Today’s Funny: Santa and The Train Set

Santa and The Train Set

While working in a store as Santa Claus, I had lots of boys ask me for an electric train set. “If you get your train,” I would tell each one, “you know your dad is going to want to play with it too.  Is that okay?”

The usual answer was a quick yes, but after I asked one boy this question, he became very quiet.  Trying to move the conversation along, I asked what else he would like Santa to bring him.

He promptly replied, “Another train.”

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Today’s Extra: How to Avoid a Holiday Accident

How to Avoid a Holiday Accident

The holidays can be a great time to rejoice with family and close friends, however, you choose to celebrate it. Unfortunately, this time of year can also bring about an unexpected holiday accident. Whether it be decoration-related, undercooked holiday foods that make you ill, or personal injuries that only seem to happen around this festive time of year – here are 6 tips that will help you avoid them altogether

PREVENTING FOOD POISONING:

Invest in a Meat Thermometer

The days of leaving a fully-cooked turkey up to chance is a thing of the past. With modern technology, there really isn’t an excuse for meat being undercooked in a social gathering. If you’re notorious for undercooking the turkey at Thanksgiving or leaving the ham a little… chilly, pick up a handy meat thermometer while you’re at the store. Trust me, it’ll help ease the several hours of stress worrying whether your guests will be going home with more than a full stomach. You can find helpful tips on how to properly test the temperature of meats in this article here.

PREVENTING FIRES & BURN ACCIDENTS

Monitor your Holiday Lighting- Watch out for Fire Hazards

What many don’t realize is Christmas trees are highly flammable. Any type of spark or flame can quickly leave your tree engulfed in flames. Fires and burn injuries are common throughout this time of year because of this. Many people have old Christmas lights they leave on all night unattended. This is very dangerous.

Invest in a “Smart Plug”

If you’re the type of person who likes having the lights on until a certain time of night, which may also be past your bedtime, invest in a scheduling monitor for your lights. “Smart Plugs” can be used to schedule times to turn your lights on and off, while also saving you money on your electricity bill by turning off power to unused appliances. You can do this for both your indoor and outdoor lights. You can find tons of different options on Amazon and the Google store.

USE CARE WHEN DECKING THE HALLS

Last year, more than 14,000 people went to the emergency room for injuries caused by Christmas decorations.  Lacerations, strains, sprains and contusions were the most commonly reported injuries.  If you are hanging glass bulb ornaments on the tree, make sure they are hung high enough so that children and pets cannot reach them.  Use caution when pulling boxes of decorations out or putting them away as these activities are a leading cause of related E.R. visits.

AVOIDING HOLIDAY CAR ACCIDENTS

Pay Attention When Driving

Winter can be a very dangerous time for roadway drivers. Things like black ice, flooding, harsh weather conditions, and distracted or drunk drivers are all elements that can increase the likelihood of a dangerous accident.

Drive Slow

Be extra careful when driving throughout the holidays – monitoring speed, increasing following distance to 8-10 seconds, and always watching the road around you.

Watch out for drunk drivers

Drunk drivers are also more likely to hit the roads around this time of year so watch out for swerving cars, reckless driving, and report drunk drivers to your local law enforcement when you can.

PREVENTING SLIP & FALL ACCIDENTS

Ladder Tips

Many people visit the urgent care around this time of year as a result of a slip & fall accident, many of which are attributed to ladder falls. Common mistakes on handling and properly standing a ladder can lead to mishaps and, unfortunately, serious injuries.

Here are a few common ladder-handling tips that can help make sure your back and decorations are in tip-top shape:

  • Place ladder up on a flat and stable ground, away from power lines and doors
  • Have someone to act as a spotter to hold the ladder still for you or to call for help need be
  • Wear close-toed shoes with a gripping sole
  • NEVER stand on the top rung
  • Only have one person on the rungs of the ladder at a time

Save the accidents for another time of year and use these tips mentioned to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones during this festive time of year.

 

Care2.com

Moon Phase Calendar for Tuesday, December 25

Moon Phase Calendar

Tuesday – 25th December 2018

Current Moon Phase: Waning gibbous
Moon Currently In the Sign of Leo

Moon in Leo:

You feel safe in moments when you can impress others and get praise and admiration. Yet, when you get into the spotlight, you may find yourself at a loss. Maybe you should admit your fear of criticism and your inability to accept criticism. It is very important to accept feedback and use it for improvement.

