Holiday Gift Guide: No. 1 Smug Designer Friend

It's that time of year. When you begrudgingly give gifts to people who you don't really like.

Maybe it's a co-worker. Or maybe a boss. Or an in-law. Or maybe for Secret Santas you drew the one guy in your book club that never emotionally left his MFA program and turns the discussion toward literary theory when you just want to talk themes and eat snacks. In any event, now there's a lot of quarter-hearted gift-giving going to be happening, and you need to deliver something that will send the right passive-aggressive message.

If you've found yourself in a similar pinch, please take solace that you're not alone in your miserliness. Rather, find inspiration from these gift guides detailing ideas for the all types of people you unfortunately have to buy stuff for this year.

And now. Part I.

1. Edible Foraged Wood From Free-Range Pinyon Pine. Nothing says "I really care about responsible eating and want everyone to know it," like foraged wood. Pinyon pine has the nuttiness of Idiazabal, the scent of your neighborhood park and the texture of a wet gym towel. Delicious artisanal goodness. 2. Eames Rocker Earrings The most stereotypically coveted chair of all your design friends can now swing from their earlobes. Of course, they'd never be able to afford the real thing working freelance and part-time at their local bar, so now they can have a much smaller version. 3. Finfolk 1-Year Subscription Ever wish you could find a magazine that covered your dual loves of dolphins and typography? This magazine is just for you, I mean, your friend! Don't miss the holiday issue covering the latest in dolphin folk music, the saddening epidemic of dolphin ennui, and the how-tos of preparing small-batch seaweed. 4. Ombre Umbro The nineties are back in vogue, and so is ombre everything! OMG ombre! 5. Literal Infinity Scarf Heh heh. Heh. 6. Gold-dipped toilette tissue Since we're gilding everything in sight, why not toilette paper? (Toilette - it's French.) This will look so cute in their chevron-themed bathroom, dontcha think? 7. Dog that sets type What could be hipper than a typesetting dog? This dog knows his lowercase like the back of his paw. Order now, and your friend would even have time to have him typeset their letterpress Christmas card! Yip-yip, yip-yip, yippee!
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Soft Rock the Vote

I've been a little underwhelmed by both candidates this election cycle.

What happened to all the showmen? The rock and roll candidates? Rick Perry was a total nutter, but at least he kept it interesting. Herman Cain, you were marvelously entertaining.

At best the entertainment factor of this election has been in line with the jobs report. Dismal. If you're looking to be entertained, the Parties are where the parties are at. They're keeping it nice and spicy on both sides. You know, like in terms of crazy talk. FOX NEWS. LOOKING AT YOU.

But the candidates.
Beh. Reasonable, viable options. Almost zero crazy-talk soundbites floating around there this time. Boring.

Obama. Where's the pull-myself-up-by-my-boot straps bravado? Where's the spunk? The Children's choir singing original praises? Boring. Boring. Boring.
Et tu, Romney.

Since the entertainment value of this election season was pretty much annihilated after Mitt's nomination, it has to become about something else.

Now we are presented with a choice between two articulate, wealthy, fairly measured men, who at the end of the day are more moderate than their party wants them to be, who at the end of the day attest that they mostly both want the same thing - strong families, strong healthcare system, strong middle class, strong economy.

"I'll create jobs and improve the economy."
"Me, too."

"I'll help the middle class."
"Me, too."

"I'll provide affordable healthcare.
"Me, too."

Ad infinitum.

Two candidates who certainly don't agree on everything, but who do have a lot of eerily similar goals yet employ very different strategies.  They have very different, complex plans to get to there, but clearly, all roads lead to Rome. Not all roads will actually get you there, but that's where they're heading at the very least. So it really comes down to a few things:

1) Who you believe
2) Whose road to Rome you like better

So there it is. Whose plan, whose hypothesis, do you like better? Because that's all they are, hypotheses. Theories. I smirk when I hear both men make promises that they have no business making. Safety is not guaranteed. Nothing is. And past performance, though important and worth looking into, is not indicative.

Obama and Romney have both been closer on issues that their parties are comfortable with. They've both weaved in and out on policy in fiscal and social issues. They both have marvelous successes and failures under their belts. As I expect. They are POLITICIANS. I think people forget that. That's all they are. Not saviors, not Gods, and not ravenous demons either.

However, what these candidates have done is not as important as what they will do should either win the election. Just because Obama and Romney employed certain tactics and yielded economic "failures" and "successes" in years past, does not mean they will in the future.

Nothing is perfectly replicable. Even if the strategy and tactics are the same, external conditions (socially, economically, politically) have changed. The experiment will yield different results.

So we rely on who we believe and what hypothesis we believe. They have their hypotheses, their educated guesses, and that's what we have, too.

The choice of a guess.

Yes, I'm a bit I'm aggravated by my lack of choices (we have 200 cereals to pick from in the supermarket, but fundamentally 2 presidential candidates?) That's a discussion for later.

Back to:

a) who you believe
b) Whose road to Rome you like better

I believe both of them. Both of them are telling the truth (and lying, and spinning with the fervor of a doped-up Armstrong). Truth is, in spite of their utter boringness, and specific brand of un-truthtelling, both of these men are men I can respect. I could believe in either. Neither of them are the terrible, uncaring human beings their parties or any media might have us believe they are.

Obama is not the out-of-control-Neo-Keynesian, irresponsible socialist I've heard people swear he is. And Romney is not the feeble, uncaring, out-of-touch plutocrat. This is insultingly reductive. And you should be insulted, too, that you, as a political consumer as expected to believe such reductions. We are smarter than these stereotypes we're being fed, America.

And I will try to support and respect either candidate should they win.

But since I have the choice, I have gathered as much info as I can get ahold of (and attempted to verify, which is increasingly difficult in a world that scarily parallels the movie Network), and I will use my educated guess as to how I think we might get to Rome.

And I guess Mitt Romney.

I guess.

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