Monday, 3 September 2007

There and back again

I got back from APSA in Chicago last night, after a relatively uneventful conference; most of the highlights involved locating the best bar specials on Goose Island 312, although I think I had a few good interactions at the meat market and got a couple of leads on other jobs. It was nice seeing a few old friends here and there, mostly all-too-briefly; with the exception of Frequent Commenter Scott and his grad school buddy John, I didn’t spend much time with anyone except Marvin and a few of his grad students at dinner Thursday, and Dirk and his family, who hosted a nice lunch for me and a couple of friends out in the ‘burbs on Sunday. (Particular apologies to Michelle, with whom I only interacted via cell phone.)

Alas, nobody seemed to take me up on my suggestion of creating a scene at the registration desk when their name tag appeared bearing the mark of the beast. One of these days I’ll figure out how to create mass mischief at APSA, but not this year.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Binge and purge

TigerHawk talks eminent sense about the legal drinking age:

On the drinking age, I think the right answer is now and always will be obvious. Individuals should be able to purchase alcohol on their own account starting at age 19, which would liberalize the current law considerably and still allow for the policing of unsupervised drinking among high school students. In addition, teenagers older than, say, 15 should be able to drink in the company of their parents, either in private or in restaurants. Responsible drinking has to be taught. One can’t help but believe that the current generation binges because it has had no opportunity to learn that responsibility from the people in the best position to teach it to them.

The only thing I might add is that I’d prefer some sort of policy that got colleges and universities out of policing student prohibition. Lowering the drinking age to 19 would continue the temptation for “student life” officials to (largely ineffectually) regulate all alcohol consumption by students, regardless of age. I’m not sure what the exact solution to that conundrum is, but I am certain that I’d rather have freshmen drinking openly than “out of sight” in the basement of some frat house or off-campus apartment.

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Red Bull + vodka = uh oh

bigjim links links this piece on the Red Bull-vodka combo that I expect tells you nothing anyone who’s ever consumed this concoction didn’t know already—I think I can safely attribute my last five years’ of insomnia to having two Red Bull & vodkas in Ann Arbor in the summer of 2001 (plied on me by a young woman, no less).

Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Coke Zero

As mentioned in comments below, I obtained a 2-liter bottle of Coke Zero at Brookshire’s today. My first impression of the beverage is that it’s very good—you’re not likely to confuse it with Coca-Cola Classic, unless you just haven’t had a Coke in a long time, but it’s not in any way similar to Diet Coke and I really couldn’t discern any aftertaste. I also think it’s better than C2. I think Coke has a winner here.

It also makes a very good mixer with Bacardi Gold—too good perhaps.

Saturday, 9 April 2005

More playing tourist

As anticipated, I spent the afternoon goofing off: I had lunch at the Goose Island Beer Company on Clybourn, then walked back downtown and visited the Museum of Contemporary Art before returning to the hotel for the MPSA President’s Reception (key highlight: the open bar). Like yesterday, my feet are tired, but I suppose all the walking makes up for my general laziness in Jackson the last week or so.

Now I’m looking forward to getting back home tomorrow so I can get organized for the final two weeks of classes and see my “normal” friends again.

Sunday, 3 April 2005

Dinner, dessert, and detox

I cooked spaghetti for dinner with the lovely, talented, and pointy-eyeballed Kelly Friday night; she brought chocolate ice cream and I supplied a bottle of 1996 Gossamer Bay cabernet sauvignon that I’d somehow acquired a while back (and was very good). It was a thoroughly pleasant evening, although I spent most of Saturday recovering from the wine intake—not to mention the two pints of Bass I had earlier at Fenian’s with some other colleagues.

Update: Just to clarify (for any concerned readers): all I was really suffering from on Saturday was a lack of sleep; alcohol seems to interfere with me falling asleep.

