Sunday, April 30, 2006

More Bad Bush: The 9/11 Coverup

Could Hollywood finally be more faithful to the truth than Washington?

With the Bush administration and all its right wing apologistas, it turns out the answer is yes.

In today's Washington Post, John Farmer, a former attorney general of New Jersey who served as senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, reveals that the movie "United 93" is more accurate about what really happened on 9/11 than a number of reports put out by the Government.

In particular, the movie debunks the notion, still popular with most of the people I know, that the Air Force had scrambled jets prepared to shoot United Flight 93 (the one that crashed in the field near Shanksville, Pa. after its brave passengers took matters into their own hands) from the sky if it approached Washington.

(As an aside, I was sitting in an office with a magnificent view of the White House on 9/11; it was a beautiful morning. Shortly after a colleague told me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center--which I assumed meant a little plane of some kind, like a Cessna--I heard an unusual sound on my window, like a strong gust of wind but on a windless day. I got up and walked over to the window to see a huge plume of thick black smoke erupting from the Pentagon. Pretty soon, I was one of many panicked Washingtonians pouring into the streets, trying to get home. As I finally neared my home in Arlington, a fighter jet roared overhead, causing every one of us on the sidewalk to hit the deck in fear.)

It turns out, according to Farmer--who reviewed the actual logs of what happened on 9/11, that the military scrambled jets out of Langley Air Force Base (outside Washington--home to Air Force One) in response to a mistaken report that American Flight 11 (which had already crashed into the WTC) was still aloft and headed for D.C. According to Farmer:

"[T]he story that officials told made the government's response appear quicker
and more coordinated than it really was. By telling the public that the
Langley fighters were scrambled in response to reports that American 77 and
United 93 had been hijacked, officials were able to avoid admitting that they
had scrambled fighters in the wrong direction--heading east, not west toward
Pennsylvania--against a plane that did not exist."

Farmer also reveals that the 9/11 Commission asked--more than 18 months ago--the inspectors general of the Depts. of Defense and Transportation to "investigate who was responsible for the mistaken accounts of the morning's events."

No big surprise--the inspectors general haven't gotten back to the Commission with that info.

Of course--W--we all know--W--who is ultimately--W--responsible. Chalk another one up for our great leader.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

JAMA's Bad Science: Live Longer With Calorie Restriction?

A lot of people these days are pushing severe "calorie restriction" diets as a way to boost longevity, based on studies in mice showing that they live a good deal longer if you reduce their caloric intake by as much as 40%.

Do those diets work on humans? Only time will tell. A friend of mine, pursuing a version of these diets (the alternate fast diet) recently sent me a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that supposedly supports this theory.

If you ask me, the study is just another example of the remarkably bad science that gets published even in purportedly reputable journals such as JAMA.

In the study ("Effect of 6-Month Calorie Restriction on Biomarkers of Longevity, Metabolic Adaptation, and Oxidative Stress in Overweight Individuals, JAMA Vol. 295, No. 13, Apr. 5, 2006, in case you care), the researchers looked at the effects of three restricted calorie diets over a six month period on a group of overweight subjects. (They were only moderately overweight, with body mass indices between between 25-30--anything under 25 is considered fine.)

The study showed, not surprisingly, that in overweight individuals, each of the three calorie restricted diets (one was half calorie restriction and half exercise) resulted in improved "metabolic" indicators after six months compared to a control group that simply maintained its overweight status.

The authors concluded: "Our findings suggest that 2 biomarkers of longevity (fasting insulin level and body temperature) are decreased by prolonged calorie restriction in humans ."


What the study really showed is that if you put a group of overweight individuals on a severe diet for six months, their health will improve. Is that a big surprise? No. Does that merit publication in JAMA? Not really--it's nothing new. All it shows is that if you're a bit overweight and you manage to take the pounds off (and thus get to "normal" weight), then you might live longer--because you are now healthier!

To test the theory that calorie restriction promotes longevity, you need to take completely healthy individuals (of normal weight), restrict their caloric intake, and then see if that improves their "biomarkers of longevity." (If this works, it will probably mean longer, more miserable, lives.)

So here's to JAMA and bad science.

Friday, April 28, 2006

NO DEAL! NBC's Shameful "Lucky Case" Promotion

If you watch NBC's early evening game show, "Deal or No Deal," you can't but help to be bombarded by promotions for the show's "Lucky Case Game," which allows a lucky viewer at home to win $10,000.

