radar. Too many trigger happy sky pirates.”

    “And you’re 1,700 years old?””

    “A little over seventeen hundred years old. I really was that bishop in Asia Minor. Place called Myra. Threw money in windows at night. Bought a few donkeys and oxen for farmers down on their luck. Basic stuff.”

    “1,700 years.”

    “I’m quite the mystery, especially to me. Memory isn’t unlimited. There are women I remember loving like I never thought I could love a woman again… I can’t remember their names, mostly. I know how I became ‘Santa Claus’, sort of, I mean, enough to answer these kinds of questions, but…”

    He touched me on the shoulder. “Hey, I knew your Dad.”

    “You did?”

    “Yeah. I tended bar at his hangout back then. Sully’s. Western and 40th. He was dating your Mom. He’d just proposed to her.”


    Santa knew my Dad. Well, my stepdad. Only Dad I ever had. Santa had barroom stories to tell about him.

    It was maybe 6am and cold outside the bag. Near zero. Toasty inside.

    “He was getting the royal treatment from his buddies about getting hitched and all that. He’d promised her he’d stop drinking once they married, and he was soaking it up while he could. There was this one morning. Right after opening time. He came in. Seriously messed up.”

    “Morning? I know he drank a lot before Mom, but in the morning?”

    “Well, lots of folks start a Saturday off with a few drinks but he wasn’t drunk. Just a wreck. Your Dad was a fireman.”

    “I know.”

    “He’d just come off shift. He was… he was a fucking mess. He’d been to a house fire. Placed burned down to the ground. Family. One of the kids didn’t make it. Your Dad pulled him out.”

    “Yeah, I remember when stuff like that happened. He’d be pretty quiet for a week or so afterward.”

    “Yeah, well I knew that house. I’d made a run there. This was a week after Xmas, uh, ’62.”

    “Yeah. They got married in February ’63.”

    “OK. So I kept tabs on him. Followed him some. Pumped him at the end of the bar with some free drinks and got some details. Put that ‘copter in his car that next year.”

    “You’re a busy guy…”

    “I’m Santa Claus.”

    “Yeah.” I grinned. “That helicopter was the best. I ran it nonstop until it busted in — I doubt it lasted a week. We ran it all day. You could make it drop bombs.”

    “The best toys usually don’t last long, or they last forever. Until the kid’s grown up. Some of them go up in the attic and become memories. Still there but no longer toys. There’s something about a parent’s toy that kids don’t like. It’s like the taboo against incest, almost. They know it’s not theirs, that it never can be. It stays in the attic.”

    The wind blew hard of a sudden, startling aloft a newspaper condor. Eyes distracted by the paper’s flight, Santa suddenly smiled.

    “Want to learn how to fly?” he asked.

    “Whoa. Calm down. Like the divorced woman says in the movies, ‘I’m really vulnerable right now.’ I just might believe you can show me how to fly. Mr. Nicholas,” I said, reclaiming some of my moxie, “you’ve got the wrong myth. You’re an ancient miracle, not Peter Pan.”

    “Whatever. Want to learn how to fly?”

    I did. When I was five years old I got a nickel for allowance every Saturday. It would buy a balsa glider. When it raised to a dime, I bought two. When it became a quarter, I bought the rubber-band wind-up version. I never bought anything else until maybe 3rd grade.


    I wanted to fly more than I’d ever wanted anything — to pee after drinking 3 cups of coffee just before boarding a morning bus, to not be seen by the monster in the bedroom closet, to be able just once to explain to someone I loved exactly how and why I did, to understand why they loved me despite all the things I’ve done, or just plain stay sober…

    That toy helicopter was the single best Xmas present I’d ever received: it flew.

    “Yeah. I want to fly.”

    “You really believe I can teach you how to fly, don’t you?” he asked. His eyes were indescribable. Not scary but as compelling as an old dog whining to go out and pee.

    “Yes. I do. I believe. Next thing you’re going to pull out a dying fairy and ask me to clap. YES! I believe, dammit!”

    “OK, OK. Don’t get mad. Let’s go fly.”

    The ventilation grill in the bushes was a big thing, about 6′ by 6′, a square hole in the ground framed by cement raised up about 2′ and covered with thick, narrowly spaced iron bars. Surrounded by tall bushes. It aired the train yards underground; this section of old downtown Chicago was actually a big platform on stilts over the original mud flats where the Chicago River once drained into Lake Michigan before massive engineering detoured the flow of the river into the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers via man-made canals.

