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Public polls such a laugh

Someone once related to me the definition of "polling." It means the removal of a bull or steer's horns. If we stick with the economists' term of endearment for the general public, the great beast, the meaning of polling booths comes full circle. Polling is to take the sharp pointy bits from the common man's arsenal. His power to vote. If you want to bank on what the public will decide, this being a democracy, tell the public what to decide! More effectively, tell the public what it itself has decided. That's an easier sell. Black equals white, no? Well 70% of the American public believes black is white. Ergo it may as well be. What "is" if not what is believed to be so? Mainstream media's infamous "some people say" mis-attribution not only represented what no-one indeed had said, it also implied that what some people say ought to include you, unless you want to hang with the wrong people. Polls go further. They tell us what some of US say, apparently. And not just some, but most. When we've become too guarded to have spin-doctors tell us what we just heard, a focus group will tell us what we have concluded ourselves we heard. Did Saddam Hussein have anything to do with 9/11? Polls show Americans believe he did. Ergo... What is this? Are we to believe democracy is about majority consensus concerning which is ass or hole in the ground? Never mind that the media can choose who they poll, depending on the conclusion they want drawn. But who is the media to tell an American public what to decide about a given news development? Imagine if they tried to tell you that inedible crap tastes good. Actually I'm not impartial about that one. Imagine if they dared to tell you what was funny on television! Laugh tracks on sitcoms break up the dead air between sometimes questionable jokes. Like professional laughers planted in a theater audience, they encourage the rest to laugh collectively, to share in the mirth at what must certainly have been funny. Since funny is subjective, and enjoyment is a matter of the spirit of the experience, it's hard to argue that canned laughter doesn't enhance the experience. No harm done, unless the jokes are really insensitive and mostly condescending put-downs. See the haunting Rodney Dangerfield sitcom parody sequence in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers if you want to see a laughtrack off the tracks. We're used to being led to laughter, being misled by shills to fall for the cardsharp's con or the rigged auction, being fooled by phony customers who claim to be cured by snake oil salesmen or revival preachers, you'd think by now we could see through "focus groups" of dubious wits appearing to giving voice to our silenced participation, or see through polling figures pulled from thin air, actually straight from an advertiser or politician's custom order of their wet dream for our submission.

Fibersure Feetballs?

Someone is advertising a fiber supplement on the radio, you add it to your dinners to have, not turkey, but FURKEY. No kidding! Not hamburgers, but famburgers, an imfrovement presumably. Tofurkey was self-explanatory: turkey out of tofu, but I find Furkey to be just, umm, funky. The radio spots have a refrain of a feminine homemaker's voice exclaiming the assorted meals as if echoed by her enthusiastic children. Each dish, now enhanced with fiber, donned a name fibered up with ff's. For the life of me I cannot remember any of the apparently appetizing ones. Fork and Beans? Fam and Eggs? But I remember not salivating to this one: "Spaghetti and Feetballs!" Yum?

Nike tags more advertizing surface

Oh my goodness look at the Swooshes TM! Nike strikes again with its branding of the Minnesota Vikings. How many not so subliminal Nike trademarks do you see in this picture? The Viking uniforms sport the same torso swoosh as the Broncos but there's more! Above the shoulders, behind the arms, and the refashioned horns. If the NFL is more restrictive than the NCAA about displaying manufacturers logos on uniforms, that's not keeping Nike from tagging the athletes like so much graffiti. On the old helmet, the ring around the horn was a semi circle, not a lateral crescent.

Comfort food for the sugar-fat addict

Comfort food is what? The food addict's fix? The salve of eating disorders that is also the poison? Is McDonalds concerned that out of sight in the bag, a fat-eater might forget what designs he had on his impulse/compulsive purchase?   McDonalds would seem to have quite a grasp of its customers. McFatties may have heard about "comfort food" but may not remember whether it denoted something bad or good. The McDonalds marketing department is employing a linguistic maneuver: own up to the accusation, then pervert what it means.   This bag promotes McDonalds' World Children's Day, urging us to give comfort. A search of their linked website about helping children yields not a single mention of "comfort." When Microsoft was confronted with Java, the Sun Microsystems product that offered to reduce our dependence on client-side software, what did Microsoft do? They jumped on the Java bandwagon, used their dominant market position to spread their own version of Java, but injected some broken code. Thus for the majority of users, Java was a disappointment. And Microsoft and Sun Microsystems settled out of court.

