Regarding the village of North Pole, Alaska:
Thursday's power grab by the Russians went largely unnoticed in Alaska, even in North Pole. Employees at the Santa Claus House took care of customers, while the mayor, who only found out about the underwater land rush when I called him, tended to business as usual.
The primary joke making the rounds on the Internet is that Vladimir Putin is plotting to take over Christmas. Alarmingly, Santa already dresses in Moscow-Square-red, but as Isaacson noted, the jolly old man also lives in District 11, a red district in a red state. "I always wondered if that meant he was a Russian or a Republican," he said, this time speaking English.
Whether Dancer and Prancer will be taking instructions in Russian come December is unclear.
And from Mr. Morison, we learn that all kinds of objects have been dropped under the ice cap at the North Pole, and nobody ever has made a headline out of it.
For the last few years, he's spent springtime near the pole, gathering information on ocean conditions and climate change. Between scientists and adventuresome tourists who visit the pole, Morison suspects there's an assortment of flags and souvenirs at the bottom of the sea. "People drop stuff down there all the time," he said.
Since 2004, the National Science Foundation has provided funding for three Arctic bottom-pressure recorders, which measure changes in sea levels and currents. Each year the scientists retrieve the recorders, remove the data and send them back down through holes in the polar ice cap.
Maybe Morison should've put an American flag decal on one of the gizmos, I told him, thereby staking a claim for the United States.
"We've got our address on it," he said. "We can claim it in the name of the physics lab. The Russians will just have to get in line behind the APLUW."
Did you hear that Volodia? You got there too late - APLUW controls the world's largest ice-cube now!