Groundhog Day, Chinese
Astronomy, Halloween,
May Day, and other Curiosities

Every February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a groundhog named "Phil" is supposed to indicate whether Spring has arrived or if there will be six more weeks of Winter (i.e. until the Vernal Equinox). In 2014, Phil has seen his shadow (despite clouds and snow -- perhaps it was the television lights), which means six more week of Winter. So far the Winter in the Midwest, East, and even South has been unusually cold and snowy. Atlanta got 2.6 inches of snow in one day, paralyzing the city and catching the Weather Channel off guard -- they had sent Jim Cantore to Charleston, where nothing much happened. A thaw in the Northeast meant no white Christmas in New York, except for a dusting, but there were significant snowfalls before and after. Another thaw cycle has made for a warmer Super Bowl, which was incautiously scheduled for the open stadium at the Meadowlands (i.e. the swamps) in New Jersey. As the jet stream moved north in the East, it moved south in the West, finally providing some rain and snow in California, which was again in one of its periodic droughts.

The coincidence of Groundhog Day with Super Bowl LXVIII seems to have magnified interest; and this year Phil is going with the flow that a strong Winter so far will continue through February. The weather has had Global Warming advocates scrambling for explanations of why the cold isn't really what it looks like, although they still have some difficulty with the circumstance that global temperatues have not increased now for something like 15 years. They have taken the approach that warming is taking place in the oceans rather than the atmosphere. Meanwhile, an Antarctic expedition to examine global warming became trapped in the ice on 24 December 2013, earning the sobriquet "ship of fools." Participants had to be rescued by helicopter. [note].

Groundhog Day is commemorated elsewhere, and there are other groundhogs besides Phil, each promoted by an interested locality; but Punxsutawney seems to get the most media attention and is immortalized in the excellent and imaginative movie Groundhog Day [1993], with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell -- although the movie was actually shot in Illinois and not in the real Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania. The real Punxsutawney does have a town square with an old hotel standing on it, the "historic" Pantal Hotel; but Gobbler's Nob, where the Groundhog Day ceremonies are held, is really on a hill outside of town, not in the town square as shown in the movie. Phil normally lives in a "habitat" constructed by the Pittsburgh Zoo in the Punxsutawney Public Library, which does happen to be on one side of the town square.

Hollywood poetic license or not, Groundhog Day itself remains unexplained -- the local theory that it was carried by the Romans, by way of a Christian couplet ("If Candlemas Day is bright and clear -- There'll be two winters in the year"), to northern Europe, is no explanation at all. Here my concern is not in the folklore or history of Groundhog Day, but in the question why February 2nd might be thought to mark a possible beginning of Spring. This leads off into other curiosities.

The accompanying chart shows the astronomical events that mark the seasons as they are familiar in modern astronomy. The Equinoxes are days where day and night are the same length. The Solstices mark the days with the longest period of day or the longest period of night. Which is which depends on the hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the December Solstice marks the longest night; but in the Southern Hemisphere, it has the longest day. Similarly, the June Solstice is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere but the longest night in the Southern. The seasons are likewise reversed: The December Solstice marks the beginning of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but the beginning of Summer in the Southern. The chart is written for the Northern Hemisphere because historically that was where calendars developed and where astronomical traditions began. Two dates are given for each Equinox and Solstice because they drift backwards until, every four years, a leap day is introduced to correct them. Thus, the Vernal Equinox usually falls on 20 March but drifts back to 21 March in the year before a Leap Year. It is then abruptly reset to 20 March after a leap day occurs on 29 February. The second date is the "ideal" one usually cited as "the" date, as with 21 March (used in Groundhog Day itself) for the Vernal Equinox.

One might ask, however, just why Spring was thought to begin right with the Vernal Equinox, Summer right with the Summer Solstice, etc. There are other ways to do it. The seasons of the ancient Egyptians had nothing to do with the Equinoxes and Solstices. The Egyptians had three seasons: the Flood (3kht), Winter (prt), and Summer (shmw). The Flood meant the flood of the Nile, which came to be correlated with the "heliacal rising" of the star Sirius, or the time in July when Sirius first becomes visible in the morning before sunrise. So if we use the Equinoxes and Solstices to mark the seasons, where did that begin? Whose seasons were they originally?

