So How Many Calories Are In That Beer Anyway?

calories1You would never confuse me for a jogger. I am big. I like that. I was over six foot at twelve. A small giant. I can pick up things others can’t. Move large objects. I am often asked by little old ladies to reach the high shelf for them at the grocery store. But you have to watch it. Over two decades ago I took the advice of a doctor to watch my blood tests right after he told me I had the results of an 80 year old. In my family of Scots coffin nail puffers, whisky tipplers, fish ‘n’ chip eaters and sofa lobby dossers, well, the genes aren’t that good and my 1980s fry pan diet was not helping. Twenty odd years later filled with daily salmon oil pills, soy and other bits and pieces of the good stuff has resulted in having the cholesterol and blood sugar levels of a daily runner. But I am still big. Good for leaning into the bumper of a car needing to be unstuck in the snow. Not so good for the second 45 years I consider my allotment in life.
calories2So, what to do about that? What to do about the beer? Got me thinking. You know how you play the game of justifying beer. I knew a guy in undergrad who, as part of his “fit yet party” plan, made sure he had over 50% of his caloric intake dedicated to the beer. He didn’t look real good. He invented new shades of grey with his body. Checking around the internet I found a few sources of information on calories and beer but not the real nugget I was searching for. I wondered what was the number of calories in a huge Belgian beer like a 750 ml Trappist quad. Hard to find out. Too much information is couched in the round about approach, in the comforting justification like those found in this article by Michael Jackson from 1994:

On the question of quality, I realised I was worrying unnecessarily: speciality beers would exclude anything as watery tasting as Miller Lite (96 calories per 12oz or 35cl, standard American bottle) or as bland as a regular Budweiser (150 calories). We could have a similar serving of a European-style lager or a pale ale for about 180 calories or less.And, curiously, a beer full of flavour and colour such as Guinness stout weighs in with only 140 calories per 35cl serving. The same amount of wine could rack up more than 240 calories, although we usually serve grape in smaller glasses. But whichever the accompaniment to a meal, the drink contributes far fewer calories than the food.

I mean, there is nothing wrong with that information but who really has the 200 ml glassware which that Jack Michaelson fellow set out with the meal he described? OK, let’s just say I wouldn’t. And what of that big Belgian bomb? Here are a couple of handy lists setting out the of beer to calorie ratio for a huge number of brands. They work on the 100 ml principle. Unfortunately I don’t and neither do you. So let’s think in terms of a 2000 ml scale which is roughly the equivalent of a North American six pack or four UK pints. What does the available data tell us?

  • Guinness (4.1%) – 2000 ml equals a little under 840 calories.
  • Blue Moon (5.4%) – 2000 ml is around 1026 calories.
  • Anchor Porter (5.7%) – 2000ml equals 1180 calories.
  • Dragon Stout (6.8%) – 2000 ml equals 1240 calories.

You can see where I am going with this. I feel like I am breaking some sort of guy rule. Some sort of unwritten law of the beer men. But we have to walk in this world in awareness. So you will not cringe when I note that one McDonalds Angus burger and medium fries is 950 calories or that the same number of calories in raw chopped red cabbage is found takes over 30 cups…which is like 3 bushels, right? You can handle this information. Because you are strong. Because you really prefer a six of Anchor Porter to 46 cups of raw chopped red cabbage.

But how do you know what is in what you put in you? Bob Skilnik, author of Beer and Food, is on the job with his Drink Healthy Drink Smart project that goes along with his book Does My BUTT Look BIG In This BEER. I think it is a great idea, especially for those of us who are closer to (yes, I will say this) retirement than high school. I have not downloaded a copy of DMBLBITB but at only seven bucks you and I probably should. With any luck he’ll tell you what’s in that corked bomber of craft brew quad. Once you know, you may want to plan around it. You may want a few cups of cabbage after all.

“Preacher”? Maybe More Like “Parson”

What an odd choice of a word by the Globe and Mail for its headline: “preacher“. Images of 1890s church picnics dance in my head, plates of food covering checked table cloths as children run three legged races. Or visits to the hospital to hand out caramels here as a kind thoughtful word is placed there. The man in the dog collar unexpectedly rolling up his sleeves pitch in as the rectory’s spring gardening is done. That’s a “preacher” to me.


