When Query Based Advertising Goes Bad


I produced the above search results yesterday when researching the Lou Dobbs story. Left such a bad taste in my mouth I though it would be worth sharing in a post all its own. Don’t know why exactly, but it strikes me as somehow emblematic of the worst, dehumanizing tendencies of early 21st century, automated, digital Capitalism.


So I take it that this isn’t a border state (with Mexico) phenomena. It’s now intertubes wide.

If there is one thing that bothers the hell out of me when I visit SoCal is the day laborers waiting for gringos to hire them. Something seems so wrong about it. I can’t put my finger on any definite reason.

I thought Home Depot has the best deals.

@ManchuCandidate: That is hilarious. Gotta love those pie charts.

@ManchuCandidate: Silent Creative Partner and I would prefer that Gawker not share our client list.

I finally got around to reading Did Christianity Cause the Crash? on the Atlantic’s site, and it’s actually quite thought-provoking. Specifically, they’re refering to the so-called “prosperity gospel” that has swept the nation’s churches over the last couple of decades (cue Daffy Duck: “Jesus wants you to be wich, wich, I tell you, wich!”).

I found the following passage to be the most intriguing:

By many measures, Billy Gonzales does not have it all. He lives with his wife and three children in a tiny apartment on the back side of a development at the edge of town, where people hang out on the stoop until all hours. He works 45 minutes away and his car has been broken down for three months, and he does not have any money to fix it. Every day at work he is faced with a vision of what he does not have. He works for a man who just built a $4 million house—one of four the man owns. Gonzales’s job is to make sure every wine glass, garden statue, and book is dusted and in its proper place. Yet when I talked to Gonzales he was like a child hearing the ice-cream truck, or a man newly in love. “I’m crazy! Just crazy,” he said, meaning crazy for the Lord, and giving little jumps out of his chair…

He told me he feels pity for his employer. He assumes the man must have been close to God at one point, or at least his family must have been, “because the rich are closer to God.” But now the man has lost his way. He laughs when Gonzales talks to him about Jesus, and he wastes his money, buying $500 birdhouses and hiring Gonzales to clean them…

Indeed, by any standard Gonzales is an admirable man. He is 24, married, works hard, and limits his extracurricular activities to Bible study and soccer. It took me a few visits to realize that two of the three small children in the house are not his. He married a woman with two sons and takes care of them. They call him Papa and he reads to them at night and speaks to them gently, exactly the way he speaks to his own baby son. He has every reason to be frustrated with his circumstances, but I never once saw him express anything but delight. The gospel obviously grounds Gonzales in a very concrete way. But I can also see how, one day, it might send him floating into the air.

So is this man a victim of a pernicious pyramid scheme that demands he give 10% of his meager income as a faux installment payment for riches and salvation, or is the hope that his faith provides to him worth any price? I sure as hell can’t say. Perhaps religious mysticism, modern-day sorcercy and magical thinking are all we’ve got left.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the cemetary to perform a success-conjuring ritual.

@Original Andrew: So is this man a victim of a pernicious pyramid scheme that demands he give 10% of his meager income as a faux installment payment for riches and salvation, or is the hope that his faith provides to him worth any price? I sure as hell can’t say.

I’ll say it: He’s a victim of a pernicious pyramid scheme. Hope & Faith comes free for the asking.

@nojo: To expand: I don’t have an issue with other people’s faith, which is one reason I find professional atheists profoundly annoying. But charlatans, whether they operate under cover of religion or politics, are still charlatans.

@Original Andrew: Religion caused the crash in that it gives the greedy an explanation for why it’s OK to rape and pillage – their sky god wants them to be rich. Ask Blankfein, Ken Lay (you’ll need a medium) ….

@Original Andrew: Barbara Ehrenreich is v interesting on this topic in Bright Sided.

