October 1, 2005

Professor Butz's beer mat.

I just learned another Britishism: "beer mat." Don't laugh: "coaster" makes a lot less sense. I was wondering if the British have to change the term depending on the drink. (Is there a "martini mat"?) But what's with "coaster"? We don't expect or even want the thing to help the glass go sliding about.

Anyway, this Professor Butz character has invented an elaborate electronic beer mat that sends out signals when the glass needs a refill. Presumably, some human somewhere gets the signal and responds. Of course, since you need a human being anyway, why not rely on that person's ability to see when glasses need refilling? Apparently, that deficiency in the invention has led to efforts at reconceptualization, and they are now blabbering about using the thing to cast votes in bar games. Too bad the glass is going to be on it though. The devices cost $100 to manufacture, but Professor Butz has visions of selling enough that he can get the cost down to $10. Good luck, Professor Butz!


SippicanCottage said...
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Ann Althouse said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Interesting (about "coaster").

As to the lawsuits, it's a German invention. I'll bet they don't hold bar owners responsible for their drunks over there.

As for the BBC being seriously interested in the invention, I'm guessing the British attitudes around alcohol are different from ours. They openly and uncritically talk about the interest in getting bar customers to drink as much as possible.

Jake said...

When I go to England I am surprised by their terms for common objects and actions. But their terms usually make more sense than ours.

Their "take away food' instead of "take out food" comes to mind.

SippicanCottage said...
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Be said...

inre beer mats vs coasters - Ann: I had no idea about the history of the term "coaster." Thank you for that! Years ago (nearly 20, actually) my first job was as a researcher/translator for a printing agency dealing with the necessities of European printers/dealers/brokers. Since I'd never been to the UK, I'd never heard the term "beer mat" before - it's a pretty big customer for the printing companies, though.

As for drinking customs - I often hear that we're considered "savages" by Euro standards regarding drinking. A friend of mine, however, (who did a study on bingeing) has a thesis that the whole British Institution of ending the night at 11 pm vs whatever it is state by state here has contributed more to bingeing than even what I agree to be a Puritain ethic here has done. (Will look all that up if anyone'd like).