You Can Probably Eat More Yogurt Than You Think
12:53 PM EDT on June 20, 2023
Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Drew's off this week. Today, we're talking about subscriptions, the Jacksonville Jaguars, salt, and more.
Back in ye olde 2016, the blog I used to write for, Gawker, was folded, due to reasons that I cannot legally blame on Peter Thiel being a psychotic vampire. None of us who were writing for Gawker lost our jobs—instead, we were reassigned to various other blogs within the company. Alex Pareene and I were moved over to Deadspin. For the next year or so, Deadspin was forced to have an awful editorial mix each day that consisted of 10 or 12 popular sports posts, and then a post by me along the lines of “Here’s What I Think Is Wrong With Tax Policy,” which would have 357 comments of people saying “WHY THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT ON MY SITE?”
I say this to emphasize: I am not Drew Magary. Drew Magary is a tall, popular, successful writer with a strong fan base. I am a shorter, “self employed” writer who is responsible for some of the least popular blog posts in the history of the internet. Additionally, Drew tends to write with humorous, breezy air, so that reading him feels like talking to a hilarious friend at a party. By contrast, I am a public intellectual with little time or patience for this sort of frippery. My writing tends to tackle important policy issues with an analytical fearlessness that some have described as “unbearable” or “possessing the sneering tone of one who has given up on life and wishes only to bring everyone else to hell with him.” Though I do not consider myself to be “too good” to write about sports, I prefer to limit my work for Defector to rather scientific examinations of the intricacies of football strategy that can leave even seasoned NFL fans gaping in admiration. Let us all enter into this particular “Funbag'' with the stipulation that we are not here for fun. This week, we will embrace a shared spirit of inquiry rooted not in the flashy baubles of language, but in logic. As Wittgenstein rightly noted, “Logic is not a body of doctrine, but a mirror-image of the world.”
Here is an absolutely true list of the purchases that I made at the grocery yesterday: milk, yogurt, Icelandic skyr, cottage cheese, butter, ice cream, and whipped cream. If you have ever bought a wider variety of dairy products in a single grocery trip I would sure like to hear about it. I bet you haven’t.
And now… your letters:
Maybe a year-and-a-half ago, Fage yogurt changed over from 7oz servings to 5.3 oz servings. Personally, I find 5.3 oz servings not quite enough, and 10.6 might be too much. I was curious if you had suffered similarly in this transition.
“Less is more” is never true when it comes to yogurt. And these 5.3 oz. servings are not even the worst of it: If you purchase the Fage “split cup”–style yogurt in which the yogurt is paired with a fruit compote that can be poured on top by tilting up the specially designed container, you will end up eating even less yogurt, due to the air gap that separates the molded plastic compote section of the container from the nearby molded plastic well that holds the yogurt itself. Consumers are seduced by the sleek and flashy nature of the product, but they pay for it with an inherent reduction in gross tonnage of yogurt consumed annually.
Perhaps your real mistake is in saying that 10.6 ounces of Fage “might be too much.” “Might be”? Doesn’t sound like a statement of certainty to me. Have you tried? Try it and get back to me. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Persons with the means to do so have a duty to support working journalists whose content they regularly consume. In that vein, I’m proud to support this website (and also your excellent Substack.) However, I’ve been a freeloader for years of the Washington Post, reading tons of their stories in incognito mode. I haven’t felt bad in doing so, because fuck Jeff Bezos. But a recent comment by Burneko (on the story about the sad departure of the estimable Wags) made me reconsider my stance.
What is the proper moral framework in which to consider subscribing to a publication owned by a loathsome pig, but which also provides an important public benefit?
Patrick, you flatter me. Little did I know when I accepted this assignment that the Funbag mailbag would be bombarded by compliments about HowThingsWork.Substack.Com, a site that hosts my insightful writing and pleas for money. The fact that anyone reading this today could join you as a paying subscriber to my site did not cross my mind until now, and I will not mention any further the degree to which such an action would be an unalloyed moral good that supports independent journalism.
The answer to your question is that all publications are owned by loathsome pigs. Bezos, Rupert Murdoch, the self-satisfied Sulzberger dynasty, vulture hedge funds, private equity vampires, Patrick Redford … they’re all bad in their own way. If we based our support for publications on who the owners are there would be nothing for anyone to read except perhaps for HowThingsWork.Substack.Com. It is not the right way to choose. Instead, we need to understand that journalism itself is a public good, and until broad public financing of journalism exists, it is incumbent on all of us to support the things we like to read, or they will go away. It’s that simple. There are thousands of hardworking journalists and other employees at the Washington Post who are supported by your subscription dollars in a much more direct way than Jeff Bezos is. He is already rich.
In this scenario you are the GM of the Jacksonville Jaguars. You also have complete control of all three branches of the federal government AND whatever makes up the state government of Florida. How do you use this power to force a change in values to reward people good at being good to others rather than rewarding people good at exploiting others for wealth? Bonus if you can elegantly remove the Jacksonville Jaguars from my memory.
