Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Here’s a story from way back. An American was vacationing in Spain, and he stopped at a restaurant in  Ronda, famous for being the birthplace of bull fighting in Spain. He was looking at the menu, but at another table he noticed a man enjoying an interesting dish. The aroma was enticing.

When the waiter came the American told him, “I want what that man is having.”

The waiter apologized. “Señor,” he said. “Those are bull’s testicles from this afternoon’s bull fight. Unfortunately there is only one bull per festival  in the off season, so we don’t have any more of this delicacy.”

The American chose another item from the menu, but the next day he was back and he asked about the order. Indeed, the waiter told him he could be served, and a few minutes later he served up a spicy plate of the dish.

But the American was puzzled, and he asked the waiter, “Yesterday the serving was much larger. Today, hardly anything. What gives?”

The waiter apologized. “Señor, sometimes the bull wins.”

Fronting The Brand

Chick-fil-ASandwich

I am sure I just now coined this phrase.

When you have a business, when you have a product, you want a public face, a brand. Brand identification gives your product, your service, your business an association in the public mind. You want customers and potential customers to think of a need and to associate your brand with it. Well established, your brand becomes a valuable piece of property.

“Fronting the brand” comes about when you use your brand to front a personal advocacy. You are putting your brand out front, not to represent your product, but to represent your advocacy. It’s double-edged.

On the front side your brand gives your advocacy additional sway, a momentum your advocacy would not have on its own. The other edge is that fronting the brand can cut backwards. Here are some examples:

Chick-fil-A is a privately held corporation founded by S. Truett Cathy in 1946. The current CEO is Dan Cathy. The Cathy family hold sincere Souther Baptist beliefs, and the restaurants are traditionally closed on Sundays and also on Christmas and Thanksgiving. Beyond closing on Sunday, which founder Truett Cathy attributes as much to practicality as to religious inclinations. There has been more, however.

In January 2011, the media reported that the American fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A was co-sponsoring a marriage conference along with the Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI), an organization that had filed an amicus brief against striking down Proposition 8 in California (see Perry v. Brown). PFI had also lobbied against a state effort to ban discrimination in Pennsylvania on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Responding on its official company Facebook page, Chick-fil-A said that support of the PFI retreat had come from a local franchisee, stating “We have determined that one of our independent restaurant operators in Pennsylvania was asked to provide sandwiches to two Art of Marriage video seminars.”

The WinShape Foundation, a charitable endeavor of Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and his family, stated it would not allow same-sex couples to participate in its marriage retreats. Chick-fil-A gave over $8 million to the WinShape Foundation in 2010. Equality Matters, an LGBT watchdog group, published reports of donations by WinShape to various anti-gay organizations, including $2 million in 2009, $1.9 million in 2010 and a total of $5 million since 2003, including grants to the Family Research Council and Georgia Family Council. WinShape has also contributed to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Exodus International, an organization noted for supporting ex-gay conversion therapy.

The Marriage and Family Foundation received $994,199 in 2009 and $1,188,380 in 2010. The Family Research Council, an organization listed as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Winter 2010, received $1000.

Tax filings for 2012 showed that Chick-fil-A created a new foundation, the Chick-fil-A Foundation, to grant to outside groups. It funded only one previous group, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Other filings for WinShape Foundation showed no funding for groups opposed to LGBT rights.

There has been considerable stir over these events. Conservatives and conservative groups have cheered the company’s stance, but at the same time advocates for tolerance and sexual equality have lashed out at Chick-fil-A. My reading of Facebook friends over the past two hears has shown conservatives advocating throwing their business to the company, while liberals have been talking boycott. This is something that would be problematic for a publicly-held corporation.

Suppose you are the CEO of a big (or not so big) corporation, and you have a personal agenda, and you see some benefit to throwing the weight of your brand into the fray. Not so fast. At the next stock holders meeting there are going to be a bunch of share holders raising their voices. “Who gave you permission to use our equity to sponsor your pet project?” Besides that, if the bottom line suffers there will shortly be a new CEO to replace the one who forgot that the business of business is business.

But, in the case of the Cathy family, there are no stockholders to face each year. And with the Chick-fil-A business model, there may not be as much push back from franchise owners. The Chick-fil-A business model is fairly unique in the chain restaurant model. The company builds and owns the restaurants. An operator pays in the order of $5000 for a franchise—the right to operate the restaurant.

