;Tired of those damned (and we mean that literally) secular humanists trying to take the Christ out of CHRISTmas? Us too, brothers and sisters, us too. Finally, someone in Orlando is doing something about it: making money.;
;;The Keep Christ in Christmas Alignment, backed by a local company called Pillars of Heaven Inc., sent us a press release last week bemoaning the fact that retailers are taking the Big Guy's name off his birthday. The press release hinted at the beginning of a national movement of steamed followers who are mad as heck and aren't going to take it anymore. And just in time for CHRISTmas in July!
;;We couldn't make it to the kickoff luncheon June 26 (noon Bible study, you understand) so we called the group's organizers. When we couldn't get through to them, we did a quick check on the Florida Department of State's website and discovered that the for-profit Pillars of Heaven used to go by the name Biblical Pin Collection Inc.;
;;So how are they going to keep the nativity holy? By selling CHRISTmas tree ornaments! For the low, low price of $19.95 (or $7.50 each) on www.pillarsofheaven.com, you get three bulbs decorated with illustrations of the Nativity, the guiding star and the three wise men. Or pick up a manger-scene car magnet for only $4.95. Take that, secularists!;
;;Proving once again that ;Orlando is home to more than pigeons and overgrown mice, eWeek magazine has named the City Beautiful No. 8 on its list of blooming tech cities. The information technology publication determined the rankings through cities' economies, populations and number of available industry jobs. Orlando, which boasts 10 tech jobs per 1,000 people, is home to giants Lockheed Martin, Electronic Arts, Symantec and other industry players, who currently bring about $10 billion in revenue to the area annually, according to Inc. magazine. Technology entrepreneur Paul Graham said in May at the Xtech Conference that the new hub could pop up anywhere, so long as the area had "rich people and nerds." Here's hoping.;
;Hey there, murderers, Congressman John Mica is coming after you. Straying from his usual mass-transit obsession, Mica, who represents Volusia County and other parts of Central Florida, is tackling the wave of homicides that has hit Jacksonville and Orlando this year. And while Orlando's 30 murders so far are troubling (see "Murder in the City Beautiful," page 18), check out Jacksonville: 46 homicides through April of this year, compared to 22 in 2005, according to the crime stats included in Mica's press release.
;;So what is Mica's silver bullet? "Some education, some prevention, get weapons out of the hands of the bad guys," Mica told Happytown™ in the course of a seven-minute ramble that may have been the most boring interview ever (and which thankfully ended when his cell phone cut out). What we gleaned from the drone is that a lot of these killings are drug-related, so Mica wants more funding for drug education and prevention. And too many homicides come at the wrong end of high-powered assault weapons, which Mica wants the U.S. Department of Justice to crack down on; guess he's not worried about getting the NRA endorsement this year.;
;"It's a tough one," Mica says. "There is a lot of slaughter out there.";
;Sometimes even we have;to be reminded that the Fourth of July isn't all about beer, barbecue and fireworks — it's about the celebration of our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of beer, barbecue and fireworks.;
;;So we offer an activity that'll be taking place on the Fourth that does have some red-white-and-blue roots: voter registration. In yet further proof that Bill Cowles, our Supervisor of Elections, doesn't take a day off when it comes to making sure we have the opportunity to vote, there will be 19 locations around town — from the cornfields of Zellwood to the student shacks of UCF to the fountain at Lake Eola Park — to register. Just go to the Supervisor of Elections website for details, www.ocfelections.com, or call (407) 836-2070. And just so you know, as of May there were 192,541 Republicans registered to vote in Orange County and 222,929 Democrats.;
;In our continuing effort to;keep you up to date on which TV production company is currently infatuated with Orlando, we note that the Home & Garden Television network (HGTV) is scouring our area for people with weird crap in their homes or yards to feature on Offbeat America. No, the '78 Impala on concrete blocks doesn't qualify. These here are sophisticated folks, and they want to see some artistic-type crap.;
;;For example, there was the California woman with a garden full of giant topiaries. Then there was the guy in the Mojave Desert who designed his aluminum house to spin like a top. And the Virginia woman who decorated her home with portraits made of laundry lint. Artsy stuff like that. Come on, Central Florida, show the world we have more to offer than a guy who put a huge butt on top of his roof. Contact Offbeat America at 4100 E. Dry Creek Road, Centennial, Colo., 80122, www.highnoonentertainment.com, or call (303) 712-3323.;
;;While you were moping, ;perhaps clipping Sunday paper coupons for heterosexual concerns and staring out the window at a nameless tropical deluge, those ever-resourceful gays were at it again June 25.;
;; This year's annual Gay Pride Picnic promised a hefty assembly in the hundreds. In truth, Bill Frederick Park (or Turkey Lake Park for the old-timers) didn't attract that big a gaggle on Sunday, but there were people, and most of them were gay.
;;Hosted by the Sexy Savannah (who you may have heard of) and Billy Manes (who may be writing this), the affair swung and dangled with the kind of flair one associates with picnics that have hosts. Raffles were offered (wall coverings, jockstraps, pictures of palm trees) and hot dogs were dropped (oh, Savannah!), while Orlando's "bear" population mixed and mingled with the … uh … fish. We can't be absolutely sure, but by all appearances, commissioner Patty Sheehan was bra-free. And she was in a park. With free food. Don't feed the firstname.lastname@example.org