Commerce takes Visa or anti-Visa

I love this commercial. Life Takes Visa. Life --or here its commerce equivalent-- is a well choreographed bakery, a happy flow of patrons interrupted only by a hapless customer who bottlenecks the process by presuming to pay with cash. The scenario presages acceptance of the viewer/consumer's role as willing cog, but it offers an important economics truism to those who would aspire to monkey-wrench such a dehumanized construct. What does it take to disrupt a well oiled machine? A trifle. Ever wonder what would happen if a store's customers all decided to shop the same day? We see it the day after Thanksgiving, but otherwise most of us distribute ourselves evenly across the calendar. It's the market's invisible hand and retail business models are fashioned accordingly. What happens when someone organizes a boycott, or otherwise interferes with the statistical flow? We can see it in this ad: Chaos and collapse. A boycott doesn't have to convince a majority of consumers to curb their spending, it need only reach a number critical to upset the applecart. As management practices streamline labor efficiencies, even a small interruption in demand can wreak a disproportion of havoc. It will not be for lack of a credit card (though certainly for lack of consumer credit!), but fliers or a picket line, can effect the balance sheet, most of all because the potential liabilities they pose cannot be predicted, and margins of profit cannot then be insured. The demise of your worst nightmare of a blood-sucking capitalist is but a garlic-breath away. You may be kept to feel by the corporate media that you are powerless to contravene, but here's an ad they are too cynical to have censored. YOU can bring their machinations to a cathartic stop.

Verizon hardhats are actually NSA posse

Verizon thinks it's a selling point that you've got hundreds of hardhats listening in on your conversation. Though the team is pitched as the tech support which is keeping you networked, I guess the commercials can't avoid the humorous Verizon dude smirking at what he's overhearing. Interesting truth in advertising. Are we supposed to think what happens with Can You Hear Me Now Dude stays with Can You Hear Me Now Dude?   Congress is deliberating about indemnifying these guys if litigious Americans ever find out Verizon & freinds are forwarding eavesdropped calls unto the security agencies. This week's ACLU forum discussed the increased surveillance by our government. Loring Wirbel gave specifics about the NSA's activities. Forget where calls originate, or to where. Everything is being recorded. We may not be parsing it all, but it's all getting collected. Every single call, every internet query. We know cell phones can be used to record ambient noise even when they're not on talk.

Plastic Bags are just garbage

Speaking of plastic whores, Alternet carried a great article The Great Plastic Bag Plague about the proliferation of plastic bags and possible solutions to it. They also linked to Now, which is the greatest garbage here in Colorado Springs? Is it The Gazette or is it the blue plastic bag it always comes in? And is it any great ecological feat to pick up dog poop in this blue plastic bag, and then toss it at the 'Freedom Publications' editors? And is it better to get paper bags or plastic at the factory chain grocery stores when you go through the counter with your plastic food? Personally, I think that we should do as Ireland seems to be doing. Let's charge 10-25 cents for each plastic bag and use that fund for saving the ecology of our planet. Such simple remedies for many ecological problems lie all around us and are not being implemented simply because the population passively allows the corporate community to rule over the common folk. Our US population likes to think of themselves as mainly being rebels, but in reality, a more inert, immobile and passive population could hardly be imagined. How easy it would be to drastically reduce the amount of garbage we throw away in this country! Plastic bags are just garbage and we should pass laws to control how much of this stuff gets poorly used and then discarded.

Dallas whores to visit US troops in Iraq

As the morale begins to plummet, there is always one thing that will cheer up The Troops. Just send in the whores! For over 3 decades as the USO article below states, Dallas's finest plastic whores have been doing their patriotic duty as military circus clowns. This year will be no different. How it must cheer up The Troops to have this bit of plastic Barbie Doll whoredom dance their way into the soldier's none-too-pleasant desert reality, churning these young soldiers stomachs. Whores do love whores! Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders to Entertain Tom Landry can't be there with The Girls, but how about having Franklin Graham on board in Baghdad, at least? Alas, this year's musical will not be last year's big hit, Spring Time for Hitler in Germany, but will be a delightful new score, Autumn Time for Bush in Iraq! Lots of song and dance to be had! But where's the booze?