Organs influenced by Leo Moon Sign:

Organs: Heart, aorta, blood circulation, blood pressure, heart rate.

These organs are now more sensitive so provide them with extra care.

Surgical operations:

Surgical operations are recommended during the Waning Moon.
However, avoid surgeries of organs under the influence of the Moon Sign.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Ishtar Complains To Anu, King Of Heaven, (Part 27)

(Who Creates A Winged Bull To Destroy Ishtar)

Before the throne of Anu, Ishtar cries,
And Anatu, the sovereigns of the skies:
“O Sar, this king my beauty doth despise,
My sweetest charms beholds not with his eyes.”
And Anu to his daughter thus replied:
“My daughter, thou must crush his vaunting pride,
And he will claim thy beauty and thy charms,
And gladly lie within thy glorious arms.”

“I hate him now, O Sar, as I did love!
Against the strength of Anu let him prove
His right divine to rule without our aid,
Before the strength of Anu let him bleed.
Upon this giant Sar so filled with pride,
Let Anu’s winged bull[1] in fury ride,
And I will aid the beast to strike him prone,
Till he in death shall breathe his dying groan.”
And Anu said: “If thou to it shall join
Thy strength, which all thy noble names define
Thy glories[2] and thy power thus magnified,
Will humble him, who has thy power defied,”
And Ishtar thus: “By all my might as queen
Of war and battles, where I proudly reign,
This Sar my hands shall strike upon the plain,
And end his strength and all his boastings vain.
By all the noble names with gods I hold
As queen of war, this giant monarch bold,
Who o’er mine ancient city thinks to reign,
Shall lie for birds of prey upon the plain.
For answering my love for thee with scorn,
Proud monarch! from thy throne thou shalt be torn!”

For Ishtar, Anu from the clouds creates
A shining monster with thick brazen plates
And horns of adamant;[3] and now it flies
Toward the palace, roaring from the skies.

[Footnote 1: “Anu’s winged bull,” Taurus, constellation of the heavens.]–[Footnote 2: “Glories” (“maskhi”). This word is not translated by Mr. Sayce.]–[Footnote 3: “Horns of adamant.” Sayce translates in I. 22, col. v., horns of crystal–“thirty manehs of crystal,” etc. The meaning probably of “zamat stone,” as given by Smith, was a hard substance, such as the diamond or adamant. By some translators it has been rendered onyx, and others lazuli.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet V (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The Fight With The Winged Bull Of Anu (Part 28); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: The King’s Answer And Ishtar’s Rage (Part 26) Assyrian

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM

 

THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM

WAS THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM A REAL CELESTIAL BODY?
Dec 24, 2018

Was the Star of Bethlehem a real celestial body or a miraculous vision? Astronomer Bob Berman discusses the prevailing theories and adds his own thoughts into the mix.

STAR OF WONDER?

Each holiday season, planetariums present their “Star of Wonder” show, which offers astronomical explanations for one of the most famous stars of all—the Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas Star. This is the star that the wise men from the East followed to Jerusalem in the nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew.

The shows typically suggest that the Christmas Star was either a comet, a conjunction of bright planets, or maybe even a supernova. Or, perhaps it was Jupiter alone in the constellation Aries, according to a newer thesis that got New York Times headlines a few years ago.

WHAT WAS THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM?

Whether planet, star, or supernova, everything arcs rightward during the night. The Magi would have traveled in a giant semicircle if they had followed any kind of celestial object. What’s more, no astronomical body can come to a screeching halt and hover over Bethlehem or anywhere else.

 

The only celestial objects that don’t move much are located in the north—like Polaris, the North Star, which appears glued in place. But that eliminates planets, which are never in the north. Plus, the Magi weren’t going north to get to Bethlehem, but southwest.

Many scholars believe that when the account was first written a century after Christ’s death, the Star was intended to be an ASTROLOGICAL omen. By this reasoning, it was never an actual object in the real sky. This idea is supported by the fact that the Star appears in Matthew, but not at all in Luke.

