food


Stainless Steel Appliances: They’re great for restaurant kitchens that are getting bleached down once a week, but not a home used by a single family. They get fingerprints like crazy, you can’t use magnets on them, and since they’re the default choice for a kitchen remodel right now, are going to look super dated and thoughtless in years to come. Don’t fall for them!

Capitalism: Again, fine is the right capacity, but Capitalism is just a method of crowning an oligarchy of the greediest people.

Fake Sugar: Eww.

It’s the PBR logo, but instead of

PABST
Blue Ribbon
beer

it says

IRONY
Totally Stupid
crap

I’m willing to grant that there are some mixed messages.

I’ve had cable TV for a couple years now, but generally, you wouldn’t know it. If you were to track the signals on our television you’d see a lot of movies, a lot of stuff streamed from the computer, a lot of movies and, really, only one channel. Food Network. I could easily blame my wife for this, and wouldn’t necessarily be lying, but it would be dishonest not to admit that I do enjoy the hell out of Alton Brown and Chef Duff.

What I don’t enjoy is shitty advertising. There are a lot of terrible ads on Food Network, both sponsored spots, and house ads promoting the network itself. Then there’s the Competition shows on Sunday ad. I can’t claim the ad is the worst, but it is the one I hate the most. And it’s not the ADHD* quick cut edits, or the obnoxiously red color pallet, it’s the mother fucking song. Even that’s not true, because it isn’t the whole song, shitty as it is. It’s one part. AHEM:

Come on baby,
you can walk the walk
you got to move it on up
can you talk the talk?

Oh my shit, WALKING THE WALK IS THE HARD PART. Being able to talk the talk is stupid, and should not be the challenging question part of the song! How can you have a job like this and not know whether walking the walk or talking the talk is supposed to be the impressive part? Who the fuck are you people?

On the up side, sometimes Giada de Laurentiis wears low cut tops, and you can see her boobs, which are pretty awesome.

It should be noted that this picture is a link to a much bigger picture, and that despite her intense over-pronunciation of all Italian words, she pronounces jalapeño “hala pea no.”

*I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 17, and am allowed to make jokes about it, because I actually know what it feels like.

Part 1: Fuck You, Bud Light.

Here is a picture from Bud Light’s current advertising campaign.

What does this even mean?

What does this even mean?

As I said, Fuck You, Bud Light. Also, Fuck You, DDB Worldwide Communications. As the advertising agency responsible for this, I want you all to be ashamed of yourselves. Here is what you did:

You picked up a bottle of Bud Light.
You drank a little.
You made a face.
You sighed.
And you realized there was nothing worthwhile about this product that you could sell.

So what did you do? You decided to focus on the distinction of Bud Light’s “Drinkability” . There’s only one real problem there. All beers are equally drinkable. Really, drinkability applies to any fluid of reasonably low viscosity. You don’t even make claims as to the potability of Bud Light. I mean Jesus, BLEACH has roughly the same level of drinkability.

It’s just astounding. You take a drink, and you advertise that it is distinct from other drinks, and more desirable because of the ease with which you can drink it. Of course drinkabilty is literally the ONLY constant among all beverages. Bud Light: It’s not a solid!

Thank You Ellie Halevy and Also the People Who Work for You and Also The Ad Agency You Worked With

As a contrast, I would like to bring up the ad campaign for Tropicana’s Valencia Orange Juice. Tropicana is owned by Pepsico, who are having a whole assload of their own problems, marketing wise. (Really, a dumber version of your old circle trademark? That’s your plan to dominate the world of cola?) The Valencia Orange Juice though, those ads were great. They consisted of a sultry voiced lady explaining to you why this was going to be good orange juice, going into detail as to why you should pay more money for what was reasonably described as a superior product. This voice over accompanied slow motion photography of orange juice being poured, using lighting and music that bordered on erotic.

Essentially, the advertisement gave the viewer this message:
Isn’t orange juice good?
Don’t you want some?
It’s good.
Well this stuff is EXTRA good.
These are like, the best oranges we have.
And they’re all in this juice.
You should get some.

And assuming you agree with the initial proposition that orange juice is indeed good, you have no reason not to believe this might be really good orange juice, and you should probably get some.

Part Three

Now compare these ad campaigns. Bud Light is hoping that you are simple minded enough that when they say “The Difference is Drinkability” you will become confused, forget that this is a quality inherent to all beers and begin purchasing Bud Light. Contrast this to the Tropicana Valencia campaign which seems to hope that you believe better oranges will make better orange juice, and that maybe you have a little bit of an orange juice fetish*.

With this in mind, I would submit that a more accurate version of the “The Difference is Drinkability” campaign would be as follows.

Guess what DDB Communications? I am not.

Guess what DDB Communications? I am not.

*I call this being “juicy”.

I’ve covered general thoughts on Mexico in the past, so let me quickly mention some things I learned on this most recent trip.