Lucky indeed!

The Lucky Case promo appears several times during the show, with the "winner" announced at the end of the show.

The real winner, of course, is NBC and various cell phone companies. NBC does disclose that viewers who text a message to the Lucky Case Game will be charged a $.99 "premium" text message charge. Or, if you want, you can play for free over the internet. But the promotion makes clear they want you to text in your message; and, after all, it's a lot easier to do that while your fanny is sitting on the couch in front of the boob tube than it is to boot up the computer, find the website and enter online.

What I want to know, is how much of the cut on those text messages does NBC get? Dollars to doughnuts, its more than $10,000! The show has between 12-17 million viewers (depending on the night of the week it's aired)--sadly, NBC's highest rated show. If just five percent of those viewers play the Lucky Case game, then that generates 600,000--850,000 text messages at nearly a dollar a pop. That's a lot of money, and you can bet that NBC isn't giving away all that promotional time for free.

(On American Idol, which also generates a large volume of text messages, it works differently. First, there's no premium; second, Cingular Wireless gets a promotional consideration, for which it presumably pays Fox.)

So, some Lucky Case. For "giving away" a paltry $10,000, NBC and a bunch of unnamed cellular companies rake in hundreds of thousands (or more) in text message fees.

Just remember this: try the same thing at home (sell hundreds of thousands of $1 tickets for a $10,000 prize) and you'll be going to jail--its illegal (charities excepted).

No Deal Howie!!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gluttony: Cheesecake Factory

This week's Gluttony--the award for promoting or contributing to obesity in America--goes to a fairly obvious choice: The Cheesecake Factory.

We have a Cheesecake Factory just two blocks from my house. Having never been to one of these restaurants before, I was excited when a learned there'd be a new one so close. I knew people waited in lines of an hour or more to eat there, so I figured "what the hey, it must be good."

My first trip to the Factory was my last. What a disappointment! Apart from an appealing decor and the most extensive menu I've ever seen, the food was hardly worth the wait, UNLESS you just happened to want mass quantity. Good lord, the portions were enormous. We could easily feed my whole family on one dinner order at the Factory (I've thought about it). The food itself, however, is bland--tasted like a whole lot of frozen food put into a microwave.

One thing I did notice while waiting to be seated at the Factory, however: most of the other waiting patrons ranged from fat to super-fat. I watched as a big Ford Expedition pulled up to the door (blocking traffic) and discharged two chubby pre-teens, two enormous obese women, a man with a huge gut, and an unhappy-looking older man (gramps?) who had somehow managed to stay thin with this bunch. As the Expedition drove away, in a spew of exhaust, I was not surprised to spy a "Re-Elect W" bumper sticker.

Unfortunately, Cheesecake Factory has gone one step further than simply catering to fatties. It has also funded a fake "public service" organization that ran ads a couple years ago disputing findings that obesity is a bad thing. Sort of like the tobacco companies when they funded "smokers rights" groups.

Cheesecake Factory CEO David Overton defends the company's enormous portions. "We find that when people dine out, they want every calorie they pay for." That's the spirit David--give your customers "value."

Here's my modest suggestion to upgrade Cheesecake Factory restaurants: install a moving sidewalk from curb to the check-in counter so your customers don't have to walk all that way in from their gas-hogging SUV's.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Consumer Hall of Shame

Here are three recent entries in the Consumer Hall of Shame:

1. Verizon's Dirty Tricks. This one's pretty unbelievable. Last Friday while I was working at home, my broadband connection from Comcast went out. That's not particularly unusual, so I ignored it for about 30 minutes. When it didn't come back up, I checked my television and the cable there was also out. About that time, I noticed two men working on the main cable/telephone line for my block, where it runs behind my house. One was literally walking down the thick line (holding onto another thick line above it, running some kind of cable down the line.

Fine, I thought--Comcast is doing something to the line; soon they'll be done and by cable will be back up. After a couple hours, however, nothing changed and the men were no longer in sight. Curious to find out when my cable would be back up, I went around the corner to find them, but they were gone. A friendly neighbor told me it was not Comcast working on the line--instead, it was Verizon, which apparently is stringing fiber optic cable in our neighborhood. The neighbor said the Verizon guys had left about a half hour ago.

