Analogies are hard
I wanted a pizza. A large pizza with mushrooms. Or, actually, someone promised to get me a pizza. Actually, right, someone said they’d get pizza for me and everyone else in the building. They brought the pizza up to begin with, they asked around about what toppings would be popular, then they settled on mushrooms, and the majority of the people in my building seemed to think that sounded good.
OK, so, the pizza guy said it would take a while for the pizza to get here. Some people in the building are pretty hungry right now but, look, we all know you can’t expect pizza instantly.
Now the guy says he probably can only get us about half as much pizza as he said he could at first, and also he’s still not really sure when it’s going to arrive, because one of the guys on the Council of Pizza Guys is basically opposed to getting anyone pizza, period, and the rules of the Council of Pizza Guys are pretty complicated and they give each Pizza Guy a lot of power to delay pizza delivery or even just stop all pizzas from being made at all. (The council rules were mostly created to make sure no one delivered pizza to Black people.)
Still—pizza is (probably) coming, and, obviously, pizza is better than no pizza! And way better than arsenic and nails! Though for some reason a lot of people in the building—and most of the people in the building across the street—really want arsenic and nails, and a few more are at least are open to considering arsenic and nails, and the pizza guy is being sort of cagy about whether arsenic is “poison” or nails are “edible” because he’s worried about offending some of the people who are on the fence about getting pizza instead of arsenic and nails. And actually, weirdly, part of the pizza deal (a deal made after we placed the order, or I guess after he said he’d go place the order) is that some of the arsenic and nails people have to help get the cheese, and then after they agree on that we get the mushrooms just with the pizza guys.
I guess the arsenic and nails is also, like, from a competing restaurant, and I am trying to convince everyone in the building that this restaurant only serves poison and the poison restaurant hates most of the people in our building, it only likes the people in the building across the street, though it also wants to serve many of the people in that building poison and nails, while also serving good pizza only to the people that own both buildings. A lot of people agree with me but a lot of people are also like, ok, if that’s the case, why are we getting cheese with the arsenic and nails people, why is it so important that the arsenic and nails people approve of the cheese, and to be honest I don’t have a great answer for that. I mean, it’s so that some of the people who might want arsenic will be fine with pizza, I guess, but it’s really unclear if that makes the pizza or the pizza guys more popular with anyone on either side of the issue. It’s just a thing the pizza guys like doing, working with the arsenic guys sometimes.
(There’s also an entire TV station that all day long basically tells the people in the building across the street, and a few of the people in our building, that nails are food and arsenic is good for you and pizza is poison and mushrooms are, I don’t know, dangerously radioactive.)
Anyway, I, personally, am not that hungry. I just ate. I will be fine. For me the pizza and mushrooms thing is a preference, I want my neighbors to get more, better pizza. But as I said a lot of other people in the building are pretty hungry and also, uh… there is, somehow, a circumstance under which we need a lot of mushrooms or else the building will... partially burn down in a few years? The, uh, mushrooms are, somehow, the thing that will prevent this from happening which is why a lot of us are kinda insistent on them! And like, rebuilding the building after it partially burns down will be way more expensive than just ordering extra mushrooms now, so when the pizza council guy who’s holding this up is like “these mushrooms are way too expensive,” it’s just stupid! Those are the fire-prevention mushrooms! (That pizza council guy also wants to make sure the pizza is cooked in a coal oven because he owns a coal company but we’re very confident the coal oven is itself the thing that is going to set the fire later.)
Also there’s a guy on twitter who keeps being like “don’t give the building Too Much Pizza, the guys on the fifth floor will choose arsenic if the kids on the fourth floor get too much pizza.” I think too little pizza is a bigger risk than too much pizza—pizza is pretty popular!—but he asked one of the guys on 5 and that is apparently what he said.
The other deal is that we only get to order pizza Once In a Generation so if we don’t get the mushroom pizza now we’re not getting it any time soon. But no one is willing to change the council rules that make that the case? Because they’re worried if they did that we’ll just get even more arsenic and nails in the future, even though the main priority of the arsenic and nails guys is sending pizza to the building owners and, uh… erecting bollards in the middle of the street that stop the pizza guys from getting pizzas to building like ours. (There are ways to get rid of the bollards, but it’s also hard because of the rules. You could just go around the bollards, too, but if you do that, well, an imaginary policeman arrests you, and also then arsenic guys are just going to go around the bollards too and deliver their terrible arsenic!)
Meanwhile, also, there’s this highly regarded pizzaconomist who was, for some reason, shut out of the pizza restaurant by its current management, but he keeps going around saying there’s already too much pizza! He says if you try to deliver this much pizza it will make pizza itself less nutritious, or, uh… make cheese harder to get? Now the pizza council guy holding up the order is also saying this. Every few weeks other pizzaconomists post charts of pizza ingredients and building hunger levels and argue about them.
And the building newsletter keeps fixating on the price of the pizza, though we can definitely afford the pizza no problem, but the newsletter only talks about how much it will cost like at the expense of even mentioning very basic information like pizza is food and there are hungry people in the building who need food. (Let alone the fire-prevention mushroom thing. The building newsletter is worried about the fire but, like, structurally unable to connect it to the mushrooms, because of ideology.)
Regardless, we’re getting like a quarter of the originally promised pizza, much of which will go directly to the hungriest people in the building, and yes this is a lot less than promised but apparently all the people familiar with the pizza ordering process say you should never take what the pizza guy promises seriously—no matter what he says he can’t get anything past the pizza council, and, honestly, this is way more pizza than they expected from the council at all. And sure it’s a cheese pizza but many of us will get a coupon to buy a couple of mushrooms—though for some reason all of us need to actually eat the mushrooms to prevent the fire, I dunno, I can’t really get this one to work—but cheese pizza and coupons for the mushrooms is still better than no pizza or pizza with no mushroom coupon. That is eminently reasonable, sure.
Now the pizza’s almost here and the most important thing, for some reason, to a lot of people, is that no one questions the process that led to the pizza delivery, because—although we know of pizza restaurants in other cities that have many fewer impediments to delivering the pizzas their customers order and we can all think of different pizza delivery systems that would make sure everyone got enough pizza and mushrooms—our pizza delivery rules are, depending on who you listen to, either Good and Sacrosanct or simply Impossible to Alter.
With thanks to Max Read, whose newsletter you should subscribe to.