Once upon a time, back during the other Big Depression, a bootlegger chanced upon a group of young lads. The gangster found much amusement by throwing nickels in their midst and watching the ensuing scramble to take possession of the coins with buffalos on the back (AKA obverse) side. One of the guys stood aside and made it obvious he wasn't going to participate in the debasing spectacle. The hoodlum commended the fellow's attitude and handed him a half dollar coin.
Back during the Thirties, there were two rival labor groups which spent all their time and energy battling for the upper hand in their mutual struggle to be the one representing the trucking industry. A fellow named Ted V. Rodgers was invited to become the president of one of the groups. He attached a condition to a favorable response. He wanted their full commitment to his leadership style. In desperation they agreed. Several days later the rival group met to select their leadership. Rodgers walked in, introduced himself and said if they picked him, he would consolidate the two groups and get things done rather than spin wheels in the quest for domination. They elected him and the two groups merged to form the American Trucking Association.
Conservative sugar daddies bank roll various media to get their message (bigger tax breaks for the wealthy less wages for the working stiffs) across to the public. Liberal media, like the kids who amused the philanthropic gangster, scrambles desperately for donation money when they should be concentrating on informing the public just how bad things will get if Karl Rove succeeds with his plan for a thousand years of domination of American politics by the Republican Party via control of the Presidency in 2012 and (thanks to the magic electronic voting machines?) getting majorities in both the House and the Senate.
When this columnist writes a diatribe about the chance that JEB will be elected President and continue the legacy of the Bush Dynasty, the number of reads is noticeably higher than if the columnist strings together a bunch of Google bait items that are fun to write. That would seem to prove that the audience for this website prefers, wants, and expects some hard-hitting liberal flavored punditry.
Perhaps readers expect that some wealthy Republican will have a change-of-heart moment and anonymously donate ten grand in a way that could be the basis for a tear-jerker novel by Charles Dickens. (Scrooge goes into a Vets Hospital and exclaims: "I don't need my tax break as badly as these fine lads need more care!") God bless us all! I don't think that's gonna happen.
So, while el jefe is distracted by the myth of Sisyphus chore of raising funds, we're going to suddenly change this column to one that should have the headline:
"A Festivus "Airing of Complaints' Column."
Since the celebration of Festivus has become an annual American tradition which started with the Seinfelt episode broadcast on December 18, 1998, and since this columnist thinks that it is fitting and proper to promote a veneration of traditional values in the Land of the Free, and since we think that the selection of whatzizface rather than Julian Assange as Time Magazine's Newsmaker of the year was a slap in the face to the American principle of a free press, this will be the our first Annual Frestivus Airing of Complaints Column.
We think that it is shameful in a country that was founded by people who firmly believed that citizens had a right and a duty to know the whats and the whys which could explain the conduct of the ruling junta (be it royalty, dissatisfied colonists, or the Bush family) that websites promoting liberal values should die for lack of funding. What happened to the American tendency to support the underdog? Conservative values now assert that Americans should die promoting freedom of speech in other countries while censorship is gaining a toehold in their fatherland and that seems a tad existentialistic. When did the Frog philosophers take over American thinking?
When we make a great suggestion in a column and it is ignored, that makes us grumble and complain.
There are other less important gripes for this year's Festivus. Does anyone remember the annual summertime competition in which local newspapers and Kodak teamed up to find the best examples of amateur photography? Where did that go? Why doesn't the LIFE website (which has a rock solid branding identity in the photo community) expand and publish readers' digital photos daily? Wouldn't they get a massive response to an offer to give Flickr some competition? If they added a small cash stipend for a "best of the day" image, wouldn't their site get more daily hits than the Drudge Report?
Is LIFE conceding that the BBC and Der Spiegel have gained the initiative and made it impossible for LIFE to do on the Internets what it did in the realm of magazine publishing in the late Thirties and in the pre-TV Forties? Come on, LIFE, if the BBC and Der Spiegel can post readers' pictures online, so can you! Great amateur photos were part of you winning formula in the past. It will work, again.
One of the delights of bookstore browsing is the opportunity for a serendipity find of some new book that the customer didn't know existed. As we recall, many years ago, the New York Times used to publish a list of the books being published on the same day that the issue was printed. Back in the Paleozoic period of Internets development, we suggested that Amazon should hire a reporter who could produce a daily blog about new books to provide an opportunity to increase their business with some impulse buying. We still think that's a good idea.
There may not be a huge target audience for a book on how to build chicken coops, but isn't it logical to think that a few extra units might (we are not saying "will") be sold if Amazon's hypothetical book blog plugged such an actual example of bookistry? (It is now.) Wouldn't that help build their traffic by luring "browsers" to their site?
Until earlier this week, this columnist had never seen the word "Chindogu," which is "the art of the useless idea." When we chanced across the opportunity to buy "101 un-useless Japanese Inventions" by Kenji Kawakami (translated by and additional text by Dan Papia Edited by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) from W. W. Norton & Co., we suddenly became a Chindogu fan and bought the book.
In the book, we learned in the Ten Tenets of Chindogu that it must be a real thing and not a nonsensical concept such as a wish to become an Ethic$ Advi$$$or for a Republican Politician.