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The Numbers

A ceasefire in the latest Middle East conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel came into force on 14 August. During five weeks of fighting hundreds of people died and thousands were made homeless.

Here is an estimate of the impact of the crisis on Lebanon and Israel up to 14 August, 2006 (unless otherwise stated).


116 soldiers
(Israeli Defence Force)

43 civilians
(Israeli police)

(Lebanese government)

28 Lebanese soldiers (not in conflict with Israelis)
(Agence France Presse, 6 August)

Hezbollah - there are no reliable figures
Israeli military estimate more than 530
Hezbollah and fellow Shia militant group Amal say 55 fighters have been killed
(Agence France Presse, 5 August)


Serious - 32
Moderate - 44
Light - 614
Treated for shock - 1,985
(Israeli police)
(Lebanese government)


500,000 approx (50% of population in the north of Israel)
(Human Rights Watch)
915,762 (approx 25% of Lebanese population)
(Lebanese government)


More than 300 buildings, including houses and factories.
(Israeli police)
6,900 houses/apartments

900 factories, markets, farms and other commercial buildings

29 airports, ports, water- and sewage-treatment plants, dams and electrical plants

23 fuel stations

145 bridges and over-passes

600km of roads
(Lebanese government)

Environment - It is estimated that the initial clean up of a huge oil spill caused by the Israeli bombing of a power plant will cost $64m (£34m)


3,699 Hezbollah rockets have landed in Israel
(Israeli police)
7,000 air strike targets hit
(Israeli military)


70% of businesses closed in northern Israel
(Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce)

Tourism - expected to reach NIS 1bn ($230m)
(Governor, Bank of Israel)

Total cost of war (includes military spending and lost GDP) - up to NIS 23bn ($4.8bn)
(Israeli Ministry of Finance, Haaretz newspaper 13 August)

Direct and indirect damage - NIS 5 billion (US$1.1bn)
(Israeli Ministry of Finance, Haaretz newspaper 13 August)

Repairs to buildings and infrastructure and rebuilding expected to reach $4bn
(Lebanese government)

Tourism - Lebanon's tourist industry has been decimated. Tourist is estimated to earn Lebanon $2.5bn (£1.3bn)
(Lebanese government)


80s ISUZU GEMINI TV advertistment

80's commercials



A military term for small beer, five pints of which, by an act of parliament, a landlord was formerly obliged to give to each soldier gratis.


Funny stills.

The Bar that never closed

"There has never been a better reason to drink."

and also while there listen to this


It's All A Lie


America's Drunkest City

Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Following is a ranking of "America'sDrunkest Cities" as compiled by Forbes.com. The Beer Institute reported that 15.875 million barrels of beer were consumed in the U.S. in July, a 0.2 percent fall from a year earlier. The methodology used to determine "America's Drunkest City" is in the note following the table.

===========City Rankings=============

1. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

3. Columbus, Ohio

4. Boston, Massachusetts

5. Austin, Texas


Note: The methodology to determine America's Drunkest Cities is as follows: To determine America's Drunkest Cities, we started with a list of the largest continental U.S. metropolitan areas--geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for use by federal agencies in collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics. Thirty-five candidate cities were chosen based on availability of data and geographic diversity.

Each city was ranked in five areas: state laws, drinkers, heavy drinkers, binge drinkers and alcoholism. Each metro was assigned a score in each category, based on quantitative data. All five categories were then totaled into a final score, which was sorted into our final rankings.

State Laws: Cities were ranked on a scale of 1 to 8, based on the state laws affecting alcohol sales and consumption in the area, where a city ranked #1 has the least restrictive policies. We considered factors like the letter grades from Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Rating The States report; whether the state has passed laws banning open containers of alcohol in a car; and whether large containers of alcohol like beer kegs must be tagged with identifiers linking them to their purchaser.

Drinkers: Cities were ranked 1 to 35, based on the number of adults who reported having had at least one drink of alcohol within the past 30 days in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey,2004. The higher a city's rank, the larger the percentage of its population are alcohol consumers.

Heavy Drinkers: Cities were ranked 1 to 35, based on the number of adult men whoreported having had more than two drinks per day, and adult women having had morethan one drink per day, in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, 2004. The higher a city's rank,the larger the percentage of its population are heavy drinkers.

Binge Drinkers: Cities were ranked 1 to 35, based on the number of adults whoreported having had five or more drinks on one occasion in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, 2004. Thehigher a city's rank, the larger the percentage of its population are binge drinkers.

