What I learned today, September 20

McDonald’s currently commands 49.5 percent of the fast-food burger market in the U.S. Burger King and Wendy’s combined grab 26%. The burger wars of a generation ago have largely been won, Shake Shack notwithstanding.
This evolution, by the way, is not unlike what has happened in the cola market, where Coca-Cola possesses nearly twice the market share of Pepsi-Cola, 17% to 9.5%. Pepsi has actually dropped to third place, behind Diet Coke at 9.9%.
Addendum, October 5: the same thing is happening with beer, where #1 seller Bud Light outsells #2 Budweiser by better than a 2-to-1 margin, 19.1% to 8.7%.

Hidden envy

Loved this observation from Felix Salmon regarding New York’s new bike sharing program and the reaction from Sean Sweeny of Soho Alliance:

“DOT and Janette Sadik-Khan’s problem is they say,
‘Here’s what we’re doing, take it or leave it,'” said Sean Sweeney of
the Soho Alliance, a frequent DOT critic. “Instead, it should be,
‘Here’s 20 racks, where would you like them?'” He expressed concern
about whether the stations would be located on too-narrow sidewalks or
in valuable parking spaces or other inopportune locations.

Still, he said it would be nice if done right. “I walk a lot, I’ll
walk from 59th Street downtown,” Mr. Sweeney said. “Let’s say I don’t
want to walk or take the subway, then a bike sounds nice. But it’s still
a matter of giving over public space to a private company, so we have
to be careful.” He added that no stations should be place in Soho.

I love the way that Sweeney starts by implying that he would be happy
to place 20 racks around Soho, underscores that by saying that the
scheme “sounds nice” — and then, at the end, drops the bomb that he’s
already decided that the optimal number of racks in Soho is precisely
zero.

When I was a kid in New Jersey my brother once got a toy (long since forgotten) that enraged me to the point of public complaint. I made a sign and posted it for all the family to see. It read, more or less:

I HATE that [new toy]!
I HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT
I don’t EVER WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN!

P.S. You’d better let me use it!

Felix posits that Sweeney isn’t open to the idea. Quite the contrary: he’s actually jealous, to the point of distraction, and he can’t bring himself to admit it.

I wish I could remember what the toy was. I wonder if I wound up using it at all.

Ten years

A confession: I’ve spent the past week two weeks willfully avoiding most September 11 commemorations. I certainly know why, although I have had a hard time putting it into words. Am I not ready to recollect? Do I find it too sad, too ugly? Does it feel too obvious to me?
Perhaps all of the above, or something else, subconscious and intangible, that drives me away from the past. Different things evoke different responses. I blithely skipped past The Economist’s coverage of the anniversary, but I can’t even bring myself to crack open the New York magazine special, and I have been noticeably averting my gaze whenever I spy the billowing smoke on its cover. A decade on, I am not at all inured to the visuals of the event–if anything, I have a more visceral reaction now, in remembrance, than when it actually happened and we all couldn’t stop looking.
My wife pointed out, rightly, that we as a society need to remember, to reflect, to refresh our memories, to celebrate the heroes and respect the innocent and the fallen. I had friends who experienced a far more dramatic 9/11 than I did, and friends who lost their lives.
Perhaps that’s where I am: I haven’t reflected because I haven’t forgotten. I can tell, in vivid detail, the story of that day and the entire week around it: where I was, what I did, how I felt, what I smelled. It was my reality and remains my experience. To that end, America’s insistent media saturation leading up to Sunday’s commemorations are invaluable: no one is being allowed to forget, just as I, and many others, already cannot.
Tomorrow is a somber and important day for all of us, however explicit our reflections may be. My thoughts are with those whose memories are far more painful than mine.

On and after September 11, the Internet was both a lifeline and an outlet for me. My blog posts from 9/11 through the 23rd are available in a single-read archive, and I invite my readers to explore them. For historical accuracy, the girlfriend cited in the posts is now my wife; we have long since moved out of Union Square to the Upper West Side, where we will be spending a quiet 9/11/11 at home.
In 2001 I also published my friend Adam Oestreich’s first-hand account of the attacks, which remains a compelling read. At this time of year it is always the most popular page on this website. (Adam, it can be noted, now works in midtown.)