The Science Of Being Served

There was an interesting little item in this month’s issue of Playboy, in the Raw Data section, that mentioned a “study of behaviors that get you served first in a crowded bar.” They found “that people standing square to the bar were served within 35 seconds 95% of the time.” Anyone have a read on how accurate that is, or whether you’ve noticed that it works? They also claimed that “eye contact was essential 86% of the time,” which makes some intuitive sense, at least.


Great American Beer Bar Favorites Chosen

GABB2013_logo, the consumer website for the Brewers Association released today the results of an online poll that took place in the last half of August. Here’s how they arrived at the 2013 Great American Beer Bar Selected by Readers. “ asked readers to nominate their favorite craft beer bars in the country, and received over 5,000 nominations, a 117 percent increase from last year. The choices were then narrowed down to the 10 most nominated bars in each of the five regions of the country. Over 37,000 votes were cast in total, a 23 percent increase from last year, resulting in the top three overall and regional winners. Voting was conducted from August 19 until August 30.” I’ve never been to any of the top three, so I guess I’ve got some travel plans to make.


The overall winners were roughly on the eastern half of the country.

  1. Mekong Restaurant, Richmond, VA
  2. HopCat, Grand Rapids, MI
  3. Cloverleaf Tavern, Caldwell, NJ

The Pacific (west coast) winners are as follows:

  1. The Bier Stein, Eugene, OR
  2. Toronado, San Francisco, CA
  3. Prospectors Historic Pizzeria & Alehouse, Denali National Park, AK

Great to see the Toronado making the list.

Beer Menus Infographic

Today’s infographic is the result of an interesting survey asking people about their preferences on Beer Menus. It was created by the North Carolina beer blog Wort & Yeast in early 2012. It may not be entirely scientific, but the results are interesting nonetheless. The majority of people taking the survey prefer their beer menu on paper and organized by style, and the most common complaint is that they’re too often out-of-date.

Click here to see the infographic full size.

The Geography Of Bars

Today’s infographic comes from an Atlantic article on The Geography of Bars and Restaurants. The map uses data from the 2012 census and county business patterns. According to their data, New Orleans has the most bars per households, and San Francisco ranked 8th, with 6 bars for every 10,000 people. It’s also hard to see because the map is relatively small, but there’s a high-density bar area in Northern California in what I believe is Mendocino County.

And while I was mostly interested in the bars, the restaurant data is quite interesting, as well. San Francisco ranked #1 for restaurants per household, with 39.3 per 10,000 residents. That’s roughly one restaurant for every 255 persons.

Click here to see the map full size (and sorry that’s as big as it gets).

Three Logicians Walk Into A Bar …

While I had a logic class in college, and dabbled in debate, I’ve probably forgotten more than I ever learned. But I still love the notion of breaking down the thought process. My son, who’s 11 and autistic, often has trouble understanding humor. As a result, I increasingly find myself trying to explain the punchline of a joke — why it’s funny — and I’ll break it down for him. What invariably happens, of course, is that in that process, the joke is stripped of its humor and is no longer funny. For some reason, that never deters me. I’ve always had a thing for jokes and thinking about why they’re funny. If I wasn’t so damn shy I would have loved to have tried my hand at stand-up comedy back when I was a younger man. I think that’s why I loved The Aristocrats so much. Ninety minutes breaking down and re-telling one joke. What’s not to love?

So check out the comic strip below. It’s mildly amusing, at least to me. You most likely won’t laugh out loud, but you may smile, at least. But from the point of view of logic, it’s also quite correct, and instructional. It was originally posted by Spiked Math Comics, who admits he doesn’t know the strip’s original creator.


But here’s where it veers headlong into geekdom. It was picked up by a Danish University linguistics student, Emil Kirkegaard, who posted Three Logicians Walk Into a Bar: A Formal Explanation, a breakdown and analysis of the joke, complete with formulas, and explanation of the logic principles behind it.

Here’s one expressing the root problem: E↔(Wa∧Wb∧Wc)

The whole explanation is just as funny as the original strip, to me at least, in its own right and certainly does explain the joke, although if you didn’t think it was funny to begin with, this probably isn’t going to help. But us geeks have to stick together, no matter what geekworld we belong to.

