Signs of the Times
One of the greatest quotes I’ve heard spoken in my lifetime came from General Colin Powell arguing for the approval of Resolution 1441 to the members of the U.N. Security Council:
I’m very pleased to be here as the secretary of state of a relatively new country on the face of the Earth, but I think I can take some credit sitting here as being the representative of the oldest democracy that is assembled here around this table. Proud of that.
source: The Weekly Standard
Proud of that.
It was beautiful because General Powell gave proper respect to the long and proud histories of all the other nations of the UNSC, but there was also a bit of a zinger along with it – oh by the way, we may be the youngest of nations assembled here, but we were also the blueprint and inspiration for every modern democracy that’s followed.
After the defeat of the Nazis and after the Soviets lost the Cold War, there is not an honest historian alive who could argue that the United States of America is anything other than the greatest civilization of the last two-and-a-half centuries and America continues to be the greatest living civilization on the face of the Earth. When I think of that fact, it sometimes leads me to think back on history and ponder the fates of all the other great civilizations in history.
I want to share a scene from Swing Vote, a movie that was quite enjoyable, even though it flew under most people’s radar.
Let’s watch together a scene from that movie when the schoolchildren were asked to offer their essays on “Why It’s Important to Vote.”
All the world’s great civilizations have followed the same path. From bondage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy back to bondage. If we are to be the exception to history, then we must break the cycle, for those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – Molly Johnson, Swing Vote
The topic was why it’s important to vote, but Molly also gave us a much wider view of history relating to the pitfalls of a democracy with an electorate that’s increasing comprised of low-information voters.
Just because we are Americans, should we imagine we’re somehow immune to the same cycle that befell every other great civilization? America is the great civilization of our time, but I wonder at what stage of this great civilization we’re in now.
In my mind, it was the founding fathers who had it right in declaring that every person is born with inalienable rights granted by God and that the government’s sole and only purpose should be to prevent the infringement of those inalienable rights by one person upon another.
Now that we’ve seen an electorate that has voted not just once, but twice for an administration which believes it is the government that should be the Almighty Provider, doling out the rights and prosperity of what it considers its subjects So I ask you, what stage do you think the world’s greatest civilization is currently in:
(Note: depending on your connection, it may take a while or a refresh of the page for all the spots to load.)
These ones didn’t get as much love from viewers. Here’s the round up of commercials ranked 36th through 60th in Facebook likes. Enjoy and be sure to like your favorites:
I wonder how many flight attendents across the world took offense to the “Air Waitress!” crack on this one?
It may have ranked a lowly 47 out of 60, but I’ll definitely be tuning into the History Channel for this one:
Budweiser scored big with the Clydesdale commercial, but the launch of their new Black Crown beer fell flatter than that half-drank glass from last night’s party, both commercials winding up as the third and fourth least popular commercials of the night:
Second to last of last night’s sixty Super Bowl ads, Subway’s outtake collection on the FebruANY promotion only managed 27 likes on Facebook:
Last on the list, when you factor in that most of the votes probably came from employees of Pepsi and the ad agency, only 25 likes on Facebook makes for a pretty poorly received ad:
(Note: depending on your connection, it may take a while or a refresh of the page for all the spots to load.)
Here’s the round up of commercials ranked 11th through 35th in Facebook likes. Have fun and be sure to like your favorites:
Once you tweak the lyrics on your song to turn it into an ad hocking pistachios, you’re pretty much admitting you’re a one-hit wonder. That’s cool, Psy. $100 million and counting, milk it for all it’s worth.
A little disappointed to see it coming in at #22, this was my third favorite behind the Jamaica Mon and the Farmer spot.
Hey San Francisco, your Niners might have lost the Super Bowl, but at least you had this commercial to enjoy . . .
I’m guessing they do enough focus groups to determine the campaign still isn’t played out with people because a new eTrade talking baby ad at the Super Bowl has become as much of a given as the coin toss.
This commercial proves once again that whether it’s someone who’s going to play the idiot and the brunt of the joke, or in this case, someone who’s about to receive a real slapstick smackdown, there is only one person you can cast as being on the receiving end of it: a white male.
At #28, this two minute ad was well-written, although I’d call it entertaining more than outright funny:
We were told to go to cokechase.com to vote on who would win the quest to the coke. Not only did the website come up with nothing other than a single static image, but I don’t remember seeing an ending to this commercial either. Ah, you have to hit the website to see the ending.
Kind of ironic to see how many astronaught-themed commercials there were this year at a time when our Government has billions to blow on every pet project imaginable, except for American awesomeness in space and a new mission for NASA:
This was the consensus pick from both the Monday morning advertising analysts and people voting on Facebook who gave it 13,000 likes from the Hulu collection of all sixty Super Bowl ads.
The number two vote recipient came in with 8,300 likes. It had a great story, but I think for most of the people that got teary eyed over this one, it was the song and the voice of Stevie Nicks that really tugged at the heart. (Just imagine watching this again with the mute on.)
Props to whoever made the call on picking Landslide, because that made the commercial. If ever a song could be thought of as the living embodiment of an emotion, Landslide is the sound of longing and bittersweet reminiscence.
#3 on the list, this ad earned 2,600 likes portraying a group of old folks going out on what could be considered an epic night for a modern twenty-something. It works quite well because a late night Taco Bell run fits in perfectly with that sort of all-night adventure. I couldn’t help but think of it as an updated version of the movie Cocoon and the Twilight Zone classic, Kick the Can.