Monday, 7 February 2005

The Mardi Gras plague

Glenn Reynolds notes a decline in class attendance at UT-Knoxville:

My classes are notably empty, and many of the students who are there are hacking, coughing and looking miserable.

I’ve noticed the same thing. Glenn blames the flu. I blame New Orleans.

Incidentally, the only tourist experience that I think possibly could be worse than Bourbon Street (in general) is Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras. But, if someone figures out a way to have Mardi Gras without the accompanying crowd of drunk teenagers I’m there.

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

You're so yesterday

Michelle Malkin didn’t like one of the inaugural events:

I would not expect to hear profanity at any Hilary Duff event, let alone an Inaugural Youth Concert hosted by the Bush twins.

No, but you’ve got to figure that at least you’d have some $1 well drinks and a 2-for-1 deal on Jägermeister. (rimshot)

Besides which, if I somehow ended up at an Fuel concert where the opening act turned out to be Hilary Duff, I’d be quite likely to shout “WTF” at the top of my lungs. Poor event planning indeed.

Thank you; I’ll be here all week. (þ: Protein Wisdom)

Friday, 17 December 2004

Incurable ignorance?

Greg Goelzhauser has returned from haïtus at Crescat Sententia with some thoughts in response to Dan Herzog on whether or not the public is “incurably ignorant” about politics. My general thought on such matters, oft-repeated here, is that any democratic society in which it might be rational for the public at large* to not be ignorant about anything beyond the most trivial of political matters would be incredibly unstable politically.

That said, Greg’s point about social norms is well-taken; knowing things about politics is excellent fodder for cocktail-party discussion, even if the details don’t matter for voting behavior one whit.† Clearly the answer, then, is to invite more people to attend cocktail parties, a program I’d fully support.

Sunday, 7 November 2004

Prohibition in Chicago

Jim Leitzel at ViceSquad points out an unusual intersection between liquor laws and ballot referendums in Chicago. In Chicago, individual precincts can vote themselves dry in referendums, or even vote to outlaw sales of liquor at a specific address in the precinct.

Here are some examples from this year’s ballot. Ward 11, precinct 35, voted, 178 to 88, to forbid the sale of liquor at 4220 South Halsted Street.

Friday, 29 October 2004

So you can be drunk and stay awake to enjoy it

I just saw an advertisement in the Memphis Flyer for Anheuser-Busch’s new BE, described in the ad as “beer with something extra,” i.e. caffeine, guarana, and ginseng.

Coming soon from Anheuser-Busch: Beerplus, with vellocet, synthemesc, or drencrom. It sharpens you up, and makes you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.

UPDATE: I bought, and consumed, a four-pack this afternoon. As I expected, it's a little pricey -- four ten-ounce cans for $4.99. And believe it or not, it's not bad tasting, once you get over the expectation that it should taste like beer, which it does not. At first I thought it was awful, but by halfway through the first can, I didn't mind it.

The alcohol content is not indicated on the can, but it seemed low compared to a twelve-ounce regular beer. The caffeine/guarana/ginseng does a pretty good punch as a stimulant, after a couple of cans. Overall, a pretty good beverage to drink while playing Dungeons and Dragons, which is what I was doing.

Monday, 9 August 2004

Advice for incoming college freshmen

Very soon now, college campuses will be swarming with incoming freshmen. I have two pieces of advice for any who might be reading this blog. More to the point, I have two pieces of advice for incoming freshman boys. Never having been a freshman girl, I don’t have any particular advice for them, although perhaps some of what I have to say will be applicable.

First, if you are not an experienced drinker, you do not have a good idea how much alcohol you can handle. Always keep this in mind, because if you drink more than you can handle, you are likely to make a complete jackass of yourself. For example, if you drink the better part of a bottle of Absolut vodka, you might throw up in the social room of the freshman girls dormitory, get thrown out by the RA, and not remember it the next day. Or, if you get thoroughly schnockered drinking fuzzy navels, you might call the cute girl you have a crush on, confess your love, and not remember it the next day.