Belgian Beer Guide Flowchart

Here’s a fun little “decision chart” from Faultline helping you figure out which type of Belgian beer to choose, and what to eat with your beer. The info on the chart was put together by Ryan Sweeny from Little Bear, a Belgian beer cafe in Los Angeles. Apart from the chart butchering the spelling of Tripel, it’s a fun, simple, potentially useful chart for the uninitiated looking to enjoy some belgian beer.

Belgian Beer Guide
To see the chart full size, click on this link.

What Are You Eating?


How Much Are You Drinking?


Cornelius Caton, Of The White Lion Richmond

Here’s an interesting historical piece, from 1819-20. It was a four-volume set of books known as “Remarkable Persons,” though its full title was “Portraits, Memoirs, and Characters of Remarkable Persons From the Revolution in 1688 to the End of the Reign of King George II” and was subtitled “Collected from the most authentic accounts extant.” The full collection is available digitally at the Villanova University’s Farley Memorial Library, who describes the work as follows:

This collection contains the four volumes of: Portaits, memoirs, and characters, of remarkable persons: from the revolution in 1688 to the end of the reign of George II collected from the most authentic accounts extant by James Caulfield. “Caulfield’s ‘remarkable characters’ are persons famous for their eccentricity, immorality, dishonesty, and so forth.” — Dict. nat. biog. This work contains 155 engraved plates including work by engravers: George Cruikshank, W. Maddocks, Henry B. Cook, Robert Graves, and Gerard van der Gucht.

Another sources claims that it was a “collection of portraits and stories about the eccentrics of Britain in the 18th century by James Caulfield was issued by subscription in 1819 and 1820 to great success. It promised to satisfy the public fascination with ‘true stories’ about exceptional feats, physical peculiarities and notorious acts. The extent to which it actually contained ‘true stories’ is a matter for conjecture.” The one that caught my eye was a 19th century publican.

Cornelius Caton (Of the White Lion, Richmond) - Villanova U - McGarrity Collection

Plate 19 in Volume 3 depicts “Cornelius Caton, (Of the White Lion Richmond),” followed by his story on pages 173 through 175. Here’s his colorful story:

This little whimsical publican, having passed through the several gradations of pot-boy, , helper in the stables, and other menial offices attached to a public inn, at length rose to the important place of principal waiter: being of a complaisant temper, and possessing a species of low wit and pleasantry, he rendered himself so acceptable to the humour of the different guests which frequented the house, as to derive considerable perquisites from his ready desire to serve and accomodate the various description of persons whom business or pleasure drew to the place.

Caton carefully treasured up the money he obtained from time to time; until he had saved a sufficient sum to enable him to take the White-Lion public-house, at Richmond, in Surrey. The drollery of the landlord brought him considerable custom, which his attention to business so far improved as to make his house the most frequented of any in Richmond; and he became a general favourite with most of the inhabitants.

In person, he was one of the most grotesque appearance; and might have gained a livelihood bu exhibiting himself as a dwarf; this, joined with a certain oddity of manner, rendered him so conspicuous a character, as to bring him into great notice; and Cornelius Caton, and his house, found visitors from most parts of the adjacent villages in the neighbourhood.

He was well known to many persons in London; and, among others, George Bickham, the engraver, who deemed him of sufficient importance to speculate on engraving and publishing his portrait. This did not tend to diminish the number of Caton’s friends: and many have made a journey from town to Richmond, merely from curiosity of seeing the landlord of the White Lion.

A few years since, an equally singular personage, named Davis, a true son of Sir John Barleycorn, kept the Load-of-Hay public-house, on Haverstock-hill, near Hampstead; the eccentricity of whose personal appearance brought a considerable number of persons, particularly on a Sunday afternoon, and made the house a place of great trade.

Cornelius Caton was living at the time of his present majesty’s ascension to the throne, but the print of him was engraved in the reign of King George the Second.

You can see the original pages at Villanova digitalLibrary. Click on Volume 3 and scroll down to just before page 173, which is Plate 19.