From The Archives: October 2009

Wild Coincidence

Big KnifeOn politics, we may not see eye to eye, but I’m still a fan of the Governator!  What’s not to love?   Arnie knows how to handle a knife.  The Terminator kicks ass.  And, above all, his pickup lines can’t be beat!  My personal favorite is six words of pure captivation:

I want to penetrate your body.

Go low and slow, with the trademark Austro-Hungarian accent, pulling “body” into a pair of separate utterances – baw and dee – otherwise, it doesn’t translate!  Also, to maximize success, win four Mr. Universe titles beforehand.

Earlier this October, Schwarzenegger and a gala of local Democrats intersected, by chance, at a San Francisco hotel.  Always the prankster, the Governator crashed the party, where, inexplicably, former councilman Aaron Peskin invited him onstage.  In the ensuing hell that broke loose, California Assembly member Tom Ammiano delivered assorted pleasantries, including “you lie!” as Arnold took the podium, and “kiss my gay ass!” on his way out.

A few days later, seemingly punitively, Arnie vetoed Ammiano-sponsored State Assembly Bill 1176, an inoffensive piece of legislation concerning the finances of the Port Of San Francisco.  As sometimes happens, he issued a statement that explained why, a portion of which is reproduced below:

Veto Statement for AB 1176

Veto Statement for AB 1176

We’ve highlighted the letters on the left margin, that, when read from top to bottom, spell a not-so-nice phrase.  Holy moly!  Did the Governator really mean that?

A Schwarzenegger spokesman calls it a “weird coincidence.”  But statistical experts disagree and have determined the odds of those words appearing at random: approximately one in 10,000,000.  Tsk tsk, Arnold!

However, hold the phones, for the creative insulter has a variety of tools at his disposal.  “FU” is great, but merely one of many pairings of Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words with pronouns.  There’s the milder, classic options: Damn You, Bite Me, etc.  Go homophobic, and you’ve got Fag Hag and a slew of filthier slurs.  And there’s more — all together, by my rough estimates, two-hundred-or-so foul and/or demeaning phrases of seven letters or less, depending upon the context.

Given that, and the Governator’s prodigious press output, we calculate the chance of him issuing an inadvertent insult, vertically along the left margin, in some document, over the span of a year, at about one in 50.  Still improbable, yes, but not one in 10 million, either.

For truly shocking levels of unintentional rudeness, go global!  From the billions of paragraphs created each day, an accidental left-letter insult is born once a minute.  Generalizing a bit, and counting what’s spelled in the verticals and diagonals throughout the entire text, an unplanned vulgarity enters the world every second!

Viewed as a “word search,” the Internet becomes a vast, angry sea, foaming with unpremeditated abuse and profanity!  Can someone upgrade their content filters to “bleep” this kind of thing, ASAP?  Please?!?!

Quick, Ammiano, draft some legislation to that effect, and Arnold, sign it this time!  We’ve got to save the children!

Barrel O’ Links: October 2009

Three bubbling Erlenmeyer flasks of linky goodness:

  • Read in the Event Of Moon Disaster (Gawker)
  • Copyright Duration and the Mickey Mouse Curve (Agoraphilia)
  • One of whatever they’re on, please (LiveLeak)
  • Our innocent Bokeh meets Big Retail: the Bokode (MIT)
  • Beautiful, Nonsensical Infographics (Chad Hagen)
  • When You Gotta Go: the Have2P Restroom Locator (Have2P)
  • The New Buck Starts Here (Slate)
  • Comedy in modular building blocks: I LEGO N.Y. (NYTimes)
  • Of Helmets and Donorcycles (MSU)
  • New Light on the Plight of Winter Babies (WSJ)

The Hungry Midwest

America's Heartland And McDonald's

Say what you may about Midwesterners, but one thing is for certain: they love to eat!  With that in mind, I proudly unveil the first in a series of zooms of the McDistance Map – the Midwest United States as visualized by the distance to the nearest McDonald’s:

The Midwestern United States, visualized by distance to the nearest McDonald's. Click on the image for a larger version!

The Midwestern United States, visualized by distance to the nearest McDonald's. Click on the image for a larger version!

At this scale, the individual McFiefdoms become more apparent.  To the northwest, they cluster in tense armistice at Minneapolis, and counter-clockwise from there, at Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, the sundry cities of Ohio, and points east.  Running with the feudal metaphor, imagine the manager of each location, late at night, climbing to the red-tiled roof, donning his crown, and declaring “I am master of all I survey!”  Oh, wait…  That’s what they do at Burger King.  Nevermind!

In the heart of the Midwest, we’re hard-pressed to find a viable McVoid, with the conspicuous exception of the large, pickle-shaped gap at the center of our map: Lake Michigan.  Come summertime, fishermen, jetskiers, and party boaters frolic on its crystal waters by the thousands.  Everyone’s living large and playing hard until, seemingly without warning, things get ugly: they’re offshore and famished.  To the Eager Entrepreneur, would McDonald’s sell a franchise-on-a-barge?  With a Boat Thru, preferably?