Benevolent dictatorship is a mixed bag. For example, Rafael Trujillo, longtime dictator of the Dominican Republic, was a forward-thinking environmentalist who put in place a number of conservation policies that protected his nation’s natural resources from exploitation. He also tortured and slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians before he himself was ambushed and assassinated in a hail of bullets. So there can be downsides to absolute power. The only way to force a change in values is to change the material conditions of the world. Which is to say, to institute socialism in society, and then allow future generations to evolve as a result.
You will NEVER forget the Jaguars, motherfucker.
Do people ever get sunburns on the palms of their hands? I've certainly had the backs of my hands burnt a few times and I know plenty of people who have been burned badly all over. I know people tend not to stand or sit in positions where their palms are pointed toward the sky (maybe in certain meditative poses?) but I find it incredibly odd that I've literally never heard someone say their palms got sunburned.
I can imagine the sort of person who likes to bring a real big towel to the beach and “lay out” might put on shades and lay on their back and stretch their arms out in a Christlike post and then fall asleep, causing a rarely seen sunburn on the pale underbelly of the arms, and on the palms of the hand. It is also possible to concoct theories of why palms cannot get fully sunburned: Perhaps the little ridges that create our fingerprints cast little pieces of shade that collectively cover at least half of the hand at any given time. Also, if you have been doing pull-ups as frequently as you should, some percentage of your palm is covered by calluses, which are impervious to sunburn and other forms of assault.
To settle this once and for all, photograph your palms, then go out on a sunny July day and lay palms-up for a couple of hours and come back inside and photograph your palms again. Using a spectrometer, we’ll be able to determine the degree of reddening, and then we can lay this whole controversy to rest. Send photos of your experiment to email@example.com, and Defector will send you a free t-shirt. (This promise has not been approved by Defector management and is not legally binding.)
Do you think that the Jacksonville Jaguar stadium employees at TIAA Bank Field should unionize prior to the upcoming season?
Yes they should. Specifically, they should unionize with UNITE HERE, the union that has already unionized thousands of workers in professional sports stadiums all across the country. They should visit this page and get in touch with a UNITE HERE organizer and if they have any problem getting in touch they should reach out to me directly. Great folks at UNITE HERE. Read all about them in my upcoming book, scheduled for publication in early 2024! By reading this column, you have legally obligated yourself to purchase a copy of my new book. Please. Please, I beg you.
A fully unionized Jaguars organization is almost too potent to be imagined.
I remember reading a great post you had at the old site about Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn. Do you still work out there? And do you have any suggestions on how to create a boxing workout at home for people that are too strapped financially to invest in going to a boxing gym?
I do still go to Gleason’s. Many years ago I was gifted a "lifetime" membership, which was the price of one full year's membership, and since I have been going for almost 15 years now, it was a great investment. I believe they discontinued that particular form of membership after someone there finally did some math.
Gleason’s is a famous boxing gym that has existed in NYC since 1937. It has moved to several different locations across the city in that period. Its most recent move was in 2016, just a few blocks away from its old spot in Dumbo, and the vibe of the gym is so strong that within a few weeks of the move, the new place looked just as dirty as the old place. Fortunately, boxing is not a sport that you need to spend a great deal of money on, at least at the “workout” level. All you need to do is: Find a dirty room with cement walls and, preferably a single flickering lightbulb overhead and a cracked mirror on the wall. Get a round timer that sounds off three-minute rounds with one-minute breaks. Three rounds of shadowboxing. Five rounds on the heavy bag. Three rounds on the speed bag. Three rounds jumping rope. Push-ups, pull-ups, abs. Then go run over a bridge. Bing bang boom, you have done a boxing workout. (You can do this workout for 20 years and you will be in good shape and a shitty boxer. If you want to actually fight anyone, you need to get a trainer. Sorry.)
For the first time in Jags history, the team is lucky enough to employ one of the few genuinely franchise-altering players in the sport. Has that warped your fandom in any particular ways? Does it feel like the stakes are higher and does that make this more or less fun? And if the Jags are hosting a playoff game, who's the biggest celebrity in the crowd? Is it Manny Jacinto character-acting as Jason Mendoza?
Quite a few readers submitted questions for me along these lines. Let me clear something up: I do not really “follow” football, at least not in the way that you people who choose to regularly read a site focused on professional sports do. Yes, I am known as one of the most incisive online analysts of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but my form of analysis is more like fine art than the nitpicky, stat-obsessed nitpicking that some—not you personally, you understand, but some—sports fans fall prey to. I see the Jaguars as Jackson Pollock saw his finished canvases: a rich whorl of meaning and nuance, appropriate for ashing cigarettes upon. So when people ask me questions like, “Hey, how about those players on the team? Who is your favorite? How about those inside linebackers and whatnot?” I fear that they are missing the point. I don’t know who any of those people are that you mentioned. Sure, like all men, I enjoy catching a Jags game on television, but I experience it in a more abstract and rarefied way than the average fan who is constantly obsessing about “wins above replacement” and “Who is the quarter back.” I do not care to fill my precious remaining brain cells with the names of football guys and I certainly do not intend to spend a moment of my remaining life thinking up jokes or remarks of any sort about the intersection of sports and pop culture. Bill Simmons, for example, is my idea of a hell person who lives in hell and whose every utterance makes me feel as though I also am in hell. My work with Jaguars Junction is a small effort to help NFL fans, many of whom have never done enough psychedelic drugs to conceptualize a world beyond the two-dimensional plane of the gridiron, understand that football is just a single “inning” in a much grander game: the game of life.
