Stop Consuming These Things

3 November 2010
  1. American Cheese Undisputed champion of disgusting foods, this putrid, sweaty, dog vomitesque substance is a testament to American poor taste.  To call this abomination “cheese” is not only an insult to perhaps the finest food known to man, but also an inaccuracy: it’s not cheese at all, but a heavily processed amalgamation of milk solids, whey, food coloring, and preservatives.  That’s why it’s labeled “pasteurized process cheese food”; I assume “food” is necessary to indicate that one can consume it, inadvisable though that may be.  Why does this stuff even exist?  There’s no shortage of real cheese; in fact, you can buy a 1 lb. block of store brand cheddar for about the same price as an equivalent amount of American.  If you eat this shit, you are a cretin with poor taste. On the bright side, American cheese was the basis for one of my favorite Simpsons moments (from the good old days, of course).
  2. Cool Whip

    As with American cheese, I cannot fathom why this product exists.  Real whipped cream is awesome, and you can buy a can for about $2.50 or make it yourself for even less.  Why would anyone choose to purchase a tub of chemicals that looks and tastes like something you’d use to shine your dashboard?  And please don’t tell me that it’s because some people are lactose intolerant.  Reptiles and birds are lactose intolerant; mammals, by definition, are lactose tolerant.  Like the sudden prevalence of peanut allergies, lactose intolerance is a symptom of our spoiled, pussified society.  As Chris Rock said, “you think anyone in Rwanda is lactose intolerant?”
  3. Tater Tots
    People often debate the relative merits of various types of fries; I love them all.  Shoestring, curly, wedge, waffle, whatever – there’s not much better than a well fried bit of potato, dusted with salt and dipped in 2 parts mayonnaise and 1 part ketchup.  I’ve got a boner right now just thinking about it.  Tater tots, however, are the retarded stepchild of the french fry family.  According to Wikipedia

    “Tater Tots were first created in 1953 when Ore-Ida founders F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg were trying to figure out what to do with left over slivers of cut up potatoes. They came up with the novel idea of chopping up the potato slivers, adding flour and seasoning, then pushing the mash through holes and slicing off pieces of what came out on the other side. Tater Tots were born.”

    So, tater tots are made from pressed potato sweepings; eating them is one step away from eating compost.  Whenever I talk shit about tater tots, somebody always rushes to their defense, in some cases making the absurd claim that tots are actually superior to fries.  To these unfortunate souls whose palates never progressed past 2nd grade, I argue as follows: do you like steak?  Yes?  Well, how about I take a steak, put it in a blender, then glue the resulting shreds together with some sort of food-grade glue?  I rest my case.

  4. Skim Milk
    It’s both amusing and depressing that America is a nation of lardasses despite our obsession with diet in general and fat in particular.  Skim milk is a great example of this pointless and futile obsession.  A cup of skim milk has 66 fewer calories and 8g less fat than a  cup of whole milk; on the other hand, it tastes like ass.  Is this a worthwhile trade-off?  I submit that it is not.  First of all, fat does not make you fat – calories do.  66 calories is not nothing, but unless you’re chugging glass after glass, it’s not a lot, either.  If you do drink a lot of milk, low fat (2% or 1%) tastes decent and has fewer calories.  What really pisses me off is people who order their coffee drinks with skim milk.  Way to save 2 calories there, fatty; you’ll be slim in no time!  In the meantime, enjoy your shitty pseudo-cappuccino.
  5. Partially Hydrogenated OilThis one is not on the list for its taste, which is actually pretty good, but for its deleterious effects on health and the fact that it has largely displaced the wonderful food that is lard.  Lard’s subtle flavor and inimitable texture make it a valuable ingredient, especially for baked goods; nothing beats a pie crust made with plenty of lard.  And it’s really not that bad for you; it has less saturated fat than butter, and in my experience less is needed.  At some point, though, lard became demonized as a health menace.  I’m not sure why; maybe because it comes from pigs, and pigs are fat, or maybe because it has a lot of cholesterol, even though there is no conclusive evidence linking dietary cholesterol to cholesterol in the blood.  In any event, partially hydrogenated oil (e.g. Crisco) became the recommended “healthy” alternative to lard.  Only recently, however, did we discover that the stuff is basically poison: it raises bad cholesterol levels while lowering good ones and there is ample evidence linking it to heart disease and obesity.  There is even some research suggesting that it can lead to Alzheimer’s Disease.  Oops!  The lesson here is never to doubt the glorious pig, giver of bacon, sausage, ribs, and yes, lard.

    Now that's good eatin'!

  6. Macro Beer
    To all the frat boys drinking Miller Lite and the hipsters drinking PBR who crowd good beer bars: FUCK YOU.  Go drink your swill at some shithole that doesn’t have Stone on tap.  Feel free to call me a snob, for on this matter my snobbery is fully justified; there is absolutely no good reason to drink cheap macro beer.  First of all, it tastes like nothing at best and urine at worst; I can down a few bottles of Hopslam and fill your glass with something better than Corona.  But it’s cheap, you say?  Well, allow me to retort.  If you’re just out to get drunk and cost is your only concern, then liquor offers far more alcohol for the buck and doesn’t require consuming liter upon liter of 4% ABV bathwater in order to catch a buzz.  Furthermore, though more expensive, good craft beer often packs considerably more punch, mitigating the price discrepancy.  For example, my local beer store sells a case of Bud Light for $15; at 4.2% ABV, that works out to $1.24 per ounce of alcohol.  The same store also sells the fantastic Founder’s Dirty Bastard for $39/case; at 8.5% ABV, that works out to $1.59 per ounce of alcohol.  When you look at it this way, cheap beer doesn’t seem like such a great value. 

