Ask Alex - July 14, 2017
Welcome back to "Ask Alex", where I answer all of your stupid questions with even dumber answers. Have a question you need answered? Tweet it, email it or submit it here and I will get to it (maybe) next week.
I know it was really hard to survive without me last week, but I trust that you all managed. I have kind of a lot for you this week, and two questions that I didn’t even get to will have to wait until next week. In the meantime, we are going to cover fishing, piracy, Jill Filipovic, really weird ad campaigns and Alex’s recent history with fast casual dining. Then we are going to discuss penguins as landlords and some speed-dating tips...enjoy!!!
Submitted by: Daryl
Have you ever been fishing in Nantucket Sound?
I don’t want to brag, but most fish fear me more than they fear fresh air and Red Lobster. I am basically Pol Pot of the fish world, rampaging through their population and leaving a sea full of fish carcasses in my wake. I’m like Jeremy Wade, if Jeremy Wade were much smaller and kind of grossed out to touch bait.
OK, that is maybe a slight exaggeration...I have been fishing maybe five times in my life, most recently in Key West last winter, at which point I became violently ill and puked several times over the side of the boat. I’ve never gotten seasick before, but the sea was very angry that day my friends (the captain said the swells were 8-10 feet, but they looked more like 30 to me!), and I also had a weird inner ear virus right before that which has cost me a little bit of hearing in my right ear and maybe also affected my equilibrium. I’ve been on boats since then, but they were bigger and the water not nearly as choppy, so I am not sure.
We did, however, catch a whole bunch of Mahi Mahi, so...success? And I went Striper fishing off of Race Point once a long time ago and caught a fish that was about half my size. And yes, I have been fishing in Nantucket Sound, as well...on a friend’s boat, I don’t recall catching a whole lot of note.
Really, if I were to a more ocean-going person, I would be much more in the pirate vein than the fisherman vein. I’m going for something of a Cheng I Sao (Ching Shih) lady-pirate thing. Quick bio: she was born in Gaungdong in 1775, got sold into sex slavery, then captured by pirates, then she married the head pirate and helped him build the scariest pirate fleet in the South China Sea. After he died, she maneuvered herself into control of the organization and built it into a 300 ship, 20,000 man navy that overwhelmed Imperial Chinese forces and regional British Naval forces to control the South China Sea in the early 1800’s. Her navy was run by a relatively strict code of Pirate Conduct, including the beheading any men who raped female captives, which seems pretty progressive for a pirate...
When the British and Portuguese Navies launched a joint mission to assist the Chinese in defeating her, she did what almost no other pirate ever had the sense to do and struck a deal with the sovereign forces, agreeing to retire from piracy in exchange for immunity for her previous pirating activities. From there she built a gambling house and lived happily ever after as the richest woman in China. LIKE A BOSS!!!
Or possibly Rachel Wall, who has the romance of being the last woman to be executed in Massachusetts but also the inconvenience of, you know, being executed. I am way to cute to hang.
Submitted by: Dee
Why don't people understand that when they say to stop having babies in order to "save the world" there won't be any more people to enjoy said world?
Dee is referencing the super-genius level wisdom from Jill Filipovic on Wednesday that “Having children is one of the worst things you can do for the planet. Have one less and conserve resources.” I guess that, what I find most alarming about this is how incredibly racist it is, especially for someone as woke as Filipovic.
Let’s do some math!!!
Birth rates are already really low across the west and developed Asian countries. Japan, South Korea, Germany, Austria, Greece and Italy have the lowest birth rates among major countries, and most of Eastern Europe is not far behind. In every one of these countries, the annual birth rate is less than 10 per 100,000 people (or 20 per 100,000 women, more or less). The more-meaningful Total Fertility Rate is already below replacement level in most of Europe, much of Asia and the United States and Canada. In plain-speak, women do not have enough babies to maintain the population in those countries: they are growing only through immigration (which, btw, is one reason that the anti-immigration forces need to think long and hard about their ideas: a shrinking population has very serious consequences).
Meanwhile, birth rates in Africa and poorer parts of Asia are consistently 3-4 times those of the developed world. Rates in South America are much higher than the developed world, but lower than Africa and Asia. Despite much higher mortality rates and net migration, the world’s fastest growing countries are, for the most part, full of poor brown people - Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Jordan, Qatar , Malawi, Burundi, Niger, Uganda and Libya make up the top 10, and you have to go all the way to #83 to find Israel before you get to a “Western” country of any size (Mexico is #97, Norway is #100).
So, what is Filipovic suggesting? Either she is suggesting that everyone cut their birth rates by one per woman, which would functionally destroy every western society, or she is suggesting that the poorer half (more or less) of the world cut their birth rates by two per woman. As a Seattle-born New York resident, she surely has a healthy respect for the west, which can really only lead me to believe that her underlying message is that all of the poor, brown non-lawyer women in the world to just stop having so many resource-sucking babies!!!
