Quickies

Skepchick Quickies 12.14

Amanda

Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

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  1. RE: Christmas Songs: In the honorable mentions category, I might have to exclude 12 Days of Christmas on a technicality. I understand it was written as a mnemonic for catholic kids trying to learn their catechism (in secret during the periods in England when being a catholic was illegal).

    RE: Eye. So acupuncture works better than a treatment that usually gets applied improperly?

  2. The patch treatment caveat is somewhat ambiguous. Do they mean that it was not followed properly during this study, or do they mean that it is often not followed properly in general.

    It’s curious that they would compare acupuncture efficacy with that of a treatment which is often not properly applied. Were they expecting to bias their results in favor of acupuncture?

  3. There are lots of great Wassail songs about begging for food and drink that need more seasonal recognition. Seems like a perfect Holiday theme for many skeptics I know.

    A jolly Wassel-Bowl
    A Wassel of good ale,
    Well fare the butler’s sole
    That setteth this to sale – Our jolly Wassel
    Good Chick, here at your door
    Our Wassel we begin
    We are all Skepchicks pure
    We pray now let us in – With our good Wassel
    Our Wassel we do fill
    With apples and with spice
    They kindly will agree
    To take a good carouse – Of our Wassel
    But here they let us stand
    All freezing in the cold
    Good Master give command
    To enter and be bold – With our Wassel

  4. @hkdharmon:
    Christmas Songs: In the honorable mentions category, I might have to exclude 12 Days of Christmas on a technicality. I understand it was written as a mnemonic for catholic kids trying to learn their catechism (in secret during the periods in England when being a catholic was illegal).

    So, doesn’t that mean it actually does fit all the requirements? It doesn’t mention deities, supernatural beings, miracles, Jesus, saints, etc…
    Even if it was on purpose to elude prosecution by another religion.

  5. I had an abortion and my mental health is fine. Mostly. Okay, my mental health issues are due to other factors that were not my choice.

    My favorite Christmas song is Mary, Did You Know. Makes me think of every mother and the hopes we have for our children when they are babies. Second is I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas.

  6. I love Carol of the Bells. I especially like instrumental versions, and actual bells in particular. Not a fan of the lyrical version.

    Good list overall, though there’s a few there that I don’t like personally. A few honourable mentions that would have made my top 10.

    Though I must confess, while secular Christmas songs are great, my church choir days have left me with a certain fondness for some of the religious ones too. “Good King Wenceslas” is one of my favorites, “Oh Holy Night” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” can be fun to sing, even if I’m not a fan of the lyrics themselves. They’re just words, after all.

  7. Our nerdy atheist family likes The Biscuit Brothers’ holiday album:

    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bicuitbros4

    They do say “Christmas”, but other than one reference to a “little babe, so afraid, in a manger filled with hay” there are no other actual Christian words on the whole thing, I don’t think. I clearly haven’t noticed any and I hear this album over and over daily this time of year.

    Also, their version of the one you mentioned is “Carol of the Cowbells”. It’s sung by barnyard puppets. You can hear a sample on the page. That’s my all-time favourite holiday song now.

    And where else will you get a song teaching the perils of leaving fresh seafood out for Santa?

    The Biscuit Brothers’ whole approach is to teach kids about music by making them THINK. Even in their song “Dream Big” they tell kids that dreaming isn’t enough, you’ve got to work hard too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu_x6RYS3nI

  8. It wouldn’t fit the contest rules, but White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin is just awesome. All the things secular Christmas (my Christmas) means to me. Also very cool, in that it’s the only summery Christmas song I know (being a Northern hemisphere bigot).

  9. I’ve always liked “Happy Chistmas (War is over)” by John Lennon. Up until a couple of years ago I thought those were children singing backup not the caterwalling of a Tonedeaf Harpy (vainglorious bandwreckeii).

    And, even though I know most hate it, I still like “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid.
    And “Last Christmas” by WHAM!.
    And “This Christmas” by Stevie Wonder.

    Anyone care to guess which decade I grew up in? ;)

  10. @mrmisconception: Heh, that reminds me of Bob Geldof’s recent words to the Daily Mail:

    He said: ‘I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history. One is Do They Know It’s Christmas? and the other one is We Are The World.

    ‘Any day soon, I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter and it will be playing. Every ****ing Christmas.’

  11. If someone had told me that if I didn’t keep the patch over my left eye then they would poke me with a needle then I might have followed that therapy better and I would have two decent eyes now.

