Christmas

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The Doctor Who Christmas Special 2021

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/03/2022 - 6:50pm in

As you well know, each year since Doctor Who lost the Christmas Day slot, I've had a go at creating my own Christmas-themed episode. I've done three so far and the running gag sadly shows no sign of flagging.

2021 posed a little bit of a problem as it was post-Flux and would've been one of the final episodes for Jodie Whittaker. In the end, I put something to together that featured the thirteen Doctor teaming up with the fugitive Doctor for a 'What If?' style tale. 

'Whatever Became of Christmas?' sees the Doctor returning to Earth to celebrate the festive season with her friends. However, when she exits the TARDIS she discovers that despite it being Saturday 25 December 2021, the shops are open, there's no decorations up and nobody has heard of Christmas. As stumbles around Sheffield, her actions are being watched... But by who? 

Here's a Radio Times cover previewing the episode. The series also used to have an RT cover in the run-up to the double issue and heralded their preview of the rest of the festive telly delights and Mrs Brown's Boys. Folks seem to have been fascinated by my choice of colour for Jodie's T-shirt. I put her in a green one for the second special simply to differentiate her from earlier choices and it seems to have stuck for the following specials. This time I've paired it with a deep red coat to contrast with it. This allowed the Doctor to have a Christmassy colour scheme to her look (red and green) to contrast against the lack of colour in the Xmas-less Sheffield. 

Here's the RT billing for Christmas Day. Again the running gag of the special preceding Call the Midwife is played out again. This time it's a football version of the popular family drama. The synopsis is a bit long-winded for the Radio Times but it gets across the plot. 

And finally the Blu ray cover which for some reason I always seem to complete first.

As a bonus, I've also done textless versions of both pieces of art. 


Heaven only knows what I'm to do for the 2022 Christmas special. It will be post-regeneration and chances are the Doctor will still be faceless before their debut in 2023... Ho, hum! It keeps you on your toes does Doctor Who!

If you've enjoyed the images in this post* then you might like to show your appreciation by buying me a coffee via my Ko-fi page. The link is here!

* I say "images" as my writing seems to be long-winded and rambling again. And it trickles off towards the end. Buy a coffee for the pretty pictures but not the writing bit. Hate writing... and it shows.

Happy Holidays from the Capitalists: Economic Misery and Disease in our Stockings

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/12/2021 - 8:14am in

Tags 

USA, Christmas

image/jpeg iconchristmas-fire.jpg

It is hard not to feel depressed. At what is supposed to be a time of the year when families and friends gather together to enjoy each other’s company and exchange gifts, even this small escape from the wage-laborer’s life of fast-paced monotony seems difficult to enjoy when the overbearing clouds of capitalism cover us in darkness. Whatever holiday one celebrates at this time of the year, the festivities and general atmosphere seem tainted and stained by the mess that capitalism has strewn around us, and the woes that it is brewing for our near futures.

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“Christmas time Christmas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/12/2021 - 9:07am in

“Christmas time, Christmas time. Yes, it’s merry Christmas time. Everybody stand up tall and cheer…"  Dulwich Hill.

Shop windows at

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/12/2021 - 8:21am in

Shop windows at Yuletide.

Thrift store, Campsie. New pâtisserie, Dulwich Hill.

The Story of a Steady-State Christmas Yet to Come

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/12/2021 - 1:01am in
by James Lamont

Every year we are inundated with a mountain of content advising us on how to have a low impact or psychologically healthy Christmas, complete with the latest juicy and disturbing figures from our laughably inefficient economy. Caught in a matrix of overbearing social obligations, financial and employment pressures, and the imminent collapse of our life support systems, the proliferation of these articles is a welcome sign.

a crowd of people christmas shopping in the city

In the thick of the stressful holiday season, one has to wonder what a steady-state Christmas might look like. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Mike Senese)

Here’s the creative, new-economics-style gift I’d like for Christmas: stories. Stories that advance conversations around our economic systems, limits to growth, and the steady state economy. Worthwhile communication can’t be rushed, so all I’m really asking for is that we develop our thinking and discussions around the topic. As recent guest on The Steady Stater podcast Michael Bayliss points out, conversations are a compelling part of the narrative-building project (as shown by the increasing popularity of podcasts).

