January 07, 2012

Poetic thoughts on the "real Texas" landscape

LITTERED LANDSCAPES
Opportunisitic prickly pear
Prickly pear. Agave. Mountain cedar.
Patches of mesquite and the occasional crown of thorns.
Each sightly at times,
Picturesque, naturalistic.
But often, in the Texas Hill Country,
A sign of something else –
Man’s scarring of the soil,
Littered landscapes.
Opportunistic plants from dryland edges
Found their chance to invade
Overgrazed pasturelands, stony hills and cloudy draws.
When you eat that Texas beef on your plate,
The fuzzy-edged, grasping and extending fingers
Of the Chihuahuan Desert,
And its semidesert outliers,
Thank you.
When you admire an “authentic” Hill Country mock ranch
For artifice from drier lands
The desert flora thank you.
Yes, a few of the specimens were in place
Before Texas cattlemen, or “Old West” realtors
But not like this.
Beauty is in the eye – and the knowledge – of the beholder.
            Jan. 7, 2012

The Dark Side of the Internet: #Gnus, #skeptics, #strawmen

As Gnu Atheists and "professional skeptics" exemplify, setting up strawmen isn't just the provenance of the Religious Right, antivaxxers or New Agers.

And, as they also exemplify, they can engage in some specific strawmen that they should know better about, if they're as rational as they claim.

One in particular is the "you're jealous" phenomenon.

Recently, on Google+, I heard somebody claim that philosopher/real skeptic/humanist/traditional nontheist Massimo Pigliucci was jealous of Gnu Atheist Jerry Coyne, in part over their different takes on Christopher Hitchens. When I commented that I agreed, and posted my blog link about Hitch being a "brat" on smoking in non-smoking areas, etc., he said I must be envious of those who get more comments on their blogs than I do. Of course, John Loftus pulled that when I one-starred his review of Sam Harris' "The IMmoral Landscape." Supposedly, "professional skeptic" Ben Radford is doing this a bit. I imagine this was done a bit in pre-Net days, but I think it's gotten a lot worse now.

And, a second point: Where do some of the more libertarian "professional skeptics," or libertarian Gnus, get some of their money from? Michael Shermer has known racialists on his masthead at Skeptic. Does a place like Pioneer Fund send him money? Or, on another bent, does a neocon like Sam Harris get money from, say American Enterprise Institute?

That said, there are some better "professional skeptics."

Bob Carroll of the Skeptic's Dictionary comes immediately to mind. To the degree he ventures into skeptical issues, Pigliucci does, too.

January 06, 2012

#Antivaxxer #Wakefield sues British Medical Journal

The fraudulent-for-money antivaxxer quack Andrew Wakefield is suing the British Medical Journal for ... er ... calling him fraudulent!
"The Defamatory Statements were and are false and written and published with actual malice and intended to cause damage to Dr. Wakefield's reputation and to permanently impair his reputation and livelihood," says the suit, filed Tuesday. It seeks unspecified damages.

The journal issued a statement saying that it stood by the writings and would "defend the claim vigorously." Wakefield, who is seeking a jury trial, has a "history of pursuing unfounded litigation, (so) any action brought against the BMJ and Mr Deer in London would have been immediately vulnerable to being struck out as an abuse of process," an email from the journal says. Wakefield referred questions to his lawyer, William Parrish, who did not return calls Friday.
The Austin American-Statesman story doesn't make clear whether Wakefield, who lives in Texas, is suing in U.S. or British court. But, given the straitjacket-tight British libel laws, I'll assume the suit is over there.

Otherwise, the issue of "what reputation" comes to mind. And, because Wakefield is likely to lose, the next question is ... who's funding him? He doesn't have that type of money in his own pockets any more.

Texas tightwad money attacks sound science

I guess Tricky Ricky Perry is too busy running for president in Reconsiderationville, S.C., to attack those evil environmentalists himself, while David Dewhurst is too busy doing ... doorknob knows what to attack, so Comptroller Susan Combs gets to do the heavy lifting in attacking efforts to preserve endangered species. Here's the nut graf quote:
Combs said that Texas was “trying to have our priority of research match the feds,” but that this was often difficult to achieve and frustrating. 