Second, always be really nice to all the freshman girls, because they are taking notes, and they are sharing them. If you do something to make a complete jackass of yourself, perhaps something involving alcohol, they will tell all their female classmates about it, and you will have problems getting dates for the next four years. You’ll probably have to date girls from another school in your city, who will not know what a jackass you are.

Saturday, 31 July 2004

The Chatham House Rules

Nick Troester (apparently, it rhymes with “toaster”) is under the impression that last evening’s events fall under the Chatham House Rules. My personal perspective is that it’d be hard to enforce those rules, considering that all activities took place in public venues, but I’m still leaning toward relative confidentiality, if only for the sake of the honor of our mixed company (or at least for my continued employment).

I will, however, note that Kevin, Leslie, and I did make it to the ICPSR picnic on Saturday, something that cannot be said for others of our group.

BTW, I did find my hat… it was in my backpack all along.

Tuesday, 29 June 2004

Keg registration law in Missouri

In an attempt to curb underage drinking, Missouri has passed a new law which goes into effect Thursday, requiring beer kegs to be registered to their buyers.

The law requires retailers to attach a tag that will allow the keg to be traced back to the buyer. The store must keep records for three months with the buyer's name, address and birth date.

The idea is that if someone bought a keg and supplied it to teenagers, and the party was broken up, law enforcement could identify who provided the alcohol and pursue charges.

They'll take my beer when they pry it from my cold dead hands!

Monday, 28 June 2004

Booby-trapped beer coolers

According to this story in the New Zealand Herald, the terrorist menace may have a new weapon: booby-trapped beer coolers!

Security officials have warned of a possible new weapon in the terrorist arsenal - booby-trapped beer coolers.

Law-enforcement officials in the United States have been warned to be alert for the enticing bombs.

The warning was sent to 18,000 law-enforcement groups by the FBI last week, Time magazine reported.

Is nothing sacred to those barbarians?

Personal crud

All it seems to do here is rain… I feel like I accidentally moved back to England or something. This also means the jackasses at Home Depot have rescheduled the installation for the trim around my front door (never mind that they are doing the work indoors), meaning another few days of me staring at bare doorframe in the living room.

If that weren’t annoying enough, the good folks at a certain Oxford bar (who otherwise have given me good service in the past, hence my lack of interest in casting aspersions on them publicly) managed to lose my debit card Friday night while they were holding it to secure my tab. One might suspect that the universe was conspiring against one’s efforts to have a social life, if one were the paranoid type. (One also drank a little too much beer and has been regretting it for the past two days.)

On the other hand, I do have a spiffy custom cap (well, actually a tam), gown, and hood on the way in plenty of time for the fall convocation, so there’s that at least.

Sunday, 20 June 2004

Neoprohibitionists on Parade

Radley Balko is keeping an eye on the state-level activities of the increasingly prohibitionist (and increasingly misnamed) MADD and their pet state legislators. It’s not a very pretty picture.

Saturday, 19 June 2004

C2 Review

I found some C2 at Wal-Mart tonight in the course of handing over a significant portion of my last paycheck to the Walton heirs. My general first impression is that it tastes like a slightly less syrupy version of regular Coca-Cola Classic; unlike, for example, Diet Coke,* it actually manages to evoke the flavor of regular Coke.

Since it is less syrupy than regular Coke, I’d imagine C2 probably makes a better mixer with vodka. Not having any vodka (or, for that matter, any hard liquor) on hand, such experiments will have to wait until at least Monday.

Update: Len Cleavelin also has a review of C2 that goes into more scientific detail.

