We’ve been writing about politics on this web page for eleven years now, but it wasn’t until Bush’s war fiasco of 2003 that we were spurred to make some connection to the material world. We became convinced by the combination of Bush’s wrong-headed push to war with the bizarre belief of a majority of Americans that Bush was in the right that getting messages out in the world beyond the Internet really, really, really, really matters.
And so we began offering bumper stickers for sale through a service called CafePress, which allows you to generate images, put them on bumper stickers, and get a small commission whenever a sticker is sold. Thanks to our arrangement with CafePress (try it yourself), we don’t have to pay website hosting fees or other expenses for our political activities out of our own pockets. It’s a nice way to make Irregular Times a more self-sufficient enterprise.
After a while, however, we became interested in spreading anti-war, liberal and progressive messages by means other than bumper stickers — people kept asking for buttons and magnets, for instance. We also didn’t like being at the mercy of the CafePress company, which has an occasional habit of site crashes, for our getting the message out there. So we began making, selling and shipping a limited set of buttons, magnets and bumper stickers ourselves.
Our own webshop kept pace for a while, but we’ve run into another barrier as we’ve grown. We coded that shop directly using html, which meant whenever we needed to change it, we had to go through every page and manually tinker. We also noticed that very quickly the number of buttons and magnets we were selling on a particular topic — say, the war issue — wouldn’t fit on a single page any more. But our li’l ol’ web pages couldn’t get bigger with us as the number of messages we offered changed.
And so we’ve delved into the world of PHP, using an “osCommerce” approach to build a whole new-fangled web shop. We’re calling it A Good Left Hook. As I write, we’re all pitching in to fill it up with sassy progressive messages to help stiffen the spines of and lift the spirits of liberal Americans.
I’m writing this message to ask for your help. We’re at the end of our beta version, and we believe we’ve knocked out all the kinks. But now we need your feedback. If you would visit our new shop and give us your feedback — both on the items we offer and on the structure of the store itself, we’d greatly appreciate it.
I look forward to hearing what you think of it. My ears are wide open. Propped with toothpicks.