As human beings living in the 21st century, it’s pretty obvious that we like to spend a lot of time and money on recreational items and processes. I’ve gotten pretty pissed off over video games and fantasy football in the past, and I could fill a gel-cap for all the good it did me. But sometimes it’s the meaning behind the act that makes it relevant, such as the tradition of telling children about Santa Claus. What better way is there to celebrate the Christian form of sun-worship than drowning it in consumerism?
Since 1955, when a Sears ad about calling Santa Claus mistakenly printed the phone number for the Colorado Springs Continental Air Defense Command, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking the Christmas Eve and Christmas day movements of Santa Claus, from the North Pole to the house of Cindy Lou Who. Since first jumping onto this whole “Internet” thing in 2004, NORAD has been using Google’s mapping data for tracking, but that came to a sleigh-grinding halt earlier this year . For the first time, NORAD has partnered with Bing for its Kris Kingle-locating, while Google recently unveiled their own tracker. Perhaps we would be worried if Apple had just dropped Google for Bing, but NORAD has been doing this kind of thing for a while now, and probably won’t renege on their decision at midnight on Christmas Eve.
Google Earth is your setting for Santa-following in full 3D detail, and for those just waiting around, there’s a simple children’s game to play. Meanwhile, NORAD will offer a 2D and 3D system created by Analytical Graphics, Inc. using the Cesium open-source virtual globe and map engine. And if you’re worried about your kids not being able to track him because you’re on your way home from the grandparents’ house, there’s an app for both of them. NORAD will, of course, still be taking phone calls throughout the day, and you can even set it up so Santa calls you back! That way, you can’t smell the liquor on his breath.
So who does the better job at tracking a mythical figure’s imaginary journey to billions of houses worldwide? That’s for you to decide with baited breaths. And if you’re letting your kid look at the website without your supervision, realize that he or she is only a tab opening away from asking Google, “Is Santa real?”