"there is a small but vocal opposition, which uses websites such as i hate starbucks . . ."
i think i disagree with most of the points in this article, actually, altho' long-time readers know me no mermaid fan.
perhaps the only ones i might accede to are the allegations on the business practices -- certainly many coffee retailers i know have made these charges and worse. but of course i have no evidence and cannot comment with any claim to knowledge.
my main objection otherwise to the mermaid is not the article's supposed evil of marketing -- i have nothing against that per se; canny marketing is no sin -- but only as to the quality of the coffee. that is the core complaint of the "vocal opposition."
and by the way, we're not so small!
the need the mermaid fills -- that of the "third place" -- isn't caused by it, but is rather a consequence of global capitalism and how the modern economy changes our daily lives, even in ways that at first seem insignificant.
this third place idea isn't actually new, and it's actually good and useful. democracy cannot exist without the third place; democracy was born in the third place -- the greek agora, the roman forum, the british coffeehouse where merchants demanded social reform, a free press, and a liberal economy.
it's more a case of we are returning to the past, borrowing useful features from history and making them work for us today. the post-ww-ii models of home and work were an aberration that could not long last.
but since that is what we mostly recall as a culture, we experience any break from that as trauma, even if it really frees us to live in a more human and connected way.
cue the e.m. forster. . .but seriously, there's no insidious corporate brainwashing happening here. . .
still, long-time readers know that i always encourage you to rediscover the joys of making coffee at home for your family and friends.
if you object to modern materialism and the global trends that make a "third place" seem necessary, the most revolutionary action would not be to whine about the mermaid, but to just make your own delicious, high-quality coffee at home!