"Alcoholism": Cities were ranked based on the number of Alcoholics Anonymous meetingsheld in the area, as a proportion of the number of residents over the legal drinking age. Higher-ranking cities reported more meetings per capita.

Congratulations to Miguel and Ivan for helping put Minneapolis and Boston on the chart, respectively. Let's do our part to put New York on the map.

NB: Those are my quotation marks around "alcoholism."


Good Riddance

Just thought I'd share my feelings on the matter: I haven't considered Pluto a planet since the early nineties. Kuiper Belt object, obviously! Here are some fun size comparisons:

..and then:

and finally:


Democracy Over

Hungary, where eagles dare

US comedian Stephen Colbert won the first round of votes in an online public vote called by the Ministry of Economy and Transport to find a name for a new bridge spanning the Danube between Újpest and Budakalász, connecting two stretches of the M0 motorway ringroad.

Colbert asked the audience of his show to vote for him in the contest. After the show appeared online, he reached the top position within a day. The first round of voting was closed on Tuesday morning, which means visitors can no longer suggest new names but can vote for the top 25 suggestions after registering on the M0 bridge official site.

Colbert won the first round of voting with 17,231,725 (53%) votes. 17th century army general and poet Miklós Zrínyi was second with 2,062,649 (6%) votes, and revolutionary poet Sándor Petőfi's lazy hero Pató Pál came in third with 1,805,118 (6%) votes.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Colbert overwhelmingly led the second round with 6,976 (59%) votes. Jon Stewart stood at second place with 1,520 (13%) votes and Chuck Norris was third with 513 (4%) votes.

I think they should name a bridge after their national hero Whiskey Robber.

The Arabs of the 21st century

Here's an idea I read that I hadn't heard before a few weeks ago, but thought was interesting.

It was described in the New Yorker a few weeks ago by a British scientist who has been accused of (but never really gotten in trouble for) assisting Iran in nuclear weapons development.

Paraphrasing from memory, he described the nuclear-armed countries (USA, Israel, Pakistan, France, yadayadayada) as using nonproliferation as a red herring.

The real goal is for them to be the sole providers of nuclear power - after the coming "long emergency" when oil reserves are depleted to the point of it no longer being cost-effective to mine it. When that happens, the world will have to switch to a nuclear energy based economy, and the current nuclear club will reap the benefits. He used the phrase "Arabs of the 21st century."

A few days after I read this I was talking to a girl whose father was a in-the-process-of-retiring oil company executive, and while we were on the topic of intragenerational political differences (he's more conservative than she is), I ran this idea by her. She said that that was exactly what her dad believed. So now whenever I hear of a proposal to "do something" before one country or another can develop the bomb, I think there may be a subtext of energy company executives scheming to advance a future advantage in a gazillion dollar (or euro/ yen/ whatever) industry.


Cognitive Dissonance

"A man with conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point."
Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails

From the Wikipedia entry on cognitive dissonance:
"some people who feel dissonance seek information that will reduce dissonance and avoid information that will increase dissonance. People who are involuntarily exposed to information that increases dissonance are likely to discount that information, either by ignoring it, misinterpreting it, or denying it."

Thanks to the Drudge Report for reminding me that excitable Republicans at the Wall Street Journal and National Review expected some sort of huge Iranian military attack today... possibly even one worth preempting.

I read the Festinger quote in a pretty good article (only in print edition) about folks who expect the world to end because of oil problems, but it really reminded me of the fuckwits who run our foriegn policy, whose instinct at the occasion of every failure is to double down. (Like the Millerites, who, when rapture didn't occur as foretold in 1843, became even more evangelical about an 1844 end-of-the-world, later known as the Great Dissapointment.)

Passed along without comment: George Bush says "We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here" and "we’re not leaving so long as I’m the president."


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Blog

It's a little slow now do to enormous traffic...

Update: If you are in Israel and using Internet Explorer, you should not have clicked on this, Because, as O’Reilly reports (the computer O’Reilly, not the sexual harassing one), the site sends a virus (or trojan) to visitors with Israeli IP addresses. Fiendishly clever, Ahmadinejad! America bows to your superior cunning — we know now that you will not rest until your diabolical dreams are realized — Jews across the world will switch to Linux or face the terrifying consequences!
- Wonkette

I am realy starting to like this guy

Tony Jaa

Tony Jaa is the most amazing working martial arts star. Yesterday Oded, Josko, and I saw him give a demonstration at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens and it was absolutely out-of-control. He did this form and used this high kick to launch an autographed soccer ball into the audience, among other things. (A photo of the soccer ball trick).

