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February, 2010:

German Blitzkrieg closing medal gap [Olympics]

America was never supposed to be a contender in these Olympics. The pundits all said it would be Canada v. Germany out in front in the medals race.

But Team USA had a strong first week, and now we need to hang on to our lead.

This has been tough the last few days as the Germans have made quite the charge and are now within 2 medals of Team USA. Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight has the latest medal projects. It is going to be close.

But if we win, it will the first American Winter Olympic victory since 1932.

So root for Team USA, but also cheer on anyone who is not wearing a German flag (except, perhaps for the Canadians, we still need to teach them a lesson for that whole “Own The Podium” thing).

Denny’s really needs to open a NYC location

So near but yet so far

Writing my post about Denny’s offering free refills on pancakes and fries the other day naturally made me a bit hungry. So I decided it was high time to pay them a visit. After all, who doesn’t have a hankering for a Grand Slam pretty much all of the time?

I figured there had to be at least one location in NYC. After all, there are four Apple stores in Manhattan, there has got to be at least one Denny’s somewhere, right?

Hopeful, I fired up and used their restaurant-finder tool.  But I was soon met with devastating news: The nearest Denny’s location was 22 miles away and across state lines.Google estimated that getting there would require a subway ride, a train ride and a 30 minute walk.

I like endless flapjacks as much as the next guy, but an hour-and-a-half commute is a bit much. And who knows how late NJ Transit keeps its trains running. I guess I’ll just have to wait for Denny’s to open a restaurant in NYC (which I’m sure would make the Neighborhood Association-types apoplectic).

USA to build new embassy with defensive moat in London [because we can]

The State Department announced that it has selected a plan for the new US embassy in London. The $1 billion glass cube will be the most expensive US Embassy in the world, beating out our Islamabad facility by $150 million.

The British are happy we’re moving out of central London, but are a bit perturbed that the State Department is refusing to pay $175 million in construction taxes. This bill is in addition to the 32 million pounds worth of outstanding parking violations that embassy employees have racked up.  Of course we don’t have any intention of paying up–that is what the Revolution was about, wasn’t it?

And even if they try, the Crown’s taxmen are going to have a hard time collecting their taxes as our new embassy will not only have the latest and greatest security systems but its main approach will also be defended by a 100-foot moat!


Denny’s introduces free refills on fries, pancakes [progress]

Denny's Is LordTheir Grand Slam breakfasts are excellent. They’re open 24/7 and their refills are free. How could Denny’s possibly get any better? (aside from giving us all another round of free Grand Slams).

By offering free refills of pancakes and fires, that’s how.

A corporate press release has the details:

Starting now and continuing through the end of March, Denny’s is offering unlimited free refills of two of America’s favorites, French fries and pancakes, at participating locations nationwide. Valid 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the offer applies to any order of French fries or pancakes served with an entrée, including both original buttermilk pancakes and Denny’s Hearty Wheat pancakes, for a limited time.

“Clearly times are still hard and everyday we’re all looking for ways to stretch hard-earned dollars farther and farther,” said John Dillon, Vice President Marketing, Denny’s Corporation. “By offering unlimited refills on not just one but two favorite items, we are able to provide even more everyday value on items our guests love. Who doesn’t want seconds of pancakes and fries… especially when they’re free?”

Free refills on pancakes and fries, available 24/7 from coast to coast? Amazing. Now if we could only get Denny’s to expand overseas…*

*No, the handful of Canadian locations don’t count as overseas as Canada is pretty much part of America anyway.

NBC thinks Canada is 51st State [Olympics]

NBC is pretty excited about Ice Dancing this year. They’ve been using Lady Gaga music to hype it and are even running a contest where you can judge the Ice Dancing costumes.

But what has them particularly thrilled is the prospect that either the US or Canada will likely walk away with the gold. As they put it: “No North American team has ever won the gold medal in Ice Dancing.”

North American team?

Since when do continents compete in the Olympics? Did NAFTA start fielding Olympic Teams and I missed it? Or did NBC just overlook the fact that Canada is *technically* an independent country?

