Of New Year's past, present, and future

31 years ago:

Guy Lombardo is credited with popularizing Auld Lang Syne as the New Year's song of record on January 1, 1930. Lombardo's New Year's Eve broadcasts continued for many years; the one shown in the video was Lombardo's last as he died in November 1977. His brother Victor and son Bill helped ring in 1978 and 1979, respectively, on CBS. From 1980 to the mid-1990s, CBS had a program called Happy New Year, America, which featured different hosts over the years, including Donny Osmond, Andy Williams, and Natalie Cole. YouTube has a number of recordings of Happy New Year, America. Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve came around on 12/31/1972.

We are hours away from the 100th ball drop in the history of Times Square. To celebrate, they have introduced a new, fancier, and more energy-efficient ball. Here's more information on the new ball.

In the fall of 1995, as my mom was preparing to tuck in my eight-year-old self one night, we talked about a few holiday-related things - Christmas presents, July 4 fireworks, etc. One of the things she brought up was the fact that at New Year’s Eve, they drop a ball in New York that reaches the bottom right at the instant it becomes the New Year. I envisioned not that someone would literally stand on a building and then dop a ball, but that a ball attached to a tall building would glide down the side of a building, reaching the ground at midnight.

Fast forward to December 31, 1995. Mom, Dad, and I were invited to the house of our family friends Al and Connie, whom we knew from church. There I, eight years old, attended the only New Year’s Eve party I’ve ever attended. After eating, playing “Win, Lose, or Draw,” and chatting, someone turned on the TV, where a familiar face - Dick Clark from the $100,000 Pyramid - appeared. I saw the ball sitting atop a pole - in a different form than I had imagined. Then, after we all counted down, I saw the 1996 sign light up, and for reasons long forgotten in the twelve years since (perhaps nostalgia) I started to cry.

I have stayed home to ring in 1997 and each year since. That was the second of only three times in which all three of us - Mom, Dad, and myself (my brother spent some winters in Tucson at the University of Arizona and would either go to a party or sleep right through it) - have rung in the New Year together. Many years since then my dad has bartended at the Knights of Columbus New Year’s Party, or just sleeping in with Dereck.

I welcomed 1998 and 1999 with Mom and Grandma. At midnight going into 1998, I threw confetti I had cut up from scrap paper over the course of my Christmas break from school. Mom had also bought some pre-packaged confetti, but I saved it in case the University of Michigan won the Rose Bowl. They did, and I celebrated by dumping it on the floor and letting it make a mess of the living room and, as it turned out, the whole house. You see, we ended up tracing it throughout the house for several days and weeks; we’d even find a piece or two every now and then up to a couple years later! The tradition of ‘throwing’ confetti at New Year’s continued for all of one more year.

We didn’t celebrate the new millennium in 2000 - we celebrated in 2001. You see, we believed that there wasn’t a ‘year 0' - that the First Century went from AD 1-100, the second from AD 101-200, etc. Anyway, Grandma didn’t feel up to coming over and welcoming 2000 with us; she was 83 and we’d have to carry her in the car, then help her up the stairs. She decided to stay home. On 12/31/99 I was a little confused my ABC’s clock and didn’t even know the ball was dropping until about 20-25 seconds before midnight! (That never happened before or since.)

From the summer of 2000 on, Grandma spent most of her time at our house, sleeping next to Mom while Dad occupied Dereck’s room while he was in Arizona. While the parents went to a church New Year’s Eve party, Grandma and I stayed home and watched the excitement. As we counted down, I could hardly contain my excitement at the fact that what I believed to be the start of the new millennium was just seconds away. “Three! Two! One! Happy New Millennium!” was followed by my very first try at singing Auld Lang Syne at midnight on New Year’s (I knew the tune, but had just recently learned the lyrics). Grandma later told Mom I was good at it! That was Grandma’s last New Year’s; she passed away just six weeks later, February 13, 2001.

At 11:58 PM on December 31, 2001, I slyly went to the closet to get some silly string. I hid it behind the chair, and around 11:59:40 or so I grabbed it. Then just as I saw the 2002 sign light up in Times Square at midnight, Mom and then Dad found themselves covered in a gooey mess. They didn’t see that coming! A year later I began 2003 with a shout of “I love you, Jenny!” to celebrate the election of Jennifer Granholm, who was to become Governor of Michigan twelve hours later.

