A Christmas Miracle, 2018

Some said it wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t. The sky was falling, the end was nigh. Yet, here we are, another year gone by and we’re still here. As awful as it may have been, the Apocalypse has not happened, and the Sweet Meteor of Death has not claimed us yet. I choose to take this as a good thing, at least for today.

So as is my Christmas tradition, a video.

Someone will complain about this. For discussion of the complaint, because no, you’re not the first to do so, see last year’s Christmas post. Or there’s always the pink button on the sidebar if you need immediately solace.

That someone will complain, someone will find something to make into a problem, to misinterpret, to say something mind-numblingly fucking idiotic about, has become ubiquitous. I would like to think people are not made stupider by reading SJ, and yet some of the reactions, here and elsewhere, inform me otherwise. There is nothing sufficiently funny, benign or profound that it won’t give someone reason to take offense. This may be some people’s heaven, but not mine.

Skink suggested to me the other day that I’m in the doldrums. He even thoughtfully sent me a gift, a coloring book, “Calm The F*ck Down.” Dr. SJ saw it as a sign that I needed to stop writing, that it got me too worked up and even readers thought I needed to chill out and let it go. We ended up arguing about it, because I was wrong. Gifts are great.

But for all my efforts, here and elsewhere, there isn’t much to show for it. It’s not about kind words from readers, or the generosity of a donation to the tip jar, but that the messages haven’t accomplished much. If anything, the sounds emanating from pseudonymous young lawyers are increasingly strident and shallow. Worst of all, they’re witless.

Today, however, is Christmas, and even though it may not be my holiday, it’s always been a wondrous day to me, where peace on earth and goodwill toward man has prevailed. So I prefer to close my eyes and hear only the sounds of bells ringing. There will be time enough tomorrow for this to be unfun again.

Maybe Skink and Dr. SJ are right, but since he didn’t send me crayons, I have no plans to color today, inside or outside the lines. There will be no second, substantive post today, as the one I started to write was decidedly un-Christmas-like, and upon realizing where it was going, I chose to trash it.

This is a day for happy thoughts, and I didn’t want to be a bummer. I could have written a happy post, I suppose, but as deep within me as I searched, I couldn’t find one. Not today. The best I could do was delete what I had written so it wouldn’t burn the eyes of anyone who read it. I don’t want to do that to you.

But we’re all still here, despite predictions to the contrary, which means there is still hope. Merry Christmas, everyone.

53 thoughts on “A Christmas Miracle, 2018

  1. Skink

    There you go, getting it all wrong. By the numbers:

    1. Yes, dopes exist, despite the thoughtful words uttered in this here Hotel. They have been plentiful throughout history. Do you really think they can be banished from Earth? Don’t you know it’s about the dopes that come by the Hotel, linger, learn, and become former dopes? You probably don’t realize it, but reformed dopes don’t stand out as much as dopes. Your success is quiet in result. It’s working. Just look around. Damn it, Scott, Jake is getting it!

    2. The book came without crayons for a reason: it is not to be used. But it does have meaning, just not the one you ascribe–calm the fuck down to the measure of the Hotel’s success. It’s wildly successful, and there are plans for franchises. The message definitely was not that the Hotel should close. What would happen to all the food in the kitchen?

    3. I miss Chinese on Christmas! Mrs. Skink lost her Big City traditions somewhere along the way in favor of a day-long cookin’ expedition that gets tossed three days later. Chinese food never gets tossed!

    4. The Hotel has champagne brunch today, who’s in?

    1. SHG Post author

      You don’t see the comments I trash, including those of my dear friend, Jake, who has been there for me when the code gremlins make SJ explode. He’s saved my sorry ass more than once, and I am indebted to him for his help. But are we reforming anyone, or are we just talking to ourselves? Even Chinese food is now problematic.

      The customers I served saw me, and my co-workers, not so much as people as the furniture of the restaurant, and talked about us as if we couldn’t hear, or understand, what they were saying. My experience as a waitress was one more glaring reminder that to be Chinese in America is to be always on the outside looking in.

      All I did was ask for more duck sauce.

      1. Jake

        It is I who owe you, Scott. I only wish you ever there, to see how I’ve changed, in so many ways, on so many days, since I first stumbled into this joint with wide-eyed and wonderous thoughts about Justice.

        I probably never will be a lawyer but that doesn’t mean I don’t benefit from thinking more like one, even 1% of the time.

      2. Skink

        “You don’t see. . . . ” You don’t see–you’re doing it again.