    Honorable mentions: non-dairy creamer, Wonder bread.  Suggest more in comments.

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Q: What’s better than winning the Superbowl as a Steeler?

4 February 2009

A: Not living in Pittsburgh.   Zing! That’s right, faithful readers: it’s been a long time coming, but the much anticipated and long overdue “Pittsburgh post” has finally arrived.  Before I tear this city a new goatse-sized asshole, however, I will acknowledge some of its virtues.  First and foremost, the cost of living is very low.  I couldn’t even rent a broom closet in Manhattan for what I pay for my three bedroom here.  Of course, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, but Pittsburgh certainly is a good place to be a poor graduate student.  Second, for a city its size, Pittsburgh has a fairly vibrant cultural scene.  It has a symphony, an opera, and several art museums, as well as a number of attractions that can be enjoyed by heterosexuals.  Finally, it must be said that there are many worse places to live, such as Beirut, the Sudan, and Detroit.

But people don’t read Moral Hazard for some bullshit hippie love fest; in fact, they don’t read it at all. But if they did, it would be for bristling, over-the-top negativity, which I shall now deliver.  Without further ado, I present four reasons Pittsburgh should be swallowed up into the fiery bowls of hell.

Weather

Far and away the worst thing about Pittsburgh is the weather, which is, as Mike so eloquently put it, dog shit. To put it another way, the weather alone is sufficient reason to qualify Pittsburgh as a bona fide shithole.  Winter starts in mid-November and extends into April (yes, I know it technically starts in December and ends in March, go fuck yourself).  These months are bitter cold, but this is typical north of the Mason-Dixon line; what makes Pittsburgh winters particularly abominable is the constant precipitation.  It’s usually snow, which, though it does fuck up the roads, at least leaves you dry.  Often, however, it rains – even when the temperature is well below freezing, which leads me to believe that Pittsburgh is under some sort of gypsy curse.  In such cases you wind up soaked and shivering, and the rain mixes with the snow on the ground to form a disgusting slush that makes walking an utterly miserable ordeal.

Summer is not quite as bad as winter, but it’s no picnic either.  From late June through early September it’s as hot and moist as Satan’s nutsack.  The humidity is what really kills; you can’t so much as walk to your car without needing a change of shirt.  On top of that, there’s the frequent rain and electrical storms.

Thus, there are only two genuinely pleasant months in Pittsburgh (May and October), and even then the sky tends to be overcast.  Weather is a major component of quality of life, and Pittsburgh’s is so bad that one might be happier on death row in San Quentin.

The Case Law

Pittsburgh’s alcohol laws defy comprehension.  In a shrewd move to discourage entrepreneurship, the city makes liquor licenses expensive and difficult to obtain.  Many restaurants are therefore B.Y.O.B.; I actually like this, since it’s a lot cheaper, but it sure does suck for the business owner.  Throughout Pennsylvania, liquor and wine are only sold at state-run stores, often at high prices.  This is annoying, but I’m more of a beer drinker, and the beer situation is absolutely infuriating.  If you want to buy beer at a reasonable price, you must go to a “beer distributor” and buy a case.  For some bizarre reason I can’t even fathom, you can’t buy single bottles or six-packs.  Actually, it is possible to buy a six-pack from a bar or pizza parlor if you’re willing to pay $11 for a six of Yuengling.  I’ve resorted to this a few times, and in the process discovered yet another absurd rule: you can’t buy more than two six-packs at a time.  The clerk told me to buy two, leave, then come right back in and buy the third.  What.  The.  Fuck.

While I disagree with prohibiting supermarkets from selling alcohol, at least there’s a reason for such a policy: to protect small businesses who sell booze.  But I have yet to hear a single legitimate reason for the case law.  The only explanation I’ve been offered is that it protects bars and other purveyors of overpriced six-packs, but since when is it the role of legislation to create an artificially restricted and inflated market?

The Pittsburgh Accent

Before I came to Pittsburgh, I wasn’t even aware that there was a Pittsburgh accent.  Indeed there is, and it’s the only accent that makes southerners sound sophisticated by comparison.  Here’s a taste:

This is a parody, but people really do talk like that here.   In case you were wondering, “yinz” is a contraction of “you ones,” and serves as the second person plural.   “N’at” is a contraction of “and that,” and means absolutely nothing; yinzers just stick it at the end of sentences for no apparent reason.  It’s hard to believe that the English language could be so thoroughly mangled, but there you have it.

The Pirates

The Steelers are a model sports franchise; congratulations to them on their sixth Superbowl championship.  The Penguins are also a fine team who made it to the Stanley Cup finals just last year.  These successes, however, are canceled out by the embarrassment that is the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Guess when the Pirates last had a winning record.

1992.  Nineteen-ninety motherfucking two.  That’s 16 straight losing seasons, including 8 last-place finishes, and no signs that this streak is going to end anytime soon.   But since poor finishes lead to high draft picks, the Pirates’ minor league teams should be flourishing, right?  Wrong; incompetent management has squandered these draft picks time and again and left the farm system barren.

It’s really a shame the Pirates are such a disgrace, since they play in one of the nicest parks in all of baseball.  PNC Park opened just seven years ago, but now only draws more than 10,000 fans when the Cubs are in town.  What a fucking joke.