Friday, March 30, 2012

Beer of the Week (Vol. CXL)

Another edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the weighty folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you find the wine, whiskey, and beer to the scales in your favor.

Jacob Leinenkugel’s Brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin has long been regarded as somewhere in between a local craft brewer a national marco brand. Their Honey Weiss and Red, although tepid brews by craft standards, were for a time some of the few alternatives to Bud, Miller, and Coors available on local taps. While I don’t mind their Summer Shandy and particularly enjoy Leinie’s Sunset Wheat, they have usually had one toe in the craft pond at best when it came to the new offerings released in recent years.

All that changed last year with the advent of the limited Big Eddy series of beers. The first Big Eddy was Russian imperial Stout which was released last year. This month, the second beer in the line hit store shelves with Big Eddy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale:

Our Big Eddy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale is a tip of the cap to the brewers of Scotland. A blend of eight robust malts give Wee Heavy its complex flavor which is balanced by notes of dark chocolate, toffee and caramel.

12oz brown bottle. A four pack sells for $10.99. Classic looking paper brown and royal blue label with a sparse but sharp look.

STYLE: Scotch Ale

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 9.5%

COLOR (0-2): Amber brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Heavy sweet malts with noticeable alcohol. 1

HEAD (0-2): Tan color, not much volume, but what’s there is quite thick and foamy. Decent lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Overwhelming malty which mostly comes through as bready, sweet, and a little syrupy. I don’t really pick up the chocolate, toffee, or caramel. The heat is quite apparent and tends to wash out the more subtle flavors. Thicker mouthfeel with a heavy body. Definitely one that you want to work at a slower pace. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Flavors come through strong and linger. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Big Eddy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale is a quality beer and a hits a higher standard than most of Leinie’s other beers. It’s flavors come out more and it loses some of its harshness as it warms so you don’t want to drink this straight out of the fridge. The alcohol and malty sweetness is a wee bit heavier than I’d prefer, but it’s still a good choice for a beer to kick back with and sip and savor. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14

Practical Joke Idea from my College Days

The large Mega Millions jackpot reminds me of a practical joke idea I had in my college days. (Works best if you live in a college dorm in the days before the internet).

1. Gather together a half dozen friends and announce that you have bought them each a lottery ticket as a gift. Buy one ticket with the exact same numbers that won the previous lottery drawing. Shuffle up the tickets and randomly distribute them to your friends.

2. Wake up early the morning after the drawing and replace the lottery page of everyone’s newspaper with pages saved from the previous drawing.

3. Sit back and wait to see which of your friends “won”

4. Inform the winner of the joke before they give away their meager possessions.

Stillwater Roiled

Recently a member of the Stillwater City Council proposed hiring an outside consultant to help the Council more productively talk to each other and avoid the tension that has been building among them. Apparently for a mere $2,700 to $4,200 of tax expenditure, our public servants could learn to work and play well with others.

Thankfully, the proposal was voted down, though it was a close one. A bare majority, at 3 - 2, saved us Stillwater taxpayer’s from having to fund expensive kumbaya therapy for our political elites. Here’s the highlight from the debate
on this vitally critical issue for our government:



Key quote from the video above, delivered by the Mayor to a City Council Person

If your job is to represent the people, you’re doing a pretty crappy job representing the people. You have to listen to them.”

Now that’s the kind of frank, open exchange of ideas that democracy
demands. Certainly, a professional communications facilitator would never have let this happen. Thank goodness we won’t have to worry about such censorship of thought in the future.

As to the merits of the charge, I don’t pay enough attention to the performance of the Stillwater City Council to assess its accuracy. But when it comes to any politician, odds are it’s right on the money.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fitting the Profile

Victor Davis Hanson has put a list together of the 10 Things That We’ve Learned from the Trayvon Martin Tragedy. Number nine was one that I haven't seen noted elsewhere:

9) Most who editorialize so passionately on this case, black and white, live in cities, but most likely as far away from those neighborhoods and inner-city schools where murder is an epidemic as they can. They are engaging in de facto profiling in every aspect of their and their childrens’ lives, based on general perceptions, personal experience, and statistical data. Profiling and stereotyping are for others; a “good” or “safe” area is for the more sensitive and educated.

Unfortunately, if past experience is any guide, none of these lessons will actually be learned by most and we'll go through all the same gyrations and hysteria when the next such racially or politically tinged tragedy takes place.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Justice of the Heart

I’ve been listening to bits and pieces of the Supreme Court hearings on the legality of Obamacare the past three days. Overall I’ve been impressed by the level of intellectual acuity displayed by the lawyers and the Justices. The complex arguments and theories and recall of minute facets of past precedents and their implications, often times I have no idea about what they’re saying or why. That’s my gold standard for recognizing some sharp thinkin’ and cipherin’ in others.

Maybe I’m so impressed because I’m used to watching the deliberations of another foundation of our federal government, the legislative branch. When watching the US Senate or, especially, the House on CSPAN, moments of keen intellectual acuity are fleeting and far between compared to the oceans of time devoted to high demagoguery and low comedy.

For example, from earlier today in the House, instead of say, discussing the implications of putting the country in debt to the tune of $15 trillion, this was the business of the day:



Compared to this, you can see where an arcane argument over the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867 is so exciting and refreshing.

There was one marked departure from the high minded debate of the Department of Health and Human Services vs. Florida on Monday. Despite her rookie status, the Court’s newest Justice, Sonia Sotomayor was quite verbose. And for the most part she sounded impressive (that is, I had no idea what she was saying or why). But at one point she diverted into an unconventional line of questioning, given the fact that the point of the hearing was to determine whether a Federal law is Constitutional or not. From the transcript:

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Do you think that there's — what percentage of the American people who took their son or daughter to an emergency room and that child was turned away because the parent didn't have insurance — do you think there's a large percentage of the American population who would stand for the death of that child … They had an allergic reaction and a simple shot would have saved the child?

What percentage of the American people would stand for the unjust death of a child? Well, what percentage voted for John McCain in 2008? (This urge for sarcastic, damaging responses largely keeps me out of Supreme Court proceedings).

Maybe there’s some arcane Constitutional nuance I’m missing that justifies this question, but in context, it seemed incongruous. The lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Michael Carvin, explained that it was a flawed premise. Invalidating Obamacare does nothing to change laws requiring emergency rooms to treat all patients, regardless of insured status. Perhaps he was about to ask why that question has any bearing on the merits of this lawsuit, but Justice Sotomayor interrupted him in the middle of his response to ask a different question.

The nature of this question, and it’s emphasis on feelings and popular opinion rather than legal precedent reminded me of something candidate Barrack Obama said about the qualifications for any Justice he nominated. This speech was made before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007:

... what you’ve got to look at is — what is in the justice’s heart. What’s their broader vision of what America should be. Justice Roberts said he saw himself just as an umpire but the issues that come before the Court are not sport, they’re life and death. And we need somebody who’s got the heart—the empathy — to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old—and that’s the criteria by which I’ll be selecting my judges.

Mission accomplished, Mr. President.

If he gets a few more chances to name Supreme Court Justices, the quality of hearings may yet resemble the madcap antics of CSPAN2.

