Chuck E. Choke ’em!

If you’re looking for some fun, family fighting, the place to go is Chuck E. Cheese’s. Who knew? The Journal reports:

In Brookfield, Wis., no restaurant has triggered more calls to the police department since last year than Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Officers have been called to break up 12 fights, some of them physical, at the child-oriented pizza parlor since January 2007. The biggest melee broke out in April, when an uninvited adult disrupted a child’s birthday party. Seven officers arrived and found as many as 40 people knocking over chairs and yelling in front of the restaurant’s music stage, where a robotic singing chicken and the chain’s namesake mouse perform.

Bring on the science!

The environment also brings out what security experts call the “mama-bear instinct.” A Chuck E. Cheese’s can take on some of the dynamics of the animal kingdom, where beasts rush to protect their young when they sense a threat.

Stepping in when a parent perceives that a child is being threatened “is part of protective parenting,” says Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University and former president of the American Psychological Association. “It is part of the species — all species, in fact — in the animal kingdom,” he says. “We do it all of the time.”

Of course they blame the alcohol. But how else does one tolerate Chuck E. Cheese’s, and don’t we all love that delicious wine on tap?

…CEC also took alcohol off the menu at a Chuck E. Cheese’s in Flint, Mich., in February, a month after police responded to a fight there involving as many as 80 people.

Say it isn’t so

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

The NYT reports on a this article by Tomas Grim of the Dept of Zoology at Palacky Univ purporting to show a negative effect on numbers of scientific publications for scientists correlated with increasing beer consumption.

According to the study, published in February in Oikos, a highly respected scientific journal, the more beer a scientist drinks, the less likely the scientist is to publish a paper or to have a paper cited by another researcher, a measure of a paper’s quality and importance.

The results were not, however, a matter of a few scientists having had too many brews to be able to stumble back to the lab. Publication did not simply drop off among the heaviest drinkers. Instead, scientific performance steadily declined with increasing beer consumption across the board, from scientists who primly sip at two or three beers over a year to the sort who average knocking back more than two a day.

However, looking at the paper I’m somewhat confused, and not just from the willingness to generalize to all scientists from a single country’s avian ecologists. For one, the scales have to be a goof. Check out the first figure.

Who drinks 2 liters of beer a year? That’s basically teetotalling. Even 6 liters a year (the high end of his effect) would be a very small amount. Is this just alcohol in the beer? At 18ml/12oz beer that would mean each liter corresponds to ~50 beers. At 6 liters that’s still only 300 beers or less than one a day. If instead the author means 2-6 liters/day/person/year that may make more sense. But 6 liters of alcohol a day? Maybe the Czech’s are worthy rivals for beer drinking but that’s now an unbelievably high amount for a non-hobo. How about 100-600 liters of beer a year? One liter is roughly 3 x 12oz beers. That would be a minimum of about 1 beers a day for the left side of the scale (although that starts at 2 so really about 1-2 beers a day is the lowest group), versus people who have about 5-6 beers a day.

I’m having difficulties understanding the quantities of alcohol we’re talking about here. Can anyone enlighten me? If, as the NYT article suggests, the mid range was with 2 beers a day (which would fit with my 100L scaling above), I have even more trouble believing this silly hypothesis that the depressive effects of moderate alcohol negatively impact scientific work. After all the data is pretty level with a +/- bounce of 0.5 from 2-4 liters, or approximately 1-4 beers a day. Then there is a group of 5-6 beer/day drinkers who yank the line down giving it a pretty poor r-square value. I think this is a confusing paper with inadequate data and an improper line fit. At 5 or more beers a day you’re talking about pretty heavy use (not that I haven’t thrown back more than 5 in a day but not every day). Isn’t this really a study showing that alcoholic avian ecologists don’t publish as much as non-alcoholic avian ecologists?

Tomáš Grim (2008)
A possible role of social activity to explain differences in publication output among ecologists

Intervention Denial

Here’s a fun one from the archives–Modern Drunkard Magazine’s advice on how to beat an intervention. It includes this gem:

Counter Attack
Now that you’ve blunted their savage assault, it’s high time to launch your own vengeful attack. The only people bold enough to conduct an intervention are those who consider themselves very close to you, so you most likely will know more than a little about their habits. And everyone, even Mother Theresa, has bad habits. Attack these flaws with a strident, yet deeply concerned tone.

Making Booze II!

Also this weekend we also made beer. So it’s time for another alcoholic photo-essay, this time on beer homebrewing and a brief history of beer in America.

It all starts with a beautiful mixture of malted barley. Here’s about 20 lbs of barley, in Rick’s recipe there is a mixture of light and dark grains, all imported from Germany, in a Rubbermaid cooler which homebrewers have found handles hot temperatures well. Beer is made from 4 ingredients, water, malted barley, hops and yeast (though not part of the final product – used for the fermentation).


In this country, before prohibition, there were 1600 breweries in this country and in the late 1800s breweries peaked at about 4000. Basically, whichever immigrant group settled your area made beer. There was incredible variety and tradition in beer. Then prohibition came. Psychotic zealots like Carrie Nation ran around with axes attacking innocent cannisters of booze. People think alcohol is the cause of all of life’s problems and forget that it is also the solution to all of life’s problems.

Since beer is mostly water you also need a big pot to heat some in- here’s a modified keg being heated by a big propane heater.

Rick tells us at this point that Anheuser-Busch beer is good for one thing – providing kegs to serve as cooking vessels.

After prohibition ended, only the the big brewing companies survived, and the small local breweries, long driven out of existence, did not return. Beer was now a major industry, with only a few players. Many breweries reappeared after prohibition, but then died off in the face of competition from the mass producers. In 1950 there were about 500 breweries, in 1960 there were 230. Beer comes in cans, not bottles.

More below the fold…
Continue reading “Making Booze II!”

Making Booze!

This was a good weekend spent making lots of different kinds of booze. A long hot summer led to some really nice chardonnay grapes at the parents’ farm.


It wasn’t a large yield, but the sugar, or brix were really high, hopefully yielding a nice end product. If you want to see how we make white wine, more pics are below the fold.
Continue reading “Making Booze!”