Bing and Bowie 40 Years Later

I’ve got over four hundred Christmas songs on my iPod and they’ve been filling our home and my car with Yuletide cheer … whatever that is. Everyone from Michael Buble to Diana Krall, Bing Crosby, Run DMC, Barry White, The Wiggles, Guy Sebastian, Jimmy Barnes and even Russel Coight, along with many others, are singing about Christmas.

And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this song. It’s very much part of the soundtrack of my life. I’m not a huge fan of the song Little Drummer Boy but I am a fan of both Bing Crosby and David Bowie so I love hearing their Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth medley around this time every year. The chat at the start of the video is cheesy and somewhat awkward but I just love it.

Bing Crosby was my dad’s favourite singer and Bowie has always been a favourite of mine so to have the two of them combined has always been pretty special for me.

While the single wasn’t released until 1982, the video was shot in September 1977, just over 40 years ago, for Bing’s Christmas special. Unfortunately he never saw the special aired. Bing Crosby died of a heart attack in October 1977. Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas was broadcast on CBS in the United States on the 30th of November, 1977.

Little Drummer Boy was written back in 1941 with Peace on Earth written especially for this collaboration.

Do you have a favourite Christmas song? Do you have a favourite artist at Christmas time? Does Mariah Carey’s very successful Christmas album get a spin at your place each December?

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Stop Helping Hackers

Christmas is just days away and no doubt there’ll be many people receiving gifts of technology which will require passwords. So how do you ensure that those shiny new devices don’t make you a target for hackers?

Internet security firm SplashData has released their annual guide to helping, or hindering, hackers. They’ve been taking a look at the worst passwords used online in 2017 and have come up with their list of the top 100 worst passwords. The thing that makes them the worst is that they’re the most common, meaning that those with less than honourable intention will be using them to try to break your security.

If you see your password among the top twenty-five below, your data is in serious danger. It’s time to change your passwords or get ready to get hacked.

  1. 123456
  2. Password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. letmein
  8. 1234567
  9. football
  10. iloveyou
  11. admin
  12. welcome
  13. monkey
  14. login
  15. abc123
  16. starwars
  17. 123123
  18. dragon
  19. passw0rd
  20. maste
  21. hello
  22. freedom
  23. whatever
  24. qazwsx
  25. trustno1

As in previous lists, simple numerical passwords remain popular, with five of the top 10 passwords on the 2017 list using only numbers. Then there are all the usual favourites such as ‘password’, ‘starwars’ and for those trying to be a little tricky, but failing, ‘passw0rd’.

If you want to create stronger and less hacker-friendly passwords you should be using at least 12 characters with a combination of upper and lowercase letters and characters. You should also ensure that you use different passwords for different websites.

If you’re looking for a better solution you might like to try a password manager application.

I’ve been using LastPass for many years. It’s a password manager which makes web browsing more secure. It will keep all your passwords secure and help you generate strong passwords.

Nothing can really guarantee you won’t get hacked, especially if one of the services you use is hacked, exposing even the best passwords, but it’s worth putting a bit of effort into keeping your data secure.

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Choose your Jesus

I read an interesting article this morning titled, “Most Australians like seeing baby Jesus in a manger at the mall”.

New McCrindle research shows that 9 out of 10 Australians feel that nativity scenes are part of Christmas and should be in our public spaces.

Even among Australians who practise a religion other than Christianity, 91 per cent are happy to see nativities, while 86 per cent of those who have no religious beliefs are also supportive, according to McCrindle.

While I’m encouraged to know that most Aussies still see the connection between baby Jesus and Christmas as important, we still seem a long way from allowing a place for the grown-up version of Jesus in public.

We seem to like the Jesus of Christmas.

I wonder if that’s because a baby is cute and inoffensive. Baby Jesus doesn’t throw the money changers out of the temple. Baby Jesus doesn’t call us to leave behind what the rest of the world is chasing to follow him. Baby Jesus doesn’t hang brutally beaten and bleeding from a cross in our place.

Despite protests from his wife and father-in-law, Will Ferrell’s character in the 2006 movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby prefers baby Jesus to adult Jesus. In the scene in the video below, everyone gets to choose their ‘favourite version of Jesus’.