 

In any case, astrology (which appears in the earliest of almanacs) eventually fell into total disfavor—first with the church and later with science—making this explanation popular with neither. And planetariums are reluctant to get into this because astrology is the last thing they want to discuss!

Now, hold off on any angry letters. The whole point of this discussion is to point out that when people suggest some natural phenomenon—such as a comet that just happened to appear at the right place and then just happened to stop and hover over the manger—well, that itself would be indistinguishable from a miracle.

FAITH IN THE MIRACULOUS

Why offer a scientific explanation that has to unfold outside the laws of science?

And religion is similarly mistreated because the whole search for the real Christmas Star suggests that faith in the miraculous is unnecessary, because there’s some kind of rational science explanation for the Star. In short, neither science nor religion are well served.

No matter. And as far as the planetarium programs go … They have become a holiday tradition of their own, so we might as well just sit back and enjoy!

What do you think the Star of Bethlehem was? Let us know in the comments!

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s blog on stargazing and astronomy. Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, he covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob, the world’s mostly widely read astronomer, also has a new weekly podcast, Astounding Universe!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: CHRISTMAS DAY 2018

 

CHRISTMAS DAY 2018

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS, FOLKLORE, RECIPES, AND MORE
By The Old Farmer’s Almanac

What is the real meaning of Christmas? Enjoy our Everything Christmas page with Christmas dates, customs, folklore, and beautiful quotes—perfect for a Christmas card!

WHAT IS THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS DAY?

Christmas Day is an annual Christian festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Specifically, the meaning of Christmas comes in the remembrance and celebration of God’s presence in our world through Jesus, God-made flesh.

Although the actual date of Christ’s birth is unknown, Christmas has been symbolically celebrated on the 25th of December since the 4th century.

CHRISTMAS DAY DATES

Year Christmas Day
2018 Tuesday, December 25
2019 Wednesday, December 25
2020 Friday, December 25

CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS

Today’s rich mosaic of Christmas customs dates back through the ages. Evergreen branches were first used in ancient solstice festivals to symbolize life, as they stayed green in winter. This tradition was absorbed by Christians, who interpreted the evergreens as the Paradise tree and began decorating them with apples.

The candles and lights associated with Christmas, meant to symbolize guiding beacons for the Christ child, may have evolved from the Yule log, which was lit to entice the Sun to return as part of the jol (Yule) festival in pagan Scandinavia.

 

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS, TIPS, AND TRIVIA

CHRISTMAS RECIPES

Check out our favorite Christmas recipe collections to get inspired for your holiday meals:

CHRISTMAS CRAFTS

Make your own Christmas decorations this year with these fun and easy holiday crafts:

 

CHRISTMAS WEATHER FOLKLORE

Here at the The Old Farmer’s Almanac, we love our folklore, and so do our readers! A selection of Christmas weather folklore for your perusal:

  • Christmas in snow, Easter in mud. 
  • A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard. 
  • If December be changeable and mild,
    The whole winter will remain a child.
  • Thunder in December presages fine weather.
  • December cold with snow, good for rye.
  • Lengthened winter and tardy spring are both good for hay and grain, but bad for corn and garden.
  • If at Christmas ice hangs on the willow, clover may be cut at Easter.
  • As many mince pies as you taste at Christmas, so many happy months will you have.

 

CHRISTMAS VERSE

Here are some of our favorite quotations. Do any speak to you?

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat,
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you!

Beggar’s Rhyme

All glory be to God on high,
And to the Earth be peace;
Good-will henceforth from heaven to earth
begin and never cease
!
Nahum Tate

Granny’s come to our house, And ho! my lawzy-daisy!
All the children round the place ist a-runnin’ crazy!

James Whitcomb Riley

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Darling of the world is come,
And fit it is we find a room
To welcome Him.
The nobler part
Of all the house here is the heart.

Robert Herrick

Hark, how all the Welkin rings,
‘Glory to the King of Kings’;
Peace on Earth, and Mercy mild,
God and sinners reconcil’d.

