we dual beer carriers

We all met on a mist covered field at dawn just after a full moon.  Each participant could pick the melee weapon of their choice.  A duck (Earl) officiated the process and had right of refusal for all rules as Earl saw fit.

Standing at one end of the field of honor was E. Scott Santi, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer for ITW.  At the other end was Nancy Baker, International Sales Manager for PakTech.

Santi chose the katana.  Baker chose the gas powered chainsaw.  Earl quacked loudly, and dropped the handkerchief to begin the bout.  Who emerged victorious from this most glorious of contests?  First, some history.

In the 1950’s one of ITW’s inventors came up with the idea of the classic plastic can holder that we all grew up with.  This used a minimal amount of plastic, performed its function well, and generally was left alone for decades.  However, nobody recycled anything back then.  So by the 1980’s and certainly the 1990’s this creation was popping up everywhere.  As the environmental movement gained steam, we’ll all remember hearing and seeing how many ducks were slain by this product.  But the product worked, and so the solution offered to humanity was not to ban the plastic holder, but to cut it up prior to throwing it away so wildlife couldn’t be snared within its death jaws.

However, in the early 1990’s (in PakTech’s case 1991) smart people saw this situation as a business opportunity.  Thus was born the solid molded form plastic can holder that you see far more often today.  This is what PakTech makes.  Its (usually black) plastic holders carry the canned beer from just about any craft beer company on the planet that doesn’t put their cans inside a paper box.  PakTech even goes through the trouble on their website to explain how their holders are not just better than the old ITW version, but also more environmentally friendly than the paper six pack box.

The examples I used in this most intense study (where I consulted three MIT engineers, a pair of preeminent environmental activists, a blue whale named Betty, and the Ethiopian immigrant who sells me most of my beer) I had an ITW can holder that held old style classic and tasty Yuengling.  This makes sense, Yuengling is older than anybody else, and isn’t looking to be flashy.  The PakTech version held a six from one of my local craft breweries who has every interest in their branding to appear more environmentally supportive than your average elder brewery.

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But wait, hold on here.  We at TAP love to question assumptions.  Just how lethal are ITW’s original plastic holders to the planet’s poor creatures?  National Geographic does a pretty good summary.

The original numbers of the dead was supposed to number six figures each year but nobody seems to know where that number came from, as in, it was made up.  Since 1994 the EPA mandated that the ITW style holder be biodegradable.  This means it’ll biodegrade in about 700 years.  It also means it’s worthless in terms of plastic recycling ability, and it still ends up with plastic particles in the ecosystem.  The article also lists some very wacky replacement solutions to the ITW design which sound stupid and make one admire the sound business acumen of PakTech who built a realistic and useable design.

But let’s go ahead and take the article at face value.  And then multiply it ten times.  Thus we estimate that in a given year the ITW design viciously strangles one million ducks per year.  Compare this to the over ten million ducks that are shot by hunters every year.  You do the math, and determine just where the threat to wildlife really is.  I’m not against hunting, but if you’re an environmental type, where is your time better spent, beer can holders or shotgun rounds?

Our belligerent conclusions:

– It’s pretty obvious that the ITW design uses way less plastic up front, we’ll say only 5% as a rough estimate.  [katana slash across the cheek by Mr Santi]

– But the ITW design can’t really be recycled and requires the user to cut it up prior to throwing it away.  [Ms Baker powers up chainsaw]

– The PakTech design uses way, way more plastic up front and requires confidence in the user (and their local jurisdiction) to recycle it properly, otherwise it’s just a huge piece of landfill that’ll take 7,770 years to biodegrade.  [katana pierce into the belly by Mr Santi]

– But the PakTech design is completely recyclable and does not require the user to cut it up, it can be just tossed into the bin alongside the cans that held your tasty, tasty beer.  [chainsaw rips through shoulder of Mr Santi]

– Earl quacks: “Who gives a fuck?”  [Mr Santi lowers katana; Ms Baker powers down chainsaw; both are panting, exhausted, and covered in blood]

There are positives and negatives to both these products.  Both perform their function well.  Both have attributes that are meant to aid the environment.  But the key fact is, in order to complete their purpose to the end stage, it’s the end user that must complete the process.  As in, you.  If you use ITW, and you don’t cut it up at the end, you have failed.  If you use PakTech and don’t recycle properly, you have failed.

This is just fine by me.  Because instead of shouting online or protesting or whatever, it just comes down to sound, simple actions by individual humans.  Each individual can make a difference just by doing their job.  Buy ITW, or PakTech, or a paper six pack box, whatever, just do your job at the end and the cycle works.

Just try to avoid buying beer in bottles though.  Why?  Ah, more on that later.