Nike swoosh the new uniform

My lover won't talk to me if I refer to the garments of professional athletes as "outfits." She doesn't appreciate "costumes" either. Both terms fit to me, considering the theatricality of the performances and outcomes, involving rivalries that could not matter less.   The new Bronco look is distinguished by a curvy flank stripe, designed by the uniform's manufacturer... NIKE! Bronco fans still argue it's not product placement of the trademark Nike Swoosh. That's a Bronco fan for you. I'll admit when a Bronco is standing up, or is at rest, the orange swoosh forms just an elongated crescent. The real genius of this design is that when the athlete is poised to strike or is in motion, either end of the slash serves to form America's beloved Just Do It check mark. Tell me the photo at right doesn't reflect the real competing titans of the NFL: Adidas versus Nike.

Goyim in TV land

Why are we promoting dorks like Texas Ranger and Conan O'Brian as centers of attention on television? Is this Hollywood's idea of the accessible every-man? Somebody's got to be laughing their head off behind the scene.   Clearly the standard for leading men is otherwise high. Consider that the Oceans 11 frat pack have no peers to cast in competing blockbusters. There have always been Ralph Kramdens and Ed Nortons, re King of Queens et al, or flat out queens and eunuchs, but where does medialand come off casting Chuck Norris as any kind of Tommy Lee Jones ranger? Norris looks as absurd as the stereotype he pioneered, the white man in Eastern man's pajamas, where they don't tuck 45-Magnums under their judo belts. And where does Conan O'Brian embody anything more than the wiseacre comedy writer's idiot kid brother (Eddie Haskell minus Dennis the Menace), who was visiting the set but had to step into frame because everyone even remotely qualified was throwing up. We all know how competitive comedy is, comics don't grow on trees but they crowd the stand-up circuit. Acts like Chuck and Conan are onscreen to insult us. Like miserable quiz-show contestants, they give every-man a sense he's not the dumbest, dumbest-looking loser in TV-viewer-land. The beer ads don't have to be so clever by comparison.

Brand name taste is an abstraction

A friend of mine is a restauranteur who by his own admission doesn't know much about wine. Never the less his wine rep was bringing over a bottle of Chateau d'Yquem for some occasion. I asked my friend if he'd read up on Sauterne vintages, the better to appreciate it. He looked at me quizzically. I persisted, thinking something along the lines of Tom Wolfe's Painted Word, that you had to know about the theory of abstract art to appreciate what you saw. I didn't get far because my friend was attuned to the un-abstract measure of his customer's palate. Did they taste a distinctive quality? That was enough. You don't need a text to appreciate pre-abstract art. Epicure likewise is not abstract. Many aspects of our lives have become experiences of abstract quality. We may not prefer a fashion, but are happy enough with it so long as we believe others like it. A designer label says what we want about us, regardless whether we have a say about it. Marketing goes a long way to produce our appreciation. When we use the product we feel ourselves in the commercial. For some beverages, I'm certain the commercial has become the product. We begin enjoying the Coke from the first cold beads of condensation on the can, through the Shtffk of cracking the pop tab, until it's down our throat. Right then we all know Coke doesn't satisfy our thirst, because we already want more. It satisfies our craving to inhabit the Coke world. Sugar is not an acquired taste, but wanting to be a Pepper is. Breakfast cereal feeds a pathetic sweet tooth. Cheap beer and the new soft-liquors feed conditioned desires. Not only is the processed food industry relying on its talent to taylor our appetite, it undermines our reliance on our own senses. If something is not advertised, can it be of value? Ice cream flavored of cookies 'n cream isn't good enough unless they are Oreo brand cookies. Toffee must be Heath Bars, peanut butter must be Reeses. Except for regional salsas or steak marinades, products fade from the supermarket shelves if nt cross branded with a national identity. This has become an easier feat for the big guys because they've conglomerated so many diverse products, from babies diapers to tobacco. The brand name is now the critical ingredient which we all taste with our imagination, crafted by ceaseless ad campaigns. A product's advertising is itself a stipend paid to the media companies to ensure a brand stays on the public palate. Remember Oh Henry? Somebody lapsed in their payment. Now the powerhouse food corps are using the same manipulative method to plant doubt in the consumer's mind about their own ability to judge taste. (I remember an subscription tag line for GQ magazine to this effect: You don't know fashion, let GQ tell you.) How could what you think tastes good, have any bearing on what they tell you tastes good? With health food the fearful conglomerates caution, how do you

Joe Chemo

And how about the other spoof: says one Marlboro man to another, "I miss my lung Bob."