Choose your Jesus

It’s a funny scene but there’s a lot of truth behind it. Many people seem to think they can choose their own Jesus. I hear people saying what they believe Jesus would and wouldn’t think about a range of issues without actually going to the source of information that truly reveals who Jesus was and is … the Bible.

I’ll certainly be celebrating the baby Jesus this Christmas but I refuse to leave him in a manger. The miracle of ‘God with us’ is truly awesome but the fact that God dwelt among us by taking on flesh must lead us to thinking of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Focussing on more than just the baby Jesus at this time of year makes the Christmas story even more wonderful and has consequences for each of us that stretch into eternity. That baby grew into a man who would change history. He changed history because he was not only a man but the God who defined history in the first place.

If you’re one of the majority of people who enjoy seeing the nativity at this time each year, let me encourage you to marvel at the manger but then look beyond to see Jesus for who he became and who he is.

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The Christmas Deadline

(This post has been slightly updated from November 2012 but is more relevant than ever.)

It used to be a time of celebration, an opportunity for friends and family to get together, a time to think about the first Christmas and the greatest gift of all. These days, Christmas has simply become a deadline.

Get it Finished

We have to have so much finished ‘before Christmas’. We want carpets laid, walls painted, projects finished, buildings built and so much more all before the 25th of December.

Buy Now!

Retailers tell us we must order now for delivery before Christmas, which I can understand to some degree if it’s something you want as a gift, but most of the time they’re just using the mention of Christmas to add urgency to their sales pitch.

Work Stress

Tradesmen are pushed to complete tasks that really have no relation to Christmas. Whether they’re completed before or after any particular date doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but those paying the bills want their projects all sewn up before the big day. Many workers are feeling the pressure to get the job done before Christmas.

Self-Induced Stress

Then there’s the pressure we put on ourselves. We must ensure that everything’s perfect for the big day. We turn ourselves inside out to make sure that we’re ready for those who will share Christmas Day with us. Gifts, food, decorations, drinks, the list goes on. It’s really no wonder that the ‘Joy of Christmas’ has given way to the stress of what’s become known as the silly season.

Back when I used to work on radio, my regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM was Rev Dr Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales. Each week we chatted about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

About five years ago we spoke about Christmas as a deadline. You can hear our conversation by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post. If you’re looking for ways to turn the tide and make Christmas something you can look forward to again, make sure you take a few minutes to listen.

Slow Down – You Move Too Fast

So, have you felt the stress rising already? Have you ever stopped to ask whether the deadline you’ve given yourself is just a false deadline? Will it make any difference at all if it happens after Christmas?

Is Christmas a restful or stressful time for you? What plans are you putting in place this year to ensure that you actually enjoy Christmas instead of racing at warp speed until you collapse in a heap on the 26th of December?

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Best Day Ever

Twenty five years ago on a hot, Perth summer’s day, I put on a suit, went to church, and said goodbye to single life.

Best Day Ever

While it was a wonderful day with so many highlights, it wasn’t a perfect day. While others were free to wear ‘summer appropriate’ clothing, Pauline was in a massive white dress and I was in a black suit. There was no way to escape the heat.

There were other little things that didn’t quite follow the plan for a perfect day but it was still the best day ever. It was the day that we had been waiting for. It was the day that, no matter what didn’t go to plan, we would be joined together ’til death do us part’.

Pauline and I had met in her mother’s kitchen on the 18th of January in 1992. On the 12th of December 1992, we were married.

Say ‘I do’ in ’92

As a bit of a joke, I had set my New Year’s Resolution at the end of 1991 to say ‘I do’ in ’92. That was never going to happen unless I found the perfect person to share my life. I had decided many years before that I would never ‘settle’ for anyone but the right one. Pauline was and is the right one. I truly believe that God brought us together and I thank him for such a beautiful gift.

Today is our silver anniversary. We’ve been married for twenty five years.

As the years have gone on we’ve added others into our family. In 1996 we welcomed Emily. James was born in 1998. Then, earlier this year, Josh joined the family when he married Emily. It’s all part of the richness of our marriage and life together.

Today is the first day of the next twenty five years, or however long God chooses to give us. I begin that next twenty five beside a smart, wise, clever, funny, beautiful, extraordinary woman who I love more than any other person on this big blue planet. I am truly blessed.

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