I learned that the upcoming film The Protecter (already released around the world besides USA as Tom Yung Goong) will be edited differently for the US market, so I'll definitely go when it opens on September 6 to compare notes with my Tom Yung Goong DVD (short review: at least two of cinema history's best action scenes, maybe more).

I also learned that Mr. Jaa has a cameo in Bodyguard. Not available on Netflix; I guess I’ll have to head to the Fulton Street mall in Brooklyn.

I can't find a schedule of other live appearances, but he was clearly recently in Washington DC, and I bet he'll be in LA around the time The Protecter opens. I can't recommend seeing him in person highly enough.

In the category of wonderful Tony Jaa news: I read a report that he will be directing Ong Bak II, and that it will showcase Thai weapons as well as hand-to-hand (& knee-to-face) techniques.

(Cross-posted to my other blog.)
(Eagerly awaiting your phone-cam pics to arrive on flickr, Josko.)


"Remember the first thing I told you.. make a movie with me and you live."

US man survives chocolate ordeal

The BBC makes sure we know all the facts:

"The accident involved dark chocolate."


From The Department Of Obvious Headlines: There Are Mother Fuckin' Snakes In The Mother Fuckin' Everglades---Anatomy Of A Duel

An update.

So the documentary on the mysterious, headless, python with an alligator exploding out of its gut was awesome. Here were some highlights:
  • Tons of never-before seen pictures of the aftermath of the cataclysmic battle of python vs alligator!
  • A "Team of Scientists" returned to the scene of the duel, waist-deep in a vast roadless expanse of swamp, and put up yellow police tape like it was a scene of a crime. They'd be discussing the find, and then the camera would switch to "reptile vision" and make it appear like they were being stalked by a gator or python or both. The funny part was it was weeks after the incident and the bodies had been long consumed by scavengers and disappeared. The location was almost incidental as the Team layed out plastic-laminated pictures of the dead in lieu of the real thing.
  • There was a fat old guy with a huge white beard that told the story of how he once saw a big gator eat a big snake in the swamps. He had cool pictures to prove it. They did a dramatization of that using the real guy with the beard. He was jolly and awesome.
  • The "Team of Scientists" wondered if maybe the snake just burst 'cause the gator was too much to swallow. To prove a snake could in theory digest a gator, they tried to feed dead baby gators to smaller snakes so the match was proportionate. Unfortunately, the pussy snakes they had domesticated in tanks were spoiled on rats and afraid of the dead gators. So a "scientist" was, like, "Do you have any hungrier snakes?"
  • They did, but they still wouldn't eat 'em. Stuck with the pussy snakes spoiled on rats, a "scientist" thought, "Hey, we need to make the gators smell more like rats!" So they sewed on the face of a rat to the face of the baby alligator. Then the snake was, like, "Fuck yeah! A rat!" and ate it.
  • The "Team of Scientists" x-rayed the bloated snake everyday to show the stages of digestion and the mother fuckin' gator was digested by the mother fuckin' snake in a mere 9 days. It was, indeed, possible.
  • But how matched were the big gator and python? There was evidence of a bite on the alligators head not caused by the snake, but by another alligator. As big male alligators often show their dominance over other alligators by biting them, this isn't too unusual. BUT, in the question of a fair python vs alligator fight, as the show said, "This changes everything!"
  • Meanwhile, did the big gator claw its way out? Impossible, the "scientists" figured, since the gator would be long asphyxiated by the time it got that deep in the snakes gut. The orientation of the rigor-mortised alligator limbs also suggested nothing of a clawing motion.
  • Forensic studies showed that where the alligator exploded out of the python, there were actually wounds from the outside. Since the exploded snake also had no mother fuckin' head, the "scientists" jumped to the same conclusion I did months ago, totally blowing the Lone-Gator Theory out of the (ahem) swamp water: there must've been a second mother fuckin' alligator!!!
  • The Two Gator Theory, the show explained, is controversial amongst python vs gator enthusiasts and "scientist," but the exterior python wounds on the belly and "neck" did seem to be from an alligator. Science shows it'd also be a little hard to swallow an alligator after it's eaten your head.
  • Finally, they had a CGI recreation of the python vs. gator battle! Then a CGI recreation of a second alligator attacking the bloated python. Fuck yeah!


The internet is ruined

Sploid: Goodbye Forever.