    My problem was that by the time I had to wear a patch the vision in my right eye was so bad that wearing a patch over the left made me functionally blind. So I cheated. A lot.

    I’m partial to Greg Lake’s ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’. Greg wrote the lyrics for the song as a criticism of the the commercialization of christmas, but I think it’s pretty decent non-theistic song also :

    They sold me a dream of Christmas
    They sold me a Silent Night
    And they told me a fairy story
    ‘Till I believed in the Israelite
    And I believed in Father Christmas
    And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
    ‘Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
    And I saw him and through his disguise

  12. Have to make a bad joke about “don we now our gay apparel” Sorry.

    I especially like Walt Kelly’s version. As someone who has frozen on the trolley with Nora.

    “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” has to be included.

    Along the same lines, “We Are Despicable” from Mr. Magoo’s “Christmas Carol”.

    And despite everything, I do like the old, religious carols, like “Silent Night”, “Oh Come all Ye Faithful”, “Joy to the World”, even though I despise the very notion of kings, especially supernatural ones. You can enjoy the Odyssey without believing in Poseidon.

  13. As much as I like most of John Lennon’s work, I can’t stand “Happy Christmas (War is over)”. I don’t know if you guys have this problem in the States, but in Canada, the Christian Children’s Fund plays their “Happy Christmas” commercials incessantly, every year, until like… March. I’ve grown so tired of hearing it. It’s notoriously bad on Space. I’m so glad I don’t have cable anymore.

    Maybe now that atheists have started claiming it as our own, Christians will pick something else for their commercials.

  14. @Cola Johnson: I saw that HuffPo article earlier today, and read the abstract for the paper (which I don’t understand at all, as I am not an expert). I did find a better explanation from the AP: http://tinyurl.com/3yw6jxu

    It looks like the patient had a stem cell transplant (to treat Leukemia) from a person with a genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV. It’s an interesting case, but it doesn’t look like it’s really a viable treatment option.

  15. @weatherwax: Damn you took mine! I was just going to say St. Stevens Day Murders:

    knew of two sisters whose name it was Christmas,
    And one was named Dawn of course, the other one was named Eve.
    I wonder if they grew up hating the season,
    The good will that lasts til the Feast of St. Stephen

    For that is the time to eat, drink, and be merry,
    Til the beer is all spilled and the whiskey has flowed.
    And the whole family tree you neglected to bury,
    Are feeding their faces until they explode.

    Chorus:

    There’ll be laughter and tears over Tia Marias,
    Mixed up with that drink made from girders.
    ’Cause it’s all we’ve got left as they draw their last breath,
    Ah, it’s nice for the kids, as you finally get rid of them,
    In the St Stephen’s Day Murders.

    Uncle is garglin’ a heart-breaking air,
    While the babe in his arms pulls out all that remains of his hair.
    And we’re not drunk enough yet to dare criticize,
    The great big cup of tea he’s about to baptize.

    With his gin-flavoured whiskers and kisses of sherry,
    His best Chrimbo shirt slung out over the shop.
    While the lights from the Christmas tree blow up the telly,
    His face closes in like an old cold pork chop.

    Alternate Chorus:

    And the carcass of the beast left over from the feast,
    May still be found haunting the kitchen.
    And there’s life in it yet, we may live to regret,
    When the ones that we poisoned stop twitchin’.

    Regular Chorus Repeat

    Actually the album I usually listen to is titled The Bells of Dublin. There are a lot of religious based songs but besides the one mentioned above the album also has 2 pretty instrumental songs and the song “The Rebel Jesus” which fails the qualifications but I think is awesome because its meant to point out the conflicts within the holiday.

  16. @Cola Johnson: The NEJM article on the transplant:
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0802905#t=article

    It’s not a cure for HIV+. It is risky, and the gene only occurs in about 1% of the population, so finding a suitable donor would be highly unlikely. It doesn’t exist in the African population at all. All the therapy really is is a happy side effect of a leukemia treatment.

    It does, however, hold some promise that a gene therapy may be possible at some future time.

    *******************************
    Steven Novella on the eye-patch v. acupuncture study:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=9030#more-9030

    The comments are informative too.
    –It seems that the acupunture treatment was only leading after about 15 weeks. By the end of the 25 week study, they eye-patch had caught up.
    –The patients received other treatments not included in the media report.
    –The study was sponsored by someone who applied for a patent on the treatment before the study was done.

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