Happy Merries! Since we strive for religious and cultural understanding in our cozy little corner of the Internet, how about we dig the aluminum pole out of the crawl space?
Before I get into all the reasons you all have disappointed us this past year, let’s please dig into this grab bag of randomness:
1. Jon Cohn of The New Republic and MIT economist Jon Gruber team up to show what health-care reform would mean for families at different income levels. The results are nothing to sniff at. Says Cohn: “We should also recognize the Senate bill for what it is: A measure that will make people’s lives significantly better.” (Blackink)
2. All that hemming and hawing and annoying vagueness about “making the bill better,” Sen. Olympia Snowe says she won’t vote for the Senate bill. (G.D.)
3. Both Ezra Klein and Gail Collins shout out John Kerry — boring, stentorian John Kerry — who has been quietly putting in work to make the policy in the Senate bill better, with a minimum of self-aggrandizement. (G.D.)
4. Nate Silver takes us through all the different ways – there’s five of ’em – the Senate bill could die a shameful death. (Blackink)
5. It takes a special kind of liar to take home this award. But if Sarah Palin is anything, it’s special. (Blackink)
6. Cara writes of the horrifying story of Hope Witsell, the teen who committed suicide after a picture of her breasts was circulated among her classmates. While it keeps being framed as a sexting issue, what it really is is a slut-shaming problem. (Shani-o)
7. Eric Rauchway points to Franklin Roosevelt, another popular liberal president whose presidency almost went bottom-up. “What stalled the New Deal and nearly killed FDR’s presidency? Why, a campaign for true democracy and ideological purity within the Democratic Party.” (G.D.)
8. From Gwen of Sociological Images, The Story of the Shopping Cart. (Alisa)
9. In Virginia, drivers will finally be able to “choose choice” for their license plates. (Blackink)
10. M. Leblanc at Bitch PhD talks about what “bitch” means. (Shani-0)
11. Major General Anthony Cucolo III, who commands the U.S. forces in northern Iraq, has made pregnancy among his soldiers an offense that can be met with court martial. (G.D.)
12. “The whole thing was like a bad joke.” Not even close. It was much, much worse than that. (Blackink)
13. On the brighter side, a man lifts a car off of a trapped girl. Wow. (Shani-o)
14. Once and again, Amanda Marcotte explains that Texas is not the reliably red stronghold that outsiders think it is. (Blackink)
15. Amanda Hess digs for the roots of the invocation of “no lesbo” in hip-hop. Believe it or not, the story starts with Deborah Cox. (Blackink)
16. Remember that “Afro Picks” cover of Publisher’s Weekly? African American PW editor Calvin Reid thinks those who didn’t like the cover are “ashamed of the black pride symbols of the 1970s.” (Shani-o)
17. Vulture has the best round-up of information about Brittany Murphy’s tragic death that I’ve seen today. (Blackink) And in Jezebel, Irin Carmon explains how Murphy was another victim of “the Hollywood starlet machine.” (Blackink)
18. Kwanzaa jumps the shark. (G.D.)
19. A gallery of contemporary African art since 1980. Some really cool stuff in here. (Shani-o)
20. The Chicago Tribune has found that traffic accidents rose – in some cases, significantly – at half of the 14 suburban intersections outfitted with traffic cameras by the end of 2007. And Techdirt wonders why anyone still goes through the charade of calling red-light cameras a public safety initiative anymore. (Blackink)
21. For the wine connoisseurs, The Telegraph has a recap of the year in wine trends. (Shani-o)
22. The IRS is looking to give Sinbad something to cuss about. (Blackink)
23. In a bold move, the N.F.L. acknowledged the long-term dangers of concussions, and said it would donate money to help fund researchers whose troubling findings on players’ brain injuries the league had long downplayed. (G.D.)
24. Over the course of his professional boxing career, Muhammad Ali fought 50 men. Only one of them – “Sweet Jimmy” Robinson – disappeared. ESPN’s Wright Thompson may have come up short after six years of searching for Robinson but he came up with the best sports story – in my mind – of ’09.
25. Bo Obama in the snow. (Shani-o)
And remember: until you pin me, the holiday season is not over.
* Consider this our special, limited-time only, holiday edition of the roundup. Because I was busy Monday.