As it happens, they were the seasons of the Sumerians and Babylonians, later adopted by the Greeks, and then later adopted by the Romans, to be spread to everyone following in Roman cultural footsteps. A similar process occurred with the names of the planets: The bright planet Inanna of the Sumerians, named after the goddess of love and beauty, was simply translated as Ishtar into Babylonian, then as Aphroditê into Greek, and finally as Venus into Latin.

The Babylonian New Year was associated with the beginning of Spring. Since the Babylonian calendar used lunar months, which always began on the evening when the young Crescent moon could first be observed, the rule for the New Year was that it started with the first month after the Vernal Equinox, or the first New Moon to be thus observed. Both Judaism and Christianity contain elements of this rule: The Jewish month of Nîsân (which is clearly the name of the Babylonian month Nisannu, a name also used in Arabic for "April" in the Levant and Iraq), when Passover occurs, is supposed to contain the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. Since the Jewish calendar has accumulated some error over the centuries, this is not always true, but that was the original idea. Similarly, in Christianity, Easter is supposed to fall on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon on or after the Vernal Equinox. There are many exceptions to this rule in Eastern Orthodox Churches that still use the Julian calendar; but the secular accumulation of error was corrected in the Gregorian calendar and its lunar tables, which most Christian Churches now use, so Easter in general is celebrated with some astronomical precision.

When the Babylonian seasons have become our seasons in the modern world, it is a little jarring to come across something like a footnote to Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream explaining that "Midsummer Night" (or "Eve") actually means 23 June, the night before "Midsummer Day," 24 June. But, one may object, 23/24 June is at the beginning of Summer, not in "mid" summer! What is going on here? Well, it looks like this represents some different way of reckoning the seasons. What way could there be? Well, one need go no further than Chinese astronomy to find just such a way that would put 23/24 June quite in "mid" summer.

In Chinese astronomy the Equinoxes and Solstices are all reckoned to occur in the middle, not at the beginning, of their respective seasons. This has the convenient and symmetrical effect of placing all the shortest days of the year in Winter and all of the longest days of the year in Summer. Spring and Autumn only contain days of rapidly changing length near the Equinoxes. Chinese Spring thus begins when the sun is midway between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. That occurs on 3 or 4 February, depending on the year (as with the dates of the Equinoxes and Solstices themselves above). Since Chinese Summer thus begins on 5/6 May, 23 or 24 June, hard by the Solstice (20/21 June), is then definitely in "mid" summer.

As with the Babylonian New Year, the Chinese New Year, which occurred on 1 February in 2003, the day before Groundhog Day, is correlated to the beginning of Spring. The actual rule for the Chinese New Year, used since the Han Dynasty (specifically since the T'ai-ch'u Era of the Emperor Wu Ti in 104 BC), is that the New Year is the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice. Like the Babylonians, the Chinese used lunar months, though they came to regard the actual New Moon, rather than the first appearance of the young Crescent, as the beginning of the month. This rule seems very peculiar. "Second New Moon"? What's that supposed to be? Then one notices that this rule is virtually the equivalent of a rule that puts the New Year at the closest New Moon to the beginning of Spring on 3/4 February. Since a lunar (synodic) month is 29.5 days long, the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice is not going to occur before about 20 January, or later than about 19 February. That puts 3/4 February squarely in the middle of the range. So the Chinese associated the New Year with Spring just like the Babylonians, but they saw astronomical Spring differently from the Babylonians, and also went for the closest New Moon, which was calculated, instead of the first New Moon after, which could be observed.

This now brings us back to Groundhog Day: If Punxsutawney Phil does not see his shadow, as he did not in 1997 and 2007, and he reckons Spring to have arrived, he is simply using the Chinese seasons instead of the Babylonian. Were he to see his shadow and defer Spring six weeks (until 15/16 March), this puts it within range of the Babylonian reckoning. But what could the groundhog possibly know about Chinese astronomy? Well, we might ask the same about Shakespeare writing A Midsummer Night's Dream. Both Groundhog Day and Midsummer Day are old European traditions, brought to America mainly from England and Germany. Since the Babylonian seasons were brought to northern Europe by the Romans, it is tempting, and more, to think that both holidays reflect a pre-Roman astronomy that construed the seasons in the same way as Chinese astronomy. Since Chinese influence seems unlikely, and since we have some evidence of pre-Roman astronomy in Britain by the arrangement of stones at Stonehenge to observe events like the Solstices, it is not improbable that the requisite astronomical tradition was indigenous. There are suriving Celtic traditions (i.e. Irish and Gaelic) about the "cross-quarter" days, Samhain (pronounced /sawin/ or /saun/ in one of the curiosities of Irish spelling) in November, Imbolc in February, Beltane in May, and Lughnasadh in August. Similar ideas about the seasons may even have occurred elsewhere: There is speculation that some markings at the great Anasazi ruins in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, may betray analogous interest in the mid-points between the Equinoxes and Solstices.

