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Solstice, Yule, Australian beetles, Klingon newts, Reddi-wip crisis
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Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016 @ 5:16 AM EST
Dec 21 2016

Today is Wednesday, December 21, the 356th day of 2016, with ten days remaining. The winter solstice occurs today at 10:44 UTC in the northern hemisphere. It is the day with shortest period of daylight north of the equator; the amount of daylight will increase daily until the summer solstice arrives in June. There are two days until Festivus, three days until the start of Hanukkah, four days until Christmas Day, 30 days until Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, and 685 days until the November, 2018 mid-term election.

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(NASA photo: Earthrise)

On this day in 1968, Apollo 8, the second human spaceflight mission in the United States Apollo space program, was launched on December 21, 1968, and became the first manned spacecraft to leave Earth orbit, reach the Earth's Moon, orbit it and return safely to Earth.

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Among other things, today is also Yule, a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples. Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Today Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking as a synonym for Christmas. Present day Christmas customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule. Yule is observed today by Heathenry and some other forms of Modern Paganism.

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The Palm Beach Post says living in the state is the best way to believe the almost daily unbelievable 'Florida man' stories.

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As of this writing, The KGB Quotations Database contains 43,411 entries. Check it out.

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Some persons born on December 21 who said interesting things:

James Lane Allen (1849-1923), American novelist and short story writer;

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British politician and writer who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom;

Larry Eisenberg (1919), American science fiction writer;

Jane Fonda (1937), American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model and fitness guru;

Edward Hoagland (1932), American author;

Joe Paterno (1926-2012), American college football player, and later athletic director and coach;

Anthony Powell (1905-2000), English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time;

Donald Regan (1918-2003), 66th United States Secretary of the Treasury, from 1981 to 1985, and White House Chief of Staff from 1985 to 1987 in the Ronald Reagan Administration;

Rebecca West (1892-1983), British author, journalist, literary critic and travel writer;

Frank Zappa (1940-1993), American musician, composer, songwriter, producer, guitarist, actor, and filmmaker;

Quote of the day:

"One of the worst things about life is not how nasty the nasty people are. You know that already. It is how nasty the nice people can be."
-Anthony Powell

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Even the insects have it rough in Australia, where many male jewel beetles died trying to mate with beer bottles they find irresistable.

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As if influencing the Presidential election wasn't enough, Russian hackers are ripping off Internet advertisers.

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In August, a gas tanker exploded not far from a nylon factory in Cantonment, Florida. And this winter, just time in for the holiday season, the whole country is facing a sudden Reddi-wip shortage. (Added trivia: Thanks to modern chemistry, the supply chain for car plastic is very much tied up with that for whipped cream.)

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"Ad-libbing, rambling, or flying off the handle can be very dangerous in an epidemic." How President-elect Trump's casual relationship with facts and reality might play out in a pandemic.

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President Barack Obama is preparing to block the sale of new offshore drilling rights in most of the U.S. Arctic and parts of the Atlantic, a move that could indefinitely restrict oil production there.

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With his show on hiatus until Inauguration Day, comedian Bill Maher broke his silence on the upcoming Trump presidency, marijuana legalization, and the War on Christmas. NSFW language.

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Klingon newt, Ziggy Stardust snake, wooly-headed bat among 163 new species discovered...

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