Thursday, November 29, 2012

Misfit Toys

Toys "R" Us Licensee Offers Gender-Neutral Toy Catalog in Sweden:

This holiday season, how about a toy gun for the girl on your shopping list, and a doll for the boy?

That vision of gender-neutrality in toy-buying is coming to life in Sweden, where Top-Toy Group, a licensee of the Toys "R" Us brand, has published a gender-blind catalog for the Christmas season.

On some pages, girls brandish toy guns and boys wield blow-dryers and cuddle dolls. Top-Toy, a privately-held company, published 12 million catalogs and owns the BR Toys chain, with 303 stores in Northern Europe.

Sweden's top advertising watchdog—known as Reklamombudsmannen, or RO—has taken the retailer to task in recent years for catalogs and ads that showcase girls playing with dolls, scrapbooks, and kitchen and beauty toys and boys with guns, cars, trains and tech gadgets. RO also has criticized Hennes & Mauritz AB, owner of the H&M chain, for ads with bikini models who were too tan.

A comparison of Top-Toy's Swedish catalogs with their Danish counterparts shows girls have replaced boys in some photos featuring toy guns, and boys have swapped places with girls in photos featuring dolls and stuffed dogs. In one picture in the Swedish catalog, a boy is blow-drying a girl's hair whereas in the Danish version, a somewhat older girl is blow-drying her own hair.

So now, Swedish boys will play with dolls and Swedish girls will play with guns. Because that’s what they’ll be seeing in a toy catalog. Because we know that gender roles are merely constructs of culture that are not fixed but malleable and that a society can shape gender behavior by how those behaviors are modeled. Right...

It’s hard to believe that anyone who actually has children can buy into this nonsense. As a father of three young boys who, almost from the moment they exited their mother’s womb, have shown an inclination (some might even describe it as natural) toward what would traditionally be considered masculine activities and roles, I know that changing pictures in toy catalogs is not going to change how most boys and girls choose to play.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Than Just the Fiscal Cliff to Worry About

In there's one thing that people on both sides of the aisle can agree on it's that small businesses play a critical role in job growth and economic prosperity.

For Small Firms, Election Results Dampen Optimism:

The results of the presidential election dampened the spirits of many small-business owners who now worry that forthcoming federal policies, including potentially higher taxes and health-care reform, could stunt growth and hiring at their firms.

A November survey from Vistage International Inc. and The Wall Street Journal found a significant drop in optimism compared with the months leading up to the election, as respondents anticipated a worsening economy in 2013.

The survey's overall confidence index, based on responses of 740 small-business owners, fell to 83.9 from 95.3 in October. That is the lowest in the survey's six-month history.

Specifically, the survey's index of expected economic conditions fell to 77 from 105, a result of 43% of the respondents anticipating worse U.S. conditions in the next 12 months. That is nearly twice as many as October's 23%. The index of business profits also fell to 122 from 135 as only 43% of owners anticipate higher profits in the coming year, down from 50% last month.

It's difficult to know which way the economy is going to go in 2013 as there are signs that point toward a strengthening recovery and others that indicate another recession may be in the works. File this pessimistic small business owner survey among the latter.

Smarter Not Harder

As Republicans sift through the smoldering ruins of the 2012 elections looking for clues as to what went wrong and why, one of the obvious causes that has emerged is the party’s pitiful performance with minority voters. Black, Hispanic, and Asian voters went overwhelming for President Obama and provided the decisive margins of his victory, particularly in battleground states. While there has been a lot of analysis among Republicans about what they need to do to better appeal to the first two categories of minority voters, until this year the GOP’s struggles with Asian voters have largely been ignored.

It’s a different story this time around.

Just this week, Charles Murray had a piece called Why aren’t Asians Republicans? at AEI.

Rob Long followed on with Asian is the New Republican at Ricochet.

And today TheSophist had a post at Ricochet called Why "Asians" Aren't Republicans: Response to Rob Long and Charles Murray.

Before offering up his theory on why Asians weren’t Republicans, he offered a good perspective on the folly of trying to squeeze such a geographically and culturally diverse group of people into a single ethnic bucket (the same is true for Hispanics).

The first point that must be made is that there is no such creature as an "Asian-American", at least not yet. I am a Korean-American. My wife is Chinese-American. My kids are Chorean-Americans. Neither of us know jack diddly squat about Vietnamese culture or language.

Confucianism is an important cultural element... for Northeast Asians, such as Chinese, Koreans, and to some extent, Japanese societies. I have no idea whether Indians, Pakistanis, Thai, Cambodians and Bangladeshis are influenced at all by Confucius -- but I'm going to lean towards No.

Barkha Herman asked in the comments whether Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal are not Asians.
As the term is used here in the U.S., as opposed to in the UK, the answer is no. Sorry, you can try to be PC about it, but that's just the truth. No Indian walks into a Korean restaurant and feels "at home"; no Japanese guy goes to a Pakistani grocery to buy his miso.

So that's #1. There's no such thing as an "Asian-American", although the political forces of both Left and Right would dearly love to create such a thing. (I had raging fights with my school back in my university days, protesting the idea of "Dean of Asian-American Students".)

