“When You’re Having More Than One”

May 21, 2012

Twenty percent of American drinkers consume 80 percent of the alcohol.
Washington Post

Perhaps the most cynical subterfuge in American advertising is the alcohol industry’s indifferent campaign to get us to “drink responsibly.” Intuitively, you know they’re lying but you need to do the math to see how important it is to brewers and distillers that at least some of us drink irresponsibly.

If there are 100 bottles of beer on the wall and 100 people in the room, the numbers tell us that 20 people will consume 4 bottles each (80 bottles) and 80 people will share the remaining 20 bottles, or 1/4 bottle each. This means that the average alcohol abuser (a member of the Group of Twenty) consumes sixteen times as much alcohol as a non-abuser.

Now, imagine yourself sitting in a pitch meeting at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Your job is to sell as much of your client’s product as possible. Who are the buyers? Well, you can try to recruit customers from among the non-abusers but that’s a hell of a lot of work for little return. If you’re smart, you go after the abusers, the alcoholics, because that’s where the money is.

How? By sending the alcoholic a subtle message that he’s earned the right to drink as much as he wants.

Consider the slogans (and the hidden message):

Head for the mountains. Go ahead, check out and get hammered. These people are assholes anyway.

For all you do, this Bud’s for you. Poor baby, you work your ass off at your job. You get home and your fucking wife starts in on you like you don’t already have enough troubles.

Where there’s life, there’s Bud. Iced tea and lemon bars? Jesus, this party sucks!

I’m only here for the beer. (This one is so cunningly complete as to defy elaboration).

It’s all about the beer. (ditto)

It’s what’s inside that truly counts.  The bitch just doesn’t understand me.

Would you say no to another? Does the Pope shit in the woods?

It doesn’t get any better than this! Does it?

Sooner or later you’ll get it. Someday all of you assholes will realize how right I am.

If I wanted water, I would have asked for water. Jesus Christ, what does a guy have to do to get a drink around here?

Smirnoff Ice. Intelligent Nightlife. I like to associate with a more erudite crowd. Godammit Bubba, you threw up on my shoes again!

Our Hand Has Never Lost Its Skill. And you should see what I can do with my other hand while I’m drinking this Schaefer.

Give him a right good Hemeling tonight. Hemeling, you bitch, not Heimlich!

Real men of genius. Just like those guys, I come up with my best ideas when I’m hammered.

The most interesting man in the world. We’re buddies. Grew up together. Taught him everything he knows.

It won’t slow you down.
Tastes great, less filling.
Everything you always wanted in a beer. And less.
Lose the carbs. Not the taste.
Beerspeak for “All the alcohol without the beer gut. Trust us.”


Ethanol Idiocy

May 19, 2012

“The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a hungry person for a year.”
Market Watch

When I read the above, I was incredulous. What? You can feed a man for a year on the grain it takes to make 20 gallons of ethanol? Turns out it’s true. Do the math…

It takes a bushel of corn, the grain usually employed to make ethanol, to make 2.7 gallons of ethanol. A bushel of corn weighs 56 pounds, hence it takes about 416 pounds of corn to make 20 gallons of ethanol. Corn contains about 1755 nutritional calories (kcal) per pound, so 416 pounds of corn contain 730,000 calories. Divide 730,000 calories by 365 days and we find that the corn used to make one tank of ethanol would provide a man with about 2000 calories per day.

Granted, a steady diet of corn alone would not provide not be nutritionally complete. But, add a ration of Funions and Twinkies, and life could be pretty good. Or, maybe our hypothetical man could just drink the ethanol.

So, why have we built over 200 ethanol plants in the United States? Round up the usual suspects: politics and money. Ethanol is allegedly “green” so makes our politicians look like the’re doing something about energy independence and saving the planet at the same time. Farmers and agribusiness like it because it props up corn prices and profits.

Can we sustain this? Never. With the world’s growing population, we’ll eventually need the corn to feed people. Trading corn for oil is a much smarter plan.

But what would happen to all the ethanol plants? They’ll just go back to the government and ask for more subsidies so they can chase the next chimerical green energy scheme.

Termites are pretty good at converting cellulose, the stuff of tree branches and grass clippings, into sugar. How about giant termite farms, stretching to the horizon? Of course, substantial subsidies will be needed to find out that, oh well, it doesn’t work all that well either.

And, there’s the water. We live in a country where low-volume toilets are mandatory, even in regions that get 40 inches of rain a year. But it takes 22,000 gallons of water to make the corn to make 20 gallons of ethanol. (It’s your turn to do the math). Well, more actually, because additional water is used in ethanol production.

Only a politician could be oblivious to the contradictions.


Obama Should Pay Her the $800

May 5, 2012

Everyone knows about last month’s scandal at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, when US Secret Service agents tried to stiff—er, cheat—a hooker.

The ensuing festouche dominated the headlines throughout the summit, diverting America’s attention from the top two items on the agenda: Cuba and drugs.

The rest of the Americas wanted to talk about recognizing Cuba (something the US should have done fifty years ago) and legalization of at least some drugs (also something the US should have done fifty years ago).

Three years ago the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy published a report from ex-Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia. They demanded decriminalization of marijuana and treating drug use as a public-health issue. Guatemalan President Gen. Perez Molina and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos agreed, as did other Latin American leaders.

And, Latin America was united in wanting Cuba to participate. Cuba graciously declined, knowing that the US would boycott the summit. Next time, odds are the Cubans will be invited and the Americans will be told to go piss up a rope. The result will be to further isolate the US from virtually every country in the Western Hemisphere save, perhaps, Canada.

Our Panderer in Chief caught a lucky break as there was almost no press coverage of his bobbing, weaving, and back-peddling on the issues of drugs and Cuba. He should divert some of his “campaign funds” to the unlucky Secret Service agents whose careers are ended.

And, he should give the ho a stack.


Please Remove Your Clothes

May 3, 2012

First, there was Richard Reid, the “Shoe Bomber,” who attempted to blow up an American Airlines Paris/Miami flight with C4 explosives hidden in his shoes. The ever-vigilant TSA (Transportation Security Administration) responded with a “please remove your shoes” requirement. At the time, the prevailing joke was “it’s a good thing he didn’t put the bomb in his underwear.”

Enter Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “Underwear Bomber,” who attempted exactly that on a Northwest Flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Vowing never to be caught again with their pants down, TSA responded with X-ray-based devices (“Trust us, thousands of times less energy than a cell phone transmission.”). These X-ray devices usually can detect items hidden under clothing, but they are not powerful enough to see inside a body.

But now come “body bombs,” explosives that are  inserted surgically inside the body and have no metal parts, thus avoiding detection by current screening devices. In 2009, Ibrahim al-Asiri is said to have surgically implanted a bomb inside the rectal cavity of his brother, who then attempted to assassinate the Saudi Arabian intelligence chief. The bomb exploded prematurely, killing only al-Asiri’s brother. (Or maybe the bomb didn’t explode prematurely. It was just a clever way of disposing of a shiftless relative).

TSA faces a dilemma. Even an all-too-tolerant American public is not going to put up with full-body medical-grade X-rays when they want to go visit Aunt Bernice. The only alternative is to have passengers strip so fun-loving TSA agents can look for sutures or fresh scars. Perhaps the TSA will put a nice spin on the strip-search booths by calling them “cabanas.”

Or, maybe finally the TSA will be forced to admit, “No, we really can’t protect you from a determined terrorist.”

And, “come to think of it, in the ten years we’ve been in business confiscating literally tons of nail files, knitting needles, and pocket knives we’ve never once, not once, actually foiled a terrorist attempt.”