Tuesday 10 December 2013

Lobbying: the Blunt, and the Comically Subliminal

Leave. Us. Alone.
Pity the capitalist who simply wishes to be allowed to exploit his cosy monopoly niche in peace - when along comes a government and upsets the applecart.  Well, governments get everywhere, don't they, with pesky populist interventions and various other agendas of their own.  Nothing for it - you gotta use whatever means are at hand to defend your interests.

Sometimes the approach is in-your-face: in everyone's face, no less.  This week sees the big American mass-tech players (Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Twitter and AOL) setting up a campaign website, and taking out full-page newspaper ads to persuade Obama to quit using them as vehicles for intelligence gathering.  "Reform Government Surveillance" - pretty bold stuff from these eight latter-day corporate Cnuts, and good luck with that.

Of course, there are those who would recoil from such bare-faced bluntness.  The French, for instance, would go about their business with far more finesse - so much, indeed, that you'd hardly notice the message as it was subtly inserted into your subconscious.  Suppose our good friends EDF also wished to issue a gentle rebuke to those pesky governments, forever interfering in their affairs.  How to get home the message that governments shouldn't go around trying to legislate on everything ? 

Full-page ads ?  Mais non, mon ami !   Tant mieux pour raconter une petite fable: everyone will surely get the message.  And so we have the story of "The day when pi became 3.2 (instead of 3.14159 ...)" which charmingly delivers its payload.  Listen carefully, boys and girls.  Once upon a time in America, a wicked shyster tried to hoodwink politicians into believing that pi was 3.2 !  But after all sorts of mad goings-on, a hero arose ...
"... a mathematician by the name of Clarence Waldo, who happened to be present that day in the legislature, realized the danger that this could cause. With the local Senate still having to approve the bill for it to pass into law, the mathematician spent several weeks explaining the truth to the senators and getting press coverage of the case. The Senate then overwhelmingly rejected the bill. This comical story does at least illustrate the point that we can’t always legislate on everything. If things had turned out differently, the world might now be turning in a slightly less perfect circle."
Yes, we get the message !  We'll leave you alone.  And let's face it, how EDF do suffer from government interference - what with all those subsidies - and with all those nasty strings attached ...


By the way, just in case you think I am imagining things and that this is just a whimsy of EDF's for providing morally uplifting stories for school children, look carefully at the link.


OutbrainInter ? campaign ? Yes folks, Outbrain is a service for pushing corporate messages in the www.  It's a campaign, all right.  


dearieme said...

I don't believe a word of your pi story. Urban legend, I'd say, on a par with the ludicrous "The USA almost adopted German as its official language" tripe. Did you check it in Snopes?

Nick Drew said...

dearieme - are you saying you don't believe EDF corporate propaganda ? I think you'll find that's a thought-crime under EU law

dearieme said...

Actually, isn't retelling the story effectively a racist attack on Americans? Jail the bastards.

andrew said...

I think actuallly reading a url is something that generation gaps you from the wonks that wrote that lovely little story.

I imagine they have chicken little and the boy who cried wolf lined up for next week and the week after.

Nick Drew said...

Generation gap? I'm just a cynical b*****d with a nose for BS, Andrew: there is no such thing as a coincidence

in my soldiering days we used to say: no man ever put one brick on top of another except for a reason - the second principle of reconnaissance