Pass Me The Booze

Fear not citizens of Minnesota. The self-appointed arbiter of truth, justice, and the journalistic way is back. Don Shelby joins Rick Kupchella’s BringMeTheNews:

Legendary TV newsman Don Shelby is joining BringMeTheNews. The veteran anchor and investigative journalist will be the morning voice of the BringMeTheNews radio network of more than 30 stations around Minnesota starting Wednesday, April 4. He’ll also provide original news reporting.

“I am so pleased that I’ll be back in the game—not just to be back in the game, but to satisfy the needs of people who, for 32 years, trusted me to tell them the truth,” Shelby said. “I miss them and I miss the opportunity to do that.” Shelby said he’s excited for the opportunity to dive into a new and growing area of journalism where more and more people are finding is the go-to method for solid, credible information.


This isn’t about Don Shelby people. It’s about you and your need to have a trusted source to bring them the truth. Who better to wrap himself in the mantle of trusted truth-teller than our man Don? Thankfully, he’s humbly returned to that role as a service to us.

“One of my fears was that—as everyone gets pencils, everyone gets laptops—it will be harder and harder for the public to discern what is real and what is made up,” he said. “I know what Rick (Kupchella) stands for and what underlies the whole idea of BringMeTheNews. He wants that always to be in place—that this is real journalism.”

Shelby manages to come off here as a combination of Grandpa Simpson and Nick Coleman. Pencils? Why back in my day you had to spend years covering local government and developing your BS detector and ear for baloney before they’d let you anywhere near a pencil. That’s when journalism was real and it meant something.

What can we expect from Shelby’s return to the game? Unbridled arrogance, stupefying ignorance, and indifference or even outright contempt for anyone who doesn’t see the wisdom of his ways. That’s his idea of real journalism.

Boys to Men

This year, our eldest son has begun participating in Cub Scouts. He’s part of a fairly new program called Lion Cubs which is open to kindergarten age boys.

It’s not quite the same as the Scouts as I remember it from my days as a Cub and Boy Scout. Like most institutions, the Scouts have gone through a fair amount of politically correct watering down to make them more sensitive, diverse, and welcoming. Some of the squishy language used in pamphlets and guidebooks can be cringe inducing at times.

The amount of personal and medical information you must provide to allow the Scouts to cover their posteriors from a legal perspective is also far greater than it was years ago. Likewise, the extent that the Scouts go to demonstrate that they have safeguards in place to prevent abuse is something that we never had to worry about in our day (thankfully).

Having said all that, it’s hard to name a similar organization that does more to promote traditional values of faith, patriotism, honor, and civic duty than the Boy Scouts of America. They still teach you that are clear differences between right and wrong. They still teach you to respect the American flag and the country it represents. They still teach you to give thanks to God for all that we have been given. They still teach boys the skills and virtues they need to be men.

And they do some other things that most people probably aren’t aware. For example, last month I sat across from a gent who worked for the Boy Scouts in the Twin Cities. He told me about a couple of the programs that he was involved in.

One was to recruit Scouts from the inner city schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. These potential recruits included Somali immigrants, whose parents were often distrustful of any organization that they might associate with the government. He said that he learned not to wear his Scout uniform when he visited their homes lest they think he was a member of the military.

Another effort that he was involved in was an outreach to get Hispanic boys involved in Scouting. He spoke fluent Spanish and explained that the group (can’t remember if it was a pack or troop or both) wasn’t organized by geography, but by a shared language and cultural background. They did all the same things as other Scouts while also emphasizing activities where they shared an interest such as playing soccer.

Not everyone is keen on the idea that there are significant numbers of Somali and Hispanic immigrants (mostly from Mexico and Central America) in the Twin Cities. But here they are and one of the big challenges with both groups (to varying degrees) is to ensure that they become more assimilated into American culture and adopt the values and beliefs that have made the country what it is. What better group to do that than the Boy Scouts? In fact, what group is really even trying to do this other than the Boy Scouts?

In today’s American media you won’t hear much about all the good the Scouts do of course. No, you’ll hear about “controversies” they’re involved because they have the audacity to believe that they have the right to put up a cross at one of their camps or be able to choose leaders who hold the same beliefs as the organization. Because the Boy Scouts remain committed to core principals and have shown that they are willing to stand up for them, they are hated by the secular Left which rarely misses an opportunity to seek to defund, delegitimatize, and defame the Scouts usually by going through the courts to seek to bring government sanction against them. This is not dissimilar to the approach they take against the Catholic Church.

Which leads to a questioning of the claims of these Leftists that they are only trying to help the people. If they really cared about people and the greater good wouldn’t they weigh all the good that groups like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts do against their supposed transgressions and decide that the benefits far outweigh the costs? Is it really more important that the Catholic Church be forced to help gay couples adopt at the risk of losing the adoption services the Church has long provided? Is the cause of getting the Church to pay for someone’s birth control more important than recognizing all the programs the Church has that help the least and the lost? Should you really seek to defund the Boy Scouts because they won’t allow openly gay leaders if that defunding also impacts all the other worthy work they do?

To the Left, the answer is yes. Seeing that their ideology is enforced and any opposition to it destroyed is far more important than actually helping people. The result is aptly described by this excerpt from a First Things article on Michael Oakeshoot

Moral ideals, and by extension other ideals, Oakeshott wrote in a striking passage in “Rationalism in Politics,” are a kind of sediment and have significance “only so long as they are suspended in a religious or social tradition, so long as they belong to a religious or a social life.” When this religious and social tradition withers, we are left with nothing but the dry and gritty residue “which chokes us as we try to take it down.” Thus we have the spectacle “of a set of sanctimonious, rationalist politicians, preaching an ideology of unselfishness and social service to a population in which they and their predecessors have done their best to destroy the only living root of moral behavior.”

There aren’t many such roots remaining to keep our society anchored. The Scouts are still one of them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Long Game

Good editorial in today's WSJ on Ryan and the Right:

They are also playing by the Beltway's big-government budget rules. The critics on the right are judging Mr. Ryan's budget according to Congressional Budget Office estimates that assume little or no economic benefit from better policy. Mr. Ryan's official budget proposal follows CBO scoring, but he is also trying to break out of that straitjacket.

He has also issued a second budget estimate based on evidence from the 1960s, 1980s and 2000s that tax reform and spending restraint will increase GDP by about 0.5 to one percentage point a year. This means the Ryan budget reduces the debt to GDP ratio to 50% in 10 years from 74.2% this year (and heading higher) and thus steers the U.S. away from the Greek fiscal rocks. Since when has the Club for Growth favored static Beltway revenue analysis?

Mr. Ryan is also proposing to cut spending to 19.8% of the economy in 2021 from 24.1% in 2011. That is hardly spendthrift. It will also be hard to pass given the resistance to change in Washington.

But what really matters on spending over the long term is entitlement reform, and on that score Mr. Ryan goes further than any Republican Congress or President since 1995. He understands that without converting Medicare into a market-based program with more choices for seniors, and without devolving Medicaid to the states and repealing ObamaCare, tax increases will soon become the political default option.

The entitlement state wasn't built in a year, and it can only be fixed with reforms that save money over time. Conservatives who really want to limit government should focus on major reform, not on hitting some unlikely balanced budget target in some future year.


