Monday, June 18, 2012

A tipping point

I was at a fancy restaurant the other night, and it got me thinking about tipping (because, why wouldn't it?).

I don't at all understand some of the concepts behind tipping. Particularly, I don't see why tip amount is based on price of the bill. It's not as if service gets better as the food does. The following example illustrates my point: if Sally orders a $7.00 burger and tips 20%, and Tom orders a $25.00 filet mignon at the same restaurant, also tipping 20%, Tom will tip the server $3.60 more than Sally for the exact same amount of food. Yes, Tom's meal was of greater quality, but it's not any more work for the server to bring him his plate. The server doesn't deserve more from Tom, and it's unfair that society would berate him for not tipping more than Sally for identical service.

If it was commonplace to tip chefs, then this would all make sense. Better food often equals better culinary abilities, so a chef at a nice restaurant would probably deserve more. But, we don't tip chefs, we tip servers. And it's madness.

My only hypothesis is very elementary, and it's that a more expensive bill might mean more items served, which means more work for the server. But this hypothesis only holds weight if all items on a menu are the same price. What kind of bizarro world would that be?

Someone really screwed up with this concept.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Disney delusion

Watching Disney movies was a hallmark of most childhoods that took place after the advent of the VHS tape. As impressionable young tykes, we soaked up all of the delicious morality and life lessons Mr. Disney threw our way, and now, as adults, we subconsciously use them to guide our own lives.

Maybe that's why the world is such a crappy place.

Thinking back to the magic of Walt Disney, I notice some not so magical things about many of the characters he creates and the messages they convey in their animated worlds.

Let's have a look, shall we?

Firstly, Sleeping Beauty (and Snow White. Could they really not think of two different plots for these chicks? Both princesses, both put into deep sleep by witches, both awoken by the kiss of a prince - come on, Disney.). This beautiful princess taught us guys that it's OK to do sensual things to a girl while she's sleeping. Let me tell you something Sleeping Beauty, if I were to kiss a girl I thought was pretty while she was asleep, and she wasn't my girlfriend or wife, I would end up in jail. Times have changed since the 16th century, yeah? If that movie were made today, the plot would be different. It would be called "Blackout Beauty," and it would take place at a frat house. A tempting but potent cocktail (perhaps an Apple Martini?) administered by a fraternity brother with ill-intent puts Blackout Beauty into a deep stupor. Unlike the real movie, she is not pleased with the man who awakens her, nor with how he does it.

Also, Snow White makes children weary of apples. Parents have enough trouble trying to get their kids to eat fruit, we don't need your help Walt.

Moving on to good ol' Cinderella. This story is not only full of misleading messages, but it's rife with inaccuracies. Let's start with the really irritating one; I'm sorry, but glass slippers?? I don't care if they were made by a fairy godmother, those things would break immediately. That actually would have made a far more entertaining plot - Cinderella breaks a slipper on her first step out the door, then out of anger she uses the ragged edges to cut her jeering step-sisters. Hey, if we're gonna teach kids bad lessons we might as well teach them to take matters into their own hands instead of mope around all day sulking about their unfortunate circumstances. I mean really, who doesn't have to deal with obnoxious family members? So your step-sisters are giving you a hard time. So you have an annoying cat. So you have to do janitorial work. Welcome to the real world Cindy, learn to cope.

And what sort of forensic techniques are being put to use in this movie? After the ball, Prince Charming wants to find out who the forgotten glass slipper belongs to so he...goes door to door accosting womens' feet?! Is that really logical step #1? And why does he even have to bother putting the slipper on everyone?? Shouldn't he remember the face of the woman with whom he just danced the night away and fell in love with?! Objectifying women!! And why is the slipper even still in existence?? The rest of Cindy's outfit disappeared at midnight vis-à-vis the fairy godmother's spell, which is why Cindy had to run home in the first place! It makes NO sense that one slipper survives!! Too convenient Mr. Disney. Too convenient and too easy.