So, I called Comcast to report my cable outage. They did a couple tests to confirm what I told them--that the cable was out from the main line due to something somebody had done earlier in the day. Comcast was friendly and helpful, but couldn't get anyone out until Sunday afternoon.

TWO DAYS without cable--my kids were horrified! Two days without broadband--my wife and I were horrified!

Comcast came along and fixed the cable on Sunday, as promised. The repair guy showed me the problem: quite clearly, the #%*&#* Verizon guys CUT my cable. Thanks alot Verizon! Do you really think that's going to get me to switch to your service?!

There will be more on this later--I plan to send a strong letter to Verizon and to the County, which licenses its operation.

2. Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield--Last Laugh's On Me. Recently my nanny, who gets her health insurance from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield of Virginia (paid by me), received an unkind letter from CareFirst, out of the blue. The letter, from a nurse, accused my nanny of lying on her application for insurance, based on a review of her medical records. (Our nanny, a hispanic immigrant from Panama and a fully naturalized citizen, speaks English fairly well, but she has difficulty reading either Spanish or English.) In essence, the nurse said our nanny had a series of pre-existing conditions, including diet-controlled diabetes, hypertension and arthritis, that she'd failed to disclose when she applied. Accordingly, CareFirst was terminating her insurance, effective immediately.

The letter said nothing about how to appeal the decision, and Carefirst gave my nanny no inkling before the letter that it was investigating her for fraud.

After completing a project, I took up the issue of whether my nanny had, indeed, committed any kind of fraud. I had her obtain her medical records and carefully went through them with her. There was nothing in them about the conditions alleged in the Carefirst letter. Furthermore, the dates of her care with healthcare provider in question did not jibe with the dates in the CareFirst letter. I drafted a letter to CareFirst and had my nanny carefully review it. All this took a few weeks. In the meantime, my nanny got hit with all kinds of bills that got bounced by CareFirst, which evidently had been sitting on them for several months.

CareFirst responded to my letter by asking for the medical records I had obtained from the nanny. (CareFirst, of course, had access to these records already--that's how this all got started.) A few more weeks passed by, all the while with my nanny in anguish about her medical bills and whether she'd ever be able to get insurance again. Finally, CareFirst conceded that it had made a mistake--it had reviewed the records of another woman, with the same name. Duh! The other woman had a different birthdate, SS # and CareFirst I.D. number, so the mistake was rather obvious.

CareFirst reinstated my nanny's insurance--now all we have to do is sort out the financial mess that occurred in the intervening weeks.

However, I was not content to leave it at that, having been pretty heavily inconvenienced myself. I was particularly troubled by the original letter out of the blue to my nanny, with no information on what she could or should do in response. If my nanny had not had a former lawyer (or some other sophisticated person) as a boss, she probably would have just given up and gone without insurance.

So, I sent a letter to the State Insurance Commission complaining about CareFirst's termination procedures. I must say, the Insurance Commission has been prompt and diligent in following up. Recently, the Commission cc'd me on a letter to CareFirst, in which the Commission found that the letter to my nanny "is in non-compliance with the Code of Virginia." Better yet, in advance of determining whether to penalize CareFirst, the Commission has asked "for a list of all Virginia insureds that have had their coverage terminated with out the proper [ ] notice as required by statute for the past three years."

Take that, CareFirst.

3. Bad Communique From XM Radio. Compared with the incidents above this isn't much--just plain old corporate idiocy. I have XM Radio satellite radio in my car, which I just love. Not too long ago, I suddenly stopped receiving everything except the rather annoying introductory channel. Last time I called XM about something, they politely told me I could usually fix my problems by visiting their website.

So, I went to the website. It is not the easiest website to use--every time you do something on it, it opens a new window. Anyway, I checked my account, which it said was fine. Then I "refreshed" my radio signal, which required me to drive around for 20 minutes listening to the annoying introductory channel. Unfortunately, my service did not return.

Following one more refresh attempt, I called XM. The woman I reached checked my file (basically went to the same internet file with my account information--she must get hundreds of open windows on her computer by the end of a day.) She didn't see anything wrong. Then she said to hold on. After a couple minutes she let me know that the credit card to which my account had been linked was no longer valid. True enough--the card company gave me a new card because of a suspicious fraud issue at their end of the line. I had actually tried to put in the new number on XM's website, but there did not seem to be a way to do it (as I said, not a very good website). (I did receive a postcard from XM asking for a new credit card number and authorization. I sent it back, but evidently something went wrong along the way, otherwise I wouldn't have been having this call.)

