Saturday, April 21, 2012

Agent Orange, Monsanto, and a Little Clarificiation

On Tuesday I gave a talk at Florida State College at Jacksonville entitled "The Future of Food: Feeding More People with Less".  The talk described the challenges to modern agriculture, the need for conservation, improved production practices (including low-input/organic ag) and new genetics from breeding.  One of the key facets was transgenic technology to complement other improvements.

There was one person in attendance that was not a student, but a guy from the community that thought the topic was interesting.  As soon as I got into the GMO part of the lecture he began being disruptive.  I usually invite interaction, but his objections were relatively constant.  As usual, they were dogmatic and uninformed, tying nicely to the propaganda lines of the anti-GMO interests.

For my lecture I held up glyphosate resistance as a successful implementation of transgenics in agriculture.  Here a relatively innocuous chemical displaces others that are more dangerous.  Most of all, glyphosate resistant crops have paved an inarguable track record of success. There are some downsides, and I discussed them, including generation of resistant weed and some minor developmental effects on some animals.

He would have none of it.  "You know what glyphosate is, right?"

I was puzzled.  Sure I knew what it was, how it works, how it breaks down, etc.

"It is Agent Orange made by Monsanto", he continued.

I told him that it was not true, but of course, he knew better.  He knew it was the dreaded glyphosate, "Monsatan's Roundup".  I directed everyone to their smartphones and told them that the components of Agent Orange were synthetic auxins and not glyphosate.  But then I started to wonder, was I right?  So what is the relationship between Monsanto and Agent Orange?  What is Agent Orange?  

Agent Orange was a defoliant weaponized by the US military during the Vietnam War.  It was composed of a 50-50 mix of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5 trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, respectfully. These compounds are auxins.  Auxins are a class of plant growth regulator associated with cell division, elongation growth, and a large suite of other plant processes.  These two auxins are synthetic mimics of the natural compounds.  They work well at low concentrations because plants do not have a means to break them down easily.  Essentially, a plant grows itself to death.

The two principle plant growth regulators in Agent Orange


Who made 2,4-D?  It was manufactured by  several agrochemical companies, including good ol' Monsanto. Others were Uniroyal, Diamond Shamrock, Hercules and Dow Chemical.

So when the military wanted to defoliate large swatches of dense jungle for military operations, Agent Orange was the ticket.  Over 20 million gallons of the stuff was dumped over Vietnam during Operation Ranch Hand.  Nobody could ever know the exact numbers for sure, but there are huge numbers of affected US military and Vietnamese civilians that suffered from the effects of Agent Orange.


Of course, the anti-GMO types don't care too much about facts, just shock value.  If you look at the sign on the right they do make an attempt to be somewhat honest with the mice type above the bottom words... can you see it? 

The problem was (well, the toxicity issue was) that 2,4,5-T was contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin, a potent dioxin that causes alterations of gene expression that can be carcinogenic.  Documented cancers from Agent Orange exposure include prostate cancer, respiratory cancers (lung, trachea/bronchus, larynx), soft-tissue sarcomas, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Hodgkins disease, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and multiple myeloma. 

Oh, by the way, no glyphosate.  Not a drop.  Kevin one, disruptive guy zero for those keeping score at home.

Beyond that my response to this guy was completely on target.  I asked him, "How can you blame the chemical or the company that makes it, when someone (in this case the US government) chooses to use it in an unethical manner?"

It is like if someone beat another person to death with an organic zucchini... in his eyes it would not make organic zucchini evil.  Unless of course Monsanto made organic zucchini.

This is the point of the matter.  This guy had the information wrong.  There was no glyphosate in Agent Orange.  The use of a plant growth regulator and its contaminants as a weapon is now manipulated to connect a major US health issue to Monsanto.  And the anti-Monsanto, anti-GMO, anti-scientists just love that. 

It is unfortunate to have the Agent Orange / 2,4-D tie because these synthetic auxins are the cornerstone of the next generation of herbicide-resistant plants.  The companies working with this technology will have to endure the mis-representation of their products by people that really know nothing about them.

And by the way, the instructor that organized the session said that everyone in the class verified my information, was impressed with how I handled the criticism, and "thought the disruptive guy was a dick."


