Jilted kilt?

April 29th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Stories like these—and only stories like these—are why I still sift through daily local news headlines:

As liquor commissioner, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl is expected to decide next week whether to recommend granting a liquor license to the controversial Tilted Kilt sports bar, which wants to open downtown.

Hilarious quotations ensue.

“It would create jobs…”

Of course—the jobs. Good jobs. Lots o’ jobs. Jobs for all. Well, at least for the handful of…

“beautiful servers… [wearing] knee-high socks and short, sexy plaid kilts with matching plaid bra’s under white camp shirts tantalizingly tied to show off the midriff.”

Oh, no. Here come the mothers…

“We believe a Tilted Kilt would endanger Evanston’s girl children, miseducate our boys and girls, disrespect Evanston’s women and our Fountain Square war memorial,

Why, will they pee in it?

insult many of our men, diminish the safety and appeal of our downtown and undermine the laws against sex discrimination and sexual harassment”

Well, duh. It’s part of the business plan.

“A place like Tilted Kilt trains men to associate school girls with sexual arousal,” said Kathleen Flaherty…

Explain yourself, Kathleen Flaherty.

As Flaherty and fellow petition organizer Cynthia Farenga pointed out, Tilted Kilt’s red plaid skirts are dangerously similar to Catholic school uniforms worn by young girls in Evanston and across the North Shore.

Seeing ice cream always makes me want to eat spackle. It’s dangerous how similar the containers are.

“…it further breaks down the taboos against incest and pedophilia.”

Someone brought the wrong script. Or forgot to look up “incest.” One of the two.

“The conversations I have with my two sons about why I find this offensive are the same conversations I would have with them if a strip club opened in downtown. Actually, I would have much more respect if they were trying to open a strip club because that is at least honest and authentic.”

Ah, of course, the authenticity. Sounds like you’re rationalizing, Dad.

“And let me make it clear, the entertainment is not the young ladies and women that are working there as wait staff. The entertainment is that it’s a sports bar.”

I only read it for the articles, etc.

“Our costumes are mildly provocative,” he said. “They’re sexy. We don’t hide from that.”

But, to reiterate: “the entertainment is not the young ladies and women that are working there as wait staff.”

“Nobody is coming to Tilted Kilt thinking they’re going home with these girls,” Hanby said.

I would; I do; I have. (I lie.)

“features a bikini-clad woman standing in front of a liquid-spewing rusty pipe”

No explanation necessary.

“drunken, titillated men”

Look out.

“hoodlums”

Hoodlums too?

Despite claims of an incident-free environment at Tilted Kilt, opponents of the pub found several reports of crimes committed in or outside Tilted Kilts in Illinois and elsewhere, including an incident in February of this year when a man allegedly stabbed several people outside the Elgin Tilted Kilt, according to various reports.

Find me a chain establishment that hasn’t had at least one stabbing in one of its locations, and I guarantee I will find a stabbing incident there which you overlooked.

“It strikes me as a restaurant that would do very well in certain kinds of places that are oriented toward leisure and a sports bar and a male customer base,” Fine said.

Larry Fine?? No—Gary, but he still knows how to bring the comedy:

“They may think downtown is a good place for a bar with waitresses who have endowments larger than the university”

…perked up higher than the tuition!

“And so there’s a certain irony that the bar’s tag line is about cold beer never looking so good, and being in blocks from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union headquarters.”

Perfect! Cuts down on travel costs.

“It’s an indication that the old, frumpy prohibitionist Evanston continues to evolve.”

In relative terms, I suppose.

Worst state fair ever

April 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s almost Earth Day!

Round up the family, Earthlings, and come to the National Mall this weekend to celebrate one of the all-time greatest planets with

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Marcus McNeill of the San Diego Chargers, Madeiu Williams of the Minnesota Vikings, and Olympic Track Star Michael Walton

…and while you’re there, be sure not to miss

the eyebrow raising database that shows how close your house is to a Superfund site!

Superfund? SuperFUN.

FEATURING: a special performance by “Earth’s Natural Force kid rappers”!

And be sure to compete with your friends in the “lung capacity challenge” which—whoa!—”plots a graph” of your score! (But please, kids—no wagering ;) .)

Plus: dozens of other games* and prizes, like Chinese finger traps made from recycled CAA violation notices (only 10,000 tickets) and a chance to win a romantic boat cruise down Love Canal!

Don’t be an Earth Day Scrooge! Come celebrate your favorite planet with the government agency that started it all! You won’t want to miss it!!!!!

*Tony Hayward dunk tank cancelled due to liability concerns

Stock answers: What is my political leaning?