New Age posturing with the ‘pickaninnies’

Those who grew up in the Old South, remember when racist politicians used to pose with 'Negro' children to supposedly show their concern for Black people. That was a crude technique to deflect criticism for being a racist. White racists often called Black children 'pickaninnies', and loved to rub their heads with the different type of hair. They would then comment about how cute and funny Black children were as opposed to the uppity adult Blacks who never fully wanted to acknowledge their assigned places in Apartheid America. Why the term 'pickaninny' for Black children? Try thinking about what 'pick a ninny' means. A ninny means a fool. Black children were considered kind of adorable jesters in the court of White racist America of that era, so Whites often tried to help out the supposedly 'adorable pickaninnies' with gifts of food and clothing. That made the racist feel good and generous, instead of feeling full of self loathing for being the miserable monsters that most racists really are. So enter today's world, and has the posturing with the 'pickaninnies' now disappeared? No, it has just morphed into technicolor instead. Instead of touching the 'pickaninnies moppy heads' old style, we have good hearted folk posing themselves next to emaciated, injured, and distraught 'pickaninnies'. And this is done outside US borders, and not inside them as of Old. Case in point is Mia Farrow posing in Chad today on Yahoo News with her great concern for the welfare of the 'pickaninny'. Don't get me wrong here. Much suffering is underway in Africa, as it has been ongoing for centuries. That's not the point of the posturing though, no more than it was with the posturing of the past. Why is Darfur THE GENOCIDE, and not Congo or Iraq or Palestine? That is the point of the posturing, simply to deflect attention elsewhere from one's own crimes. It is not just actresses like Mia Farrow, doing the posturing with the 'pickaninny' neither. Here is from today which links to an article titled... Bush considering Darfur no-fly zone. The title says it all. But look who else is posturing to deflect attention away from their own constructed genocides! It is Israel itself. We have Israel, Bush, and Mia Farrow all posing with the 'pickaninny'. That little 'pickaninny' is called Darfur and we are supposed to forget all context in the real world and cry along with the crocodile tears of the genocidal and racist maniacs running amok across the planet. I refer to the governmental leaders of Israel and the US. They can't be racists and genocidists at all, look at their concern for the 'pickaninny'! 'Save the Pickaninny!' they seem to be all shouting at one time.

The Super Bowl Candy Bar Program

No popped out breast this year at the Super Bowl for fans. Instead, home viewers were entertained by 2 men kissing each other(BrokeBack Super Bowl) in a candy bar commercial. Oh, eat them Snickers! Like the 'accidental' exposure of Ms. Jackson's breast, the offensiveness of this ad to the gay community was said to come as a complete surprise, too, to the marketing outfit that popped their snickering homophobia out for all to see. Matthew Sheppard's mom was not impressed at all. The Super Bowl and Mars Company ooze total insincerity, but after all this is the mindset of American professional football today in their pretend macho war games under corporate logo.

The underwhelming Barack Obama

The media is already pushing the delusion to liberal Democratic Party voters, that Barack Obama is their Great Black Hope in 2008. And today he announced he was a candidate for President. They are trying to pass him off as the antiwar candidate, same as Howard Dean was similarly imaged in that manner in 2004. Not only is he not that, but his positions on almost everything are not liberal, neither. As Colin and Condo are to Dubya and Dick, Barack and Jesse are to Bill and Hillary. Yuck. I encourage everybody to go to Obama's website to get a glimpse of his mealy mouthed political approach. He is for education, but not a mention of supporting public schools versus privatization. He is for health care, but nothing about keeping abortion legal, nor anything about supporting a single payer comprehensive national health care system, where all are covered. He speaks out on immigration, but says not a word in opposition to the Border Wall being built. He says not a word about maintaining Social Security, but talks of 'modernizing' it. Hell with him. We know what 'modernizing' really means. It means cutting SS, that's what. Similarly, he blabs on about National Defense, supporting the police, being against sex offenders, crime, and meth. Bullshit is what it is. Pure bullshit. He is for a 'phased withdrawal' from Iraq, but not a word about Afghanistan. And what is a 'phased withdrawal' to this sort? Over 3 months, or over 10 years? Or over forever? Not a word about cutting our excessive military spending. Why not? This is no liberal speaking, but a mealy mouthed duplicitous worm. Yet another one the Democratic party has spun out. In the weeks and months ahead, all of America will be encouraged to put their hopes in this man. He was already being touted as the only genuine antiwar candidate tonight on the national news. Lies, lies, lies/ liars, liars, liars. About all the Democrats are hashing up with Barack Obama, is a man to help neutralize the possibility of Condoleeza Rice starting a run for the presidency. That's about all. Obama at best would be a return to Clintonism, but this time with a black face in office playing the role of the Slick Willie. Liberals need a better vision than that to offer America, otherwise the slide down hill will continue. And most of all, liberals need a better political party than the Democratic Party. Stuck in that Yu-don't-go of a vehicle, we will get a wreck of America. What a demoralized America we have now, minus a genuine third, and anti-corporate, party.

