Wednesday, February 18

Don't Go There.

Farhad Manjoo "in Search of Microsoft Geniuses". February 17

LANCE, on the idea that the government doesn't create jobs:
This is how Right Wing agitprop minister and pseudo-historian Amity Shlaes is able to argue that the New Deal didn't reduced unemployment. She counts government workers as unemployed ---until 1942; government workers who wear uniforms and carry rifles belong to a special category of government workers who somehow don't count as government workers.

Follow the link to David Sirota for more on how Shlaes--or, as I like to refer to her, Joe the Plumber for Republicans Who Know Which One's The Dessert Spoon--turns economic information from the 1930s into delicious fudge. Or what looks like fudge.

This sort of thing was on my mind when I flipped the dial to Slate this morning--it (the idea) had, in the meantime, shacked up like Meganjane McArdlegalt (safe link; it's Roy) with that "Historians Rate the Presidents" bit that, I suspect, was designed mostly to gauge whether there's any juice left in the American people whatsoever, in preparation for tapping it. Judging by what I'd read the thing didn't work; even the commenters didn't give a shit, or buy the "George W. Bush wasn't as bad as the pneumococcus that killed William Henry Harrison" routine, but one of 'em did explain--in those earnest tones adopted by internet idiots who imagine that anonymity=invisibility--how FDR was a great President for winning WWII, but he'd recently learned that the New Deal actually made the Great Depression worse.

This sort of thing is on my mind a lot lately: Is American ready for self-government? I don't think blinding idiocy is anywhere near the impediment that Professional Stunt-Lying, Unequal Access to Anything Composed of Molecules, or Self-Centeredness Raised to the Level of Ineffably Transcendent Self-Hoodwinkery are, at present, but god knows we've got the former in spades for good measure. Which reminds me to note Kia's capsule McArdle description, from Roy's joint:
I fear that Megan is not the only person who thinks that the point of human existence and the end of all ambition, the reason for all the shopping, and what gets a girl out of bed in the morning, is the attainment of such a state of airtight self-complacency.

I freely admit that I understand, too well, how the Reagan-era conversion from zomboid consumerism to Capitalist Fetishism took place; what I haven't quite figured out is how it lasted so long, or how, as so frequently with fetishism, or amputation, for that matter, the thing became a sort of hyper-sexualized object which stopped being either Object or Sex, but stayed deeply disturbing. You click over to Slate, whatever the hell it is, and the euphoria over Super Bowl commercials has neatly dovetailed into Grammy, Oscar, and Joaquin mania, and the Girls Gone XX are in a tizzy over Bristol Palin's interview with Greta Van Susteren. (Here's a hint: it's Greta Van Susteren, who, in any more reasonable era, would be recognized, hands-down, as the most inexplicable person on television.)

This is, as you know, the same Slate, online model of the New Media, which seven years ago couldn't find anyone on staff who didn't think invading Iraq sounded like a Damn Fine Idea; now it can't find anyone with the slightest interest in the crushing problems that little adventure helped create. Still, I can't quite decide whether Slate is entirely to blame for this, or whether it is acting as a Special Reverse Double-Conter-Intuitive Contraindicator of the country at large: waving tiny American flags while we gorge ourselves for twenty-five years, then glancing around occasionally to see if the waste-removal crews have arrived yet.

My mood was not leavened by this:
There are two parts of the Apple retail strategy that Microsoft would be wise to replicate: the hiring process and the Genius Bars. Every Apple Store employee I've ever met has at least acted as if she loved to work there. The staff never tries to pressure you into buying stuff you don't need, and, unlike the blue-shirted guys at Best Buy, rarely lapses into tech jargon. The store especially excels when something goes wrong with something you've bought. When your iPhone keeps crashing or your MacBook won't connect to the Web, just go online to make an appointment at the Genius Bar (if you don't make an appointment, you might have to wait in a long line).

Okay. I've detailed my own Visit With A Genius at the Snootville Mall elsewhere. Suffice it to say, for now, that the store appeared to be staffed by the hipster extras from a soap opera coffee shop, that they all appeared to be enjoying the hell out of working there, except this appeared to be related to the fact that for 98% of them "work" involved leaning on something talking to someone while not wearing a company golf shirt, and 99% of them appeared to be otherwise hard-core unemployable. Not that I disapprove, au contraire; I think it's a savvy marketing scheme. It's just that I extrapolate from my own teen- and young-adult-dom and the number of times "get a haircut/shave/better attitude" was mentioned to me during interviews for some part-time job. I'm guessing more than one of my locals has heard "some way to cover that neck tattoo" from more than one HR guy.

Yes, my Genius didn't burden me with a lot of techno-mumble jumble. In fact, he pretty much spoke to me as if he figured I'd wandered in by mistake after hitting my head on something just outside. This, despite the fact that a) I was there because my new reconditioned iMac died, not because I couldn't sync my iPod; and b) I have Macs in the basement older than him, and I'd lived through fourteen years of imminent Apple bankruptcy, so fuck your cult. He did diagnose the problem correctly, and quickly, though getting it back required a barrage of phone calls on my part.

But my point is this: why in the world would you root for Microsoft to duplicate The Apple Store Experience? Why in the world would you root for Microsoft at all? Sheesh, it's like wishing Bank of America would come up with a trendy new eyeshade design, and make us all feel good about banking again. Not that I'm trying to give them story ideas.


David in NYC said...

When your iPhone keeps crashing or your MacBook won't connect to the Web, just go online to make an appointment at the Genius Bar (if you don't make an appointment, you might have to wait in a long line).

I'm wondering: Do you think the wait at the Genius Bar will be longer or shorter than the wait to go online when you can't connect to the Intertubes?

I'm guessing that the author of this Slate gem, Farhad Manjoo (is that a real name?), is NOT a candidate to work at the Genius Bar. Or probably not even the "Higher IQ than Miley Cyrus" Bar. (Not to pick on Miley; a sidebar ad I saw earlier today wanted me to test my IQ compared to hers, which they allege to be 110.)

Anonymous said...

I saw that presidential ranking site (probably - saw the C-SPAN one noted on LGM). Maybe it's a good thing I don't have much juice left, as I would have spewed when, after clicking on a few categories, noticed that Reagan was pretty consistently hovering at the 10 rank.

Crisis management, for example. If the term 'management' includes 'exploitation', then yeah, Reagan 'managed' the Iranian hostage crisis and Grenada very well indeed. Things like Beirut, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I'm still amazed you went from that Shlaes bink to slackers at Apple stores.