The existence of Groundhog Day and Midsummer Day thus are clues to the survival, as cultural fossils even after the adoption of Roman (Greek/Babylonian) astronomy, of an older European reckoning of the seasons, perhaps even from the Celtic tradition itself. Groundhog Day may bespeak the sort of perplexities that probably occurred in the midst of that assimilation: Come February, people weren't quite sure whether it was Springtime or not. So they may have figured it could be either, depending on the auspices. But there is more. There are two other peculiar occasions that correspond to a Chinese-like reckoning of the seasons. These have the distinctive characteristic that a sanctified day is preceded by a night in which the forces of evil are thought to be unusually active. The most famous and commonly observed is the combination of Halloween ("All Hallow Even") and All Saints' Day (Hallowmas, Samhain), 31 October and 1 November, respectively [note]. This is hard by the beginning of Chinese Winter on 6/7 November. Six months later, coincident with the beginning of Chinese Summer on 5/6 May, we find May Day on 1 May (Beltane) and Walpurgisnacht on 30 April.

James George Frazer in his classic, if rather dated, The Golden Bough [1890, 1900, 1906-1915], addressed the question of the origin of All Souls and All Saints Days:

In order to answer this question we should observe, first, that celebrations of this sort are often held at the beginning of a New Year, and, second, that the peoples of North-Western Europe, the Celts and the Teutons, appear to have dated the beginning of their year from the beginning of winter, the Celts reckoning it from the first of November, and the Teutons from the first of October... These considerations suggest that the festival of All Souls on the second of November originated with the Celts and spread from them to the rest of the European peoples... [The Golden Bough, A New Abridgement from the Second and Third Editions, edited by Robert Fraser, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 384]

Although much of Frazer's theoretical approach is now objectionable, there still seems little objection to this conclusion. Similarly, May Day is clearly a very ancient, pre-Christian, and pre-Roman holiday. The unique and obscure ritual of dancing around the Maypole and wrapping it with streamers is an extraordinary testament to meanings that are now lost -- with a ritual now sadly rarely practiced. Although, unlike 1 November, May Day was largely uncompromised by Christianity, it later achieved a form of secular sanctification and sad politicization when it was adopted in 1887 by the socialist parties of Europe to be the International Labor Day. Labor Day in most countries is still 1 May. In the United States, where this was rejected for its association with socialism, May Day has consequently become all but unobserved, except by Communists and other serious Leftists.

What Frazer could not understand was why November should be taken as the beginning of Winter or May the beginning of Summer. Commenting on two great Celtic occasions (Beltane and Samhain), he says:

They were two in number, and fell at an interval of six months, one being celebrated on the eve of May Day and the other on Allhallow Even or Hallowe'en, as it is now commonly called, that is, on the thirty-first of October, the day preceding All Saints' or Allhallows' Day. These dates coincide with none of the four great hinges on which the solar year revolves, to wit, the solstices and the equinoxes. Nor do they agree wtih the principal seasons of the agricultural year, the sowing in spring and the reaping in autumn. [p.731]

All he can come up with is that they may relate to the practices of husbandry (p.731), to drive out or bring in the herds from pastures. For all his vast research and learning, Frazer evidently never came across the "great hinges" of the solar year as analyzed by Chinese astronomy. Nor did he question the conventional, Babylonian boundaries of the seasons, even though he uses the paradoxical terms "Midsummer Eve" and "Midsummer Day" countless times -- it never struck him that these terms were apparently applied in the "wrong" part of summer.

