Friday, June 03, 2005

Performance Art Saga

A retrospective, on the three Performance Art posts:

1. Grocery

2. Starbucks

3. Hinky Lube

Now, one of my loyal readers had this observation:

do you get off on getting people fired?

are you an elitist pig or something?

you work like four hours a day teaching one class...

how hard can that be?

Yes, if they suck.
Obviously, if by elitist you mean "believes in merit-based discrimination."
It's summer; I don't teach at all. I write things. Just finished a couple of papers, and am now working on revising one of my books with Mel Hinich.
Not very hard; thanks for asking.

More seriously: Professors, for the most part, are not primarily teachers. We are writers and researchers. I voluntarily teach a double overload most semesters. Because I like to teach. But the "work" that we do is by and large our research work. I love that. It is fun, and interesting, and I learn things. And, of course, it leaves lots of time where I can haul my big elitist butt out into the public and get idiots fired from jobs they can't do.

He must be one hell of a good cameraman

Consider the following excerpt, from Lenslinger's "Top Ten Things I learned covering Hurricane Isabel"

3) The Bigger the Market, the Cheesier the Anchor.
Like I said, we did satellite live shots for stations across the country, from L.A. to Tampa to Philly to Vegas and all points in between. Without fail, the bigger the city, the more over-affected and cartoon-like the anchor's voice on the other line. I heard enough booming voices and over-enunciation to last a lifetime - or at least until I do another self-serving piece on the local Top 40 radio station. Or a profile on the visiting tent evangelist. Like Sting says, they all sound like game show hosts to me.


Now...cameramen are by nature misanthropic, and with cause, since the slice of humanity on whom they focus their cameras are by and large (1) brain dead, (2) horribly guilty, (3) completely self-centered, or (4) all of the above (meaning news anchors).

But Lenslinger is taking this to a new level. Some news anchors can read things that are NOT in big letters and scrolling down a glass teleprompter, and if someone reads his blog...well, Lenslinger must be a really good cameraman.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Clove Hitch

Yobbo channels Hitchens.

As Patton said, "God help me, I do love it so!"

Hinky Lube Performance Art

Sometimes, cashiers do it to themselves.

I go to the Happy Lube, or whatever they call themselves. Quick lube and oil change, you pay big $$, but it's quick.

As I arrived, an employee came out to my car, eating spaghetti from a dirty bowl. He said, “What do you need?”

I told him I wanted an oil change. He curtly nodded, and pointed at Bay #2. No other words. This was rather odd, as this was NOT the way I usually get treated at Horny Lube. Formulaic courtesy is what I expect. Stepford employees. This guy was kind of cool. Like a Mickey Rooney character/mechanic in a World War II comedy about a motor pool. Cocky, crusty, but with a heart of gold. Or not, as it turned out.

Oil change is done; I go up to pay. The same Mickey Rooney guy starts to ring up the charges. I hand him my $10 coupon. He says, “just put it down there; I’ll get to it.” I did.

But he didn’t. Get to it, that is. He rang up the charge without the coupon. I didn’t notice, and gave him my credit card. After I signed, I noticed that there was no credit for the coupon.

When I pointed this out, he said, “Well, there’s really nothing I can do about it now. I already rang up the order. You should have said something.”

So, I turned and made a brief speech to the other customers: "What you have just seen would be a tragedy, in any other country. But in the U.S., it is okay. There many Puffy Lubes, and from now on we should all go to another one. Because this one is inhabited by thieves, and what you have witnessed here is theft." All the other customers tried to pretend they were watching Oprah. Which was hard, because the TV was tuned to local news.

Mickey became angry about my theft remark. He started saying in a loud voice that anyone could make mistakes, that I wasn’t perfect either…and so on. This was in front of other customers. By this time they weren't pretending to watch anything, except the worst employee in the history of the world. He was shouting at my back as I went out the door.

I wrote a letter to the manager, and sent it. He called two days later, laughing. "This is the best letter I've ever seen. What a story! Did he actually say, 'What do you need?'" Turns out he had fired Mickey as soon as he got the letter, since this was third or fourth major complaint he had gotten in THAT ONE DAY. This, mind you, had been his (the manager's) first day at the new job: Day one--Fire Mickey. One of the causes for firing was "Eating on the job." Who would eat while changing oil?

And, when the manager stopped laughing, he offered me a free oil change in compensation. I love Hippy Lube. And God bless America.

Kgrease, bringing equilibrium to employment markets everywhere.

Edwards: Plotting the Presidency

John Edwards couldn't be running harder if he were being chased by a pack of Plott hounds (that's the NC state dog, by the way!).

After the election, I said that he would go back to law practice, or not. If he did, that meant his political aspirations were ended.

But he has a think tank, and a political organization and is giving talks all over the place.

This is costing him $10million a year, at least, in lost legal fees. So, he is serious.

So, he is definitely running. In fact, I am a little surprised he is running so openly. There is nothing coy or shy about this. He is going for it full bore, all the time.

The talks, the picket lines, the appearances at conferences....these are all the work of someone trying to build a resume. His particular weakness is foreign policy, of course. He is trying to build a record of knowledge about foreign policy (see the task force with Kemp), but it is going to be hard.

He has no relevant experience, and his time in the Senate gave absolutely no indication of either knowledge of or aptitude for foreign policy questions. Right now, Edwards is a one trick pony: Two Americas, Two Americas, etc. That's why he has the "One America Committee," to emphasize the two Americas theme. IF there were a Dem administration in the White House, he could get appointed to some kind of committee, or task force. But Bush is not going to help, so all Edwards can do is this aggressive "offensive of caring", where he makes appearances and expresses the fact that he really cares about foreign policy. (I'm joking. Some more jokes on Edwards)

Hillary has no more foreign policy experience than Edwards does, but she lived in the White House. She visited foreign dignitaries, presidents. She has flown on Air Force One. And, unlike Edwards, Hillary did things in the Senate the right way: she acted like a senator. She served on committees, did reports, and kept a low profile building experience and respect. Edwards acted like his hair was on fire, and never participated in the Senate as a Senator in any important way.

Hillary cannot win the general election; her negatives are too high (more than 50%, in some polls). But she might defeat Edwards in enough key primaries (New York, Massachusetts, California) to deny him the nomination.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Constructing a Binary Beer Relation

If preferences are transitive (and how could they NOT be?), then the result of all pairwise comparisons of a set of alternatives should return a (possibly weak) preference order over those alternatives.

So....I bought the following four low carb beers:

1. Amstel Light
2. Aspen Edge
3. Michelob Ultra
4. Rolling Rock Green Light

First, the tale of the tape:
1. Amstel Light 5 g carbs, 95 calories, 3.5% alch
2. Aspen Edge 2.6 g carbs, 94 calories, 4.13% alch
3. Michelob Ultra 2.6 g carbs, 95 calories, 4.2% alch
4. Rolling Rock Green Light 2.6, 91.4 calories, 4% alch

Then, the results, from worst to first....

4. Green Light--Nearly undrinkable. This is awful. Reminds me of the joke: guy sent his beer to a chemist to be analyzed. Letter comes back from the chemist: "I'm sorry; your horse has a serious kidney infection."

3. Michelob Ultra--Okay. Qualitatively different from the Rock. If you want to drink a low carb beer, this works.

Tied 1-2. Aspen Edge--Better than okay. In fact, surprisingly good. Nice color, reminded me of beer.

Tied 1-2. Amstel Light--Again, tasted just fine. Amstel is what I often drink if I am having more than one. So I threw it in as a ringer. It is not really a low carb beer, of course. Further, the taste test was blind, and was conducted over a period of a week (there are six pairs in the "four choose two" combinations problem)

So, if you care about carbs....I would recommend Aspen Light. It has about half the carbs of Amstel, and nearly 20% more alchohol. Amstel and Aspen Light are NOT indistinguishable; they taste fairly different, in fact. I just could not say that I liked one better than the other.

I was surprised at the outcome. I thought I liked Mich Ultra. But the blind thing doesn't lie.

Finally: it is surprising how good a real beer tastes if you have been drinking this low carb stuff. So, conduct your own taste test on the low carb beers, and then have a pitcher of Anchor Steam and a deep dish pizza to celebrate your scientific contribution.

Bar None

Excellent time spent; this guy is on top of things.

His reason? "Why not?"

Nod to TtstbxC.

Tensions Fall as Chicken Incident Ends; Feathers Still Ruffled

The eagle-eyed JAR sends the link to the denouement of the chicken incident.

A chicken that got a ticket for crossing the road has clawed his way out of it. The $54 citation for impeding traffic was dismissed Friday after Linc and Helena Moore's attorney argued that the fowl was domesticated and could not be charged as livestock.

State law restricts livestock on highways, but not domestic animals.

In other words, the defense was that this was a pet chicken. It just gets better.


Food Porn

Danny D says pretty much all that needs to be said, and links what needs to be linked, on the "food porn" controversy.

As for me, not a big deal. I have given up sex for marriage. But the shots of the hamburger...those got me pretty hot. I hope she didn't get soap on the burger.

More On "Yoah papizz, pliss"

Libertarian extremist and firearm-totin' nutjob (those are compliments, by the way) NP sent me this link. (Following up this, which link he also sent to me, but which I didn't credit him for, because he owns a semi-automatic assault rifle, and a vintage Enfield, and I didn't want to out him without permission. An Enfield bullet will go right through even me; scroll down about halfway and you'll see life-size shells. Oi.).

Anyway, here's a quote from the article about world IDs:

Mr Chertoff said yesterday that it was vital to seek compatibility, holding up the example of the "video war" of 25 years ago, when VHS and Betamax were in fierce competition to win the status of industry standard for video recording systems.

"I certainly hope we have the same chip... It would be very bad if we all invested huge amounts of money in biometric systems and they didn't work with each other.Hopefully, we are not going to do VHS and Betamax with our chips. I was one of the ones who bought Betamax, and that's now in the garbage," he said.

Mr Chertoff also proposed that British citizens wishing to visit the US should consider entering a "Trusted Traveller" scheme. Under this, they would forward their details to the US embassy to be vetted. If successful, they would receive a document allowing "fast- tracking" through the US immigration system.


This reminds me of the old Public Choice criticism of "good government" types (we call them "goo-goos", when we have on our Adam Smith ties and are passing around the scotch). Given the concentration of coercive power in government, and its susceptibility to corrupt interest groups, the inefficiency and incompetence of government agencies is our last ditch defense. The LAST THING we want is an efficient government.

I have to give the nod to NP for something else, also. He suggested an old album ("Freedom is a State of Mind") by those really pissed off Indians, Corporate Avenger. I am going to use two of the tracks ("Fault the Police [I don't]" and "Christians Murdered Indians") this fall. (Lyrics of "Christians...": WARNING--EXPLICIT AND DISGUSTING).

That ought to shake things up a little. I'm not saying I agree with CA's views, but that is pretty powerful stuff. And, factually, they aren't entirely wrong by any means.