Charles Wesley

Celebrations Around the World: Koledouvane

Koledouvane

December 24-25

Koledouvane is the ritual singing of Christmas carols that takes place in Bulgaria each year on December 24 and 25. Thekoledari, or “carol singers,” go from house to house and wish people good health and prosperity. Although their dress andornaments differ from region to region, the koledarka, a long oak stick covered with elaborate carving, is a traditionalaccessory.
similar ritual, called Sourvakari, is carried out on New Year’s DayThose who go from house to house wishing people aHappy New Year carry a decorated dogwood twig, which they use to tap people on the back as they deliver their goodwishes. The near coincidence of the two customs can probably be explained by the switch from the Julian to the Gregoriancalendar. They have survived as separate celebrations, even though they are closely related in meaning.
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 73
EncyChristmas-2003, p. 92
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 720

This Day in History: Hirohito Becomes Emperor of Japan (1926)

Hirohito Becomes Emperor of Japan (1926)

Hirohito[a] (裕仁, 29 April 1901 – 7 January 1989) was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 25 December 1926, until his death on 7 January 1989. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Akihito. In Japan, reigning emperors are known simply as “the Emperor” and he is now referred to primarily by his posthumous name, Emperor Shōwa (昭和天皇). The word Shōwa (昭和) is the name of the era (Shōwa period (昭和時代 Shōwa jidai, potentially “period of enlightened peace/harmony” or “period of radiant Japan”)) coinciding with the Emperor’s reign, after which he is known according to a tradition dating to 1912. The name Hirohito means “abundant benevolence”.

At the start of his reign, Japan was already one of the great powers—the ninth-largest economy in the world, the third-largest naval power, and one of the four permanent members of the council of the League of Nations.[2] He was the head of state under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan during Japan’s imperial expansion, militarization, and involvement in World War II. After Japan’s surrender, he was not prosecuted for war crimes as many other leading government figures were, and his degree of involvement in wartime decisions remains controversial.[3] During the post-war period, he became the symbol of the new state under the post-war constitution and Japan’s recovery, and by the end of his reign, Japan had emerged as the world’s second largest economy.[4]

Born in Tokyo’s Aoyama Palace (during the reign of his grandfather, Emperor Meiji) on 29 April 1901, Hirohito was the first son of 21-year old Crown Prince Yoshihito (the future Emperor Taishō) and 17-year old Crown Princess Sadako (the future Empress Teimei).[5] He was the grandson of Emperor Meiji and Yanagihara Naruko. His childhood title was Prince Michi. On the 70th day after his birth, Hirohito was removed from the court and placed in the care of the family of Count Kawamura Sumiyoshi, a former vice-admiral, who was to rear him as if he were his own grandchild. At the age of 3, Hirohito and his brother Chichibu were returned to court when Kawamura died – first to the imperial mansion in Numazu, Shizuoka, then back to the Aoyama Palace.[6] In 1908, he began elementary studies at the Gakushūin (Peers School).

When his grandfather, Emperor Meiji, died on 30 July 1912, Hirohito’s father, Yoshihito, assumed the throne and Hirohito became the heir apparent. At the same time, he was formally commissioned in both the army and navy as a second lieutenant and ensign, respectively, and was also decorated with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum. In 1914, he was promoted to the ranks of lieutenant in the army and sub-lieutenant in the navy, then to captain and lieutenant in 1916. He was formally proclaimed Crown Prince and heir apparent on 2 November 1916; but an investiture ceremony was not strictly necessary to confirm this status as heir to the throne.[7]

Hirohito attended Gakushūin Peers’ School from 1908 to 1914 and then a special institute for the crown prince (Tōgū-gogakumonsho) from 1914 to 1921. In 1920, Hirohito was promoted to the rank of Major in the army and Lieutenant Commander in the navy. In 1921, Hirohito took a six-month tour of Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Regency

After his return to Japan, Hirohito became Regent of Japan (Sesshō) on 29 November 1921, in place of his ailing father who was affected by a mental illness. In 1923, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the army and Commander in the navy, and to army Colonel and Navy Captain in 1925.