    Below us were train yards. Diesel air blew out of the vent fierce and fairly warm. A piece of newspaper held over it would shoot high into the air. We sat next to it in a break in the bushes, having exited The Bag.

    “First,” he said, “let’s make some coffee.” He pulled a big billy and a wee propane burner from some corner of his sack. He brewed a pot as we warmed our hands around the burner. I was disappointed that he didn’t use some kind of elfin fire. Dragon coals, maybe. We had to sit close around it with our coats spread out to keep the wind off the flames. I was wearing an ancient wool herringbone overcoat that used to belong to my old man. It had great big pockets almost like Santa’s coat.

    “You’re really going to teach me how to fly,” I marveled. “Is… this how your reindeer fly?”

    “They don’t fly, remember?”

    But you can fly?”

    “No.” He shook his head no, laughing. I’d never seen 1,700 year old laugh creases before. The coffeepot started sizzling. “Atse can fly, and Atse carries me in the bag sometimes.”

    “Atse must be big?”

    “Only when it wants to be. It can shrink to a pinpoint — which has saved us countless times from our folly.”

    “Is there a Mrs. Claus?”

    “There was.” He grinned, full and rich and sly. “I’m no saint, I mean, not a celibate one. Who do you think started that mistletoe jazz?”

    “You were an early Catholic bishop. Saint Nicholas. And then you…”

    “A guy’s got to start somewhere.”

    “And now you’re immortal?”

    “I’m still alive. I get a little older, a little younger. Depends a lot on how well I take care of myself and how much effort I make to be happy.”

    I savored the dumb feeling of genuine awe.

    “But… immortal?”

    “I was asked how long I could serve. Said as long as required. It wasn’t the sort of thing you took on lightly, but not the sort of thing you wanted to walk away from. Not and look yourself in the mirror. Here I am. How long we gonna need a Santa Claus?”

    “You mean, like, until Christ returns?”

    He did that Ho Ho Ho thing. Imagine Jim Carrey imitating Darth Vader doing the Mad Professor laugh. You feel happy whether you want to or not. It’s an order.

    “I got my opinions about Jesus, and they’re a long cry from the crap I sold as a bishop, before I became a saint. Me and Xmas didn’t start out together, just sort of fell in step over the centuries.”

    “A saint…”

    He pulled out mugs and poured coffee, handed me a cup.

    “Yes, Robin. A saint. They don’t call me Santa for nothing.”

    But he smiled. Pointed to the coffee.

    “It’s kinda nice to see some real magic for a change, eh?”

    Lord have mercy, yes. It was good coffee. In my state of mind, especially hungover, it was, briefly, everything. Coffee can be like that at 6am in the frigid cold of Xmas morning. I took in deep breaths of the extremely cold air, mouth around a hot mug steaming dark roast, ice melting from my beard.

    “Talk about larger than life. Coffee in the pre-dawn hours with Santa Claus. Am I supposed to remember this come tomorrow or have it fade like some fairy tale, with only a souvenir to remind me? A sleigh bell? A.. a toy?”

    “Huh. Funny thing. The longer I live, y’know, the larger than life I become, the smaller I feel.”

    He looked enormous. Gigantic.

    “Son, I’m just a tiny wee oaf in a big, dumb, red suit that I wear out of cussedness, I suppose. Or devotion. If I really am Santa Claus, and I am, I might as well dress the part, right? Although this is pretty close to what I’ve worn since, oh, 600 AD-ish?”

    “You don’t seem tiny or wee or oafish, Mr. Claus.

    “Friends call me Nick. Life is pretty dang immense. We’re all specks in comparison. A single child’s joy. You know, you never realize just how BIG life is until you’ve spent a millennium or two in it. You never realize how important you are until you stop doing whatever it is you are.”

    “You’re not quitting. Are you?”

    “No, no. Although this year’s been a tough go. But I have given it up in the past. Put it down. This old world gets so dark sometimes… in this century, for example, there was a year or three I put it down,” he said, pointing to his sack.

    “When was that?”

    ” ’43, ’44, ’45.”

    “Oh. The Holocaust.”