A-Rod And His Close Pals At Work

The NYT has great coverage of the press conference by Alex Rodriguez on his use of steroids in the first part of this millennium. But who doesn’t. It has been the sole topic on sports radio for over a week. For Canadians needing a hockey analogy, it is tantamount to Wayne Gretzky admitting he was on the juice. A-Rod is touted as the greatest player of this era and he has told us all that he stuck needles in his butt 36 times in the sixth seventh and eighth years of his career. Apparently not everyone is amused with the situation:

Because Rodriguez’s words and actions are often choreographed, there was some speculation among members of the news media about the legitimacy of his emotional display toward his teammates. Several minutes after Rodriguez’s silence, he told his teammates he loved them and looked forward to an “amazing season.” The players offered no visible head nods or thumbs up to Rodriguez. Posada bolted about halfway through Rodriguez’s session. The Yankees were unsure why he left. None of the Yankees hung around to do interviews. Jeter, the Yankees’ captain, was emotionless and sat slumped in his chair. He will discuss Rodriguez on Wednesday, at which point he may still be emotionless.

I’d slump, too, if this was my team. The story makes no sense. Likes like “I was a young guy” and “I was immature and I was stupid” fails to take into account how deep it occurred into his career. It also fails to take into account he has admitted that took another later banned substance from 1994 to 2000. He says “I’m not sure what the benefit was” but the Texas years 2001-2003 were among the best in his career.

It almost makes you feel sorry for the Yankees. Almost.


Dislocated Thoughts That Arose On Family Day

Thank God for Family Day. It was great. As we sat around in our pajamas, dilly dallying with unconsciousness, trying to kill of the last of our colds until mid-afternoon when we got to watch the mailman deliver the mail. How delicious to have a holiday that is not applicable to the Federal civil service. I do hope they have their own that provides them the analogous experience. Later, we walked out on the river as the sun set and listened to the grinding sound of ice boats way out on the St. Lawrence. They seem to be associated with the Kingston Yacht Club. Reason enough to try the family membership for a year. I did loads of laundry. We also watched more Doctor Who, reads some Doctor Who literature, checked out some Doctor Who web information and the cast from the Hill from Hell got a Dalek drawn upon it. I made veggie Parmesan with the stuff acquired after Saturday saw a trip to the town’s Italian grocery. It was all disorganized, lazy and relatively unproductive.

Is that what “family” means? Sure thing. I still have my copy of “In Praise of Idleness” by Bertrand Russell from 1932:

I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached. Everyone knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth.

Magic. This could be an epistle to my generation, we louts raised on video arcades and nuclear fear – the two great pillars of relative valuation. How much plainer could a clever person be about being idle: “work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.” Wednesday morning at 10:37 am when a report is screaming to be done and the email is stacked high, you don’t think of such things. Family Day gets you to the point that you can remember such things. I wonder what postmen got paid in 1932.

February day-off reports past: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. That makes this the sixth. I could be fluent in Finnish and Urdu by now had I not decided to blog.


Head Scratching About ICCPR Comment 11

Great flibberty jibberty. I sure am grateful that there are smarter people out there than me. I sure would hate to be left to my own devices to make my way in the world and understand, you know, stuff. So it is with appreciation and relief that I read the news today that the media might soon be under the guiding hand of a national content watchdog according to a submission from the Ontario Human Rights Commission to the Canadian Human Rights Commission:

The media’s freedom of expression comes with a duty to “address issues of hate expression, and [media] should do so either voluntarily through provincial press councils, or through statutory creation of a national press council with compulsory membership,” the report reads. “At the same time, the OHRC recognizes the media have full freedom and control over what they publish. Ensuring mechanisms are in place to provide opportunity for public scrutiny and the receipt of complaints, particularly from vulnerable groups, is important, but it must not cross the line into censorship.”

Hmmm. That’s not what I expected. I thought this would be, you know, based on law. But what is that? Where is that “duty” from. Duties are not just made up you know. The footnote to the OHRC submission right at that spot reads:

UN treaty bodies such as the Committee on Civil and Political Rights have stated through their interpretive “Comments” that human rights treaties such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights convey positive obligations on signatory States to take immediate and progressive measures including refraining themselves from making any hate propaganda (see for example ICCPR Committee Comment #11).

