Nothing says Christmas like mayhem and murder. With St. Nick peeking his fat ass around the corner we know it’s time for a new slew of anticipated video games to make their debut.

First came Rockstar Game’s uber-violent Grand Theft Auto sequel San Andreas which smashed video games sales records. The game follows a gang-banger as he commits acts of vehicular homicide, random gun violence, and the sort of senseless rage the early GTA’s were so known for.

Next came Microsoft’s much-anticipated follow up to Halo. The first day’s sales exceeded $125 million. Halo 2 took a while to hit the market but Microsoft wanted to make sure the game came out right. Early reviews are positive.

Earlier this year EA Sport’s Madden Football 2005 also exceed the $100 million mark leading many to believe that this holiday season will turn out to the biggest in history for the gaming industry. Industry watchers are waiting for a big holiday season. What’s driving this gaming phenomenon? The maturation of the industry? The decriminalization of pot? The general crappiness of movies? Is it simply a matter of demographics? Whatever it is, the economics of industry is staggering.


Americans aren’t the most inventive people on the planet, but they are the most innovative. Sir Harold Evans makes this claim in his new book on American innovation They Made America that this innovation is what has propelled the upstart nation to its position as world leader. "Invention without innovation is mere pastime" he says, and a PBS series of the same name demonstrates the impact of individuals who harness discovery.

Among the innovators Evans profiles:
Ida Rosenthal, who popularized the bra and helped liberate working women from the corset.
Juan Trippe, creator of the first commercial air service.
Ruth Handler, the woman behind the Barbie doll and Mattel.
CNN's Ted Turner, who helped usher in a new information age.
Lewis Tappan, who built America's credit-rating system and spurred economic growth.
Amadeo Giannini, who, as the first banker to open his doors to the working class, helped boost their fortunes.

Evans first noticed the American innovation dynamic as reporter in England. Many British inventions were turned into flourishing American industries. He wanted to undstand how and why the Americans were so succesful.

"There is a genuine populist impetus here," Evans said. "If you look at the innovators, you have a fruit seller, a clerk, a seamstress, a trucker, a beach taxi pilot, a couple of bicycle mechanics in Dayton. None of them come from the aristocratic classes, and some come from poverty."

While many have attempted to replicate the American ethos of innovation, few have approached her achievement. What lessons can we take forward as we look back?
What now? Since the election many people have asked that question. Some ask out of anticipation, others from dread. What’s next for the Supreme Court? With potentially four vacancies over the next term, President Bush has the opportunity to make over the High Court to his liking.

With talk of Clarence Thomas being the next Chief Justice and the public smack down of pro-choice Republican senator Arlen Specter, and the impact of the religious right on the election, early indications are that the court might have a rightward tilt over the coming years. Is the indicative of the cyclical nature of politics and culture or is there a larger dynamic at work? If the court becomes the bastion of “conservative” politics where will the opposition go to find redress?