Hamilton - I've been reading your work on union organizing for a few years now, and it seems like we're at a point where more and more industries are unionizing. I work in advertising - an industry that's probably ripe for unionization - and have wondered how I might go about getting my coworkers talking about unionizing. We're going through layoffs at the moment, so it seems particularly relevant, though many people who would be interested were laid off or have taken new jobs. I guess my question is - where do you start? How do you approach what might be an awkward conversation and get people to think about how things could be better without raising any alarms in management. Appreciate you and your writing.
You are correct that advertising is ripe for unionization. I have had conversations with quite a few people at ad agencies and even referred some of them to union organizers, but I don’t think that any of those have led to a successful union drive yet. But it is only a matter of time. The media unionized and there is zero, zip, no reason why the ad industry should not follow. I salute your interest. Getting some desire to do it is the first and most important step.
Here is how you unionize, basically: 1. Decide you want to, because you realize you are kind of getting screwed without a union at your workplace. This you have already done. 2. Think about who you are closest with at your job. Who you trust. Approach a few of those people and have quiet one-on-one convos about why you think a union might be a good idea. Also ask them about how they feel about the job, and what their issues are, and explain how a union might be able to address those issues. Get a few people interested in the idea. Even a handful is fine. 3. Get in touch with a union organizer, who can help guide you through the process from there. Most of the process is what you just did! But expanded systematically through the entire workforce. A lot of talking to your coworkers, and very patient listening. You will likely find that many or most people don’t necessarily know how unions work, so you will get very good at explaining that. An organizer is essential to aid you with the finer points of the process, but this is basically it. If you want help getting in touch with an organizer, email me. As a very basic resource, EWOC is a great place to get in touch with a union organizer, but I can help you find a specific union if you like. 4. Once you have talked to all your coworkers and a majority of them are on board with the idea, you get everyone to sign union cards. Then you tell the boss. Then you have an election, which you win. Then you have a union. Then you bargain a contract.
You should do it, Evan! Everyone should do it! Hey, if these bozos who used to work at Deadspin could unionize, anyone can do it! Haha. I’m joking around. We are all friends. I text Tom Ley at all hours of the day and night and sometimes he replies.
This may be a better question for Albert, but as you are the reigning Chopped champ, I’ll ask you first.
I make and sell custom pepper mills (yes, I know this is a weird hobby). People often ask if they can grind salt in the grinders, and they can. However, salt is a mineral that was possibly formed millions of years ago. As a result, I don’t think that there’s anything to really be gained by grinding the salt. So, I ask you: is there any benefit in grinding salt in a salt mill, or is it better just to throw that shit in to whatever meal I’m making?
This question was not technically addressed to me but I feel obligated to snag it–and luckily for you, Sam. Albert is a nice guy but I recall one time where he wrote a column saying that you should put corn on top of nachos. Really? Corn? You sure about that one? Maybe let me handle the food columns from now on, buddy. lol. Likewise, Drew has many fine qualities, but he once admitted to sticking his finger in a pie. Really? Your finger? Hey, ever heard of a fork? Doesn’t sound like much of a food expert to me. lol. If you ever stick your finger directly into my pie we’re going to have a fucking problem man. Seriously.
No need to weigh in here, fellas. I’ll grab this one. I’ve been using salt my whole life and I like it. Although not as much as my sister. One time when we were kids my parents scolded her for pouring too much salt on her dinner and she said, “I like too much salt!” lol. (Sounds like she would fit right in as a Defector “food expert,” no?) Real foodies know that salt, as you point out, is simply a chemical, call sign NaCl. You wouldn’t drink chlorine directly from a jar, but combine it with sodium and you have one of today’s most popular condiments. Just one of many wonders of science. It doesn’t matter if salt chunks are big or small. What matters is that they melt when you put them into whatever you’re cooking. Allow the action of heat and physics to break down the salt into particles. Take the energy you would have used to grind the salt and use it instead to heft a science book up to your eyeballs, where it might do some good.
So when these people ask if they can put salt in the pepper grinders, tell them “No!” Be passionate about it. Really get in their face to make sure they get the message. You work hard to make pepper grinders and they need to respect that. Better to have a whole warehouse of unsold pepper grinders than to see them treated as generic mechanical objects. These are custom items made by a craftsman. Carry that with pride.
I have an 8 yo who is having trouble understanding when something is funny. He genuinely seems to have trouble understanding the concept of what funny is.
I honestly struggle with how to define it myself, some kind of value-neutral catchall definition of such an ephemeral concept.
So, funbag, What is funny?
Funny is when somebody falls down.