Not your usual Christmas story

Local to me: a news story about a life-saving donation of a kidney.

From an unexpected source: the man was compatible with his own wife.

I first heard of this shortly before the operation, through friends and a list of weekly-prayers at church. While the blood type of the wife and husband are compatible, I highly doubt that the blood type is the reason that her kidney was compatible with his body.

Still, that is an amazing gift to give. And a very uplifting Christmas story.


Holiday non-Blues

Last week at the office, I had a few conversations about holiday season. One of them went something like this:

[Co-Worker]: "What are you doing over the holidays?"
[Self]: "Taking a few days off. Maybe doing some minor home improvement stuff."
[Co-Worker]: "Visiting with family?"
[Self]: "Yes. Brothers, sister, and parent. Planning on visiting a special Holiday event at a local museum."
[Co-Worker]: "I thought you had a girlfriend."
[Self]: "I thought so, too."
[Co-Worker]: "That's sad."
[Self]: "...somewhat."

It does feel kind of sad. The Ex-girlfriend, turned former-Ex over the summer, went back to Ex- status in early fall.

Though I feel a pang of remorse every time I hear a certain song on the radio, I don't feel a deep sadness.

Things could have ended better. And I still stumble, emotionally and mentally, over many things that I had been planning on sharing with her.

But the season isn't a season of sadness for me.


Links to data: Rapes, reported rapes, and false reports of rape.

While I spent a week or two reading heavily on the (discredited) story of gang-rape at the University of Virginia, I found several interesting links.

This post, which is a decade old, discusses a study released by an internal investigative team at the U.S. Air Force.

This study, released in 2008 in the Annals of Psychotherapy, compares the same study from the Air Force to another study done by a Police department in a small Midwestern town.

Neither study is large enough to be applied to the entire United States. However, both studies provide false-allegation rates well above 20%. One mentions a diverse array of studies with false-allegation rates from 2% to 90%.

Another link: Instapundit notes the changes in rape rates as reported to the Police, since 1975. If women were less likely to report rapes in the past, then why is the reported-rate-of-rape so much higher in the 1990s than it has been since?

A final link: according to a crime-victimization survey by the US DOJ, college-age women are less likely to be raped if they are attending college than if they are not attending college.

All of these provide evidence that the usual narrative of "rape culture" does not match the reality that exists.


Advent: a reader

A friend of the family sent this around on FaceBook.

It's a book recently published on the Season of Advent. Looks interesting, and worth acquiring.


The lighter side of history

Tam reminds me of anniversaries of crappy little wars about...crap. Or guano, as the locals called it.

It's the lighter side of history because so few people care now.

I doubt it was light to the soldiers and sailors involved.

Still seems to be light humor compared the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.



Yesterday, December 7, was the anniversary of a historic surprise-attack.

Imperial Japan had been waging war since 1937 to take territory from the nation of China, which was itself suffering from a harsh internal war. The United States was trying to embargo raw materials from reaching Japan, and the Japanese Navy was trying to take other regions in the Far East to get better access to those raw materials.

The governments of Germany and Italy had been waging war against the rest of Europe since 1939. An alliance between Germany and Russia had been in place in 1939, but had been thrown aside in 1941.

An unofficial naval war between American Navy ships and German submarines had been ongoing through most of 1940 and 1941. The American ships were going to or from England, and the German submarines were trying to stop anything arriving at England.

These separate threads of conflict, on different parts of the globe, came together in an unexpected way in December 1941.

The Imperial Japanese Navy struck a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. While doing so, they showed how the aircraft carrier was further-reaching than a heavy battleship.

Within a few hours, the United States Congress declared war with Japan. Within a few days, the nations of Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. (Mostly due to the Tripartite Pact.) Thus, the last major nation to enter a state of war also changed two regional wars into a global war, quickly dubbed "World War II".


Non-Statistics: Police and fear of Police

I last posted about Police and death nearly a week ago.

Statistics are powerful tools, but they are cold comfort to any person who meets misfortune.

In my own life, I've almost never feared the presence of a Policeman. Several factors helped.

My parents trained me to have a healthy respect for rule-of-law and legitimate authority. A combination of family background, education, and the use I've made of education-plus-talent has led me to a comfortable lifestyle. More importantly, I remain in a social setting which turns most criminal behavior into a low-benefit/high-risk proposition.

However, I've met a few people who do fear most interactions with Police. One of these men was M. I met M. at a religious meeting. We became well-acquainted with each other for a couple of years.

During an earlier part of his life, M. had partied hard, raced motorcycles, and consumed large amounts of alcohol. (I surmise that a DUI charge may have resulted.)

Even after his come-to-Jesus moment, M. had a deep fear of Police. When I knew him best, M. didn't have a valid driver's license and was making little effort to get one.
(All evidence I saw was that the repentance and changed life was real. But I did gather that certain events in the sinful past had resulted in a revoked driver's license, and possibly a bench warrant for failure-to-appear at a trial.)

The small ways in which this fear was manifested: M. had a network of friends and family that he depended on for transportation. He helped family members install video-recording devices on their cars, in case they ever had a chat with Officer Friendly on the side of the road. A normally lively man, M. exhibited a strange quietness whenever a Police vehicle was in sight. Even though no one was doing anything to attract Police attention.

I can imagine--distantly--a lifestyle and social settings in which the Police are to be feared. It's a little frightening to imagine a social world in which neither adults nor children are sure that the legitimate authority is going to treat them nicely. Or even treat them fairly.

When this social setting has many who care more about "the fun life" than following the rules, there will be lots of opportunity for everyday folks to be on the wrong side of an encounter with the Police. And lots of opportunity for resentment, distrust, and confusion between the People and the Police.

Regardless of the skin color of those involved.*

It's a hard problem to solve.

I have some sympathy for people in that situation; even if I think that their troubles might be the result of criminal misdeeds. But I am deeply aware that people who receive Police attention have usually done something to attract that attention.

*For the record, M. carries white skin.
Wouldn't help him if he's a witness to another crime, and gives his name to the Police...who might cuff him and book him into prison under a bench-warrant.


Advent: the beginning

The season of Advent began on Sunday.

Usually, Advent begins on the Sunday closest to St. Andrew's Day. This year, St. Andrew's Day fell on Sunday.

Advent is a season of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ. It is a traditional Christian holiday; best-remembered in Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

In my mind, Advent was the method that my (Protestant) parents used to help the family remember the real reason for Christmas.

They would light the candles of the Advent wreath at meal-time. After the meal, they would read from an Advent devotional.

The devotional that was used the most often told a thumbnail sketch of the entire story of Biblical history, from Adam to Jesus. Each piece of the story was told in short, simple form. The early stories touched on Eden, Adam & Eve, the Fall, Noah, the Flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jacob's family. They also told of certain Judges, the story of Ruth, the Kingdom of David and Solomon, the Temple, the prophets who spoke to later Kings, the Exile, and the prophets of the Exile. Finally, the stories told of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, and the preparation for Jesus' birth.

Celebration of Christmas has waxed and waned through history; people have partied heavily, attended religious ceremonies, or done large amounts of business, met with family, gave gifts, or simply avoided merry-making altogether.

Advent reminds me that Christmas is about Christ, the Anointed One.