Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Horrors of Chili-Cheesification

The Horrors of Chili-Cheesification

When does a little public policy research on the web become a revolting confrontation with borderline fetish pornography? Somewhere between the competitive eating and the the slip-and-slide covered with chili.

Inspired by Burger King's refusal to go along with the UK's food police, I did a little looking around to see what other companies are being mau mau-ed by the public health nannies of the Western world. There was, of course, the story from last year about Hardee's 1,420-calorie Monster Thickburger and its 107 grams of fat and from earlier this year a profile of Burger King's own meat-tastic Enormous Omelet Sandwich, which weighs in at a mere 730 calories and 47 grams of fat. Faced with generalizations in these and other stories about the alleged gluttony of that elusive creature known as The Average American, I thought I'd check up on the real gluttons among us, the proud competitors of the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

The IFOCE, as far as I can tell, is run out of New York by professional PR man and genius event promoter George Shea. He finds food companies, restaurants or localities who are willing to sponsor an eating contest in return for getting their product promoted and, like magic, a new eating event is born. Thus the asparagus-eating contest is sponsored by the city of Stockton ("The Asparagus Capital of the World"*), the waffle-eating contest is sponsored by Waffle House and the grilled cheese sandwich-eating contest (15-city championship series actually) is sponsored by the eBay-addicted reliquarians at As it turns out, the second most prolific corporate sponsor seems to be Krystal, a chain of fast food joints selling sliders, unofficially the White Castle of the Deep South. They're sponsoring another championship series called the Krystal Square Off (the burgers are square - get it?) with the World Championship to be held in Chattanooga, Tennessee on November 19. Investigating this sponsor further was the mistake.

Upon arriving at the Krystal website, I checked out the tour details, and some fine photos of preliminary contentants stuffing their burgers holes with as much meat and bun as they could handle. Returning to the main page, I noticed a banner alerting visitors of the many menu items which can be ordered covered in chili and chesse. The link implores customers to "get chili-cheesified!" Normally a fan of both items, I click through to chili-cheese central.

Upon being impressed by the realistic sounds of chili and cheese splattering against the screen as the page is loading, I notice a video that has begun to play in the upper right-hand corner. Backed by kitshy, frenetic hillbilly/disco music I see four attractive young folks in bathing suits engaged in what could only be described as recreational sploshing. A series of brief video clips features our nubile foursome engaged in chili-cheese slip-n-slide action, cavorting in a plastic swimming pool filled with chili-cheese, playing chili-cheese covered Twister and playfully battering each other with long foam tubes drenched in - that's right - chili and cheese. Somewhere in Alabama right now there is a chili-addicted splosh freak who can't believe his amazing luck. That man, and only that man, is happy that such videos have made available (free!) to the web-surfing public. I have learned a very important fact from watching these videos: even the most fit, attractive young men and women are rendered significantly less attractive when their bodies are liberally smeared with what, from a distance, looks very much like liquid shit. Call me a prude. After such a traumatic visual experience, I ask you, where's John Ashcroft when you really need him?

*Note - in addition to Stockton, the German city of Schwetzingen also claims the title of Asparagus Capital of the World, as does Oceana County, Michigan. According to some sources the town of Hadley, Massachusetts - which is in Lapeer Couty - claims to be just the Asparagus Capital of the United States (although according to the eCommunityGuide site for Hadley it was also a World Capital claimant, but only until the 1950s, "when disease wiped out much of the crop.") Humble Sunnyside, Washington is apparently content with merely being the Asparagus Capital of the Northwest.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Stewie Griffin: Code Red

According the the Washington Post, the TSA is still not only pulling large numbers of innocent civilians out of the airline boarding process because of watch list mixups, but has even been doing so to young children and infants who happen to have the same name as adults on the list. At least they're too young to have the ACLU's phone number memorized.


Thursday, August 18, 2005

The U.S. Military: Hunting Terrorists and Fostering Biodiversity

There's a fascinating article in this week's issue of Nature (reg. req'd.) on how parcels of land used for active U.S. military training in Germany contain more biodiversity and higher populations of endangered species than that nation's "pristine" national parks.

The logic is simple, really - some species, both plants and animals, require disruption in order to flourish. Some plant seeds won't open until they've been singed by a forest fire, and some animal species can't compete in a mature habitat where all the existing niches are filled by comfortable incumbents. Shaking up the habitat with a few live-fire artillery exercizes or mock tank battles seems to improve the overall habitat diversity and make places for species that wouldn't be able to find space in a national park where no one ever hunts, fells trees or paves a road.

Witness the reflection of one scientist, ecologist Steven Warren of Colorado State University in Fort Collins:

"Some people are very anti-military," Warren says. "They assume that there's nothing the military can do that will be beneficial, particularly with relation to ecology." Warren, who doesn't work for the army, used to assume the same himself. "Twenty years ago I looked at military activities as an ecologist and thought 'they need me'. But I guess that's not really so."

So if you love Mother Earth, forget the trees - hug a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The EU Breaks Eggs in sub-Saharan Africa

In what has become a depressingly frequent story, Western governments are again trying to dictate wildly inapropriate environmental and public health policies to poor countries whose citizens may very well end up paying with their lives. As Richard Tren and Marian Tupy explain, the EU is trying to pressure the Ugandan government into dropping DDT as part of their anti-malaria efforts, despite the hundres of millions of lives the insecticide has saved. DDT is, of course, unpopular in the U.S. and EU because of its legacy as an agricultural insecticide which allegedly caused eggshell thinning in some large predatory birds. The fact that its current use would be to save the lives of the poor and sick in Africa in small doses rather than kill agricultural pests in the U.S. in massive amounts seems to make very little difference to those currently in power.

Thanks to Kendra Okonski and The Commons Blog.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Another Sign He Just Doesn't Care Anymore

That Ralph Nader is one classy political communicator. From today's Washington Examiner:

"At a recent fundraiser, perennial — and generally ignored — presidential candidate Ralph Nader likened his removal from ballots in such southern states as Georgia and Virginia to the Jim Crow laws that segregated blacks from whites, saying that 'I felt like a nigger.'"

Is he trying to become the Quentin Tarantino of leftist politics? Could it be he styles himself a white man so hip he can get away with dropping the n-bomb during an on-the-record speech? I'll keep an eye out for any dinner dates with Harvey Keitel and Uma Thurman.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Run, Howard Run!

If anything can erase the oleaginous mendacious of Terry McAuliffe, it's the Vermont governor who made sure his voice was heard around the world. He may have wilted under the specter of Kerry's alleged electability, but at least you know where he stands. May the DNC and all of its sparkling prospects for future success be yours, Dr. Dean.