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October 26th, 2009:

Making the world safe for free refills and decent coffee

I’ve written before about how American chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks are slowing colonizing the world—bringing with them great American innovations like free refills and decent coffee. Thanks to the blog Chart Porn, we’ve now got a great visualization of the progress we’re making.

God Bless America and God Bless Chain Restaurants!

McDonald's map

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

McDonald’s: 1, France: 0 [we’re winning]

Chain restaurants in NYC: Saturation point or starting point?

McDonald’s in America [progress]

There is something dirty about Toronto [besides the Canadians who live there]

the spike by the skip

It is the filth in the water that you should be worried about

I’ve always known Toronto sucks.

It’s dreary. It’s cold. And the whole city was built on the cheap in the post-war period—meaning it has all the architectural detail and charm of a Walmart Supercenter.

Sure Toronto has some selling points. Like any city, it has bars, and restaurants and even some theater. But hosting “Disney on Ice: Princess Classic,” does not make you a cultural center. And despite the increasingly tiresome claims that Toronto’s boosters have been making since the city’s failed 1996 Olympic bid, Canada’s first city remains exactly that: the biggest city in Canada—not the “world-class city” they pretend it is.

But these days, Toronto is suffering the problems of a third-world city. That, at least, is according to research from the University of Michigan which found that the city’s water supply is home to a growing amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.*

Gross.

I always knew there was something dirty about Toronto.

*I know, I know, the article says the bacteria are not dangerous and they’ve got this problem in a few small communities in Ohio and Michigan as well. But this post is about disparaging Toronto, not giving my home state of Michigan a hard time.

#21. Negative campaigning

It is about a week before Election Day in many cities and a few states across America, which means one thing: its attack ad time.

So pull up a chair, toss a bag of popcorn in the microwave and sit back and enjoy another season of negative campaigning.

I know what they say: no one likes negative campaigning, it’s deceitful, it turns people off politics and it somehow obscures the issues. But it is also funny, interesting and the closest thing to physical combat we get in elections.

What’s more, I would argue that much negative campaigning is actually refreshingly honest.

It is not honest in the sense that the claims made in the ads are always—or even most of the time—true. But rather, negative campaigning is honest in the sense that attack ads—at least the good ones—target character, not policy, and it is character that matters in elections.

Everyone says that they vote based on the issues, but this is a lie. People vote for candidates they connect with emotionally. The issues are little white lies we tell so that we don’t feel so bad about supporting candidates for irrational reasons.

The best attack ads are not the boring ones about raising taxes or hurting the environment, but the ones that undermine your emotional connection with a candidate. After all, who wants to vote for the guy that might be a sex offender, even if he is great on the issues?

Of course, 2009 doesn’t even have any regular congressional races on the ballot, which means it is kind of like spring training for attack ad fans. So just in case you’re in a part of the country with no contentious races on the ballot, here is one of my favorite negative ads to hold you over until 2010.

God Bless America and God Bless the humorous attack ad!

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