Published on Tuesday, December 10, 2002 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
It's the Season for Good Cheer, Malls, the Military
by Sean Gonsalves
As I write this, the snow is falling outside my apartment window. So I've got the Christmas spirit bubbling up inside me.
'Tis the season . . . to shop for Christmas presents. But I have a confession to make. I'm about to commit a grave sin. I'm actually going to make a few gifts this year instead of just buying expensive stuff. That way I will even better clutter the lives of loved ones.
Of course, I'll have to buy the cheap materials I'll need to make the gifts. So maybe my life will be spared by the merciful, omnipresent god of the market.
But please don't tell the high priests of our consumer culture just how unpatriotic I intend to be by not completely living up to my civic duty of shopping 'til I drop.
I know the scripture: "Whoever has the most toys wins." It's in the Book of Prices, which is right after the Book of Numbers, I think. But I'm a rebel against the Claus.
What saves me from being an unredeemable Grinch is that I do enjoy a few Christmas carols. "Joy To The World" is my favorite.
Plus, I have a deep interest in that famous woodworker who, it has been rumored, is behind all this Christmas business.
Then again, the traditional celebration of Jesus' birth is sometimes referred to as Xmas. There's no Christ in that.
But that's a whole other question that some readers would find about as interesting as discussing the physics involved in the great theological debate over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
I happen to think it would make for fascinating conversation, but I won't linger long on this, other than to tell you that I got an e-mail last week announcing the publication of a new physics book that might shed some light on the angel debacle. (A cheap Christmas gift?)
The book is called "Einstein's Theory of Relativity: Scientific Theory or Illusion," written by Milan R. Pavlovic -- not to be confused with the behavior psychologist who did that famous experiment with drooling dogs.
Evidently, Pavlovic is a graduate of the electro-technical faculty of Belgrade University. He spent his life researching, developing and testing military equipment in fields ranging from telecommunications to artillery fire-control systems to laser and nuclear engineering.
I bet he'd be an engaging guy to have a conversation with, given all this talk about weapons of mass destruction going on.
His book is advertised as being a "critical analysis of the special theory of relativity as a scientific theory, which, above all, is concerned with questions connected with time, space, mass and energy."
Sounds interesting. Unfortunately, I know nothing about physics. Though I can speak with authority as one of the consuming masses of energy taking up time and space in the universe of buying and selling.
And since 'tis the season of the Prince of Peace, buying gifts and, apparently, questioning the big bang theory, I'd like to spread a bit of Xmas cheer by recommending a way you can get a bigger bang for your buck as we head off to worship in malls all across America.
But first -- did you see that Associated Press story last week about a little, teeny-weenie provision in a new federal education law that requires public high schools to help recruit for the military by handing over to the Pentagon the names, addresses and phone numbers of its juniors and seniors?
In our Orwellian world, where war is peace, the provision is found in the "No Child Left Behind" law.
It provides equal opportunity for both male and female students, which might have the unintended consequence of making all those who "hate our freedoms" even more green with envy.
And now for that merry gift idea I promised.
Have you seen the commercials for those video games with the Tom Clancy-inspired characters and scenarios where you can play patriotic war games in which the mission is to "appropriate" foreign assets and "destroy" enemies as part of a "ghost recon" team, or as a secret "black ops" agent who will be "disavowed" by his own government if exposed?
Why bother to re-institute the draft when you can indoctrinate millions of young people in the cool ways of appropriating assets and destroying enemies via the most sacred secular altar in America -- the television set, complete with surround sound?
It's boot camp (without the discipline and moral context provided by the military) packaged and sold to the malleable psyches of the video-game generation.
The genius of this idea is evident when you realize this military indoctrination is all paid for by private industry. It's a free-marketeer's fantasy -- the funding of one of the few good government programs without having to use taxpayer money. The revenue comes from the disposable income of patriotic consumers. Brilliant.
Maybe Oscar Wilde was right: "Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it."
Joy to the world.
Sean Gonsalves is a columnist with the Cape Cod Times. E-mail: email@example.com
©1999-2002 Seattle Post-Intelligencer