  • Veracruz is an attractive, economically healthy Mexican city that is not funded by tourists from the U.S.A. and Europe. If you’re interested in visiting an actual Mexican city where the local culture is strong and people will expect you to speak Spanish, I’d recommend it a great deal. It also seemed nicely free of anti-gringo sentiment.
  • Mexicans are very comfortable calling me guero. I was a little put off at first, and then I remembered that most nations aren’t hung up about race in the same way we are in The States. Calling me light skinned guy wasn’t a judgment, it was just accurate.
  • They could have called me alto though. I mean, seriously guys, I’m like a good eight inches taller than any of you.
  • If you can get someone to make you chilaquiles con huevos divorcados, where you have salsa roja chilaquilles with one egg, and salsa verde with the other, do it. It’s super good.

And now my primary concern: Driving in Mexico.

First thing, out the game, is that I’d MUCH rather drive in Mexico than Ireland. The roads are better, the signs are better, and the maps are easier to follow. I realize this is about Mexico but let me quickly mention FUCK DRIVING IN IRELAND.

Now then. The driving was done to get to Oaxaca from Veracruz, then back again several days later. Tara drove down to Oaxaca, I drove back. On the way down we stuck to the toll roads, which are really well maintained, and not especially trafficked. On the way back, I screwed up and we took the free road. Use the toll roads. It’s worth it. The free road has topes, which, I believe, is spanish for Cocksucker Mountains. Topes are placed on the fucking HIGHWAY, every town you’re in. They’re basically just really horrible speed bumps, but they’re huge, and you basically have to drop down to first gear any time you see one. I hate them. The free road also had an insanely steep area where, no shit, on the steep curves they had signs and markers on the road directing you to suddenly switch into the oncoming lane, and they would do the same, in order to artificially widen the turns. It was the only part of driving in Mexico that was terrifying every time I did it.

Now passing, that was only terrifying the first few times.

To understand passing in Mexico, one must first appreciate the Mexican psyche, and its understanding of regulations. Signs are not rules, they’re suggestions. Something to be followed unless you have a decent reason to ignore it. So, too, are the lines in the road. So when you’re going around a blind corner and there are double solid yellow lines, it is not at all out of character for someone in the oncoming lane to decide THIS is the time to pass, and that the best way to do that is to drive straight at you. This is pretty stressful at first, but the roads are wide, and the shoulders are huge. Everyone just moves to the side, the passing car moves down the middle, and then traffic resumes as normal. The use of turn signals here is pretty elegant, because if you’re moving quickly, the car in front of you will often pull to the side, then turn on their left blinker, signaling that you should go around*.

My favorite part of it all is that there is clearly an effort to stymie this practice. There are signs constantly reminding people that it is prohibited to cross at the solid lines. That passing is prohibited here. DO NOT PASS. Drawings of one car passing another with the international NO sign over it. These are sprinkled throughout, and then posted AT LEAST twice each time the road goes to a solid yellow line. Perhaps most tragically of all is the sign reading “Respete las señales!” which translates to “Respect the signs!” This is of course fruitless because it is, itself, a sign.

*I would estimate that about 30% of all turn signal use in Mexico is for this purpose, with another 30% used for traditional announcements of an intention to turn. The other 40% is what I call Lifestyle Turn Signal use. A blinking right turn signal doesn’t imply any intention, it is simply Who That Driver Is.

At this time tomorrow, I will be on a plane. Later in the day, I will be in Mexico City, for the third time. For the third time, I will not leave the airport. Later still, I will get on a different plane, and fly to Veracruz.

Here are some things I am excited about:

Food

  • Mexican Coke
  • Mexican Nacho Flavor Doritos
  • Queso Oaxacueno
  • Chorizo
  • Good Vanilla
  • Street Food

Culture

  • Elaborately Painted Wooden Animals
  • Museums
  • Ruins
  • Chorizo
  • Mexican People

My Wife Has Been There for a Month

  • Talking
  • Hugs
  • Kisses
  • The Rest is Basically None of Your Business

If you are having an argument, and you decide it would be a good idea to really really infuriate the other person by making it clear that you don’t care and you’re not taking it seriously, just start playing peek-a-boo. There is nothing less respectful than covering your eyes while someone is talking, saying “where’d I go!” then looking at them again and saying “here I am!”

There’s a feeling, and to my knowledge it doesn’t have a name, that people seem to share. Sometimes, you’re told something, and you can just tell, without being able to fully explain why, that what’s being said is bullshit. I call this feeling cole*.

An example of something that gave me, and gives most people a sense of cole are those ads, usually at the beginning of a DVD you’ve already bought, telling you not to download movies. The argument (set to obnoxious jump cuts and pounding music) is that since you wouldn’t steal a purse, a TV or a DVD, you shouldn’t download movies because it is a form of theft, and therefore exactly the same thing. Except, as that feeling of cole in your gut tells you, no, it’s not.