During Hirohito’s regency, a number of important events occurred:

In the Four-Power Treaty on Insular Possessions signed on 13 December 1921, Japan, the United States, Britain, and France agreed to recognize the status quo in the Pacific, and Japan and Britain agreed to terminate formally the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The Washington Naval Treaty was signed on 6 February 1922. Japan withdrew troops from the Siberian Intervention on 28 August 1922. The Great Kantō earthquake devastated Tokyo on 1 September 1923. On 27 December 1923, Daisuke Namba attempted to assassinate Hirohito in the Toranomon Incident but his attempt failed. During interrogation, he claimed to be a communist and was executed but some have suggested that he was in contact with the Nagacho faction in the Army.[citation needed]

Marriage

Prince Hirohito married his distant cousin Princess Nagako Kuni (the future Empress Kōjun), the eldest daughter of Prince Kuniyoshi Kuni, on 26 January 1924. They had two sons and five daughters.[8] (see Issue)

The daughters who lived to adulthood left the imperial family as a result of the American reforms of the Japanese imperial household in October 1947 (in the case of Princess Shigeko) or under the terms of the Imperial Household Law at the moment of their subsequent marriages (in the cases of Princesses Kazuko, Atsuko, and Takako).

Ascension

On 25 December 1926, Hirohito assumed the throne upon his father, Yoshihito’s, death. The Crown Prince was said to have received the succession (senso).[9] The Taishō era’s end and the Shōwa era’s beginning (Enlightened Peace) were proclaimed. The deceased Emperor was posthumously renamed Emperor Taishō within days. Following Japanese custom, the new Emperor was never referred to by his given name, but rather was referred to simply as “His Majesty the Emperor”, which may be shortened to “His Majesty”. In writing, the Emperor was also referred to formally as “The Reigning Emperor”.

In November 1928, the Emperor’s ascension was confirmed in ceremonies (sokui)[9] which are conventionally identified as “enthronement” and “coronation” (Shōwa no tairei-shiki); but this formal event would have been more accurately described as a public confirmation that his Imperial Majesty possesses the Japanese Imperial Regalia,[10] also called the Three Sacred Treasures, which have been handed down through the centuries.[11]

Early reign

The first part of Hirohito’s reign took place against a background of financial crisis and increasing military power within the government, through both legal and extralegal means. The Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy held veto power over the formation of cabinets since 1900, and between 1921 and 1944 there were no fewer than 64 incidents of political violence.

Hirohito narrowly missed assassination by a hand grenade thrown by a Korean independence activist, Lee Bong-chang, in Tokyo on 9 January 1932, in the Sakuradamon Incident.

Another notable case was the assassination of moderate Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi in 1932, which marked the end of civilian control of the military. This was followed by an attempted military coup in February 1936, the February 26 incident, mounted by junior Army officers of the Kōdōha faction who had the sympathy of many high-ranking officers including Prince Chichibu (Yasuhito), one of the Emperor’s brothers. This revolt was occasioned by a loss of political support by the militarist faction in Diet elections. The coup resulted in the murders of a number of high government and Army officials.

When Chief Aide-de-camp Shigeru Honjō informed him of the revolt, the Emperor immediately ordered that it be put down and referred to the officers as “rebels” (bōto). Shortly thereafter, he ordered Army Minister Yoshiyuki Kawashima to suppress the rebellion within the hour, and he asked reports from Honjō every thirty minutes. The next day, when told by Honjō that little progress was being made by the high command in quashing the rebels, the Emperor told him “I Myself, will lead the Konoe Division and subdue them.” The rebellion was suppressed following his orders on 29 February.[12]

Second Sino-Japanese War

Starting from the Mukden Incident in 1931, Japan occupied Chinese territories and established puppet governments. Such “aggression was recommended to Hirohito” by his chiefs of staff and prime minister Fumimaro Konoe, and Hirohito never personally objected to any invasion of China.[13] His main concern seems to have been the possibility of an attack by the Soviet Union in the north. His questions to his chief of staff, Prince Kan’in, and minister of the army, Hajime Sugiyama, were mostly about the time it could take to crush Chinese resistance.

According to Akira Fujiwara, Hirohito endorsed the policy of qualifying the invasion of China as an “incident” instead of a “war”; therefore, he did not issue any notice to observe international law in this conflict (unlike what his predecessors did in previous conflicts officially recognized by Japan as wars), and the Deputy Minister of the Japanese Army instructed the Chief of staff of Japanese China Garrison Army on August 5 to not use the term “prisoners of war” for Chinese captives. This instruction led to the removal of the constraints of international law on the treatment of Chinese prisoners.[14] And the works of Yoshiaki Yoshimi and Seiya Matsuno show that the Emperor authorized, by specific orders (rinsanmei), the use of chemical weapons against the Chinese.[15] During the invasion of Wuhan, from August to October 1938, the Emperor authorized the use of toxic gas on 375 separate occasions,[16] despite the resolution adopted by the League of Nations on May 14 condemning Japanese use of toxic gas.

