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At the risk of being labeled a reverse sexist – hey, I can deal with that – I tend to think, in the main , that women are better people than men.

I took some pleasure that the #MeToo movement received TIME magazine’s Person of the Year designation. I’ve had/tried to avoid having debates over whether this particular man (Al Franken, usually, but not always) should have been fired/forced to resign.

Here’s the thing. When you have years (decades, centuries) of oppression, and the oppressed finally get their voice/get some power, the rules to rectify the long-standing wrongs aren’t always clear. Or perceived as “fair”. (If Franken goes, why doesn’t tRump? Because the Senate, and the House of Representatives, have rules about their own members.)

Eventually, some equilibrium, some recognizable standard, is achieved, but it takes a while.

Which brings me to Mary, the Magnificat, and an Unsentimental Advent by Rachel Held Evans. She says Mary has long been painted “in the softer hues… —but this young woman was a fierce one, full of strength and fury…

“And so in this season, I hear Mary’s Magnificat shouted, not sung” in the places of power and oppression. Great stuff, this. And to the War on Christmas folks, she adds:

“God did not wrap himself up in flesh, humbling himself to the point of birth in a stable and death on a cross, eating, laughing, weeping, and suffering as one of us, so that I can complain to management when a barista at Starbucks wishes me ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’ The incarnation isn’t about desperately grasping at the threads of power and privilege. It’s not about making some civic holiday ‘bigger and better.’ It’s about surrendering power, setting aside privilege, and finding God in the smallness and vulnerability of a baby in a womb.”

It’s been around so long that I forgot Jingle Bells was actually penned by someone. The Wikipedia: “It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title One Horse Open Sleigh in the autumn of 1857.

“Although originally intended for the Thanksgiving season, and having no connection to Christmas, it became associated with Christmas music and the holiday season in general decades after it was first performed on Washington Street in Boston in 1857… It was first recorded in 1889 on an Edison cylinder” by Will Lyle.

Lots of people have recorded the song, of course, my favorite being Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1943. Even barking dogs have charted, first in 1955.

Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space, by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra with a smuggled harmonica.

Of course, it inspired a number of parodies and homages, most notably Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms from 1957, a very different tune that became one of the most popular seasonal song of all time; as of 2004, it was #3 behind only White Christmas by Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song.

“The first notes in the chorus have become a motif that has been inserted into recordings other Christmas songs, most notably a guitar passage at the end of [the Cole hit] and Clarence Clemons performing a saxophone solo in the middle of Bruce Springsteen’s Merry Christmas Baby; a piano is also heard playing these notes at the end of Springsteen’s version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

But what’s not mentioned in the article is Joni Mitchell’s song River, which starts and ends with the Jingle Bells theme. I remain fascinated that one of my good friends, now deceased, who was a huge Joni fan did not discern it.

Listen to:

Jingle Bells (Disney)

Jingle Bells – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters

Jingle Bells – Barking Dogs

Jingle Bells, Batman smells from the Simpsons

Jingle Bells – The Fab Four, in the style of Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles

Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms

River – Joni Mitchell

Here’s a list of resources compiled by Jeanne Finley in November and December 2017 and shared, not just with her permission, but with her encouragement.

The terminology used here: ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages); ESL (English as a Second Language). Very recently, the term ENL, for English as a New Language, has been used, primarily because some English language learners (ELLs) are picking up a third or fourth language.

Please comment regarding updates, changes or corrections.

*Some classes may require registration in advance. Call for details.

Classes: Albany area/Albany County

– Albany: Adults
Albany Public Library, Washington Avenue branch, 161 Washington Avenue
Sponsored by Literacy NY Greater Capital Region, (518) 452-3381, www.literacynycap.org
Christina Darling, Program Coordinator, (518) 631-2926.
ESOL, beginning, intermediate. Free.

– Albany: Adults
Albany Public Library, Pine Hills branch, 517 Western Avenue
Sponsored by Literacy NY Greater Capital Region, (518) 452-3381,
www.literacynycap.org and Capital Region BOCES, (518) 862-4707, http://www.capregboces.org/
ESOL, intermediate, multi-level. Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.–12 noon. Must register for orientation session. Free.

– Albany: Adults
Albany Public Library, Delaware Avenue branch, 331 Delaware Avenue
Sponsored by Literacy NY Greater Capital Region, (518) 452-3381,
(518) 463-0254 (ESL), www.literacynycap.org
ESOL, beginning, intermediate. Tuesday and Thursday, mornings and afternoons. Call to register. Free.

– Albany: Adults
Capital Region BOCES Career & Technical School, Building A, 1015 Watervliet-Shaker Road
Sponsored by Capital Region BOCES, (518) 862-4707, http://www.capregboces.org/
ESOL, multi-level. Monday and Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Must register for orientation session. Free.