@Original Andrew:

The “prosperity gospel” people always creep me out, especially when they go from their standard belief “godly -> wealthy” to the logically non-equivalent converse “wealthy -> godly”. According to their own theology, that starts to smell a bit like the kind of church the Antichrist would set up…

Not that I’m in any way convinced by the whole Revelations business, but it seems fair to evaluate a group according to their OWN belief system.

In other (somewhat related) news, the goalposts have been moved again. :)


It appears from the article that the only one getting rich is the pastor (obviously), but his congregants do seem to be receiving benefits in assimilating into American society, such as it is.


I’ve always wondered about the true motivations of those at the top. Matt Taibbi, who seems to have done more investigative research on them than anyone, speculates that they’ve been ensconced in their own Rich-People-Only social cocoon for so long that they really do believe their own insane bullshit.

Is the wealthy’s belief in their own propaganda significantly different from the True Faith that motivates the piss-on masses?*

*I’m referring specifically to the adherents of the prosperity gospel here, not religious folks in general. I actually have no problem with most religion per se, it seems to provide most people with some comfort, only that religious beliefs shouldn’t be imposed on others. Also, it seems like one could follow religious philosophy, such as the teachings of socialist-hippie Jesus, without subscribing to the magical aspects of the religion, like the Afterlife, though I’ve never heard of this in the US.


The Prosperity Bible has been so cherry-picked that it could fit in a fortune cookie.

@Original Andrew: There’s a rough comparison to what I’ll call the “power gospel” in play at C Street — but their philosophy is actually very Nietzschean, in that nihilism puts you above the common herd.

And hey, if the pastor wants to tithe for Good Works, more power to him. But that’s not what he’s doing, and his flock could receive the same spiritual benefits without being scammed. They don’t need to be disabused of their faith; they just need to trust in someone more trustworthy.

I should add that my personal views on religion were quite warped from being raised in the Southern Baptist church. They make Jesus Camp look like The Muppet Show.

I recall vividly every week in Sunday School when I was very young, being told that not only would I fry in Hell for all eternity if I didn’t submit to The Lawd (they use the word “submit” a lot), but also that Jayzus would erase my parents’ memories of me after they walked through the Pearly Gates. I honestly can’t think of anything more terrifying to tell a small child. Psychological torture – no me likey one bit.

Oh, and when bad things happened to people, they were being punished for their sins, which is perhaps the less happy flipside of the prosperity gospel, but maybe part of what makes it so compelling for the people that believe it.

@Original Andrew: Every week, my mom would drive me to the Lutheran church for Sunday school. And then she’d drive home, and return to pick me up.

I thank her for that. I learned my irony catechism early.

@Original Andrew: I vaguely recall being handed carrot-infested lime jello for delivery.

@Original Andrew: This makes me want to fold you in my arms and feed you martinis and touch you any way you want. Just call me Uncle.


If I’m ever fortunate enough to make it back to the Northeast, I may take you up on that ; )

But srsly, it was in the 80s, and I’ve pretty much recovered, though I imagine that the church hasn’t changed at all. I absolutely refused to go to church any more when I was 12, and they were happy to see me go. I was the kid who kept asking all the really irritating questions that interrupted their cult programming and mind control, like “wouldn’t my mommy and daddy miss me and be unhappy in Heaven if I weren’t there?” (Answer: No. Jeebus makes your parents huff a gasoline-soaked rag and they forget all about your smartass), or “if we’re all spirits then why would we have streets paved with gold? Wouldn’t we just float around?”

Did I also mention that growing up gay around those people was a real treat?

@Original Andrew: You are breaking my heart and making my weep on my keyboard. (Full disclosure: I have imbibed x amount of vodka plus Beaujolais nouveau). I lost my father and his family and most of my mother’s family but retained some. And recently found in one of my goofier cousins a true companion. I wonder if any of our ‘Str8’ friends can ever really understand the isolation and horror of growing up gay in this world? We camouflage our wounds the best we can. Which is what left us so vulnerable to AIDs.

