Friday, December 26, 2008

Battery Bunny

As long as I can remember the Energizer Bunny has kept going and going and .... So it seemed weird when I discovered that there is an Duracell Bunny. And that the Duracell Bunny came first. The Energizer commercials, where origionally produced as a parody of ads for Duracell.

In the Duracell ads, a set of battery-powered instrument-playing toy pink rabbits gradually slow to a halt until only the toy powered by a copper-top battery remains active. In Energizer's parody, the Energizer Bunny then enters the screen beating a huge bass drum and swinging a mallet over his head. The criticism was that Duracell compared their batteries with carbon batteries, and not similar alkaline batteries like Energizer.

A Duracell Bunny is any of several anthropomorphic pink rabbits powered by batteries, used to promote Duracell brand batteries. In commercial advertisements, the Duracell Bunny is actually only one of these rabbits, powered by a Duracell battery rather than rival batteries. The point of the advertisement is that the bunny powered by a Duracell battery can continue functioning for a longer amount of time before its battery runs down.

The advertisements usually feature the bunnies competing in some way, for example a game of football or a race. There are differences in appearance — the Energizer Bunny wears sunglasses, has larger ears, is a different shade of pink and has a different body shape. Also, while the Energizer Bunny is a single rabbit, the Duracell Bunnies are a species. The Energizer Bunny is always depicted with a drum, as the Duracell Bunny toys of which it is a parody had drums. The actual Duracell Bunny advertising campaign has moved beyond this, and Duracell Bunnies are usually depicted as doing something other than beating a drum.

The Duracell Bunny does not appear in North America, due to Energizer jumping the trademark claim for the marketing use of a "battery bunny" in the United States and Canada.
The Duracell Bunny was originally trademarked for use in the US and other countries. Duracell failed to renew its US trademark of the bunny and as a result lost it. Energizer, seeing an opportunity, trademarked a new bunny for its use.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Second Breakfast

I watched the movie the Lord Of the Rings and when one of the characters mentioned Second Breakfast I figured it was a joke about how the Hobbits are kind of chubby and now one really ate a second breakfast. Today I made a reference to second breakfast though I thought it was possibly second lunch so I goggled it and Wikipedia revealed it is a real thing. Plus it is a pretty common trend around the world.

Second breakfast (or Zweites Frühstück, Drugie śniadanie) is a meal eaten after breakfast, but before lunch. It is traditional in Bavaria, and in Poland. In Bavaria or Poland, special dishes are made exclusively to be eaten during second breakfast. It is typical to eat four to five meals a day in these locations.

The second breakfast is typically a lighter meal or snack eaten around 10:30 in the morning. It consists of coffee, pastries such as monkey bread and the like, or some sausages. The typical sausage is a white sausage, Weißwurst, which is considered the specialty of Munich. The sausage is prepared during the early morning to serve during the second breakfast. It is served with pretzels, sweet mustard, and wheat beer. The meal is roughly similar in concept to the British elevenses, though elevenses is little more than a colloquial term for a mid morning snack. In Poland second breakfast usually consists of some snacks like sandwiches, or pastries, but may consist of light dessert type dishes like chocolate pudding or kisiel.

There is also a British and Hispanic equivalent called elevenses or las onces. In the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth realms, elevenses is a snack that is similar to afternoon tea, but eaten in the morning.[1] It is generally less savoury than brunch, and might consist of some cake or biscuits with a cup of tea or coffee. The name refers to the time of day that it is taken: around 11 am. The word "elevenses" is seen as a little old fashioned.[1]

In many Spanish-speaking cultures the term las onces is used to describe a similar meal. Among Chileans, the tradition was known as under the same name, although in modern times, it has shifted in most respects to later in the afternoon, more closely reflecting the pattern of British "tea time".[2] In Australia and New Zealand, it is called morning tea or smoko (often little lunch or playlunch in primary school). Choice of foods consumed at morning tea vary from cakes, pastries or lamingtons, or biscuits, to just coffee. In the Royal Australian Navy it is commonly referred to as "Morno's".

Friday, December 05, 2008

Multi-Bird Roast

I was watching The Daily Show, on Hulu, and John Stewart and John Hodgman were discussing President Bush and how two years ago people started calling him a lame duck. Some people in 2006 even went so far as to call Bush a double lame duck (I have no idea what this means). Since Bush was a lame duck back then, Hodgman proposes that Bush is actually now a Turducken.

A Turducken is a dish consisting of a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. The thoracic cavity of the chicken and the rest of the gaps are filled with, at the very least, a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture or sausage meat, although some versions have a different stuffing for each bird.

This led me to see this amazing dish...

The Rôti Sans Pareil, or "Roast without equal"the largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the early 19th century. It was a bustard (which measures
41-53 inches) stuffed with a turkey (which measures 39-49 in), a goose , a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an Ortolan Bunting and a Garden Warbler (5.11-5.5 in). The final bird is small enough that it can be stuffed with a single olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds.