“I think this listing process is very burdensome, and I don’t think it’s based on sound science,” she said.
First, it's not "burdensome" unless you think that getting science right, and acting rightly on that, is "burdensome." But, given the history of Perry-era Tejas' relation to any federal, or even state-level effort to do anything to protect the environment or climate, that's exactly Combs' mindset.

Therefore, it's not so much that she wouldn't know sound science, but that she would refuse to admit it when she saw it, even if it bit her in the tuchis.

Here's the better pull quote, from Michael Forstner, a Texas State biology professor who is overseeing research on the Houston toad.
“Losing the toad is losing a native Texan,” Dr. Forstner said. 
Just as much as you are a native Texan, Susan Combs, the toad is, but with a pedigree just a few thousand years longer.

And, some apparently non-Big oil money is helping pay for some of the scientific research as to what species to list. Sure, even smaller oil companies may not like this, but, they recognize that they're on the front lines of wildcatting and that it benefits them to get a situation stabilized, vs. the eXXXons of the world that just want to be anti-environmental monkey-wrenchers.

R. Joseph Hoffmann — #frenemy of modern secular humanism

R. Joseph Hoffmann, religious scholar, former chair of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, and former associate editor of the journal Free Inquiry is a good secular humanist in many ways.

He’s insightful enough about the realities of religion, and knowledgeable enough about the history of secular humanism, that Gnu Atheists can’t refute most of his claims against their atheist evangelism and the concepts on which it is built.

But, in a blog post like this, “Complacency and Excess,” he earns the title above: “frenemy of modern secular humanism.” I’m not a fan of neologisims that are Internet or entertainment derived, but I make an exception in this case.

I’ve said before that Hoffmann’s brand of humanism is an Enlightenment-era humanism, one from the era when scientists were still “natural philosophers.” I don’t know if Free Inquiry founder Paul Kurtz was quite as much that way as Hoffmann is, but Hoffmann is definitely that way.

For example, in a blog post of about a month or two ago, which I blogged about without linking to, sadly, he went beyond criticizing overblown claims some neuroscientists make for what tools like fMRIs of today show about brain functioning to, at least as I saw it, criticizing the entire idea of daring to make too much scientific investigation of what the mind is.

The “frenemy” part, and related concerns, starts here:
Let me stay with that last point for a minute–the belief that only science can answer all of our questions.
While it’s true that many Gnus believe that, not all do. More to the point of my previous critique, successors to fMRIs, CT scans, single-emission positron scans, etc., may just reveal much more of the brain’s working, on a smaller scale, and in something nearer to “real time.”

Next comes a “huh” comment like this:
Can the numinous collapsing of all empirical religious traditions into the word “religion” (equivalent to the equally mystical collapsing of all scientific inquiry into the word “science”) be justified on the basis of a prior assumption–because that’s what it is–that gods don’t exist?
I agree with the idea behind the first half of the quote. Liberal Episcopaleanism is nothing like the Church of Christ, for example. But, the part in parenthesis is a head-scratcher, at the least.
First of all, when did “collapsing” become “mystical” in this instance? Second, is Hoffmann confounding “science” with “scientism”? Take away “mystical” and I’d agree with his parenthetical observation IF that is the case. But, IF that is the case, then Hoffmann’s engaging in either sloppy verbiage or goalpost shifting.

And there's more that to come, if you'll look below the fold.
Next, there’s this:
(D)oes “subject matter” mean a certain kind of theology? Or does it mean (I think is often does in new atheist harangues) apologetics–which is unknown in many religious traditions?
Well, it IS known outside of Christianity. Islam certainly has an apologetic tradition, albeit less than Christianity. Judaism does to a degree, also. Polytheistic traditions are less likely to do so, perhaps. But, even they do to a degree. And, as their face-to-face contact with Western empiricism grows, their apologetics will, too.

Hoffmann knows his Greek, and knows that an “apologia” is simply a “defense.” Whether it’s a more “active” defense, as shown above all in American Christianity, and somewhat in the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world, or a more passive defense like Buddhism’s moving target about what constitutes the “life force” that is reincarnated, well, that’s still apologetics.

But, let’s get to the next wrong quote:
Predictably, I am going to say that the best theologians–those who still mistakenly think they have a “subject matter”–are aware of the sovereignty of science over theology in terms of explaining everything from the cosmos to human origins and nature. And they have seen it this way for a long time.
Nonsense. 

