In the spring and summer on 1975 it was my great good fortune to work at McDonald’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Working in the fast-food industry can be a real education, and I’d recommend it to anyone, at least on a short term basis.
While I may remember my tenure at Mickey D’s with some humor, at the time it was largely work. Hot, greasy work.
The hottest, greasiest work was french fry duty.
One would stand guard over a deep fat fryer which would hold all of the fries, fish meals and fruit pies - which accounted for the fact that their crusts had a tendency to taste alike, I suppose. Every so often you would have to replenish the monster with fifty pound chunks of lard.
No matter how far back you jumped, you were invariably splattered with hot grease. Needless to say, the floor around you was thick with grease, as well.
Good times, good times.
One time the Great Man himself - Ronald McDonald - came through on a promotional tour to our store. How excited we were! Of course, it wasn’t the RM from the TV commercials, but an actor they had hired to play the part.
A few of us were behind the store sharing some jokes with him when the ersatz Ronald McDonald looked around, saw that the coast was clear, and pulled a bottle of whiskey from his pocket. After taking a quick snort, he asked if the others of us wanted to share.
Sharing a bottle of whiskey with Ronald McDonald? Which young man in America was going to turn down that opportunity?
When he left, we bade him a fond farewell, and told him he could come back anytime. For some of us, the invitation was no doubt more sincere than for others.
During that short three-moth period another incident happened which has also stayed with me throughout the years. While working nights at Mickey D’s I was also working days at the Campbell Soup plant in Fayetteville, whose particular speciality was Swanson’s TV dinners.
It came out in conversation that I belonged to the union at Soup - one of the weakest I have ever known - and this seemed to throw my corporate overlords into a deep panic.
Actually, when I say corporate overlords I mean the local owners/managers. Such was their paranoid state about unions that they could not wrap their heads around the fact that I was working two jobs because I needed money, not because it was my intention to unionize the local burger eatery. They had their eye on me, I was warned by an assistant manager.
I left about a month after that. Not out of some deep principle, but because getting up at four in the morning and working till 11 at night was wearing me out.
Still, gettinmg drunk with Ronald McDonald . . .
The Republican War on Science - It’s about to start all over again . . .
There has probably always been some manipulation and corruption of science, but this may be the first time in history that we can possibly look on the meddling of the persecution of the past as the Good Old days. Then it was for largely for religious reasons.
Though religion often plays a part in the manipulation of modern science, another, uglier, factor often comes into play - the profit motive. In The Republican War on Science, author Chris Mooney shows the reader how modern science has been under assault for the better part of two decades. By whom you might ask?
Well, the title gives us a good clue.
I guess you'd have to be living in cave, shut off from the Internet, and print media, to have some inkling of how conservative forces in this country are assaulting scientists and scientific truth, because it runs counter to what religious leaders preach, or is a threat to corporate profits. What Mooney has done is to tie it all together, not in any Dark Conspiracy kind of way, but so that the reader can see the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle a little clearer.
From the infamous Star Wars program of Ronald Reagan to global warming skeptics to proponents of abstinence only education, the scientific debate in this country seems to be increasingly dominated by people you suspect really didn't like science class all that much while they were in school.
And people who actually know things - you know, people with degrees - often find themselves publicly derided and mocked by those who seem proud of their ignorance.
One of the greatest achievements of conservative groups was the invention of "sound science" - something that makes absolutely no sense, but is cheered in every GOP gathering and far-right blog in America. This is to counter what they see as "junk science" - you know, the stuff that environmentalists come up that threatens the financial bottom line of corporations.
Of course, politicians never admit that they are whoring for the corporate world, and few reporters ever actually think of asking them, or looking too closely at their records.
As Mooney points out, our increasing ignorance can have long-reaching consequences. If you can not trust your information, how can you make valid choices? Wow - this sounds familiar, doesn't it? But this is actually more serious in the long-run than defense intelligence - if you have a generation of Americans who have been educated that 1+5=8, and the rest of the world knows the truth, we lose out in terms of jobs and prestige and scientific progress.
Mooney has this advice for those who may be concerned about the future of our country:
"And just as science-abusing corporations must be fought in the courts, science abusing conservatives - who would misinform our children about the origin of the human species and about virtually everything having to do with sex - must be fought in the schools, the educational system, and the public arena more generally."
We used to know things. Now we are entering a world in which we learn what corporations and religious leaders want us to know. We are in danger of becoming a nation of burger flippers and missionaries, knowing that a lack of curiosity is next to Godliness.
The Republican war on Science does on admirable job of putting all the pieces of a very grim jigsaw puzzle together, but fortunately for us all, all the pieces have yet to be put in place. Mooney's book needs to be on your Must Read list.
Quote of the Day
The quality of a man’s life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor. - Vince Lombardi