To the extent, then, that Murray or Rob Long or most folks think about "Asian-Americans", they really mean the dominant Northeast Triad of China, Japan, and Korea. (In Houston and SoCal, Vietnamese would be the 4th, but don't forget the large numbers of Viet-ching, i.e., Vietnamese of Chinese descent).

For example, all of the stats about success in education did not apply all that well to Southeast Asians (Vietnamese, Cambodians, Filipinos, Hmong, etc.) which caused all sorts of issues for "Asian-Americans" talking about stereotypes.

He goes on to disagree with Murray’s diagnosis that the problem is the Republicans focus on social issues. Instead, he thinks it has more to do with the anti-intellectual pose that some in the GOP like to strike. At least as far as what he calls the “Northeast Triad” of Asians is concerned (Chinese, Koreans, Japanese).

So I disagree with the esteemed Prof. Murray. I don't think that evangelicals and social conservatives hurt the Republican brand with Asian-Americans. After all, have you ever stepped foot in a campus ministry meeting on our elite college campuses? Huge chunks of IVCF, CCC, and other evangelical student movements are Asian-Americans.

No, I think the problem is that very significant elements of "Republican" brand have an anti-intellectual bias to them. For example, the "brand identity" of Catholic priests (especially Jesuits) is that of rigorous classical scholarship; the "brand identity" of evangelical ministers is televangelists with mega-churches and rock bands. I love me some Joel Osteen, but I don't think anyone confuses him for an intellectual.

Elements of Republican party, and the conservative movement in general, embrace American culture. Things like the NFL, NASCAR, bowling, hunting, fishing. All are wonderful, and brilliant men and women love all of those things. But the patina of perception around such American culture is one of physical vs. intellectual, of body vs. brain.

And... let's be honest here. There are some elements of the conservative movement that look down on the pinhead credentialed intelligentsia that come up with some of the most ridiculous stuff ever seen.

His solution to the problem is not to try to pander to Asian-Americans with ethnic appeals, but rather to showcase smart conservatives who can make intellectual arguments for the cause. If these folks happen to be Asian-Americans themselves so much the better, but there need not be a “one of us” test.

Instead, if we want to have our arguments taken seriously by Asian-Americans, send out our most credentialed, most intellectual spokespeople. Send out Paul Rahe. Send out John Yoo. Send out Richard Epstein. Have them defend the principles of liberty, principles of conservatism (well, at least libertarianism in the case of Epstein), while festooned with all the sheepskin from all the right institutions.

Stop thinking of "Asian-Americans" as some group that you need to send "one of our own" to speak to. Bobby Jindal is a fantastic guy, but he ain't "one of mine". Nikki Haley is awesome, but she doesn't "look like me". John Yoo does look like me, but don't expect him to be the spokesperson to the Filipino-American community, just because of his "Asianness" (since there's no such thing.) No, send us the white-as-the-driven-snow Peter Robinson of Stanford University.

Socially conservative views, policies, and philosophies may need to be promoted and defended on intellectual battlegrounds, rather than on "Well, the Good Book says so". It isn't as if there aren't intellectual giants in the SoCon world; it's just that the Republican brand doesn't incorporate them as much.

Sounds good in theory. In practice, these prescriptions usually prove difficult to deliver effectively. Whatever the eventual outcome, it’s good to see Republicans recognizing this as a problem and looking for answers. The on-going discussion has been a good one and since this last post was at Ricochet, the comments actually add to the conversation.

Monday, November 26, 2012

No Value in Losing Values

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, some Republicans are calling for the GOP to abandon its positions on “divisive” social issues such as abortion and gay marriage in order to broaden the party’s appeal particularly among young voters. They want the party to focus on economic issues to attract the votes of those who like to describe themselves with the feel good label of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal.” While I can understand why such an approach would seem like a reasonable course correction to some, it isn’t the answer to what ails the GOP in presidential politics. Instead of acting as a silver bullet for Republicans, such a move would instead be akin to shooting ourselves in the foot.

Ralph Reed explains why in a piece in today’s WSJ called Round Up the Usual Social Conservative Suspects:

Conservative evangelicals are arguably the largest single constituency in the electorate. According to a postelection survey by Public Opinion Strategies, self-identified conservative evangelicals made up 27% of voters in 2012, voting 80% for Mitt Romney compared with 19% for Barack Obama. This represented a net swing of 14 points toward the GOP ticket since 2008 and made up 48% of the entire Romney vote. Mr. Romney, a lifelong Mormon, actually received more evangelical votes than George W. Bush did in 2004.

White Catholic voters, meanwhile, went to Mr. Romney by 19 points, the largest margin among that constituency for a GOP presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in 1972. This was no doubt due in part to their revulsion over the Obama administration's harsh mandate on religious charities to pay for health services, such as contraception, that assault their conscience and compel them to violate their faith. Catholics who frequently attend Mass (about one in 10 voters) broke two-to-one for Romney.

Whew. My faith in my fellow Papists is bolstered by this result.

