Macs, Harleys, and the people who love them.

Posted 2/27/96

Is brand loyalty the only one we have?

Uncle John's Answer:

I'm a computer user. I'm also a motorcycle rider. My computer was built in the United States (by me) from parts manufactured in just about every country in the world. It runs Microsoft Windows 95. My motorcycle was built in Japan from parts manufactured in just about every country in the world. It runs its ass off. OK, you ask, Where the hell is he going with this drivel? Hang on to your mousey, Billy, 'cause we're about to cross some boundaries in search of answers.

Since you are reading this, I know you have some familiarity with computers, but I don't know how many knee-draggers (not to be confused with knuckle-draggers, we all know most congresspersons don't surf the web), we have in the audience. So I'll let all you cage pilots in on a little M/C culture. It is customary, when passing a fellow motorcyclist, to wave as an acknowledgement to one of our ownacknowledgement to one of our own, a brother or sister who knows the feeling of wind pressure on their chest and a powerful vibrating engine between their legs. Most of us with later model machines have headlights which are on all the time, (there is no separate switch), so that even in the daytime, you can spot a bike coming, though you can't always tell the make or configuration because the light is bright, and the frontal view of most bikes looks the same as any other. As you approach at a combined speed of 130 MPH, there ain't much time to study the bike to determine make. So you just wave. It doesn't matter what the ride, you salute the rider, right? But there is a large proportion of riders who choose Harly Davidson machines who make the effort to ensure you are riding a Harley before you get the wave. Needless to say, my friendly hand gesture goes unanswered in these cases, thanks to my "rice burner." This is not sour grapes. It is well known and even more well demonstrated that many Harley riders think poorly of Japanese bikes and the people who ride them. And to be fair, there are quite a few owners of Oriental machines who display the complementary sentiment. Many times it is expressed in the "if it ain't made in 'merica, I won't ride it" kind of statements. I won't go into the fact that many of the parts from which the Harley is built are made in other countries, and even, yes, Japan. We're talking about choiceing about choice here. The machine you choose to ride is based on you personal spec sheet which includes your personal budget. I ride a Honda HawkGT because it is quick, light, highly agile, all around fun, and didn't bust my budget. Not because I wish Japan had won the war.

Back to computing. The war being waged between Apple and Microsoft is not new, and the OS/2 and Unix people stand on the sidelines and throw grenades into the middle. Tell some people you have a PC running Windows 95, and they laugh, saying it is just a Macintosh 15 years too late. Tell others the same thing and you'll get a look of derision, because everyone knows God created the universe with a Unix shell script. A third opinion is that any OS not endorsed by the makers of the current chess challenger of the world is worthless, never mind how many apps have been ported to it. Truth is, I don't use Macs because I want to play in the guts of my machine sometimes, and I don't use Unix because I don't want to play in the guts of my machine all of the time. And I don't use OS/2 because there is a tremendous lack of software ported to it. Maybe I'm average? (at least in that respect)

I've said it before, but here goes again: Japanese motorcycles and Windows PCs have the greatest market share in their respective areas for some reason. They must be satisfying some set of parameters for those who use them. (Unless we will all admit that mar all admit that marketing hype drives our purchasing decisions) So what's the bitch? Why are they frowned upon? Beats me.

Just as with motorcycles, I respect everyone who chooses to use any computer as one of the club, a fellow traveler on a more or less parallel path through life. And like with motorcycles, the great unenlightened masses who don't share our hobby/passion/lifestyle are out there providing us with enough common enemies to keep us on our toes so that we don't need to split the ranks to generate adversaries. Aside from a healthy, good-natured jibe now and then, splitting the ranks is not helping us at all. The recent and ongoing battle over the incredibly stupid and scary Communications Decency Act has been a pleasant breath of fresh air, with users of all platforms banding together to fight Big Brother in a united front. Just as when motorcyclists join forces to kill some crazy discriminatory law that punishes only us.

So before we slam the other guy for his choice of machinery, we need to consider that we have something in common with him, and we need to not be afraid to stand beside him to fight the common enemy.

Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 by John M. Meye7, 1998 by John M. Meyer. All rights reserved. The Alien Mind is not associated with any earthly company or its products.

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