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  INCOMING! DECEMBER 13, 2004.  


The real election for president takes place today, as the nation's appointed electors -- party apparatchiks and mid-range donors, mostly -- meet in their respective state capitals to cast their super-powered Electoral College ballots. It's a relic of the wilderness, of course, but conspiracy theorists like to point out that nothing in the Constitution would prohibit an elector from breaking with the expressed will of their state and cast a ballot for the opposing candidate, or for Mike Bloomberg or Jennifer Aniston or whoever they damn well please. Known as "faithless electors," the nation has seen only a handful in two centuries


and not one that actually changed the outcome of anything. But for die-hard Bush haters, there's always hope.

The other meeting of negligible consequence today will be a summit between the Audubon Society and the management of the Fifth Avenue co-op that evicted two redtailed hawks from an archway, creating New York City's most overhuffed "news" story since Puff Daddy's trip to Times Square five years ago. Hey, we like birds as much as anybody else, and we always like to watch the histrionica of the plutocrats, but jeez, people. They're hawks. They're built to survive in the wild. Go adopt a shelter dog or something.

Finally, today is National Cocoa Day. Have a cup. It'll make you feel better about the hawks. Yeah.




Here's one you won't hear on Garrison Keillior's "Writer's Almanac:" Today is the 43rd birthday of Ginger Lynn Allen, a practitioner of a very old visual medium, and still at work in a season when most of her female contemporaries have long since been eased off-camera. Born into a dysfunctional family in Rockford, Ill., Allen caught the Sister Carrie express to the big city (in this case, the San Fernando Valley) and found work in a series of films you won't find at Blockbuster. After dating Charlie Sheen, she tried to cross over into mainstream films with only limited success and has since gone back to le bijou sensualle, making such


movies as "Sunset Stripped" and "Size Queens 1." So here's to the indefatigable Allen, still acting -- or something like it -- well into her relative dotage.




As long as we're paying attention to the Electoral College, we ought to point out that another quaint holdover from yesteryear, the Bill of Rights, was ratified by Congress on this day in 1791. But don't tell them down at Gitmo. They might start asking for an attorney, or more gruel or something.

Our ancestors celebrated this day in 1890 by inciting a riot in which the Sioux chief and military genius Sitting Bull was killed by that era's version of rent-a-cops. And Gone With the Wind premiered in Atlanta in 1939. Celebrate your own refusal to go hungry by purchasing a remastered four-disk


version of David O. Selznick's classic on DVD, available from Warner Home video early next year.




Like somebody you never knew last year whose stuff now occupies half your medicine cabinet, the search engine Google rocketed from nonexistent in 1997 to an indispensable part of American life shortly thereafter, threatening to replace the phone book, the library and the private detective, making the "google" search of a potential lover's name an urban ritual and guaranteeing that shoddy writing that we did years ago for the money is now


preserved forever in digital amber, there for all the world to see just how talentless we really are.

If you're sorry you missed out on investing in the recent Google IPO, another 25 million shares go on sale today. Today also happens to be Stupid Toy Day, which would be a seemingly perfect set-up, but we actually really like Google -- in the ambivalent way that an alcoholic can be said to really like booze -- so we're not going to goof on it.




The European Union meets today to discuss inviting Turkey into its ranks. Most of what happens in Brussels falls into the category of "eye-glazingly dull," those stories in the first 16 pages of the Times that we think we ought to be reading, but wind up zipping past on our way to Maureen Dowd and the Style section. This Turkey thing bears watching, however, as a larger question hangs over the decision -- can a Muslim nation with a secular government be fully integrated into the economic and political fabric of the West? Turkey stands astride Europe and the Middle East and its continued prosperity and friendship is of


considerable interest. So let's all cheer for Turkey today. After that, it's back to soybean tariffs and air-quality reports. Happy holidays.


Tom Zoellner is writing a book about the diamond industry, which probably won't be nearly as funny as this was.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.