Friday Four

Friday, July 03, 2015

Editor's Note: Due to family obligations, comment moderation will be very slow or, possibly, delayed until after the holiday weekend.

1. Word from HBL is that the Wall Street Journal has published an excerpt from the soon-to-be-released Ideal, by Ayn Rand:

Ideal tells the story of a screen actress who is accused of murder and visits six of her most devoted fans to ask for help. In 1934, when she was in her late 20s, Rand first wrote "Ideal" as a work of fiction.

But Rand was dissatisfied with it and set it aside. The same year, she rewrote it as a play. The play didn't have its New York premiere until 2010 -- 66 years after she wrote it.

The original version was rediscovered in 2012 by Richard Ralston, publishing manager at the Ayn Rand Institute. (At 135 pages, it's been called a novelette and a novella. The publisher is now billing it as a "short novel.")
I am pretty sure I have the play, but since I don't really enjoy reading plays, I have not read it. I look forward to the novelette/novella/short novel.

2. Petr Cech, widely regarded as one of the five best goalkeepers in the world, has signed for Arsenal. Chelsea Captain John Terry had this to say about his former teammate when speculation about the move mounted:
Terry, who also praised Cech's "unbelievable" professionalism after he was relegated to the bench, believes the Czech would bring a dramatic improvement to their league rivals. "If they do get him, he will strengthen them for sure," Terry told TalkSport. "He will save them 12 or 15 points a season. Petr was an unbelievable professional last year. When you get left out of the team it can be hard to accept but when he came in he was exceptional.

"He deserves a lot of credit for that. We understand he wants to play first-team football but nobody wants to see him leave the club. He's going to be sorely missed and will improve any side he goes to." [link dropped]
12-15 points is, by the way, like winning four or five games of the 38-game season. Cech, still at the peak of his powers, wanted to start and wished to keep his family in London. Chelsea's owner permitted the move out of gratitude for his many past contributions to Chelsea's success, and against the wishes of manager Jose Mourinho.

3. Attempting to make sense of some strange pricing at McDonald's, a blogger tipped me off to the existence of a "Chicken McNuggets Theorem":
It turns out, there's a general purpose method of solving problems like these. The Chicken McNuggets theorem states that you can replace 9 and 20 with any two coprime numbers a and b, and the solution to the question is defined by ab - a - b.
I was a math major and worked at McDonald's back when this name for the theorem made sense, but had not heard of it.

4. From another article featuring the Golden Arches comes the following interesting fact about today's beer drinkers:
... The ominous fact is that 44 percent of 21- to 27-year-old drinkers have never tasted Budweiser. They prefer craft beers from microbreweries. A craft brewer is one that ships 6 million or fewer barrels a year. In 2013, craft brewers shipped more than Bud did...
The college kid I mentioned in the preceding item had tasted Budweiser and decided beer wasn't for him. He changed his mind about beer after visiting Germany during the semester abroad he was saving for. Perhaps that kid was ahead of his time.

-- CAV


Today: Removed "Former" from description of John Terry. 


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "I am pretty sure I have the play, but since I don't really enjoy reading plays, I have not read it." I am pretty much of the same temperament: I enjoy watching plays and have gone through stages where I read plays with pleasure, but it has to be a really good play; my taste's quite selective. For instance, I remember reading Ibsen's "The Lady from the Sea" shortly after seeing a retrospective of George Bellows' paintings, and the feel of the play went well with paintings like this; I imagined similar techniques and treatment of color in the staging and greatly enjoyed reading it as a result. (The painting is vast and the online image doesn't do it justice.)

--Which in itself is a bit peculiar because I'm not nearly as sensitive to painting as I am to literature or music. It's one of the differences in temperament that amuses me: Some people devour every play they can get in their hot little hands in the same way I devour music, poetry, or fiction.

It's also good to keep in mind when I hear someone with reasonable taste in literature say something like, "I really only like film music. It has to have a strong visual connection. I can't stand boring abstruse stuff no one can get into, like Brahms" (pretty much an actual quote), or people for whom the pinnacle of musical art is ABBA. (I think I like ABBA better than you do, but they really shine out to the extent they do solely against the background of the wretched decade they did less than others to debase. --Seriously, a couple of their songs are quite good songs as songs and only a couple do I utterly abominate, but a little of them goes a long way.) I figure people in the visual arts would consider me an uncultured barbarian from my lack of interest, so I usually ignore similar gaps in musical or literary tastes.

But it is odd, thinking about reading plays. Just looking at it abstractly, one would think plays would be right up my alley--a little bit of staging for the actors and readers, but otherwise pure dialogue; as I like (some) difficult poetry, plays should be a piece of cake, yet reading them just doesn't interest me much.

Steve D said...


Not only did people buy the 10pcs option, they bought it far more frequently than the 20pcs option, even though both cost the same.
So why is the supposed decoy the most popular option? After hours of research and endlessly staring at The Crumbs' extensive analytics effort, unfortunately I still have no clue.’

I found it at first frustrating and then amusing how this guy was so perplexed by something which is so obvious that even a MacDonald’s executive could grasp. The key? I simply put myself in the place of the customer and when I realized I too would pick the 10 nugget option, I asked myself why? In fact it is most surprising that 26% actually picked 20 nuggets. I bet if they added 10 cents (maybe even 5 cents) to the price of 20 nuggets they could bring that number close to 0%.
But it is a refreshing reminder that human beings are complex creatures; not everything in society boils down to the laws of economics; one more reason why central planning cannot work.

Gus Van Horn said...


Regarding plays, it's the annoyance of having character names, staging directions, and other such things. These are distracting enough to make me not enjoy plays.


Good point!


Anonymous said...


Your post on McDonald's 10pcs McNuggets gave me a chuckle. Only after I bought the 10pcs did I realize it would have been more cost effective to buy the value meal. I'm of the view that the reason McDonald's sales are in decline is due to their pricing methods. I guess the franchisees' and corporate are looking at the high cost of food ingredients in general. In any event, I had a head slap moment with those nuggets.

Bookish Babe

Gus Van Horn said...



I agree that pricing may be a problem for them, but I think it's part of a problem. A bigger problem is that better capability of McDonald's at mass-producing menu items at peak times (as opposed to, say Burger King's one-at-a-time assembly line, is not as big an advantage as it used to be. As George Will indicates (in the column linked after Item 3), there is a cultural shift in what people expect out of fast food. Perhaps that is possible in part due to faster assembly lines, and perhaps people are more willing to wait around than they used to be.

That last is speculation on my part, as a time-deprived dad who has become increasingly impatient about wasted time over the past few years...