Weekly Meanderings, 23 December 2017

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 7.40.39 AMMerry Christmas from Jon Lester:

CHICAGO — Cubs pitcher Jon Lester surprised families at the House of the Good Shepherd with a holiday dinner and gifts on Tuesday night.

Lester could not be there in person but wanted to treat the families, a Cubs spokeswoman said. The House of Good Shepherd, which serves women and children affected by domestic violence by offering a safe place, posted on its Facebook account: “We love you Jon Lester! Go Cubbies Go!”

The meal included chicken tenders, baked chicken Parmesan, steak sliders, macaroni and cheese, fresh steamed broccoli, creamed corn, mixed salad and desserts.

“Many of our families have never been served such fine cuisine,” the House of Good Shepherd Facebook post said. “Others were surprised they could choose whatever they wanted and were welcome to come back for seconds.”

Each child received a bobblehead set featuring Lester and Cubs teammates Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta.

“What a thoughtful and special person you are, Jon Lester!” the shelter’s Facebook post said. “You inspire us with your talent, kindness and humanity. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Go Cubs!!!!!”

Shirley’s committed:

GUILFORD, Vt. (AP) — Each December, Shirley Squires transforms her modest Vermont home into a veritable creche museum, with more than 1,400 miniature nativity scenes of Jesus, Mary and Joseph covering every surface, taking over two bedrooms and overflowing into a specially built room in her garage.

During the holiday season and through January, the 87-year-old welcomes school and church groups and other visitors by appointment to tour her collection lit up by holiday lights.

“This is my 20th year of doing it,” said Squires as she sat in a room surrounded by nativity scenes some from faraway places like South America and Africa and others from nearby thrift stores. “It’s a lot a work but it’s worth the work when I see all the pleasure that the people (get) that come to see them.”

Squires started collecting them after the death of her husband in 1991 and then her son in 1993, both around Christmastime, “to get through the first couple of years,” she said. She opened it to the public in 1997, and gets about 300 visitors a year.

The collection grew as people gave her more and she and her family purchased some.

Kyle Schwarber’s committed too:

No brace, a new diet and a strict workout routine mapped out backward from Feb. 10 are how Schwarber approached the winter. He eliminated non-necessary travel and minimized vacation time in a commitment to make the most of his most important offseason to date.

“It’s only things that are going to benefit your professional career. I’m already a strong guy. The best thing to do now is to train to be more baseball-specific: get faster, get more explosive because I’m playing the outfield,” Schwarber said. “I want better first steps to the ball. Instead of diving for that ball, I want to catch it on my chest. That’s the goal.”

After an hour of showing off his newfound agility on the football field, Schwarber hopped into his Dodge Ram truck to take a quick trip to ASPI for some strength and conditioning, with a focus on balance and core strength. Like with the weight loss, it isn’t about aesthetics — Schwarber isn’t looking to build muscle and look good in the gym. He’s trying to become more flexible.

“That’s collateral damage — in a good way,” Murphy said of Schwarber’s new look.

When Schwarber came to Murphy this offseason, the trainer asked what he wanted. After Schwarber hemmed and hawed for a moment, Murphy told him to just come out say it.

“‘I want to be the best,'” Murphy recalled Schwarber telling him. “I said, ‘OK, here is what we have to do to get there.'”

Kasich’s committed:

(CNN) Ohio is prohibiting doctors from performing abortions in cases where tests reveal the fetus has or likely has Down syndrome.

Republican Gov. John Kasich signed the legislation Friday and the law goes into effect in 90 days. “The governor is pro-life and supports policies that protect the sanctity of life,” press secretary Jon Keeling tells CNN.

The law prohibits abortions after prenatal tests reveal Down syndrome in a fetus or if there’s “any other reason to believe” the fetus has the genetic condition.

A person performing an abortion in such a case could face a fourth-degree felony charge, and physicians could lose their licenses. The woman seeking the abortion would not be held accountable, according to the legislation.

More and more are committed, according to Peggy Noonan:

There is inspiration in the Alabama outcome. To see it in terms of the parties or Steve Bannon is to see it small. The headline to me: American political standards made a comeback. Roy Moore’s loss was not a setback for the GOP; it was a setback for freakishness. It was an assertion of prudential judgment by the electorate, and came as a relief. A friend landed at JFK on an international flight on election night. As the plane taxied to the gate, the pilot came on the PA and announced that Doug Jones was in the lead. The entire plane, back to front, burst into applause. “A big broad nerve was hit in this thing,” said the friend, an American and political conservative. He meant not only here but around the world.

Thirty-three states have U.S. Senate races next year. Primary voters should absorb what happened to Alabama Republicans after they picked Mr. Moore. They took it right in the face. They misjudged their neighbors. They were full of themselves. They rejected the sure victories offered by other contestants and chose a man whom others easily detected as not well-meaning. They weren’t practical or constructive and they didn’t think about the long term. They didn’t, for instance, take into account that there were independents in the state whose support could be gained with the fielding of a more serious Republican.

And now they’ve lost it all. Voters in coming primaries should observe and absorb. There is something we have been saying in this space for almost a decade, since the Sarah Palin experience. Something happened when she ran. Suddenly to seem real and authentic some Republican candidates thought they had to be polar and extreme. They had to show umbrage, signal resentment, wave guns. But these are not indications of authenticity. They are a sign voters are being played, probably by a grifter. When a candidate is equable and experienced it is not a sign of cynicism and not evidence that he is “establishment.” It’s a sign he can maybe do a good job—and win. Conservatives who are real conservatives don’t ape the social-justice left and make politics a daily freak show. They keep their cool, argue their case, build broad appeal and become, in this way, politically deadly.