Contrary to the prevailing stereotype, evangelicals and Catholics aren't single-issue voters. They care about jobs, taxes and the deficit, and their support for Israel rivals that of the Jewish community. They played an indispensable role in re-electing the Republican House majority, and in electing 30 Republican governors and hundreds of state legislators and local officeholders in recent years. Jettisoning these voters and their issues would be like a football coach responding to a big loss by cutting the team's leading rusher.

To be sure, the Republicans need to build bridges to Hispanics and minorities, women and younger voters. But unlike the conventional wisdom, social issues properly framed are one of the keys to a stronger, more diverse Republican coalition.

According to Gallup, a majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life, including one-third of Democrats. Younger voters are one of the most pro-life segments of the electorate, with 51% of college-age "millennials" stating that having an abortion is morally wrong. A 2012 survey of voters 30 years or younger by Naral Pro-Choice America found that pro-life voters were twice as likely as their pro-choice peers to say abortion is an important issue in determining their vote.

Social issues aren’t the reason why Republicans failed to retake the White House or Senate in 2012. Those who believe they are and essentially want to remake the Republican Party into a more organized and efficient version of the Libertarian Party think that this will broaden the party’s base and produce election victories down the road. But whatever gains such a transformation would provide would be more than offset by losses of social conservatives who would abandon the party that had decided to abandon them.

Connect the Sots

A few years ago I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading the book Badger Bars and Tavern Tales: An Illustrated History of Wisconsin Saloons by Bill Moen and Doug Davis. At the time, I received a note from Mr. Moen thanking me for my interest. It was one of those little connections that served to remind me again just how cool this whole internet thing can sometimes be.

The other day, I received another e-mail from Mr. Moen:

I couple years back we exchanged a few emails about my “Badger Bars” Wisconsin tavern book. Hey! I did another one. I’ve enjoyed your guys website in the past and your beer reviews, so I thought I’d leave you a complimentary copy out at the liquor store.

At the liquor store? I was puzzled for a moment, but then I realized that since Bill read the beer reviews he must be speaking of Glen Lake Wine and Spirits.

And sure enough, when I stopped by the store last Wednesday to stock up on wine, whisky, and beer for our Thanksgiving feast, I found a copy of Bill's latest work waiting for me.

I'll only had a chance to peruse a few pages so far, but, like the previous book on Wisconsin watering holes, it looks like it's going to be a fun read.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXIII)

Another edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the frugal folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer to deliver the most bang for your hard earned buck.

Black Friday is almost over and hopefully none of you wasted your time getting caught up in the holiday shopping hype. Wake me up when they start offering Black Friday deals on things that really matter like beer.

Until then, we’ll just have to make do with the beer bargains in our midst. Like this week’s beer, Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout

This is the famous Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, our award-winning rendition of the Imperial Stout style, once made exclusively for Catherine the Great. We use three mashes to brew each batch of this beer, achieving a luscious deep dark chocolate flavor through a blend of specially roasted malts. We brew it every year for the winter season. It is delicious when newly bottled, but also ages beautifully for years.

$7.99 for a four-pack of 12oz bottles. Label is classy and luxurious with black and silver colors and a stylish font.

STYLE: Imperial Stout


COLOR (0-2): Dark thick blackness. 2

AROMA (0-2): Toasted cocoa with a little vanilla. 2

HEAD (0-2): Tan color, moderate volume, tight bubbles. Laces the glace nicely. 2

TASTE (0-5): Roasted malts with plenty of delicious dark chocolate bitterness. Heat is well disguised by rich flavors. Mouthfeel is syrupy, thick, and a little oily. Heavy body makes it one to savor rather than slam. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): The warming glow is lasting. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is a big beer with decadent tastes. It’s a luxury item, but with a bargain price. Unlike most of the crap that people cluelessly consume on Black Friday, this beer actually would be worth waiting for. 5

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 17

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks for Thanksgiving

Melanie Kirkpatrick provides some interesting history on George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789:

In the end, the Thanksgiving resolution passed—the precise vote is not recorded—and the House appointed a committee. The resolution moved to the Senate, which passed it and added its own members to the committee.

The committee took the resolution to the president, and on Oct. 3 George Washington issued his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer." He asked Americans to render their "sincere and humble thanks" to God for "his kind care and protection of the People of this Country."

It was his first presidential proclamation, and it was well heeded. According to the "Papers of George Washington," compiled by the University of Virginia, Thanksgiving Day was "widely celebrated throughout the nation." Newspapers around the country published the proclamation and announced plans for public functions in honor of the day. Religious services were held, and churches solicited donations for the poor. Washington himself sent $25 to a pastor in New York City, requesting that the funds be "applied towards relieving the poor of the Presbyterian Churches," in the words of his secretary.

Thanksgiving feasts in New England at the time of the nation's founding were similar to those today, says Charles Lyle, director of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield, Conn. The museum recently hosted an 18th-century-style Thanksgiving dinner using recipes supplied by a local food historian, Paul Courchaine. Turkey and pumpkin pie were on the menu, along with venison pie, roast goose, roast pork, butternut squash, creamed onions, pottage of cabbage, onions and leeks, and Indian pudding, made from cornmeal and spices.

