experience with Brand Bush
Wednesday, February 21 2007
Like many people with a modicum of sense, I've found the strong alliance between the Bush administration and fundamentalist Christians and big corporations creepy, particularly given their fondness for Orwellian techniques. Had the Bush presidency been effective, the future would be very gloomy at this point, because all those unpleasant institutions would have gained by their association. But the Bush presidency is a disaster, the depths of which we don't yet even know. The fundamentalists, corporations, and all the various pro-Bush causes have suffered from their embrace. This wasn't how things were supposed to go. The Iraq war was supposed to be an easy triumph that would cement a one-party Republican oligarchy in place forever, or at least until the Rapture. The sureness of this outcome was such that even Democrats had bought into it. This is why Hillary Clinton is having such trouble now with her vote to authorize war against Iraq.
I'm reminded of Billy Graham's experience with Richard Nixon. The lesson he learned from his coziness with a disgraced politician was that keeping a distance from politicians was in the interest of his evangelism. Politics is inherently sordid in exactly the sorts of way that religion purports to transcend. I wonder if religionists have learned anything from their recent experience with Brand Bush. It isn't, after all, just that Bush failed to establish a right wing utopia immediately precipitating the Rapture. He somehow managed to diminish America to the status of just another sad former-superpower, one following the decidedly non-exceptional paths of torture and needing to recruit criminals and old men into its military.
Jared Diamond writes in his books about the node of superpower status migrating gradually westward from its origins in the Middle East. The cursor of superpowerdom seems to be passing off the west coast of North America, headed for China.
In the golden age of web advertising, when people presumably still clicked on banner ads deliberately, someone got the idea that click-through rates would increase if the ads moved. At the very minimum, the thinking went, a moving ad banner would stand out against the other web page clutter. In those days the movement was usually the flashing of garish colors or things jumping around in tight little cycles. But the human capacity for filtering out noise was such that, once everyone started doing this, nobody saw even the most irritating of banner-shaped junk. An arms-race of complexity seems to have taken place, and now, in the past couple of months or so, a new class of advertising animation has emerged: the dancing cartoon. The figures in such cartoons have nothing at all to do with what is being actually sold (usually home mortgage refinancing). Recently I saw a George Washington doing a sober 19th Century jig beside an Abraham Lincoln, presumably in honor of Presidents' Day. More often the dancing is of the flailing, slightly-embarrassing variety pioneered in iPod advertisements. A recent variation on this animation form is one of a moving hand repeatedly drawing a scene.
It's obvious why these ads are being used; the eye is drawn to the movement and then wants to stay to see how it will resolve. Still, I've never once clicked on such a banner. In fact, I can't even remember where I've seen them. I just went on a hunt looking for an example and none were in any of my usual web haunts.
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