Friday, February 4, 2011


We all know about the evils of the world and can usually agree as to who is who: nuclear power is bad. So is coal power, gas power, and hydroelectric power 'cause it dams up pretty rivers. Power, then, is bad. All lawyers are bad, except for your own. Fast food is bad, and we're experts on researching its evils. Pollution is bad, and we have a bumper sticker on our land yacht to show our outrage. Game shows are bad, after about two hours. Hand dryers in public restrooms are evil. Period.

But there’s also some badgering little evils out there, flying under the radar, operating in small, autonomous cells, all but invisible, but still doing wrong. Small ‘e’ evils. Let's train our microscopes....

Public television has no commercials, right? Well....It didn't used to. Then the pre and post blurbs ("This program receives major funding from...") started adding logos to the voice over names. Fine. Then they added little slogans to the narration while they showed the logos. O-kay.... Now little film clips roll while the slogans are said. Uh-huh. So it’s not exactly a commercial, but I wouldn't call it commercial free.

Bike lanes tend to appear and disappear from block to block. Cross the street and 'poof'! You're not invited. If cyclists could hyperspace from point to point this wouldn't be a problem.

Check out a box of 'low-fat' Fig Newtons. Only one gram of fat per serving! Serving size is ta-da! One Newton. Evil.

Nit-picky? Maybe. But I am troubled by the complacency of the consumer. These things tend to erode. Little ad lies degrade down to the ridiculous, and we shrug and stand quietly in line.

When did candy bars get so small? The gap between regular size and bite-size is pretty fine. Full size is about "two-bite" size now. Comparison? Go to England and check out their 100yd. long - sorry, 100 meter long candy aisle. British candy bars are the size of license plates. Which may explain the state of their teeth, come to think of it, but my point still stands.

Corporations sponsor local events out of the goodness of their hearts, right? Well yeah, they do, but I would be much more impressed if they didn't insist on advertising their altruism. On the other hand during the prime years of Michael Jordan's career he secretly met with a small bunch of school kids on a street corner after every Bulls home game to check their progress in school. Is selflessness so rare?

It seems so. There is much in modern life that rewards a skeptic. Most things out there seem to slowly slide along a spectrum of evil with a lot of gradients. There’s no clear dividing line between Good and Bad - just a big, mushy gray area. “Business ethics” is the coin of the realm.

Take potato chips. I swear there is less chippage in these bags nowadays. We all know theres going to be some air in the bags, they've got us used to that, but its getting ridiculous. A measly 6oz. of these greasy flakes-o-death takes up about a foot of shelf space now. Open up a jumbo-twin-pak and you'll find two big plastic balloons with some chips sliding along the bottom as ballast. Soon they won't even need vans to deliver them to stores: They'll just make huge balloon bouquets of the bags, and tie them to motorcycles. This is packaging at its most ludicrous. They make good maracas though.

At least we are not alone in the perception game of small 'e' evil. I once watched a group of seagulls begging for handouts at a fast food joint. What was I doing there? Never mind. The biggest gull, the one who got the most french fries, was the one with only one leg. Not surprising: He was deserving and we had surplus, right? And we like Socialism in other species. Well, when there were no people around I saw his other leg come down.

In the animal kingdom we call that “Survival of the Fittest”. Up with the humans we say that “Nice guys finish last”. Have a nice day.

Angus McMahan

No comments:

Post a Comment