What does it mean to tell stories about these topics? Some of the more academically-inclined among us might consider this a “squishy” concept, but an increasing body of respectable thinkers believe stories are an essential element lacking from much of our advocacy. Sustainability movements have only recently learned the importance of careful wording and language. Euphemisms should be revealed as misleading rhetoric; for example, “global warming” is better stated as “global heating.” Recognizing the importance of stories is an evolution of the same train of thought.

Where Do We Begin?

On a recent livestream celebrating the life and ideas of CASSE’s chief economic advisor, Herman Daly, Hunter Lovins—co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and co-author of Natural Capitalismsaid:

One of the reasons this has not gone more mainstream is that we have done a lousy job of storytelling about it. The neoliberals had Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead… Who do we have telling these kinds of stories in ways that are truly captivating?

Perhaps we need to start by recognizing the story we are currently ensconced in, so that we may have a chance of reorienting. Since the 2008 financial crash it’s been common to refer to neoliberalism and growth as the zombie doctrine, staggering on not only because we have been conditioned not to observe it (a refrain about the Devil’s greatest trick comes to mind), but also because no compelling alternative has come to the fore.

In a recent conversation on the Post Carbon Institute’s podcast What Could Possibly Go Right? Diné (Navajo) activist Pat McCabe describes the “modern-world paradigm” of “white supremacy and credit scores” as a collective choice that can be changed. McCabe also speaks of the opportunities now available for retelling history that sheds light on our situation, as mainstream populations become increasingly aware of our societal foundations. Take, for example, the current interest in “tiny houses.” History teaches us that this cornerstone of seemingly alternative living was not that long ago known simply as the normie “house.”

A Crisis of Imagination

When it comes to conveying true stories of the present day, certain movements for economic reform may have a more straightforward job than others. Proponents of a universal basic income, for example, have the recent experience of occasional pandemic checks and the Child Tax Credit to draw upon when asking parents to share their stories of how direct cash changed their lives. Perhaps, as certain enlightened nations begin to adapt their economies to the Century of Supply Shock, an opportunity for post-growth projects will emerge.

a woman on the metro reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Who will be the “Ayn Rand” of the steady-state movement? (CC BY-SA 2.0, Seth Tisue)

Such projects may include the stories of those working fewer hours and how the work-time reduction has enriched individuals, families, and communities. Reducing workloads is an essential component of the narrative of systemic economic change. As Sarah Jaffe (author of Work Won’t Love You Back) points out, we have an awful lot to do to make our society sustainable, but in order to establish real change we have to offer people more than a massive to-do list. What then, but to labor less?

For the history buffs out there, what did the workers of the past have to say when the workday was shortened? How could this inform what a steady-state Christmas or Thanksgiving might look like, especially compared to the chaos of the holiday season over the last few decades? There’s surely enough dissatisfaction for what the season has become to envision something better.

Released shortly before COP26, Jane and the Dark Cloud: An Animation about Systems Change tells the stories of Jane and Dan. This delightfully animated short contemplates a post-growth Green New Deal that leaves nobody behind. The organization behind it, Swarm Dynamics, believes that “a crisis of imagination exists, in both mainstream society, in the communications and policy work of many environmental NGOs and change makers, and in the popular and contemporary arts.”

Here’s a Story About Being Free

What about creative types who feel their place is on the artistic side of the movement fence? A work of art doesn’t have to appeal to everyone to make an impact. The most popular products of all time—whether it’s Grand Theft Auto 5 or The Bible—can’t even claim to have managed a unanimous seal of approval. But some level of popular appeal should always be considered for wavemakers. Furthermore, we need not just vague sustainability material, but a more overt focus on limits to growth and the steady-state solution.

One of the few more explicit examples of limits to growth in the arts comes from Radiohead, who made it clear they are all aboard the post-growth train, and even lamented the absence of such thinking from mainstream discussion. On the other hand, prog-rock band Muse released a song in 2012 called “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable,” which features a glitchy AI voice monologuing on the second law of thermodynamics (the entropy law). The song, arguably an “acquired taste,” ends with the lines, “In an isolated system, the entropy can only increase. / A species set on endless growth is / Unsustainable.” While the song didn’t garner much attention from anyone besides die-hard Muse fans, the band is an example of how subcultural artists might find pockets of steady-state support.