If you’re a McDonald’s franchise owner you possibly paid $2 million for the franchise, and you own the business. On the other hand, if you hold a McDonald’s franchise your restaurant is grossing on average more than $2 million a year. But if the McDonald’s CEO starts pulling some shenanigans that chew away at that $2 million a year you’re going to be thinking law suit. So a company like McDonald’s has more than just its stockholders to worry about.

As grim as Dan Cathy’s actions in the past few years have appeared to his opponents, it is not all that dark:

In September 2012, The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) announced that Chick-fil-A has “ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.” According to the TCRA, Chick-fil-A officials stated in an internal document that they “will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation.” In a letter from Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, the company states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”

According to Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno, Chick-fil-A has a statement of respect for all sexual orientations in an internal document called Chick-fil-A: Who We Are and has promised that its not-for-profit arm, WinShape, would not contribute money to groups that oppose gay marriage.

According to Focus on the Family web site, CitizenLink.com, “Chick-fil-A and its charitable-giving arm, the WinShape Foundation, did not agree to stop making donations to groups that support the biblical definition of marriage in exchange for being allowed to open a franchise in Chicago.” Mike Huckabee stated that he “talked earlier today personally with Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick Fil-A about the new reports that Chick Fil-A had capitulated to demands of the supporters of same sex marriage. This is not true. The company continues to focus on the fair treatment of all of its customers and employees, but to end confusion gave me this statement.” The statement provided by Chick-fil-A was posted on Huckabee’s website.

In March 2014, new tax filings from 2012 showed Chick-fil-A stopped funding all but one organization which had been previously criticized. The company also created a new foundation, the Chick-fil-A Foundation, to fund outside groups. WinShape Foundation’s 2012 tax filings showed funding only for its own programs, a Berry College scholarship fund and Lars WinShape, a home for needy children in Brazil.

[Some links removed]

Once again the other edge of fronting the brand has started to cut:

Of all the right-wing reactions to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s quiet step back from the marriage equality debate, Scott Lively’s might just take the cake.

In a post on Matt Barber’s BarbWire today, Lively writes that although Cathy has not yet taken the “Mark of the Beast,” his decision to back out of the gay marriage debate “suggests he might be willing to take it if faced with that choice.”

“I am convinced that God is using the homosexual issue as a test of believers all over the world,” Lively continues. “What would it profit Mr. Cathy to gain the whole world (or a few more restaurants on college campuses), if his compromise of Biblical truth today makes him less able to resist the real Mark of the Beast tomorrow?”

“In my mind’s eye I used to see the Mark of the Beast as a black dot on the back of the hand,” he concludes. “Now it looks more like a Chik Fil A [sic] sandwich. I’ll never buy another one, and I hope you won’t either.”

Full disclosure: I am of older than the brand and have yet to eat at Chick-fil-A. This is not out of opposition to the company’s stance on religious and political issues. It’s just that whenever I have had a hankering for a chicken sandwich, such as right after getting out of church, the neighborhood Chick-fil-A always seems to be closed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holy Days

Back when we lived in Dallas—actually about 10 years ago—we would go to this nice restaurant near our house. It’s called Sweet Basil, and it’s the spot in the neighborhood for Italian cuisine.

So we were all primed to go. It was to be a special day. It was Valentine’s Day, and we were scheduled for a nice quiet dinner. It turned out not to be.

We showed up, got a table. And we got the menu. Only it wasn’t the regular menu with all the stuff we liked. It was a special holiday menu. I’m thinking all dinners were the same price, and all included dessert. And they were not the oh so pleasant price were accustomed to.

We ordered. We ate. But it was not nice and quiet and low key. It was a holy day.

Ever since, Barbara Jean has been leery of holiday dinners. Before going somewhere on a “holy day,” she will call to see if they have a “special menu.” Sometimes we wind up going to Subway for a sandwich.

But we have realized something. Holidays (holy days) are not special. They are just numbers on a calender. Sorry for yourself you have to work on Thanksgiving? Don’t be. Celebrate the holiday some other day. It’s likely to be not as crowded, and you won’t have to put up with the restaurant’s special menu. You can actually enjoy your dinner.

And that’s my message to all on this holy day, namely Valentine’s Day. Tonight we went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner and had the nice grilled salmon salad. No crowds, no hassle. Just a chance to enjoy a quiet meal on Darwin Day.

