Sunday, December 5, 2004

Holiday Gift Picks

Time again for our annual look at the coolest gifts for the holiday season. We just ask that you keep one thing in mind while you review them: We wouldn't have picked them if we didn't want them (hint hint).

Patrick Greer – The Apple iPod (revisited)
I went through’s "Most Wished For" section this holiday and I discovered that I am not unique.Like everyone else, I think, even after 3 years, that the iPod is the coolest thing to hit the market since… well, I don’t remember what it was, but it was cool – just not as cool as the iPod. There are so many more choices now then when we last wished for it ("Holiday Gift Picks," issue 2002.12). The 60 gig model and special edition U2 model are now available. The biggest change of them all, however, is the ability to store pictures on your iPod – Apple’s sleek interface allows you to seamlessly scroll through your pictures. And it looks cool.

This review may have been more then a little influenced by waiting for a friend to traverse a long line at the Apple store and using that extra free time playing with the new iPods and the incredible new Bose headphones. So this year for Christmas I want the new iPod, or the Bose headphones, or the iPod portable speaker system, or... or... or, well, all of it. fb

J.D. Jordan – America: The Book
Technology technology technology. We always recommend fancy gadgets with the most amazing modern widgets. Well not this holiday. I’m going to buck the trend – I’m going to stand up proudly say, “No more!” (Unless it’s a Canon Proshot Digital Camera)

This years most prized gift just might be America: The Book (A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction), a hysterical look at our government by Jon Stewart, host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show, and his fake-news cohorts. The book is laid out like a textbook, with "Discussion Questions" ("Why do you think the Framers made the Constitution so soul-crushingly boring?"), "Classroom Activities" ("Using felt and yarn, make a hand puppet of Clarence Thomas. Ta-da! You're Antonin Scalia!") and chapters ranging subjects from "Ancient Rome: The First Republicans" to "The Founding Fathers: Young, Gifted, and White" to "The Media: Can it Be Stopped?"

Best of all, the book actually does go a long way to explain our government (American-style democracy, "the world's most beloved form of government, which explains why so many other nations are eager for us to impose it on them") and still remain a laugh-riot. No one evades lampooning, not even the Pilgrims, (who came to America "to escape religious persecution... create a society where they could worship as they pleased and one day, God willing, even do some persecuting of their own") or the media (including the "inspirational" story of how the media "transformed itself from a mere public necessity into an entertaining profit center for ever-expanding corporate empires."

This holiday, don’t take gift giving too seriously. And keep in mind America: The Book’s dedication to guide your way, "To the huddled masses — Keep yearnin'!” fb

Fleming Patterson – Bluetooth® wireless mobile phone headset
Possibly the most brilliant wireless accessory that you can get this holiday season is the Bluetooth® wireless mobile phone headset made by and for Motorola phones. Bluetooth technology has become a growing technology revolution that has changed the way we do simple tasks such as answering phones, unlocking doors, turning on lights, starting cars, and even adjusting your car seats. Though your home, car, or computer will need to be Bluetooth enabled, the future is near for these technologies to work everywhere. As for now, the way you answer your Bluetooth phone has changed – you no longer need to pick up your phone and hold it to your ear. Instead, you can wear this small wireless earpiece on one ear and touch its large button to answer or orally place a call – much like captain Picard would have done when talking with his crew in Star Trek.

The whole premise of this technology is to be able to use your phone hands free and to not be distracted. The head piece is voice activated and you do not have to teach it to recognize your voice. I know what I am getting this Christmas…do you? fb

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