Such subcultural hits may turn out to be even more important in the long run if, as another recent guest on The Steady Stater (Helena Norberg-Hodge) argues, a more localized world is necessary. Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” written after the artist’s first trip to Hawaii after she noticed a distasteful parking lot in the same view of breathtaking Hawaiian mountains, initially only struck a chord with residents on the island. Decades later, however, the song gained popularity on the mainland and around the world, and is now one of the most iconic anthems for climate activists. To create big change, we need works at all tiers of the cultural spectrum.

Ten years ago, our friends at GrowthBusters introduced its niche audience to “Zero (Al Bartlett)” by Australian act The Chairman, an electronic track featuring exponential function quotations from the late physics professor. There’s also room for experimental art. A recent work from faculty at Florida’s Full Sail University composed pieces based on changing historical weather patterns across five states. (A companion project correlating GDP to various indicators could likewise turn a few heads.)

Turning stereotypically boring economics into compelling tales is still a challenge, but there are some precedents, at least. Wall Street (1987) is a stockbroker story turned capitalist critique featuring a cunning Charlie Sheen appropriating his hero’s mantra, “Greed is good.” The Big Short (2015) was a star-studded story of financial collapse with the assistance of Margot Robbie explaining subprime mortgages and bonds from a bubble bath.

The new release Don’t Look Up features household names Streep, DiCaprio, and Lawrence. It’s a comet disaster movie as allegory for climate breakdown, and the inability of a system centered around profit to deal with crises. This might sound like standard fare for liberal Hollywood, especially in an age of increasing climate anxiety and dystopian fiction, but it has potential.

Could a brave and creative filmmaker go a step further? Could they make the connection—artfully and memorably—back to the bloating economy and those who push it at the highest levels?

Curtain Call

Scientists alone don’t change the world. We also need artists. While these two identities are often perceived as opposites, attempting to nurture the partnership would undoubtedly make for an interesting (and likely fruitful) mash-up.

To again quote Swarm Dynamics:

We need to draw on the work of experts in environmental policy, alternative economics, well-being, or communication to ensure that our art and creative thinking projects are expertly informed, and to help others engage wider audiences.

promo poster of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth generated conversation and inspired people into action. (Paramount Classics)

It may be time to question the efficacy of some of the ways these worlds have tried to bridge in the past. Think, for example, of the 21st century boom in full-length, issue-based documentaries. These narratives combine factual journalism with emotive art. But it’s hard to deny that over the years the standard 90-minute hand-wringer—replete with dire information and late sprinklings of optimism—has grown more than a little thin and predictable. Al Gore’s groundbreaking documentary An Inconvenient Truth, for example, despite its problems, was certainly effective in sparking the conversation. As awareness of global heating spread, however, other documentarians sought to stake their claim in the niche, which led to works like Cowspiracy, a film which predictably (and shortsightedly) suggests global vegetarianism will save the planet.

We face the additional challenge of vastly widened entertainment and communication channels. The age of streaming has broken the levy of content, and now thousands of tales vie for our limited attention. This makes for an even tougher sell than described recently in Foreign Policy in Focus. We’re talking about limits to growth here, a phenomenon that has been purposefully shrouded in favor of the story of the mythical “rational economic man” and “green growth.”

Artists musing on limits to growth may not produce a silver bullet capable of penetrating the streaming glut of stories. Netflix alone bulletproofs a large swath of the public from meaningful thoughts of societal import. But for every artist that takes on limits to growth and tells the story of good growing gone bad, the odds of a steady-state culture increase.

James Lamont, communications specialist at CASSEJames Lamont is CASSE’s former communication specialist.

The post The Story of a Steady-State Christmas Yet to Come appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.

Son Fears Christmas Card Not Really Written By Parents’ Cat

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/12/2021 - 7:00am in

tabby cat

A shire man suspects that a Christmas present and card that he received today from his mum and dad’s cat may not actually have been bought, wrapped up and written by the pet.