World War II

Preparations

On September 27, 1940, ostensibly under Hirohito’s leadership, Japan was a contracting partner of the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy forming the Axis Powers. Before that, in July 1939, the Emperor quarrelled with his brother, Prince Chichibu, who was visiting him three times a week to support the treaty, and reprimanded the army minister Seishirō Itagaki.[17] But after the success of the Wehrmacht in Europe, the Emperor consented to the alliance.

On September 4, 1941, the Japanese Cabinet met to consider war plans prepared by Imperial General Headquarters, and decided that:

Our Empire, for the purpose of self-defence and self-preservation, will complete preparations for war … [and is] … resolved to go to war with the United States, Great Britain, and the French if necessary. Our Empire will concurrently take all possible diplomatic measures vis-à-vis the United States and Great Britain, and thereby endeavor to obtain our objectives … In the event that there is no prospect of our demands being met by the first ten days of October through the diplomatic negotiations mentioned above, we will immediately decide to commence hostilities against the United States, Britain and the French.

The objectives to be obtained were clearly defined: a free hand to continue with the conquest of China and Southeast Asia, no increase in US or British military forces in the region, and cooperation by the West “in the acquisition of goods needed by our Empire”.

On September 5, Prime Minister Konoe informally submitted a draft of the decision to the Emperor, just one day in advance of the Imperial Conference at which it would be formally implemented. On this evening, the Emperor had a meeting with the chief of staff of the army, Sugiyama, chief of staff of the navy, Osami Nagano, and Prime Minister Konoe. The Emperor questioned Sugiyama about the chances of success of an open war with the Occident. As Sugiyama answered positively, the Emperor scolded him:

—At the time of the China Incident, the army told me that we could achieve peace immediately after dealing them one blow with three divisions… but you can’t still beat Chiang Kai-shek even today! Sugiyama, you were army minister at that time.
—China is a vast area with many ways in and ways out, and we met unexpectedly big difficulties…..
—You say the interior of China is huge; isn’t the Pacific Ocean even bigger than China?.. Didn’t I caution you each time about those matters? Sugiyama, are you lying to me?[18]

Chief of Naval General Staff Admiral Nagano, a former Navy Minister and vastly experienced, later told a trusted colleague, “I have never seen the Emperor reprimand us in such a manner, his face turning red and raising his voice.”

According to the traditional view, Hirohito was deeply concerned by the decision to place “war preparations first and diplomatic negotiations second”, and he announced his intention to break with tradition. At the Imperial Conference on the following day, the Emperor directly questioned the chiefs of the Army and Navy general staffs, which was quite an unprecedented action.

Nevertheless, all speakers at the Imperial Conference were united in favor of war rather than diplomacy.[19] Baron Yoshimichi Hara, President of the Imperial Council and the Emperor’s representative, then questioned them closely, producing replies to the effect that war would be considered only as a last resort from some, and silence from others.

At this point, the Emperor astonished all present by addressing the conference personally, and in breaking the tradition of Imperial silence left his advisors “struck with awe.” (Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe’s description of the event.) Hirohito stressed the need for peaceful resolution of international problems, expressed regret at his ministers’ failure to respond to Baron Hara’s probings, and recited a poem written by his grandfather, Emperor Meiji which, he said, he had read “over and over again”:

The seas of the four directions—
all are born of one womb:
why, then, do the wind and waves rise in discord?[20]

Recovering from their shock, the ministers hastened to express their profound wish to explore all possible peaceful avenues. The Emperor’s presentation was in line with his practical role as leader of the State Shinto religion.