I think everybody would call the Dalai Lama a theologian in a metaphorical sense, while allowing for him not believing in a personal divinity, a personal theos (unless he believes in the old, old Tibetan pantheon of gods and demons).

Anyway, the Dalai Lama, allegedly a great ground-mover in reconciling science and religion, is on record as saying more than once if science presents evidence it strongly claims clearly shows the nonexistence of either karma or reincarnation, science goes out the door.

In the Christian world, I’ve no doubt the Archbishop of Canterbury, for example, still believes in some sort of immaterial, metaphysical “soul” and, in the case of things like teratomas, brain-conjoined Siamese twins, etc., rejects inferences from science about the nonexistence of souls, i.e., does the “bit of human” teratoma have a “bit of soul” inside the full human “host”?

Next comes this fun one, where Hoffmann shows not much more political insight than P.Z. Myers:
Atheists, as usual, weren’t quite sure what to do (about the Iraq War) because while many hated George W. Bush they hated Islam more and so–like Christopher Hitchens–they backed the wars. They were, in a phrase, paralyzed and morally invisible.
Tosh, or bull, or, per an above comment of mine, sloppy.

Is he saying all atheists weren’t sure what to do, not just Gnus? He’s very wrong there, as I can personally attest. And, speaking of P.Z., I don’t think he ever supported the war. I don’t know about a Dan Dennett, a Vic Stenger or other leading Gnus, other than to say most of them weren’t focused on this, perhaps.

Finally, Hoffmann makes a simply unsubstantiated claim that a scholar of religion, or at least of the sociology of religion, shouldn’t have:
Complacency is what killed European Christianity. The fruits and comforts of the industrial revolution killed it. Not education and science; not curiosity; not Darwin’s dangerous idea. Just the creeping rot of not really giving a damn about anything.
Nonsense. Western Europe had pretty high church attendance rates, fairly high “religiosity,” etc., until World War II. Nazism, the Holocaust, and the realization that in many countries, especially Catholic ones, religious leaders were at least partially acquiescent in Nazism’s rise, is what killed Christianity in Europe as much as anything.

As for his paean to Stephen Jay Gould and his “nonoverlapping magisterial,” plenty of non-Gnu Atheists find it wanting. It’s really just a science-based riff on the old “god of the gaps,” retitled as “religion of the gaps.” Again, for Hoffmann to not see that as being what it is leads me to raise an eyebrow.

And why, between this and his seeming Enlightenment-era gravitas, he is indeed a frenemy of modern secular humanism. And, why I hope that some of my online friends see that while he can be a useful A-list ally, he's not close to a fantastic one.

 UPDATE: On his latest blog post, he spells "favoUrite" the British way, too. For a native American to do this is a bit of pretentiousness, in my book.


And, per this column, he appears to pull his punches on the question of the historicity of Jesus AND the worthiness of study of whether he existed and who he was, if he did.

January 05, 2012

School district slashes staff ... to hire #ToddDodge???

Texas football fans know Todd Dodge as a legendary title-winning coach at Southlake Carroll High School in metropolitan Dallas.

He then tried to jump to the collegiate level, but struggled and ultimately flopped at the University of North Texas, before moving to positional coaching, now serving as quarterbacks coach at Pitt.

But with the Panthers getting a new head coach, the old staff is out the door.

Meanwhile, in the Marble Falls ISD, after deleting staff ranks by attrition, the new superintendent pushed the had-been-current head coach/athletic director out the door. That's only a link to a story stub, but an updated version will be posted eventually. The superintendent said the search will be "big" and could take some time, but, since Dodge recently looked at nearby Burnet but pulled back when it wouldn't give him more time to come there, landing him could be quite likely.

Meanwhile, this all leaves open the question of just how much Texas school districts will really do in the way of cutting educational needs to sacrifice to the true god of athletic mammon in Texas, football. That starts with slashing other staff, then continues to forcing your current coach/AD into a newly created make-work job for which he'll have to be paid, just to get him out of the way.

Angels pay Pujols all that #stlcards should have

I blogged more than once, before Albert Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals, that Cards management should have given him a contract similar to what A-Rod has with the Yankees, with career milestone incentives.