“Mittens is a pretty smart cat, like he can open the back door by himself, but I just think that the whole process of going to the shops and buying me a gift and choosing a card is beyond his capabilities,” said Bangor accountant Craig Bypass. “I’m pretty sure he wasn’t even in the room when I mentioned how much I’d like a Garfield calendar.”

While unable to obtain an example of Mittens’ handwriting for comparison purposes, the writing on the card did contain several similarities to the writing on a note that Craig’s mother left telling him that she and his dad were going to be home late and that his dinner was in the oven.

“It’s always possible that Mittens might have dictated the thoughts he wished to express in the card to my mum,” said Bypass as he examined a tabby coloured hair that was stuck to a piece of sticky tape used in the wrapping. “He thanked me for all the pats and cuddles which I’d given him over the past year, which is exactly the kind of sentiment I’d expect him to convey.”

Bypass is now considering asking the family budgie Tweety if he wants to go halves in a present for his dad for next Fathers Day.

Peter Green
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The History of Christmas Cards

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/12/2021 - 11:11pm in

In this episode, Neil, Natalia, and Niki discuss the history of Christmas cards. Here are some links and references mentioned...

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My latest for The Village Voice, hitting the streets of NYC...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/12/2021 - 7:29am in

My latest for The Village Voice, hitting the streets of NYC today:

The Bank Underground Christmas Quiz

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/12/2021 - 8:00pm in

Before Bank Underground goes off on its Christmas holidays, it’s time for the Annual Bank Underground Christmas Quiz! We hope you enjoy testing your knowledge on our festive themed questions on economics, finance and all things central banking…

1) The G-funk classic ‘Regulate’ was a 1994 hit for whom?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

2) Ebenezer Scrooge’s creditworthiness at which Square Mile financial institution is mentioned in the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

3) Former Bank of England Governor Montagu Norman was such a regular traveller from Victoria on his foreign trips that the Bank’s archives document him giving Christmas gifts to officials from the Southern Railway. What did he buy them?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

4) What was the reindeer themed name of the Reichsbank’s president during Germany’s 1920s hyperinflation episode?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

5) Which of these English football teams has not been known as the ‘Bank of England Club’ at some point due to their seemingly limitless wealth?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

6) This time last year research suggested that 49% of Brits would spend less on Christmas presents. The main reason was the impact of the pandemic on their finances (35%). What was the second most frequent response?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

7) This year all the talk is of ‘supply shortages’ leading to a lack of Christmas presents. But when was the famous ‘Cabbage Patch Doll’ crisis, where a shortage of the dolls that are ‘so ugly they’re cute’ led to fights breaking out in stores and a black market where parents were paying 2 or 3 times the face value of the dolls just so their children would not be disappointed?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

8) UK trade statistics are classified using the Common Nomenclature (CN) classification system. Christmas trees are traded under the CN 8-digit code ‘06042020 Christmas Trees’. What share of total UK exports in 2016 was in this product group?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

9) According to estimates by financial services company PNC, which of the following gifts from the classic holiday song, ‘The twelve days of Christmas’ has risen in price the most in percentage terms between 2019 and 2021?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

10) Sadly there is no Christmas Tree Bank, but which other arboreal related name below is NOT a bank authorised in the UK?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

11) ISO country codes are internationally recognized codes that designate every country. What is the Alpha-3 ISO Code for the Christmas Islands? Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

12) Which central bank, the oldest on its continent, celebrated its centenary this year?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

13) Which British economist attributed to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, in a book published just before Christmas in 1919, that ‘[t]here is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency’?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

14) Which of the following is the first sentence from the first chapter of the first book from Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations’?Please view this post in your web browser to complete the quiz.

Weird family puts dead tree in corner of living room

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/12/2021 - 9:00am in

Tags 

Christmas, satire

Saying it was ‘tradition’, the Beeker family from Brisbane today put a cut-off piece of dead pine tree in a plastic bucket next to their TV.

Local residents say they have noticed the strange behaviour before. “They do it every year. Weird!” said one neighbour, who did not want to be named.

The Beeker’s then put bright coloured pieces of plastic on the dead tree before taking a photo to post on social media.

Sources say the family will take the plastic things off in about three weeks and throw out the tree.

 

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