Holy Shit

My friends, the champions up on Mt. Olympus are smiling down on Drink Tank. I would like to draw your attention to a television program on the National Geographic Channel (you know, the people that brought us David Attenborough and Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer):
Python vs. Gator [TV-PG]
Wednesday, August 16, 2006, at 08PM

Not since the photo of Hogzilla has a picture sparked such debate about its authenticity. On September 26, 2005, a park biologist snapped a photo of a six-foot alligator half inside the belly of a dead 13-foot Burmese python. Did the python attack the gator? In the heart of the Everglades, a hidden war between one of Florida's largest and most terrifying native carnivores, the American alligator, and a new exotic alien invader, the Burmese python, has exploded into view.

Let's get some forties and some pop-corn. I believe Oded would be happy to volunteer his empty apartment for this seminal piece of entertainment history. And in case anyone fails to accuse me of excess:

From The Department Of Foregone Conclusions: All Told, This Conflict Has Strengthened Hezbollah

Hezbollah's urban nerve center is a shattered shell. Its most loyal followers trudged homeward to a heartland laid to waste. And yet the Shiite organization lighted up the night sky with fireworks Monday and declared itself triumphant over Israel.

Israel meant to break Hezbollah with its monthlong offensive, but instead the militant organization has been strengthened politically in Lebanon, analysts say. The movement has a fresh boost of popularity, at least for now, and a renewed sense that it is entitled to keep its armed militia outside the control of the Lebanese army, they say.

Hezbollah's newfound clout has come at a staggering cost to Lebanon's infrastructure, economy and civilians, hundreds of whom died under the rubble of Israeli bombs. The fragile central government, which the U.S. administration strove to present as an example of democracy taking root in the Arab world, also has suffered from the month of fighting.

"The reality is, they have weakened the government significantly," said Charles Ayoub, editor of Ad Diyar newspaper. "What room do [officials] have to maneuver? If Nasrallah says he won't give up the weapons, what are they going to do?"

The U.N. resolution that paved the way for the truce calls for Hezbollah's disarmament. So, for that matter, does an earlier, long-ignored resolution. But the terms for giving up the weaponry are vague. And as a prominent party in the Lebanese government, Hezbollah will have a hand in deciding how and whether the language translates into fact.

If anything, analysts say, the war has worsened Lebanon's underlying instability, bolstering Hezbollah at the expense of more moderate, secular figures in government.

"Most of the government really thought that Hezbollah could be trimmed by the Israelis, and that would give them less of a problem," said Judith Palmer Harik, a Hezbollah expert. "But it didn't work out that way, and now there's nothing they can do, in my opinion, to get Hezbollah away from doing what it wants.


Whoa, Space Elevator News

I didn't realize the Space Elevator made it into a popular video game, Halo 2:

I wonder if you get to ride/destroy it.

Meanwhile, I'd heard it'd be easier to build a Moon or Mars elevator than an Earth one, but what about Venus?
Conversely, a Venusian space elevator would need to be much longer [than for Earth]. Although a tether placed at the stationary orbit of the slowly rotating Venus would intersect the sun, one could be constructed that rotated with the fast-moving cloud decks of the planet which take only four earth days to make a complete cycle. The cable would need to exceed 100 thousand kilometers long but, counter-intuitively, would experience less stress due to the slightly smaller gravity exerted on the cable. Such an elevator could service aerostats or floating cities in the benign regions of the atmosphere.
I'm sure we'd all like to see The Empire Strikes Back become a reality.


First Daughter Of Fun!

The Harvard-educated daughter of Uzbekistan's autocratic President Islam Karimov has released a music video.

The song, entitled Don't Forget Me, is being played dozens of times per night on the Uzbek equivalent of MTV, Ferghana news agency said.

The video shows Gulnara Karimova, 33, singing and dancing in a cartoon world.

Analysts suggested the video could be aimed at building Ms Karimova's popular appeal, and even preparing her as a potential successor to her father.

Ms Karimova is a wealthy businesswoman thought to have acquired interests worth millions of pounds after her divorce from husband Mansur Maqsudi.

Ms Karimova, who was educated at Harvard University, is using the stage name GooGoosha and has so far recorded five songs, Ferghana said.

Mr Karimov, 66, heads a repressive regime accused of serious human rights violations and silencing political dissent.

His administration was condemned by the international community over the May 2005 bloodshed in Andijan.

Mr Karimov has been in power since 1991.


I just crashed a plane into my office building

Sumptins wrong


Punks And Posers In China

Li Yang, 23, is the lead singer for a band called Demerit. He spent $3 to dye a chunk of his black hair blond. He gave a tailor another $3 to narrow a pair of black pants and add huge zippers and chains. A button on his jacket said, "No Life, No Future."