The night before May Day came to be associated in Germany with St. Walburga (died c.779), an English nun who joined the mission (begun in 718) of St. Boniface of Crediton (c.675-754/5) to convert the remaining German pagans to Christianity. She died at Heidenheim, but her remains were supposed to have been transferred to Eichstätt on 1 May. That is sometimes said to be her feast day, but her actual feast day is 25 February. The night before the occasion of the transfer, 30 April, came to be known as Walburga's Night, or Walpurgisnacht in German. This, curiously, came to be regarded, like Halloween, as a time of evil. One is left to wonder if this association followed or preceded the connection with Walburga, or if there were ever any evil overtones to 30 April outside Germany. It is also unclear whether the overtones of evil arose from something about Walburga or her body itself or because, as on Halloween, evil is thought to decamp under the influence of the particular holiness of the following day -- or, as with many New Year celebrations, because of the idea that the world is coming apart, reverting to Chaos, until reconstituted by the New Year's rites. The transport of Walburga's body might evoke either idea since a dead body can seem a thing of horror and evil, while a Saint's body, or even a part of it as a relic, was traditionally seen as a miraculous and beatific object.

The specifically German connection of Walpurgisnacht is now magnified by a particularly horrific historical association: 30 April marks the day when Adolf Hitler committed suicide -- an event vividly recreated in the 2004 movie Downfall (Der Untergang). This might not have been entirely coincidental. Josef Stalin was probably planning on Russian troops taking Berlin on May Day, his own sanctified day, so Hitler may have chosen what seemed like the last convenient moment to escape capture. (As it happened, the Soviets didn't have complete control of the city until May 2nd, at the cost of 400,000 to 500,000+ Russian soldiers, in fact one of the bloodiest battles in all of World War II.) But now the thought of Hitler's spirit released into the darkness, or consigned to Hell, the joy of his enemies to be rid of him, or the sorrow of his sympathizers to have lost him, are all firmly dated to Walpurgisnacht itself. (This is sometimes confused with Hitler's birthday, which was actually 20 April -- now with its own horrible association, the massacre and suicide on April 20, 1999, by two nihilistic, Hitler-loving high school students in Littleton, Colorado.)

Whether we are justified in connecting the (morally) complex occasions of Halloween and May Day with the ancient astronomy that Groundhog Day and Midsummer Day seem to reveal is open to question. They are certainly off axis, as it were, for the familiar astronomical benchmarks of the Babylonian, Greek, and Roman system, neither close to a Solstice nor close to an Equinox -- in contrast, for instance, to the Jewish New Year, Rôsh Hashshânnâh, which shadows the Autumnal Equinox as Passover follows the Vernal Equinox. While I have no special knowledge of Celtic or Germanic religion and folklore, and while there seem to be a lot of popular stories about such religions that themselves appear to be New Age folklore, there does seem to be enough good information to motivate these conclusions.

When I find it snowing over Thanksgiving, I often wonder if Winter is really not going to begin until a month later. At the same time, Chinese Spring, on February 3rd or 4th, seems rather early for Spring -- and August doesn't really feel like Autumn at all, except that the days are getting shorter. As it happens, there is a kind of official compromise between the Babylonian and Chinese reckoning of the Seasons. The "Meteorological Seasons" make for more of a fit with the weather we often observe. In these terms, all of March belongs to Spring, all of September to Autumn, all of December to Winter, and all of March to Spring. Something of the sort is already embodied in the traditional sense that Summer extends from Memorial Day (previously May 30, now the last Monday in May) to Labor Day (the first Monday in September). This period will thus always include the months of June, July, and August. It used to be the fashion that women only wore white shoes (etc.) in this season.

Although the inception of the months is entirely arbitrary, there is a physical reality behind the "Meteorological" divisions. From the appearance or disappearance of the Sun in the North, there is a lag while warm or cold air builds up. By November, it is certainly dark enough in the Arctic for freezing temperatures; but there is then a delay before the air begins spilling south. So we should expect that genuinely meteorological seasons would be asymmetrical around the equinoxes and solstices. This still puts Thanksgiving in the Autumn, unless, of course, we use the previous Chinese Solar Term, or Zodiacal Sign, instead of the very artibrary beginning of the month on the Gregorian Calendar. Perhaps we could ask Punxsutawney Phil to chose, year by year.

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Groundhog Day, Chinese Astronomy, Halloween, May
Day, and other Curiosities, Note 1

In 2013, Phil did not see his shadow, which meant an early Spring. Until then, the Winter had been a mixed bag. Chicago went without snow or sub-freezing highs for record lengths of time. But then many places got a White Christmas. After some considerable snowfall there was then a January thaw. Punxsutawney itself on February 2nd was cold with light snow. Of course, that means it was cloudy, which actually would lead to Phil not seeing his shadow. The speculation was that since last year turned out to be very warm, very early, Phil decided to go with the flow and bet the percentages of warmth again. After some unusual freezes, Los Angeles was in the 70's that week, while New York was cold.

