I’m reading a brilliant book at the moment. This one –
It compels the reader to think differently about football, exposing, in the process, a whole mass of wrong-headed thinking that too often passes as ‘football knowledge.’ For example: there’s a much bigger correlation between success and a team’s spending on wages, than between success and what teams’ spend on transfer fees. Yet wild over-spending on the latter continues to be one of the game’s defining features. And – try this out for size – it really doesn’t make any sense to describe football as “big business,” even though the cliché has long-since morphed into received wisdom. Average revenue for the Premier League’s 20 teams is roughly equivalent to the average revenue of the UK’s 20 busiest Tesco stores. I know, right?!
Anyhow, all this got me thinking. What else in life is seemingly a fact, even though digging just a little deeper surely suggests otherwise?
…Fast Food is a Guilty Pleasure
“Guilty pleasure” – nope, sorry, wrong on both counts. Near as dammit without exception, it’s just grub you can eat much better versions of elsewhere. There’s no reason why a burger patty should look anemic and grey. Or be about a quarter-inch thick. Giving you a bad case of the shits is not an intrinsic quality of burritos. And, no, the milkshake your mom used to make never tasted so sickly sweet nor, faintly, of soap.
In any case, watch the Travel Channel for about five seconds to see how the Western world kids itself into thinking its fast food is ever worth waiting in a long line for. Honorable mentions to a handful of more localized outlets aside (for me, Spike’s Junkyard Dogs and Boloco in Boston, and Moe’s Southwest Grill in NJ), it simply isn’t.
As for “guilty,” well, I’m an adult: if I want to walk inside the golden arches every now and then, screw you, I will!
…Everyone Should Get a Smart Phone
Ok, you gotta help me out here. When did everyone get together and decide, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the single best quality something can possess is portability? I don’t get it. I really don’t. No, really I don’t. How much money is everyone (but me, seemingly) just so desperate to shovel in the direction of Apple and Samsung and Sprint and Verizon and Virgin and whoever the hell else, simply to do the things they could previously only do in some places, in most places? How much is a monthly data plan for an iPhone? And do you all have so many fistfuls of cash that it seems a reasonable amount to spend on the modern equivalent of walking and chewing gum at the same time?
Me, if I want to watch TV, I’ll watch TV. If I want to see a movie, I’ll go the movie theater or get the DVD. And if I want to play a game, I’ll switch on the Wii (and, let’s be fair, that’s about three times a year, isn’t it?). What am I missing out on exactly? All those times I could be looking out the window or up at the world rushing by in front of me, why should I stare perpetually instead at a tiny version of my TV/computer (both of which, frankly, are nice to get away from)? So I can always be at work, even when I’m not?
While we’re on the subject… when did people first start answering this question with an Orwellian “yes” – should we photograph everything in front of us? (OMG –CLICK!– a store name that’s got my last name in it… Right then, I must never forget –CLICK!– how much pastrami they put between the rye bread at Katz’s Deli… Wow, look at that, –CLICK!– at this precise moment in the early evening, the sky is kind of pinkish and orange….)
…Get Insured Because It’s Better to Be Safe Than Sorry
About six years ago and for about three weeks, I temped at AXA Insurance in London. I don’t remember the precise details of my data-entry position, only the essential thrust of it: help to nickel and dime the shit of people by tracking which aspects of their claims fell foul of small print.
It was a thoroughly horrible experience with only one discernible upside – it allowed me to see insurance companies for what they really are: highway robbers hiding in plain sight (TV commercials). The more they’re a bunch of heartless dicks, the more profit they make. Truly, another incredible trick the Western world plays on itself: pay a giant corporate entity continuously for something that may or may not happen – then watch as they shamelessly fleece you if it ever does.
If you’re gonna gamble, at least put some money on a horse or a dog and have yourself some fun. Better that than fund forever the mind-numbing blather of a deadbeat lizard.