Category Archives: politics

Don Quixote of the Modern College Campus

I took this picture while stopped in traffic on Nassau Street, right in front of Princeton University’s main gate.

The bus caught my eye.  (How could it not?)  It’s the type of NQR that makes me, at least fleetingly, rather happy, warmed-inside, representing a sort of harmless and hopeful craziness which, if it were to increase individually or collectively, would surely benefit our often cruel and callous world.

Some of the lovely, hopeful slogans borne by this Rocinante:  “Spread kindness to everyone every chance you get” . . . “Overcome bullying through love” . . . “One guy (Bob) and his dog (Gocart) traveling to campuses across the country to promote kindness” . . . “Kids need role models” . . . “Let’s all stop hurtin’ each other” . . . “Don’t Hit Don’t Hurt Do Help Do Heal” . . . “You Have Such a Big Heart Share It With Everyone” . . . “The Greatest of These Is Love”

The bus also provides an opportunity to show to people overseas who aren’t familiar with America one of the last vestiges of our vaunted hippie culture, a dream and an anti-capitalist fervor that once thrived on certain (more liberal) college campuses but has now disappeared, aging and mellowing, to suburban pacification or to isolation in certain marginalized movements or locations. (Though the ‘Occupy’ events of last summer still had force!)

I was happy to see this bus, here, in a place like Princeton where I wouldn’t ever have expected it.  I wonder how its owner fared, preaching or simply being among the scions of this elite, Ivy locale.  I imagine he found some folks to listen, others like me to look and think about his slogans and his message.  But, in the end, the thing that made me happiest of all was just to imagine him, a modern Quixote mounting his painted, slogan-covered Rocinante and driving, rescue-dog at his side, off into some romantic and futile sunset, tilting at so many noble windmills.


Soft Drink Wars

Just a quick NQR chime-in on the soft drink debate that’s currently raging in New York City (see article on the recent hearing where Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to limit soda sizes to 16oz in the city is debated).

Personally we’ve taken to ordering kids’ meals when we’re traveling and don’t otherwise have our normal range of options for healthy eating (or at least obtaining healthy portion sizes).  The fries in a kids’ meal are the same size now days as LARGE fries when we were kids.  The burgers are portion-sized, rather than 1000+ calorie behemoths.  And the sodas are in the 8 – 12oz range.  This says alot about America, and American gluttony, that the cheapest and most available sources of food are too large, too sugary, and too fat.  Unlike much of the rest of the world, where the poorer classes are subjected to starvation-level poverty, in America food is an almost unavoidable excess unless you’re rich enough (ala Angelina Jolie) to hire a private cook and nutritionist.

Here’s proof (from what has been, over time, one of our more favored and frequented fast food joints) on the explosion in size of soft drinks.  A REGULAR soda (regular!) came across the counter to me barely large enough to fit in my hand.  The fine print in the lower right corner of the cup reveals its size:  30oz.  It’s stupid big.  And it lends credence to what doctors are saying about these soft drinks, that they’re addictive.  How else can anyone explain drinking, in one sitting, an amount of soda that is equal to half the normal intake of water someone needs during a day?

I say to Mayor Bloomberg:  “Good work.”  If someone has a problem with a 16oz size soda, let them purchase two (or four, if they want the equivalent of a modern ‘large’).

Giant cup of sugar (or worse: corn syrup!)


Spam Filters Have No Sense of Humor

A little less vitriole, a little more humor. Maybe watching politics from afar (hanging out in New Jersey) lets one enjoy a better perspective.

The gubernatorial recall election in my home state (Wisconsin) is no laughing matter.  It’s making national headlines because the incumbent, Scott Walker, did some slightly sketchy things in order to break the power of the public-service unions in the state.  This has had very real effects on people, including my in-laws, who are state employees and who regularly feel the hair on the backs of their necks rise at any mention of Scott Walker.

As such, I contrived to make-up the following (mock) email, sending it to my in-laws from a (mock) email address that looked like a real donation site.  The only hint that it was a forgery and a joke was a link to the donation site that led to a dead-end page on this website, revealing the joke.  I thought it was pretty clever and was relishing the trauma, the cussing, the frantic phone calls to the in-laws’ credit card company, that it might generate.  No dice.  It seems their spam filter caught it and sequestered it.  What is this world coming to, if we’re no longer allowed a little harmless fun over the internets?  It’s no big deal.  But’s also a little strange.  A little NQR.


Dear NAME,

Thank you for the anonymous donation in your name to our “Support Scott Walker Re-Election Campaign.” This is an electronic receipt confirming your credit card payment for the following items:

5/8/2012 3:28:09 PM

Bill to: Ship to:

Qty. Description Unit Total
1 Donation – Anonymous, Scott Walker Campaign Support Fund, sub-category anti-union slush accounting pool $175 $175
Subtotal: $175
Shipping: $0.00
Sales Tax: $0.00
Grand Total charged by Scott Walker Campaign Support Fund: $175

The invoice number is: 801151.
The AuthorizeNet transaction id for this payment is: 4364520142.

Thanks again for your payment,

The Staff
Scott Walker for Re-Election

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