The last paragraph is exactly right. The debate that conservatives need to be initiating is not about balancing the budget this year, next year, or 2018 and why any plan that does that sooner is automatically better. The debate needs to be about the proper size of government, the proper percentage of our economy that we want to dedicate to government spending, and the proper way to restructure entitlement programs so that they are sustainable in the long run.

Proponents of expansive government have been successfully playing the long game ever since the New Deal. Conservatives need to do the same thing otherwise any short term budget reforms that are implemented will simply be overturned down the road.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Location, Location, Location

After a rollicking weekend of college hockey action, we’re down to four teams who will vie for the title in Tampa Bay nearly two weeks from now (more on that later). Boston College has been the dominant team of late and they will no doubt be heavily favored to win the Frozen Four. The Gophers looked damn good yesterday against North Dakota, but they will face a stiff challenge when they take on the Eagles in a semifinal matchup. The other semifinal meanwhile features two teams that few expected to see playing for a chance for a national title: Ferris State and Union. To put that into perspective, consider that both those squads participated in the 2011 Mariucci Classic. When the Gophers are extending invites to said tourney, they’re not usually going to the elite teams in college hockey. It’s almost like a homecoming football game, you want to try to schedule an opponent that you have a pretty good chance or vanquishing (although such a strategy hasn’t exactly worked out so well for the Gophers in Mariucci Classics of late). So it’s safe to say that not many folks had Ferris State and Union penciled in for a trip to Tampa.

Which brings us to the Fraters group in the College Hockey Pickem Challenge. Yesterday’s Gopher win and UMD loss sealed my fate. I correctly picked zero of the teams going to Tampa. But I really don’t care as the Gophers beating North Dakota and returning to the Frozen Four more than makes up for a busted bracket. The leader of the Fraters group goes by the mysterious pseudonym “Stillwater” (hmmm...I wonder who that could be?). Stillwater has proven that their hockey knowledge (or blind luck) does indeed run deep by accumulating 11 points so far. They picked two of the Frozen Four correctly with Minnesota and Union and still have a chance to pick up 12 additional points if the Gophers beat BC and then win the national championship.

In second place is rtork8 with 10 points. Even though he picked Michigan as the eventual champion, he’s still in the running to win the Fraters group. If BC beats Minnesota, but loses to the Ferris State/Union winner, he would finish with 14 points which would be enough to win the group.

Swamptown and Polks are tied for third with 9 points and both remain in the hunt for the group title. If BC beats Minnesota and then wins the national championship, they would end up with 21 points and tie for the title. All others below than who can still rack up points don’t have a scenario that would allow them to win. It is interesting to note that even though Union was a #1 seed and Ferris State a #2 seed, Stillwater was the only one in the Fraters group who picked Union to get out of their regional and no one picked Ferris State. Most people had Michigan (a few had Denver) and Miami of Ohio on that side of the bracket.

Okay, now for some rants on various tournament matters:

- USCHO had a good piece yesterday that asked Is NCAA ice hockey held hostage by ESPN?:

The Worldwide Leader in Sports – the self-proclaimed title given to ESPN – has done a lot to help grow the NCAA men’s ice hockey championship over the years. Now, though, it seems like “that network” is doing everything to hurt this tournament when interest in the event is at an all-time high.

The answer unfortunately is yes. The bigger problem is that ESPN doesn’t really care about hockey overall. Every since they stopped doing NHL games, their hockey coverage has become a joke. So now we’re in an absurd situation where a sports network that has nothing to do with college hockey all season, completely controls the NCAA tournament telecasts. Is it any surprise that the scheduling of games, availability of viewing the games, and quality of the announcing crews suffers as a result?

It doesn’t have to be this way. Besides all the regional channels that do a good job covering regular season games, we now have NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network showing college hockey games on a regular basis. Either one would do a far better job than ESPN with the tournament (especially NBC with its NHL connection), but as the USCHO article points out the NCAA just extended ESPN’s contract for another dozen years.

- Which leads to the next ranting point; is there a worse enemy for college hockey than the NCAA? The way they currently manage regional tournament sites is a joke. People here were disappointed and surprised that the West Regionals in St. Paul drew only 9,386 fans on Saturday and 10,974 on Sunday (I think the NCAA’s silly temperance rules probably helped hold the crowds down somewhat—more people went to last week’s WCHA Final Five where the beer flowed freely), but look at the attendance in the other regions:

Friday’s East Regional in Bridgeport 5090
Friday’s Midwest Regional in Green Bay 3465
Saturday’s East Regional in Bridgeport 5328
Saturday’s Midwest Regional Green Bay 3108
Saturday’s Northeast Regional Worcester 5925
Sunday’s Northeast Regional Worcester 4470

And if you watched any of the Green Bay or Bridgeport games you could see that there were probably half that number of fans actually in seats. What an embarrassment.

The NCAA should pick two sites for each region and rotate them every year. And make them in cities that people might actually want to visit. For example:

The West could be Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The Midwest could be Milwaukee and Detroit.

The East could be Philadelphia and Buffalo.

The Northeast could be New York City and Boston.

With the exception of Milwaukee, these are cities with NHL teams and well-established bases of hockey fans. They are all relatively easy to get to for any college hockey fans in the region and are places that you could plan a trip around that would include more than just the hockey games.

And serve beer. I can’t imagine how much easy money the NCAA forgoes because they won’t allow alcohol to be served at the games.

- Then, we get to the Frozen Four itself which will be held in the noted hockey hotbed of Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay. Really? Here the NCAA suffers from the same delusional that the NHL does in believing that they can make hockey popular everywhere. The reality is that you can’t. It’s a regional sport with regional appeal. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Accept the fact that the game’s appeal in limited by geography and do what’s best to serve your real customer base. Quit trying to be everything to everyone. The NHL will never be the NBA and the Frozen Four will never be the Final Four. But real hockey fans don’t care.

The NCAA should make a relatively short list of Frozen Four locations and establish a rotation cycle among them. If you want to try to attract new fans to college hockey do it in places where it makes sense like Chicago, Philadelphia, or New York City. My Frozen Four list would look somewhat similar to the regional one:

Denver

St. Paul

Milwaukee

Chicago

Detroit

Philadelphia

New York City

Boston

If you wanted to keep it simple, I’d say Denver, St. Paul, Detroit, and Boston. And no more games in football stadiums either. Play the games in the venues and cities best suited for them. That would best for the fans, the players, and the sport itself.

- Finally, there’s the daffy delay between the weekend’s regional play and the Frozen Four itself. Ostensibly, this is to prevent having to compete against the Final Four. Two problems with this:

1. You just had all the regional games the same weekend as the NCAA basketball Sweet Sixteen rounds. If completion was truly a factor wouldn’t it also apply here?

2. To assume that having the Frozen Four at the same time as the Final Four would somehow distract from the attention it receives falls under the same delusion as my previous point. Do you think the hordes of media covering the Final Four are going to pack their bags after next Monday’s national championship game to head to Tampa Bay? Or that the millions of basketball fans across the country who watch the Final Four on CBS are going to tune in the following Thursday and Saturday to watch the Frozen Four on ESPN2 because their schedule is suddenly free? Get real.

