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Weekly Obsessions 

Things we were obsessing about on Dec. 15, 2004

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This might be the best parlor game to hit media circles since Woodward started hanging around parking garages: Just who is the BALCO leaker? Who, from this case's Venn diagram of jurisdictions, is running grand jury testimony through a Xerox and punching up the Chronicle on speed dial? A prosecutor? A defense attorney? An agent? A cop? Whoever it is, the leaker's certainly had an impact: Besides leaving a turd on that holiest of holy sites in American jurisprudence, the federal grand jury, he has -- with the methodical leaking of testimony from some of the biggest names in sports -- turned a gimpy criminal case into a national cause. The U.S. attorney here has asked for a formal Justice Department investigation into the leaks, so it may not be long before we learn the source's identity. We'll just wait for someone to leak it. T.C.

Since the November election, nine of President Bush's 15 Cabinet members have jumped ship or been replaced. Not Donald Rumsfeld. The former wrestler, once the albatross of the administration, has locked up another four years to play war games, which is troubling not only for anyone who lives in the Middle East, but also for anyone who believes in such minor matters as the Geneva Convention. Under Rummy's visionary guidance, the U.S. military rushed to battle without the necessary equipment, woefully underestimated the Iraqi insurgency, and reinvented prison sadism. Now the "idealistic hawk" is putting M16s in the hands of mercenaries and debating the upside of torture. Is anyone else shocked or awed that this man still has a job? L.O.

Ever since the Proof of Payment (POP) crackdown went into effect on Muni Metro lines last week, we couldn't help but notice that our commute had started to feel slightly less serene than usual. Maybe it's the increasingly frequent appearance of the refrigerator-size man with the billy club, demanding our stub almost every time we ride the N Judah. Anyway, don't even think about being a Muni stowaway nowadays: The fine for skipping out on the $1.25 fare can be as much as $500. N.C.

'Tis the gift-giving season, and all thoughts turn to bacon. If, like Dan Philips, the native San Franciscan who created The Grateful Palate Gift Handbook, you believe that "pig is the greatest of all foods," it's time to pick up the 2005 issue. In it you'll find 40 flavors of bacon (and the Bacon of the Month Club), including one described as "a great big, hedonistic pig bomb." The catalog also sells wine and coffee and pancake mix and other delectables, but its raison d'être is clear: Pig is "where time, space and flavor begin. It's the secret weapon. It's the Elvis of food. It's America." Let freedom oink. K.Z.

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