        And it looks like she was just not a very good waitress, but even she found a ray of enlightenment:

        “It seems like proof that Chinese food and culture is finally part of mainstream America: Chinese restaurants have managed to become as culturally American as milk and cookies for Santa.

        I used to feel lucky to have avoided the dreaded Christmas shift, but now I wonder if I might have actually enjoyed being a part of everyone’s celebration. And my mom was probably right about the tips.”

        I’m liking Jake better every minute.

      3. Fubar

        Quoth Lillian Li:

        The customers I served saw me, and my co-workers, not so much as people as the furniture of the restaurant, and talked about us as if we couldn’t hear, or understand, what they were saying.

        Ms. Li would have benefited from tutelage by the late, legendary Edsel Ford Fong (1927-1984, “world’s rudest, worst, most insulting waiter”) of the Sam Wo Restaurant, (1907-2012):

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOpsMP0dnmI

        Too bad for the audio quality, but it was the only one even with an actor depicting Edsel Ford Fong.

        Merry Christmas anyway!

  2. PaulaMarie Susi

    Merry Christmas, my friend, I always enjoy your video tradition. In honor, the Jew I share my life with is making breakfast “chow mein”. We’ll eat the trayf ham later. Here’s hoping for a better 2019.
    P.

  3. Stephen J.

    Allow me to reassure you that SJ has in no wise made me, at least, any stupider than I already was. (I’ve never needed any help in that process.)

    God’s blessings to you and yours on this Christmastide, and may the New Year treat you better.

  4. the other rob

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Scott.

    You think you have problems? We moved house and SWMBO is rooting through boxes for something to cook dinner in. At my age and with all the crap that I’ve accumulated, I may never be box free again!

    FWIW I, like Skink, suspect that your work here delivers much more in the way of quiet results than any of us might guess from looking.

  5. Kathleen Casey

    And on the earth peace to men of good will. This vale of tears.
    I made it to Mass and the roof stayed put.
    I always get a kick out your Chinese food and movie theater video!

  6. Ross

    Happy holidays, SHG, and many thanks for making me smarter than I was before and helping me be a better thinker. A useful side effect of that is I frequently trash my own comments before posting here if I don’t think they are up to your standards.

  7. Elpey P.

    The appearance of futility and ineffectiveness can sometimes be a feature of meaningful efforts, not a bug. Have a happy Christmas.

      1. Elpey P.

        But if there is a possibility, albeit remote, that affirmative measures might make us smarter, the obligation of good faith may demand their effectuation.

        Plus something about appearances often being deceiving. That’s why they’re called appearances.

  8. Dan Quigley

    Merry Christmas Scott, from the great Northwest.
    Hats off to Jake for helping to keep the gremlins at bay. Speaking of tech and despite attempts to correct this, “Alexa, who is Scott Greenfield?” still yields an unimpressive result.

    Maybe next year.

    Dan

  9. joe b

    you say “I could have written a happy post” and you did: you noted that, contrary to expectations, we have been granted life and sustained and enabled to reach this day.
    That’s translating the benediction of VP Pence in the Knesset back in January. Equally apt is the comment of motorhead’s lemmy kilmister: “we shoulda died a long f’n time ago, but we didn’t!”.
    Well, Lemmy is no longer with us, but you are and SJ is and I am happy to read you, even in your dour moods.
    Merry christmas to you and the SJ community.
    j

  10. JorgXMcKie

    Merry Christmas. Just want you to know that I have used your posts (and link to them) when I teach the Courts, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties sections of my Intro American Government. The students seem to enjoy reading your work and then ‘arguing’ about it.

    Thanks.

  11. JRP

    Merry Christmas. I send other non-lawyers your posts to discuss. That might not be the blogs purpose but you are educating many. Including the (relatively) young and shallow.

  12. Fubar

    Some said it wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t. The sky was falling, the end was nigh. Yet, here we are, another year gone by and we’re still here. As awful as it may have been, the Apocalypse has not happened, and the Sweet Meteor of Death has not claimed us yet. I choose to take this as a good thing, at least for today.

    The Apocalypse came and it went —
    Skulked away without making a dent.
    Sing nigunim, wear dreads.
    Let the fools shake their heads.
    And for Chinese food, never repent!¹

    FN 1: I’m partial to Sichuan hot and sour soup. YMMV.

      1. LocoYokel

        I looked up the recipe for that a while back and it was insane what goes into making Hot and Sour soup. Just go to Chinatown and find a restaurant with a good one. When you do let me know where to go when I’m in NYC.