If you are like me and want to recreate this dish for Christmas it probably could not be legally recreated because many of the birds listed are now protected species.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Joe The Plumber

Joseph "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher, is a 34-year-old single father who works as a plumber for is one of two employees of a small plumbing firm, Newell Plumbing and Heating Co. During his job interview Wurzelbacher came up with the idea of buying the company. He achieved fame for being mentioned in the third presidential debate of the 2008 US presidential election. Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Barack Obamamiddle class; the nickname was first used during the third and final presidential debate to illustrate the effects of tax policy on the middle class.

On October 11, 2008, four days before the final presidential debate, Obama met residents in Wurzelbacher's neighborhood.[5] Wurzelbacher, who had been playing football with his son in his front yard at the time, asked Obama about his tax plan.[6] As an ABC News camera recorded the conversation, Wurzelbacher suggested that Obama's tax plan would be at odds with "the American dream."[7] Wurzelbacher stated, "I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250, 270, 280 thousand dollars a year. Your new tax plan's going to tax me more, isn't it?"[8]

According to MSNBC, "While Wurzelbacher told Obama that he would be taxed at a higher rate because the company grossed more than $250,000 a year, Ohio business records show the company’s estimated total annual revenue as only $100,000. Actual taxable income would be even less than that." [25]Court record report that Wurzelbacher made $40,000 in 2006.[18]

McCain and Obama Tax Change in 2009

Federal tax change in 2009

if their tax proposals fully in place.
Yellow number is larger tax cut.

McCain Obama
Income Change
in average
tax bill
in average
tax bill
Over $2.9M -$269,364 +$701,885
$603K-$2.9M -$45,361 +$115,974
$227K-$603K -$7,871 +$12
$161K-$227K -$4,380 -$2,789
$112K-$161K -$2,614 -$2,204
$66K-$112K -$1,009 -$1,290
$38K-$66K -$319 -$1,042
$19K-$38K -$113 -$892
Under $19K -$19 -$567
CNN,[58][59] Tax Policy Center,[60],[61][62]

Thursday, October 09, 2008

3M & the Post-it note

3M was founded to sell the mineral corundum which is used to make sand paper and grinding wheels. After selling only one load, on June 13, 1902 Henry S. Bryan, Herman W. Cable, John Dwan, William A, McGonagle,Tahir Farhad, and Dr. J. Danley Budd went to the Two Harbors office of company secretary John Dwan, and signed papers making Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing a corporation. In reality, however, Dwan and his associates were not selling what they thought; they were in fact selling the worthless mineral anorthosite.

Failing to make sandpaper with the anorthosite, the founders decided to import minerals like Spanish garnet. In 1914, customers complained that the garnet was falling off the paper. The founders discovered that the stones had traveled across the Atlantic Ocean packed with olive oil, and the oil had penetrated the stones. Unable to take the loss of selling expensive inventory, they simply roasted the stones over a fire to remove the olive oil.

This was the first instance of R&D at 3M. In 1916 William L. McKnight applied the same scientific methods to production that he had used to get the oil out of the garnet, and bought the company's first lab for $500. From then on, 3M would be guided by science, with up to 25% of sales each year from new products. The company's early innovations include waterproof sandpaper (1921) and masking tape (1925), as well as cellophane "Scotch Tape" (in the 1930s). In 1952 the original formula for Scotchgard was discovered accidentally by 3M chemists Patsy Sherman and Samuel Smith. Sales began in 1956, and in 1973 the two chemists received a patent for the formula.

In 1977 the company introduced Post-it notes. In 1974 Art Fry, a new product development researcher for 3M who was also in a church choir was frustrated that his bookmarks kept falling out of his hymnal. He had attended a seminar by Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M, who developed a "low-tack", reusable pressure sensitive adhesive. While Fry "listening" to a sermon in church, he came up with the idea of using the adhesive to anchor his bookmarks.

The next day, Fry requested a sample of the adhesive. He began experimenting, coating only one edge of the paper so that the portion extending from a book would not be sticky. Fry used some of his experiments to write notes to his boss. This use led him to broaden his original idea into the concept that became the Post-it note. Initially Post-it notes failed as consumers had not tried the product. A year later 3M issued free samples to residents of Boise, Idaho, United States. 90% of people who tried them said that they would buy the product so it was relaunched.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Eating your Last Meal Means you Give up the Right to Haunt You Executioner

In pre-modern Europe, the ritual of granting the condemned a last meal has its seeds in common superstition: a meal was a highly symbolic social act. Accepting food, which was offered freely, meant to make one's peace with the host - the guest agreed tacitly to take an oath of truce and symbolically abjured all vengeance. Consequentially, in accepting the last meal the condemned was believed to forgive the executioner, the judge, and the witnessing mob. The ritual was supposed to prevent the delinquent from haunting those people, who were responsible for his or her killing, as a ghost or a revenant. The meal was therefore mainly a superstitious precaution and - following that logic - the better the food and the drinks, the safer the condemned's oath of truce

The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster

"The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster" is an essay by Norman Mailer that recorded a wave of young white people in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s who liked jazz and swing music so much that they adopted black culture as their own. It was originally published in "Dissent" magazine. Mailer took on the complicated subject of race relations. The wave of young white people in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s were so enamored of jazz and swing music that they adopted the black culture as their own. They would associate mainly with black people, distancing themselves from white society. This movement gave rise to the hipster of the 1940s, the beats of the 1950s. The phenomenon of white people adopting stereotypical black mannerisms, slang, and apparel has appeared in several generations since slavery was abolished in the western world. The concept has been documented in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and other white-majority countries.