At a recent day-long punk festival at a drive-in movie theater, where even the resident dog had a mohawk, Li argued that Chinese punks have rejected the drugs and violence of some of the punks who gave rise to the genre in Europe and the United States.

"They were troublemakers," said Li, who is also known as Spike. "We are trying to change the image of punk rockers. We just want to tell the audience that the music is pure and that we are nice and not violent."

Many punk rockers in China are long on style and short on substance, critics say. Few of them can articulate what they stand for or explain what their songs mean. Some claim to be voices for the downtrodden but aren't familiar with true poverty.

Critics point out that most of the punks are members of a generation born in the 1980s, and the first to be raised in the one- child-only families mandated by the government. Their parents are seen as more indulgent, willing to let their only children lead the lives that they want.

"They don't know what they want because they want so many things," said Lu Bo, chief executive of Scream Records and owner of a now-defunct club that helped popularize punk music in Beijing eight years ago. "Those born in the '60s and '70s were told by their teachers and parents, 'This is the way you should lead your lives.' No one told this group. They're free to follow new trends."

Some analysts say that, in a way, China's punks can afford to be a little aimless. Many of them are more well-off than their parents...


Ladies of the IDF


Future Overlords Perfect The Modern Bar

A bar in eastern China has come up with a novel way of attracting clients - they are allowed to beat up the staff.

The Rising Sun Anger Release Bar in Nanjing lets customers smash glasses, rant and even hit specially trained workers, state media reported.

The owner, Wu Gong, told China Daily that he was inspired to open the bar by his experiences as a migrant worker.

Most of his customers were women working in the service or entertainment industries, he said.

The bar employs 20 men who have been given protective gear and physical training to prepare them for the job.

Clients can ask the men to dress as the character they wish to attack.

'Attractive idea'

Passers-by were divided on the idea.

"Pressure in today's society comes from just about anywhere, from family or from work, from your boss or your girlfriend. We get no place to vent anger," said salesman Chen Liang.

"The idea of beating someone decorated as your boss seems attractive."

But another man, Liu Yuanyuan, said violence was not the answer.

"If people really feel angry, they should adjust their lifestyles or seek psychological treatment," he told the daily.

But Mr Wu can meet that need, too. For the most stressed-out cases, counselling is available from psychology students recruited from local universities.


OK Computa-mon

Thursday, December 15, 2005 –After several years of intense speculation from fans as to whether the Easy Star All-Stars--the musical collective behind 2003’s underground hit, DUB SIDE OF THE MOON--would ever take on another reggae interpretation of a classic album, Easy Star Records announced the upcoming release of RADIODREAD, A Complete Reggae Version of Radiohead’s OK COMPUTER.


Or, just click here for a preview.


Ode to Veyron

"Ten radiators cool the Bugatti's rear-mounted 8-liter engine, a 1,001 horsepower W-16 locomotive that weighs 550 kilograms (1,212 pounds) and produces 746,000 watts of power, the same sum of energy as a World War II Japanese Zero fighter plane firing all guns at full throttle. A human exerting that amount of oomph would burn 641,000 calories and evaporate instantaneously."

"Seven gears. Four turbochargers. Faster than a 240 mph McLaren Formula One racecar. A fuel consumption of 1.33 gallons per minute. Enough acceleration to travel 100 meters (328 feet) in less than one second."

Thanks for the book, Oded

I like it.
"Perhaps most people in the world aren't trying to be free, Kafka. They just think they are. It's all an illusion. If they were really set free, most people would be in a real bind. You'd better remember that. People actually prefer not being free."

"Including you?"

"Yeah. I prefer being unfree, too. Up to a point. Jean-Jacques Rousseau defined civilisation as when people build fences. A very perceptive observation. And it's true - all civilisation is the product of a fenced-in lack of freedom. The Australian Aborigines are the exception, though. They managed to maintain a fenceless civilisation until the seventeenth century. They were dyed-in-the-wool free. They could go where they wanted, when they wanted, doing what they wanted. Their lives were a literal journey. Walkabout is a perfect metaphor for their lives. When the British came and built fences to pen in their cattle, the Aborigines couldn't fathom it. And, ignorant to the end of the principle at work, they were classified as dangerous and anti-social and were driven away, to the outback. So I want you to be careful. The people who build high, strong fences are the ones who survive the best. You deny that reality only at the risk of being driven into the wilderness yourself."