So a committee of an international bureaucracy has commented on the text of a treaty and come up with an idea that should be adopted in Canada as the equivalent of a duty which limits to some degree or another the freedom of speech. How wacky. Not what I had imagined at all. What can this mean? Let’s see. The “ICCPR” is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. But I can’t seem to find the comments, let alone Comment 11. This page, however, seems to have it if you scroll down a bit where we learn that Comment 11 relates to Article 20 which states:

1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

That’s interesting and sensible. There ought to be a law! And that is what Comment 11 says at section 2:

In the opinion of the Committee, these required prohibitions are fully compatible with the right of freedom of expression as contained in article 19, the exercise of which carries with it special duties and responsibilities. The prohibition under paragraph 1 extends to all forms of propaganda threatening or resulting in an act of aggression or breach of the peace contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, while paragraph 2 is directed against any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether such propaganda or advocacy has aims which are internal or external to the State concerned… For article 20 to become fully effective there ought to be a law making it clear that propaganda and advocacy as described therein are contrary to public policy and providing for an appropriate sanction in case of violation.

See, it actually does say “there ought to be a law.” And you though that I was making it up. And, fortunately, Canada has a law. It’s called the criminal code. It is a law that provides for an appropriate sanctions in cases of violations. And the Criminal Code of Canada has a specific one on the question of hate law. It’s right there at section 319. Perfect. Duty fulfilled. The treaty says we need a law to deal with this stuff and we have it. Hooray for Canada!

But I don’t see where it says we need a national press oversight body. That isn’t in the authority cited for the principle. It actually says in the submission of the OHRC that:

Striking this balance between different forms of rights is important and necessarily has some legal parameters. Hate expression against identifiable groups is undeniably a human rights matter and should be confronted through human rights law, not just criminal law. But a perfect balance cannot be legislated. It’s also an active process that all individuals, organizations and institutions in society are obliged to go through; a process that must include being open to public debate.

Where is the authority for that? Where is the authority for the idea that hate expression against identifiable groups is undeniably a human rights matter? And where is the authority for the implicit accusation that the Criminal Code is not open for public debate? It may be out there but it is not provided. It also is couched in the sort of insecure language – “undeniably” and “should be” – that makes one wonder if it is actually out there just waiting to be cited. This is pretty unsatisfactory stuff. A constitutional right is balanced off against a comment in a treaty obligation discussion which does not even support the principle to which it is stated to relate. Then it is extrapolated from to state that the obligation isn’t good enough. And an underlying tone that the legislative branch is not about public debate. Weird.

That is a whole lot of sliding and sledging and slipping for me. It may well be that there is a case for some of all of this. I am not one of those Chicken Littles who obsess about hate speech and human rights. But it would be nice if the underlying factors supporting the cause were put in a way that could be read without scratching one’s head.


Friday Bullets For…For…Hell, I Don’t Know

Jay came up with a great idea in the comments last night: creditor’s prison. What a clever bunch of civilized Whigs we are. Or are we civic republicans? A veritable moral meritocracy. Gone are the days of comments with “people like you” finger pointery. No, now we are getting to the 18th century heart of things. People can do evil with an idea. The community can be corrupted by improper deal making. Me? I don’t understand to whom all the money is owed and, if it is a great big Ponzi scheme, why such debts are being honoured and not rewritten as unconscionable? If confidence is to be restored surely it will be due to the restoration of proper valuation though the application of equitable principles.

Fine. That is it. By next week we will be mere days from March and March is when baseball starts. It is almost over! Have I mentioned I hate winter? Winter is for people who say “I like to make the most of winter” and, honestly, we know what people think about people who say that.


The Downside Of That Job Abroad

I hadn’t heard things were not going so well in Dubai. We have extended family in the Gulf – as apparently everyone one does – but hadn’t heard a peep about charms like debtors prison:

Now, like many of the foreign workers who make up 90 percent of the population here, she has been laid off and faces the prospect of being forced to leave this Persian Gulf city — or worse. “I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia, who asked that her last name be withheld because she is still hunting for a new job. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.” With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.