April 7th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

This is a new regular feature, which—like the other regular features I’ve introduced in the past—will no doubt be a one-time thing that I forget and never return to. However, the intent is that I will periodically use a blog post to answer a question that often comes up in casual conversation but is too tedious or involved for my poor verbal skills to articulate on the fly. This way, if these questions come up in the future, I can tell my conversant to get out their iPhone and read the relevant post while I drink my beer in peace. Below is an undergraduate-level wishy-washy explanation of my political beliefs. If you have not just asked me about them, there is no reason you should continue reading.

Other than “How are you?” there is no question I’m loath to answer more than “What is your political leaning?” or any variant thereof. The question is, understandably, very important to some people; it does say a good deal about one’s world view in most circumstances. I don’t dread the question because I fear argument or exposing myself as an idiot; I simply don’t have a good answer.

I find answering difficult because—contrary to confidence I sometimes project—I generally don’t know what I believe. This is the quick answer.

In the past, I’ve been called almost everything—a liberal, an anarchist, a technocrat, confused—and I would say all are accurate. Balance and efficiency are the lenses through which I generally see the world and judge the merits of actions. Maximize efficiency; understand the balance—not that we always need to maintain balance, just understand the constraints it imposes.

This is a hazy path to a lazy recommendation: Pick objectives; do what works. Isn’t that what all political beliefs come down to? I think so, but then we plate the raw components in abstract but overly-specific principles, sometimes for good reasons, like empirical evidence that they have worked in observed applications, and sometimes for shoddy ones, like status plays.

If socialism works for the pressing objectives, I’ll be a socialist. If autocracy works better, let’s do that. Right now, it’s most convenient to say I’m a bleeding-heart libertarian. I have a natural proclivity for empathy—I don’t say that to brag; I often wish I were more callous—so I’m drawn to the objectives that guide most socialists. This past weekend, in fact, I was accused of being a closet socialist (what prompted this post in the first place), and that may be accurate.

My measured but fallible reading on our current state says that realizing these objectives via responsible government intervention is hopeless. People of all parties seem pretty unanimous that the government we have now mostly serves the powerful, and we seem caught in a feedback loop that will only perpetuate the arrangement.

Given our present technology, demographics, set of problems, etc., my skewed and unsubstantiated mental calculus says that if we focus our time and resources on collective actions that circumvent the constraints of government—even if that includes the occasional criminal action— it will get us where we want to be more quickly.

Thus, right now I consider participation in elections and support of lobbies to be wasted efforts. I could easily be wrong, but I wish concerned people would spend that money effort considering and experimenting with alternatives.

Simply put, right now, I believe what would work would be more libertarianism. I don’t think this necessarily makes me a libertarian. Given the right scale and set of objectives, all forms of governance seem capable of working. If some future scenario requires an autocratic, militaristic leader making snap decisions to guide us through crisis, I think I could accept this and would like to be that ruler.

Is this one long weaselly cop out? Absolutely, but it’s the best and most honest answer I can give. For now. Under present circumstances. Come to think of it, maybe this isn’t such a stock answer after all.

Word of the Day

April 5th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

“risible”

I don’t recall when I might have encountered it last, but I saw the word used twice today. I had to look it up to be sure what it meant. If you are very articulate, you probably find this risible (def. 1). If you are also very risible (def. 2), you’re probably be laughing at me right now, you condescending prick.

Fun with axis labels

January 31st, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Thanks to the well-designed bar graph below, I know that my LinkedIn profile was viewed between 0.9 and 1.2 times within three separate time intervals of unknown length during the last 78ish-plus days.

Invaluable information, for sure.

Quote outta context: Noble rebellion

January 28th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

“Why can’t we do something to show disapproval for what’s happened over the past 44 years — especially in my lifetime, 25 years of robbing us and lies?”

Yes! You tell that establishment!

“[T]hey wanted me to sign a peace bond and other stuff. I refused…”

DAMN STRAIGHT. You don’t roll over for anyone, hear?

“My parents are proud people, Scottish people. And they just always told me, no matter what I do, I should always stick up for myself and back what you’re doing and don’t stand down.”

Ay! They would be prou-uud!

“To ban me for a lifetime. . . for all the money and effort and tears I’ve put into them…”

What could possibly justify such a punishment? Well maybe…

A frustrated Toronto Maple Leafs fan won’t be doing time or have to pay a fine for throwing waffles on the ice at a game. [...] Joe Robb, a stonemason from Oakville, Ontario, was charged with mischief to property after making his soft, thawed breakfast-food protest at a 6-3 loss Dec. 20 at Air Canada Centre against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Breakfast—er, justice served?