Monday, April 2, 2012

More TEDx Credulity, A Sad, Sad Talk

Birke Baehr is undoubtedly a brilliant kid.  At eleven years old he has interests in food and the environment, making him a clear outlier from his peers.  Birke was a speaker at TEDx Asheville. In my parsing of TEDx talks to identify anti-scientific claims, his was clearly a standout for good and sad reasons. 

Again, as pointed out in previous posts, the outstanding reputation of TED talks was being hijacked by fringe interests to promote a non-scientific agenda, tarnishing the reputation of TED's credible brand.  


This YouTube video named "Monsanto Corporation Gets Owned by 11 Year Old Boy" exploits the credulity of youth and the approval of a credulous audience.  Plus, he never says anything about Monsanto, just the usual anti-biotech rhetoric-- all stated as fact, without evidence.


What is wrong with his talk?  Like a few TEDx talks I am currently discussing, they are weak on evidence and their agendas are showing.  As you listen to Birke, please read along the timeline below.  Pay attention to his claims, and measure them against scientific response.


First minute-- good setup using points we all can agree on. Yes, children are vulnerable to advertising and corporations do exploit that.  By starting on ground of clear consensus he can develop an intrapersonal relationship with the listener, even one skeptical at the onset.  Smart. 


At 1:05 he reveals the problem with his presentation.  He reveals the sources for his information.  He looked into modern agriculture on "the internet, in books and documentary films, and in travels with my family."  These are sources notorious for spoon-feeding a persuasive activist agenda that is not supported by the scientific consensus or peer-reviewed literature.  An 11 year old most likely does not have the critical thinking skills to synthesize this material in the context of legitimate science.


1:20  "A seed is manipulated in a laboratory to do something not intended by nature".  Okay.  Did nature intend any of the crops we eat to be grown in North America?  Did nature intend for crops to be cross bred, selected and mutated by chemical agents, acceptable by organic farming?  No on all accounts.  His determination of "natural" is arbitrary to fit the rhetoric.


1:27  "DNA of a fish, into DNA of a tomato, this is just creepy"  Maybe to him it is creepy, but a gene is a gene and such manipulations were thought to help grow tomatoes in cold, as well as give them long shelf life.  No such products are on the market, yet Birke and his supporter will tell you they are, despite no evidence.


1:40  "The food they (transgenic seeds) produce have been proven to cause cancer and other problems in laboratories".  He says this, it is not true.  He is now a puppet, lying for an agenda.  There are no peer-reviewed, published reports showing a causal link to cancer of any kind.


1:55  He talks about rats fed GMO products and liver and kidney problems.  These data come from one lab, one report (Seralini et al., 2007), where a small number of rats were fed the direct gene product doped into food. In this report, differences were observed in a subset of the animals, yet only data from the affected animals were shown. Such problems in meaningfully large studies have not been found, and experiments were not repeated. An expert panel revisited these data and published their conclusion that "analysis conducted by Séralini et al. (2007) provided no evidence to indicate that MON 863 was associated with adverse effects in the 90-day rat study."  Still, Birke makes that claim. 


2:00 "Let me tell you, just about all the corn we eat is genetically modified in some way"... yes, and it has been for over 20,000 years. Only instead of one gene at a time, it was 40,000. 


2:35  "Pesticides and herbicides are sprayed onto plants to kill weeds and bugs".  Yes. That is not just transgenic technology, and organic farmers use Bt too.


2:39  "Poisoning our water too".  I agree.  This is why we need more research into how to farm with less environmental impact.  Transgenics will be part of that conversation.


2:46  "Then they irradiate our food to try to make it last longer".  I could not find any information on this with regard to specific fruits or vegetables. However, it is safe and actually kills dangerous microorganisms.


3:06  The crowd goes wild when he says he wants to be an organic farmer.  That's a ballsy career choice for an eleven year old, and I hope he does it.  The crowd reaction gives you a hint of their likelihood to subscribe to a naturalist fallacy. 


3:54-4:00  "We can pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital"  He makes the claim that organic food is not more expensive when compared to the medical bills you'll incur from eating the products of conventional farming.  That is a real stretch and somewhat dishonest, unless there is evidence of such costs. 


More accurately, conventional diets are part of the lifestyle that allows us to live longer, requiring more health care.  We're not dropping dead from heart attacks at 40 so much these days.


