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Continued: Lileks: Making a difference, one question at a time

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 5, 2013 - 9:32 PM

She read one of those for every — single — candidate, and they all sounded the same.

Everyone’s a strong voice for education. One of them promised to “fight” for better education, suggesting he’d drop into a principal’s office now and then and pop him on the nose, just to get his attention.

Finally, the mask fell. More and more questions were about a particular candidate. I don’t know if my responses had pushed the survey in this direction, or the preceding 10 minutes were intended to bore me so completely with everyone in the field I would get loopy and start speaking what I really thought.

“[Candidate’s name] is a graduate of Minneapolis schools. Does this give you a favorable impression, not so favorable, or cause your guts to roil as though you had eaten six pounds of raw ground beef?”

I had the candidate’s Wikipedia page up and said, “Well, his high school is two blocks from my house, and they haven’t burned it down out of shame, so, favorable.”

Then some questions about allegations of past impropriety, and whether they made me feel favorable, not so favorable, concerned, indifferent or consumed by the weary, blank ennui of someone for whom life has lost all meaning.

I was tempted to say, “Oh, I was part of the investigative team. There was nothing there” — but that would invalidate everything that had gone before.

The poor woman would realize that the one person who’d agreed to talk, the one person who seemed to give thoughtful answers, the one person who didn’t interrupt with questions like “who’s not a Jewish Freemason? You got any of those?” was a survey-taker’s nightmare: Someone who knew so much about the subject his answers were absolutely useless.

I’d love to see what the data says when the survey’s complete.

I mentioned that my ethnicity was “Lunar,” so if the candidate starts talking about the positive contributions of Moon People to the city of Minneapolis, I’ll know I’ve made a difference.

 

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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