The charges were dropped Thursday in return for five hours of community service.

Still seems harsh.

Robb was not the first to toss waffles onto the ice.

Wow.

Reaganoptics

January 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

So is Reagan to blame for turning the office of President into Chief Fundraiser, or was that Kennedy? Teddy Roosevelt? Maybe it goes way back to Old Hickory. Anyway, this mental_floss photo archive of Rappin’ Ronnie is a historical treasure if ever I’ve seen one.

Though it’s hard to compete with the utter strangeness of a Travolta-Princess Di tango, I think my favorite is of the ’87 Miami Hurricanes, who evidently brought every white player on the roster to the photo op along with the five black ones who decided the AD’s bribe was worth the flak they’d get later on from the homeboys for posing with rich whitey. If you’ve ever seen the 30 for 30 documentary The U, I assume you also have the image of Ronald Reagan capping off a pick-six by flashing a “suck it” gesture toward the ‘Noles student section running through your head.

Man, being president is great.

Are nutrient deficiencies common among chefs?

January 19th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

I don’t pretend to have culinary skill, and to the best of my knowledge, I get all the iron, riboflavin, niacin, and magnesium my body needs. (Which is to say I have no idea that I do.) But my mid-morning meal of tofu with almond butter, honey, and arugula—the latest in a string of ghastly food combinations I’ve chosen for my subsistence—got me thinking about food cravings.

Second to pregnancy, nutrient deficiency seems to be the most common reason attributed to bizarre cravings, with eating disorder being another popular explanation. And most chefs make their living and reputation by creating dishes that combine foods in ways that most of us would never fathom or that we find repulsive—until we’ve tried them, at least.

I believe that the correlation—or cause-effect relationship, though I don’t know which direction—between culinary skill and eating disorders is well-established, but I wonder how often, if at all, chefs draw accidental inspiration from nutrient deficiencies. The overlap seems logical, whether it’s real or not.

Related to that: Do women often find that they are better chefs and / or have a more adventurous palate post-pregnancy? I don’t think my readers include many pregnant women, or for that matter, women, or for that matter, readers, so I’m just asking rhetorically.

Anyway, these are the kinds of questions I usually ask myself, then spend a half-hour “researching” with a series of self-answering Google searches before realizing the explanation is boring or well-established or dubious or inconclusive or otherwise not worth blogging about. But I have a colleague awaiting a return phone call and a sewer model that needs building, so I don’t have time for that today. (But time enough to speculate, strangely.)

Rebranding the -illions

December 9th, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Insofar as “viral” can describe results of public opinion polls on foreign aid, thus went this quirky bit earlier in the week:

The 848 Americans polled guessed, on average, that the US spends 25 percent of the budget on foreign aid, but opined that the figure should be about 10 percent. The actual number, as you Aid Watch readers probably know, is less than 1 percent.

Oh, those wacky ignorant masses and the silly things they believe! People need to read more, and that’s obvious.

Kidding. That’s not my point at all. In fact, I find the gross misestimation encouraging on a number of levels.  What interests me is this:

I suspect these polls just suggest that most people have a hard time comprehending very large numbers.

I think that statement is true overall, but for the example in question, I think the bigger factor is that most people—rightfully and reasonably so—just don’t care very much.

I think the big number confusion is more apparent when talking about smaller-but-still-large sums of money in gross terms, e.g. “[country] allocated an additional $[x] billion toward [entitlement program] for FY 2011″; or “[state] approved $[x] million for the construction of [public works project honoring dead politician].”

In these cases, there is no proportionate basis of comparison, e.g. the previous expenditure for the entitlement program or the state’s total budget. All that the public hears is a sum of money well beyond comprehension. No matter what, it sounds huge, and the number of trailing zeros loses nearly all meaning.

Most people would have a hard time guessing whether Illinois’s state budget is closer to $60 million or $60 billion. How old is the earth? 5 million years? 5 billion years? Older than me? Correct! Who knows? Who cares?

For a long time I’ve wondered how much our comprehension of large numbers would improve if we just changed the words “million,” “billion,” and “trillion” to be more distinctive from one another and also more visual. The “mill”, “bill”, and “trill” are too familiar and too often used as abbreviations to do away with. But why not replace the “-ion” part with objects that would roughly convey scale? Say, “millpill”, “billbox”, and “trillhouse.”

Way better, right?

No? Why not?

Getting “hella” recognized as a number was a nice first step toward a more illustrative numerical nomenclature. I’d like to take it a step further.

I trust I can count on your support.

I feel loved

December 8th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

This showed up in my email today:

Take note, future entrepreneurs: Fake-personalized automated corporate mailings really make the season bright.