Become a designated driver at the Reading Craft Beer Festival, pay only $20 to get in

Would you like to get stinking drunk sampling more than 100 craft beers over three or four hours?

Who wouldn't?

But just who is going to get all those slobbering alkies home from the Santander Arena after the Reading Craft Beer Festival ends its first run on the Saturday afternoon of April 18?

The organizers had a swell idea!

Offer a special deal for designated drivers in addition to the deluxe ducats for the boozehounds.

Here's the shakedown:

That lounge furniture seals the deal.

Everything in Africa is immense (especially Africa)

Ever since I was a lad in sister school, I have been familiar with a map of the world that looks like this:

It is called a Mercator projection, probably because it was designed by some chap named Mercator, and it is considered (by whom?) the best way to project a representation of a globe on a wall. Now, thanks to a website called IFL Science, we learn that it is just cartoon cartography.

Just how big do you figure Africa is?

Bigger than the United States? About the same size as China? Five Australias?

Go to a globe and check right now. (You don't have a globe? Oh.)

After spending 62 years on this good Earth, not one day of which was spent in Africa, I discovered something startling that was lurking right under my nose. 

Africa is one damn big continent.

Just how big? Lookee here:

Drawn to correct scale, you can fit inside Africa a whole lot of land...the United States, China, India, most of Europe, and have room left over for maybe ten Chris Christies and perhaps a chunk of Mars.

Mercator's got some 'splaining to do.

There's got to be a bar bet in there somewhere.

There's always room for boilo

We've been running Uncle Art's treasured boilo recipe here for the past five years (you can access it here), so this holiday season let's share a few different variations of this traditional holiday, liver-killing treat.

Here's one a pal posted on Facebook, direct from Shendodafuk:

And another retrieved from the iPad app Yummly, which boasts access to just about every recipe in the history of humankind:

Three of the spices match up with Uncle Art's...but...but..the 1/2 gallon grain is diluted with only four cups of water. And what's with that 4.5 pounds of clover honey? Ye body will be under attack.

If anybody gives this one a try, see if your next-of-kin can give me a shout.

Job creator Peter Barbey creates job for someone to stand guard over his automobiles

It isn't easy being Peter Barbey.

When you're the scion of one of the wealthiest families in America and the overlord of a local business that employs hundreds of people, your workers come to expect something from you, such as a fair wage and the respect that comes from years — sometimes decades — of loyal service as a professional employee.

Try telling that to members of CWA Local 14830, which represents the computer technicians at Reading Eagle Company.

In addition to some changes in overtime rules and early retirement, the Eagle's proposals for a new contract, put into effect last month, contains a take-it-up-the-ass provision that reclassified seven of the twelve IT workers into lower pay grades that reduces their salaries by a shocking 30 to 60 percent.

Under the new pay rates, Technician Level 3s will earn a bit more than $25 an hour, a decent wage. But three techs demoted to Level 2 will only make around $19 an hour and four at Level 1 — including one guy who reportedly has been there 40+ years — will make $10 an hour.

Ten bucks an hour! Not much better than slinging burgers. But what's a fellow to do except quit, which no doubt is what Peter Barbey hopes they will do to bring about a "reduction in staff" so he can use the spare change to buy more iPads and iPhones for his trusted lackeys and spring for another new coat of paint in the newsroom.

The union, of course, plans to file a lawsuit and urged the seven whose salaries were reduced to hang tough, file for unemployment benefits, and avoid lashing out in ways that could lead to termination.

Despite such admonitions, one staffer said Barbey fears retaliation: "He hired a security guard whose sole duty is to watch the executive cars in the loading bay on Court Street," where some days Barbey parks his Audi, on other days his Land Rover.

Clearly, this is one of the most important positions at Reading Eagle Company. I wonder if that new guard is making more than ten bucks an hour.

Our annual Thanksgiving prayer, in which we give thanks for ugly Christmas trees and other cool stuff

Thanks for the Republican Congress...and Ferguson, Missouri...and those big snowflakes falling outside the window right now...