Well, the Los Angeles Angels did just that, it turns out. This includes $3M for 3,000 hits and $7M for passing Barry Bonds with homer 763. And, as I've blogged elsewhere, the second target is at least somewhat feasible, and the first certainly is more than "feasible."


And, as I noted here and here, in light of an A-Rod type deal, especially if the team had acted sooner, it could have afforded to do something like this.


I'll still be a Cards' fan. But, unless Pujols has a sharp, quick falloff, I'll look ever-more-skeptically at team management.

The worse angels of Steve Pinker's bloviating

John Gray nails it; Pinker, as a libertarian with hard Pop Evolutionary Psychology leanings (Gray himself doesn't call Pinker out on that), kind of boxed himself in a corner in "Blank Slate" a decade ago. And, so, "The Better Angels of our Nature" starts out behind the curve.

If people's minds are largely a fixed template, it's hard to explain evolution to non-violence, or lesser violence, isn't it? Of course, Gray does note what I've noted: In the U.S., violence-making has been institutionalized due to the repressive policies of the War on Drugs. And, more interestingly, and more hypocritically, Pinker doesn't object, to the degree he looks at U.S. incarceration rates at all.

He also, as I've noted elsewhere, ignores World War I, WWII, the Holocaust (even using a 1930s European Jewish writer as his starting point) and more.

Timothy Snyder discusses other problems with and failings of the book. To consider violence as strategic, not just hydraulic, a result of societal pressures, means that H. sapiens has great capacity for cynical behavior, among other things. And, it ignores other loads of social science research.

One other brief observation on my part: While Pinker may be right that some people have a Rousellian, or "Gods Must Be Crazy," naivete toward the past, at the same time, he has a Pop Ev Psych "bloody red in tooth and claw" counter-naivete. Fact is that pre-agricultural humans were scavenger-gatherers long before they were hunter-gatherers, among other things that Pop Ev Psychers like to ignore. That issue alone has relevance to the issue of human violence and individual and social psychological malleability.

Bachmann-Perry Overblown

OK, it actually is a surprise that Michele Bachmann dropped out of the GOP race. I didn't think she had that much brains, or humility. Weirder yet is the Palinistas telling her to drop out, so as to unite social conservatives.

More on how others, from James Dobson on, are looking for the anti-Romney, here.

Semi-surprised she'd endorse Ron Paul instead of Rick Santorum. See, while Paul is a small-government type, AND, he's pro-life, and he's not as pro-legalization on drugs as Paul-tards make him out to be, his social conservativism ends entirely at water's edge. To riff on Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul is NOT in "the Amen corner" of American Protestant millennialists writing blank checks to Israel.

Santorum and Rick Perry both are. After New Hampshire, the GOP heads south, so Perry still has a limping chance. Both have better chances than Paul, long-term. That said, it would be fun to see him bolt the party again, and this time square off against Gary Johnson for the Libertarian nod. Both are libertarian nutbars, but with nuanced differences, including that Johnson's not so anti-Fed nor such a goldbug, nor a fellator of Austrian school economics in general.

Back to the GOP, though. Will Paul struggle in New Hampshire? Will he then fall flat in South Carolina? And, can Santorum "do Southern"? Can Newt win in S.C. himself? Or will he rather, as Mother Jones hinted, try to blow up the GOP as a last act of petulance? Stay tuned.

That includes you, Doug Christie, Mitch Daniels, et al.

But Kevin Drum probably has it right By Super Tuesday, it could well be just Romney and Santorum, with the Mittster coming near to locking up the nomination on that primary date or even going over the top.

January 04, 2012

Did Obama steal Anita Perry's backbone?

First, we here in Texas, especially, know why Rick Perry reassessed his reassessment of the state of his campaign. Wife Anita, who could be a slightly less Stepford version of Cal(l)ista Flockhart Gingrich, has had his cojones in her personal jewel box ever since rumors about Brokeback Rick and his allegedly pending offshore divorce plans nearly a decade ago.

In other words, the "god" that told Rick Perry to run has a first name, and it's Anita.

That said, Barack Obama has found a backbone that Michelle Obama never had to worry about stealing from him, or so it temporarily seems.

Recess appointments not only to head the consumer finance agency but to bring the National Labor Relations Board up to full strength? What, other than the 2012 presidential elections, is up with that?