Taunting the competition with negative ads [video]

Negative ads—particularly the corporate variety—are delightful. But what is better than an ad that smears the competition? An ad that simply taunts the competition, like this new one from Audi that is running during the Olympic broadcasts.*

Email subscribers may need to click through to see the video

*Yes, Audi is a German company, but its US advertising agency is San Fransisco-based Venables Bell & Partners.

Olympic link roundup [Schadenfreude edition]

Pimp My ZamboniCanada’s ‘Own the Podium’ Plan Falls Short So Far as the U.S. Dominates [WSJ]

Big Push From Canada Is Not Panning Out [NYT]

Waking Its Neighbors, U.S. Upsets Canada [NYT]

Canadians Cave, Bring In American-Made Zamboni For Olympics [Jalopnik]

Nate Silver has an analysis of where Canada’s Olympic dreams are falling short, and how poorly targeted its “Own The Podium” funding was [FiveThiryEight]

The medal count at the end of day 10

USA: 24

Germany:  18

Norway: 12

South Korea: 9

Canada: 9


Lego Big Mac

I wonder what costs more, the Lego bricks required to build this or a Big Mac Meal itself? Either way, it is making me hungry.

Also, a series of kits to build Lego McDonald’s items would make great Happy Meal toys.

[lets-brick via designboom]

Team USA is kicking ass, taking names [Olympics]

USA cheering sectionThis was supposed to be Canada’s games. Ever since Vancouver was selected to host the 2010 Winter Olympics, Canada has been fixated on taking home the most medals. The Government poured more than $118 million dollars into a special program called Own The Podium that recruited and trained potential athletes and is even offering $20,000 cash-prizes to athletes who medal.

Pretty much everyone believed the hype. Going into the games, Canada was widely favored by bookies and sports experts to win both the most gold medals and most medals overall.

But  thus far, Canada’s massive effort seems to have come to naught.

Nearly halfway thought the games, Canada has steadily slipped in the medals standings.  Going into day 8, Canada is in 5th place after falling behind Finland and Korea.

At the front of the pack is Team USA, which has been unexpectedly dominating the games thus far. The USA has traditionally been weak in the winter games, which have been dominated by Germany for the last two decades. But that seems to have changed. What was supposed to be Canada’s year is turning into America’s. Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight now projects the USA to win the medal count (just two days ago we were neck-and-neck with Canada and Germany), though Canada is still favored to take home the most gold medals. If Team USA can hold on to its lead, it will be the first Winter Olympics America has won since 1932 (we only managed to tie Germany in the 2002 Salt Lake City games).


Fran Lee, Pooper-Scooper pioneer, dies [Great American Patriot]

Curb Your Dog - 1We often take things like dog poop-free streets and free toilets for granted. But these advances were the result of the hard work and dedication of great American patriots.

One such patriot, Fran Lee, who helped push through New York City’s strong Pooper-Scooper Law, passed away earlier this week. She was 99. The New York Times has the story.

In the early ’70s she founded Children Before Dogs, a group whose aim was the elimination of all such waste from city streets. As she explained often in interviews, Toxocara canis, a tiny roundworm found in dog feces, poses health risks, especially to children. At its most severe, it can cause blindness.

In staunch contrarian fashion, Ms. Lee initially fought the city’s plan to enact a pooper-scooper law. By her lights, such laws were far too lenient. In the world of which she dreamed, no dog would be allowed to besmirch the city’s streets for even a moment: instead, it would attend to its affairs at home, on newspaper, before padding outside. She envisioned, as she told The Times in 1972, a battalion of city “poodle maids,” who would prowl New York issuing summonses to the masters of dog offenders.

Ms. Lee’s stand put her at the forefront of the pitched battle over dog excrement that raged in the city for much of the ’70s. When she appeared in public, outraged dog owners hurled invective; occasionally they hurled the subject matter of the debate itself. Ms. Lee had no qualms about responding in kind.

Our streets are safer and our shoes are cleaner because of her work.

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