[Earl quacks loudly]  [Earl draws firearm, a Colt 1911; proceeds to rob two injured big shot corporate suits at gunpoint; flies away]  [Earl is spotted at The Hen Pub & Grille later getting blitzed with a swan, a goose, and a komodo dragon]

your car knows when you’ve been bad or good

As we’ve written previously on this degenerate blog, it’s in your interest to read most of what Geoffrey A. Fowler writes. Your smartphone has your DNA on file. Amazon knows what toothpaste you use. Google has a complete list of things you have nightmares about. Now your car is in on the game.

When I renewed my auto insurance policy Allstate tried to get shovey with me and do the driver monitoring program. Supposedly if you drive safely (I don’t) you get a discount on your insurance bill. The discount is probably like $5 a month. In exchange Allstate (and other auto insurance companies doing the same thing) probably go ahead and sell all your personal data for $15 a month. Naturally, I declined.

But all these auto insurance programs run via the app on your smartphone. In the future, it’s the car itself that will spy on you.

Fowler wanted to determine how much data and what kind of data a car was collecting. This (of course) was not an easy task:

But for the thousands you spend to buy a car, the data it produces doesn’t belong to you. My Chevy’s dashboard didn’t say what the car was recording. It wasn’t in the owner’s manual. There was no way to download it. To glimpse my car data, I had to hack my way in.

That’s right folks! The law is so loose and the Giant Octopus is so brazen that the only way Fowler could figure out what personal data was being pulled and sold was to hack the freaking car.

They also hacked another car computer they bought off the Internets:

For a broader view, Mason also extracted the data from a Chevrolet infotainment computer that I bought used on eBay for $375. It contained enough data to reconstruct the Upstate New York travels and relationships of a total stranger. We know he or she frequently called someone listed as “Sweetie,” whose photo we also have. We could see the exact Gulf station where they bought gas, the restaurant where they ate (called Taste China) and the unique identifiers for their Samsung Galaxy Note phones.

Maybe we should all just get it over with and let the Giant Octopus put the monitoring chip in our brains? It’d be quicker in the end.

The only other option is regression. Want a car that doesn’t spy on your without your knowledge? Buy a 1995 Ford. Want a fridge that doesn’t track what tasty food is contained therein? Buy one of those neato 1940’s fridges from the movies.

We’re doomed. We work for the Giant Octopus and most folks don’t even know it, or care.

Enjoy your day!

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a discovery process that is actually easier than attempting to read and understand a privacy policy

we briefly & shamelessly join the hater crowd: Ban Receipts! And Other Wise Ideas

There’s lots of problems in life: the train line broke down this morning, our planet’s attempts to harness fusion power have failed, we can’t use genetic engineering to make elves and dwarves real (and then pit them against each other in cage matches), and so on.

Plastic straws are a problem, according to some. We don’t agree.

But whatever. Hey you want to make the planet better? Ban paper receipts. Just look at this monstrosity the store printed out for me this morning:

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Damn thing is longer than a broadsword or [insert human, animal, or alien sexual reference of your choice here]. I only bought two items. The rest of this receipt is just garbage and offers that nobody reads. When you think about the hundreds-of-millions of transactions each day in America, that’s a lot of dead trees.

Receipts can be replaced by e-mails, or at least made available ONLY at the direct request of the purchaser. Or go super green, receipts will only be beamed information into one’s head as an abstract existential reality construct where the customer is constantly like, “Did I really buy that? Hmm. Well, did, did I, … hmm.”

Join our cause! Ban Receipts! Post on all social media. Personally and professionally demonize those who support paper receipts. Insult their intelligence, threaten their children’s lives, get their addresses! Hurry now, before paper receipts burn down the planet!

we present our axe throwing business plan

So the latest urban gentrified hipster recreational activity is axe throwing. And so, um, uh, … what? Essentially people go to what is in any sense a bar/club, only while you get pasted you throw axes at wooden boards. Although it seems not all venues permit alcohol while you throw, I think it depends on the jurisdiction’s laws.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the use of any kind of weapon and the proficiency that comes with it. Throughout most of human history, the ability to expertly wield (at a minimum) a small dagger was considered necessary to remain alive. Now we’re lucky if people can chop an onion. But I just don’t get why this is a thing?

First off, how is this even legal? In today’s bubble wrapped society this is one that somehow got past the government nanny filters. Is it like those infernal scooters where regulation just doesn’t address it? I suppose there’s no law that says you can’t run an axe club, but if you tried to open a throwing knives club I bet that’d be illegal. Or heavily regulated.

As a weapons example, the axes these clubs use most closely resembles the Francisca; the quintessential battlefield throwing axe first perfected by the Franks and later used to spread mayhem by other such warlike races such as the Vikings. It was essentially an attempt to break the deadlock that was the spear and shield wall warfare of the period. The age of the longbow and armored heavy cavalry came later, but for a few hundred years it was spears, shields, and axes; backed up by limited and essentially ineffective archery.