But why isn’t it? What makes it different, and why does that influence so many people who would not steal a purse to feel that the theft of a film via downloading is not wrong? Here we get to our subject, the ethics of theft. Fortunately, the words we need to describe this already exist. First up is dispossession.

Dispossession is the denial of a person or persons’ access to or use of a thing, service or location. When you steal a purse, you have dispossessed the owner of that purse. They are no longer able to use that purse, or any of the objects inside of it. Stealing a DVD from a store dispossesses the owner or owners of the store of the DVD and the subsequent income from retail. They have now lost money since they purchased the DVD originally with the understanding that it would be sold.

For most of history nearly all theft has been dispossession in one way or another. It is only with the introduction of photographic, photostatic and digital copies that theft without dispossession has become common. In these cases the essential nature of theft is changed, and with it, our ethical understanding of the seriousness of the offense has been massively altered. Essentially, the primary reason theft offended people was that it deprived the rightful owner. In cases where that is no longer true, people now tend to see this dispossessionless theft as a victimless or nearly victimless crime. A lack of victim means the degree of offense is dramatically lessened.

It doesn’t vanish though, and that brings us to the other axis upon which ethical judgments of theft are considered: valuation. Where dispossession is an essentially binary consideration (either someone has been dispossessed or they have not), valuation introduces a great deal more granularity, and also serves to explain why the downloading of a film is, while certainly not on par with stealing a TV, still essentially unethical.

Valuation is a complex term, but for our purposes it means the assessing of value or worth, and the method of the assessment we are concerned with is implicative, meaning not a formal assessment, but an attempt to determine one’s assessment of value based on their actions.

Going back to our purse example, assuming a thief has snatched a purse, stolen the money or other valuable goods and then thrown the purse away, their valuation of the purse itself is roughly $0. It was worth taking for its contents, but beyond that is essentially trash, and since it might eventually serve as evidence of their crime, could even be said to take on a negative value.

Now we apply this to theft via download. Essentially, the person who downloads a movie without purchasing is saying “I value this at about a gig of hard drive space, and a little time tracking it down.” Unfortunately for the people planning to make money from sales, it’s very difficult to buy groceries with a gig or so of some other guy’s hard drive space.

Alternately, it is possible for a theft to increase the value of that which has been stolen. There is the classic example of stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family. Now we’ve taken a loaf of bread, value: $2, and turned it into food to keep your family alive, value: multiple human lives. In this case the ethics of theft, which we compute almost instantly and automatically, tell us that this has become an ethically sound act. We have increased the valuation of the stolen item so much that it is agreed to have been worthwhile. See also: E.T. Stealing a bunch of stuff to call for a ride home.

With that established, copy theft enters a grey area very quickly. What about a TV show that is off the air and not available by legitimate means? The value of the product, per the copyright holders is almost impossible to determine, which means the theft of the object can almost be construed as an increase in perceived value. Then there’s broadcast television, where if a viewer is not a Nielsen Family, the value of their viewership, whether watching the original broadcast or a downloaded copy is essentially 0, so is there actually a devaluation taking place during the latter?

Largely, this grey area exists because our ethical systems have not had time to catch up with the new scenarios of action offered to us by advancements in technology. Additionally, the questions of value (how much a thing is worth to each person, and who exactly is receiving what) continue to evolve in complexity**. It will be interesting to watch our culture adapt to answer these questions in the coming years.

*Named for James Cole, my sixth grade teacher and the person responsible for giving me this feeling more often than anyone I’ve ever met. Honestly, I’d like to thank him for instilling such a complete distrust of authority at such a young age.
**A popular bit of rationalization, one which I myself am not above using, is that while my actual valuation of a product is quite high, my willingness to support the structures that have been built to profit from that product is rather low. Do I want to support a musical artist whose work I enjoy? Absolutely. Do I want to do so when more than 97% of that support is siphoned off before reaching the artist? Not always. Should distribution channels receive recompense for the work and cost required for disseminating art? Yes. Should they be allowed to bloat up like the record and film industries have? Of course not. The line is then, wavering, and often poorly marked.

Apparently, some Jews don’t even celebrate Hanukkah at all. It’s really easy to ignore, like St. Jean Baptiste Day or something.

Man, who doesn’t celebrate St. Jean day? You get to talk in a snooty accent and insist that everything be written in French as well as English!

It’s true! In many ways, St. Jean Baptiste day is superior to Hanukkah.

Right. You give up the latkes and the candles, but instead there’s poutine and bonfires. St. Jean Baptiste day rocks!

 
 

The End

 
 
 
 
 

 

This June 24th, Celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day! The only holiday named after John the Baptist that is also a celebration of French Canada!
 

 
Cet vingt quatre du Jun, fairez une fête por le Jour St. Jean Baptiste! Le seulement jour férié appelles por St. Jean Baptiste c’est aussi une fête du Canada Français!

AWESOME.

I’m basically out of material on Hanukkah, but I will say this: Latkes are delicious. Thanks Jews!

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