    “Holocausts,” he said. “Auschwitz, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Okinawa…” He warmed up my cup. “A guy who can ride a firebird can get around and see a bunch, and radar was still pretty primitive back then. I saw the first weeks at ground zero Nagasaki. But that wasn’t what put me off. Nagasaki was actually my renaissance, my return. I asked quite a few orphans what they wanted for Xmas that year. They all wanted their Mommies and Daddies. I hadn’t cried like that since the Children’s Crusade. It was really really hard not to kill people. But I’ve come to avoid that if at all possible. Well, I mostly did, but it used to be harder to help kids and not kill evil shitholes. Unfortunately, it became kind of a habit for awhile, and I had to break it. Fortunately, by then, a few centuries and the wisdom of Atse and I’m… like Obi Wan in that movie? Oh, I can’t use The Force, whatever that might be, but I can read situations and people so well it’s like I have Jedi mind powers.”

    “Like at the bar. When you laughed. I’ve never felt so much power in a person before.”

    “I’m kind of different, aren’t I?”

    It was silent and cold. Xmas morning, getting close to dawn. I heard a jet high in the stratosphere. Probably a freight plane full of last-minute Xmas presents. It flew west in the morning twilight, catching light from a sun still under the horizon, winked brilliant orange like a lost Xmas tree light finding its way home. The lonesome whistle of a freight plane: times have changed.

    My mug was empty and turning cold. I poured some more. It was a big pot of coffee that he’d made.

    “There was a time when you owned the skies. All to yourself.”

    “Yeah, but things change. Did you know the world needs you as much as it needs Santa Claus?”

    It was true what he said. The world doesn’t need 6-7 billion hungry mouths paving over prairies and bulldozing rain forests, but everyone has it in them to do well. I knew what he meant.

    ” ‘If it wasn’t for us, we wouldn’t be here.’ ” I was quoting my Uncle Gayle.

    Chuckles. Kind of like a grizzly bear breathing heavy over the telephone.

    “You know this world won’t last much longer the way we’re going.”

    I didn’t answer, just looked at him through fresh steam. It misted on my eyebrows, hot and cold at the same time.

    “You know you don’t always get what you ask for. But I try. When I ask a kid what it wants for Xmas – and I don’t promise more than I think I can deliver some sort of goods – I try my best. So I got a bunch of kids new parents those next couple of years. Actually, I do a lot of that. It’s more my real job. This Xmas stuff is just my hobby.”

    “I have this image of you sneaking kids up the chimney. Wrong, but still. You’re like the Anti-Stork.”

    A few Hos.

    “That’s funny. I like you, Robin. The years between WWI and WWII were crazy. No adoption papers half the time. Where there were papers, they were mostly forged.”

    He pulled a flask from his coat. I declined.

    “One great thing about being a damn near global legend is that no one really believes in you but no one dares deny your existence. Everyone wants to believe in you for reasons they really can’t describe, but they know it’s somehow very important. Another great thing is that when you pull up in a sleigh with four reindeer in train, dressed like, well, how I dress, and tell ’em here’s the child they said they wanted to help, they don’t ask too many questions. None of their friends would believe the truth anyway, or so they reckon, and they’re more right about that than they’re wrong but not so much as they think. Which is sort of sad.

    “I coached them on how to get through all that WWII bureaucratic confusion. Stare that ignorant bureaucrat in the eye and say, ‘I’m telling you the truth. What – do you think Santa Claus brought him to us?’ ”

    “Ho ho ho-ho-ho-ho.” It just came out of me. All hearty and merry. It’s in the diaphragm — of the soul. You can’t fake it but you can make it: I learned that much.

    There was a first glimmer of pre-dawn light, and I was feeling pretty good, numb toes and war horrors notwithstanding.

    “Uh, not to be… you know — what about this Xmas Eve? I’ve been with you the whole time. Any kids get their presents?”

    “Only one on the list this time, but I can’t say for sure. Sun’s not up yet. It ain’t Xmas till the kid wakes up and goes to the tree. This has been a really bad year for me. But I think I pulled one through. One is better than none. By a long shot.”

    We drank one last cup. My ears were frozen. I wanted a joint. The light in the east grew strong and the sky was a crystal bluebell ringing in the cold north wind.

    “Wanna fly?”

    “You’re serious.”

    “No. I’m Santa Claus. Sirius is a dog star. Like Trigger was a horse star. Sure, I’m serious. You spent Xmas Eve getting drunk with a guy dressed up like Santa Claus and now you want him to be SERIOUS?”

