Along with many other upstanding citizens of Missoula, I live behind the Taco Bell. It’s a residential block tucked into the corner made by Rattlesnake Creek and Broadway, which, like all Broadways, is a river of filth. Mostly it’s gas stations and fast food, plus some motels. Last night, as I was coming home, I heard a tire pop. I had stopped to get the mail, and I briefly considered what it would be like to hear that sound and then feel a searing pain in one’s neck. I am of that turn of mind, and I lived in a neighborhood where gunshots were often heard. Not anymore, though, I thought as I went inside. Then I watched a series of squad cars scream down on McDonald’s, and the rest was news.
You may not have noticed,* but the last few years of McDonald’s commercials have been conspicuously free of Ronald McDonald, the clown so brightly colored that only a child‘s retinas are innocent enough to look at him. It turns out that L. Ron McDonald has been the object of an ongoing campaign of protest from various height/weight-appropriate killjoys, who argue that he is designed to sell unhealthy food directly to children. That is obviously true. When was the last time you saw a clown convince an adult of anything, much less what to put in his mouth? Whereas that works on kids all the time. With their McCafe marketing campaign and their new emphasis on salads, apple slices and other substances that will not immediately stop a mouse’s heart, McDonald’s has been working the adult/child divide for the last several years, so it’s only logical that they would again release Ronald McDonald into the wild. He is back; he is still simultaneously nonthreatening and extremely disturbing, and he is definitely for kids.
Julius Caesar wrote that out of any 100 soldiers, ten will be utterly fearless, ten will panic and become useless at the first clash of swords, and 80 could go either way. Success in battle, says Caesar, depends on those 80 percent. At the risk of both paraphrasing one of history’s greatest generals and underestimating the value of numbers, victory belongs to those willing to do what others will not. This week’s link roundup is chock full of people who have not necessarily succeeded because of the merit of what they are doing. In many cases, they’re getting what they want in spite of that. But they’re doing things that their competitors won’t try, or that our various forebears and lawgivers just sort of assumed nobody would do. They’re the bold pioneers in the field of human decency, striking out into frontier lands of douche, and they are handsomely rewarded. The rest of us can chastise them for it, sure, but our disapproval will be ever undermined by our jealousy. Sort of.