Apple and the PC image

I saw the actor who plays "PC" in the Mac versus PC commercials in a bit part on a television show. Odd, I thought, that he would be permitted a role outside of his corporate representative commitment. Usually mascots like the Maytag repairman, the Dunkin' Donuts and Frito-Lay guys, even Juan Valdes and Mr. Goodwrench, sign exclusive contracts to prevent them from diluting their brand identity with competing entertainment images. What distinguishes Apple's PC guy is that he is a defamation of himself. The Mac strategy seems positively libelous. It could be that since "PC" doesn't represent an Apple product, whatever other screen time the actor got would matter little to Apple. But let's not be so naive. More probably Apple has a say over which acting gigs PC can take. As long as PC portrays a feeble, emasculated frump like his Mac versus PC persona, Apple's campaign is extended beyond its ads, right into the world of television. But is that playing fair? Can you create a straw man to represent your competitor, just to take the Mickey out of him at every opportunity, outside of the scripted ads, even in real life possibly. PC in real life could be painted to be quite the Wally if Apple if so desired. The brilliance too of Apple's singular circumstance is that "PC" represents no actual corporate rival. PC is not an IBM anymore, he's part Windows, part Intel, and part PC clone maker. Microsoft would have to join Dell, HP, Gateway, eMachine, et al, to sue Apple for defamation. Microsoft is trying some of Apple's medicine pitting the Zune against the iPod, using representatives cleverly similar to the original actors, but my favorite adaptation of the me-better-than-you genre was Nintendo's fun with Sony.

Not getting wired

Ideas for iPod ads, GET WIRED campaign. (Position of dark silhouette, with white iAppliance.)   Prone, with opium hukkah. Seated, with TV wired in a straight line to eyes. Corpse on mortician's table, with embalming fluid. Fetus in womb, with Coca Cola placenta. Baby in crib, with Disney IV hanging from mobile. Standing in disheveled suit, with concrete poured around feet. Kid standing, with Playstation controller wired to large mounted gun. Walking in crowd, all with cellphones linked to happy face satellite. Sitting on bar stool, pants zipper wired to pole dancing stripper. Pulling oxygen tank, with tube to Oxy cylinder shaped like cigarette. Kid standing, with Playstation controller wired to nipples and crotch. On knees, bent over, with [head in] toilet. Peeing, with urine stream flowing into bottle of alcohol. Kid sitting on floor, with tooth tied to doorknob. Chalk outline on crosswalk, with iPod. Line of dancers in identical position, all with iPods. Queue of forlorn commuters heading into subway car, all with iPods.

The new prurience in men’s magazines

  FHM, STUFF, MAXIM, RAZOR, et al. Porn is back at the 7-11. It's the resurgence of clean porn to counter the free-for-all no-holes-barred internet, just like Hugh Hefner's Playboy Magazine put glossy clean brakes on the sexual revolution.   Hef put a gloss coat on the age-old girly magazine and put it unto the coffee table, Guccione dirtied it up with Penthouse and put it back under the mattress and Flynt left no fig leaf unturned with Hustler and put pornography right back in the garage. But after the ugly fin de siecle the puritans are back. Now we have the nouveau prurient clothed seductresses. Here little flesh is revealed that is not already displayed on every popular magazine cover. Naked media stars, but covered. That's another story, nudity in fashion magazine magazines. Today's men's magazine's entice but don't deliver, they tease, and apparently that's enough. In the porn heydays of the seventies, the magazines were owned by independent publishers. You could say "I read Playboy for the articles" and it'd be true. Many anti-establishment stories could only see daylight through the independent press. But the magazines today belong to the publishing empires which belong to the advertizing empires which belong to the consumer goods empire. You can't use sex to sell anything if the boys are getting the sex. Visually at least. The curious aspect of the today's bathroom reading for boys is the lack of sexual depth. It's all surface. It's curves and titilation without a sense of anything lying beneath, inside, beyond. It's beads of water, not sweat. Surface and complexion is all that matters. Breast implants don't matter because they'll be under wrap. You're not going to keep them, you're not even going to undress them. Knock them against the bathroom door at the nightclub, disrobe them in the darkness at her place, you'll be gone before it's light. Only the visual coutour matters. To whom? The virgin spectator.