If you’re really concerned about competition, schedule the Frozen Four around the Final Four, but on the same weekend. Have the two semi-final games on Friday and the final on Sunday afternoon/early evening. The ten days off between yesterday’s last two regional games and the semifinals drain all the energy and anticipation out of the Frozen Four for fans. And you have to wonder how it impacts the players who have gotten used to playing two games (or more) every weekend especially at the end of the season. In the last three weeks, they just had their conference playoff, conference tournament, and NCAA regional games. While the break might help heal injuries it’s got to hurt momentum as well. I’m sure the way they’re feeling right now, the Gophers, Eagles, Bulldogs, and Dutchmen would love to get back on the ice next weekend and determine who has the best team in the country. Instead we all get to wait until most people (even some hockey fans) have forgotten about the Frozen Four.

College hockey would be great if it weren’t for the NCAA.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

HWX, Fresh and Free


A fresh and FREE, all-access Hinkeraker-Ward Experience podcast is now available for your listening pleasure.

After a rare are well-deserved break, John Hinderker (Power Line) and Brian Ward (Fraters Libertas) get back together to address the critical issues of the day, including tips on visiting the beach while you’re in Hawaii, how to deal with Catholic guilt, and handgun safety.

Then, there was a little bit of time left over to discuss the Paul Ryan budget, Obama energy policies and rising gas prices, the bid to silence Rush Limbaugh, and the ascending and declining fortunes of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum (respectively).

It concludes with a very special episode of Loon of the Week, with Joe Biden attempting humor while introducing the Prime Minister of Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day (what could go wrong?). Then This Week in Gatekeeping (TWIG) featuring another example of what your tax dollars are buying at government sponsored public radio.

Many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mothership at Ricochet. You can be sure to never miss an episode, by subscribing via iTunes or Feedburner. Or just use the player embedded below or in the upper right hand corner of this web site. If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from the written transcript.

Western Cross?

The year was 2006. The NCAA hockey West Regional was being held in Grand Forks, North Dakota with the University of North Dakota as the host school. The Sioux were the number two seed in the region. Their arch rivals, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers were the top seed and a showdown was anticipated between the two WCHA schools for the right to go to the Frozen Four. Instead, the Gophers were toppled in overtime by unheralded Holy Cross in the opening game. There was no Minnesota-North Dakota showdown and the road to the Frozen Four was thus an easy one for the Sioux to travel.

The year is 2012. The NCAA hockey West Regional is being held in Saint Paul, Minnesota with the University of Minnesota as the host school. The Gophers are the number two seed in the region. Their arch rivals, the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux are the top seed and a showdown is anticipated between the two WCHA schools for the right to go to the Frozen Four. The Sioux face off against Western Michigan in the opener before the Gophers play Boston University later today. While it wouldn’t be anywhere near as monumental as Holy Cross’ upset, it would be sweet for Gopher fans if the Broncos could find a little of that underdog magic like the Crusaders did in 2006.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Beer of the Week (Vol. CXXXIX)

Another edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the hearty folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you find the wine, whiskey, and beer that goes with your grain.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explained how we’re in The Rye Time for a New Beer Style:

THE RYE REVIVAL IS HERE. Bakers are returning to the hearty grain for rich, dark breads. Cocktail heads demand rye whiskey in their Manhattans. And now, a growing band of brewers is turning to the complex, earthy spice of rye for a new take on the strong flavors craft-beer drinkers have grown to love.

Rye whiskey may be old—America's first, they say, was distilled at Mount Vernon in the 1790s—but rye beer, at least in this country, is a new idea. In the European rye belt, above the 50th parallel, give or take, where the rugged grass flourishes, rye beers are more common. Germany has its roggenbier (imagine a muskier hefeweizen); Russia has weak, beer-like kvass, made from stale rye bread (look for it peddled in soda bottles in Russian enclaves like Brooklyn's Brighton Beach).

We don't have such history here. In American brewing's early days, a barrel of whiskey brought more at market than the same of beer, so for farmers liquefying their assets, so to speak, stronger stuff made more sense. Plus, as any baker knows, rye makes a soupy dough. The grain has no husk, unlike barley, and it has plenty of oily proteins. It's a chore to brew. Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye takes about a quarter more time to make than their other beers. "It's a labor of love," said the company's head brewer Peter Kruger.

Thankfully, a little rye goes a long way. Nutty and spicy, with undertones of light but juicy fruit—some taste apples, or even Calvados—rye works best as an accent, a dash of spice to add kick to standard styles. Great Divide uses it to punch up a classic German märzen. Upright's Six and the Bruery's Rugbrød are brown-bread dark. Jolly Pumpkin used rye to give a tannic bite to a Belgian tripel; Devil's Canyon dosed a saison.

But more often, rye hones the edge of hoppy IPAs. So-called "rye-p-a-s" are a burgeoning category. Bear Republic's brewers thought up Hop Rod Rye over post-work shots of Wild Turkey Rye. It was one of the first of its kind when it came out in 2000—rye beer wasn't even an official category yet at the Great American Beer Festival, the country's major beer competition. "We were going off the grid," said Mr. Kruger. Now beer store shelves are stocked with rye beers, and their all-too-easy puns (Bear Republic's Ryevalry comes out this fall), as this stalwart grain, makes a new tradition of its own.


The article also featured five rye beers as examples of the style:

Great Divide Hoss Rye Lager
Founder’s Red Rye PA
Bridgeport Kingpin Double Red Ale
Bear Republic’s Hot Rod Rye
Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye IPA

I’ve long been a fan of rye beers as has my better half. She still mourns the demise of Red Hook Rye. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking the Great Divide, Founder’s, and Bear Republic’s rye offering and have enjoyed them all. Sierra Nevada’s rye beer is new to the market and is available for a limited time as a spring seasonal. And it’s the beer of the week. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye:

Rye has been a staple grain for millennia—sought after for its stubborn resilience in the field and revered for its unique flavor. Ruthless Rye IPA is brewed with rustic grains for refined flavors—combining the peppery spice of rye and the bright citrusy flavors of whole-cone hops to create a complex ale for the tumultuous transition to spring.

12oz stubby brown bottle. Label follows usual Sierra Nevada design and features a rather ruthless looking reaper in a field of the namesake grain.

STYLE: Rye Ale

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 6.6%

COLOR (0-2): Copper brown, mostly clear. 2

AROMA (0-2): Grassy hops and spicy rye. 2

HEAD (0-2): Tan color, good volume, excellent lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Piney hops with some citrus and roasted malt. You can definitely can pick out the the rye which has peppery, spicy overtones and comes on at the end. Clean, sharp finish. Medium bodied with a thinner mouthfeel. Fairly well carbonated and drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Lingering bitterness. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Another well-made and well-balanced beer from Sierra Nevada. The hops, malts, and rye play well together and combine to produce deep and delicious flavors. If you like rye beer, you’ll love Ruthless Rye. If you haven’t tried rye beers in the past, this is a great one to start with. Get it while as it won’t be available in stores much longer. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We're All Friends Here

One of the arguments for sending children to school is socialization. They’ll learn to get along with other kids, develop relationships, and form close friendships. Well, maybe not the latter so much. At least not in certain parts of the U.K.Schools ban children making best friends:

Teachers are banning schoolkids from having best pals — so they don't get upset by fall-outs.

