Here’s Tugger, peering through the veil over this day. What does he see? What strange world lies ahead of us?
The results of the process are beneath him, of course. He’s a cat. He would eat my paper ballot if he could.
He doesn’t care that “Voter ID” is actually a voter suppression effort. I showed him the definition of a demagogue:
1 : a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power
And explained that we’re seeing demagoguery at work. He said, “Whatever.”
I asked him about the “anti-gay marriage” amendment. Didn’t he think it was a rather mean-spirited attempt to discriminate, and a shallow ploy to get out the vote for “conservative” candidates?
He said, “You keep me trapped in this house and refuse to worship me properly. The only things preventing me from killing you are that you feed me, and you have me on these anti-depressants which have dulled my predatory rage.”
Warning: this is a dreadful post about dreadful politics. But don’t worry, it’s not substantive or useful, and I’ve obscured things with an overdrawn allegory that makes absolutely no sense.
There’s no need to rush into it. How about if we start with a cold beverage? Join me for happy hour — or a happy 30 seconds — with this 1980s Shasta pop commercial. (It subtly introduces my allegorical device in a non-partisan and inoffensive way.)
Don’t give me that so-so soda
that same ole cola
I wanna rock ‘n’ rolla
I wanna pop, pop, pop, I wanna Shhhhhhasta! (Shasta!)
I wanna taste pizzazz
all the great taste Shasta has
I wanna pop, pop, pop, I wanna Shhhhhhasta! (Shasta!)
I wanna a thrill
I wanna wow
taste it all
I want it now
I wanna pop, pop, pop, I wanna Shhhhhhasta!
Another shining example of why we all love the ’80s. Please, please, please, gods of copyright and YouTube, let this video survive so all can experience the rapture. It’s right up there with the ecstasy of Dr. Pepper ads from the same era.
Anyway. Let’s move on to the dirty and offensive part of this post: Politics. I can’t say a single sensible thing about politics, but that won’t stop me from spewing nonsense, like when soda pop comes out of your nose.
In the United States, we have two national brands, just like with pop. Yes there are off-brands like Shasta, but our “choice” is between the big two. And despite the scare quotes, they’re not exactly the same. They’re both bad for you, and both will rot your gut, but one of them is more likely to cause your teeth to fall out. You can claim there’s no choice, and refuse to be a part of it, but you’ll still get served the winning beverage.
I was thinking about this because there is a certain drink here in Minnesota. You’re probably familiar with this one, even if you’re way out of our market. I’m talking about a particularly fizzy drink that is currently the market leader in one of our districts. This soda is bubbly in a disturbingly fanatical way, it stains your teeth, and it makes your pee smell like you’ve eaten about two pounds of asparagus. A lot of us are embarrassed that so many people insist on drinking that kind of pop year after year. It’s like we have no taste in this state. The product isn’t distributed in my area, so I don’t get to make the choice, but still I get whiffs of the funny-smelling pee with an easterly wind.
It can only be explained by brand preference. These two large companies control the market. They have huge marketing departments and large advertising budgets. They are good at pushing their products. I imagine there are those who truly like the goofy flavoring, but there are probably more that don’t care for it, yet think it’s still better than buying the competing brand.
For those that are simply going with their brand preference, I can kind of get it from that perspective. And maybe I’m incapable of seeing my own “chosen” brand as similarly toxic. Both sides advertise so heavily, and I’m almost certainly as malleable as the next person.
Recall that for soda-in-chief of the grocery aisle (the big endcap display — the “presidential” flavor, if you will), one of the brands fell out of favor four years ago because it was found to contain lead and it made us all dumber. For that brand, I can remember when the newly proposed presidential drink was considered a mildly flavored concoction. I remember a couple of years ago thinking that if I had to drink something from the competing line up, I’d probably want the Mitt Light. But now that the flavor is set and both sides have been making their pitch, I’m convinced Mitt Light is rat poison. (At the same time, its ad campaign has been hilariously entertaining.)
But in any case, be that a case of twelve or twenty-four cans, I’ll be sticking with my usual on this shopping trip, like most people. It frightens me that these things are apparently decided by people who don’t already have a brand preference. It seems like they’d drink anything if they saw the right commercial on TV enough times.
A couple of Augusts ago, back in 2006, Keir Thomas wrote an article about switching his office computer from GNU/Linux to Windows and then a follow-up article about the resulting criticism after the post made the front page of Digg and LinuxToday.
(What is it with web sites that don’t publish the year as part of the date on their posts? I had to go to the Digg post to figure out which August this was.)
Keir describes himself as an “open source” advocate and was a bit flummoxed at his treatment at the hands of the mob. I don’t remember the flavor of the original discussion (maybe I didn’t read through those comments), but I’m sure there were some of the knee-jerk flames you’d expect in response to this kind of admission, which aren’t especially helpful, alongside more useful comments that you also see in these conversations.
And I was particularly impressed by the thoughtfulness of one commenter, enough to save his response with the intention of writing about it here one day. Yesterday the note bubbled up to the top of my attention and here I am finally sharing it. You can read Mr. Thomas’s post for context, although the comment stands pretty well on its own: