March 4th, 2006

Brad @ Burning Man

Two quick things (Meme and Poll)

There's a meme going around my St. Louis friends on LiveJournal called "it must be nice...." It started with one person's very bitter, clearly pointed rant about how much she resents another person she knows. Since then, it's generalized, but it's still clear to me that the people who are playing are venting their frustration over an advantage that somebody else has that they don't have. I've been wracking my brain for a way to play this game, and I just can't. If you'd asked me five years ago, yeah. Maybe even two or three. But in the last couple of years, I've learned beyond all ability to deny it that everybody's life sucks. I sometimes resent how much easier beautiful women have it in this society ... but I've learned, finally, the prices that they pay for their power. I could certainly resent how easy some politically powerful and wealthy people's kids have had it ... but I look at the current Augie Busch, or the current George Bush, and see what a toll having everything handed to them has taken on their mental health, and I wouldn't trade places with them for a minute. I could envy Scandinavians their robust economic safety net and mostly communitarian social histories ... but I know how much of that is a natural response to some of the worst climate on the planet, just as it is in places like Minneapolis and Madison in the US, and I'm not willing to live in places where the climate is that lethal in order to get the benefit of living around people who've learned compassion from that. We tell our children that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence, and we tell ourselves that, and we tell each other that. If you're clocking how long it takes individuals to have that slogan actually soak in as a lesson learned and mean something to them, in my case it took about 44 years.

So I'm not going to write about that, but I am going to write about something that is on my mind lately. All I can't decide is at what length to go on about it. You see, the New York Times web page has had a sponsor for their "web tools" side bar, the single smallest ad on the web page, for a long time that just says "Thank You for Smoking," and I finally got curious enough to click through it. It links to the trailer for a movie that's coming out soon based on a book by Christopher Buckley, apparently the fictional story of an amoral "gunslinger" tobacco-industry lobbyist who learns a conscience from his grade-schooler son on Take Your Kid to Work day. It's got some actors I like in it, and it's hard to tell from the trailer if it's going to be a mind-numbing preach-fest or a cooler, less supernatural, more rounded version of Liar, Liar.

But anyway, watching the trailer got me thinking: could I do that job? Never mind that it would never be offered to me. Never mind that I'd hate the working conditions and the people I was working with. Let's hand-wave the obvious practical objections and think about the more interesting question (to me), which is, if one of the Big Tobacco firms were to call me up or email me or whatever, and ask me what I would be doing to win the propaganda war they're in against the Smoke Nazis, first of all, would my conscience let me take the job? And if so, is there any actual advice I'd give them? And I concluded that the answer is "yes, and yes." So I'm feeling a powerful urge, even though I'm a non-smoker with at least one relative who died of it, to write some pro-smoking propaganda. How much of it can you all stand?

Poll #684718 Brad, a Tobacco Industry Industry Shill?

So, I'm thinking of writing some essays attacking the anti-smoking propaganda campaigns, and speaking up on behalf of smoking without actually hand-waving its costs. How much of it can you stand?

The very idea of the subject offends me; please at least LJ-cut it so I don't have to read any of it.
One capsule summary of what you're thinking would be interesting and thought-provoking, but more than that would probably be pointlessly, tediously tendentious.
Keep going as long as you have anything new to say; it's worked for you in the past.
I like pie. (I.e. "Other, please specify in comments.")