Now here's my beef. After a few more minutes of holding, the woman at XM came back on the line to inform me that XM had cut off my service. Mind you, I get a mass email from XM every week with the latest info on the XM world. I get periodic emails letting me know about special offers. My subscriber profile on the XM website has my correct home phone number, cell number and email address. Clearly, someone at XM could easily have reached me via one of these forms of communication and said "Mr. XCurmudgeon, we're having a problem with your credit card--we're sure you'd love to keep listening to XM Channel 46 with the classic rock tunes, so if you'll give us your new credit card number, we'll keep our satellite beaming to you."

But no. Instead, they CUT OFF my service. Didn't even indicate that on the website, so when I checked to see the problem, I couldn't find out. Of course, I eventually reached out to XM myself--the prospect of listening to that annoying introductory channel a minute longer was more than I could take!

Here's some advice XM: reach out to your customer first. Siriusly.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Gluttony Starbucks Style

A few days ago, the Curmudgeon's first Gluttony Award--given out to a company or individual that promotes obesity--went to Southland Corp. for its Big Gulp. (See post dated 4/4/06). Comments on the award were generally in the category of "that's so obvious."

So, this week's Gluttony goes to someone not quite so obvious: Starbucks.

"Starbucks?!" you say, incredulously, "what has it got to do with obesity?" And that, precisely, is the problem. Starbucks is a sneaky glutton. (Unlike 7-Eleven, I happen to like Starbucks, but people need to know what they're getting into.)

Think about it: before Starbucks, most folks had one or two eight ounce cups of coffee a day, with maybe a spoonful of sugar and a shot of cream or milk added to take the edge off. At most, those couple cups of Joe would add 50-80 or so calories to the diet, not enough to tilt the scales against an otherwise healthy eater.

Starbucks has changed all that. First, Starbucks abolished the eight ounce cup of coffee. The smallest drink offered by the coffee giant (apart from an espresso) is a "tall", which is 12 ounces. Most customers opt for the "grande" (16 ounce) or "venti" (20 ounce). (If you're really bold, you can ask for a "short" drink, which is 8 ounces; you won't see it anywhere on the menu or price list.)

So, you say, what's wrong with a larger coffee--there's no calories in coffee, and even with a bit more sugar and cream it can't be all that bad. True enough. The real problem at Starbucks is not the coffee; rather, it begins with milk, the main ingredient in all those lattes, cappuccinos, frappuccinos, mochas, etc. Most people don't think a typical latte or cappuccino has all that many calories, and it is those drinks that Starbucks has accustomed its clientele to.

What does a little steamed milk add to the equation? A lot! Let's say you're being good: you order a tall skim latte, i.e., a 12-ounce single espresso shot mixed with steamed non-fat milk, no sugar added. You're getting 123 calories. (See: Make it a grande and you're up to 161 calories, with 204 calories for a venti. (A nonfat cappucino isn't too bad: 80 calories for a tall; 118 for a venti; iced drinks aren't so bad either--all that ice replaces the calorie laden milk).

From there, it only goes up. Here are just a few examples: tall whole milk latte: 212 calories (venti--348); tall mocha with low fat (2%) milk: 302 calories; grande caramel frappucino: 350 calories; venti whole milk mocha: 508 calories.

Add to your "coffee" at Starbucks a little snack and you're off to the obesity races. Like everyone else who sells "snack" items, Starbucks has supersized everything--cookies, muffins, scones (who can eat those things, anyway?), croissants, cake slices. I hate taking my kids into a Starbucks because there is nothing reasonably sized for them to snack on.

(An editorial note here: Starbucks' coffee is pretty good, worth a premium; Starbucks' food sucks, pretty much across the board. One of my favorite Starbucks baristas, noting my sandwich bag from Subway one day, tried to get me to try the Starbucks sandwiches sitting in a refrigerated case where they'd been since early in the morning. I patiently explained to him that I'd no more buy a sandwich from Starbuck than I would coffee from Subway. I did try a Starbucks sandwich once and it was, as expected, pretty lame, like the rest of Starbucks' food.)

That little snack with your 200-400 calorie drink will add quite a punch: try the "lowfat" apricot blueberry muffin: 360 calories; plain croissant: 380 calories; chocolate chip cookie: 438 calories; carrot cake: 600 calories.