In a bow to contemporary tastes, several wines were served at the museum but not the one Americans were likely to have drunk in the 18th century—Madeira, a high-alcohol-content wine fortified with brandy. Before the Revolution, Madeira, which came from the Portuguese-owned Madeira Islands, was considered a patriotic beverage, since it was not subject to British taxation. It was Washington's favorite drink.

Washington was keenly aware of his role as a model for future presidents. He once remarked that "There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not be hereafter drawn into precedent." That included his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789, which set the standard for Thanksgiving Proclamations by future presidents, a list that included James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and then every president up to the present day.

The tradition begun by George Washington has survived without further controversy. Since the original debate in the House in September 1789, no member of Congress has complained that Thanksgiving proclamations are too European, a violation of the separation of church and state or, most especially, not what the American people want.

Today, it's hard to believe that the idea of a presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation could create controversy. We should be thankful that Washington and others of his era understood the importance it would have to Americans then and now.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Bums Lost

*The following is a special guest post from Mark Yost.*

Every college sports fan has those moments they’ll never forget. For Duke fans it’s Christian Laetner’s buzzer beater against Kentucky, for Midshipmen it’s the 2007 win over Notre Dame, and for Michigan fans it’s most any time they beat Ohio State. (This week will be particularly sweet if the Wolverines upset the Buckeyes’ perfect season.) For the sliver of us who still believe in quaint notions like academics and integrity, we will forever remember Stanford beating Oregon.

I don’t often engage in schadenfreude, but it was downright bliss to see the tears streaming down the faces of the Ducks faithful after Jordan Williamson, a psychology major from Austin, Texas, who loaded up on Advanced Placement classes to meet Stanford’s rigorous admission requirements, kicked the winning field goal in overtime. That’s because there are no two better examples of the forces of good and evil in college athletics today.

Despite the NCAA’s insistence that all these kids are students first and athletes second, at Stanford it’s actually true. According to the most recent NCAA figures, Stanford has a Graduation Success Rate of 90, meaning that only about 10% of the student-athletes who enroll there as freshmen end up not graduating. By comparison, Oregon’s GSR is 64, meaning that nearly 40% of its athletes never graduate. And I’m sure that figure factors in all the loopholes that the NCAA builds into the system to accommodate academically embarrassing programs like Oregon. A recent San Jose Mercury News study found that Stanford is No. 1 in terms of GPA (3.63) and SAT score (1176). Oregon’s numbers are middling at 2.94 and 969.

Those numbers are driven by the fact that most of the Stanford football players graduated from serious high schools where they earned as many academic honors as they did on-field accolades. There’s perhaps no better example of this than standout senior running back Stepfan Taylor. He’s African-American, which is significant because today’s college athletic culture preys on young black men in ways that would make antebellum plantation owners blush. Before coming to Palo Alto, Taylor, who ran for 161 yards Saturday night, earned all-district high school honors and a proclamation from his hometown mayor lauding his success on and off the field. He’s just the third back in Stanford history to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, and he did it while majoring in Stanford’s rigorous science, technology and society curriculum. Put simply, Taylor is one of the notable exceptions to the felons, drug dealers and domestic abusers who are regularly lauded as All-American heroes on college campuses across the country.

Now let’s look at Oregon. Starting quarterback Marcus Mariota majors in human physiology, running back Kenjon Barner is studying journalism, fellow backfielder De’Anthony Thomas Communication, and placekicker Alejandro Maldonado, who missed an OT field goal, sports marketing. Not exactly rocket science (or engineering).

Beyond its lack of academic rigor, Oregon is currently under investigation as a repeat violator of NCAA recruiting rules. The school was sanctioned back in 2004 for recruiting violations related to running back J.J. Arrington, who went on to play in the NFL and was arrested for fighting at a nightclub in North Carolina in 2008. Another highly touted Oregon recruit, Tyrece Gaines, was charged last month with first-degree burglary, fourth-degree assault, strangulation and interfering with making a police report in connection with a domestic violence incident outside Eugene. And last year, a carful of Oregon football players was pulled over for going 118 mph on I-5. When the arresting officer smelled marijuana and asked who had the weed, driver Cliff Harris said, “We smoked it all.” To their credit, Oregon booted him and the Philadelphia Eagles eventually cut him, but the point is: Gentlemen and scholars, these are not.

While this behavior is commonplace among elite athletes on campuses across the country, Oregon is unique for its Nike connection. Company founder Phil Knight was on the Oregon track team before he and Sonny Vaccaro came up with the payola scheme that has made apparel and sneakers a cash cow for nearly every D-I program in the country. Knight further debased the culture of college athletics when Oregon, official colors green and yellow, began wearing gangsta-inspired black uniforms The trend, which is all about selling more apparel, has since spread to other college campuses like the plague. It is, quite simply, further endorsement of the thug-like behavior of college athletes everywhere.