Instead, the primary pupils are being encouraged to play in large groups.
Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said the policy has been used at schools in Kingston, South West London, and Surrey.

She added: "I have noticed that teachers tell children they shouldn't have a best friend and that everyone should play together.


Everyone should play together. Everyone is the same. Every outcome should be "fair." Don’t worry. They’re teaching your children well.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Forget It, He's Rolling

Newsbusters has a killer historical ignorance separated at birth (with videos) featuring my Congressman Keith Ellison. Congressman Keith Ellison Says The Nazis Bombed Pearl Harbor:

O’REILLY: Congressman, the reason we like you as a guest is because you’re an honest man, But I will point to history. I will point to history. The same mindset was taken when dealing with Nazi Germany. We’re not going to go in aggressive action. We don’t believe they’re going to do this. We don’t believe they’re going to do that. And they absolutely did everything. So I think you’ve got to learn from history.

ELLISON: Let me tell you in World War II, in World War II they attacked Pearl Harbor. That would be enough.

O’REILLY: No, this is the German theater not the Japanese.

Bit of a Dry Spell

How bad have things gotten for the University of Minnesota basketball and football programs? So bad that even august national media institutions such as the Wall Street Journal have taken notice of their ineptitude. Minnesota's Women's Hockey Title: The Golden Gophers Won Something!:

When the Minnesota women's hockey team beat Wisconsin for the national title Sunday, it added to the Gophers' pile of titles in that sport and others. Minnesota has won 24 NCAA titles in eight sports, including eight in hockey (three by the women, five by the men). But there haven't been any titles lately in the two biggest sports of all: football and men's basketball.

Minnesota was once a giant in football, but the last of its six national titles came in 1960. In basketball, Minnesota earned the second of its two national titles in 1919—which was 20 years before the initial NCAA tournament.

Conference titles have been impossible to come by too. Minnesota's last official Big Ten title in either of the two major sports was in 1982. Save for Nebraska, which is in its first season in the conference, every Big Ten school has won at least three football and/or men's basketball titles since then.

Even the Gophers' basketball peaks have come with bad news. Their 1972 conference title was marred by a brawl with Ohio State. Their first-ever Final Four appearance and conference title in 1997 were wiped out by an academic scandal. Their lone visit to the Big Ten tournament final (2010) brought a 90-61 loss to Ohio State.

The good news this year? The Gophers are still in the running for a title. They face Middle Tennessee on Wednesday in the Elite Eight. (Of the National Invitation Tournament.)


Geez. Talk about kicking you when you're down. Thank God for Gopher hockey.

The Elder Adds Some Further Perspective:

To exemplify that last statement, consider the following. Since 1982, the last time the Gopher basketball or football team won a Big Ten title, the Gopher hockey squad has won eight regular season WCHA titles (this year's being the most recent), six WCHA playoff championships, and two NCAA national titles.

Now, the argument you always hear is that it's easier in college hockey because there are so many fewer teams. And at the national level that's true. With fifty-nine teams currently playing division one college hockey and sixteen making the NCAA tournament, 27.11% of the teams qualify. In basketball, there are three-hundred-and-forty-five D1 schools. Sixty-eight teams now participate in the NCAA tournament or 19.71%. So it is statistically more likely that a school has a better chance of having meaningful post-season games in hockey as compared to basketball, although the gap is not as huge as some portray it as.

However, that doesn't excuse the pitiful performance of the Gopher football and basketball teams in conference play. Over the years in question, the Big Ten and WCHA have usually had close to same number of teams (anywhere between ten and twelve). So without taking any other factors into consideration, the hockey, football, and basketball teams should have equal chances of winning the conference championship. Clearly there are significant recruiting advantages that the Gopher hockey team enjoys that the basketball and football teams don’t. There is far more in-state talent in hockey and the program has a much better national reputation. You could even argue that by only winning eight WCHA titles in thirty years, the Gopher hockey squad has underperformed to expectations. But to have two major sports programs BOTH go thirty years with neither winning a SINGLE conference championship is almost behind belief.

The basketball and football boosters might not want to admit it and will whine about how unfair the comparisons are, but the truth is the only big times sports program that has been golden for the University of Minnesota in the last thirty years is hockey.

(Yes, I know the Gopher baseball and wrestling programs have had their moments as well, but they don’t rate as high as hockey when it comes to fan interest and media attention.)

What is the special if someone dies?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

By The Numbers

After a long break, the Fraters Libertas Beer Ratings have at long last been updated. They now include six-hundred-and-fifty-three beers from twenty-five different countries and thirty-five states. This map shows which states have beers represented in the ratings and where the gaps remain (in white).


The average rating for all the beers included here is 12.9. As you can see from this chart, it’s not an equal distribution.


There’s always a lot of debate about which state brews the best beer. It’s not surprising that the two states whose beers have been rated the most here are Minnesota and Wisconsin, with eighty-two each included in the list. The average rating for the Minnesota beers is 13.24, which again not surprisingly is slightly above average. Wisconsin’s brews averaged a score of 12.07.

Looking only at states which had at least twenty beers rated, California came out on top. The fifty-nine California beers rated have a very impression average score of 14.92. Here’s a list of how other states above the twenty beer threshold stacked up:

When it comes to countries, the UK has ten beers included with an average of 14.1 while Germany has twenty with an average of 12. They’re the only countries with ten or more on the list. I think that including more international beers will definitely be an area of focus for the rest of the year.

So many beers, so little time.

A Time to Choose

Paul Ryan on The GOP Budget and America's Future:

It is rare in American politics to arrive at a moment in which the debate revolves around the fundamental nature of American democracy and the social contract. But that is where we are. And no two documents illustrate this choice of two futures better than the president's budget and the one put forward by House Republicans.

The president's budget gives more power to unelected bureaucrats, takes more from hard-working taxpayers to fuel the expansion of government, and commits our nation to a future of debt and decline.

The contrast with our budget couldn't be clearer: We put our trust in citizens, not government. Our budget returns power to individuals, families and communities. It draws inspiration from the Founders' belief that all people are born with an unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. Protecting this right means trusting citizens, not nameless government officials, to decide what is in their best interests and make the right choice about our nation's future.


One thing that Mitt Romney could do to help to excite interest among conservatives for his campaign against President Obama (yes, I’ve accepted that it’s inevitable) is to name Paul Ryan as his running mate. I'm not sure if Mr. Ryan is interested in hitching his wagon to Romney, but if he would accept the role I can't imagine a better voice than his to stump around the country explaining the nature of the choice that America faces. If not, then we’ll continue to prepare for the Ryan in 2016 campaign.

Monday, March 19, 2012

This Is Where We Stand

My worries about whether the Catholic Church would actually come together and unite in its defense of religious liberty were somewhat ameliorated yesterday at Mass. The padre of our parish delivered an articulate, well-reasoned, and clear message in his homily about what was at stake in the HHS mandate battle. He explained that this wasn’t an argument about contraception, but about religious liberty and laid out how that liberty was protected under the Constitution. He also expanded the scope of the matters by detailing examples of how religious liberty was being infringed upon in other Western democratic countries and how we should not assume that similar restrictions would not also be imposed here if they weren’t resisted.