E-trade investor impotence

A clever act, E-trade's new TV ad, to depict their customers under magnification as countless sperm, seen in closeup as computer mice struggling here and there to find their way. Where do sperm head? As far as eggheads are concerned probably toward the ceiling and kleenex, but I think E-trade means to suggest that sperm are looking for fulfillment, sound financial investment, wealth, the egg. Computer mice as sperm. "It's in our DNA" says E-trade. How clever. But then E-trade shows its logo, two arrows that form an asterix. A computer mouse hits it like it's the egg and bounces off! Well isn't that truth in advertising! There's the little customer, their human struggle exemplified by a cute little two-button mouse. It zeros in on E-trade, the point of the ad I'm sure, and the little investor sperm can't penetrate the egg. E-trade will take you money, but you're certainly not getting any of theirs. They don't want your DNA.

NFL Chunky

On TV and radio ads, they're calling it Campbell's NFL Chunky Soup, for the NFL Appetite.   Really now. NFL players are well tuned physical performers. Do you think professional athletes can afford to pump that much sodium, MSG, empty carbohydrates, and bad fat into their bodies? NFL players earn multimillion dollar salaries. Think they're eating canned soup? Do you think this might be false advertising? Campbell's NFL Chunky is for the NFL Appetite. For the chunky NFL couch eater.

Enlist – accelerate your lifespan

Can you believe this new recruitment slogan: Join the Navy: accelerate your life TM? It looks good on video with a rapid progression of tracking shots of incredibly busy warfare technicians. Sign up and before you know it you'll be dropped into the thick of the action. Maybe your grave as well. Accelerate your lifespan TM.

Handcrafted aggrandizement

I've always been irked by the Starbucks invented term "Barista." It's the equivalent of Walmart calling their workers "associates." It means nothing except to delude the workers that they are something more than slave-wage, unskilled workers. Barista might imply that someone who serves coffee has a cultural legacy, shielding the subject from their more relevant historic socio-economic legacy: low man on the totem pole. Recently I've been hearing a locally owned coffee joint using some of this psycho-syntax to its own advantage. "Handcrafted coffees." They're made by hand, obviously. But unlike a parking ticket, or a shaken welcome mat, a "handcrafted" coffee inplies the work of a craftsman. While it's certainly a nice sentiment, wouldn't we all like to be thought craftsmen of our own realm? It doesn't matter that it's a delution of what it means to be a craftsman. Rather, it's a lie. Shit by any other name would smell as sweet.

A Christmas message

CAMP CASEY COLORADO SPRINGS Waiting in line at the Post Office the other day I overheard a local advertisement on the radio encouraging the usual holiday splurge "because you've been good this year!"   I thought to myself, who among Americans can say they've been good this year? We've all of us, by our acquiescence, permitted the prosecution of an illegal occupation of a sovereign nation. We've overseen the slaughter of thousands, we've accepted large levels of collateral damage, we've sanctioned and justified the use of torture, in our name. Outside of war, we've continued to abide the exploitation of child labor, prison labor, slave labor and poverty. We participated in the destruction of the natural world, in sexual exploitation and genocide. We've watched the suffering of fellow human beings, and permitted further suffering outside the view of our cameras. Do we take responsibility for these offenses or not? Let's at least concede this is not the year to say that we've been good. To my friends who've spoken out, we may or may not have done our best, but let's keep at it. Merry Christmas! To those who didn't feel the urge, or thought there was nothing that could be done: may the spirit of Christmas, of peace and goodwill inspire you. For holiday cheer, I offer these amusements: - Kurt Vonnegut's dissection of our current leadership - The War-on-Christmas canard scuttled [warning: profanity] - The NEOCONS in pictures and song [one profanity, repeated] - My Best-of-2005 collection. Cheers, Eric