Certainly I agree that food is important and diet and disease are inextricably linked. However, healthy conventional food is just as good as healthy organic food, and that's quite clear. Nothing wrong with organic food.  Nothing wrong with conventional food either. 

4:28  "I believe that kids will make better choices when they know about their food and where it comes from".  Absolutely.  I agree 100% and hope that we can teach that with a fair and even scientific hand.

4:54  The Frosted Flakes box again shows the agenda.  Make good food look like poison with no evidence of it being harmful.  Frosted Flakes are not my first choice for a healthy food, but the hyperbole shown is designed to generate fear, not to educate.

5:00  A swell of applause.  The crowd bought it. 


Once again, the TED name is exploited to provide an evidence-less presentation that appears to have content. Brike is a sharp kid, likable, and the perfect shill to sell an anti-scientific agenda at the expense of TED's reputation.  It is a rant against biotech and a commercial for organic farming.


My recommendation?  I'd love to see Birke keep learning about food and doing his best to be an organic farmer.  He should continue to learn and implement everything he can about low-input agriculture and how to make food more environmentally sustainable. That may include transgenic technologies and he should be open to that. 


He is homeschooled. I'd like him to read "Tomorrow's Table" by Drs. Pamela Ronald and Raul Adamchak. I'm curious what he would think.


Most of all, I hope his home school emphasizes hypothesis-driven science and critical thinking. From the sound of things he's being exposed to a feelgood agenda, promoted by those that subscribe to the naturalist fallacy and/or disdain Big Ag.


It also scares me that an audience is so blinded by Birke, that they stop thinking critically, and actually reinforce what he is telling them- claims against sound science without any good evidence.


Best wishes Birke.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Answering the Critics- Are Academic Scientists Owned by Big Corporations?

The scientific consensus among academic scientists tells us that:

1. The earth's climate is warming, with at least a component of human cause
2. Evolution explains the diversity of life on earth and continues
3. Transgenic trangenic (GMO) food crops are safe and effective
4. Vaccines are a tremendous, safe cornerstone in public health.
5. Stem cell based therapies show great promise and some application now

Every one of these statements is a well supported hypothesis.  Each is based on substantial data from different experiments and models, from many independent labs, worldwide.

Critics suggest that such data and conclusions only are present because academic scientists are "bought and paid for" by big corporations.  The allegation is that corporations dictate what is to be studied, what will be funded and what results will be obtained, and what may be published.

According to critics, who's bought off, who does the buying? 
1.  Climate change scientists- George Soros, liberal media
2.  Evolution scientist- liberal media, secular humanist and atheist groups, the ACLU, National Academies of Science, Family Guy. 
3.  GMO scientists:  Monsanto
4.  Vaccine science:  "big pharma"
5.  Stem cells: Liberal government operatives that want to kill babies.


I've even endured this personally.  Lay people that disagree with my evidence-based-food stance tell me that none of my work matters because it is all paid for by Pepsico and Monsanto, simply because those companies have product licensing agreements with my university.

This argument comes up frequently in discussion of these topics, so I thought I'd take a look.  How much of our research is corporate sponsored?  How "bought and paid for" are we?

First, I went to an easy source at my university, the University of Florida.  The Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) publishes their financials every year.  You can find this online here.

How much Big Corporation money did we spend?  Not that much.  It is buried somewhere in that "other sponsored funds" piece of the money pie.
If corporations are fueling scientific discovery at universities,
they sure aren't contributing too much.  Somewhere in "Other Sponsored Funds"


Now wait, I can hear critics already screaming that "other sponsored funds" is almost 10% of the research dollars spent, and that's a significant amount at a place like the University of Florida.  So let's use the record to break that down: 

Yikes.  Corporate sponsorship is a pretty small sliver of that pie.

So about two percent of our funds come from corporate interests.  For the anti-scientific critics out there, that's about two dollars out of every hundred. 

If we are bought and paid for, we're bought really cheap and not paid well. 

In reality, you can check any individual's research funding, as all of these records are publicly available.  Me, I can state that I've never received corporate financing.  Not a penny.  I do get some support from farm-industry groups, but these are associations of farmers, not corporate interests. 

And I am the rule, not the exception.  Very few of my colleagues have corporate sponsors.  