Friday, 18 June 2004

Cruisin' the Bash

I’ve been remiss in not thanking Mike Hollihan of Half-Bakered for assembling the second successful Memphis Area Blogger’s Bash. While turnout was slightly lower than the last meet, some new folks turned out, which more than compensated for the slight decrease in attendance:

  • The thoughtful AlphaPatriot, who somewhat reminds me of a younger version of Ole Miss criminal justice prof Chester Quarles.
  • The lovely and intelligent Rachel in the City, who has some ill-defined off-camera job at WMC Channel 5.
  • The vivacious Peggy Phillip, news director of WMC Channel 5.
  • Birthday boy Mark Richens of The Memphis Scene.

Also present were Eric of the CA web team, WebRaw and Plug In (among other stops in his blogging empire), Len Cleavelin, Mr. Mike, and (briefly, as his D&D group was meeting Wednesday night too) Brock.

It was fun to see everyone out; it almost—but not quite (after all, I need to make enough money to eat)—makes me wish I wasn’t off to Jackson for the next year or so. I guess the social scientist in me was on display; Mike says I was “laid-back and watchful again.” I guess since my “day job” is to be the expert, I generally find it more pleasant to watch and observe than to be the center of attention.

More reviews: Len, Mike, Peggy, Rachel, and Eric.

Should I be available for the next bash, I second the suggestion that we should try to blog the next event in progress; Eric suggests Cafe Francisco in the Pinch.

Friday, 11 June 2004

Mini-bottles and Ben Tillman

The always-engaging Geitner Simmons has an interesting post on the links between South Carolina’s backward alcohol laws and über-segregationist Ben Tillman, who was pretty much the intellectual forebear to folks like Strom Thurmond and Mississippi’s Theodore Bilbo in the 20th century.

Saturday, 22 May 2004

Get this guy an appointment with Fishkin and Ackerman

The nice thing about being a lazy blogger is that if you want to fisk something, chances are someone else—in this case, Nick Troester—will have beaten you to it. But, lest I be accused of excessive laziness, allow me to pile on. The piece in Slate is called “Why We Hate Voting: And how to make it fun again,” by Thomas Geoghegan. Here’s a free hint: anyone who confuses civic duty with “fun” isn’t very normal to begin with. Shall we commence?

Usually, the outcome of a presidential election “depends on the turnout of the Democrats.” So says Nelson Polsby of the University of California-Berkeley. For once, I agree with a political scientist. I take Polsby to mean “Democrats” as a term of art for “most people.” By “Democrats” he means people with hourly jobs, high-school dropouts, high-school grads, single moms, single dads—anyone at or below the median household income.

But let’s narrow “Democrats” to people way down the income ladder, whose voting rate is usually less than 40 percent. Waitresses. Claims adjusters. College kids with loans. If the turnout among these people hits 50 percent, the Republicans are in trouble. Get it up to 60 percent, and Bush won’t even come close.

Actually, I think Dr. Polsby means “Democrats,” as in people who are predisposed to vote for Democratic candidates. In political science terms, we call these people “party identifiers”—they have a psychological attachment to their preferred political party. And we’ve called them party identifiers ever since 1960, when The American Voter came out.

I’ll grant that some earlier research, known as the Columbia school or sociological approach, argued that vote choice was largely a function of socioeconomic status, but The American Voter showed demography to be a rather distant causal influence on vote choice. Only African-Americans (a group oddly omitted from Geoghegan’s definition of “Democrats,” though perhaps this omission is understandable when you realize that he’s dealing with the limosine liberal set who read Slate) show the sort of bloc voting in American society that Geoghegan attributes to American social and economic groups. Union members and “blue-collar” workers, for example, are only weakly Democratic, as are singles, on the order of 60–40. And even then there can be significant cross-over effects; the “Reagan Democrats” were hardly a myth.

I know that the country’s turned to the right. But we’d still have the New Deal if voters were turning out at New Deal-type rates. (Between 1936 and 1968, voter turnout in presidential elections fell below 56 percent just once. Since 1968, it has never exceeded 56 percent.) So how can Democrats get the turnout of all eligibles up to 65 percent?