So, again, forgive me for celebrating Oregon’s misfortune. But as Jeffery Lebowski said to the Dude: “Condolences. The bums lost.” For once.

(Mark Yost is the author of Varsity Green: A Behind the Scenes Look at Culture and Corruption in College Athletics)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An Enemy to Comfort and Enjoyment

Mark Twain on "moral statisticians":

I don't want any of your statistics; I took your whole batch and lit my pipe with it.

I hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering out how much a man's health is injured, and how much his intellect is impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course of ninety-two years' indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc. etc. And you are always figuring out how many women have been burned to death because of the dangerous fashion of wearing expansive hoops, etc. etc. You never see more than one side of the question.

You are blind to the fact that most old men in America smoke and drink coffee, although, according to your theory, they ought to have died young...And you never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment a man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime (which is worth ten times the money he would save by letting it alone), nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind of people from not smoking. Of course you can save money by denying yourself all those little vicious enjoyments for fifty years; but then what can you do with it? What use can you put it to? Money can't save your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money can be put to is to purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life; therefore, as you are an enemy to comfort and enjoyment where is the use of accumulating cash?

It won't do for you to say that you can use it to better purpose in furnishing a good table, and in charities, and in supporting tract societies, because you know yourself that you people who have no petty vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you stint yourselves so in the matter of food that you are always feeble and hungry...

What is the use of your saving money that is so utterly worthless to you? In a word, why don't you go off somewhere and die, and not be always trying to seduce people into becoming as ornery and unlovable as you are yourselves, by your villainous "moral statistics"?

That little tract was penned in 1893 and is still extremely relevant today.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

HWX LIVE with Michael Barone and John Thune

We're going LIVE with the HWX podcast at 11am central (approximately).  Click the magic button below to hear it as it happens.   Sen. John Thune, Michael Barone, John Hinderaker, and Brian Ward, together for the first time, four of the finest young rising minds in the conservative movement.

Update, can't get the widget to work.  Go to to hear it LIVE.

And Ricochet members, link to the chat room is here.  Questions, comments, concerns, criticism, commentary about what you're hearing?  That's the place to do it and have it reacted to in real time.

Please note, the technical capabilities of the LIVE podcast is still a work in progress.   It's all going to work, you'll be able to hear it.  But let's just say you might also get a chance to hear some hiccups and a little of the sausage getting made behind the scenes.   (You may not have realized it, but John Hinderaker prepares a batch of his famous homemade pork jalapeno sizzlers during the taping of each and every show).  We hope you enjoy!

Trout Swimming Upstream

Brian and I were having a disagreement about Nate Silver around the time of the election.  I believed that Silver is a hack, a partisan hammer that sees every presidential election as the nail of a Democratic landslide.  In 2008, reality happened to conform to his theory and he was hailed as a genius.  In 2012, the electoral college pointed to a decisive Obama victory.  However, the popular vote margin and the closeness of the race in battleground states like Florida and Virginia point to a more nuanced conclusion that Obama won a close election. 

Brian's opinion is that Silver is a Renaissance Man and a Warrior Poet.  Ok, that's not exactly his position.  He argued that Silver was not only credible, but skilled.  Politically, his skill is debatable due to the fact that he had access to insider statistical models in 2008.  However Brian argued, and I think I'm fairly capturing his point this time, that Silver's writings on baseball have been shining examples of quality sabremetric analyses.  Having never read Silver's take on baseball, I really didn't have a comeback, at least until now.

Nate Silver has weighed in on the American League MVP race and declared an Obama landslide.  Actually, he has declared Anaheim Angels Outfielder Mike Trout more deserving of the award than the actual winner, Detroit Tiger's Outfielder Miguel Cabrera.  I'm not impressed by this critique, and don't believe it is because I am a Luddite pagan without respect for the science of sabremetrics.

First of all, I know that Silver didn't likely write the headline in the linked piece, but I don't like the title, "The Statistical Case Against Cabrera for M.V.P."  If anything, Silver outlines a comparative case for Mike Trout.  Miguel Cabrera was the first American League Triple Crown winner since 1967, with a batting average of .330, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.  He also boasted 109 runs scored, 205 hits, and an OPS (probably the most favored offensive sabremetric statistic) of .999. That is my case for Cabrera for M.V.P.  You can prefer Mike Trout, but you must admit, Cabrera's numbers are strong.  Additionally, Cabrera's Tigers won the American League pennant, which Trout watched on TV as his Angels missed the playoffs.

Before I get to Silver's critique, I'll compare the critical numbers.  Trout batted .326, .004 points lower than Cabrera.  He hit 30 home runs, 14 less than Cabrera and tied for 13th place in the American League.  He drove in 83 runs, 56 behind Cabrera and good for 26th place in the league, behind three of his teammates on the Angels.  He led the league in runs scored with 129, 20 ahead of second place Cabrera.  He also had 182 hits, good for 9th place in the league and 23 behind Cabrera.  Finally, his OPS was .963, .036 points behind Cabrera. 

