The best way is to drive out to the pleasantly rustic local tree farm on
a brisk Saturday afternoon with some family members and an axe. Find a farm near
you
and go to it. We don’t all have the luxury of doing things the
proper way, of course — some of us live in the city or lack time or
transportation or chopping skills. But unless you’re the type who gets all
woebegone at the thought of putting a live tree to death for one’s selfish
Christmas revels, and don’t think I don’t sympathize, there’s no need to
settle for something nasty and plastic.

The Cartners,
family-owned and-operated former suppliers of Christmas trees to the
Neiman-Marcus department stores, will ship you a top-quality Blue Ridge
mountain Fraser fir from North Carolina for between $56 and $80 plus $14
shipping. Order now for delivery later. Or try this West Coast source in Oregon,
which offers cheaper Douglas firs and includes shipping. New Hampshire’s Weir Tree Farms offer balsam firs
and, as a sort of random wintry bonus, maple syrup.

Oh, and consider recycling that tree
afterwards. It’ll help you deal with the guilt and the remorse and the
shame.

Inner-city residents often shop online

With limited local retail choices, denizens of the inner city who
historically have often turned to mail-order catalogs are increasingly doing
their shopping online, reports a recent study. Analysts
expect Internet use in urban America to rise sharply as computer prices
continue to drop.

Strange moments on the Web

Weird things going on out there at present include Olipop, Creepy
Susie
, and one serious time-suck of an interactive art project called Lapses and Erasures. You’ll
need an advanced version of Netscape. I can’t explain it — just go, click
on “annotator,” and enjoy.

‘Ethicist,’ my eye

Reason magazine’s Jacob T. Levy gives a badly needed drubbing to
the insufferable Randy Cohen “ethicist” column recently given page room by
the thoroughly ridiculous Sunday New York Times Magazine, the only
justification for the existence of which is the crossword puzzle. I’ve been
waiting for this evil and mentally retarded feature to get its comeuppance
for quite a while. Levy gives satisfaction.

Reopening the eugenics question

The eminent, well-respected British Medical Journal hosts an attempt to
resurrect the moral and intellectual viability of discussing eugenics in its
Nov. 13 issue — with the imprimatur of prominent bioethics pundit Arthur
Caplan, no less. Designer babies get the heavily hedged OK. Be afraid. This
is, at best, nasty, treacherous ground we’re treading.

Play games instead of working

A little useless, retro fun can be had at iPong, where you can play the primeval
‘puter game Pong, the one that vaguely resembles air hockey, online with
other enthusiasts to your heart’s content. Avoid the cheesy sweepstakes
feature, which is a blot on an otherwise charming idea for a site.

Ask Suey

Oregon’s Willamette Week is hosting a kicky
question-and-answer-style advice column on love ‘n’ sex by one Suey Chow.
Not geared for those under 14 or 15, but worth a read if you’re a libertarian grown-up
who’s getting tired of Susie Bright. (Who, me?)

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.