Following on the heels of last year’s two-minute spot which was essentially a thinly-veiled campaign ad for Barack Obama, Government Motors landed at #4 on the list this year with 2.4k votes for this Oprah Winfrey narrated spot, but for me, all the incessant product placement in a commercial that was supposed to be about the troops felt sleazy and manipulative. I think a tweet from David Burge said it best:
“Buy our vehicles, or you hate America.” – US Dept. of Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Fiat-UAW-Xiaojiang Heavy Industries
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) February 4, 2013
I was on a bathroom break, so I missed this one, but when I returned and they were headed back to the game, the announcer mentioned that Super Bowl was brought to us in part by Fast & Furious 6. I thought to myself, there’s a Fast & Furious 6? How the heck did I miss 3, 4 and 5?
There’ve been 2k votes on Facebook for this one so far.
Just on sheer laughs and the positive vibration this one sends out, this is by far my favorite commercial of the year. In a world where there’s nothing under the sun that won’t manage to offend someone, more than a few people indignant with outrage at the thought of a white guy emulating a Jamaican dialect, but what’s not to love about having your culture represented by an eternal optimist trying to lift the spirits of each and every co-worker around him? Seems Jamaica, as represented by their Minister of Tourism, feels the same. This one came in at #6 with 1.8k votes.
At #7, Kia’s Space Baby connected with a lot of parents out there who have had to deal with that very question of where babies come from.
A sprawling ninety-second spot, the Lone Ranger came in at #8 with 1.7k likes. Looks like a movie that would be worth watching, although the skill of people in the advertising craft being what it is, some of the worst movies I’ve ever seen looked like a real can’t miss from the trailers.
1.5k people voted got a good enough laugh to make Doritos goat spot the #9 entry on the list:
Entry #10, which also garnered 1.5k likes, is a pretty wild romp with The Rock braving bank heists, traffic accidents and an alien invasion to bring home the milk to three milkless kids with dry bowls of cereal. The Rock seemed pretty self-centered on his quest for some milk, just ignoring the pleas of the people around him during the all the mayhem, but it all makes sense as he delivers on the milk and you realize he needed a glass himself before going out to save the world.
Along with The Rock’s commercial and the obligatory Allstate Mayhem guy, there seemed to be a lot of commercials this year dealing with chaos, destruction and apocalyptic scenarios. It may be 2013 now, but when they were pitching these ads last year, the ad writers were definitely in a 2012 mindset.
We all hate spam, in fact, I’ve heard there’s a new circle in hell that’s been built exclusively for spammers, but the history of spam is somewhat interesting to view from an evolutionary standpoint.
First off though, can someone please tell me how the hell I ended up on someone’s list as the kind of guy interested in woodworking plans? I get these emails like five times a day. It can’t be any more annoying than it must be for all the women receiving penis enlargement spam, but no, sorry, I’m not going to be whittling away on a flute any time soon.
There’s always the random chattle of spam, some of my favorites, an email I received a couple times which actually offered a “life experience degree.” How awesome is that? You don’t even have to go out into the real world any more, now you can receive a degree in life experience online! And if you’re naive enough to pay good money to “Buy degree online in just 14 days!” only to find out your degree is totally worthless, well then, there’s some life experience for you.
It’s partly because I only receive them two or three times a year, but I like the spam I get trying to sell me a forklift. There’s something cool about receiving an offer to buy a forklift. I can ease back in the chair a bit as I ponder it, “Yep, I just may need to get me one of those.”
It seems like I get a lot more mail-order bride spam these days . . . or is that because I’m just paying attention more? No, no, no, it’s definitely not that, definitely a lot more mail-order bride spam in the inbox lately.
I did a little research and found that the first spam email was sent via ARPAnet on May 3, 1978 pitching a DEC computer to a list some enterprising salesman had put together of 400 members of the 2600 member network. (How crazy is it to think you can trace back in time the fact that just 35 years ago, there were 2,600 computers all hooked up in the precursor to the Internet the same way about 2.5 billion of us are now connected today?)
My first memories of Internet spam were, the Nigerian scam letters, which I can remember actually reading through once or twice before they were ever known by their collective name and I can remember my curiosity shifting from “what is this email?” to “how the hell could anyone fall for this?”, and then there was the great spam triumverate of penis enlargement spam, Viagra spam and weight loss spam. I can remember there was a time when “Viagra” was simply written “Viagra” and then a bit later when “Viagra” became “v1agra” and “work from home” became “W0rk frØM H0mÈ” as the spammers tried to outsmart the spam filters. (The worst thing about spam filters and in general, anti-spam software, is that even the best combination of filters and heuristics is still going to nab some legitimate emails, meaning you’re still going to have to wade through that junk email folder regardless.)
I don’t seem to get any penis enlargement spam any more (I guess the word finally got out) and Viagra seems to have given way to more Prozac or OxyCodone. There have always been the knock-off watches and fake designer goods, but the Chinese keep cranking them out and the spam keeps coming, so someone must be buying that crap.
This is all my subjective experience (which is just about as close to empirical as you can get) but the funny thing is, in trying to find some stats on the Net, it’s hard to make sense of any of it, even if you compare the same company’s stats from the same website:
Spam by Category 2010
Spam by Category 2012
I like the way personal finance went from 3.4% to 77.77% in two years. Nice job, Kaspersky Labs.
In one chart that actually seems to hold out across different sources though, there is a bit of good news: global traffic percentage rates for spam are on the decline.
68% is definitely low for my inbox, but the overall trend is encouraging.
So how can you do your part to help stem the flow?
The rule for spam is the same rule that applies to email attachments: never, ever, ever click on a link from an unsolicited email. If you see one of those topsy-turvy upside-down hanging tomato plant offers that will start hitting your inbox around Spring and you feel like this year’s the year to give it a try, DON’T BE LAZY! Open your browser and type that product’s name in and go direct to the vendor! We need to starve those insidious spam-slinging monkeys.
Hope you enjoyed our little tour through the history of spam. Oh, looks like I have 57 new messages since I started this post. Time to go wade through the shit.