Winter officially began today, December 21, 2013 at 12:11 a.m. EST, marking the slow return of the sun making the days become longer for those north of the equator. The day itself is the darkest and shortest day of the year, when the sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky. On this day, the United States will receive only 9 hours and 32 minutes of daylight.
Why is Christmas tied to the Winter Solstice?
Long before there was a man called Jesus, the winter solstice was celebrated as a the return of the sun. In Scandinavia, the time would be marked by burning large logs -- believing that each spark from the fire would represent a new pig or calf in the new year. In Rome, early Romans observed Saturnalia, a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture, and Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome.
The early Christian Church decided to "adopt" December 25 as the day to celebrate the birth of Christ in an effort to absorb pagan celebrations and popularize the holiday.
Note: How Jesus Got His Name is the title of an interesting piece I read yesterday.
"A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once."
--William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
"'The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one...' (The man who first said that) was probably a coward.... He knew a great deal about cowards but nothing about the brave. The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he's intelligent. He simply doesn't mention them."
--Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
The concept of cowardice should probably be deprecated, because really what it boils down to is having a certain set of priorities and a certain level of risk averseness that cannot necessarily be objectively proven better or worse than someone else's.
--Essay: Courage and cowardice
I have nothing to say, at this time, regarding my personal thoughts on courage or cowardice. I was going to; had it pretty well prepared in my thoughts. But then I realized that to do so could be hurtful to close friends and especially to family members. Also, I do not feel that I am intelligent enough yet to offer a true and definitive opinion that makes much sense.
If ever I feel a pressing need to expound in print upon these traits I will do so in fictional form.
Did You Know . . .?
When lightning strikes it can reach up to 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
On December 31, Nixon wrote a thank-you note to Presley for the gift of a World War II-era Colt .45 pistol, and for visiting him at the White House. He said nothing about enlisting Presley's aid in the war on drugs, however.
Presley died from heart failure in 1977, which the coroner's report said was due to "undetermined causes."
WORD FOR TODAY
1. cowardly; contemptibly timid.
2. lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful.
A craven man is no Superman or Spiderman, nor is he a firefighter or a soldier. A craven man is the opposite of those guys: he has not an ounce of courage.
(born December 21, 1937)
Jane Fonda is an American actress, writer, political activist, and fitness guru. She rose to fame in the 1960s with films such as Barbarella and Cat Ballou. She won two Academy Awards, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes and received movie awards and nominations in more than 50 years as an actress.
After 15 years in retirement, she returned to film in 2005 with Monster-in-Law, followed by Georgia Rule two years later. She produced and starred in exercise videos released between 1982 and 1995, and again in 2010.
(born 21 December 1966)
Kiefer Sutherland is an actor, film producer, and film director. He is best known for his portrayal of Jack Bauer on the Fox series 24 for which he won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and two Satellite Awards. He also starred as Martin Bohm in the Fox drama Touch.
Stand by Me was the first film Sutherland made in the United States. He played the neighborhood bully in this coming of age story about the search for a dead body. Sutherland has appeared in more than 70 films, most notably Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, A Few Good Men, Flatliners, Young Guns, The Vanishing, The Three Musketeers, Eye for an Eye, Dark City, A Time To Kill, and The Sentinel.
Sutherland was born in London, the son of Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas, both of whom are successful Canadian actors.
(born December 21, 1957)
Ray Romano is an American actor, stand-up comedian, screenwriter and voice actor, best known for his roles on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and voicing Manny in the Ice Age film series. He appeared in the TNT comedy-drama Men of a Certain Age.
(born December 21, 1948)
Samuel L. Jackson is an American film and television actor and film producer. He had several small roles such as in the film Goodfellas before meeting his mentor, Morgan Freeman, and the director Spike Lee. After gaining critical acclaim for his role in Jungle Fever in 1991, he appeared in films such as Patriot Games, Amos & Andrew, True Romance and Jurassic Park. In 1994, he was cast as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction.
Jackson has since appeared in over 100 films, including Die Hard with a Vengeance, The 51st State, Jackie Brown, Unbreakable, The Incredibles, Black Snake Moan, Shaft, Snakes on a Plane, Django Unchained, as well as the Star Wars prequel trilogy and small roles in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Inglourious Basterds.
"The world was full of cravens who pretended to be heroes."
--George R.R. Martin