And from the sounds of it, the Church is planning an organized and spirited defense against the HHS mandate. In his homily, our priest mentioned that possible penalties the Church was willing to pay for its civil disobedience included fines and even having priests and church leaders arrested. While some of the more rabid secular leftists would no doubt applaud images of priests being perp-walked for standing up for their religious convictions, I can’t imagine that’s something the Obama Administration wants to see in the news leading up to November’s election. If administration officials thought this was something they could slip through without having a fight on their hands, they’ve made a major miscalculation. For it now seems more and more clear, that this is a line that the Catholic Church has determined will not be crossed.

This Friday, that resistance will be demonstrated in rallies to Stand Up for Religious Freedom:

The Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom is set to take place on Friday, March 23, in more than 100 cities across the country. From Hawaii to Maine, citizens are preparing to let their voices be heard on the value of religious freedom. Meeting places include historic sites, congressional offices and federal buildings. The theme for the rally is “Stand Up for Religious Freedom — Stop the HHS Mandate!”

You can find exactly where these rallies are planned here. These are the Minnesota locations:

Duluth
Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building
515 West 1st Street

St. Cloud
Senator Al Franken’s Office
915 West St Germain Street

Twin Cities
Warren E. Burger Federal Building
316 North Robert Street, St. Paul


This isn’t a contraceptive thing. It isn’t only a Catholic thing. It’s a freedom thing and it’s time for those who believe in religious freedom to stand together to fight for it.

Here We Go 'Round Again

NCAA hoops brackets busted beyond all hope? Looking for a little redemption and a chance to reestablish your sports cred?

You're in luck. Once again, USCHO and Northland Films are sponsoring the College Hockey Pickem challenge and for the second year in a row there is an official Fraters group that you can join.

And it's easy.

Go to the College Hockey Pickem challenge page register an account, fill out your bracket, and click on Join a Group and sign on to the Fraters squad.

Group: Fraters
Password: Fraters

Got that?

Group: Fraters
Password: Fraters

It's so simple that even Atomizer can do it. Well, he could if he wasn't still bitter and brooding over the Gopher's collapse on Friday night. Did someone say "redemption"?

Last year, player/coach Reg Dunlap won the Fraters group and claimed bragging rights for the year. This year's tournament field appears pretty wide open and there are several teams with a legitimate chance to win the title. This could be their year and yours too if join the fun.

Calling a Bum a Bum

On the criticisms of Charles Murray’s book “Coming Apart” is that he doesn’t pay enough heed to economic factors as a cause of the growing divide in American society. In Sayurday’s WSJ, Murray responded to these critics with a piece called Why Economics Can't Explain Our Cultural Divide (sub req):

Start with the prevalent belief that the labor market affected marriage because of the disappearance of the "family wage" that enabled a working-class man to support a family in my base line year of 1960.

It is true that unionized jobs at the major manufacturers provided generous wages in 1960. But they didn't drive the overall wage level in the working class. In the 1960 census, the mean annual earnings of white males ages 30 to 49 who were in working-class occupations (expressed in 2010 dollars) was $33,302. In 2010, the parallel figure from the Current Population Survey was $36,966—more than $3,000 higher than the 1960 mean, using the identical definition of working-class occupations.

This occurred despite the decline of private-sector unions, globalization, and all the other changes in the labor market. What's more, this figure doesn't include additional income from the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit now enjoyed by those making the low end of working-class wages.

If the pay level in 1960 represented a family wage, there was still a family wage in 2010. And yet, just 48% of working-class whites ages 30 to 49 were married in 2010, down from 84% in 1960.


Murray presents further evidence to refute economic theories to explain the cultural decline and then offers additional suggestions for what could help reverse it.

The prerequisite for any eventual policy solution consists of a simple cultural change: It must once again be taken for granted that a male in the prime of life who isn't even looking for work is behaving badly. There can be exceptions for those who are genuinely unable to work or are house husbands. But reasonably healthy working-age males who aren't working or even looking for work, who live off their girlfriends, families or the state, must once again be openly regarded by their fellow citizens as lazy, irresponsible and unmanly. Whatever their social class, they are, for want of a better word, bums.

To bring about this cultural change, we must change the language that we use whenever the topic of feckless men comes up. Don't call them "demoralized." Call them whatever derogatory word you prefer. Equally important: Start treating the men who aren't feckless with respect. Recognize that the guy who works on your lawn every week is morally superior in this regard to your neighbor's college-educated son who won't take a "demeaning" job. Be willing to say so.

This shouldn't be such a hard thing to do. Most of us already believe that one of life's central moral obligations is to be a productive adult. The cultural shift that I advocate doesn't demand that we change our minds about anything; we just need to drop our nonjudgmentalism.


Unfortunately, experience shows that such cultural changes are often the hardest to bring about. Throwing more money at problems or creating new government programs to address them are all too easy. Asking our increasingly relativistic society to hold standards and apply judgment when those standards aren’t met is going to be a tall order.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Epic Collapse

The NCAA appears to have announced that the Gopher hockey season will come to an end next weekend when they lose in the Western regional to The Fighting Hakstols of North Dakota. After this weekend's epic collapse when the Gophers were leading and dominating 3-0 only to fall to pieces and lose 6-3, it's hard to imagine them getting by the Whioux.

I'll make no other predictions until the expert chimes in. Chad is pretty good at the hockey stuff.

Sisyphus Pollyannas:
James in Folson has fallen for the trap that will ensnare the Fighting Sioux. The Gophers proved to themselves that they can dominate at will and then took off the third period giving themselves an extra day of rest to prepare for the all-important NCAAs and giving the Sioux a false sense of confidence.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Beer of the Week (Vol. CXXXVIII)

A special pre-holiday edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the happy-go-lucky folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you find the wine, whiskey, and beer that you seek at the end of the rainbow. And there’s still time to hit the store for all your Saint Patrick’s Day needs. But please don’t ask about green beer.

When people think of Saint Patrick’s Day, they often think of drinking. And when they think of Saint Patrick’s Day drinking, they often think of beer. And when they think of Saint Patrick’s Day beer, they often think of Irish offerings such as Guinness, Murphy’s, Beamish, Harp, and Smithwick’s (among others). While there’s nothing wrong with quaffing a pint or two of these traditional Irish beers to honor Saint Patrick, there are other options available that are much closer to home than the Emerald Isle.

One such appropriate alternative for Saint Patrick’s Day imbibing is brewed by Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company. Our featured beer this week is their Conway’s Irish Ale:

Name Origin: An homage to Patrick Conway, grandfather of co-owners Patrick and Daniel and a Cleveland policeman who directed traffic near the Brewery for 25 years.

Style Origin: Second only to dry stout as Ireland’s other most distinctive brew, red ale was first made popular by the G.H. Lett Brewery of Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland.

Flavor: Notable toasty flavor derived from lightly roasted malt.


Sounds like a perfect blending of the Irish and the American.

12oz brown bottle. Standard stark black and white Great Lakes label design with a picture of Officer Conway in front of a church with a rooftop cross with a special green glow.