Actually, on the NLRB, it's probably clear, as Keystone XL is also indicating. Obama believes he needs both the numbers and organizing potential of unions to shore up his candidacy and rebuild enthusiasm that young Occupiers probably won't all have for him. So, this backbone probably won't extend to environmental issues. And, even with unions, it will be subverted to Dear Leader's version of "triangulation" on other economic-related issues. What if the debt stupid-committee or the Catfood Commission open their collective mouths, though?

Stay tuned.

#ESPN fluffs #MLB non-#HOF players again

The baseball writers at ESPN have a VERY "wide" view of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and this new year is no exception. Jim Caple not only voted for Bernie Williams, he thinks writers should be able to vote for more than 10 candidates per years. David Schofield is a half-fluffer, saying he's "on the fence" for Jack Morris, while saying he "doesn't think" he can climb over it. Still too much wiggle room. He is right on Jeff Bagwell, though, giving the slugging power at 1B and Baggs' relatively short career, I don't think him waiting another year or two (although it will be dicey with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens on the roids issue, and some people's thoughts on Baggs on that) would be a "travesty." And, he's more right about Barry Larkin.

My predictions? Larkin gets in as a solo. Tim Raines breaks 50 percent. Bagwell breaks 50 percent, but not 60 percent. Williams breaks 40 percent just because he's a Yankee and because of yutzes like Caple.

None of the other returning players on the ballot makes major positional changes, despite Schofield's half-fluffing of Morris.

My personal thoughts. Larkin deserves in. I think Raines does, too. Rickey Henderson overshadowed him so that we don't realize how good he, Raines, was. Trammell? Torn on him. Nobody else on the list deserves in, in my opinion.

January 03, 2012

Book review: Cynics

Cynics (Ancient Philosophies)Cynics by William Desmond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a very good introduction to Capital-C Cynicism the philosophy, which is much different in many ways from cynicism the social behavior, though Cynics did at times act in a way that we might today call specifically cynical.

In the first semester of my college Philosophy 101 course, Cynics (and Skeptics) got short shrift among ancient Greek philosophies, not only compared to Socrates/Plato/Aristotle, but also compared to the Stoics, the Presocratics and to a degree, even the Epicureans.

Which is too bad, and was partially founded on wrong ideas.

First, the Cynics aren't sprung from the font of Socrates; the movement arguably has Presocratic roots, as Desmond shows. And, since Zeno the founder of Stoicism studied from a Cynic before going off on his own, Desmond notes the parallels between the two, and the likely direction of influence, an influence that continued as late as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius both shows tints of Cynic stances.

Second, Desmond shows that Cynics were acting the way they were in what might be called an activist Westernized version of Zen. At their best, Cynics were encouraging a kind of activist detachment from conventional thoughts and mores, and even from all but the barest of physical needs.

That said, while some of their antics, like Diogenes telling Alexander to get out of his light, sound courages and enlightened, others, like Diogenes' masturbating in public, were as repulsive to his fellow Greeks as they are to readers today. But that was the intent.

Finally, Desmond addresses the "new search for the historical Jesus" types like John Dominic Crossan, who claim Jesus was the Jewish equivalent of a Cynic sage, and finds them largely wanting. It is true that Gadara of Legionary demoniac fame was an old center of Cynic thought, but the parallels between Jesus and a Iamblichus or similar are few and tendentious.

You'll learn all that and much more in this easy-to-read introduction to a sadly neglected and misunderstood school of philosophical thought.



View all my reviews

January 01, 2012

Greenwald gets clear-eyed yet myopic on #RonPaul

Yes, Glenn, Ron Paul has pointed out civil liberties issues and other problems that cut across Democratic/Republican lines. But, in your column condemning horse-race narratives and other mainstream media coverage of politics, by calling Ron Paul the only "major presidential candidate in either party" on these issues, or whatever, or quoting Conor Friesdorf about Paul being the only "major" candidate aren't you playing into the MSM and GOP-intraparty efforts to "anoint" people yourself? I'd say yes on the MSM side by talking about "either party" without immediately noting that third parties are different indeed on this issue; I'd say both MSM and GOP on who's "major" within GOP candidates and by whose definition. That's especially true in light of two things.