Whew, I got a little worked up there. I get upset when fairy tales aren't realistic.

Then there's Beauty and the Beast. I'll give Mr. Disney some credit; the "don't judge a book by its cover" lesson is a good one for children to learn. Unfortunately, it backfired big time. The movie ended up teaching us that if you're ugly you can still get the long as you live in a luxurious mansion nestled deep in a peaceful forest, complete with rose petal-covered beds and talking chinaware that sets itself. And you can see how this has been translated today - how many old, wrinkly, ugly, but rich men do you see running around with gorgeous women? A lot. Thanks for that Belle, you gold digger.

And what is with the ending to this movie? The beast turns back into a handsome man? Really?? So girls, basically, if you pretend to love an ugly guy for what he is on the inside, just for awhile, you'll end up with a hot one in the end anyway. Again, thanks Belle.

So many other Disney movies, so many delusions, so little time. I'll save some more for another rant.

I'll leave you with a nice little surprise the animators of Little Mermaid left for us. Pay attention to the priest's crotchal region.  Do not tell me these people were in it for the kids. If you're interested, here are some more such "subliminal messages" found in Disney movies.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This is sick

I'm stuck at home today because I'm sick. (I hope you just enjoyed my most personal statement ever in this blog). That being the case, I'm bored. When I'm bored, I think. When I think, it's usually about something ridiculous. And when it's about something ridiculous, I put it in my blog - the process of a genius.

I am currently deep in thought about my habit of personifying inanimate objects. It's something I do a lot, and in the spirit of being sick and bored, it's something I'm going to do a lot right now.

Whenever I'm sick I imagine what is going on inside my body. As a graduate student in Biology with a particular emphasis in Immunology (it must be the sickness that is making me divulge all this personal information), I have a fair idea of what's actually happening. However, I can't help but apply an element of imagination like I did when I was 12. It's much more entertaining that way. In the case of my current cold, I'm picturing a battlefield.......

Day 1 - breach
Head-quarters receives reports of a breach. Information from the field indicates heavy enemy artillery, and activation of major pain sensors in the throat. Initial units of immunity at Operating Bases Mouth and Nostril have been defeated. Numerous surface salivary divisions reporting casualties.    
Day 2 - proliferation
Full-on assault confirmed. Enemy identified: the Germ-ans. Abundance of infected cells in the throat which looks to be the main target. Specialty forces are deployed. Attack must be contained.
Day 3 - spread
Containment failed. Enemy forces have advanced north from initial point of attack. Mass mucosal response causes congestion in nasal pathways. Allied soldiers from 102nd Sudafed divisions are recruited, while Nyquil special forces conduct stealth ops during the night. Major battles now rage in throat and nose.
Day 4 - strategy  
Nasal passages are now main battleground. Airways are completely locked down - nothing in or out. Forces in northern chest await briefing on possible coughing maneuvers to keep the enemy away from important GI targets.
Day 5 - resistance
Coughing strategy confirmed, as mucosal divisions are forced down into northern chest. The germ-ans have almost completely shifted their attack to regions north and south of the throat. The voice of the commander is growing faint, as every available immune unit is recruited to defeat the invaders.
Day 6 - decline 
Battles rage on, and the tide begins to shift. Mucosal forces triumphantly retreat from nasal passages, allowing a return to normal airflow. The commander is completely silent through the day, as such violent battle takes its toll. Remaining germ-ans are easily expelled by coughing maneuvers, and damage to the throat is repaired by external tea-aid.
Day 7 - recovery
All signs indicate victory, but regiments in the nose continue training maneuvers for the whole day. Coughing persists to ensure the removal of remnant invaders.
We have once again defeated the germ-ans.
The following battles are said to have been the turning points of the war:
 Battle of the Bulge-ing Uvula
 The Boogie Offensive
 Battle of Hack-in-away
Is this borderline delirium?

Boy do I hope I get better soon.....