January 8, 2009, 02:42 PM ET
The Epidemiology of Wal-Mart
cross-posted from howtheuniversityworks.com
Unless you’re currently afflicted by the GI bug that my family just survived, you’ll want to play this shockwave data visualization of, as LumpenProf puts it, “how quickly the Wal-Mart pandemic has spread from a single outbreak in Arkansas in 1962.”
I think it captures more than one “side” of the Wal-Mart debate: On the one hand, the bacterial blooming represents the chain’s proponents’ sense that the spread of their corporate presence is organic and therefore natural, even inevitable.
On the other hand, it captures the hesitation felt by many, even Wal-Mart shoppers and employees, that the spread is also potentially toxic. Whatever “innovation” might exist in that corporate culture needs to be separated from the toxic strains growing alongside it.
While the bacterial bloom is certainly faint praise, I wouldn’t underestimate the (likely unintentional) favor a representation like this does Wal-Mart — by giving the corporation’s spread an Andromeda-strain sort of inevitability, it pushes along the tired old line of history is dead, take your soma and sleep. Don’t worry; be happy. Resistance to the corporate Borg is futile.
Though we seem to have begun upchucking that particular pablum … so we’ll see.
Bonus, courtesy of the intrepid expatriate Wayne Ross and Roedy Green of Canadian Mind Products, an advance look at Bush 43’s vita. Because, you know, this is a country where rivers of meretricious prattle about excellence, merit, and quality flow downward from this pinnacle of accomplishment and accountability:I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury. I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history. I achieved negative job growth for the first time in over a century. I did this partly with my agressive job exporting/outsourcing program. I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period. I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period. I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market. In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month. I’m proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My “poorest millionaire,” Condoleezza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her. I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron. My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision. I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate ripoffs in history. I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed. I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history. I’ve broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history. I am the first president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission. I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspectors’ access to U.S. “prisoners of war” detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention. I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election). I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television. I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.