From 1999 to 2003 my paternal grandparents would call us mere seconds after midnight to wish us a happy new year. In 2004 I called them. Then in Apriul of that year, my grandfather passed away, and my grandmother went into a nursing home a couple months later. She called me earlier that evening to wish me a happy new year early before going to bed, reminding me of how she and Grandpa always used to call us.

I have recorded each of the last three ball drops on tape. To ring in 2005 Regis Philbin substituted for Dick Clark, who just weeks earlier suffered a stroke. Clark returned to welcome 2006, but his voice was quite raspy. I was saddened by how the ‘old Dick Clark’ seemed to have been lost by his stroke.

My parents both helped out at the Knights of Columbus hall on New Year’s Eve three of the last four years, so I’ve been alone, forced to ‘kiss’ my dogs at midnight. (That’s okay, I don’t really mind celebrating New Year’s alone).

This will be my 13th consecutive year watching the ball drop on New Year's Rockin' Eve. Mom and I will probably welcome in 2008 in the living room, watching New Year's Rockin' Eve, perhaps using a few noisemakers while I wear a plastic green top hat as she wears a tiara. Who knows what kind of food we'll eat? I know that this is my last New Year's before I turn 21. I'm just saying.

Maybe a few years from now I'll be among the million or so people who jam into Times Square on New Year’s Eve, standing for several hours on end braving the cold and not being able to use the restroom. I hear there’s nothing like it. Just give me some time to build up my stamina!


Bits of Tid: December 29, 2007

  • I'm back online after a two-day illness. I vomited three times Thursday, then suffered abdominal discomfort most of yesterday. But lucky for you - and sadly for our Republican friends - I'm back.
  • So Purdue won the Motor City Bowl, 51-48 over my beloved Chippewas. Which isn't surprising; actually, in a Big Ten vs. MAC matchup where the MAC team lost badly to North Dakota State at home, it should've been a blowout. Especially since this was a rematch of a game Purdue dominated earlier in the season.
  • Incidentally, remember last year when John L. Smith was axed as MSU's coach? His replacement was Cincinnati's Mark Dantonio, who was replaced at Cincy by CMU coach Brian Kelly. West Virginia Assistant Coach Butch Jones was chosen to be CMU's new coach. Well, Lloyd Carr is being replaced at U-M by West Virginia Head Coach Rich Rogriguez... and guess who was interviewed for the WV job? Yep, Butch Jones. After just one year at Central.
  • I'm going back to CMU in less than two weeks. I will have class just three days a week! And my Monday night class will be with a professor named Gary Peters. Incidentally, feel free to support Peters's campaign for Congress.
  • Harry Reid is keeping the Senate open over the holidays to prevent Bush from making recess appointments. Now that's what I call 'checks and balances.'
  • Lawmakers need to do away with the 'first-bill' tradition, whereby lawmakers are essentially required to feed their colleagues after their first bill passes. So says Jean Doss at Dome Magazine. I have to agree.
  • You know those credit card offers which say you're 'pre-approved' for such-and-such credit card? You can opt out of them.
  • As I post this, we're just about 56 hours away from 2008..... yikes!


Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Mayor (and other Christmas hits!)

There were Romney and Huckabee, McCain and Thompson,
Clinton and Edwards, Obama and Biden,
But do you happen to know the most infamous candidate of all?

Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Mayor
Had about a hundred wives
And like some other Repubs,
Corruption was his way of life.
The anti-choicers mocked him,
Used to laugh and call him names,
They wouldn’t let rich Rudolph
Join in any right-wing games.

Then one clear September day,
Fate would come to say,
“Rudy, your life is astray;
Capitalize on this horrific day.”
Then all the media loved him,
Laughed and shouted out with glee - Yippee!
“Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Mayor,
You’ll go down in history.”

O Come All Ye Spineless
O Come All Ye Spineless,
Lacking any backbone,
O come ye, o come ye to Washington.
Come and deplore him,
Born without a brain cell.
O come, let us deplore him,
O come, let us deplore him,
O come, let us deplore him,
George Dubya Bush!

O Little Town of Washington
O little town of Washington, how much we see thee lie!
You've cause so many souls to weep as all the years go by.
The blogosphere you chideth does not think you are bright;
Those rampant cheers of “Four More Years!” are lost on us tonight.

Rowdy Night (Dedicated to Jamie Lynn Spears)
Rowdy Night! Unholy Night!
I’m not calm, you’re not bright.
Surely not a virgin, bearing a child;
Britney, your sister sure is wild.
I just can’t sleep in peace,
I just can’t sleep in peace.

