Still wishing you'd purchased those John Kerry flip flops during the last presidential contest? Don't delay! Snap up these two mementos of the 2008 campaign before it's all over but the shouting. (1) When your infant sports the Obama Right On! bib ($12.99 at CafePress.com) at holiday meals, it's sure to spark lively conversations with right-wing and Hillary-supporting relatives alike. (2) It may or may not have been wise of the official Giuliani campaign merchandise website (rudy2008store.com) to offer a signed, black Louisville slugger bat to supporters -- that is, considering the fact that Rudy's father was a loan shark heavy whose persuader of choice was a baseball bat -- but there's no denying that it would look cool on your living room wall. $79.95.
Dedicated readers of the Ideas blog have already been introduced to my dog, Pokey, whom I adopted around the same time that I started blogging. Thanks to her, I've discovered Pet Cabaret, a top-notch Roslindale pet supply store (4404 Washington Street) specializing in natural and organic foods and treats. And thanks to the good folks at Pet Cabaret, I've become a regular purchaser of the most far-out, cutting-edge dog food imaginable: finely shredded, freeze-dried raw beef and chicken, sold in Ziploc bags by a Green Bay, Wisc.-based zoo-supply outfit called Animal Food Services. This unnamed stuff resembles another brown, powdery substance available elsewhere on Washington Street... and Pokey is definitely addicted. There's a cat version of the powder, too. Know any brainiacs crazy about their pet, er, companion animal? Check this stuff out!
Several of Brainiac's intellectual and artistic heroes died in 2007, including the novelist Kurt Vonnegut, philosophers Richard Rorty and Jean Baudrillard, and the Hawaiian musician Don Ho. If I had to choose one representative work by each of these guys, I'd pick: Vonnegut's funny, wise, apocalyptic 1963 novel "Cat's Cradle"; Rorty's 1989 book "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity," which brilliantly articulated a liberal political vision that even a nihilist might find attractive; Baudrillard's "America," also published (in English) in 1989, a charming yet disturbing travelogue and prose poem about our country; and Ho's 1969 "Greatest Hits" album, because it includes not only "Tiny Bubbles" and "Pearly Shells" but the extremely hip, catchy "Ain’t No Thing!" Once these gifts have been unwrapped, drink a toast to the inspiring figures we lost this year.
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.