Silver's point's in Trout's favor are basically these, in order of my perception of their importance:
  • Trout stole a lot more bases than Cabrera
  • Trout was a better defensive player than Cabrera
  • Trout's overall totals were impacted by the fact that he started 2012 in the minors and Trout's home ballpark is tougher on hitters than Cabrera's
  • Trout's RBI numbers were depressed by his lead off spot in the batting order and Trout is actually a better hitter in "clutch" situations than Cabrera
  • The Angels were a better team than the Tigers
Let's start with the base stealing statistic.  Trout stole an impressive 49 bases, while slow footed Cabrera stole only 4.  I'll refrain from sarcastically suggesting that this is the American League where base stealing is dismissed as a dead ball era strategy and admit that this gives Trout an advantage in this category.  However, I would argue that baseball is a game where run production should be the measure of success.  If Trout's stealing of a base leads to a run, then that shows up in his league leading run total.  So we have already counted it.  Still, I'd cede an advantage in this category to Trout.

Silver next argues that Trout's defense is a strength to his team, while Cabrera's is a liability.  I also cede this point.  However, I believe Silver is reaching.  He claims that corner outfielder Trout saved his team 11 runs, while Cabrera cost his team 10 runs.  This is from a nebulous statistic called Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR).  Unlike other sabremetric statistics such as OPS and WPA, I have no way to analyze whether UZR is accurate.  I have real concerns that as a corner outfielder next to an above average center fielder in Torii Hunter, Trout's numbers are overstated.  Still, this statistic is a black box. 

I'd conclude that even if the UZR that Silver quotes true, this 21 run difference pales in comparison to the fact that Cabrera had 56 more RBIs.  If you net this out, that leaves Cabrera ahead by 35 RBI's.  It is a fact that Trout scored 20 more runs, so net of that Cabrera produced a net run total 15 ahead of Trout.  This leads to Silver's next argument, that Trout played less games and played them in a more difficult ballpark.

If a guy starts the year in the minors, as Trout did, he is adding zero value to his team over that time period.  Meanwhile, Cabrera was helping his team win games.  You simply can't argue against that.  As for the tougher stadium call, Silver bases this on the fact that Cabrera hit most of his home runs to power alleys and that Angel's stadium has deeper power alleys, so Cabrera would have hit less home runs were he to switch places with Trout.  To which I say boo hoo.  Cabrera's job is to produce runs, not to worry about where his home runs would have landed were he playing in a stadium 2000 miles away.

Silver says Trout's RBI's are understated because he leads off while Cabrera bats third. While true, that also enhances Trout's run total and depresses (in a relative sense) Cabrera's run total. I'd call that a wash.

Getting desperate, Silver turns to the phantom statistic of "clutch" hitting.  This statistic has historically been used for such dishonest purposes as claiming that Alex Rodriguez isn't really a good player or that Reggie Jackson is the greatest player ever.  Silver uses the real and quantifiable statistic of Win Probability Added to prove that Trout is a more valuable player.  Silver gives a nice explanation of this statistic:

In fact, there are now systems, like Win Probability Added, that measure all aspects of clutch performance in a comprehensive way. They account not just for the number of runners on base and the number of outs, but also the game score and the inning. A grand slam when a team trails by three runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth turns a near-certain loss into a win, giving a player maximal credit by this system. A grand slam when a team already leads 7-0 gets little credit, since the game is already in hand.

Trout has a better WPA, with 5.28 games won to Cabrera's 4.81.  Of course, by this statistic, Joey Votto was by far the best player in baseball last year, with a WPA of 6.05.  Also, Cabrera had a much better WPA in 2011, with a WPA of 7.59.  Unlike batting average or home runs, a hitter's WPA depends on a lot of lucky factors.  In Silver's example above, the first hitter adds .95 to his WPA and the second adds .00 while they both hit grand slams.  The volatility of this statistic makes it instructive, but not absolute. Unlike OPS, I wouldn't hang my hat on it.

Finally, Silver argues that the Angels were a better team, as they won 89 games to the Tigers 88.  Again, boo hoo.  The Tigers and Cabrera did what they needed to do (at least until the World Series began) and the Angels did not.  Further, the Tigers wrapped up their division with a handful of games remaining and set their rotation, likely causing them to lose one or more games.  I'd dismiss this claim out of hand.

I didn't even mention that no one has won baseball's Triple Crown in two generations.  Cabrera faced pressures that no other player did due to his chase of this elusive goal, and he triumphed.

In conclusion, Mike Trout is a fantastic player, and would certainly be my number one draft pick if I get that spot in my 2013 fantasy baseball draft.  But in 2013, Miguel Cabrera was clearly the most valuable player in the American League.

Friday, November 16, 2012

HWX, LIVE show on Saturday

Where can you hear Sen. John Thune and the great Michael Barone opining LIVE on the recent election and where the country is headed politically in the next year?  In your dreams, pal.
That would have been the answer any other time.  But on Saturday morning at 11AM (central), the Hinderaker Ward Experience makes your dreams come true.  John and Brian return with a LIVE show broadcasting from  Shortly before the broadcast I'll put up a widget here on FL so you can listen that way as well.   And don't be late, at the top of the hour we'll go back to back with the distinguished Senator from South Dakota John Thune and one of America's premiere political analysts, Michael Barone.
Following that it's Loon of the Week, This Week in Gatekeeping, and a special appearance from last week's Ricochet member winner of the Secret Word contest, the legendary Gatomal.
It all happens LIVE on Saturday morning at 11am (central).  The chat room will be up at Ricochet for members to ask questions, heckle and or toss bouquets in our general direction.  It promises to be a fun show, hope to see you all there!