Going with the flow did not seem work out for Phil. After Groundhog Day there were a series of major snowstorms in the Midwest and East. On 9 February, the storm called "Nemo" by The Weather Channel dropped 24.9 inches of snow at Logan Airport in Boston, the 5th largest snow event in more than 100 years. There was still snow falling some places on St. Patrick's Day, less than a week before the Vernal Equinox, although it was warm in the South. Meanwhile, Moscow had the heaviest snowfall in a century.

In 2012, Phil saw his shadow, which meant six more weeks of winter. At that point, however, the Winter, despite a bizarre October blizzard that paralyzed several Northeastern States, had been unusually warm in the Midwest, Northeast, and South. It was enough to give heart to the Global Warming people, after the cold Winter a year ago -- and especially when the Summer of 2012 turned out to be unusually warm across much of the Nation. But some odd things had been happening. Towns in Alaska were buried in snow. Nome was iced in, to the point that the town was in danger of running out of fuel, until a tanker was escorted in by Coast Guard icebreakers. Unusually heavy snowfalls hit Washington State and even the city of Seattle. Other unusual snow fell as far south as the Texas Panhandle and southern New Mexico. As of February 2nd, extreme cold and snowfalls affected Eastern Europe, resulting in the deaths of perhaps 100 people. Thus, while was 70 degrees outdoors on February 2nd in Los Angeles, there did seem to be a great deal of cold air around. We were told later, however, that Global Warming was going to produce greater snowfall.

In 2011, Phil did not seen his shadow, which meant an early Spring. However, as Phil was making his appearance, a historic bizzard was draped across the country from Texas to Massachusetts, with heavy snow from Oklahoma past Chicago. It had already been a fierce Winter across the Midwest and East, and would continue to be one. Where I spent the Holidays in New Jersey, there were four snowfalls in four weeks, including a post-Christmas storm that paralyzed New York City. Unusual ice and snow also afflicted Atlanta. In the San Fernando Valley, my own Davis Instruments weather station recorded 8.49 inches for December but only 1.04 inches for January. That brought the year, since July 1, 2010, up to 12.30 inches, about where it was at that point in 2010. Subsequent rain brought the total for the year up to 23.62 inches, with 3.63 inches for February and 7.09 inches for March.

In 2010, Phil saw his shadow, which meant six more weeks of winter. So far it had been a winter of serious cold and snow across much of the United States. Within the previous week, there was cold and heavy snow and ice in a band from New Mexico through Oklahoma and all the way to North Carolina. The Northeast had a heavy snowfall right before Christmas, which was still on the ground when I drove into New Jersey on December 22nd. California, mercifully, got some rain, but there had not been enough yet to really break the drought. My weather station had recorded 6.78 inches for January and 12.06 inches since July 1, 2009. This was within striking distance of, at least, normal rainfall. As it happened, I ended up with 20.26 inches for the year, well above normal.

In 2009, Phil saw his shadow also. It had been a curious winter that year, like 2008, with some very cold temperatures and some very warm periods also. There had been heavy snow in the Midwest and the Northeast, with record cold temperatures. California, continuing in drought and warmth, had a number of rain storms in January, but they dropped relatively little rain. My own weather station, again, recorded only 0.46 inches for January and 2.19 inches for the season. We ended up getting only 9.94 inches for the 2008-2009 year.

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Groundhog Day, Chinese Astronomy, Halloween, May
Day, and other Curiosities, Note 2

Halloween and All Saints' Day have, after a fashion, spilled over onto adjactent days. "All Souls' Day" is 2 November, a day for the commemoration of the dead, like Qing Ming in Chinese religion. This has been elaborated into the "Day of the Dead," Día de los Muertos, in Mexico, with visits to cemeteries, as in Qing Ming, and a vast variety of distinctive art, as at right, which seems to owe something to the Aztecs.

Similarly, even as Halloween itself has softened into a children's holiday, the day before Halloween, 30 October, has taken on some of its older, more sinister characteristics. Thus, the often malicious and destructive pranks that used to be characteristic of Halloween have tended to migrate to the night before. Early on this became "Gate Night" in rural areas, where a favorite bit of vandalism was to remove gates and allow livestock to scatter. Migrating to cities, the night became "Mischief Night" or even "Hell Night," and the vandalism grew into real destruction of public and private property, including arson. This was enough of a problem in the 1920's and '30's that it led to the original efforts to tame Halloween itself into the children's holiday. Although this largely succeeded, the night of 30 October lived on in terror in some places. Thus, here and there it became "Devil's Night," with a particular focus on widespread arson.