Standing Pat

A Low-Carb Diet

A Low-Carb Diet

I know I have said this so many times, but it never seems I have said it enough. “If Pat Robertson did not exist, we would have to invent him.” To wit:

Pat Robertson Reveals How Low-Carb Diets Violate God’s Principles, Halal Foods Fund Terrorism

Submitted by Brian Tashman on Monday, 10/7/2013 12:35 pm

Today’s edition of the 700 Club began with a story about the beneficial effects of a low-carb, high-fat diet. But host Pat Robertson explained that he didn’t believe the positive coverage, arguing that such a diet is not only bad for your health but also “violates the principles that God set down.” But that wasn’t the only food-related issue that required Robertson’s wisdom today. The televangelist later in the program advised against eating halal food, warning that proceeds from such foods go to funding terrorist groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is from Right Wing Watch, which cannot expect to give Robertson a lot of slack. Actually, RWW has given Pat just the right amount of slack.

People know that I am not a religious person. Even so, I was amazed on reading this that God set down principles for a good diet. Is there anything the Big Guy forgot to cover?

And is it no wonder that the left-leaning Huffington Post found fit to comment?

Pat Robertson Claims Low-Carb Diet ‘Violates’ God’s Principles (VIDEO)

Posted: 10/07/2013 4:47 pm EDT  |  Updated: 10/08/2013 12:28 pm EDT

Dieters, beware. That slim-down regimen you’re trying may be going against God’s plan.

This week colorful televangelist Pat Robertson took aim at popular low-carb diets like the Atkins Diet and slammed such plans as ultimately unhealthy and as violations of God’s principles.

The subject was broached during Monday’s episode of Robertson’s “The 700 Club” program on the Christian Broadcasting Network. The segment included a story about Jimmy Moore, a formerly obese man who was able to lose 180 pounds in one year by cutting out carbohydrates like bread and loading up on proteins and fats, like eggs, cheese, butter, coconut oil and bacon.

Apparently taking issue with Moore’s story, Robertson told viewers that he disagrees with the Atkins Diet, which he believes can lead to inflammation, gout and “violates the principles that God set down.”

Actually, Pat and I agree on one point: The Atkins Diet, with its emphasis on fats, is a possible shortcut to meeting The Almighty. But then who am I to advise? After all, I’m not God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Chili Cookoff

Threats met with counter threats. A showdown was inevitable. It finally came down to a time for action. On Sunday I made the chili.

Chili, it's what's for dinner.

Chili, of course, is short for chili con carne. That’s pepper with meat. Notice there is no mention of beans. That would be chili con carne y frijoles. That’s another dish. That’s another recipe. That’s another day and also another world. This is Texas.

Here’s the video.

Panda Adventures

A very slow weekend.

We polished it off with an outing to Panda Express. Barbara Jean had a coupon for a free entrée, so what was there to lose? Little we expected.

I wanted the steamed rice, but Barbara Jean insisted I get the vegetables. I should have known trouble was coming. Trouble became apparent when I gazed at the vegetable pan. There were not enough vegetables for one person, let alone two. Barbara Jean took care of that.

Even before we got to the head of the service line she marched up to the counter and pointed out that we were getting the vegetables, and they needed to prepare some more. That should do it, right? Wrongo.

At the service counter, and they told us they needed to cook more vegetables. They would bring out our food when the vegetables were ready. We paid and sat and waited. And waited. Nobody seemed to be preparing any vegetables. After a few minutes of that, while other people marched through the line without ordering, and waiting for, vegetables, we marched up to the counter and inquired about our food. They promised to hurry some more.

Finally some vegetables, and we picked up our dinners. We made plans to take their free-entrée survey again and to especially mention the problem of getting vegetables. And we talked about things medical.

I have plans to visit the pulmonary specialist again next month for a follow up on his investigation of my bronchitis. And we talked about final decisions. At what point should a person decline treatment. I have always held to the belief that death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down. Or even to tell you the show is over. I vowed I would recognize reality when it presented itself. Like when the doctor tells me I can live another five months if I have heart bypass surgery. Forget about it. I’m taking the easy way out.

In the course of this conversation we finally came to our fortune cookies. Mine read:

You will live a long and prosperous life.

Well! That took care of my concerns for the near future. Then it was time to read Barbara Jean’s fortune:

Put up with small annoyances to gain great results.

Some people call me skeptical, but there is something to be said of the wisdom the fortune cookie.