– Albany: Adults
Albany Medical Center, 22 New Scotland Avenue
Sponsored by Capital Region BOCES, (518) 862-4707, http://www.capregboces.org/
ESOL, multi-level. Tuesday through Thursday, 1 p.m.–4 p.m. Must register for orientation session. Free.

– Albany: Adults
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, 57 Hurlbut Street
Sponsored by Capital Region BOCES, (518) 862-4707, http://www.capregboces.org/
ESOL, multi-level. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Must register for orientation session. Free.

– Albany: Adults
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 475 State Street
Sponsored by Capital Region BOCES, (518) 862-4707, http://www.capregboces.org/
ESOL, multi-level. Mondays and Wednesdays, 5 p.m.–8 p.m. Must register for orientation session. Free.

– Albany: Adults
Albany Literacy Zone, Trinity Alliance, Capital South Campus Center, 20 Warren Street
(518) 449-5155, http://www.trinityalliancealbany.org/literacy-zone/
Sponsored by Capital Region BOCES, (518) 862-4707, http://www.capregboces.org/
Shannon Cornwall, (518) 694-4533 or Maria Huntington, (518) 694-4567.
ESL classes ongoing. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 9 a.m.–12 noon. Must register for orientation session. Free.

– Albany: Adults
Trinity Alliance, 15 Trinity Place
Sponsored by Capital Region BOCES, (518) 862-4707, http://www.capregboces.org/
ESL classes ongoing. Mondays through Wednesdays, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Must register for orientation session. Free.

– Albany: Adults and children ages 5-13
RISSE (Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus), 240 West Lawrence Street
(518) 621-1041, (518) 567-4354, (518) 505-1737
www.risse-albany.org
Adults: ESL Group Instruction, September–June: Monday–Friday, 12 p.m.– 6 p.m.
July & August: Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Levels 1, 2, and 3. Must register for orientation session. Free.
Children ages 5-13: New York State Licensed ESL After-School program, September–June: 2:30 p.m.–6 p.m.
Call for appointment.
Children ages 5-13: New York State Licensed ESL Summer School Program, July & August, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Call for appointment.

– Albany: Adults
USCRI (United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants), 991 Broadway, Suite 223
Martha Butler, Program Coordinator, Office for New Americans, (518) 459-1790 (extension 8008), www.RefugeesAlbany.org
Beginner classes. Next enrollment period December 18, 2017 – January 10, 2018, for classes starting week of January 8. Classes 3-4 days per week, 4 p.m. –7 p.m.
Pre-test required; call for appointment. Free.

– Albany: Children pre-Kindergarten–Grade 5 in Albany City School District
Delaware Community School, 43 Bertha Street
(518) 475-6750,
http://www.albanyschools.org/Academics/Dual-Language/DualLang.html
Dual Language Program, Spanish-English only. Child must be registered in district.

– Albany: Children grades 6–12, refugees and immigrants in Albany City School District
Albany International Center, North Albany Academy, 570 North Pearl Street
(518) 475-6900,
http://www.albanyschools.org/Academics/ENL-Refugee/AIC/AIC.html
Rachel Stead, Principal, rstead@albany.k12.ny.us
Lily Htoo, Home School Coordinator, lhtoo@albany.k12.ny.us
Serves about 175 refugee and immigrant students from throughout the City School District of Albany who are in the early stages of learning English and will benefit from targeted instruction and support in all subjects. Students spend an average of two years in the program before returning to their middle school or Albany High School. Child must be registered in district.

– Albany: Adults and children
Empire State English, 24 Aviation Road, Suite 100
(518) 729-5407, http://esenglish.org
English language programs for adults: Kim Andersen, President, Eileen Lee, Academic Director
English language programs for children: Elizabeth Suparmanto, Registrar
ESL and part-time classes. COST: see website
Sister program, Capital Region Language Center, offers English language instruction for children, http://esenglish.org/other-programs/
Troy location coming January 2018

– Albany: Adults
Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) of Hudson Valley Community College, 30 North Russell Road, 2nd Floor, Albany
(518) 273-1900, http://www.hvcc.edu/eoc/programs.html#ESL
ESL, three levels. The ESL programs allow students with limited English proficiency the opportunity to master speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in English.
Apply online: http://www.hvcc.edu/eoc/
Must complete assessment. Free to qualified applicants.
ALSO LOCATED IN TROY at 431 River Street.

– Albany: Adults
Masjid As-Salam, 276 Central Avenue
(518) 463-6275, http://www.masjidassalam.org/Pages/default.aspx
English class, Saturday, 10 a.m.–12 noon
Classes held at 280 Central Avenue. Call first. Free.

– Guilderland: Adults
Guilderland Public Library, 2228 Western Avenue
Sponsored by Literacy NY Greater Capital Region, (518) 452-3381, www.literacynycap.org
ESOL, advanced. Free.