For more info check out this insightful article on Race Relations

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sarah Palin Fan of Regresive Taxes & Earmarks

During Sarah Palin's first term as governor she was able cut property taxes by 75% and to eliminate personal property and business inventory taxes partly because before she became mayor of Wasllia, AK a 2% sales taxes was initiated and partly because of her efforts to eliminate libraries and museums.

The sales tax seems fairly small and innocuous but 20% of the municipalities in Alaska have no sales tax whatsoever. Plus a sales tax is an extremely regressive tax. It seems cruel to get rid of taxes that are less costly to the poor in favor of a sales tax. Then to add insult to injury during her second term as mayor, Palin introduced a ballot measure proposing the construction of a municipal sports center to be financed by a 0.5% sales tax increase. So not only does she nearly eliminate the less regressive taxes on her citizens but she also raises the sales tax 25%.

After firing the museum commissioner and nearly firing the cities librarian (to save money and for political reasons) she hired the Anchorage-based lobbying firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh to lobby for earmarks for Wasilla.

Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh secured nearly $27 million in earmarked funds. The earmarks included oddly enough$15 million for a rail project linking Wasilla and the ski resort community of Girdwood. To me this seems like welfare for the rich though maybe a lot of poor people in Wasila are commuters to Girwood. I have no hard information which is the case but since the two cities are about 80 miles apart either seems plausible but neither seems like a great reason to spend $15 million

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Banksy is a derivative of Bakshi?

I am thinking about going to watch this movie The Party at the graveyard. So I was looking up what it is about and it turns out that it is has a scene that wikipedia describes like this...

"The wannabe-hippie children of the Hollywood execs eventually turn up to crash the party with a baby elephant covered in stereotypical 60s slogans. The action of the party then moves to the pool, where Bakshi asks that the elephant be restored to a more dignified state. The entire home is soon overrun with soap bubbles as they scrub graffiti off the animal."

This reminds me of one of my favorite artists.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Big Mac Index

The Big Mac Index was introduced by The Economist in September 1986 as a humorous illustration and has been published by that paper annually since then.

One suggested method of predicting exchange rate movements is that the rate between two currencies should naturally adjust so that a sample basket of goods and services should cost the same in both currencies. In the Big Mac Index, the "basket" in question is considered to be a single Big Mac burger as sold by the McDonald's fast food restaurant chain. The Big Mac was chosen because it is available to a common specification in many countries around the world, with local McDonald's franchisees having significant responsibility for negotiating input prices. For these reasons, the index enables a comparison between many countries' currencies.

The Big Mac PPP exchange rate between two countries is obtained by dividing the price of a Big Mac in one country (in its currency) by the price of a Big Mac in another country (in its currency). This value is then compared with the actual exchange rate; if it is lower, then the first currency is under-valued (according to PPP theory) compared with the second, and conversely, if it is higher, then the first currency is over-valued.

How under Valued is Chinese Currency

Suppose the price of a Big Mac is $3.41 in the United States (as it was in July 2007) and 11 Yuan in in China (as it was in July 2007); thus, the PPP rate is $3.41/Tuan 11 = .31 dollar/yuan. In July 2007, $1 bought 7.0625 Yuan, then the Yuan is under-valued by $0.1684 ($0.31 - $0.1416.), or 54.3% ($0.1684/$0.31) in comparison with the price of the Big Mac in both countries.
Another example is the Hong Kong Dollar. The price of a Big Mac in the US was $3.41 in July 2007 and HK$12.00 in Hong Kong at the same time; thus, the PPP rate is $3.41/HK$12 = .284 dollar/HK$. In July 2007, $1 bought HK$ 7.78, then the HK$ is under-valued by $0.155 ($0.284 - $0.129.), or 54.6% ($0.155/$0.284) in comparison with the price of the Big Mac.

Now lets compare this to the UK a country that does not manipulate it's currency with the US. The price of a Big Mac in the UK was £ 1.99. So the PPP rate is £ 1.99/$3.41= .584. Once again based on numbers from July of 07 the £ .5048 bought $1, so the dollar is under valued by £.079 or 13.5%. 

The Big Mac Index has limitations in its estimates of the PPP. Eating at international fast-food chain restaurants such as McDonald's is relatively expensive in comparison to eating at a local restaurant, and the demand for Big Macs is not as large in countries other countries as it is in the United States. Social status of eating at fast food restaurants like (eating at KFC and to some extent McDonald's is like going to a slightly upscale chain restaurant in the United States a college student could take a girl on a nice date to KFC or McDonald's, local taxes, levels of competition, and import duties on selected items may not be representative of the country's economy as a whole. This said there seems to be a drastic difference in the PPP between China and the US.