That all but concludes my Christmas present to you. To our conservative friends, I have one more song for you:

Bad tidings to you, if right wing you are;
Bad tidings for Christmas and a Crappy New Year!

We wish you a lousy Christmas,
We wish you a lousy Christmas,
We wish you a lousy Christmas,
And a Crappy New Year!


Bits of Tid: December 21, 2007

  • So I've been back from school for a week now, and I have 2 1/2 weeks left in my winter break. I am working on quite a few political items, including posts here and at Daily Kos... so stay tuned!
  • For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who don't get to call Kevin Rudd our Prime Minister, these nights are the shortest of the year. Not that I would know much about things that are short. (Did I just say that?)
  • Of course, we all know that summer days are a lot longer than winter days - which is good for us, since solar energy is showing some promise. Too bad the same can't be said of coal. Speaking of which, I hope you’ve signed this petition on Progress Michigan.
  • Dear David Agema: We have bigger things to worry about than ‘saving’ Christmas.
  • Poor Tom Tancredo. Not.
  • I recently celebrated my first anniversary on Daily Kos.
  • One of the things I like about Senator Obama is that he backs up his talk with action. Case in point: His record in the Illinois Senate.
  • Nearly 470,000 people have donated to Obama's campaign, including myself. Want to be one of them? I invite you to donate through my personal fundraising page by clicking on the Christmas tree to the right.


Roosevelt endorses Urbanowski for re-election as Precinct Delegate

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt has endorsed Democratic Precinct Delegate Scott Urbanowski in his bid for re-election as Democratic precinct delegate for Ward 1, Precinct 3, Kentwood, MI.

“I might have died 62 years ago, but I felt I had to come back to life to support my good friend Scott Urbanowski,” said America’s 32nd President.

“In his 16 months as a Democratic Precinct Delegate, Urbanowski has built a track record of fighting for the values our Party holds dear - or at least should hold dear,” said Roosevelt, 125.

“I would argue that he has done more to help promote the values of this great Party than most of the Democratic leadership in Washington,” said the liberal icon in an apparent swipe at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of the most courageous people ever to hold the mantle of leadership of this nation,” said Urbanowski. “The obstacles he faced during his lifetime and his Presidency are an inspiration to us all. I cannot tell you how humbled I am to receive the endorsement of this great American.”

Urbanowski reiterated his commitment to bringing the Democratic Party back to its roots.

“I care so much about this Party that I see no other option than to stand up and work to make it stand for the values it has long cherished,” declared Urbanowski. "The more the Democratic Party stands up for progressive values, the better Democrats do at the polls. And the better the Democrats do, the better this country does."

“I will not let capitulators and cronies in Washington define my Party,” he said defiantly. “Grassroots Democrats must remind DC Democrats that they are not elected to be Republican-lite and give an unpopular President everything he wants.”

Urbanowski said he also wants to improve Democratic performance in his precinct in next November's Presidential election.

"It would only take a couple hundred more votes to swing the Third Precinct toward the Democrats," said Urbanowski.

Urbanowski first came to prominence in 2004 when, two days before the Presidential election, the then-high school senior wrote a letter to the editor that was printed in The Grand Rapids Press.

Since then, he has taken many activist roles, including as a front-pager for Michigan Liberal, membership in the Kent and Isabella County Democratic parties as well as the Michigan Democratic Party, and two Executive Board positions with the College Democrats at Central Michigan University.

In August 2006, he was elected Democratic Precinct Delegate with 53 votes.


DNC: The failed Republican legacy on immigration

Glad to see the Democratic National Committee speaking the truth when it comes to Republican hypiocrisy on immigration.

Despite having majorities in Congress for twelve years and a President in the White House for the last seven years, Republicans ignored the issues of border security and immigration reform until it became politically convenient. To distract from their failure to address the issues and to distract from their failed economic policies, Republicans turned immigration into a wedge issue for electoral gain that has relied on scapegoating people and dividing Americans.

From border walls that were never funded to trying to criminalize immigrants, their families, and even clergy, the Republican legacy on border security and immigration reform amounts to failure and scapegoating.

There's a lot of useful information on that page.

Next time you hear a Republican talk about immigration reform, ask them why their party sat on its hands and did nothing while they had the chance to fix our borders.


Fun with CMU Trustees

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the formal session of the CMU Board of Trustees. I had never been to a Trustees meeting before, but I was quite curious as to what goes on there. That, and I am considering joining one of the committees. More on that momentarily.