1. You only mentioned Gary Johnson as an afterthought, in noting he's becoming a libertarian. You fail to describe his campaign in any depth beyond offering a link to a previous post, not noting he's more sensible in some ways than Paul, but even more radical in line of GOP orthodoxy than Paul is.

2. You don't mention the Green Party, either as a party or Dr. Jill Stein or any other announced presidential candidates, and civil liberties issues, at all.

You know better, Glenn. From starting by referencing just two parties, to only posting video clips of Paul, and not Johnson, Stein or others, this gave the impression that, "Gee, if Paul weren't such a racist, I'd support him over other candidates fighting for civil liberties." At the least, it gives the impression that you'd support an economic libertarian over a Green- or socialist-type candidate if the civil liberties issues are equal.

Sorry, Glenn, but this is a big fail. Especially given your sexual orientation status and Paul's iffiness there, you of all people should recognize how selective his civil liberties ideas really are. More here on Paul's anti-gay stance from those infamous newsletters of his past.

(Of course, your pinning of hopes on billionaire independent candidates, rather than third parties, to try to reform the current two-party duopoly, says some things, too. The link is from an Out magazine profile of Greenwald.)

Unfortunately, Ross Douthat falls into the same trap, thinking that Paul is the only candidate crying out about some of these issues. And so does Robert Wright, who may think this isn't a "nonzero" of Paul vs. others

On Greenwald, this is why I really like him 70-80 percent of the time, like him 10-15 percent of the time, but somewhere around 15 percent of the time, sometimes more (such as his refusal to tout any civil liberties organizations besides ACLU, which is problematic given ACLU's current rulership) he's just a "cropper."

This is probably why, since My Yahoo doesn't support Salon's feed of Greenwald, I kind of miss seeing what he was writing on a regular basis, but not hugely.

Visit this blog post, also in comments below, about the Out profile I linked above. The author says, overall rightfully, that Greenwald doth protest too much, and shows how Glenn is ultimately a full-blown libertarian still. True progressives should realize he'll never give the time of day to Greens or Socialists. And, the fact that he still has half a political man-crush on Paul shouldn't be surprising.

I'll probably remove him from my blog roll soon. There's other reasons, including one big one.

Basically, for Glenn, civil liberties defense begins and ends with the ACLU. He refuses to tout other organizations like the Center for Constitutional Rights. And, he's never written about the Romero/Strosser "coup" in the ACLU a few years back, well documented by Wendy Kaminer and blogged about by me. It's enough to make me wonder if he doesn't get consulting fees or something from the ACLU when he flies back from Brazil.

And, no, I don't expect him to talk about left-of-center third parties, like Greens or Socialists, in the near future.

A new mindset

Shortly after I moved to Odessa, Texas in 2009, the sports editor at the paper recommended a Thai restaurant as a good eating place. As it turns out, it was next door to my apartment complex there.

Well, I never went there. And, my last night in Odessa, as I walked around the complex, I was glad.

And, there's a story behind that.

More than a decade ago, in southeastern New Mexico, my office manager was an interesting, and generally good-at-heart person. Her religious/philosophical/psychological beliefs were a mix of Joyce Meyer's riff on the success gospel and a vaguely Christian/New Age mashup of "things are meant to happen."

She wanted out of the city, and definitely to a better position. And she was smart enough.

That said, she sometimes said words to the effect of, "I probably haven't gotten out of here because I haven't done X."

Well, for various reasons, those words stuck in my mind after I was fired at that newspaper and moved on to a new newspaper job, new city. I thought, at times, maybe I haven't left here yet because I haven't "done X."

Well, I eventually got moved to metropolitan Dallas, where there are a million X-es to do. After my newspaper in our suburban chain closed, I was trying to get out of my rural East Texas newspaper job after that as soon as possible. But, I didn't have that mindset, nor did I even think about it.

Nor did I after I got back to Dallas. Then, the entire chain closed.

And, I eventually wound up in Bush-ville.

And, as I walked past that Thai restaurant, I didn't think about not having gone there. I did think about how that old "thing must happen for a reason" and related mindset was pretty well purged.

And, that's my New Year's resolution for myself and wish for you readers: A new mindset.

Skeptical about "received wisdom" in the best way, skeptical about myself in the best way, and open to new growth in the best way.

Happy New Year.