Year Zero

One of the interesting tidbits I picked up last week while on a business trip to Seoul was that Koreans traditionally start counting their age from one at birth. So say if you born on November 16th in the year 2000, you would be thirteen instead of twelve. The way it was explained to me was that they counted the time you spent in your mother's womb.

The official explanation of their version of East Asian age reckoning explains it in different terms:

Koreans generally refer to their age in units called sal (살), using Korean numerals in ordinal form. Thus, a person is one sal during the first calendar year of life, and ten sal during the tenth calendar year.

The 100th-day anniversary of a baby is called baegil (백일), which literally means "a hundred days" in Korean, and is given a special celebration, marking the survival of what was once a period of high infant mortality. The first anniversary of birth named dol (돌) is likewise celebrated, and given even greater significance. Koreans celebrate their birthdays, even though every Korean gains one 'sal' on New Year's Day.

Because the first year comes at birth and the second on the first day of the lunar New Year, a child born, for example, on December 29 (of the lunar calendar) will reach two years of age on Seolnal (Korean New Year), when they are only days old in western reckoning.

In modern Korea the traditional system is most often used. The international age system is referred to as "man-nai" (만나이) in which "man" (만) means "full" or "actual", and "nai" meaning "age". For example, man yeol sal means "full ten years", or "ten years old" in English. The Korean word dol means "years elapsed", identical to the English "years old", but is only used to refer to the first few birthdays. Cheotdol or simply dol refers to the first Western-equivalent birthday, dudol refers to the second, and so on.

As you might expect from such an outlook, South Korea has pretty strict laws against abortion on demand, although regrettably in practice they are apparently rarely enforced.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cliff Notes

Now that elections are over, America turns its attention to actually attempting to govern itself.  One item on the short term agenda is the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Because of the timing of temporary legislation, our government faces the following action, effective in 2013:
  • The Bush-era income tax cuts, which were actually enacted into current law by President Obama are set to expire.  This means most taxpayers will see their rates go up and many non-taxpayers will start paying.
  • The alternate minimum tax patch that protects many middle class Americans from higher AMT rates will also expire.
  • The payroll tax holiday will also expire, adding another 2% in payroll taxes to the first $100,000 that workers pay.
  • Automatic spending cuts will be enacted to national defense and Medicare reimbursement rates.
  • The Medicare "doc fix" will expire, reducing reimbursement to Medicare providers even further.
America has faced four straight years of trillion dollar deficits.  The sum of the "fiscal cliff" items listed above would serve to immediately cut these deficits in half.  So obviously President Obama and Congress are interested in making sure these things never happen.  As a poster on one of my favorite message boards explained, the term 'fiscal cliff' is scary and Orwellian language for what I would call dealing with our deficit problem.

My analysis is that we should jump off the fiscal cliff, Thelma and Louise style.  The argument against it is that such action would trigger a recession.  To that I would argue that politically it will never be the right time to address this problem.  The reason that now is the right time is that action is easy.  All that has to happen is for the Republican House leadership and President Obama to fail to find common ground.  That's a lot more likely than an alternate scenario where the President and Congress maturely make tough choices that benefit America in the long run.

I have to take a stop now.  My sides are hurting from laughing at the prospect of my last sentence actually happening.

Hockey Is Like The Sun

While most Americans are likely paying little attention to the NHL strike, our friends north of the border are feeling the pain. Canada's Goal: A Pro Hockey Settlement Before NHL Slams GDP:

Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at Canada's BMO Capital Markets, said earlier in the lockout that a canceled season would shave 0.1% off Canada's annual gross domestic product. Even if both sides settle, he said, a truncated 2012-13 NHL schedule could pare 0.05% from GDP.

Molson Coors Brewing Co. blamed the NHL dispute for a 5% drop in Canadian profits in its most recent quarter. Last week, Molson Chief Executive Peter Swinburn told a national news wire that the brewer, a big NHL sponsor, might seek compensation from the league. A Molson spokesperson confirmed the boss's comments but declined to elaborate.

With a regular season even longer than Canada's northern winters, "hockey is like the sun," driving beer sales up to near-summer levels, said Cam Heaps, co-founder of the Toronto-based microbrewery Steam Whistle Brewing Inc. "If there's a hockey game, people are drinking."

No hockey, no drinking, no sun. Tough days in Canada.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Properly Credentialed

What the heck is a cicerone anyway? While it may sound like one of positions within the Mafia (don, capo, etc.), it actually is a title bestowed upon those deemed to have a particular expertise when it comes to beer. If you want to know which wine to drink, you ask the sommelier. For beer, you need to consult with the cicerone.