Sorry. I’ve been thinking about Chorus Line. And being felt up in a most particular way by the book writer in the back row of the theatre in London. And they’re all dead. All the writers. Only Hamlisch survived. And that’s because he’s str8.

@Benedick: I still love the New Yorker’s one-line takedown of Chorus Line (from memory): “A group of dancers audition for a show not yet in rehearsal, and by the time the evening is over we know everything about everybody.”

@nojo: The New Yorker can suck my sweaty balls. They are not amusing and not sophisticated. They are a bunch of wannabe cunts. Nothing about that magazine would please me more than to know it has gone under where it can suck the shit out of Buckley’s ass.

The ‘legendary’ editor Ross when presented with Nabokov’s astounding masterpiece The Vane Sisters declared: We do not publish anagrams.

Fucking philistine.

Ditto. One of the masterpieces of late 20th cent American theatre A Chorus Line. They should be so fucking lucky to ever produce anything so good and true, those sneering fuckwads of useless shitery.

The fucking New Yorker can fuck itself in the ass. But not in the good way. Fucking sneering worthless cunts. And no, I do not subscribe.

And now I shall retire.

@Benedick: It is beyond my capacity to understand how a parent would reject a child for being gay, how a friend could do so, how anyone could do so.

I have spoken of my father. Archie Bunker, truly, the character could have been based on him. Roman Catholic, and, something we never really spoke of, he was his family’s hope to become a priest.

Oh my god, he would sound so bigoted, but I truly believe it was all just that he was a product of a society with a different manner of speaking, because there was no hate behind it, truly, there was no hate, oh, he would speak of growing up in Bayonne, and he lived in the Mick neighborhood, and he would matter-of-factly say that the polacks lived on D street and the Guinees were on Avenue C and the kikes were over there and the spics and wops and niggers, oh my, but this may be impossible to understand, but he never spoke with hate, it was just his terminology. He would say positive, admiring things about the traits of these ethnic groups, but use these horrible terms.

I gave his eulogy, and at the end, after talking about how I learned that the race is not always to the swiftest, nor riches to the wise, nor all that about wealth coming to those who are smart and work hard, beecause my dad worked harder than any human being I have ever known, and gave up everything he had and could have had to his children, misguidedly, sometimes, but selflesely, and died with nothing because he gave it all for his family, and I ended it with “he taught us that noone was better than us,” whereupon the congregation got still, wondering where this was going, and I ended with “and he also taught us that we weren’t better than anyone else.”

And I mention this only to say, that this man who to the world would seem by modern judgment to have been a bigot and a racist, he was not, he taught me to always, always, have nothing but pity and charity towards everyone, and to think of the cross they bear, yes, he used the christian phrases, but the good ones, of the worst people, of murderers in the news, going to execution, of bums begging in the streets, his phrase was always “the poor souls.”

And thats why, I simply cannot believe, Benedick, did you truly lose your family because of who you are? Thats inconceivable, according to what my father taught me about family and being a decent human to your fellow humans. I had two cousins who were known to be gay, and this was back in the 60s, and my sister is a lesbian, and my father, Archie Bunker, never, ever said a bad thing about any of them, when they were talked about, it was never even as if it were a scandal or shameful.

From him, to me, it is engrained in me, and I got it from him, never, ever, would he, wouold I, reject a family member, not just a child, a cousin, not even a friend or coworker, not even over homosexuality, which to him, in his day, it was simply beyond comprehension, but still, he wouldd never, ever, reject or ostracise or hate anyone over it, even if he would say they were queer as a 3 dollar bill.

Benedick, you really lost your father over this? Thats so horrible and sorowful and it should never happen to anyone, and its so saddening.

@Promnight: Sweetheart I’m going to bed. I’ve been up since 6. I’ll read this properly in the morning. Love you.


Until the last decade or two, it was common, if not the norm, to lose one’s bio family when one came out. Maybe it’s better now, I dunno.