Make-up of the Board
The Board of Trustees consists of eight members whose terms expire on December 31 of an even-numbered year (i.e. each New Year's following an election). The Governor appoints trustees to the boards of each of Michigan's public universities (except U-M, MSU, and Wayne State, whose boards of control are elected by voters). Each trustee's term is eight years.

The current trustees, along with the year in which they were appointed and the year in which their terms expire, are:

  • Jeff Caponigro, Chair, 2002-2008*
  • John Kulhavi, Vice Chair, 2002-2008*
  • Stephanie Comai, 2003-2010**
  • Gail Torreano, 2003-2010**
  • Marilyn Hubbard, 2005-2012
  • Sam Kottamasu, 2005-2012
  • Brian Fannon, 2007-2014
  • Jacqueline Garrett, 2007-2014
*Caponigro and Kulhavi were each appointed after previous trustees resigned.
**Comai and Torreano were appointed in a controversial and unprecented move by Governor John Engler on January 1, 2003. Trustees' terms end right at the New Year, but the Governor's term ends at noon on New Year's Day. Many believed that Jennifer Granholm should have been the one to appoint the new trustees. (Of course if you know much about Engler, you wouldn't be surprised.)

As I touched on earlier, I have given some consideration to serving on the Trustees-Student Liaison Committee. This committee is comprised of three Trustees, the Student Body President, and three other students appointed by the Student Body President and confirmed by the SGA Senate. Traditionally, the President will appoint the President of the Residence Hall Assembly to the Committee, while this year President Mike Zeig appointed someone to deal specifically with diversity issues.

So, what happened?
In his report, President Michael Rao honored several students for their accomplishments, including football stars Dan LeFevour and Ike Brown. He also noted that a student's artwork was on display at the State Capitol.

An expert discussed the feasibility of building a medical school.

CMU Police Chief Stan Dinius gave a report on such items as emergency phones, emergency preparedness, and Night Rides.

So what did the Board actually do? Among other things, they:
  • Approved a $20 million renovation of the Rose Center, where sporting events, concerts, and commencement are held. To my relief, this will be funded entirely by donations.
  • Passed a resolution condemning the recent noose incident and recognizing the need for improving education on cultural and diversity issues.
  • Gave President Rao a raise. His salary is roughly in the middle in terms of Mid-American Conference salaries, at $293,550.
  • Granted emeritus rank to three outgoing faculty, including a dean.
  • Created a visiting professorship in Native American studies.
  • Named a room in the library for a longtime library employee.
  • Elected its officers for 2008. Caponigro will stay on as Chair, with Kulhavi as Vice Chair And Torreano as co-vice chair.
A Future Trustee?
After the meeting, Dean of Students Bruce Roscoe congratulated me on making it through the entire 193-minute meeting without once leaving the meeting room. I told him about my curiosity, and the fact that I have been thinking about joining the Trustees-Student Liaison Committee.

But I'm not gonna lie, I left that room on Thursday with a new lifetime goal: Serve as a Trustee. Yep, in 15-20 years when a Democratic Governor is looking for two new faces to join the CMU Board, and I am not an elected official, said governor should pencil in my name.

I mean, come on, I'm sure CMU can trust me to do a good job.


Changing our civic dialogue through word banishment!

Each year around New Year's Day, Lake Superior State University in Michigan's Upper Peninsula releases a list of "Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness." The list is the subject of a considerable amount of attention when it is released - including a mention or two on Countdown with Keith Olbermann in the past. Submissions for the list are accepted year round.

The complete list of banished words includes some classics, such as 'Awesome,' 'Dawg,' 'Y2K,' 'And I Approved This Message,' and 'Whatever.' Unfortunately, the all-time list also includes 'Liberal,' 'Truthiness,' and 'Blog.' So I decided to take action.

Throughout the year I submitted my own nominations for the Banished Words List, some of which have a political bent, while others don't. What follows is a list of the words and phrasesI have submitted for banishment, along with the reasons why I nominated it.