At this time, Army Imperial Headquarters was continually communicating with the Imperial household in detail about the military situation. On October 8, Sugiyama signed a 47-page report to the Emperor (sōjōan) outlining in minute detail plans for the advance into Southeast Asia. During the third week of October, Sugiyama gave the Emperor a 51-page document, “Materials in Reply to the Throne”, about the operational outlook for the war.[21]

As war preparations continued, Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe found himself more and more isolated and gave his resignation on October 16. He justified himself to his chief cabinet secretary, Kenji Tomita, by stating:

Of course His Majesty is a pacifist, and there is no doubt he wished to avoid war. When I told him that to initiate war was a mistake, he agreed. But the next day, he would tell me: “You were worried about it yesterday, but you do not have to worry so much.” Thus, gradually, he began to lean toward war. And the next time I met him, he leaned even more toward. In short, I felt the Emperor was telling me: my prime minister does not understand military matters, I know much more. In short, the Emperor had absorbed the view of the army and navy high commands.[22]

The army and the navy recommended the candidacy of Prince Naruhiko Higashikuni, one of the Emperor’s uncles. According to the Shōwa “Monologue”, written after the war, the Emperor then said that if the war were to begin while a member of the imperial house was prime minister, the imperial house would have to carry the responsibility and he was opposed to this.[23]

Instead, the Emperor chose the hard-line General Hideki Tōjō, who was known for his devotion to the imperial institution, and asked him to make a policy review of what had been sanctioned by the Imperial Conferences. On November 2, Tōjō, Sugiyama and Nagano reported to the Emperor that the review of eleven points had been in vain. Emperor Hirohito gave his consent to the war and then asked: “Are you going to provide justification for the war?”[24] The decision for war against the United States was presented for approval to Hirohito by General Tōjō, Naval Minister Admiral Shigetarō Shimada, and Japanese Foreign Minister Shigenori Tōgō.[25]

On November 3, Nagano explained in detail the plan of the attack on Pearl Harbor to the Emperor.[26] On November 5, Emperor Hirohito approved in imperial conference the operations plan for a war against the Occident and had many meetings with the military and Tōjō until the end of the month. On November 25 Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of War noted in his diary that he had discussed with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt the severe likelihood that Japan was about to launch a surprise attack, and that the question had been “how we should maneuver them [the Japanese] into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves”.

On the following day, November 26, 1941, US Secretary of State Cordell Hull presented the Japanese ambassador with the Hull note, which as one of its conditions demanded the complete withdrawal of all Japanese troops from French Indochina and China. Japanese Prime Minister Tojo Hideki said to his cabinet, “this is an ultimatum”. On December 1, an Imperial Conference sanctioned the “War against the United States, United Kingdom and the Kingdom of the Netherlands”. Read More….

Inspiration for the Day for Dec 25: Gift of Winter

 

 

 

 

Gift of Winter

BY MADISYN TAYLOR

There is a quiet humility about the earth in the winter months, as animals and people retreat inside to do their deep work.

In fall, the earth begins the process of releasing all the things she has been holding onto throughout spring and summer, and by midwinter she has let everything go. She sits clean and undecorated in her simplicity, free of the frenzy of life that defines her in the warmer seasons. There is a quiet humility about the earth in the winter months, as animals and people retreat inside to escape the wet and sometimes freezing cold that takes hold. Inside our homes we create abundance and warmth in response to being effectively kicked indoors by the dark and cold that permeate the outdoors.

We burn fires in fireplaces and make heavy, hot foods to keep our bodies warm and insulated. We may find ourselves sleeping longer hours and yearning for downtime, just like the animals deep inside their caves and warrens taking a winter-long nap. Even if we live in a warmer climate, the longer nights and shorter days have the same effect on our cycles. If we surrender to this time as nature intended, we allow ourselves to slow down, sleep more, and lower the volumes on our busy minds. At the same time, we crave company in our dwellings, and the insulated warmth of the hearth tends to bring people together, creating more warmth and fostering connections that last through the coming year.

We laugh, eat, and talk, sleep, or catch up on reading, while outside our windows the earth grows dark earlier and stays cold longer, accepting as always of the process of change and her place within it. We might remember to learn from her as she so gracefully surrenders to the emptiness that precedes all form, the peace that precedes activity, the darkness that precedes the light. For everything she gives and teaches, we might offer a blessing, extending a goodly portion of the gratitude of this season her way, holding her in our hearts and thanking her for our very lives.