I was fairly lucky in that my mother was supportive, my dad, on the other hand, not very much. He was able to use his industrial-strength denial to avoid the situation completely for several years, at least until Mr. OA and I got together, and then he basically dropped out of my life.

He never once visited my home or even met Mr. OA, even after we’d been together for years. It seems incomprehensible, but can you imagine never meeting your child’s husband/spouse whom they’d lived with for years?

When my dad died in 2004, Mr. OA and I had been together for like six years already, and he got to meet that whole side of my family at the funeral.

@Original Andrew: OA, again, I have to tell you, I am horrified to hear this, and so sorry, I do truly feel for your pain. I was lucky, obviously, I was very very lucky. My father did not reject my lesbian sister, no, it was the opposite, he gave her more support then the rest, unto each according to their need, seriously. And yes, the last person you would expect it of, as I said. Never, ever, would he have rejected any of his children, for being gay.

I am lucky, I was raised right, I think. I never had to reject Dad’s beleifs, I really never did, he was a good man and had no hate in him. I did have to learn a new vocabulary, but truly, I do not doubt the horror of the story you and many others have to tell, of parents who can’t accept what you are, and it makes me very very sad, I wish my dad were your dad, you would never have had anything but complete, unquestioning support, my dad taught me all this shit I spout when I get all spiritual and mawky, that we are all flawed humans trying our best to get through life, and that noone is entitled to judge anyone else, because everyone has a load on their shoulder noone else can know. Truly, thats my deepest belief, and he gave it to me, noone is entitled to judge anyone.

This sucks so bad to hear, I want to make you part of my family, and I say this so sincerely. Goddamnit, everyone has to struggle through fucking life, and its not easy for anybody, and everyone should just give everyone else a fucking break, you know what I mean?

I am serious here, I never ever thought about this aspect of being gay, because seriously, It would not have been an issue for me, if I were, really, I was raised with a prime directive, family is family, no matter what, and my lesbian sister is the least of it, no matter what, we never, would never, ostracize family, not those who have been to prison, not anyone, ever.

Its such a part of the ethic I was raised with that I would and do despise anyone who would abandon, reject, a family member, whether for being gay, or for anything, absolutely anything. Fuck, that just so sucks, its horrifying to me.

One of my favorite sayings is “home is the place where, if you show up they have to take you in.” Any family that breaks that rule is not a family.

I have to say this again. I have never, before this night, truly understood, what it is, to be gay, and come out, oh, I understood that must be very difficult, and I knew that it meant many people would reject you and you would be subjected to all the biases of society, but I never understood, that you could lose your families. That was something, as I have been saying, so unthinkable to me. Truly. I would not have believed your father, your mother, could ever turn against you because I always knew, mine would never do that. Thats heartbreaking and horrible to me because I never even thought of it, I would have thought, “at least you have your family, even if society is filled with hate.” I am so , well, its not something I ever thought, its horrible, I could stand up to all the disapproval of society, so long as I knew I had my family behind me, to stand up to all the shit society throws at you, and lose family too, thats just fucking a goddamn shame and your families should be fucking ashamed because there is no fucking excuse. I could not imagine it.


That’s very sweet of you Prommie. I’m actually fine with it now, and truth be told, my dad had always been something of a–what’s a polite way to put this?–hateful jackass until the last few years of his life (he’s the one who made me go to that nutcase church as a child, btw), so it wasn’t exactly a shock at the time. My dad mellowed considerably around the time that I graduated from college, but he never accepted me. He just couldn’t do it. Some parents reject their kids for all kinds of reasons, and I’m very grateful I have my mom. It sounds like you come from good people.

@Original Andrew:
like prommy, i can’t fathom it either, rejecting a child for any reason whatsoever. big squishy bewbie hugs to you OA.
i wrote this before, i’ll repeat myself in case you missed it.
things are really changing. my nephew came out recently and the family made it a cause for celebration. no judgements.the only thing that changed for him within the family was being annoyed with different pronouns. “when are you bringing a nice jewish BOY home to meet us”
and an old friend i’m back in touch with, announced that her son, who my daughter used to babysit for, is gay. but she said it like this: “and guess what? michael is GAY! isn’t that great?!” i have always wanted to see support groups for young gay kids in schools. i’m a woman and a jew, i know a little bit about discrimination, but the plight of the young gays in our society breaks my heart.