In short, that quick mid-morning "coffee break" at Starbucks can easily pack nearly the same number of calories as a regular meal. Starbucks, of course, makes no real pretense of selling anyone a true meal, so this is virtually all gratuitous calories, easily overlooked. Getting fat? Blame your coffee break.

Here's to Starbucks, Glutton of the Week.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Harley-Davidson: Say It Ain't So!

This week's Looser Award (given to an advertiser for demeaning young men) goes to an unlikely recipient: Harley-Davidson.

Yep, that's right, the iconic manufacturer of manly motorcycles had managed to land a Looser. In an ad running on television, Harley features a young man--late 20's or early 30's--standing next to a nice-looking mid-size bike parked on the street. The thin, clean-shaven, dark-haired man, wearing something akin to "business casual" attire, begins extolling the virtues of the hard-bitten biker life after a very attractive young woman comes up beside him to admire the Harley parked on the street.

So far, so good, although he is going a bit overboard on the description of his Harley adventures. Also, his face is a bit weak-featured, so he doesn't seem like the traditional Harley sort. As he goes on about the "open road" etc., the young lady appears impressed.

Just then, another young woman strolls up, helmet in hand, mounts the bike with a lanky leg, dons her helmet and roars off. Our young man gets a sheepish look as the pretty young lady he was wooing walks off in disgust. The tag line is something like "get your own Harley".

The ad is kind of cute, although I had trouble figuring out who it was aimed at. Recent news reports suggest that Harley-Davidson is trying to broaden its appeal beyond white males to women, blacks and Hispanics.

See, e.g. "Harley-Davidson Fights Changing Markets With Appeals to Blacks, Hispanics." (

So perhaps this ad is aimed at women? Or maybe its saying this Looser will become a winner if he buys his own Harley?

Either way, I"m willing to bet Harley can do it without yet another ad portraying 20-something males as weak loosers unappealing to women. I was saddened to see Harley, of all advertisers, joining the Looser bandwagon.

C'mon Harley--you can do better. By the way, have you noticed how the beer market has tanked in recent years with its endless Looser ads? Take heed!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Real TV Black People

I don't know why I was thinking about this, but there I was, mind wandering while watching television, wondering who I would pick as the best black role models on television. I don't remember what I was watching, but I'm sure it was a show with typically stereotypical African-Americans.

So I thought about it for awhile. A lot of my favorite shows don't have many blacks in them. Sopranos? Only when they need a ghetto kid to make a hit (or recently a couple of rappers). Big Love? Forget it--are there any African-Americans in Utah? 24? Before they shot President David Palmer, he was pretty cool. My kids watch That's So Raven, which certainly has an appealing black family (but why do they all have to be overweight?). I don't watch any crime dramas, so I'm sure I'm missing out on some good black lawyers and detectives (along with the usual litany of criminals).

Then it hit me. American Idol. They're not characters, they're real people. And the African-Americans on this year's show are great. They include, of course, Randy Jackson, who as a judge is a good counterweight to Simon's nasty commentary and Paula's insipid boosterism. But better yet are the contestants. They range from Mandisa (does she have a last name?), the overlarge woman with the big voice, huge smile, beautiful face and fantastic singing talent, to little Lisa Tucker, a pretty, plucky 16-year-old who started out in the Broadway rendition of The Lion King. Then there's Paris Bennett, another youngster, whose doll-like speaking voice belies a mature singing voice well beyond her 17 years of age. The show also featured Kinnik Sky, from Columbia, S.C. (my old hometown), who preferred to sing country western songs in a cowboy hat, and Buckwheat look-alike Gideon McKinney, with his enormous smile and great humility.

What's so great about this group? They're real and they defy stereotypes. None of them are rapping. None of them come out costumed in outrageous bling. None of them speaks in ghetto talk. With the exception of Mandisa (and Randy Jackson), none of them are overweight. They're all quite charming--I'd have any of them over to my house for dinner, with the kids, any day. And none of them comes across as ignorant--something that can't be said about all the white contestants.

So, rest of Hollywood and TV Land, take note--the real black people on television are, well, real.

Southland's Big Gulp Wins First Gluttony Prize!

Today, the X Curmudgeon initiates a new weekly award, the "Gluttony," to purveyors of oversized meal portions and other promoters of obesity.

