Thursday, June 27, 2013

Your Google Hangout

     Let's talk about who is in the Google Hangout that is being featured in the television commercial that is on my television RIGHT NOW!

1.)  The first participant is an attractive 25 year old woman who is wearing skinny jeans, some sort of beret or something, and she is in a giant, sunny apartment with an amazing view of the San Francisco skyline.  This apartment would - in real life - cost an obscene amount of money to rent even though this person doesn't seem to have a job because it is the middle of a day on a weekday and she is in a Google hangout instead of - you know - working.  Unless of course she is a "Certified Google Hangout Co-ordinator," which is a job that only exists on a Google campus.

2.)  The second participant is across town in San Francisco, which is the only thing that this Google Hangout has in common with any in reality.  Yes, the fact that two people are on Google Hangout who could easily just be talking face to face is the only thing that the ideal commercial Google Hangout has in common with yours.  Anyway, the dude is there across town, or maybe across the Bay in Berkeley, and he is sitting outside at a cafe.  It is not an Internet cafe because out there every cafe is an Internet cafe, and he has his laptop open.  It is beautiful day outside, and he seems to be doing a good job sucking down coffee.  He is some sort of computer programmer, or more likely an aspiring writer who just sits around all day in cafes doing Google hangouts but is in his mind "trying to have real life experiences that will make the characters in my novel be more real and well rounded."  He is also wearing skinny jeans.

3.)  The third member of the commercial hangout lives in New York, because apparently no one in the middle of the country uses computers or Google.  There might be one guy in Denver who is always right in front of the mountains when he uses Google (or any Apple product) but he is not at this particular hangout.  The third guy is a minority, or more likely some sort of half minority that is just like one shade away from being a white dude.  He has dark Buddy Holly-style glasses and hair that looks a lot like Adam Duritz's.  He is wearing a blue and white flannel patterned shirt and he is in some sort of trendy looking exposed brick ex-industrial loft space.  He is an artist of some sort but he is too busy being in Google Hangout with the other attractive folks to make any art.  Except for the art of conversation.  BAZINGA!

Those are the only three people in the commercial Google Hangout, because there is only time for three people in a thirty second commercial.  But notice how there are no unattractive people in the Google Hangout and there are no unsuccessful people - despite the fact that they don't seem to have money earning jobs.  So now let's take a look at who is in your Google Hangout, shall we?

First of all, it is evening.  You and your friends don't do Google Hangout in the daytime because - well, you have jobs. And the clientele is a little bit different than the commercial hangout:

1.)  You are there.  And I am not going to get into you.  You know all about you.  But I will tell you that you are either at a kitchen table with a laptop or at a PC in a spare bedroom with a ton of shit cluttering the room behind you.  There is a two liter of Mountain Dew somewhere on the table or desk.

2-4.)  These are three of your friends.  They are pretty much just like you.  They are the same sex as you.  They are the same race as you. They like all of the same things, and they are also either at the kitchen table or at the family computer.  Unless one of your friends is my buddy Hardcore, in which case he is on a $2500 desktop computer in the living room of an apartment that is furnished with only a folding chair and a 56" television.  Anyway, all of them have Mountain Dew and all of them live within a ten minute drive of your house and/or apartment.

5.)  This is the one person who was in your group who was of the opposite sex.  I am going to assume that you are a dude, so this is the girl who hung out with you and the above three guys, and who all of you secretly wanted, but who went off to live somewhere else but still does Google Hangout with out because you are all really good friends.  None of you live on the coast.  Everyone lives in St. Joseph, MO except this person - they live in Dallas or something.  Maybe Louisville, KY or Knoxville, TN.  She is in an apartment with some cool looking posters in the background, and is probably using a tablet.  There is a dog lying in the background.  She is now like in her shorts and a t-shirt, but earlier in the day she had skinny jeans on. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

If Day

    Way back in the day we used to get - beamed into the Wordwide Headquarters from the Great White North - the CBC.  Now for those of you who are not hip and young and into abbreviations that is the Canadian Broadcasting Company.  And one day as I was flipping channels there was some sort of show on the CBC geared towards teens, and the reporter was out and about asking Canadian teenagers what city they would most and least like to live in.  Now, the cities they wanted to live in were pretty varied - Toronto, Vancouver, there was even an Edmonton in there (for God's sake why I don't know) - but one city came up over and over on the list of places the Canadian youth would not want to live: Winnipeg. 
     Situated at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, Winnipeg has always been a location that has been more strategic and effective than it is good.  While the city is pleasant enough, it is mostly flat farm county around the area, and it is noted for it frigid, windswept qualities.  Not the kind of place that gets a great rap as being a place where people want to go.  So when I heard that on February 19, 1942 the leaders and citizens of Winnipeg held an event called "If Day" that simulated a Nazi invasion of the city, I thought "That was a waste of time."
     If Day was really just a stunt to raise war awareness and help sell war bonds during World War II.  And in that way it was spectacularly successful, so much so that many other Canadian cities and locations held similar events.  Over eleventy billion dollars worth of war bonds were sold (that is an estimated amount, or course) and everyone had a nice time.  But there is one problem.  One major problem.  Everybody knows that the Nazis would never invade Winnipeg.
     If the Canadians don't really want to be there all that much - or at least so it seems - what would make one think that the Nazis would?  There is no reason why they would expend the time and resources to take the city.  Why would they? To cut off all that American commerce flowing north from Pembina?  To float lazily down the Red River of the North in the finest of German innertubes?  For that Golden Boy statue on top of the Manitoba capitol?  No.  For none of the above.  The Nazis would take Toronto because it is Toronto, Ottawa because it is the capital, maybe Montreal for the baguettes, Calgary for the oil for sure, and I would guess Vancouver for the port.  And the Canucks.  But Winnipeg?  Really?  No.  They wouldn't waste their time.
     The Germans were pretty smart.  In early 1942 they were racing into the Soviet Union at a pretty rapid rate, and hadn't yet learned about how awful it is to invade cold, flat, agricultural areas in the middle of huge continents, but I still don't think they would have made a move on Winnipeg.  I am sure that the Luftwaffe would have dropped some bombs on the city on its way past, but I am not thinking that there would have been a large scale invasion of the city by German troops.
     "But what if the Nazis took the country and set up a new government there?  Wouldn't If Day have been a good preparedness activity for that?" I can hear no one asking.  I suppose that you can make that point, but I wouldn't.  I don't think that Canada was ever in danger of being invaded by the Germans.  The Japanese maybe, since they did invade Alaska and had this hard on for conquering the Pacific Ocean, but the Germans didn't care about Canada.  Just like they don't really care about it today.
     What the folks in Winnipeg should have been preparing for was an invasion by America.  I am sure that the United States would be happy to have Winnipeg.  Hell, we would be happy to have all of southern Manitoba.  They could have made everyone listen to Brooklyn Dodger games and put up posters of Uncle Sam all over the place.  That would have been a more productive use of their time and resources.  Then again, so would have been building a wall to the north to keep out the cold Arctic air or installing some hills around town.  Instead they rounded up their own leaders and wrote the newspaper in German.  Oh silly Winnipeg.