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Artificial Intelligence

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The following is an excerpt from Joseph Bottum | December 26, 2016 | Weeklystandard.com |

Flocking. No one outside the millinery trade—ladies' haberdashery—should ever have occasion to use the word, but there it is: a category of artificial Christmas trees. You can get your tree flocked, or unflocked. Made of green nylon, like AstroTurf in the Astrodome, or made of metal, like pink aluminum siding on a split-level suburban house somewhere near Fort Lauderdale. Prelit with twinkling LED lights, or plain, for the do-it-yourselfers among us: the hardy, handy people who prefer putting up their own authentic Christmas lights on their synthetic trees.

Of course, the results can be quite beautiful, with a regularity and soft glow that .  .  . No, I just can't do it. Can't contemplate artificial Christmas trees without a shiver of despair for civilization and my own sanity. Every year, out here in the Black Hills, my family and I would make a donation to the Forest Service and get our bright orange tree-harvesting tag—then drive up to the edge of the woods. We'd hike on from there, up to our traditional meadow, and begin looking for the tree, the one tree, that was calling out to us that particular season. The National Forests ban chainsaws, but a little work with an axe, some back and forth with a bow saw, and we'd be ready to go.

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