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Best and Worst Pop Culture Moments of 2013

BeyonceTwo weeks until 2013 is in the dust bin with all of the other expired calendars from years past. So much has happened, including a drawn-out government shutdown, the death of Nelson Mandela, and the Lady Gaga/Muppets Christmas special, among other low points. On the bright side we’ve also witnessed the breakout hit Orange is the New Black, Wendy Davis’s filibustering prowess, and a thrilling conclusion (or even a conclusion) to Breaking Bad. It’s been a year of oh…forget it, don’t let me descend into platitudes. Here’s my best and worst list for the year.

Best Stuff

New Kickass Women in Congress—Yes, Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren were elected at the end of 2012, but they took office this year. And already they’ve gotten involved in issues that have been twisting in the legislative wind for years now.  They sent a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services to end the ban on gay men donating blood. They’ve also taken on big, systemic issues, maybe most notably with Senator Baldwin co-sponsoring a bill to end to phone tapping by the NSA, and Senator Warren tackling banking regulation, the lack of which got us into the 2008 financial crisis. They’re happy to let us think that this Congress is unable to get anything done, because that’s just when they’ll squeak through urgent changes under the radar. Read More…

A Brief History of Bad Product Decisions

I’m old enough that I remember the introduction of “New Coke,” when the soda pop manufacturer decided to make their formula taste closer to that of Pepsi, which I find is most useful as a scrubbing agent rather than a thirst-quenching beverage. It was April 23, 1985, and while it was a little late to be included in all of the Orwellian weird events of 1984, it certainly can still be grouped into the moments we all would love to forget about the 1980s—big hair and scrunchy socks notwithstanding.

There was actual public outcry. People poured the redesigned drink into the streets, and Coke executives were floored. Soon, there was “Coke classic” on the shelves of grocery stores again, and we all breathed a sigh of relief, even as we muttered to ourselves about stupid executives. Quietly, some time later, Coke pulled the new formula altogether. Read More…

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