So...somewhat awkward confession time: I kinda like Filipovic. I’m not above trolling her on Twitter, but in real life, we could probably be friends...we are more or less the same age, have at least comparable educational and professional backgrounds (I mean, mine’s objectively better, but I see no need to split hairs here;-)) and I would totally share clothes with her (I think she is tiny like me, and just check out this dress...it’s exquisite!). Her boyfriend is super cute in a little bit of a Chris Pratt kind of way, and they live in fucking Nairobi for chrissakes: I take my first world complaints more seriously from people who live in Kenya than, say, the East Village. Really, I am kind of naturally inclined to like anyone who looks that much like Anna Kendrick and Rayanne from My So Called Life. And for all of the trolling and obvious love of victim-culture, she is typically (not always, but often) more thoughtful, interesting and measured than, say, Amanda Marcotte or Jessica Valenti.
But come on, Jill, would it kill you to lighten up just a little bit? Every time someone puts too much milk in your coffee we don’t need to churn out 4,000 words about why the additional milk, coming from the mammary glands as a remnant of the childbirth process is a patriarchal expression of subjugation...
Submitted by: Thomas Crown
My question is philosophical in nature.
Assume arguendo that it is indeed possible to cram all that Graham; that sometimes one must break the rules; and that it's Mac tonight. Assume further that Darden Group had not sold Red Lobster.
In this world, can a man with a moon for a head over the rules, limit the Graham that can be crammed, and do so at a Red Lobster at the all-you-can-eat crab legs special tonight?
This question, over-stuffed with corporate jingles and product catchphrases, says as much about our skin-deep, marketer-driver, consumerist culture as it does about Jameis Winston’s last visit to Kroger. I also feel like it could be sung pretty perfectly as a verse in Fergie’s “My Humps”...
Also, I have some really interesting facts about myself to lay on you right now. First of all, I have never crammed any Graham because I have never once eaten Golden Grahams. Cinnamon Toast Crunch, yes, but never Golden Grahams.
Second I have never been in a Red Lobster. I grew up just a couple of miles from one, and could probably write a lot about this as symbolism of the oddities of being what seemed like the only white kid in 10 mile radius, but that is a much longer topic that may be a little touchy. So, I will just note that I have never been, and now live about 100 miles from the nearest location (Wethersfield, CT - there are none in the other five New England states) so I don’t see this streak changing any time soon.
As Mr. Crown points out, the Darden Group sold Red Lobster several years ago for just over $2 billion to Golden Gate Capital amid falling sales, rising losses and a seemingly listless strategy...performance since then is kind of a black box (those overpaid, morally-corrupt, untrustworthy PE folks don’t release results like public companies do) but they did take a $575 investment from a Thai seafood supplier in May that is possibly an indication that the business is healthier than it was several years ago. (Unless it’s not and the $575 was a desperate last grasp at capital, but I’d guess the former). This is totally unrelated to the question, but it let me take some shots at those blood-sucking assholes in the buyout world...terrible people, bad hygiene, webbed toes and extra teeth…*shiver*.
Also, bringing up Mac tonight has made me realize that I am not even sure when I was last in a McDonald’s. And you better sit down for this, but...my kids have never eaten anything from McDonald’s. Am I a terrible mother? I mean, they love Shake Shack, so I haven’t been depriving them of hamburgers...but, does this maybe impact their citizenship? I really want some McNuggets now.
A funny thing happened while I was writing this answer, though...I came across some stuff dealing with the current state of Mac, and it is, umm, eye-opening. Turns out that YTMND (a 4chan spin-off) has made Mac into one of their most popular and most violent, racist, homophobic bigoted meme themes. Starting in 2007, users have created hundreds of gifs of the Moon Man, sitting atop a Big Mac narrated by a robotic text-to-speech voice reading all of the stuff that was apparently rejected from Mein Kampf for being too edgy. I mean...it is really fucking weird, so weird that I am not even going to link to any of it.
I guess that is kind of appropriate, though, since the commercial parodies Mack the Knife, a Bobby Darin song based on a throat-slashing, underage-raping serial murderer. Yum, french fries!!!
My word, this answer has gone off the rails and I am not sure I can bring it back. So, I will leave you with this, which I may have already told you but bears repeating: CRAB IS TOTALLY OVERRATED!!! Come at me, bro.
Submitted by: Ingenious Firebrand
Is that chunk of the ice shelf that broke off now considered abandoned property? How long can we party on it until it melts?
The second question is pretty easy: you have at least a couple of years, but it is going to be a pretty turbulent few years.
The first question is trickier, and I should disclose that legal questions aren’t really my strong suit, and you’d be better off directing this one to either Mr. Crown above or to the Misfits General Counsel, @molratty. I’m an amateur property lawyer...I know only enough to get into trouble. Which isn’t going to stop me from answering!!!
Legally, it probably depends on what the title says, and whatever the escheatment laws are in whatever jurisdiction applies here. I’ll just assume that US law applies, since no other countries really matter anyway, amirite? In most states, property is considered to be abandoned if the owners cannot be located for at least three years...so, we have to figure out who owns this iceberg, and where they are.