Get real

Do you ever hear people telling you to "get fake" or "get unreal?" I know I haven't.
Phony soldiers
Regardless of your feelings regarding the war, there's nothing phony about these brave people who wear the uniform of our country.
War on Christmas
Does this mean we can expect Santa Claus to ride in on a Bradley fighting vehicle and deliver cluster bombs to all the little girls and boys?
This is one of many code words politicians use to make themselves or policies they support look good. Most people who call themselves ‘pro-life’ aren't quite as ‘pro-life’ on some issues as they are on others.
Having your work cut out for you
On the surface, it sounds like someone’s done something nice for you: "Hey, I cut out your work just for you." Uh, not exactly.
Smart bomb
I didn’t know that some bombs could be more intelligent than others. Of course, nowadays it can seem as though some of our bombs are smarter than many of our politicians.
Gut feeling
Michael Chertoff must be good if he can predict a terrorist attack based on his gut. I wish I had such capabilities.
Color me surprised that this lousy excuse for a 'word' hasn't been banished yet.
One of the most pathetic compound words to pollute the English language. Why can't you just say 'enormous' or 'gigantic?'
Take Your Breath Away
So I will literally lack oxygen and possibly suffocate to death because of whatever it is you're trying to sell me? Hmm, somehow it doesn't seem all that appealing to me anymore.
And now, I have one more nomination which I have just submitted for the 2008 list:

Once thought by many to be the silver-bullet cure to all of America's ills, conservatism just isn't what it's hyped to be. The conservative movement has run its course. I would almost feel insulted if I were called a conservative.

Do you have any words that you would like to see on the LSSU Banished Word List? If so, be sure to submit your suggestions soon - they will probably start compiling the list soon, if they haven't already!


Bits of Tid: December 5, 2007

8,000 Hours Away Edition

  • As of today at 4PM EST, we will have exactly 8,000 hours until Election Day 2008. Polls will open in Michigan starting 8,000 hours from 11 PM.
  • FWIW: If all Hillary can attack Obama for is an essay he wrote in kindergarten, then he must be good.
  • I must say, I'll be more worried about the Dems' White House hopes in 2008 if Mike Huckabee got the nomination than I would be if anyone else got the Repub nod. People in Arkansas like him, and until tonight I hadn't heard much dirt on him. Until I read this.
  • Got gift cards? Use them. You may think I'm telling you something obvious, but lots of them go unused.
  • Is activism an aphrodisiac for you? This online petition will be sent to the Legislature asking for action on legislation that will protect our Great Lakes water. They're aiming for 5,000 signatures.
  • You. Must. Check. Out. Progress Michigan.
  • Sign seen on the door of a study lounge in CMU's Cobb Hall:
    This room is for studying books, not anatomy.
  • I have one more nomination for Lake Superior State's Banished Words List, which I will reveal to you this weekend. Stay tuned!


Who's the only Republican worth cheating with?

Guess who's ticked off about Michigan losing its DNC delegates?

I'll start by quoting Daily Kos user Neon Vincent, who says it better than I could:

The only winners, at least in the short term, are the Michigan GOP, who enabled the quixotic efforts of Debbie Dingell and others who wanted an earlier primary, when a February 5th caucus would have been perfectly acceptable to the DNC, the candidates, and most of the Michigan Democrats whose opinions I've heard and read. Instead, I'm disenfranchised so that some of the state party leaders can make a point about what they perceive as the unfairness of the primary calendar.

In the long run, it's time to reform the primary system and rationalize the calendar. In the short run, it's time to deny the Republicans the fruits of their victory by monkey-wrenching their primary.
Let me add that the January 15 primary will NOT give Michigan any more influence than Iowa or New Hampshire, because both of their primaries have been scheduled before January 15.

Plus, by not having delegates at the convention, Michigan will not be able to have any seats on the Platform Committee, costing Michigan Dems what influence we would have by having a caucus.

I don't buy this argument that 'they'll end up seating the delegates.' Is it likely the DNC will seat our delegates? Perhaps; I'm not an insider. But why would the DNC strip Michigan of its delegates only to return them?

What I do know is that supporters of the primary owe the very fact that the primary is even occurring to four far-right conservative ideologues on the state Supreme Court.

And I also know that dozens of people on Michigan Liberal alone - and surely hundreds of other Democratic activists around the state - are very angry about this. It is to these activists that the Michigan Democratic Party owes its recent success at the ballot box. This only serves to de-motivate many of them, causing them to lessen their activist role or, worse off, causing them to not vote Democratic.

So instead of more influence, which was the original intent of moving the primary on January 15, we get a primary which has cost Michigan its Convention delegates; will only include four candidates; will not feature campaigning from the candidates; is seriously dividing the state Party; and which owes its very existence to four extreme conservatives on the Supreme Court.

Yep, I'm quite ticked.

Disclaimer: For disclosure's sake, I should also note that (1) I support Barack Obama, one of the four who pulled out of the January 15 primary; and (2) I had been planning on seeking a spot as a Convention delegate.