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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Alex Beam has a few. For example:

You know those touching and always-original Christmas letters that people send around this time of year? "Johanna has a new job. . . . Jonny is prospering in his latest venture"? Now someone is selling theirs on the Internet, for only $29.99!

Yes, Doug and Diane Hughes of Santa Clara, Calif., are selling copies of their 142-page Christmas letter, "Hughes News," off of the print-on-demand website lulu.com. It's a D-Day level invasion of privacy. You can read young Kaitlin Hughes's college admission essay; Kaitlin is interested in the field of "Nutrition and Dietetics" and tells about her Advanced Placement English paper ''on how the diet of Madame Emma Bovary may have contributed to her depression and eventual suicide."

That makes the Pops family newsletter sound like a postcard by comparison. Continuing:

Now that the laws on electronic surveillance have been suspended, your top priority will be to listen in on other people's phone calls. You don't have the 30,000-person National Security Agency working for you, but there are still plenty of handy-dandy snooping devices out there.

You may or may not want to start out with the unfortunately named "Basement Bugger's Bible," available on amazon.com, which does provide some helpful eavesdropping tips using off-the-shelf technology from Radio Shack. And thespystore.com will sell you useful gizmos like the TeleSpy Remote Audio Monitoring Device, which the website insists "should be used only in a legal and lawful manner." If anyone complains, tell them George Bush sent you.

Oh, the political barbs mixed with the Christmas gift advice, my sides!