    I kept silent and pressed my stare. He pressed back with eyes that seemed able to become bigger than his head.

    “It’s almost Xmas, little boy. Sun’s up in half an hour. What do you want for Xmas?”

    The wind was really blowing now, turning hot coffee into shivering brown ice. You look into those eyes. Then you look into them some more.

    “Santa, I really want to fly. Please.”

    “Wel-l-l, let’s see what old Santa can do for you then.”

    He rummaged in his old bag and pulled out a balsa wood glider still unassembled in its cellophane wrap. Shook his head. Uh-uh. He reached in again, pulled out a pair of old aviation goggles, a white silk scarf, and a leather flight helmet, the kind that wraps around the chin like an old air mail pilot. I’d seen something like them in an old picture of my Mom and first Dad riding a motorcycle way back before I was born a couple of heart-breaks ago. He handed them to me.

    I put them on and my eyes stopped watering from the wind. The leather helmet stopped my ears from stinging from the cold, but I could hear them ringing like sleigh bells in my ear. I was prepared to go to the nearest bridge railing and dive into one hell of a leap of faith. Santa is some crazy shit.

    The last time I’d flown was when I was five years old, not yet in kindergarten. I’d jumped off the edge of the couch and went clear across the living room in a smooth glide and a carpet slide to a stop. No breath was knocked out of me, and it wasn’t until I was in high school that I truly abandoned my belief that I had, somehow, actually flown. It was a miraculous memory that lasted until the gravity of accumulated knowledge and reason finally pulled it down to earth, transforming the sheer uplift of ‘I flew!’ into the bailout of ‘no you didn’t’ but not without the gentle parachute of ‘and yet, I wonder…?’

    Here I was staring folly in the frostbit face, a grown man testing the original power of childish… we don’t know what that stuff is. We only know we miss it.


    “I could use a cape,” I said.

    “I know,” he replied, reaching into that immeasurable bag. It must have been parachute silk, but it was a brilliant bronze color. He unfurled it and the wind caressed its length — at least 6 feet — like a Persian pimp stroking a houri’s hair: ‘You like? You like?’

    It had ties at key points along the edges.

    “Take off your coat.”

    I did, half expecting him to rub some goo on my chest or slip a magic pendant around my neck.

    “Extra weight,” he said.

    We tied it at my hands and ankles. Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

    “It oughta fit. We worked on it enough.”

    He stepped onto the ventilation grill.

    “Launchpad,” he shouted, stomping the metal. His beard blew wild in the wind.

    I stood next to him.

    I’m not a shrimp but I am a thin-boned fellow of lean proportions. Being an alky for all those years had pretty much killed my fat cells. I barely pushed 150 pounds. Losing my overcoat lightened me up considerably.

    “Now hold ’em out. Like wings.”

    I did, and that strong ventilation blast puffed me up like a parachute.

    “Now jump.”

    Jump. Whoa… the blast pushed me up. I felt a bit of roller-coaster stomach. It fired me up.

    “Keep jumping.”

    Anyone nearby would have seen a middle-aged man in a gold cape popping above the bushes every other second.

    “Flap ’em, boy! Flap ’em!”

    I flapped.

    “In time with your jumps! Make ’em count!”

    I placed the down strokes on the uplifts. A little higher, a little higher.

    Santa licked his finger and held it into the wind, grinning like dentures under a black light. He looked really happy. That fired me up more than anything.

    “Now back up to this corner,” he said, pointing to the southwest part. “No, KEEP JUMPING!”

    We’ve all seen vintage B&W movie footage of those comical, Da Vinci-esque autogyro flying gizmos hopping madly into shambles, ornithopters chasing their tail feathers until they collapse, tri-wing birdplanes breaking in half like a karate chop. I was close to that point myself. The wind was really ripping.

    He got in front of me and started jumping with me. Tall as he was, I was looking down on him from the top of each hop with the ground spreading far and wide below…

    He pogoed out of my way, pointed a pistoning fist with a determined forefinger at the opposite, northeast, into-the-wind corner, and shouted, “Now run and flap and JUMP like you mean it, dammit! Straight over those bushes! First star on the east!”

    I headed straight on for dawn.

