Air W. Time

In a country of nearly 300 million people, the majority of whom are unwealthy and female, there is perhaps no greater freedom than the freedom to choose between two -- sometimes as many as three -- wealthy male presidential candidates. In order to properly exercise (and thereby protect) this freedom, we’re force-fed a diet of sugary soundbites and fluffy pictures created and transmitted for just this purpose. To keep less viable candidates out of the race, the corporations creating and transmitting this data must abide by the principles developed by the Machtpolitik Equal Air Time (MEAT) Council in 1964. Per §3, paragraph 9 of MEAT‘s 1974 Revised Broadcast Guidelines: “Each rich white man gets the same amount of unpaid airtime with which to panhandle votes from the oppressed and money from the oppressors under the pretext of protecting each from the other.”

MEAT’s guidelines are especially important in the context of popular advertising theory, which holds that by inundating the populace with a product‘s name, manufacturers create an almost hypnotic desire to purchase it. For example, the more we hear Irish Spring! The manly deodorant soap! Manly? Yes! But I like it too! Irish Spring! (including my mentioning it here), the more likely we are to elect that brand of soap as our 43rd president.

Theoretically, this constant repetition of candidates’ names over a period of months will subconsciously coerce some of us who‘d otherwise vote for the right-wing Democrat into voting for the right-wing Republican, and vice versa, thus reducing the election process to an intestinal advertising filibuster in the alimentary canal of evolution. According to my research, this filibuster favors the moderate Fascist Party candidate, George W. Bush.

With its five syllables, the name George W. Bush takes 250 percent more time to say than Al Gore. This translates into a commensurate 250 percent increased likelihood of Mr. Bush successfully purchasing the presidency this fall. Polls show that even if he were to abandon his first and last names, Mr. Bush’s middle initial alone would handily defeat his two-syllable opponent by a 50 percent margin. However, if Bush were to not only lose his first and last names but expand his three-syllable middle initial into its two-syllable name (“Wanker”), the candidates would be in a virtual dead heat. Al Gore might well take advantage of such posturing by a) saturating his commercial airtime with robotic repetition of the phrase “Al Gore”; (b) stupefying the populace by changing his own name to “Wanker G.”; (c) replacing his campaign manager with Shaquille O‘Neal.

If he can overcome such obstacles, Al Gore will become America’s first two-syllable president in nearly a decade. But to put Gore‘s plight in its proper historical context: Out of America’s 42 presidents, a whopping one-third have had five-syllable names (although just two of them -- Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes -- have had one-syllable surnames).

On the other hand, just six of 42 have had one-syllable last names; and of those, one, Gerald R. Ford, was not elected but appointed, and another, George W. Bush‘s father, George H. W. Bush, was an android. That leaves just four one-syllable-last-name presidents -- Polk, Grant, Hayes and Taft -- a proportion that strongly favors America’s next president, Ralph Nader.

Shortly before his death in 1954, Alan M. Turing devised a test for determining machine intelligence. In this test, a remote interrogator is connected via some sort of terminal to another human and a machine, neither of whom he can see. The interrogator tries to determine which of the two candidates is the machine by asking (typing) questions to both of them and analyzing their responses. If, within five minutes (or less or more time; for some reason, Turing decided on five minutes), the interrogator can‘t figure out which is which, the machine can then be deemed intelligent.

Take 2.5 minutes to read some recent George W. Bush openers at the red, white and blue www.georgewbush.comspeeches:

June 15: “Thank you. It’s good to be here . . .”

June 9: “Thank you. I‘m pleased to be here . . .”

June 8: “Thank you very much. It is good to be in Knoxville.”

And 2.5 minutes’ worth of Gore‘s at the equally red, white and blue www.algore2000.comspeeches:

June 1: “I’m honored to be here . . .”

April 30: “I‘m honored to be here . . .”

March 27: “I’m honored to be here at Marquette University.”

Can you tell which is the machine? To assist you, renowned typeface designers Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum have given us a mischievous variation on Turing‘s test by creating Filibuster.org, a magnificent satire on Internet IPOs, specifically, and the sincerity of public offerings in general.


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