Saturday, October 22, 2011

...And We All Just Wink at One Another

The world didn't end yesterday as Rev. Harold Camping had predicted, nor did it end in May when he made his previous prediction, nor has the world ended on any of the days predicted by Biblical scholars going back to the time when Abraham thought that killing his own son was a perfectly reasonable instruction from God. The end of the world is a certainty, but predicting the exact day of this destruction from biblical interpretation has proven to be an exercise with a 100% failure rate. In science, if a hypothesis or prediction fails 100% of the time, the scientists change the methodology. In religion, the believers always press onward with strengthened resolve. I personally believe that being wrong is how religious fundamentalists get their kicks since their adherence to flawed notions can be seen as a sign of their faith.

The more interesting question is why do mainstream media outlets give news coverage to these "end-of-the-world" predictions when the track record on these is as bad as it is? I like to think that news people in this scenario are like circus trainers who keep feeding the trained bear so the bear will keep doing tricks to entertain the public. The media keep covering the morons who predict the end of the world so the morons will keep making predictions, and all of us who are in on the joke get to wink at one another and enjoy the fact that some absurdity in life can be perfectly harmless entertainment.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Only In America

There's a tourist store on the main street of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It offers for sale large caliber handguns, assault rifles with oversize clips, salt water taffee, and 117 brands of hot sauce. The selection of taffee flavors and assault rifle configurations is as extensive as the hot sauce offerings. And this isn't the only store in Gatlinburg luring tourists in the door to buy this stuff. These stores share a main street with a Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" museum, a Cooter's "Dukes of Hazzard" bar-b-cue restaurant, a museum with several cars that once appeared in the movies (or so they say) and other eating establishments (none of them gourmet) and trinket emporiums too numerous to list in this short blog. By comparison, it makes the midway at Coney Island look like Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. And here's the thing. In our current depression economy, every store on this main street in Gatlinburg is bustling. Cheesy as hell, but positively thriving.

The lesson for American retail business is this. When setting your sights on something to appeal to American taste, aim as low as possible.