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29 August 2002  

SHOPTALK

How long will this one last? Okay, your humble author is coming to accept the fact that Netcomments is gone, and along with it some excellent comments posted by faithful Goliard Blog readers. So he is installing Haloscan, at the suggestion of some helpful fellow members of St. Blog's, and we'll see how well it works.

posted by The Goliard |  Link  | 


27 August 2002  

SHOPTALK

Hello, Netcomments? Paging Netcomments. Where art thou, Netcomments? My snazzy little comments feature appears to have gone walkabout, and the webpage for the commenting system has disappeared, leaving only a link to another outfit that seems to (at present anyhow) have nothing to do with blog commenting. Does anybody out there know what's going on?

I have no idea what's up with Netcomments, but on a broader scale, I know perfectly well what's going on. Blog commenting systems are free. They go in and out of existence without warning, often don't accept new signups, and sometimes have annoying bugs. Basic Blogger is free (you can pay to get rid of ads, or for Blogger Pro, but you don't need to shell out a dime to blog if you don't want to). Blogger goes up and down more often than one would like, and has lots of annoying bugs. What we have here is another example of cyberspace not being exempt from the Gods of the Copybook Headings, one of whom is now paying us a call: You Get What You Pay For.

I can't speak for everyone at St. Blog's, but I don't want free blogtools anymore. Free stuff usually stinks. What I want is something that is simple and cheap (preferably really cheap…but still not free), that works well and is reliable. Maybe Moveable Type would do the trick—and I've heard it has built-in commenting to boot—but it doesn't seem simple, I am fearful because it is free, and I also am not sure just how cheaply I could secure the necessary web-hosting services (which MT does not provide).

What are the rest of you doing, or thinking about doing? We ought to have a little chat about it here at St. Blog's…

posted by The Goliard |  Link  | 
 

GRANOLA FAST FOOD

Eat Mor Chikin. Rod Dreher's praise of Sonic notwithstanding, I would like to nominate Chick-fil-A as the preferred fast-food joint of the granola conservative. Some commentators have already expressed horror at the idea of giving the granola stamp of approval to something as contrary to the general run of granola-ism as a fast-food restaurant; but I argue that such places are a necessary evil, as they fulfill the needs of people today who are often on the road, on the go, or on a tight schedule, and cannot bear to pack themselves one more tuna-fish sandwich. If fast-food restaurants are thus unavoidable, the most productive thing we can do is praise the good ones, and condemn the bad ones. There are many reasons for praising Chick-fil-A as one of the good ones. I shall try to run through them without sounding too much like a company shill; but it will be unavoidably clear that I am enthusiastic about the company, even though I have no interest in it whatsoever other than a gustatory one.

For one thing, every Chick-fil-A location is closed on Sundays. The founder, Truett Cathy, has clung to this practice out of respect for his employees who, he believes, deserve time to worship, gather with family, and do other traditional Sunday things; and also out of respect for the sacredness of Sunday itself. This is a significant granola-esque stand for Cathy to take, and puts him in direct opposition to the prevailing culture of business today, which holds maximization of profits to be not only the highest value but the only value. We expect businesses to deal with rank-and-file employees mercilessly, sell irresponsible and immoral products (such as pornographic movies in hotel rooms), vandalize our daily life with excessive and pointless advertising (from the naming of sports stadia to product placement in movies), and suchlike, because a modern corporation simply does not say no to anything which might improve its short-term bottom line. Well, selling chicken sandwiches seven days a week rather than six would doubtless improve Truett Cathy's bottom line, but he still says no, and bully for him.

Chick-fil-A's Kid's Meals similarly fly in the face of the prevailing culture. Go to McDonald's and order a Happy Meal and they will try to sell your kid something. The last time your goliard checked, the pictures and activities on the sack (whatever happened to those nifty little Happy Meal boxes, by the way?) as well as the prize were designed to promote the upcoming movie "Spy Kids 2". Go to Chick-fil-A and order a Kid's Meal, on the other hand, and they will try to help teach your kid something. The Chick-fil-A website explains:

When it comes to our Kid's Meal, the character we're most interested in isn't the cartoon kind. Nourishing hungry young minds and helping you promote healthy values for your child are the top priorities. Educational, character-building Kid's Meal premiums help to bring grownups and kids together.

I have found them to be true to their word here. In the recent past, the Kid's Meals have contained mini-storybooks and audiotapes from the "Adventures from the Book of Virtues" series; this summer there were activity card packs (such as cards from the "52 Alternatives to TV" and "52 Fun Things to Do in the Car" sets) and, in July, Library of Congress books on notable Americans in patriotic "Catch the Spirit of America" Kid's Meal sacks.

Although it is a franchise operation, Chick-fil-A gets granola brownie points by selecting its operators carefully (and greatly preferring individuals with roots in the communities they will be serving), managing to keep standards high system-wide (here in the Deep South, for instance, the restrooms at McDonalds are often rather disturbing; Chick-fil-A is invariably neat and clean), and encouraging each store to become involved in the community. Company founder Truett Cathy and President Jimmy Collins explain some of what makes their franchise system run in a 2001 interview with QSR Magazine.

Your goliard also gives Chick-fil-A's advertising rave reviews. The chain touched off cow-mania when it unveiled its big billboard cows wearing sandwich-boards reading "Eat Mor Chikin" (to encourage humans to eat chicken rather than turn them into burgers), and this campaign is still going strong. (See the official Chick-fil-A Cow Site for pictures and assorted bovine paraphernalia.)

Last, but certainly not least, is the food itself. It is really really tasty, from the chicken (even the nuggets are made from breast meat) to the waffle fries to the genuine, freshly-squeezed lemonade. Chick-fil-A's sandwiches, wraps, and salads also offer far better nutrition than the fast-food norm. Chick-fil-A's menu features a chargrilled sandwich with 280 calories and only 7 grams of fat, in addition to the classic breaded Chick-fil-A sandwich that has 410 calories with 16 grams of fat. Even those of us who find the latter hard to resist are doing much better than at Burger King, where the chicken sandwich, even though it is grilled, has 560 calories with a whopping 28 grams of fat.

Once again, your humble author has nothing to gain from any of this effusive praise. He is just a fan of the restaurant…and also he supports the cows, on behalf of whom he urges you to Eat Mor Chikin.

posted by The Goliard |  Link  |