The other piece of tangential evidence backing my claim of low-corporate involvement in academic science is that public universities are suffering from massive cutbacks.  Whole departments are shrinking or are cut, state and federal resources are harder to obtain, and funding research is harder than it has been in a long time. 

Meanwhile Wall Street rolls along, recovered and soaring as the stock markets reach new highs and corporate profits exceed old records. The corporate world is driving forward, and if they are really sponsoring research in public universities they can't be paying too much.

Maybe these activist causes should consider who academic researchers really work for.  Them.  

Instead of wasting time pointing fingers and implying corporate malfeasance, they might want to examine their own stance, and realize that maybe the experts are really experts and worth listening to.


** Since first posting of this blog I have received some minimal corporate support for a small project in testing gene regulatory sequences.  It is not from MON, DOW, Bayer, etc. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

If You Can't Attack the Science, Attack the Person!

Hi Everybody!  It's me!  You might think you know me as an academic research scientist that is dedicated to training undergraduate and graduate students, helping science link real solutions to agricultural questions, and thinking of novel frontiers in genomics and other basic science.

You might also recognize me as the scientist that interacts with the public, teaching the science behind transgenic food (GMOs), climate change, evolution, vaccination, and other hot button issues that shouldn't be.  I'm glad to talk to people that disagree with me, and do it politely. Most of the time.

But my cover has been blown. See, according to one anti-transgenic advocate-- I'm a dupe for Pepsico.  Confused?  Me too until she explained.

(this is all public on Natural News comment thread, so I'm just reposting-- no violation of her privacy, and she'd appreciate me getting her message out in more places I'm sure)

While chiming in on the narrow-mindedness of labeling transgenic food (a topic in queue for this blog) I met with Ms. Lilia and used scientific evidence to provide a general debunking of transgenic food topics, where the reputation of this sound technology has been sullied by many.

She provides the same tired old articles in low-impact journals that were never repeated, or parrots the old distortions that she believes, but can be easily analyzed as not true.  So instead of addressing the science, she goes after me.  Worse, she goes after my institution, the University of Florida, and its 3000 faculty.


Oh No!  I've been found out!  First I'm practically Kevin Bacon's cousin and now this!
Our whole university is a dupe for Pepsico, brilliant on their behalf, as somehow Pepsi made the 
university decades before there was Pepsi! 

 This is pretty lame stuff. Calling my work bogus because of some contract?  I guess I'm particularly saddened because I feel great pride in being part of this faculty.  As a land-grant institution we take our mission of public education and service very seriously. It has been such a pleasure to work with farmers, students and other stakeholders in our State.  But alas, we are all shills for Pepsico.  We must be, heck, they licensed a product created by a UF scientist.  In fact, Pepsi probably hired him and forced him to create that product so that they could license it from us and pay royalties for decades to come.

Ms. Lilia continues on a separate thread:

Quite an indictment! Our University is run by Pepsico! 
We do have Pepsi vending machines... 

Here her evidence of Pepsi's deep influence on university science and technology is presented, noting that UF is "basically run by Pespsico" and that she does not believe that I have "no personal stake in (the GMO) argument."

I do take it personally.  She is impugning my integrity as a scientist, something I've trained for since the mid 1980's.  Plus it goes farther than that, personally.  I know that we have some nice transgenic tools in the lab that would be of great benefit to farmers and consumers, but they are DOA other than as research tools.  We could never afford to navigate the regulatory maze that would be required for commercializing a transgenic plant.  That is a tremendous personal disappointment.

Then it gets really fun to learn that everything that comes from my lab is essentially a fraud, as is everything that comes from UF research labs...

And you should check out the thread on Natural News where I describe to her  in scientific detail why it would be inappropriate to label transgenics without labeling any plant material generated through human intervention.  Please read- I make the sound scientific argument. 

So here a civil, polite and scientifically evidence driven discussion on my part, ends with the assertion that I'm a paid stooge for Pepsico, along with every other faculty member at UF.  She really thinks this.  What is scary is that she thinks this, but if you read the Natural News thread she clearly is intelligent, articulate and passionate.  She's one of the good ones!

The last thing I'll post is my reply to her direct allegation.  I hate to even pay credence to such things, but it is on a thread populated by anti-science goofballs, so perhaps a little gentle defense was in order... 