With so many deserving candidates, the curmudgeon expects to hand out plenty of Gluttonies over the next few months, leading to the ultimate award, "Glutton of the Year," to be handed out at a gala ceremony (or at least with a nice graphic on the curmudgeon's blog) at the end of the year.The curmudgeon is happy to get your nominations!

And now, the first Gluttony! Drumroll, please. This week's Gluttony is well-deserved, going to one of the nation's first and most famous obesity promoters, the Southland Corporation--that's Seven-Eleven--for its Big Gulp! Yep, that ubiquitous 64-oz soda--far more liquid than any reasonably sized human needs --contains as much as 800 calories, nearly a third the calories a properly sized person needs in an entire day!(See, e.g., )

Even "diet" drinks present problems. (I just love it when some oversized man or woman orders the mega-whopper with cheese, supersize fries and, oh--"make it a diet soda"). Studies have shown that regular drinkers of diet drinkers develop a craving for the sweet taste, extending it to foods and other drinks.

Extra calories in drinks are particularly troubling because, as a number of studies have shown, the brain doesn't register the calories imbibed as liquid, as opposed to those that are chewed.Bottom line: there's nothing wrong with an occasional 12 oz. soda. Anything more and you're kidding yourself--you're going to get fat!

Congratulations Southland Corp. for food terrorism. Feel free to display your Gluttony proudly on each 64 oz. Big Gulp!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bad Dog! Good Gun!

Last week's Washington Post reported on a Virginia woman sentenced to three years in prison after her three pit bulls mauled an 82-year-old neighbor to death. Fair enough--the woman deserved at least that much, as neighbors had complained repeatedly about the aggressive dogs running loose.

In the wake of the dog attack, the family of the deceased woman--she had seven children, 15 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren--collected petition signatures to tighten Virginia's laws. This month, the arch-conservative Virginia general assembly passed a law making an attack by a "dangerous dog"--essentially, a mutt that has previously attacked a human or killed a domestic animal--a potential felony for the dog's owner, punishable by up to 5 years in jail.

Just as importantly, the Virginia legislation creates a "dangerous dog" registry and requires owners of dangerous dogs to maintain liability insurance. So, do the wise mavens of the Virginia General Assembly have a similar attitude toward state citizens who harbor dangerous guns?

WHAT, ARE YOU KIDDING? Of course not. Didn't you know the National Rifle Association's world headquarters is in Virginia? Indeed, the Virginia legislature narrowly defeated a bill this year that would have PROHIBITED private business owners from banning concealed weapons on their property!

In any event, just try to sue a Virginia gun owner, or better yet, gun shop, for negligently storing or selling a weapon and see where you get: nowhere. So Virginians, let your guns lie around, not to worry. Sell a semi-automatic to some lunatic, big deal. But . . . let your dogs run wild, you're looking at jail time and personal liability! Dog owners, have you thought about joining up with the NRA--their neanderthalic lobbyists never would have let this happen!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Give Men A Break--The First "Looser" Award

Is the world going to women? (Said the man who blogs at home while his wife works at a real job!)

Recent statistics indicate that only 43 percent of today's college undergraduates are men, reflecting a downward trend that had been going on for at least 20 years.(See:

Men's collective self-esteem seems to be lower than ever. Are advertisers partly to blame? I've noticed that a number of ads--often intended to be humorous--portray men, particularly younger men in their 20's, as immature imbeciles, interested only in sports and sex (not necessarily in that order). The X Curmudgeoon thought it would start to recognize some of these ads for bringing down manhood. We'll call these awards "Loosers" (because these guys can't even spell "loser").

Today's Looser award goes to Anheuser Busch for its series of Bud Lite commercials featuring "Ted Ferguson, Bud Lite Daredevil". In these ads a pale, flabby, not particularly good looking 20-something guy named Ted Ferguson, wearing a helmet, attempts various "stunts" such as working two minutes past 5:00 or shopping with his girlfriend. After barely completing the stunt, Ted is rescued by a crew of other guys, who give him a Bud-Lite to revive him. (To see the shopping with girlfriend ad, go to:

This is just one of dozens of Anheuser-Busch ads that portray young men as losers. Ted Ferguson is lazy, immature, out of shape, stupid and generally repugnant. The ads aren't even particularly funny (there are plenty of Bud ads similarly portraying men as losers that are, at least, good for a laugh).I'll try to pay closer attention, but off the top of my head, I can't think of any advertisers who are trying to appeal to women by similarly portraying them in such a bad light.

More nominations welcome!