    Airplane pilots will tell you that flying is easy; landing is the tricky part. Maybe so, but in real flying, just you and the wind, the trick is not worrying about how you’ll land, and focusing on flying instead. Part of me wanted, soon as I cleared the bushes, to put landing gear down NOW and make the best of a bad tumble. But that is poor aerodynamics. It messes up your trim, disrupts your airfoil, makes for a sudden stall. I held true to streamline logic, arms wide but slightly delta, feet and forelegs raised slightly back from the knee, head facing the desired direction: up. Don’t look down.

    For a second I had a flash of myself in footie pajamas ages ago. Approaching landfall, the ground was suddenly in sight and I folded my wings, clutching an imaginary teddy bear to my chest. My landing gear.

    It was a smooth landing, although my testicles hurt for awhile. Someone was whooping and hollering. Looking around, I saw Santa’s head popping up and down over the bushes, his beard practically exploding in the wind.

    “You flewed! You flewed! I knewed you could do it!”

    I paced off the distance. My feet are a tad small for my size. I counted 39 toe-to-toes from where my head bonked dirt (hard, frozen, but covered with thick dead grass) and the northeast edge of the ventilation concrete, then I turned around and looked back at where I’d skidded to a halt.

    “This ground looks pretty flat to me. Totally,” Santa said.

    He put an arm around my shoulders. The grass lay tiger-striped in the first rays of dawn.

    “Stone level, son. Grass is flattened every which way, not all leaning in one direction. Rain seeps straight into the ground here, not runs downhill across it.”

    I flew over this stuff, I thought. It didn’t step aside for me so gravity would take longer to win. It was a fair fight. I lasted pretty long before the ground punched me down.

    “I flew,” I said. There was nothing else to say. “I flew.”

    “How do you feel?” he asked me, dropping his hand from my shoulder.

    How did I feel? Is God smug?

    “I feel like breakfast! Are you hungry?”

    Santa caved into himself slightly, then projected a monstrous, punctuated belch. I’d never heard a man ho ho ho stomach gas before.

    “Can you fart ‘Jingle Bells’, Santa?”

    He thought about it, said, “Give me some green eggs and ham and I’ll give it a try.”

    He grabbed his sack and we walked. Today was the one day when his natural guise was the perfect disguise. There’s an eatery next door to Jabba’s Hut. A real cafeteria. You grab your tray, walk the line, point to food you want ladled onto your plate, pay the lady. Mostly old folks here, which is probably why it was open Xmas morning. Everything was great but the coffee.

    He raised his mug. “Merry Xmas, son.”

    “Merry Xmas to you too, Santa.”

    “So now you can fly. Welcome to Neverland. I won’t grow up. Haven’t for 1,700 years. Let’s go fight some pirates.”

    “So: you live at the North Pole?”

    “No, but sorta kinda. I’m commonly stationed up in the general taiga area, but the Andes also make a pretty good retreat. Once upon a time Tibet was the place. Since LANSAT, we move s-l-o-w and CAREFUL.”


    “Atse and I. Remember?”

    “Can I meet Atse?”

    “No-no-no-no-no. You might die. Plus, we’re far away from Atse right now. A few thousand miles as the crow flies.”

    “And you have to support yourself like anyone else, right?”

    “Yeah, more or less. Having the world’s most flexible flying purple felt hyperspace makes for an enormous range of opportunities to make a buck but a fella’s got to work. Even if he doesn’t necessarily need the money. Work’s the mixer. Work is life just as much as joy and sex and sadness and sunrise.”

    It seemed slightly irreverent to ask Santa if he’d ever hauled commercial bulk marijuana in his sleigh, but I did. Just to hear him laugh.

    “Sure. Lots of times.”

    “What kind of work do you do? Hey, imagine a guy asking Santa, ‘What do you do for a living?’ ”

    “Imagine that. Some Santa work of course. Doing the department store Santa gig is always good for the soul even with the commercial creep-out. Thank goodness Xmas comes only once a year. Don’t want to beat a dead gift horse. And I tend a lot of bar. Bars are, imo, the holiest establishments on earth besides an honest orphanage.”


    “A lot of creeps out there. You know.”

    An old, obviously addle-pated man sat across from us, stirring his coffee, giggling at, apparently, nothing. Outside, a wino was beathing the shit out of a wire mesh garbage can. Xmas morning in downtown Chicago.