  13. Patrick Maupin

    By not making people stupider, you’ve also helped at least this person to not be more insane.

    Thanks, and Merry Christmas to all.

  14. Chris Halkides

    If you ever find yourself in Lebanon, Indiana, I highly recommend the Pershing at Titus Donuts. It is flavored with cinnamon and topped with maple frosting. No bacon, however.

  15. Nigel Declan

    Merry Christmas, Scott! Your work has been and continues to be greatly appreciated by many, myself included. The internet is a better place for Simple Justice, a beacon of sanity amidst the mind-rotting nonsense.

    1. SHG Post author

      The comments to this post make me feel like a whiny little shit in desperate need of validation, and I realized that I should have expected the post to evoke that reaction. Mea culpa. I failed to make myself clear, or to realize that there was little commenters could say in response other than to give me a tummy rub.

      I appreciate the readers appreciate SJ, but there’s a big world of lawyers, criminal reform advocates, academics and judges out there who aren’t SJ readers and who are living in a fantasy world where they never have to face the brutality of what we do or hard, nasty thought. I can’t make anyone read SJ, and even if they did, I can’t make them see beyond their fantasy world when so many others validate it. We CDLs used to be largely on the same page, hard-core realists doing the dirty work of the system. That’s no longer the case, and increasingly so daily.

      1. Casual Lurker

        “I failed to make myself clear, or to realize that there was little commenters could say in response other than to give me a tummy rub.”

        I’ve hung around this place long enough to conclude that you were not looking for tummy rubs. Unfortunately, a blawg fails to convey the full range of expressive output, limiting one’s ability to judge nuance in one’s affect or vocal inflection, etc. That can only happen face-to-face. So, having never met you in person, please excuse my speculative analysis, as I just throw some things out there.

        You’ve done some fairly recent posts where you express ambivalence at continuing to publish SJ. I vaguely remember you saying (I believe more than once) that you write for you. Ultimately, that’s how it should be. If it stops being fun or cathartic or assuaging some other internal need, then you should stop. Period. Using external reasons or metrics I believe would be a mistake.

        Of course, if you stop, it will be sorely missed, by both those of us who seek your insight, and by those who don’t yet realize they desperately need it (and may only come to appreciate it in the distant future). But that should not be a primary motivator. As I’m sure you know, if you do close-up shop, the world won’t stop spinning or otherwise come to an end.

        The above said, we all have points in our life where we reassess what we’re doing, and try to determine whether we should continue with a given endeavor. Some will continue to pursue activities that are no longer satisfying, whether out of necessity, conditioned reflex, sense of purpose/mission, or it’s just easier to continue doing as before (task momentum), Etc.

        Also, as we get older we tend to have a greater frequency of reassessment. Maybe you’ve been thinking about doing a lecture series or something long-form, like books — fiction or non-fiction (hey, it works for Linda Fairstein* ;-)) — or possibly TV or movie scripts? (à la attorney David Kelley). It’s often the best way to message the plebes hearts and minds.

        As an aside, while many take umbrage when it’s suggested that some type of depression may be affecting their decision making process, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that possibility. Especially this time of year, as many are affected by various forms of seasonal depression, including such things as SSAD** (Subsyndromal Seasonal Affective Disorder), the winter version of which is believed to be largely due to a reduced number of daylight hours, and reduced physical activity, due to inclement weather. SSAD is not uncommon for those that spend most of their day in a windowless cubicle.

        Note that we screen folks 55 and older far more rigorously. For some in that age group, changes in daily routine that tend to occur in winter has a far greater effect on the production of certain neurohormones, often causing noticeable changes in behavior and cognitive function.

        “Dr. SJ saw it as a sign that I needed to stop writing…”

        I don’t know what area(s) of practice Dr. SJ engages in. But, if she puts you through the Serial Sevens, she’s just messing with you. (A well-known professor of bioethics tells me that asking a spouse for an objective professional opinion is “always a mistake”).

        “…but there’s a big world of lawyers, criminal reform advocates, academics and judges out there who aren’t SJ readers and who are living in a fantasy world…”

        It’s a Sisyphean task to think you can fend against the tide of self-delusion. Those who have a moment of clarity will find there way here. (Whether it will have any lasting effect is another matter). Those who don’t [have any moments of clarity] can’t be helped.

        If it’s any comfort, I suspect that if you take your visitors log, and do reverse IP look-ups,*** for those not hiding behind GoDaddy, Et al., you’d find a lot of big-law, a lot of .edu, a lot of .gov (J-dept., Judges, AUSAs), the NYT, WaPo, Etc., are all taking a peak, but will never admit it.