STYLE: Irish Red Ale

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 6.5%

COLOR (0-2): Robustly red and clear. 2

AROMA (0-2): Sweet malt with a nice hop kick and a touch of toffee. 2

HEAD (0-2): Off-white color. Not a lot of volume but thick and lasting. 2

TASTE (0-5): Well balanced combination of toasted malts and citrusy hops. Neither is especially prominent, but together they blend nicely for a pleasant taste experience. Smooth mouthfeel and medium body. Quite drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Clean and dry finish, but the follow through is light. 1

OVERALL (0-6): Conway Irish Ale is definitely a beer that does both the namesake man and country proud. A tasty and well-made brew that goes down easy makes it a good choice to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day whether you’re raising one pint or several. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Light of a Setting Sun

A post by Bereket Kelile at Ricochet called Isn't Charles Murray Saying We Need The Gospel? led to a good discussion in the comments section. This comment in particular was noteworthy:

I sometimes think I detect in unbelieving conservative intellectuals a kind of nostalgia for the post-Englightment period when an intellectual elite enjoyed the pleasures of personal apostasy while benefitting from the social goods of other people's religion.

But they were living by the light of a setting sun.


Spot on.

The Thing's The Thing

While trying to explain whether the NCAA basketball tournament is properly rated, Michael Kruse vents on the bane of bracketology (via Vox Day):

The NCAA tournament is properly rated. Many think it’s one of the best sporting events of the year. That’s what it is. But the whole fill-out-the-brackets thing? TOTALLY OVERRATED. I don’t do it. I won’t do it. Because I want to be able to watch Montana beat Wisconsin or Harvard beat Vanderbilt or South Dakota State beat Baylor, and enjoy that unabashedly, without worrying about whether I “picked” them or not. You “had” Montana? You “had” South Dakota State? No. You didn’t HAVE anything. You don’t deserve to claim even the most peripheral form of ownership. Because it matters to the kids on those teams and their coaches in a way that it doesn’t and shouldn’t and could never matter to you. And because they don’t deserve to be depersonalized into pieces to be so cavalierly “picked” or not “picked” in some annual national gambling exercise. And because they also don’t deserve to be called “bracket busters” if they win. It’s insulting and selfish. The point isn’t that they’ve ruined your chances to win some dumb pool. The point is that they’ve done something unexpected, exhilarating, and empowering, for themselves and the people who know them, love them, and have invested in them. Your “pick” does not count as an investment. You say this gives you a reason to watch and to care? “Picks” make you care about the thing you’ve set up to give you a reason to care about the thing...NOT the thing itself. The thing is the thing. Your brackets are not. At stake in games over the next three weeks: goals, dreams, jobs, futures. That’s not enough for you? An interest based on brackets is an inauthentic interest. I want my interest (or disinterest) to be real.

Amen. For the record, I did fill out a bracket this year (one) purely for purposes of amusement. But I won’t consult it every three minutes throughout the day for the next three weeks or tell everyone within earshot how well or poorly my picks have fared.

Kruse’s argument against brackets is similar to the one I’ve made for years against fantasy football. I like watching NFL football for the game itself, not whether “my” running back will score a meaningless late game touchdown to “win” a pretend game.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Keystone Sops

Tim from Colorado e-mails to share his frustration with his elected representatives when it comes to energy policies that might actually work:

I was out of town at the end of last week when the Senate vote on the Keytone XL Pipeline project took place, and didn't get a chance to hear a good reason why the Senate turned down the project.

I did some internet surfing tonight and still haven't found a good reason why the clowns in the Senate turned this project down. I was most disappointed to find out that both of my Senators from Colorado voted against the project, but I was not surprised. Both of my Senators voted for the Health Care Bill, so why should I think that they would not remain lap dogs for President Obama?

The only reasons listed in a CNN website article were that a) there are concerns about leaks, and b) that a section of the pipleine crosses a small, environmentally sensitive, area in Nebraska.

Leaks? Well, let's look at the Trans-Alaska Pipeline for a little background. The most significant leaks that occured were caused by sabotage, and the most recent leaks were small in nature and completely contained. But while we're on the subject of leaks, I guess my smarter-than-the-average-bear senators think that delivering oil by tanker truck or rail car is a safer method than a pipeline. Experience shows us this is not the case, but you shouldn't confuse a senator with facts.

As for the section of the pipeline that crosses an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska, I'm sympathetic. Everyone involved in this project has said that this issue is not insurmountable, including the Governor. My Senators voted for the Health Care bill before they read it and before they knew all of its details, so now they're telling me they're reading bills now before they vote on them and every detail must be completely worked out, and they expect me to believe that?

I expect a form letter from each senator trumpeting how they have voted for renewable energy programs toeliminate our dependence on oil; I don't want to hear it. Our senators are terribly misguided. Their focus should be to first eliminate our dependence on Middle East Oil. Renewable energy programs are nothing more than heavily govenrment subsidized (read: paid for us up front whether we want it or not), novelty energy gimmicks that cannot give our country abundent, reliable energy at a price that will continue to sustain our economy.

The simple fact is that we've been promised a comprehensive national energy policy for the last 30 years and all we've gotten so far are programs that line the pockets of the politicians and their friends. I'm not singling out senators here, it's just that they had the most recent chance to change this trajectory, and they chose to turn their backs. The president and the congressional leadership are no more serious about energy policy today than they were in 1970.

Own Worst Enemy

You have to feel sorry for our man Sisyphus. For his recent effort to put together a special post have resembled that of his namesake in terms of futility in reaching his goal. You see Sisyphus had a promising plan to pen a parody of something that could have been written by former WCCO news anchor Don Shelby. Sisyphus’ piece would be on over-the-top, outrageously exaggerated work demonstrating Shelby’s personal arrogance, his silly pretensions on the importance of journalism, and his utter ignorance of what conservatives actually believe. From what I understand, it was going to be a masterpiece of wit that would have skewered its target so thoroughly that he would be forevermore regarded as a laughingstock devoid of any credibility (among those who at least didn’t already hold that view of Shelby).

But just as Sisyphus was preparing to release his work of well-spun gold he suffered the worst fate that could befall a citizen journalist; he was scooped. Even worse, his thunder was stolen by none other than the man that he was seeking to lampoon in the first place. For our poor Sisyphus has learned a valuable lesson that hard way: some things are beyond parody. Case in point is this Don Shelby piece at MinnPost called Why I never want to cover politicians:

Which, at long last, brings me to my point. I dislike hubris. So did the ancient Greeks. It was, in fact, a crime. Roughly defined as extreme pride, hubris also has come to mean an absolute, unshakeable confidence in one’s own opinion, without regard to the facts.

Your effort was a noble one Sisyphus and we all appreciate the thought behind it. But if there’s one thing we all should have known by now it’s that no one can mock Don Shelby better than Don Shelby.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Continuous Learning

The latest course offering from Prager University is called "The Welfare State and the Selfish Society":



Does capitalism and the free market make you selfish? Dennis Prager, best selling author and nationally syndicated talk show host, answers this question and challenges what for many has become conventional wisdom.

