Other Shoes A-Droppin’

The first other-shoe to drop: The other day I was watching TV and was just too sedimented on the sofa to reach for the remote to fast-forward through commercials, so I was subjected to a fair frequency of pill-pushing ads aimed at doing an end-run around the feel-bad ➞ see-your-doctor ➞ doctor-prescribes-meds-or-not health care sequence. Commercials are inevitably of the pattern:

  1. Show beautiful, uncomfortable (but not so uncomfortable as to lose their appeal) people with clean, dry maladies.
  2. Present an esoteric illness that seems to have either had an unsatisfactory or simply no solution up until now.
  3. Pimp the pills, pills which usually have a nomenclature involving X’s and Z’s or are unholy amalgams or bastardizations of real-but-abstract words.
  4. Apply the problem to the solution (backwards yes, but only Nixon can go to China)
  5. Paint smiles on the beautiful-and-now-comfortable people and show them being active in the sunshine or happily slumbering at night.
  6. At the tail end of the ad, put up too much small type for anyone to read and electronically speed up the reading of contradindications so that they can’t be understood. I.e., bury the truth.
  7. The viewer, being properly tenderized and vulnerable, is instructed to go tell their doctor what they want to be prescribed.

Only the ads I saw the other day had one small but enormously significant change. The older ads would write:

Ask your doctor if ____ is right for you.

The change:

Ask your prescriber if ____ is right for you.

Whoa! It may seem like a no-op, as your doctor is typically the only one with a DEA number and therefore the only one who can write you a script, but the drug companies are gunning for so much more: they’ve removed the presence of a doctor in your health care chain and replaced it with a role, removing all authority and turning your doctor from he/she-who-knows-best to an enabler-bureaucrat whose only worth is removing the barrier between you and the drug company’s latest product.

The other other-shoe to drop: Microsoft blinked. In the long and tortured history of Mac vs PC, good vs evil, tyranny of the majority sticking it to a minority, Microsoft has admitted to nothing yet reaped benefits of everything. Sure, Microsoft makes the most popular Mac software (outside of what ships with every Mac). The Microsoft Office Suite is, so far, a necessary thing for removing the barrier between personal-choice in a computer and actually getting to use that computer inside a corporate environment. It’s popular because it falls under the long shadow of the Microsoft monopoly.

Google the history of Microsoft’s attitude towards the Mac and you’ll find a whole raft of non-answer answers. Ask if they admit that the Mac OS is superior to Windows and you’ll hear that the MacBU (Business Unit) at Microsoft is a huge profit center. Ask about the Mac’s marketshare and you’ll hear that the MacBU is a huge profit center. Microsoft has never ever openly compared its computer platform offerings to Apple’s. Until now.

It’s no secret that Microsoft Windows Vista is a bomb by most metrics. Sure they can trot out absolute numbers of sales, but there are hidden dragons in those numbers: most copies are out there because the user had no choice when they bought a new computer, and the absolute numbers are higher than the initial sales for XP, but there are significantly more computers out there, making the percentage significantly lower.

But back to that “until now”. Recently, when asked about the exploding sales of Macintosh computers their response was simply: There are more copies of Vista out there than there are total Macs in use worldwide. Period.

The best thing that ever happened to the USSR was Nixon referring to them directly as a superpower. In the world’s mind’s eye, the Soviet Union was powerful, but not in the same league, not a direct threat to the United States. Until Nixon.

Microsoft, in finally offering up a sound bite putting the Mac OS alongside Windows in direct comparison suddenly made it OK for the millions to explore a viable alternative to Windows and not just “take a huge risk” in walking away from Windows.

Good for Mac folks like me, but it’s just so overwhelmingly sad that corporate interests are so powerful that they’re the ones driving the country’s agenda. When the tax codes were restructured to state, in effect, that “businesses are people in the eyes of the government”, it’s been a downhill slide in to corporate oligarchy indistinguishable from a plutocracy, but much worse: the hive-minds of corporations may be people-entities, but there’s no face to put on the enemy.

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