        As to Chinese on Christmas, the Buddhists who used to own a decent local joint sold it to some Chinese Christians. Hence, closed on Christmas day. So I had to find a new place. The General Tso’s sucked. His army should attack in retaliation!

        Happy/Merry Chanukah Christmas Kwanzaa New Year Holidays!

        All the best.

        *A long time ago, in response to Dr. Thomas Anthony Harris’ self-help book, “I’m OK, You’re OK”, promoting Transactional Analysis, a former colleague considered penning a response titled “I’m OK, You’re Fucked Up!”, but had trouble finding a publisher. (Someone needs to tell the children there’s no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Etc.)

        **SSAD is a milder form of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) that does not rise to the level of MDD (a/k/a clinical depression) or bipolar type-I or II.

        ***Get Jake to do it. If he knows how to do RegEx functions in a PowerShell script, it should take no more than 10-seconds, even with multi-GB size files.

          1. Casual Lurker

            Sorry about that. I try to keep reasonably abreast. Unfortunately, brutal scheduling, that results in extremely limited free time on any given day,* usually leaves me just enough to skim any new posts or comments. However, other than an occasional short quip, considered replies take considerably longer (not to mention the time wasted doing battle with the CAPTCHA, which has gotten progressively worse). So, from a conservation of resources standpoint, for me, it makes sense to put aside a block of time, and reply to multiple posts, all at once. If that’s a problem, I’ll refrain from replying to posts over a day old?

            In any case, while I hadn’t previously seen the 2008 post you link to, I had seen the 2017 one, but had forgotten about it. Upon review, I remember thinking it was more about periodic boredom than anything else, and chose not to comment.

            Upon further consideration, in light of additional posts — for example, your 10,000 post, asking “Is it still worth it?” — gives one the impression you’re experiencing a growing feeling of dissatisfaction, yet haven’t decided on something concrete. Or, if you have, for whatever reason, haven’t been able to pull the trigger.

            Of course, you may already have plans in place, and are just dropping hints to your followers, so they don’t feel too unprepared for what’s in the pipeline. If that’s the case, as pediatricians like to remind their patients and nervous mothers, “it’s best to just quickly rip the bandage off than to slowly drag it out”.

            All the best.

            *Frankly, I’m still amazed at your time management skills, and what you get done, largely by your lonesome. Part of my problem is I always underestimate the time required for new tasks, and allow myself to be bamboozled into undertaking too many of them.

            1. SHG Post author

              I get offers. For law. For writing. For law writing. Op-eds, blog posts, articles, even books. Occasionally presentations, but not as much these days as ten years ago. But it’s still within the same paradigm of what I do and have been doing forever. What I am interested in is something completely new and different, but I have no idea what that might be. Unfortunately, neither did anyone else.

            2. Casual Lurker

              “Occasionally presentations, but not as much these days as ten years ago”.

              The answer seems clear. To quote an ad from “ten years ago”, for a popular hair-coloring product…

              Walter ‘Clyde’ Frazier: “No play for Mr. Grey!”

              Here’s the NYT’s then-take on it: “Just for Men Just Right for Former Stars” Jan. 6, 2008

              As an aside, I’ve no doubt that, at present, that ad would make the heads of some #MeToo types explode.

              Anyway, I suppose you could dig out the ol’ drum set and put together “The SJ All-Stars”. I can imagine the look on Dr. SJ’s face, when you tell her you bought a touring bus and you’re hitting the road!

              Happy New Year!

  16. B. McLeod

    Thanksgiving was my mother’s favorite holiday, but my father loved Christmas. No matter how bad things were, we always had some kind of celebration. Always there were cherry cordials around, made by Brachs, back in the day. Today I usually get some assortment of the Queen Anne chocolates. In the decades since my father passed away, I have actually dined at Chinese buffets on a couple of Christmases. It really isn’t a bad idea at all. Also, in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, I always wish prosperity and joy to all my friends and colleagues, whatever their faith.

    It terms of our survival as a nation (as of this day), maybe it is miraculous. Certainly there is a lot of division and hysteria, and, I would say, a grave loss of perspective. The problems we have in this country today are truly slight when compared to ordeals others have had to suffer, such as the Holodor, the Shoa, or even the Siege of Leningrad. We have had things so good for so long that too many Americans have simply lost their fortitude, and come unraveled now if the face of the slightest adversity. Brace up, people. The sky is not falling.

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