The coolest library in the world.

Great (Christmas) story about Cole and Heidi Hamels

Trades change everything. When Cole Hamels was traded from the Philadelphia Philliesto the Texas Rangers in 2015, he and his wife Heidi had been building a mansion near Branson, Missouri, in an area called Table Rock Lake. Once the family made the move to Texas, they decided that’s where they wanted to live full time. So what about the $9.75 million house they’d been building?

Cole and Heidi finally found something to do with it. Instead of selling it, they’ve donated it to a Branson-area non-profit organization called Camp Barnabas. Camp Barnabas offers day camp programs for kids with chronic illnesses and special needs, matching each camper with their own volunteer and offering scholarships so no kid is turned away. And to make sure they can accommodate every kid regardless of any kind of need, they have a full medical facility on staff with doctors and nurses.

In a press release about the donation, Cole Hamels explained why he and his wife decided to make this donation:

“There are tons of amazing charities in Southwest Missouri. Out of all of these, Barnabas really pulled on our heartstrings,” says Cole Hamels. “Seeing the faces, hearing the laughter, reading the stories of the kids they serve; there is truly nothing like it. Barnabas makes dreams come true, and we felt called to help them in a big way.”

The 32,000 square foot mansion sits on 100 acres, and it’s the largest gift in the history of the organization. It’s not known right now if Camp Barnabas plans to incorporate the Table Rock Lake house into their programs (the camp already has a location at Table Rock Lake), or if they have other plans.

No matter what, this enormously generous gift will benefit thousands of kids with special needs and chronic illnesses, as well as their parents, siblings and friends. The holidays are a time for giving and thinking of others, and Cole and Heidi Hamels obviously take that sentiment to heart.

We may have spotted one but didn’t get a good enough look.

The Amish in need of revising some rules for buggies:

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. — Horse-drawn vehicles would need windshields, seat belts, child car seats and rear-view mirrors if officials in Wisconsin’s Wood County pass an ordinance that will be considered Tuesday.

Amish and other religious groups that rely on animal-pulled buggies in Wood County also would need to get driver’s licenses and vehicle insurance under the measure.

It’s an ordinance that an expert in Amish culure says is “completely impractical” and will drive those families out of the county.

The proposal is intended to save lives, said County Board of Supervisors member Bill Winch of Vesper, who helped to draft the new rules. Nine people have died in crashes involving horse-drawn buggies and wagons in and around Wood County since 2009, and Winch said it’s an ongoing concern.

“The Amish have been getting killed and obviously nobody liked that,” he said.

The ordinance requires drivers of animal-drawn vehicles to obey the same regulations the rest of the people on the roads are expected to follow, Winch said. If the board approves the measure, operators of horse buggies would have to get a driver’s license from the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles.

The license requirement would ensure that drivers of the buggies are at least 16 years old and have passed a written test showing basic knowledge of laws involving public roads, Winch said.

Sad to read:

Billy Sunday was the glaring exception. America’s most famous evangelist questioned the entire narrative. He wrote, “I feel sorry for ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and do not see how any court in the land could convict the fallen idol for murder or manslaughter.” Describing Rappe’s death as an accident, Sunday demanded that Arbuckle be released even before the trial because “he has been punished enough.”

The real perpetrator, the evangelist alleged, was the forty quarts of whiskey at the party. “I blame booze,” he declared. “Had there been no liquor at that party, Virginia Rappe would not have lost her life.” He demanded more funding for Prohibition enforcement.

But mostly Sunday blamed Rappe herself. In a September 18, 1921, front-page opinion piece in the Washington Times, Sunday explained that “without a doubt she went to that party of her own free will and accord.” “From what I gather from the papers, Miss Rappe also went into the bedroom with ‘Fatty,’ not because he forced her to go, for it seems that he did not, but because she wanted to go in there with him.” …

This strategy of blaming the victim worked. After only six minutes of deliberation, the jury—composed mostly of white men—voted to acquit Arbuckle. The foreman read a formal apology declaring Arbuckle “entirely innocent” and lamenting that “a great injustice has been done him.” The key line in the apology: “He was manly throughout the case and told a straightforward story on the witness stand, which we all believed.” A male foreman—listening to a male lawyer speak on behalf of a male perpetrator—reiterated a familiar discursive construction of male power. He allowed the male perpetrator the privilege of just “being a boy.”…

There are still a lot of Billy Sundays around. His instinct to blame “loose women” and booze more than Arbuckle for Rappe’s death seems galling in this #metoo moment. But this moment is only possible because so much male predation exists in the first place—and because the system protects predators. Billy Sunday contributed to this system. So did the more respectable Robert Shuler, who directly indicted Arbuckle for being immoral—but also indirectly blamed the “ladies going to and fro” around him and his being in “dirty and filthy relation to the unspeakable,” referring to prostitutes. He too contributed to a system that colored women as the problem.

A century later, some of evangelicalism’s most prominent spokesmen (and indeed they are almost all men) continue to abet a culture of masculine aggression. There are exceptions. In a recent TEDx talk, the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, articulates his regret in feeding some aspects of purity culture. Harris models a new way forward through lament and listening, especially to women’s voices.

In recent months, these are the voices that have most successfully agitated for change. Unlike the society that acquitted the “manly” Arbuckle, empowerment and voice for women in our time is a real possibility. But in an evangelical movement still characterized by pervasive male power, women and their advocates are only beginning to be heard.

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