Monday, December 13, 2004

'Tis the Season 

What does Christmas mean to you? Mulled cider? Yule logs? Bowie and Bing pa-rump-a-tum-tumming together in that queasy, mutually suspicious way of theirs? The chance to reunite with friends and loved ones as you huddle together in the long, long line outside the soup kitchen? The tinkle of children's laughter as all around town the suicide rate skyrockets? The thought of jolly old St. Nick in his airborne sleigh, dodging ack-ack as he makes a third pass over Fallujah in hopes of finding a standing chimney? The smiles on the faces of the troops at Walter Reed as they unwrap their shiny new prosthetics? Is it something as simple and personal as the piquant aroma of chestnuts roasting underneath that brand-new Christmas laptop?

Or do you perhaps pause to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday: the miraculous birth, in an humble manger in Bethlehem, of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, sent by our Heavenly Father to redeem mankind of its sins -- in which case we strongly recommend you do yourself a favor and move on to the next item, or better yet, the next website?

Well, if Christmas means anything here at King of Zembla it means brightly-colored, decorative graphics! -- And lots of 'em! -- To dazzle the eyes and warm the cockles of Zemblan patriots everywhere! Like that sprightly elf-in-grinch's-clothing Bill O'Reilly we are always at the ready to stick up for Christmas when the Christmas chips are down, and we are therefore much indebted to our jovial, eggnog-besotted colleague Scaramouche for directing us to Feelin' the Blues, a virtual cornucopia of festive holiday graphics on the order of this one:

(And yes, we do appreciate that the color blue is generally considered less Christmassy than green, but despite our best efforts we were unable to turn up any maps with red and green states. Besides, we find that if you look at the blue states with a sufficiently jaundiced eye, you get something approximating green.) Seeing all that data at Feelin' the Blues -- they have red-vs.-blue maps for divorce, shootings, drunk driving, obesity, and baseball, as well -- just gave us an appetite for more, so we decided to check in on the Red State Project over at ItAffectsYou.org, where Ross has just posted a chart showing which states boast the highest percentages of residents who have no health insurance:

If you're not already gagging on Christmas cheer, don't give up -- there's more to be had! That selfsame Scaramouche (jovial, eggnog-besotted, etc.) has thoughtfully organized the second monthly BARBARian Bash for Bay Area Resident Bloggers And Readers this Wednesday, Dec. 17, from 6-9 PM at Ben & Nick's Bar & Grill, 5612 College Avenue, in the Rockridge District of Oakland; he's promising "stimulating drinks and/or conversation," though not, we fervently hope, both at once; and he adds that "anyone [who] wants to be a Secret Santa (or a Zwarte Piet)" should bring a nicely-wrapped used book.

Will the real Santa be there? Only Rudolf knows, and he's not speaking to us at the moment, for reasons we would frankly rather not go into.

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