    “My main gig has always been running pawn shops. Being, eh, ‘immortal’ creates certain problems. Easiest thing for a guy who doesn’t grow old, well, older, y’know, is to pick up stakes and open a pawn shop in another town. No one questions where a pawnshop comes from, nor its proprietor, except the same old tax and license bureaucrats. The best way to stay hidden is to fill out ALL the forms but not stay in one place too long. Haven’t done it for awhile now, but I’ve been tending bar some. I’m looking for this place called Callahan’s, supposed to be out on Long Island somewhere, but who really knows? Ever hear of it? I wanna work there.”

    “You mean… ‘CALLAHAN’S’? Like the one in the stories?”

    “Exactly. The one in the stories.”

    “…. Uh… I don’t mean to tell you what you already know, but it’s make-believe, right? You know. Some guy named Spider Robinson made it up, wrote stories about it…”

    “I know. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, does it? Clement Moore didn’t make me less real even though he got the reindeers’ names wrong. Any suggestions? Ever been anyplace even remotely like it? You ever READ one of those stories?”

    He looked at me intently, like he was serious about finding Callahan’s. A myth hunting a myth. Talking to Santa Claus and nursing a hangover over biscuits’n’gravy and weak coffee requires all the suspension of disbelief a person can squeeze. There’s no room to pull the other one; both legs are already stretched like stilts just to stand up to the Big Guy.

    “Yeah, I read ’em. That’s how I know about ’em. Nick: they’re not REAL. I’ve read interviews with Spider Robinson describing how he came up with the idea for the whole ‘stories in a barroom’ shtick.”

    I was finding it hard to look him in the eye.

    “Yeah, well, I know a little, and I’ve got my hunches. Part of sharing minds with a firebird is that you develop a keen nose for good, evil, and magic. I smell magic. I’m a hope junkie, and I’m telling you, man, where there’s hope, there’s holy fire.” Him calling me man, not son, made me squirm. “I may not find that place until after it burns down, but I’m gonna look for it.”

    My shoulders drooped.

    “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

    “Course I’m serious. I’m deadly earnest. I’m going to find Callahan’s Bar. I TOLD you, boy: we’re not alone.”

    He looked at me curiously, said, “Don’t take it too seriously, boy. Don’t take me too seriously either. But most of all,” and here his eyes did that hugeness thing again, “don’t take any of this too seriously except your friggin conscience, cuz it’s all you have.”

    Santa Claus is looking for Callahan’s Bar, a fictional bar run by a guy on a mission to save the world from doomsday. Often with the help of extraterrestrial beings and such. Santa really believes it exists. That is, he believes it will exist when he finds it. 1,700 years can make anyone pretty dodgy upstairs. Or someone pretty dodgy upstairs can make you believe they’re 1,700 years old? Miracles fade like everything else. Entropy is incessant. The food was finished, the buzz was fading, and magic was leaving out the door like a customer paying with a bad check.

    “You lied to me. I didn’t really fly.”

    “You didn’t?” He not only looked hurt, but genuinely puzzled.

    “OK. For a moment I did. And I thank you from the bottom of my. But… you had me going there, going for… wow. You really are something… Santa.”

    He just looked at me. He who speaks first, loses. Santa didn’t speak. He leaned sideways and farted.

    I couldn’t let go that easily. I clung to hope:

    “But… how did you know about the helicopter?”

    “I know things.”

    “It could have been a lucky guess. But… that helicopter was my favorite toy. I remember it above all others.”

    Santa looked tired. We both needed a nap. I needed… no, I didn’t need an answer. Not now. I was too exhausted. I sat and looked at an old man in a dirty red suit. Thick earnest wool with real fur trimming, a serious leather belt, and weird greasy suede boots.

    Where did this old lunatic come from? A good amount of booze and whatnot had clouded my judgment, not to mention the amazing power of Xmas mythology, but there was an undeniable stamp of genius in this old con artist or former patient at a mental institution. How did he do what he’d done? He’d had all Jabba’s Hut going, and that’s a tough crowd.

    I sat and looked at him, gazing frankly at him like a child looks at their Dad while he’s busy. He wasn’t looking at me but neither was he avoiding my stare. He was looking off into space… or time? I still half-believed he was the real thing, a 1,700 year old wandering saint.

    “Are you psychic?” I asked him. Another dumb question, but at least creatively dumb. A broken man needs a shelter from the storm.