So if you’re throwing an axe at a club with your mates, this might be cool, but you don’t get the real experience. So we at TAP are here to help. We’ll open our own axe club. Let us know what you think. We always get lots of feedback to the posts on this degenerate blog.

Here are the guidelines:

– Intoxication is mandatory, as it likely was on most medieval battlefields; the customer may choose whatever beverage they desire, but before beginning, a BAC test will verify the customer is above the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle.

– Axe throwing will not be done individually, but in a group via the shield wall. The inexperience of the customer is irrelevant. Armor and shield will be used. Those who refuse or cannot wear armor or lift shield will be ejected from the venue without refund.

– Customers will submit to a short training rehearsal on shield wall tactics so as to experience abject suffering and shocking reality of being one minor cog in a mass of human meat meant for the medieval grinder. Training mistakes will be met with physical correction with a ferocity as determined by venue management and training staff.

– Actual axe throwing is conducted from the shield wall with environmental conditions necessary to fully simulate the medieval battlefield experience. Noise generators will produce human screaming and shouting at decibel levels prohibited for airport runway employees. The building’s heat will be at a level considered medically negligent to induce dehydration. Despite the level of intoxication, no substance fitting the proper definition of food will be offered to the customer. And so on.

– Axes will be thrown by the shield wall at wooden walls simulating an opposing shield wall. Customers will be ranked by the number of axe hits assessed by venue management as solid kills or crippling blows enough to have removed the target from the fight.

– Customers with the lowest scores would normally have become medieval battlefield casualties. To simulate this for the customer, before departing the venue they will receive a single bare-knuckled punch to the face via a former, jaded heavyweight boxer. Physical injury and its associated potential medical costs are the responsibility of the customer.

– Customers with the highest scores will receive free alcohol for the remainder of the evening, a refund of their fee (paid in gold coins), diligent (legal) attention and adoration from venue employees from the gender of the customer’s choice, ample roasted meats for consumption, and several musical templates which they can sing with their fellow high score patrons.

That is all. Please carry on. Enjoy your day!

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Japan – Niigata: when my camera was terrible

Today’s smartphone cameras have become so capable it’s hard to remember that carrying a camera was once a conscious choice. Once upon a time I had a camera in my pocket that was five times the size of a smartphone and it was complete garbage. Times have changed, have you noticed?

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On this blog, we are very, very slowly making our way through my past travels. Lots of Japan to go. Wanted to do a complete, worthwhile post on Niigata, but can’t. Nearly every one of my shots from that trip are absolute, grainy, garbage.

Most of that was me. I’m not the expert photographer I am now (cue laugh track including laughing by drunken hyenas). But also, at the time my camera was pathetic. I don’t even have it anymore, or remember what it was.

Here are the only shots worth posting. Enjoy. Who gardens better than the Japanese? Not me. Not you.

Uh, Niigata’s great. Go.

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the leaves have begun their mystical journey

I’m taking care of me Ma’s dog and I forgot how frantic and disorganized a multi-dog walk can be.  She wants to go one way, he another, and before I know it my plastic poo bags are out of my pocket and halfway across the courtyard.

I got them back later but in the meantime (of course) one of them was ready to go.  Seeing as how I was right near a trash can I tried to use a large fallen leaf as a plastic bag substitute.  Don’t ever try this.

Anyways, the leaves have begun their mystical journey.  All the colors, all the fun of Fall, which is by far my favorite season for a variety of reasons.  Soon, nothing but bare branches.

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Need to get out of this cubicle and on a hike.

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the spin cycle continues

I’ve probably been in that El Paso Walmart half a dozen times, but still: Kindly observe (again) another act of senseless evil by human scum(s).

Kindly observe (again) how said human scum(s) will now be given a platform by the shameless media to become famous and get their message out.

Kindly observe (again) how the political, business, entertainment, and/or educational elite express the same pointless platitudes without ever proposing any concrete solutions whatsoever thus ensuring its continuation for the next few decades at least.

Kindly observe (again) as the usual rhetorical bomb throwers use this event to justify whatever preconceived notions they have on religion, terrorism, guns, culture, and/or whatever and compete to see who can shout the loudest.

Kindly observe (again) as this spin cycle continues.

Kindly observe (again) that it will happen (again).

We recommend you do as I do, which is to not pay attention. For the average person on the street, it’s not even worth it anymore. You can’t change it, and you’ve got problems of your own to deal with each and every day as you live your life. This sort of thing is now as common as the changing of the seasons, and it’s not going to stop, so why bother expending your very valuable mental energy on it?

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Version #37 of 83 – Circa 2019

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Version #38 of 83 – Circa 2019