And I have absolutely no idea what that last comment means. Ya dig? 

To conclude, I thought I might list just a few examples of published research coming out of University of Pepsi.  It is a shame these are all frauds and based on Pepsi's approval, as they are performed by wonderful, caring people that have a mission as teachers, scholars, and stewards of society and our planet. We are people that have turned away from lucrative corporate opportunity, fight for every dollar, and work sixty hour weeks throughout our careers to remain competitive.  

-- Here is the UF Biofuels Plant.  Allegedly remediating plant waste to make renewable energy.  According to recent commentary, it likely really is just a way to make Diet Pepsi. 

-- My department's Organic and Sustainable Agriculture emphasis is one of the best in the nation. Strike that, the best.  Wonderful faculty, and rapidly growing with new students that care about sustainable ag and want it to be their career.  Too bad they are working for Pepsi, right? 

-- and efforts to assist small farms and promote local produce are just a facade, as Pepsi is pulling the strings...

I could go on and on, but I won't.  It is Saturday, going on noon, and I have the pleasure and privilege to be able to go to work today at a kick ass job that helps people.  I get to think about big ideas, new science, and how to be a better teacher. 

.... and you know what?  Pepsi has nothing to do with it.  I don't even drink soda.  If I do, its Coke Zero. 

I was just blown away by such brainless allegations.  They illuminate the point that if you can't raise your argument, raise your voice or cast aspersions to misdirect the discussion. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Science Denial in Political Candidates;The Importance of a Simple but Telling Question

Back in 2008 Republican presidential hopefuls gathered in an on-stage “debate”.  By debate I mean they did what all politicians do regardless of political party- they used the occasion to bend questions to fit their answers and stroke the expectations of smiling partisans counting down to that primary election.

The event was typical and boring.  Stock answers to non-issues and sidestepping issues that truly matter in our country.

But one web-submitted question resonated especially well with me and it should be a mandated question in all political debates from here on out…. “This is a yes-no question… Do you believe in evolution?”

The question should have been, “Do you accept the evidence for evolution,” because we don’t have to believe something when it has been substantiated with overwhelming evidence, but these are politicians, not scientists, so we’ll let it slide.

The question was posed to Senator John McCain, who enthusiastically said, “Yes.”

When asked to the rest of the stage with a show-of-hands, hands were slow to raise, and candidates looked back and forth at each other, thinking quickly of how their answer could be politically expedient.

Gov. Mike Huckabee was the first hand up, followed by Sen. Sam Brownback and Rep. Tom Tancredo.

This was a telling moment.  Here were three candidates willing to ignore evidence and brandish their ignorance in a show to placate a political base.  To me, grounds for immediate disqualification.

This year during the “debates” some pundit mentioned that such questions were useless in vetting a presidential candidate. I could not disagree more.  This is absolutely the best question to ask anyone seeking the highest office in the land, an office where they literally have their finger on the power to annihilate the planet. They also have to make many policy decisions that could benefit from objective scientific validation, and to turn a blind eye to science for political gains is detrimental to us all.

To deny that evolution happened over the last 3.6 billion years (and still happens and is ongoing) means that you have to be willing to ignore evidence.  Worse, you have to be willing to ignore evidence and accept what someone believes in the absence of evidence, but on the basis of faith.

So when an important decision needs to be made (like invade Iraq to take out Saddam Hussein in retribution for 9-11) who do we want to make that decision?  Do we want someone in power that will carefully consider and weigh all points of view, options, and evidence, and then make a decision based on the facts, or do we want someone that will default to the voice in his head, the voice he hears in prayers, the voices of his supporters, the voices of big business, the voices of his party, and/or the voices of contributors? 

Evolution is the basis of speciation and natural selection is the mechanism by which it happens.  That is not a subject of debate among the world’s scientists.  Fewer theories have more support from diverse scientists and avenues of inquiry.  To refuse to accept this evidence to placate the ignorant shows that a politician is either lying or stupid.

Anyone not accepting evolution as an established and supported theory that explains the diversity of life on earth should be immediately disqualified from holding the office of President of the USA.  The next decade will require hard decisions to be made on economic policy, energy policy, foreign policy, and many other areas.  We need leaders that are connected to science and quality information, that can make good decisions when provided with information, and accept reality over influences.