    His grin returned with that sly gleam in his eyes. Twinkling and merry. But he still looked tired.

    “Psychic? No. Don’t read minds, although I’m a pretty good judge of character. What — thinking I read your mind about the helicopter?” he asked incredulously.

    “Well, yeah.” I asked, challengingly: “How old was I?”

    “Oh jeez, boy. I remember a lot of things. I forget a lot of things. How old were you?”

    I wasn’t sure. Definitely 3rd grade or less.

    “You got me there, old man. I don’t know for sure.”

    “Likewise. Xmas ’63. Do the math, son. Next question.”

    “Do YOU believe in Santa Claus?”

    At last I’d asked a smart question.

    “Most of the time. I have recurring identity crises, truth be told. But if you’re asking me if I’m Santa Claus, I already told you, sport. I’m Saint Nicholas. Santa Claus. No brag, just fact. Don’t ask me again. End of story.”

    “I thought you were going to tell me your life story?”

    I knew I’d fucked up.

    “Yes, whether you like it or not, little mister coal in the stocking of his heart. I oughta spank you.”

    “I’m sorry Santa.”


    “Mr. Nick.” I just couldn’t call him by his name alone.
    To be continued


    Major mea culpa:

    “Speaking of which, get back to us with your pointless kayfabe remarks after you have some basis other your tingling Spider sense of whatevs. Srsly. UNtil then you’re just making shit up. It just makes you look like a shit, and I don’t think that’s what you want: that’s deflationista’s job here.”

    I forgot to address that remark at Bill7. Not about you at all, Dimitri. Sorry about that.


    bosco, given that you can be both benevolent and mischievous I kind thought you may be punking Dr, John and DB going in on the

    Nanotubes assemble! Scientists introduce ‘Teslaphoresis’

    Using force (frequency) to arrange matter is neato. Wasn’t sure how to make the quantum leap. No matter, the Martin video was convincing.


    My eyes are shot for the day. Looks like I was responding to the right person after all. G’nite.


    That you weren’t being mischievous.


    “bosco, given that you can be both benevolent and mischievous I kind thought you may be punking Dr, John and DB going in on the”

    I am mischievous and can often send mixed messages simply because I like nuance and depth and sometimes rush their verbal integration, especially since I’m a whore for a punchline or a paradox, but the only way to understand me is to take me as a man who fiercely speaks honestly and naught else to the best of his ability.

    The best way to hide the truth is place it atop a hill, focus searchlights on it, and use the local air raid speakers to tell everyone that the truth is atop the hill. They’ll be so busy looking for the lies they’re sure are involved that they’ll look anywhere but that hilltop.

    That said, this is why I believe it is necessary to spice one’s truth with a wee bit of bullshit — nothing that alters the essential meaning, but the smell of bullshit leads people to dig on that hilltop, and sometimes even notice this truth thing set there.

    Think of me as an autist who just can’t stand the internal cognitive dissonance of lying. I gave it up ages ago. I l love telling the truth: I love telling stories but, just as I love both magical AND rational thinking, I know they must be kept separate in one’s mind.

    Anyway. g’nite.


    TDK: “ a literal prisoner. i can’t get on a plane, train or boat. to enter the u.s. by car or by foot is not allowed.”

    Regarding the US border wall…I have always not supported the walls, always because what is used to keep people out can just as easily be used to keep people in. (This is not to say that I agree with completely permeable borders — letting all in at the southern border is not functional.)


    What is it a computer can’t do?
    Computers could- in a very advanced state- murmer like starlings, but they couldn’t do what starlings can do: leave the ragged, blurry edge that allows other starlings to enter the pattern. The blurry edge is grace.
    The solidarity of the “vaccinated” indicates how good modelers are at modeling murmering, but the resistance is showing their inability to create the blurry edge of acceptance. The blurry edge belongs to the resistance.
    Herein lies the fault of AI; of modeling. It has no grace: both meanings
    The connective mind- meshed with physicality- is what computers can’t do.
    There has been a long-term techno-bias towards those who are logical- who can think like machines. Computers can’t do the really hard stuff: dancing to different songs with different partners….

    Grace (gracious/grateful/graceful) is the basis of my spirituality, such as it is.
    I am valuable enough to give you something. You are valuable enough to give me something I accept, graciously.
    Sorry this is a bit spotty right now.

    those darned kids
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