Home to eight million hungry mouths, the Chicago Metropolitan Area hugs Lake Michigan’s southwestern shores.  There, in suburban Des Plaines, Ray Kroc, founder of the present-day McDonald’s corporation, opened his first location in April of 1955.  This wasn’t the debut Micky Dee’s, however, for Kroc licensed the concept from brothers “Dick” and “Mac” McDonald, who had already established a small but successful collection of their namesake restaurants.  For more information regarding that somewhat cantankerous saga, read this.

Number of McDonald’s in the entire state of Illinois, sixty years ago: zero.  Within the fifty-mile purview of the Sears Tower’s 103rd-floor Skydeck, today: 424!

On this side of the country, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wins the dubious distinction of Most McUnderendowed, by a landslide.  Understandably, mind you, for the bears keep tearing apart the restaurants, and the cultivated tastebuds of the discerning Yooper are not easily impressed.  Who needs Micky Dee’s when you got da pasties, eh?

Once again, thanks to AggData for providing the geolocated McDonald’s location information that made these maps possible.  To view the full, coast-to-coast McDistance Map, see my original post, entitled “Where The Buffalo Roamed.”

Storing Your Value

Old-School Wealth Management

Suppose that you snapped.  It might have been the blood-red 401k statement that arrived in yesterday’s mail.  Or that last year, you paid your broker $10,000 to lose $100,000.  Or, perhaps, that while everyone else, by government largesse, refinanced houses, replaced clunkers, and recouped bad investments, you received nothing!  Except for a letter from the tax man.

Some Benjamin Franklins.

Some Benjamin Franklins.

So you went online, made a few phone calls, and faxed your John Hancock here and there.  And, lickety split, there’s a pile of $100 bills in the middle of the living room floor.  You cashed out!  Now, what to do next?

You considered the drastic options: the Insane Vegas Weekend, purchasing a yacht, giving it all to charity, etc.  However, that’s not you — it’d be best to keep a few bucks around to handle the obligations and save the rest for a rainy day.

Which means that your slug of cash needs a safe, secure hiding place. You could squirrel it away in the house — beneath the floorboards, inside a wall, under a mattress, etc.  But them thieves done seen all the TV crime dramas, and they know the usual stashes.  Besides, if your humble abode burns to the ground, your nest egg will go up in smoke, too.  Major bummer!

For the ultimate in cash protection, we need look no further than the masters of liquid wealth, the venerable Pirates.  A quick consult with Parakeet Pete yields the following solution:

Bury your booty in a hole, matey!

Which sounds like a fine idea, but there’s one important, missing detail:  What to bury, exactly?  The $100 bills?  The equivalent in gold?  Or something else?  What is the best store of value?

To help you determine the answer, I’ve created a table that details some of the most likely materials, including the price per pound, the quantity that’s worth $1,000,000, what to bury it in, and the pros and cons of each:

Stuff That You Might Put In Your Hole

Material Value Per Pound Size Of $1,000,000 Bury In Pros Cons
Wheat $0.09 190,000
subterranean silo never hungry bulky, mildew, mice, locusts
Moonshine $0.13 160,000
7gal stills
corked clay jugs many lovely banjo solos blindness
Gasoline $0.49 320,000
underground tank Peak Oil, baby! fumes, third degree burns
Ammo $2.10 525,000
surplus ammo cans gun owners need you you need owners with matching gun
Vodka $7.80 1,800,000
Russian-proof bear boxes the Bloody Mary requires V8 and Worcestershire
Jerky $18 27 tons duct-taped lawn bags infinite lifespan everything stinks like jerky
Cigarettes $57 7 pallets basement of abandoned 7-11 captive market nicotine stains
Guns $60 2,500
water-tight firearm lockers reinforces Alpha Dog image ATF raids, terrorism indictment
Silver $270 3,700
rolling plastic totes Werewolves begone! not Gold
Caviar $2,400 1,100
Arctic tundra endear yourself to power elite must ice or eat within 3 hours
CPUs $6,000 4,000
sealed anti-static tray light weight, inert, brainy loses half of value every two years
Cocaine $9,000 50 kilos legs of faux llama keepsakes world-wide demand unstable customers, Scarface
Gold $16,500 275 bars,
100g each
treasure chest time-tested currency metal detectors, confiscation
$100 Bills $45,000 43″ stack mason jars backed by U.S. Government worthless beyond Thunderdome
Diamonds $175,000 black velvet
vault with lasers and trip wires profit, intrigue, girl’s best friend low utility, De Beers assassins
Plutonium $2,000,000 1.3 inch
argon-filled, lead-lined bunker ultra-compact CIA, critical mass, death by inhalation

Hope that helps!

ObDisclaimer: I am not a financial advisor, and this is not financial advice.  All prices approximately USD as of October 1, 2009.  Burying your life savings in a hole may incur risks, including, but not limited to, mold, worms, plunderers, and loss of map and/or principal.  Underground balance is not FDIC-insured.