Nowhere was this more famous than in Detroit. Decades of government by the Democrats have destroyed the local economy, led to the flight of much of the population (250,000 in the last decade), has now (May 2011) produced a 47% illiteracy rate, with 17% unemployment (as of April 2012), left large areas of the city abandoned, and created the perfect conditions -- of nihilism, crime, and neglect -- that all but invited widespread arson fires. Nobody cared about all those empty buildings anyway. The 4 December 2012 Wall Street Journal noted that in the city, "two-thirds of its street lights are broken" ["Motown's Mental Breakdown," A16]. The Detroit "Devil's Night" ritual was commemorated in a 1994 movie, The Crow, during the filming of which Brandon Lee, Bruce's Lee's son, was killed in a freak accident. In the story, and as explained in the director's commentary by Alex Proyas (also the director of I Robot), we learn that all the abandoned buildings are part of some plot by landlords or developers to make money -- or at least to collect the insurance after local gangsters burn them down (we don't see any development, as in fact there has not been, and most of the buildings in the movie have not been burned down).

Now, arson fires are sometimes set in order for the property owners to collect money from the fire insurance, but this only works if the buildings are worth something to be insured (or are accidentally or fraudulently overinsured). But the abandoned buildings in Detroit are actually worth nothing. They are abandoned precisely because they have lost all economic value, in a place where economy activity has all but disappeared. Of the 137 square mile area of the City of Detroit, 60 square miles are now uninhabited. The population of the City, 1,849,568 in 1950, had fallen to an estimated 910,920 by 2009. To everyone's dismay, the 2010 census reported that Detroit's population was actually only 713,777 -- the smallest the city has been since the 1910 census. Detroit has the highest poverty rate, at 33%, of any city with a population over 250,000 in the country. Ironically, when there were terrible riots in Detroit in the '60's, the city was in much better shape:

...the most lethal riot of that era occurred in Detriot, where the poverty rate among blacks was only half that of blacks nationwide, while the homeownership rate among blacks was higher than among blacks in any other city, and the black unemployment rate in Detriot was 3.4 percent, which was lower than the unemployment rate among whites nationwide. [Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, Basic Books, 2011, p.286, boldface added]

It was a bad sign to have so much evident dissatisfaction, when there was so little of substance to complain about. Don't worry. They fixed that. Today, the city government of Detroit, still in the hands of clueless Democrats, having driven much of the population and most of the business out of their city, can think of nothing better to do about all this than raise taxes again. Detroit is not the only city in Michigan to experience such demographic and economic collapse. Some Michigan politicians have proposed that abandoned areas be returned to nature, which presumably would entail removing infrastructure like streets, sewers, and power lines.

Thus, Alex Proyas, facing a situation that exemplifies the failure, despair, and anarchy of socialist politics, choose to see it all through a Leftist prism as an indictment of capitalism -- the standard and characteristic sophistry in the apologetic for the failures of socialism. Unfortunately, arson fires have also been common, and for similar reasons, in the darling of Euro-Socialism, France, and were especially conspicuous in the 2005 riots there. Stands of abandoned buildings in New York City (in Harlem, the South Bronx, and Bedford-Stuyvesant), long providing a backdrop for politicians pontificating about the difference their programs were going to make, now tend to be demolished; but I don't think there have been suggestions to return the areas to nature. Meanwhile, nobody needs to return anything to nature in Texas.

A similar sort of Bizarro World mindset was evident in Michael Moore, attending anti-Capitalist demonstrations in New York City in September 2011 (gee, that's something new for that part of the country). Moore said that he hated Capitalism because it had destroyed his home town:  Flint, Michigan. The reporter interviewing him did not point out that, after all, Capitalism had built Flint in the first place, while it was Democrat domination of Michigan politics for years that has managed to destroy it, just like Detroit. I expect that Moore's mind is impervious to either facts or irony.

Devil's Night consequently now encompasses a brace of evil associations:  the untimely death of Brandon Lee, the nihilism and despair of sociopathic arsonists, and the socialistic politics that create the conditions for their existence. Eventually, of course, the buildings are all burned and even the criminals must move on to places where wealth is still created and preserved (i.e. Houston). This really means, of course, that Devil's Night, not May Day, is the proper occasion of international Communist celebration.

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