2005: a year of change, failure, and unfathomable new nadirs for The Stranger. A year that saw the paper shed scribblers like rats from a sinking ship. Some, such as Sandeep Kaushik and Amy Jenniges, have been missed, while others, such as Sean Nelson, have not. But throughout the turbulence one thing could squarely be counted upon: The Stranger, despite its apparent success, continues to fight the wretched fight of thoroughly undermining journalistic ethics and aesthetics. One not need look as far as the bruised New York Times to see the disintegration of solid reporting; for the unfortunate souls in Seattle, journalistic irresponsibility can be spotted in their own backyards.Evaporation of man-power wasn't the only change at The Stranger, however, as the paper saw fit this past May to completely overhaul its website. The result, while certainly eye-catching (what with its bright colors and pretty pictures—presumably for the mass of thick-skulled citizens who keep the paper's pick-up rate high) quickly proved to be little more than a non-print cesspool, providing the paper's writers with even more space to spout inane opinions and autobiographical irrelevancies via a "weblog." That said weblog—ironically and aptly named "Slog"—has achieved popularity offers cold comfort to those of us who find ourselves routinely incensed, offended, and otherwise confounded by the continuous stream of bile issuing from the paper's gaggle of pot-addled dunderheads. Intelligent publications punish incompetence; The Stranger, it should come as no surprise, rewards it.Still, not all of the changes have been misguided. The arrival of Eli Sanders, though further bolstering the paper's anti-Christian, unwashed-liberal bias, nonetheless injected a refreshing dose of intellect into The Stranger's pages. And the demotion—despite whatever claims he makes to the contrary—of Bradley Steinbacher from the paper's film desk, a position he managed, against all odds, to further undermine following Sean Nelson's disastrous tenure, can only be considered a positive move (let's ignore, for the moment, that the post was handed over to the cyanide-filled pen of Annie Wagner). Then there is the matter of the monorail, the pretty toy train Dan Savage, Josh Feit, and Erica C. Barnett obsessively squandered reams of paper promoting, only to watch it explode in their faces when the fine citizens of Seattle at last came to their senses. For those of us long praying for the paper's arrogant writers and editors to be taken down several pegs, the collapse of The Stranger's favorite public-transit boondoggle inspired no end of glee, proving once and for all that whatever political muscle the paper believes it has is little more than wafting smoke—no doubt emanating from the dozen-or-so bongs continually burning in the editorial department.So, onward to 2006! What will the future entail for The Stranger? Seeing as how my prayers for the paper's demise have gone unanswered these many years, the most I can hope for is that the citizens will at last find themselves fed up with this miserable rag, or at least begin to pursue better options. And it so happens there is a possible hero on the horizon: the New Times chain, which has recently purchased this paper's chief rival (in market share, not quality), Seattle Weekly. At long last, it appears that The Stranger will have to face a competitor not entirely populated by burned out hippies, one willing to back up its obvious intellectual superiority with a little backbone, and the coming war between the two papers should be entertaining to witness. Some limp-wristed souls may turn up their noses at the New Times group whilst carping about the importance of "locally owned" media, to which I say, Better to have a stranger providing you with news than The Stranger providing you with news. Wake up, Seattle!Sincerely,A. Birch Steen, Stranger Public EditorCOVER ART David Belisle