Wowie-kazowie! But we still have certain types of jailings for debts, though they are rarely used. Deadbeat parents who don’t pay support might be hoozegowed. It was more common a few decades ago, though. PEI had another approach historically that was still in effect when I took the bar exam there: if someone thought you might skip off, they could seize your stuff based only on making a claim in court. Pre-trial garnishment. Court released the goods after the trial. You no show, it’s gone. Neat and handy.

But who knew? I thought it was all golfing off skyscrapers and making islands shaped like trees in the Emirates. And who knew 90% of the population were auslanders? But no wonder I didn’t know: “…a new draft media law would make it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy…” Remind me to stay home.


PGP 4.0: Is There An Anti-Pub Game Movement?


I think the Pub Game Project is the only beer related movement which has taken off with less haste than Lew’s recently reinvigorated Session Beer Project, now with its own blog and Facebook group. No time for social networking with the PGP as the only digital handiwork it should ever give rise to is a good round of shove ha’penny. Yet apparently (but much to my surprise) the PGP actually has enemies in very high places in Maryland:

A veteran state senator has abandoned his effort to ban drinking games such as beer pong and flip cup in Baltimore City bars in the face of a growing online lobbying effort. Sen. George W. Della Jr., a Baltimore Democrat, said such games encourage excessive drinking, which leads to raucous behavior in city neighborhoods. A bill he introduced late last month would have outlawed any games that award drinks as prizes in city taverns.

Wow! And the synopsis of the proposed law provided by the State Senate is even grimmer characterizing it as: “prohibiting a holder of a retail alcoholic beverages license or owner or operator of a bottle club from allowing drinking games or contests on the premises.” What is a drinking game? Darts where the loser buys drinks? What other pub games could fall under this law?

Sure, this is aimed at beer pong and is stoked by incidents like the banning of the game by universities. But this clearly goes further as the text of the bill itself indicates: warning, pdf! The proposed section 21-105.1(B) states that no license holder may allow the playing of

…a game commonly known as beer pong or any other game or contest that involves drinking alcoholic beverages or the awarding of drinks of alcoholic beverages as prizes.

I read that as very broad and going well beyond beer pong or drinks as prizes. Oddly, the proposed law applies only to Baltimore but, if violated, a licensee could be fined or even have their license pulled for allowing this somewhat commonplace if not traditional pastime. People playing games as they are enjoying drinks – even games involving drinks. Must be wicked.

It all reminds me of the steps taken in mid-1600s England to ban the toasting to the health of this politician or that member of royalty – not because it was unhealthy and led to over drinking and not because it was loud. It was because it was suspected as being seditious. Whisperers. Pamphleteers. Are these beer pong players, these darts for beer gangs, these shove ha’penny men not the same thing, the beginning of a modern day thin edge of a wedge? Never mind of what the wedge consists. Those kinds of questions might raise eyebrows. Best to know your place if you know what’s good for you. Wouldn’t want to be known as a pub gamer.

New York: Latvians Are Coming! Latvians Are Coming!

Sorry, not Latvians. Not at all. The story was co-authored by a Mr. Lattman. Misread that entirely. My fault. I blame the head cold. Nevertheless, this is an interesting tidbit in the Wall Street Journal today:

Private-equity firm KPS Capital Partners LP is angling to become a player in the U.S. beer industry. The company is in the final stages of closing a deal to acquire High Falls Brewing Co., the closely held maker of the Genesee and Dundee beer brands, according to people familiar with the matter. It also is among the final bidders for Labatt USA, an arm of the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev. KPS hopes to combine High Falls and Labatt USA, both based in upstate New York, and explore other transactions in the industry, which is undergoing rapid consolidation.

A player! Does that come with a smoking jacket and a gold cigarette case? It pretty much comes with all corner store and gas station sales from Syracuse to Buffalo and half of the rest of upstate NY. Interesting that the Labatt wing of the deal would make sense as part of the badly named Anheuser-Busch InBev efforts to pay down debt. Reuters reports that Labatt USA should gain ABIB (which I pronounce “ah-BEEEEEEEEEB” in a high piercing voice) about a tidy $100 million. Sadly, the same report indicates that the Rochester-based High Falls Brewery is only worth the assumption of its debt. But it is interesting that these tough times appear to be apt for a merger and consolidation focused on continued expanding brewing in what is otherwise a region which has known tougher times for a while now.