Sunday morning meditation: The airing of grievances
I’m late to the Festivus grievances party this year, but I didn’t want to let 2013 close without bitching about things on the internet one last time.
Here’s everything that was wrong with Atlanta and America in 2013.
Mass Transit Haters
Haters got their Christmas wish this year when the Braves decided to make a dash for the mass transit hating utopia known as Cobb County.
But Cobb’s just the poster child for MARTA Phobia, a condition afflicting millions of suburbanites. Look, I’m not saying MARTA is some example for the world to follow. It’s inefficient, bloated bureaucracy. It needs reform. A lot of our institutions do.
I just don’t see how you can spend hours in traffic each day and conclude the life-stealing gridlock is as good as it’s going to get. You’re either short on imagination or long on schadenfreude. Either way, traffic blows. Can’t we do something to fix it that doesn’t involve moving everything closer to the people who don’t want to fix it?
Resolution 2014 for Mass Transit Haters: We know you’re getting your way, but try not to look so smug about it.
For one fleeting moment, I was really gung ho about the idea of our leading daily newspaper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, erecting a paywall and limiting its premium content to subscribers. I then tried to scale that wall and decided that this is just stupid.
In order to force people to pay for something, you have to have something they’d want to steal. Why does iTunes work? Because people were downloading shitloads of music for free on Napster and putting hardworking record executives out on their slightly-less-rich asses. People still steal music, of course, but it’s much easier to pay for it now using iTunes and other services.
By combining a product that people would otherwise steal with a payment mechanism that was convenient, the music industry rescued itself from the free-thinking anarchists who didn’t like paying for Britney Spears records.
The AJC Paywall does it all wrong. Its paywall took a product that no one would steal in the history of ever and made it ridiculously difficult to purchase. (To be fair, no one has news content that’s worthy of theft. Reading the news has always felt more like a civic duty, and the people who write the articles don’t twerk at the VMAs.)
The AJC then somehow managed to take a really dumb idea and make it run a victory lap around stupid. The person who bought the magic beans that grew the paywall forgot that the AJC’s content distribution agreements would allow its restricted content to appear on other news websites. So you can get news about Decatur for free on a newspaper website in Bumchill, Minnesota, but you can’t get it for free on AJC.com.
There’s no telling how much money Cox Enterprises pissed away on this, but for the sake of the future of journalism in this town, please, I beg of you, stop. Use that money to innovate and create a stable digital revenue stream. What you’re doing now is assuring that your newspaper will become totally irrelevant within my lifetime.
Resolution 2014 for the AJC: Tear down this paywall.
Twitter shouldn’t be this complicated.
It’s 140 characters long. It auto-shortens links for you. You can actually revise and edit your posts before you publish them. You have all the time in the world to think about a very short, simple message. If you’re a huge company, you know millions of people are watching everything that you do nearly every single second of every day. Twitter’s very existence is proof that you are indeed alive in 2013, and the country’s attitudes about race have changed considerably, no matter what talk radio might lead you to believe.
How – I mean, how? – can you possibly walk on that much of a tightrope and post something racist on your Twitter account.
AJC got bit by its 40 acres and a mule remark.
Home Depot just … dude, c’mon. Really?
And my favorite Twitter Derp this year? The spokeswoman for one of the world’s biggest internet companies got on a plane to Africa and right before she turned off her phone she tweeted – I shit you not – “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
She was unemployed before her plane even landed in Africa.
Resolution 2014 for corporate America: Don’t be racist on Twitter. God, I just typed that, didn’t I? Moving along …
College football bowl season
Would I like to see a No. 18 ranked Louisville play an unranked Miami team? No I would not.
Would I like to see an unranked Boise State play an unranked Oregon State in Hawaii? No I would not.
Would I like to see Buffalo, unranked, play San Diego State, also unranked, in Boise, Idaho? …
How about ending the season with Auburn in a national championship game, cause, you know, SEC and stuff? …
Yeah, so, college football bowl season.
Resolution 2014 for college football fans: stop caring.
I actually got the idea for this column from a non-racist Twitter exchange between Sen. Rand “Aqua Buddha” Paul and Sen. Cory “I Rescue Orphaned Kittens” Booker. Paul was airing his grievances, which he often does even when it isn’t Festivus, and he said one of them was Booker not retweeting him enough.
Booker had just finished dousing a baby seal fire when he felt his phone vibrate. He saw Paul’s tweet and replied, “Hey Rand, you know that bullshit Drug War? Shouldn’t we end that already?”
To which Paul replied, “F%&@ yes.”
Done. Drug War ended. Over Twitter. And that was the most substantive discussion Congress managed to have all year (perhaps in decades).
Congressional dysfunction – the whining, the conspiracy theorizing, the fear mongering – is like a Family Guy joke. It’s kind of amusing at first, but then it goes on and on. There’s a point where everyone in the room is looking at each other to make sure they aren’t the only ones starting to feel uncomfortable.
Then you just give up and watch It’s Always Sunny.
Resolution 2014 for Congress: Honey Boo Boo for Congress in 2014.
Because, why not?