Trailer Trash

It seems like Hollywood is ready, willing, and able to take almost any classic work of children’s literature and stretch and distort the original story so far beyond the limits of scale and scope that it becomes almost completely unrecognizable by the time it hits the big screen. The result is almost always a piece of complete dreck. My better half has a suggestion for another title suitable for this series.

Coming soon to a theater near you...

...a 70 minute drama about a caterpillar that is deserted by his mother on a leaf when only an egg. He tried to fulfill the void and longing for the love of his mother by eating and eating and eating until he is sick. He becomes DANGEROUSLY obese. He finally goes through a meaningful metamorphosis, taking a sabbatical if you will, within a pupa. And after that transitional period, he finds peace with himself and became a beautiful butterfly.

based on the children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.


Throw in a couple of references to environmentalism and diversity and that baby is ready to be green-lighted.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mandates Make Us Free

Allysia Finley argues that Coffee Is an Essential Benefit Too:

Can you believe the nerve of employers? Many of them still seem to think that they should be allowed to determine the benefits they offer. I guess they haven't read your 2,000-page health law. It's the government's job now.

That's a good thing, too. Employers for too long have been able to restrict our access to essential health services like contraception by making us pay some of the bill. Really, it's amazing that we aren't all dead. Now, thanks to you, we'll enjoy free and universal access to preventative care just like workers do in Cuba. Even so, there are still many essential benefits that the government must mandate to make the U.S. the freest country in the world.


After listing other essential benefits that the government must provide, Finley gets to the one that matters most.

• Coffee. Studies show that coffee can ward off depression, Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes and sleepiness—which makes it one of the most powerful preventive treatments. Workers who drink java are also more productive and pleasant. While many offices have coffee makers, some employers—most notably those affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—continue to deny workers this essential benefit. All employers should have to provide workers with freshly brewed coffee. Oh, and workers must also be able to choose the kind of coffee regardless of the price.

Republicans might argue that requiring Mormon charities to serve coffee is a violation of "religious liberty" since the Mormon church's doctrine proscribes coffee, but this argument is a red herring. Leading medical experts recommend drinking coffee. Moreover, 99% of adults have drunk coffee at one point in their lives (including most Mormons).


As someone who depends on coffee to make it through the day and also works in one of the few places in America (or the world for that matter) that doesn't provide free coffee to its employees, I wholeheartedly endorse this proposal. I want my coffee damn it and I want you to pay for it. Refusal to accede to these demands will heretofore be described as a violation of my rights. End this unjust oppression!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stick to the Book

Sorry kids, but we won't be seeing "The Lorax." Eric Felten explains how the movie is just the latest example of The Bad! Bad! Bad! Biggering of Dr. Seuss:

Which also explains why the new movie version of "The Lorax" has all the resonance of a crumpled tin can. There's nothing mysterious about the Once-ler—now reduced to stock character No. 14-B (young man eager to prove to his unloving mother that he can be a success). And the producers also took from the stockroom a standard-issue Hollywood villain, the evil businessman. The Once-ler, in Dr. Seuss's telling, loved Truffula trees—alas, so much that he consumed them all. Now we have a story about a tyrannical tycoon, Mr. O'Hare, who opposes oxygen-producing trees because they compete with his bottled-air business.

Once-ler-like, I am filled with regret for having encouraged such Gluppity-Glupp by paying for my family to see it, thus doing my small sad part in biggering the box office. If only there were an answer to Hollywood's cultural clear-cutting as simple as planting a seed.


Another childrens movie where the writers try to resolve their mother/father issues and demonstrate their utter ignorance regarding the world of business? No thanks.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Thin Ice

Michael Levi says The Death of Outdoor Hockey Has Been Greatly Exaggerated:

So how do the authors end up generating headlines proclaiming that the end of outdoor hockey is nigh? First, they start by narrowing their scope to “Southwest Canada” (read southern British Columbia and southwest Alberta), where temperatures happen to be relatively warm to start with, and where the historical trend in pond hockey viability appears strongest. Then they blindly extrapolate the last thirty years’ trend into the next few decades. Since the area has pretty mild weather (and hence few good outdoor hockey days) to start with, this lets them identify “a foreseeable end to outdoor staking in this region within the next few decades”. (I’m setting aside for now the convenient use of the past three decades’ trend, rather than the full sixty year sample that the authors have; there’s no justification given for that.) Then comes the final step: in talking to the media, the authors don’t bother to point out that their result was only for a small sliver of the country. “In the next 50 years, the skating season could disappear in most of the regions across Canada,” author Lawrence Mysak tells CTV. Good luck finding that claim anywhere in the actual peer reviewed paper.

Here’s a more accurate headline: Casual extrapolation of trends over an arbitrarily chosen period suggest less pond hockey in Cranbrook and more in Cole Harbor. (The authors report a small but statistically insignificant rise in cold days for Atlantic Canada.) Whether you think that’s a blessing or curse depends on whether you prefer Steve Yzerman or Sidney Crosby, but either way, it’s hardly the bombshell the media reports.

Beer of the Week (Vol. CXXXVII)

A return to normalcy edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the consistently cheerful folks at Glen Lake Wine and Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer to get back into the swing of things. The latest big beer news from the store is that Glen Lake Wine and Spirits now offers make your own six-packs with a healthy selection of single bottles to choose. It’s a great way to sample a variety of beers and you get 10% off when you fill your six-pack.

With the craft beer market continuing to grow both in size and scope, some of the big dogs within the craft ranks have expanded their offerings to meet the desires of ever more discriminating craft beer lovers. Locally, we’ve witnessed this with Summit’s Unchained Series of more adventurous beer styles. And national craft brewers like Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams have also followed this path. In fact, Sam Adams now boasts over thirty different styles of beer across a range of seasonal and special series.

One of those brews from their Limited Release series is Samuel Adams Tasman Red:

Bold, lively, and a bit rugged This wily red IPA gets its character from the Tasmanian hops that are full of grapefruit, pine, and earthy notes creating a bold flavor that threads throughout the taste. The hops are balanced by a core of roasty malts that give this brew body and richness with hints of toffee. This flavorful brew is rounded and smooth with a dry and citrusy hop finish.

22oz brown bomber bottle that sells for $4.99. Orangish-red label features a drawing of a rough-hewn character with a glint of mischief in his eyes.

STYLE: Red Ale

ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 6.75%

COLOR (0-2): Dark ruby red and mostly clear. 2

AROMA (0-2): Lots of volume with big bubbles. Off-white color. Good retention and lacing. 2

HEAD (0-2): Citrus and floral hops with a little bit of a sweet edge. 2

TASTE (0-5): Unlike the smell, roasted malts come through more than the hops here. Hops are citrusy, but not all that bitter. Some spicy flavors as well with just a hint of sweetness. Medium-bodied with a watery mouthfeel. The finish is somewhat empty. Not especially drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): The aftertaste is metallic and tinny. It becomes off-putting after a while. 1

OVERALL (0-6): I was really looking forward to this beer as I had heard good things about the beers in the Sam Adams limited release series and a well-done Red IPA sounded delicious. While it sure looks tempting in the glass, it comes up short when it hits the taste buds. Initially the flavors are good if a bit pedestrian, but the aftertaste quite literally leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And the more you drink, the more noticeable it becomes. 3

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 13