I doubt that seriously. One important causal factor Geoghegan omits is the lowering of the national voting age in 1970, which brought in a new cohort of voters who were unlikely to vote. Moreover, recent scholarship suggests that low apparent turnout in the U.S. is due to an increase in the non-eligible population (felons and non-citizens, which aren’t part of the “voting age population” used for redistricting) and the use of frequent elections (U.S. jurisdictions average at least one election per year, including local and state elections and primaries, while most other industrialized democracies only have elections, on average, every two years—and typically have elections for national office at different times from elections to local offices). The fact that the U.S. holds elections on weekdays rather than weekends is also an important factor in lowering turnout.

What are Geoghegan’s remedies?

First, offer two ballots, a long one and a short one. Let’s call the short one Fast Ballot. President. Congress. Governor if there’s a race on. That’s all. You’re done. Someone else will vote the long ballot.

Nick already explained what an idiotic idea this is. But in many states (including, I believe, Illinois), you can vote a party-line ballot just as easily. It seems more productive to encourage the adoption of (or return of) party-line boxes on ballots, then. (You can thank the Progressives for getting rid of party-line voting in many states.)

His second remedy apparently revolves around making the entire election process an excuse to go on a bender. No, I’m serious:

One free drink. Let’s take the 10 biggest population centers. In each one, set up a business-type council, full of media types and celebrities, to push voting. In September and October, have them sign up bars and restaurants to put up a red-white-and-blue logo on Election Night. What does the logo mean? With your ballot stub, first drink is on the house. Soon everybody will want to have a logo, the way in the New Deal, businesses showcased the Blue Eagle. Put the word out on college campuses. Get them to compete to throw the biggest party. Pump it up, the way we’ve done with Halloween.

No doubt, the Progressives are rolling over in their graves at this idea (you can thank them, too, for laws that require bars and liquor stores to be closed on Election Day in some states). In most (all?) states, it’s illegal to offer an inducement for voting—even if that inducement is given without regard to vote choice. From a theoretical point of view, I don’t think such laws are worthwhile—in fact, I actually wrote a paper on Philippine politics once that argued (in part) that citizens ought to have the right to sell their vote to the highest bidder. Regardless, this proposal is simultaneously idiotic and impractical (and illegal, to boot; not that that’s ever stopped any campaign tactic in the past, mind you).

Furthermore, the premise that any of this will help the Democrats is, simply put, absurd, and borders on patronizing: apparently, Geoghegan conceives of the Democratic base as a bunch of louts who can only be encouraged to vote if they are given a really dumbed-down ballot and are promised a pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon for their trouble. If this is what Democratic elites think of their own supporters, they should count their lucky stars if any of them bother to show up in November to cast a ballot for John F. Kerry—assuming he deigns to accept the nomination before then, that is.

Tuesday, 20 April 2004

Driven to drink

Sid Salter had a piece in Sunday’s Jackson Clarion-Ledger on the byzantine structure of Mississippi’s alcohol laws—so byzantine, in fact, that the state tax commission (or the paper) apparently doesn’t know that Lafayette County, with the exception of the city of Oxford, is dry, not wet.

Wednesday, 7 April 2004

Official State Booze of Alabama

CNN reports that the Alabama state Senate has overridden a gubernatorial veto to make Conecuh Ridge Fine Alabama Whiskey the “official state spirit.”

Governor Bob Riley had vetoed the measure on the grounds that official designations should not be given to commercial products.

I’m highly sympathetic to Gov. Riley’s view, but I’ll still be looking for a bottle of Conecuh Ridge next time I’m at Joe’s Liquor.

Friday, 27 February 2004

Yes logo

Matt Stinson looks at the importance of branding, drawing from his ongoing experiences in China. He also leaves off with this disturbing thought:

In the future, China will be the biggest market for PBR. This scares me more than anything else I’ve seen here.

Hey, it could be worse. It could be Schlitz…

Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Lazy link blogging

Lots of interesting stuff out there today. I’m too lazy to comment on it all, so here are some links: