Tuesday, July 30, 2002
The Today Show did an interesting bit this morning on why New Jersey gets no respect. They covered all the stereotypes about endless stripmalls, polluting smokestacks and industry that stinks up the place, the you-from-Jersey-what-exit jokes, how it costs six bucks to cross the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan but crossing it into New Jersey is free, the big hair -- that kind of thing. It was amusing, but I'm guessing that if you've never lived in or around New Jersey, it wasn't all that great. And while I haven't traveled very extensively, I'm also guessing that New Jersey is a lot like the sprawling outer areas of any major city.
They also had Bruce Springsteen on, hence the whole New Jersey segment. I never got that whole Bruce Springsteen fanatic thing. I know that a lot of people -- especially among the well-educated set -- think he's a god, and that his word is gospel, etc. etc., but I just never got into it. I don't even like his music all that much. To me, he's just a guy with a guitar who's way past his prime and makes squinchy faces when he sings.
Saturday, July 27, 2002
The plaintiff's lawyers are comparing it to the recent tobacco settlements: cigarettes are bad for you, they're saying, and we've received millions of dollars in settlements from the big tobacco companies. Fast food is bad for you, so why shouldn't we be able to get money out of the fast food companies? Okay, sure, but they're leaving out one essential point: tobacco manufacturers have admitted that nicotine is addictive, and that they're putting this addictive substance in their products to get people hooked so they'll keep buying more. But as far as anyone's been able to prove, McDonalds isn't putting any addictive substance in their food. It's just greasy and full of fat, and as any chef worth his or her salt will tell you, fat equals flavor. This is why cheesecake ice cream and Cinnabons and fried mozzerella sticks are so yummy and why steamed kolrabi is not. We're predisposed to like fat. These fast food companies just make it easily available. The consumer makes the choice as to whether or not they want to eat it. If they choose to eat it and later find that all their coronary arteries are clogged like an old drain pipe, that's their problem, not the responsibility of the fast food chains.
But fast food companies push this bad food like crazy, the plaintiff's lawyers are saying, and are offering bigger and bigger portions for not a lot of money. It almost doesn't pay not to buy it! True, but in a capitalist economy, marketing is fair game. If you need to compete to sell products, you need to do something to make people buy your Big Mac over their Whopper. If offering more french fries with your burger makes you sell more of them, then that's effective marketing -- you don't need a business degree to figure that out. You can't sue a company for effectively marketing its products. In fact, companies usually win awards for that and go on to run marketing seminars for smaller companies who have trouble selling enough of their products.
A third complaint I heard from the plaintiff side is that people felt that they were misled because fast food companies claimed their burgers were "all beef," and people thought this meant that it was good for them. I can't comment on the intelligence of these people who think beef is healthy, but what these lawyers know as well as you or I do is that beef is anything but healthy, and if you ate filet mignon each and every day for lunch for five years, you'd still have health problems.
I obviously don't think this suit will hold up. As much as I avoid McDonalds and Burger King (though I must admit, I like those seven layer veggie burritos from Taco Bell), and as much as I dislike fast food because it's so insanely bad for you, I have to side with the fast food companies on this one. If you eat supersize value meals every day for lunch and you honestly don't know that sooner or later your health will suffer for it, then the joke's on you. No one's putting crack in those burgers to make you crave them, no one's forcing McNuggets down your throat, and if you think you're being deceived by the "all beef" claims, you need to stop watching so many syndicated re-runs, start paying attention to what's happening around you, eat something that doesn't come wrapped in printed waxed paper, and take some responsibility for what you put in your body. My advice to the plaintiffs? Find another cause. You did it to yourselves.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Monday, July 22, 2002
And speaking of Mac, newOS, cheaper iPods, and a widescreen G4 iMac!
And speaking of sermons, you can plagiarize onehere.
Friday, July 19, 2002
(I checked out some of the clothes too. Even if they could fit me, it's not happening.)
Road trip! Why? Why not. Back Monday.Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Early impression of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: beautiful. It's really easy to pass off all the music journalists' gushing that Jeff Tweedy is the best songwriter today as good ol' entertainment hype, but the CD really is that good.
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Monday, July 15, 2002
Until today, I had never used Powerpoint. Honestly, I was kind of avoiding it. I've always thought of it as a computer program for people who don't know how to use computers but want to make people think they do. (Word is kind of like that too, but since I make a good deal of my living writing, don't like WordPerfect, and never really got into AppleWorks, I'm stuck with it.) But this morning my boss asked me to put together a slide presentation for her, so I told her yeah, sure, I know how to use Powerpoint, I'll do it. I sat down with the program, and in about ten minutes, I had it figured out. It's pretty simple -- almost annoyingly so. While I appreciate the ease of the program, and how it allows tech un-savvy people put together something that looks slick, I didn't like how it boxes you in and forces you to be uncreative. But the presentation got done, and, for better or worse, I am now in the "extensive knowledge in Powerpoint" demographic. Yay.
Sure, thePfizer buyout of Pharmacia is big news, given the recent market downslide and all, but here in Kalamazoo, it's huge. Pharmacia, formerly Pharmacia and Upjohn, formerly Upjohn, used to be based here in Kalamazoo. It's now based in New Jersey, but the company still employs thousands locally. So the headline on today's local paper took up the entire part above the fold. It was like a world war, the second coming, and the Lions winning the Super Bowl all in one. Big!
Another reason why I love college radio: During a news break on thelocal college station today, the student reporter was talking about the wanton spraying of pesticides. Only he pronounced the word wanton like won-ton, as in the Chinese dumpling. So it was really about the won-ton spraying of pesticides. Which would, in a bizarre way, make sense, since Chinese food does, in all fairness, attract its fair share of flies, and might benefit from a little pest control.
A good thing? Insider trading is just so untidy, and atsavemartha.com, you can support the maven of tidiness through her insider trading heat. Someone should start screwmartha.com, just for a goof.
Sunday, July 14, 2002
Saturday, July 13, 2002
I wasn't all that impressed. In fact, it was kind of sad. It was in Detroit, and not nearly as flashy as the Vegas casinos look in movies. Mostly, I saw older people at the slot machines, just pushing buttons (very few levers these days) and staring and losing money. No skill, no interaction: just a bunch of automatons. All the slot machines look different, but they're all the same: push a button, watch three nonmatching icons come up, lose money. I tried it, just for kicks. It took me about two minutes to lose five bucks on them. Not much fun at all. I even tried the video poker machines -- the ones that people in South Carolina get horrendously addicted to -- and that was even less fun than computer game poker, where the money's fake and there's no ding-ding-ding-ding all around you. The whole thing reminded me of that line inCasino where Robert Deniro's voice is on the audio track and the camera winds its way into the counting room and he says, "They more they play, the more they lose. In the end, we get it all." I hear the particular casino I was in makes about a million a day.
It was also amazing how hard it was to physically get out of the casino. Most of the throughways in the building led straight to the casino, but only one led out. We kept going back to where we saw escalators, but they were one-way only. Even when we asked the security guards how to leave, the directions they gave seemed deliberately sketchy. It took us 20 minutes to finally get back to the street outside. Don't think I'll be going back in.
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Tuesday, July 9, 2002
The ride was cool, but the river part was actually better than the lake part. The lake was all kinds of windy, and water kept splashing up, which wasn't so good for those of us with cameras. The river was easier, and I thought the buildings along the river were more interesting to look at than Navy Pier at a distance on the lake. But I was most taken with the whole locking system and the gushing water.
Monday, July 8, 2002
I guess I'm an adventurous eater. I'll pretty much try anything, and usually, the weirder, the better. I love festivals like this because I get to try all kinds of strange foods that I probably wouldn't ever have the chance to sample otherwise. So it kind of bothers me that one, the festival management allows food vendors to sell things like cheeseburgers and french fries, two, they let chain restaurants like McDonalds (McDonalds!) set up as a food vendor, and three, that festival attendees actually buy to taste things like cheeseburgers and french fries. To me, the whole point of these festivals is to taste new things. I know what french fries taste like. You know what french fries taste like. The prices at these things are kind of inflated, so why the hell would I want to spend three dollars to eat french fries I've had a million times before? Sure, I understand that some people might be weirded out by alligator on a stick, but at least try something slightly different.
Overall, though, it was impressive. To plan an event this size and have it run smoothly is difficult, and I really appreciated how well organized it all seemed. There were lots of trash bins around for all the little paper plates and napkins, sectioned were roped off so food vendors could wheel things in and out easily, and I think whoever came up with the idea of tickets at a food festival so vendors don't have to handle money is brilliant. It's a small detail, but it really speeds things up when you just can't wait for your sample of mustard fried catfish. I also thought it was a good idea that all food vendors had to offer at least one small "taste portion" menu item that was only a few tickets. That way, you could try lots of things and not have to commit to one large entree-sized portion that may or may not be good.
I'd highly recommend a trip to the Taste of Chicago next year. The only things missing were knives. I don't know if this was for security reasons or if they just never had them, but it's hard as hell to eat a chunk of poultry with just a plastic fork -- or even worse, a useless spork. So, bring your own. Better yet, bring a regular fork, too; plastic can get annoying. Moist towelettes are also a good idea to clean your hands. Oh, and money. Lots of money.
Sunday, July 7, 2002
Wednesday, July 3, 2002
Tuesday, July 2, 2002
Slept in, skipped out of work, and went to the beach. Yeah.
Well, sort of. Kids on the beach kind of piss me off, but not nearly as much as their ignorant parents. Kids don't understand that if you start throwing a few potato chips to one bird, pretty soon every obnoxious gull within several miles will be squawking for chips, and they won't leave for a long time, even if you're no longer throwing chips. Parents do, or at least should understand this, but they never tell their kids, "Hey Caitlin," or "Hey Tyler," or whatever kids are named these days, "don't start throwing your chips to the birds, or there'll be a whole flock of them around you and you'll piss off everyone else on the beach." Naw -- they just sit there and ignore everything while their kid annoys the crap out of everyone else sitting nearby. And then when all the chips are gone because they've all been thrown to the birds, and little Caitlin, or little Tyler, or little whatever, is still hungry, mom buys them a waffle cone at the concession shack near the parking lot.
Hey kids: don't feed the birds.
Monday, July 1, 2002
AOL Instant messenger: DasScoop