@baked and @Promnight: Sadly the rejection happens earlier and earlier as more kids come out in high school. An absurdly disproportionate percentage of the homeless teens and teens in foster care in SF are gay and not from here. They come here (and LA and Portland and Seattle to a lesser extent) from all across the western U.S. I know people who work at direct social services organizations with the teens, and a good subset of them are Mormon kids who have been excommunicated. It’s heartbreaking and disgusting.
One group that has literally saved lives is The Trevor Project, a hotline/online support for LGBTQ teens considering suicide.

@Benedick: Did you see the documentary about the Chorus Line revival? I watched it last night with my wife and daughter singing along — a daughter who, when she was 9, stepped to the front of the stage in a youth theater production (no, they didn’t do “Tits and Ass”), sang “Everything Is Beautiful At The Ballet” and made me cry.

@Dodgerblue: What’s the name of that film? Benedick mentioned it on another thread, but I can’t find it, and netflix didn’t come up with it when I searched on “Chorus Line”.

@Mistress Cynica: Every Little Step. Here’s the imdb.com site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0977648/. If you rent the DVD, be sure to check out the “Special Features” where there are extended excerpts from the original audiotapes. Speaking of which, there is no mention in the film of the litigation and other tsuris that erupted over Michael Bennett’s use of the stories in the audiotapes for characters and lyrics in the show. My daughter, who follows this kind of thing, said that that stuff was all resolved so that the revival could be made.

Great thread. Missed it because I spent all yesterday on a plumbing project for my mother in law, then made a mandatory appearance at the lighting of the Christmas lights on the Plaza. After crashing out for a while, Mrs RML drank martinis and watched Big Bang Theory on DVD and laughed our asses off. Spent today getting another load of firewood out west of town.

@Dodgerblue: @Mistress Cynica: I urged you all to watch it. Have had a few bad days because of it. Which is a good thing.

@Dodgerblue: Bennet was not a nice man but a master of the theatre. Quite the equal of Peter Brook. C Line has a lot of unfortunate stuff in it and stuff that thrills to the bone. But they’re all dead.

@Promnight: I can’t cope with the family stuff and never will. Next time we get drunk together I’ll tell you. Haven’t talked to my father in over 20 years. The OH urges me to contact him so I don’t have to deal with guilt when he dies. He’s 83. But I won’t do it. One of my fondest memories is of a time when I was in my 20s on a visit here and staying with my parents. He got so angry with me he got me up against a wall and I was saying “Hit me. That’s what you want Go on. Hit me.” But he didn’t.

You don’t ever recover. I had similarly dreadful times with my mother but she did at least try to make it up to me. But you don’t ever recover. I couldn’t love her but in her final illness I came to pity her and understand her.

I can’t write more. I can only hope it’s better now. I think for some of us it is and then I think of the Mormons.

@SanFranLefty: Can’t thank you enough for that link. I don’t do activism but I contacted them to see if I could help. And I sent money.

@Benedick: My pleasure. I met their E.D. a few years ago at an event here and have followed their work ever since. I thought the most moving scene in Milk was when he got the call from the gay teen in Minneapolis. Groups like Trevor Project didn’t exist back then, nor the writings of Dan Savage, nor the tubez to help young people struggling with their sexual identity realize that they are not alone and despite what their families or communities tell them, that they are normal human beings. I’m so sorry about your experience. There’s really nothing I can say other than I’m so sorry.

@SanFranLefty: Not your fault. We all have our griefs growing up. You’re right about the internet. The OH had a nephew who killed himself who could have had a real life online. Came too late for him.

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