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Stardate 20011224.1937 (On Screen): There are news reports tonight that a European AWACS defending the United States detected an unidentified aircraft on a vector towards NYC. Attempts from ground control to make contact with the bogie were unsuccessful, and it didn't seem to have a transponder. No flight plan had been filed and its origin was unclear. Two Air Force F-16's were scrambled to intercept it. They reported a very strange configuration, with the pilot dressed in red in an open cockpit in the rear. The exact means by which it was flying was unclear given that it had no wings. They hypothesize that it was hovering similar to how a Harrier viffs. (Of course, that doesn't explain the 8 reindeer out in front.) Continued attempts to contact the pilot were unsuccessful and he did not respond to a burst of cannon fire across his flight path. Since he was getting near to populated areas, the order was given to shoot him down. Two AIM-9 sidewinders were fired which struck the aircraft. It spun in and hit the ground in rural Massachusetts. The Massachusetts National Guard has been mobilized to move to the scene of the crash and search for wreckage. There are no reports yet from the crash scene. The two F-16s returned safely to base. (discuss)

Stardate 20011224.1832 (Captain's log): One of the problems with being an atheist is that Christmas is a hassle. It has no significance to me; I don't celebrate it. So to me it's just a day when most of the infrastructure I take for granted is shut down or diverted to other things. The 24-hour grocery store near me won't be open most of the day; most of my favorite restaurants will be closed. And here I am looking at the TV Guide online, and all I see is traditional Christmas programming.

Cartoon Network won't be doing its next episode of Samurai Jack tonight; instead the channel is full of the fiftieth showing this year of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Johny Bravo Christmas" (gack) and two, count them, two Smurf Christmas shows. (Words fail me.)

Or the movies: you have every version of "A Christmas Carol" ever created, and "Ernest Saves Christmas", not to mention "It's a Wonderful Life". If I never see that flick again I will be a very happy man. (The point was made much more briefly and wittily in a cartoon called "+1 -1" which ran in one of the Tournees of Animation in the 1980's. Yes, we all make a difference. I get it, OK? I get it!)

A&E has filled its schedule with shows about Christianity; they're stripping the schedule with a series called "Mysteries of the Bible".

But all hope is not lost. I went to the grocery store today and bought myself two Filet Mignon's, Prime, about half a pound each. (One to screw up, one to get right. Have I mentioned that I'm a miserable cook?) Also baking potatos, green beans, and pumpkin pie. Also, a couple of days ago I noticed that the store had started stocking Boursin again! Oh, happy days! Boursin is to Rondele as Stag's Leap is to Gallo; you have not had creme cheese with garlic and herbs until you have tried Boursin. There's been a trade war with France and the US put ruinous tariffs on French cheese products, and suddenly you couldn't get the stuff any more. But now it's here again, and that's going to be my lunch snack tomorrow. Also, I'm going to drive to one of the Indian casinos here tomorrow and see if it's open. I've never been there, and even if it isn't, it will be a nice drive (on the big empty Christmas highways).

And I have my DVD player; they can't take that away from me. Now let me see, what shall I watch? I know! Mortal Kombat! I can root for the Australian guy with the red eye and the metal face implant to maybe kick Sonja's ass this time.(discuss)

And for those of you less Scroogified than I am, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I'll get over it on Wednesday; I always do. And what I'm actually going to watch is "Spy Kids". I haven't seen it yet.

Stardate 20011224.1255 (On Screen): I grew up in Portland, Oregon. Oregon is one of the few states to not have a sales tax. Every once in a while some do-gooder comes up with all sorts of wonderful humanitarian things which the state could do if only it had more tax revenue, and looks fondly on all the money that could be raised if only there were a moderate sales tax. But the constitution of the State of Oregon requires that any proposal for a new tax must be presented to the voters, who must pass it by a two-thirds majority. It only takes a small part of the voting population to get a measure on the ballot, though, so like clockwork every few years there is a ballot measure to impose a sales tax, and every

Captured by MemoWeb from on 9/16/2004