A lot of people I know made sure that I was aware of this cartoon, which appears in the April 18th issue of the New Yorker.
A grainy copy of the doctor’s note that Winston Churchill used in order to be able to drink while visiting the United States during Prohibition has been making the internet rounds. The scan above is much cleaner.
In case you were wondering, 250 cubic centimeters (also written as 250cc) is about 8.5 fluid ounces, which is enough booze to make four standard “doubles”.
This photo was floating around the internet back in January, and I assume the sign in the photo was for a small independent book store. I think that there will always be a place for paper-bound books, but for more ephemeral works, especially things like rapidly-outdated technical manuals, I’m grateful for the electronic versions.
Geez, Dad, way to ruin the family dinner mood.
Comic panel taken from Deadpool, issue 45.
Back in my university days, I once freaked out some scientifically illiterate hippie friends by telling them that bubble wrap was a way for the military-industrial complex to cheaply dispose of nerve gas from the Gulf War (this was the early ’90s, so I was referring to the first one). “It’s diluted, but it’s still poisoned enough that each pop of a bubble takes away a second of your life,” I’d say, and then I’d start popping bubbles. Hilarity ensued.
The prank worked because it had the right elements: it fed into my friends’ science illiteracy, fit into their world view and conspiracy theories, and I started popping those bubbles well before they had any time to think a little more critically about what I’d just said.
A similar but harmful prank was played on a Burger King in Coon Rapids, Minnesota to more costly effect. They received a call from someone claiming to be the local fire department, telling them that a gas leak had “pressurized” the restaurant and the only way to prevent the explosion was to release the gas by smashing all the windows in the restaurant.
The manager, who’d been made “frantic” by the call (that’s the word used by the police), evacuated the restaurant and followed the instructions given to him, as the video below shows:
What helped make the con work was the supposed urgency of the situation. It didn’t give the manager time to think things through and come up with questions like:
- Why didn’t the fire department just tell them to evacuate the building?
- Do emergency services ever tell you to take some kind of drastic action instead of doing it themselves?
- Wouldn’t the act of simply opening the doors release the gas?
What also helped is the nature of the job. At fast food places, it’s drilled into you that you’re not paid to think, but to follow procedures and orders.
If you think this kind of prank will work only once, think again. It happened previously at Shawnee, Oklahoma…
…as well as Morro Bay, California, where an overzealous manager drove a car into the drive-thru window in order to release the “dangerous gas”:
You don’t have to be the Governor of Florida to have an uncomfortable Starbucks moment, as an unidentified customer in St. Augustine discovered. He ordered a grande white chocolate mocha as part of a larger office order, which was picked up by a co-worker. In the space where Starbucks employees add the (often misspelled) name of the person who ordered the drink or some kind message was the line “Diabetes here I come”. The cup in question is pictured above.
Considering how many times Starbucks baristas mangle common names, I’m sort of impressed that this one spelled “diabetes” correctly.
In an interview with Action News Jax, who kept his identity secret, the customer said that “That first word just automatically brought the picture of both sisters in my head, and I was taken aback. Just the struggles they went through and all the doctor appointments they had.”
The customer sent the cup back with this message:
I’ll admit that I would’ve laughed had I received such a message on my cup, and my dad died from diabetes-related complications. Mind you, that was ten years ago; I can’t say with certainty that I would’ve laughed had it been ten days ago. My guess is that I would have, but I’m just “armchair quarterbacking” at this point.
In case you were wondering, here’s the nutritional information on a grande white chocolate mocha:
It has 58 grams of sugar, which is 4 grams more sugar than in two Snickers bars. Without the whipped cream, it has 400 calories; with the whipped cream, that number gets boosted to 470. It is, as Cookie Monster would put it, a “sometime food”.
That being said, the Starbucks employee behind the message, if s/he’s still with the company, should follow the same customer service policy as the one observed at “adult stores” everywhere: help the customer, and don’t judge. Whether it’s drinks or dildos, it doesn’t matter if the customer likes them big, brown, and over-accessorized — just make the sale and keep your comments to yourself.