The rightful owners are probably penguins. This probably seems absurd on its face: how can a penguin own property? They can’t read a contract because 99% of Penguins don’t speak English. And they can’t sign a contract...what hands would they use to hold the pen?!?! It’s a ridiculous idea.
None of these seemingly obvious problems with animal property rights stopped PETA from recently suing a photographer under the theory that a monkey owns its own image in a photograph. Probably more alarming is that this went all the way to a Federal district judge and wasn’t laughed out of court on day one (from the photographers brief: “The only pertinent fact in this case is that Plaintiff is a monkey suing for copyright infringement”).
And before you try and break in with your story about people leaving millions of dollars to their pets, just know that you can’t actually do that. You can leave millions of dollars to a trust for the benefit of your pets, but you can’t actually leave money to your pets because ANIMALS CAN’T OWN PROPERTY!!! (Feel free to ask more about Trust law...I have people who can answer those questions!)
Speaking of penguins owning condos in gated glacial communities, do you know why we call them the Arctic and the Antactic? It’s cuz of the bears...they derive from the Greek άρκτος (“ark-tos”) for “bear”. “Arctic” and Antarctic”. therefore translate into the very literally obvious “bears” and “no bears”. You are probably thinking “But Alex, you don’t speak Greek, how can you know these things?!” And while that is true, I do have a tattoo in Greek, which I believe makes me a native speaker…
More fun with names...do you know what animal the Canary Islands are named after? “Oh, that’s a stupid question, Alex, they are named after birds!” Well, slow down, dumb-ass, because you are wrong about that...the birds are named after the islands, not the other way around. The name of the islands derives from the Latin “Canarie Insulae”, which translates to “Island of the Dogs”. It is not totally clear why the islands acquired this name - Pliny the Elder said that a vast multitude of dogs of very large size lived there, while others speculate that it was actually for a species of now-extinct monk seals, and still others claim that the island's’ original inhabitants, Guanches, worshiped dogs and treated them as holy animals - but there is no dispute that the names comes from the dogs, not the birds.
Speaking of which...I know that we are all convinced that unicorns and mermaids are totally fake, but I have seen Narwhals and I have seen Seals, and if we know that there are unicorn whales and mermaid dogs, can you really be certain that there are no unicorn horses and mermaid people laying around somewhere?
Food for thought…
(and yes, wise-ass, I know that Narwhals have teeth, not horns...just shut up already).
Submitted by: Sicariothrax
Is speed dating worth the effort?
Full disclosure, I have never been speed-dating and I met my husband on a blind date - we got set up by me pretend older sister. But I have been speed-networking, which is probably not wholly different, so I can probably take some lessons from that.
My first instinct in this is to say “yes”, largely because I don’t really see a whole lot of effort involved. You need to get dressed, show up, have a drink and be pleasant. The likelihood of actually meeting anyone may be pretty low, but it is hard to find a whole lot of downside…
The effectiveness is going to be driven a lot by your personality. If you are comfortable meeting new people and good at engaging quickly, then it will almost surely be a good experience. If you are shy and maybe not a great small-talker, then you may struggle with it. It will be hard to have a great time if you are uncomfortable throughout. It is also probably helpful to manage expectations. After a three minute conversation, you aren’t going to be ready to introduce her to your parents or start picking out china patterns. You are maybe going to identify a person or two that you can talk with further after the event is over...whatever actual connection you make with someone will be in the general social hour after the actual speed-dating and not while you are rushing through the lines.
I’m kind of an extrovert. I love meeting new people and I am really good at getting people to open up really quickly, so the environment doesn’t spook me at all. I recognize that I am not really normal, that most people are a little more guarded than that, and that being open like that is easier for women than men...men are naturally more receptive to new people of the opposite sex than are women. You have only yourselves to blame for that, guys;-)
Update: I did a quick survey of friends to find out if anyone had ever been speed-dating and what their experience was. The best story came from a friend who reports that she kinda met her husband speed-dating. She got talked into speed dating by a friend, and met one guy that seemed nice enough. While talking to that guy afterwards, a co-worker of his happened into the same bar and she got to talking to him and he recruited her to join his co-ed soccer team. She met a couple of her best friends (including the co-worker’s wife) through the soccer team, and met her now-husband at one of those girls birthday parties (he went to college with her).
I guess the lesson from that story is that you never know when you will meet the people who end up mattering most in your life. I’m not sure that it is exactly a ringing endorsement for speed-dating, but I would still encourage you to go. The general feeling is that the experience was positive: it usually takes a couple of hours and, at a minimum, was good for some laughs.
So, I would suggest that you go, try to be as open-minded about it as possible, have some good conversation starters in your back pocket and try to have a good time. Don’t try to pick up women while you are there, just try to meet people and see if you like anyone.
And let us know how it goes! At a minimum, you should get some good stories out of it!!!
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Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.