Coming up to red lights, I change lanes so that I won’t be the car holding up a stream of right-turn-on-red drivers.

I think small things are IMPORTANT. Here’s why.

A scene from Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (intro and novel text quoted from this webpage making a similar point about coding):

Some demons are meeting and discussing the evil things they’ve done — tempting a priest, corrupting a politician, etc. — and one of them proudly declares that he tied up a phone system for most of an hour:

What could he tell them? That twenty thousand people got bloody furious? That you could hear the arteries clanging shut all across the city? And that then they went back and took it out on their secretaries or traffic wardens or whatever, and they took it out on other people? In all kinds of vindictive little ways which, and here was the good bit, they thought up themselves? For the rest of the day. The pass-along effects were incalculable. Thousands and thousands of souls all got a faint patina of tarnish, and you hardly had to lift a finger.

Oh, and that series of ads where people see someone doing something nice, and then do something nice themselves, and a third person witnesses it, and so forth?  I LOVE those ads. Can’t believe I haven’t already blogged about them.


If we hadn’t researched the stud that held that screw that broke and made the wheel fall off [camera pans over handwritten records], the insurance company never would have paid.

The original has way more “for want of a nail” steps than I managed to reproduce here. I’m serious about “best”, it totally sucked me in. But it’s local, so I can’t link it. Although I would totally not be surprised if it were a generic ad sold to a bunch of companies that then just throw their own shot in for a last half-second that looks totally disconnected to the previous 30 seconds, and lower production quality.

Good Ad: that Liberty Mutual ad where someone in a city (or at a state fair) sees someone else pick up a piece of random trash, and then is inspired to hold the door for a stranger, and a person who sees the door held is inspired to help a mother with her stroller and the chain of doing nice things for strangers just continues until finally someone gets saved from bricks falling on their head. Seriously, I get a little choked up.

Bad Ad: the Nextel ad that has firemen in Congress. Well, when you are trying to sell a high-tech walkie-talkie, showing people communicating all in the same room kinda misses the point. And why firemen? But that’s not why I hate the ad. “This is a lot of paper to say we need clean water. Everyone in favor of clean water?” Chorus of “Yeah!”. “We’re done. See you next week.” Thank you, Nextel, for undermining democracy by making the public even more stupid about how government works.

I bought a dress at Ross* for $20, went across the street to Macy’s, and found the exact same dress, tagged at $86, marked down to $40. I mean, they say that’s what’s supposed to happen in all the commercials, but I never really believed them.

Admittedly, Ross just had the one dress, while Macy’s had various sizes and even a second version (same cut, different color, slightly cheaper fabric, might go back and buy it today), but still.

*effectively identical to TJ Maxx or Marshalls, if you don’t know Ross. Or, discount semi-department store, if you don’t know any of those names.

Back in the mid-1990s, MasterCard began the “Priceless” campaign with a story of a woman who took her mother back to Ireland to re-discover the old country. One of the scenes was drinking Guinness in the local pub that she had always heard her mother talk about.

So, now CitiBank is running a credit card campaign “whatever your story is, we can help you write it.” In one ad, a man takes his father to Norway to discover the old country, and they see a fjord and eat lutefisk and go visit the city hall to find their family records and realize they are actually descended from Swedes.*

Okay. That right there, that’s crossing the line. Genealogy means nothing if you don’t have real people, real stories, real memories to back it up. Constructing these stories, from dusty old documents—then that’s history, and you better do it right. You don’t get a pass just because you are related to people you have no real conception of.

* This commercial came on at my mother’s house, and family said “oh, I think this is cute and funny. Don’t you like it, Dance?” and I said, “I hate it” and launched into a rant. Ranting about commercials is one of my favorite activities.

These are the things you see when you watch TV after midnight:

I just saw a commercial—from LDS Family Services—in which a pregnant teenager browses pictures of couples wanting to adopt on the web, and muses “I think this might be the one….”

She goes on to visit the couple: “From the moment I met X and Y, I just knew…”

The application of romantic imagery—“the one”, the realization at first meeting—to adoption intrigues and bothers me. But for a more thoughtful discussion of such issues, see Bitch Ph.D.’s discussion of a book about pre-Roe v. Wade closed adoptions, and this piece in Mother Jones about international adoptions: “Did I Steal My Daughter?”. And an NYT blog I serendipitously came across while writing this.

Title paraphrased from the commercial—not actually quoted, but I wanted to make it clear I wasn’t saying that.

I was randomly flipping through channels, and stopped on a trailer for Beowulf, just because.

The Beowulf ad was being shown during Ultimate Fighter, which I assume is a reality show about people trying to make it big in mixed martial arts, on Spike TV—originally conceived as marketed, if I remember correctly, as “the channel for men”.

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