As we all know, the network of shopping mall and department store Santas is primarily an intelligence gathering tool of the retailers, who pay top dollar to find out what's hot and what's not in the minds of children each year. Is Minecraft still mentioned as often? With what frequency does a kid somewhere on a Santa say "Lego" (Ogel wants to know).
Not mentioned are the more specialized Santas, able to predict US foreign policy months in advance, simply by resonating with the parents, through their kids. The tallies get fed to machine learning algorithms back in the homeland, code named Ogel, and out pops some highly refined anticipatory policy analysis. As you might imagine, these more sensitive Santas sometimes make enough to live on the entire rest of the year!
The next new wrinkle, already under development at MIT, will be the AI Santas, marketed as OK for adults to sit on and confess to (picture Eliza on steroids). An electronic brain the size of Watson's will dispense therapeutic advice while meanwhile telling Big Pharma where to hit a goldmine this year. Is it uppers or downers that most adults crave? And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Ask your doctor!
On a related topic, count me a skeptic when it comes to Winnie-the-Pooh's secret identity as a KGB agent. That he would secretly blackmail Christopher Robin while keeping up the "silly bear" act as a front, seems beyond ridiculous. The notion that Christopher had deep insecurities around gender that could be exploited by Pooh to turn him against the GCHQ (let alone MI6) is the projection of American FBI investigators, still mostly male, and as usual unable to see passed their own homophobia (their pet "issue" since Hoover).
However, if requests for "Pooh Bears" sees some unexplained resurgence, i.e. even in the absence of a new Disney film, I'm prepared to look again at the evidence. Even if it turned out to be true (stranger things have happened) this intel would be on the stale side in any case, Christopher having long ago reached an age when he could overpower Pooh in any inevitable fight to the death. Even Piglet (supposedly Pooh's handler) would have had a hard time intervening, once Robin decided to exact his revenge.
Coming full circle, and while we're naming names, I expect the Santas Network has already been tasked with keeping a lookout for any resurgence of interest in Eeyore. Pooh may have supplied the muscle, but Eeyore was rumored to be the real brains of the operation, and second to none when it came to sapping morale.
The life insurance industry pays a premium for tracking such indicators, even if Langley is more interested in Barbies (that's their prerogative), or if the UK, the more mature culture, cares more about lamp posts and wardrobes. There's no accounting for taste sometimes.
I checked Snopes before sharing these rumors on Facebook, just to let my friends know that I'm aware of the False News aspects to this story. Like I said, I'm a skeptic myself. However, some of you out there may know more than I do, and when it comes to fighting to defend freedom, better safe than sorry, right?