Friday, May 11, 2012

Nutella - kicking arse without bubblegum

Adelaide stand-up comedian Michael G D’Agostino is a man brave enough to not only do stand-up, but do it almost naked. But I am sad to report that Mr D’Agostino has in fact lost the plot. The man is pea-nuts.

Michael said on his blog recently that peanut butter is the “best thing since sliced bread". Personally I would have at least chosen penicillin since the patent for making peanut butter is dated 1884 and bread did not become sliced until well after the shift from home bakers to factory made bread in the 1930s. There is even archaeological evidence that the ancient Aztecs feasted on a similar peanut paste. Sorry Mr D’Agostino, but you are wrong.

In Australia the most Aussie thing to have on a sandwich is vegemite, but being an acquired taste and not very versatile, the best spread in my opinion is the hazelnut chocolate spread known as Nutella.

It is far from being healthy, and if you are sad enough to think that it ever was then we can no longer be friends. This however does not make peanut butter healthier as anything can be unhealthy in excess, even water. Since Australia is the fattest nation per capita, closely followed by other western countries, who are we trying to kid about wanting something healthy? They are both on par for energy density, and qualification by being the “lesser of two evils” is just being delusional. Dog poo is a healthier choice then cat poo, but you are not going to tuck into that.

If you were a crepe, you would choose Nutella. If you were a creep, you would chose peanuts. Not just because it sounds like urine and testicles, but because there is nothing more evil in this world than peanut butter.

Kraft peanut butter, the most beloved peanut butter in Australia and Canada (due to hit American shelves soon), is never oily, never dry, but leaves a taste of evil on the roof of your mouth. In 1988 Philip Morris Companies purchased Kraft for $12.9 billion. What type of companies could afford $12.9 billion in 1988? Tobacco companies, that’s who. Phillip Morris changed their name to Altria in 2003, and then in 2007 the 88.1% of Kraft that Altria owned was given to their own shareholders. Altria is a company that founded its own “science” institute so that smoking, pesticides and global warming could have a fair voice on their side by bullying the scientific community and dismissing all their research as bullocks. This institute was run by a man on who was a columnist for Fox News, and we know how politically balanced those guys are. 

Mega consumer goods company Unilever, whose use of palm oil had been clearing forests in Indonesia until someone mentioned it in public, owns “Skippy”, one of the three most popular American brands of peanut butter. Unilever plans to have their palm oil from sustainable forests within the next couple of years, good on them, but they were clearing land in the forests of Côte d'Ivoire to do so until protesters started pointing out the irony. In their defence, it was a supplier and not Unilever themselves doing the damage, and to their credit is now pushing for a proper environmental study. However a company of that size and dedication to the environmental wellbeing of the Earth to still to have a “if we don’t ask you don’t tell” is very disappointing.

Then there is Peter Pan, the brand of peanut butter that has killed people. In 2006 they had a highly publicised salmonella outbreak that made hundreds of people sick in 46 of the 50 United States and led to 9 human deaths. I say human deaths because there are no figures of deaths in the pet food products that were contaminated. To be clear, I’m still talking about the peanut butter Peter Pan and not some pubescent teen breaking into your house and stealing your children by drugging them with “fairy dust”.

Jif is the highest selling peanut butter brand in the USA owned by the J.M. Smucker Co. who specifically target stay home mothers in their advertising, proving once and for all the power in day time television. If you are willing to pay for your advertising to sit around episodes of the “Bold and the Beautiful” (which is anything but) then you deserve to be tasered to death in the nipple with a spoon full of salmonella to help your own medicine to go down.

Okay, so I found no dirt on J.M. Smucker Co., but they sound like drain cleaner, so… yeah… take that!

Despite the atrocities that peanut butter makers have done over the years there is really only one thing that separates the spreads and that is taste. For lunch, breakfast, or even dessert Nutella tastes like methamphetamines from the gods. After a loving spoonful you want to dance like a knob and make love to household items. Surveys have shown that the majority of women would prefer to eat chocolate than have sex. There are no figures on where women stand on sex vs. peanuts; it’s probably because they’re all too busy having chocolate or sex.

The most popular flavour of anything in the world is chocolate. Even potato chips rock with a chocolate flavour (try a salted variety with Nutella; you will need to change your pants). So why not have the most popular flavour on the most popular lunch food in the western world? You are not crossing the desert or running from a famine ravaged country, torn by decades of war, fighting the crowd at the Red Cross truck. You are not Bear Grylls forced to squeeze the moisture from faeces. Statistically you live in a city or a town. You live in civilisation surrounded by access to food and you are on the internet where you are surrounded by food in 4-6 weeks. What’s the point of living in the West if you can’t love the luxuries?

Go on, have Nutella on your sandwich.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Space, between the rigs

Thank flying duck for rich people. James Cameron and Google co-founder Larry Page have unveiled a brand new resources company that plan to mine asteroids floating near the Earth. I hear Michael Bay and the guys over at Yahoo were thinking of starting up a gardening business based on solitaire.

If you don’t know what Planetary Resources Inc. are up to by now you must have been hiding under a rock outside the asteroid belt, but have a look at video below.

How awesome/bat shit crazy is that? I’ve imagined them sitting around a futuristic board room telling each other “it’s so crazy it just might work…”

There are more than 8000 asteroids that boffins classify as “near Earth” that could be rich in rare and important metals that can be brought back to Earth, but more importantly the asteroids could contain water.

“Big deal, I can understand about the metals and shit, but we have water here,” I hear you say (that’s right; I’ve bugged your place. You shouldn't swear - it degrades you). But believe me, water in space is a big deal.

When you go hiking you can either take all your water with you or you can organise for water to be waiting for you along the way. If you are boldly going where no one has gone before, you need to take all your water with you. That can be heavy. Every day you need about 2 litres of water per person for drinking, cooking, washing, etc. But if you could have water waiting for you, you need only take the amount of water you need to get you there. This means carrying less water, lighter payloads in space shuttles, and therefore less energy to get that shit into space. Astro-dudes will be able to grow their own food, have longer showers, swim a few laps before breakfast, wet t-shirt competition... You know live a little.

This will allow us probe (he he) the special vast regions (he he) of space (he… oh wait, there’s no euphemism there), and who doesn't want more probing? H.G Wells is probably an exception; he knows what happened last time. 

Some of these “near Earth” asteroids are a better choice than the moon for a drive through for two reasons; it takes less energy to get there and leave in some cases, and the moon is so 1960’s. Despite the Soviets getting there in 1959 with an unmanned craft that had less processing power than a modern air-conditioner.

I wish Planetary Resources all the best. If you find Unobtainium James, leave it the fuck there. Michael and I don’t want to have sit through another Avatar mate. But if we get Richard Branson away from being the face of space travel, it will be worth the risk.

If you could send an appliance to space, which one would you blow into the sky?