– Latham: Adults
Al-Hidaya Center, 322 Troy Schenectady Road
(518) 608-1255, http://al-hidaya.org
English class, Monday–Friday, 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Call first. Free.

– Watervliet: Adults
Watervliet Library, 1501 Broadway, #1
Sponsored by Capital Region BOCES, (518) 862-4707, http://www.capregboces.org/
ESOL, multi-level. Tuesday and Thursday, 12 noon–3 p.m. Must register for orientation session. Free.
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Rebecca Jade [the niece], Ashling Cole, Sheila E., Lynn Mabry before taking the stage at the Paramount Theatre of the Arts in Oakland, CA during 60th birthday month of Sheila E., Dec 2017

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

“Apocalyptic” Melting Transpires in Antarctica as Earth Wraps Up a Scorching Year

The Environmental Protection Agency wipes climate change from its website

Huge Bubble of Hot Rock May Be Rising Under New England

Atheists are nicer to Christians compared to the other way around

The Jerusalem Issue, Explained

Joe Biden to Anita Hill: “I Owe Her an Apology”

Arthur voted for John Anderson

Inspirational news stories that are anything but

With 2020 Census Looming, Worries About Fairness and Accuracy

American prisons end face-to-face visits – and families suffer

Why Verizon’s insurance plan covers… nothing

Congratulations, Australia!

Racism, Fundamentalism, Fear and Propaganda

Americans receive ‘threatening’ automated calls telling them to stop criticising Trump

SATIRE! Palestinians recognize Texas as part of Mexico and World to recognize Moscow as capital of the United States

A president… unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes

Former ‘Son of Sam’ at Albany Med for heart ailment

On SNL, Santa’s Tricky Moment With Savvy Kids

Derivative Sport: The Journalistic Legacy of David Foster Wallace

Colonoscopy…..is such a lonely word – as I heard a comedian say recently, life is like a colonoscopy prep

Once in a while the pessimist is wrong

Why we need art

in praise of second fiddle

Levidrome – a series of letters that yields up a word in one direction and a wholly different word in the other

Mark Evanier’s blog post #25,000

The Complicated Legacy Of A Panda Who Was Really Good At Sex

Now I Know: The Largest Man-Made Accidental Explosion and What Do You Do With 10,000 Pounds of Spoiled Mayo? and How NASA (Almost) Got Its Rock Bag Back and The Problem With Five-Cent Hot Dogs and The Surprising Way to Get Rejected

Talking about Kevin

MUSIC

Que je t’aime – Johnny Hallyday; and A million take to Paris streets for his funeral

Pat DiNizio, lead singer and songwriter of The Smithereens died at age 62

Happy Harry Chapin Day and Coverville 1196: Cover Stories for Billy Bragg and Harry Chapin

Trump vs Talking Heads – Swedemason

Coverville 1195: The Jimi Hendrix Cover Story IV

The Alan Parsons Project: If you believe in the power of magic…

More of the Whitney Avalon Show!

BBC: Perfect Day and God Only Knows

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2018 inductees. Performer Category: Bon Jovi (inevitable), The Cars (voted for), Dire Straits (would have voted for if there weren’t 19 candidates for five slots), The Moody Blues (my pick), Nina Simone (worthy but hardly rock – see Baez, Joan). Award for Early Influence: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (should never have been on the competitive ballot; just put her in!)

After twenty first-graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, gun control advocates felt that it was the perfect time to get something done on that front. If Congress won’t respond to the deaths of six- and seven-year-olds, what WILL change them?

But nothing much happened. Professor Charles Collier wrote: “In other words, less gun violence proves that gun control is not needed; more gun violence proves that gun control is not working. In either case, the proper response remains laissez-faire.”

In fact, there is a bill with broad support in the US House of Representatives, tacking on a poison pill to the ‘Fix NICS’ Act, designed to “improve the gun-sale background check system simply by helping ensure that the staffs of federal agencies and states complete a couple more keystrokes and mouse clicks every day and submit more records into the system” The addition is dreadful:

“‘Concealed Carry Reciprocity’ would force states to allow people to carry concealed guns in public even if they are domestic abusers, have other dangerous histories, or lack even the most basic safety training to carry concealed guns in public. [It] would leave local police powerless to stop people with dangerous histories from carrying guns.

“‘Concealed Carry Reciprocity’ would gut our gun laws because it would force each state to accept the concealed carry standards of every other state — even states that have weaker standards, or worse, no standards at all. And it would not establish a national standard for who is allowed to carry a hidden, loaded gun in public.”

I can easily imagine even a supposed “good guy with a gun” getting shot and killed by law enforcement in the midst of an act of violence.

This I understand: List of mass shootings placed inside nativity scene at Dedham [MA] church. “Pastor Stephen Josoma said the goal is to get people talking about what more can be done to bring peace on earth.”

There is a Sandy Hook Promise channel on YouTube that might provide ideas on addressing the apparently intractable debate over gun violence and gun control.

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