They could instead run for King of a planet that is flat, cooling and in the middle of the universe. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Never Cried Over Pasta

Until today.

It didn't even occur to me.  Today is Saturday and I finished work a bit early, around 4 pm, allowing me enough time to stop at the store and make dinner- not just put something together, but actually cook. Make real dinner.

I opted to make a big pot of pasta sauce with Italian sausage.

I malliardized the onions, added fresh garlic, then assembled the pasta sauce that my mom taught me how to make years ago.  Then it hit me.  She's gone.  The smell is here, the same thoughtful assembly of ingredients in the right proportions and right order was here, but she's gone.

My kitchen smelled like her kitchen and I crashed.

As a kid I learned how to cook from my mother.  She was really good, good at a gut instinct for what to add and in which proportions. I guess that is where I get it from.  When I was in Cub Scouts part of the badge requirement was to learn how to set a table and how to assist with serving a meal.  I learned that stuff from my parents. Dinner was a formal daily event, and it was always good.

The pasta sauce is not so much a recipe as an assembly. It comes from my mom's best friend's mother, a person I called grandma until she passed away, and for the most part of that time it was unclear why I got to have three grandmothers.  Why argue with that?  She was Greek, but knew how to cook Italian.

My mom borrowed that recipe and at one point showed me how to do it.  My house smells like her house, right now.

At some point I showed this to my nephew and will show it to my niece eventually.  This one is too good to lose.

I have not written anything because I've kept myself packed with business so that I can't think about the grieving process.  If I keep running I can't have the time to break down.

Being in Gainesville, FL I can avoid pictures, I can avoid the topic.  I live 1154 miles away so I can't see her home or think about the places she'd go or the things she'd do.

But I can't hide from the wonderful aromas and the thoughts and memories they carry with them.

I've been blindsided into grief by a steaming pot of simmering tomato goo.  This will be a long process.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pinball Repair Master Adrift in the Age of Modern Marketing

Florida State Highway 33 is a desolate ribbon of asphalt that connects Polk City to Groveland, two places that are little more than speed bumps and never destinations.   It is an artery we must transit when moving between Gainesville and the USDA labs in Winter Haven, FL, as they do a lot of analytical chemistry in association with our projects.  There are no gas stations, mini marts or scenic stops, just mile after mile of pine and palm, broken up only by a toothless goon here and there, occasionally one rolling a tire.

About six miles out of Polk City and 21 miles before Groveland there is a sign hammered into a naked spot on a tree.  It is about eighteen inches wide and twelve inches tall.  It is unpainted wood and features black block letters that say PINBALL REPAIR, followed by a phone number.

Now, what are the odds....   you see where I'm going.

Imagine the almost infinite alignment that needs to happen here.  First, someone has to own a pinball machine.  Next, it has to be broken.  Next, they have to want to repair it.  Next, they could find nobody to do the work.  Next, they have to be driving north on Florida State Road 33 from Polk City to Groveland, during the day.  Finally, they have to actually spy this rather innocuous sign, then be quick with a pen to jot down the phone number.

WTF?  I think you'd be more likely to find Bigfoot walking arm-in-arm with Jimmy Hoffa in the middle of Disneyland, or the Cubs winning the Super Bowl.

Sadly I picture a sixty-something unkept guy, perhaps missing a limb, sitting near an old rotary dial phone in his home near the modest suburbs of (ahhem) Polk City.  Every morning he dons the coveralls, sits down at his work desk by 9AM, on time, every day, waiting for a service call.  He sits among boxes of flippers, bumpers, plungers and tilt lights, maybe rolling a heavy shiny silver ball across his desk over and over to keep what's left of his sanity.

But the call never comes.  Perhaps once in the middle of the night the phone exploded into its song, leaving him only to find a wrong number.

He might wonder what is wrong.  Is his advertising network not connecting with its market?  Maybe he needs  to modernize his marketing strategy, perhaps a note in the church bulletin or maybe he needs to thumb it up to Groveland and put ads under windshield wipers at the DQ.  Clearly the net he has cast is not reaching his potential clientele in broken-pinball-machine space.

To me it speaks to the ambitions of the human spirit and how well-intended ideas die from poor execution.  Next time I'm down there I'm going to get that number and make the phone call.  Stand by for details.