As Craft Brew Sales Grow Frothy, Pourers With Pedigrees Bubble Up:

The Cicerone Certification Program was started about five years ago by Ray Daniels, a Chicago-based beer writer who has authored books on the subject. So far, it has certified more than 18,000 beer professionals, including 17,638 Beer Servers (the entry-level ranking), 611 Cicerones (the midlevel) and four Master Cicerones.

To earn certification, Beer Servers need to study a basic eight-page syllabus—topics include national beer styles (think Belgian lambics, English ales and German pilsners) and key beer ingredients (think malted barley, hops, yeast and water)—and then pay $69 to take an online exam with 60 multiple-choice questions.

Master Cicerones, on the other hand, must "possess encyclopedic knowledge of beer" and have "highly refined tasting ability," according to the Cicerone program website—and demonstrate as much during a two-day in-person exam with written, oral and taste-test components. The cost is $595—or about twice what some states charge would-be attorneys to take the bar exam.

Seems like a fair cost based on the comparable value that holders of each title brings to society. The WSJ article on cicerones featured a picture of one of the said beer masters in action and he actually bears a startling resemblance to Mark, the resident beer expert at Glen Lake Wine and Spirits.

Mark's 'stache might just be a hair curlier.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Clear and Free

The latest course offering from Prager University is called "Free Market Morality":

Whenever the Left argues for more government control, they cloak their goals in moral terms such as "fairness" and "looking out for the little guy." You've heard it all before: Free markets are bad. Greedy entrepreneurs take what they want, leaving a smaller piece of the pie for everyone else. Government is the true creator of wealth -- just look at how it saved General Motors and Chrysler.

Are you tired of hearing these myths, but tongue-tied when it comes to rebutting them?

In our latest video, "Free Market Morality," economist Walter Williams explodes these myths eloquently and concisely. His case for the free market is as clear and convincing as any you'll see, in just five minutes. He explains why economic freedom is the most moral system around, why putting other people's needs ahead of your own is the basis of trade, and why government-controlled economies just don't work.

Need intellectual ammunition on why the GM and Chrysler bailouts were a bad idea? Dr. Williams tackles that, too. He explains how both car companies violated one of the fundamental rules of the free market (giving customers what they want), and why bankruptcy would have been the best option.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Beer of the Week (CLXII)

Another better late than never edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the stout hearted folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help find the wine, whiskey, and beer to help you make it through the stormiest of nights.

In Saturday’s WSJ, Joe Queenan confesses that when it comes to the world of craft beer and the ever more creatively named beers within it, he finds himself on the outside looking in:

Sometimes a man has to admit something about himself that he really does not want to admit. That's the way I feel about craft beers. When the topic gets around to craft beers— which it inevitably does—I am left completely out in the cold. I have no idea what Tröeg's Mad Elf Ale tastes like. I couldn't tell Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA from Ommegang Rare Vos if my life depended on it. Is Golden Walrus Imperial Pilsner brewed in Delaware, Prague or Loch Ness?

You got me.

It doesn't help that I don't drink. I used to drink a long time ago, but back then we didn't talk about beer. We merely drank it. We might occasionally discuss wine—especially if we were in France—but beer wasn't viewed as a suitable topic for conversation. Beer was simply an ingenious device one used to get hammered.

Now I constantly find myself frozen out of conversations because I literally know nothing about craft beers. I go to a restaurant in Brooklyn and the sommelier des bières saunters over to the table to discuss Estrella Damm Daura and König Ludwig Weissbier. I stop by a pizza chain in Mount Laurel, N.J., and my best friend spends 15 minutes discussing the marvels of Castelain Two Brothers Diversey & Lill(e) with the waiter.

Then the maître de la Jersey bière appears out of nowhere and rhapsodizes about Goose Island Matilda and Stillwater Existent for another 15 minutes. The subject eventually turns to Southern Tier Iniquity and Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager, as it so often will in pizza chains. Meanwhile, I sit there, meekly sipping my Diet Coke. I am an outcast at life's rich fest.

While I hold a different opinion on the suitability of craft beer as a topic of conservation, I do have a certain amount of sympathy for Queenan and others who are put off by the increasing levels of complexity and specialization with craft beers. It used to be pretty simple. You either liked beers like Bud, MGD, or Coors or you liked Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, or Summit. And when you said Sam Adams you meant their flagship Boston Lager or Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale or Summit’s Extra Pale Ale.

Now, there are literally hundreds of micro breweries cranking out a diverse mix of beer styles and continually coming up with inventive new names for their products. And the big boys within the craft beer world have expanded their offerings with special series and new beer styles to try to keep pace with the new kids on the block.

One such example, with a name that Queenan would love to loathe, is Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout:

A malt-forward monster, highlighting the depths of malt flavor.

Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker's cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.

A four-pack of 12oz bottles sells for $8.99. Stark black label with imperial age font and image of namesake creature in front of a ship’s rigging in stormy seas.

STYLE: Imperial Stout


COLOR (0-2): Dark black. 2

AROMA (0-2): Chocolate, coffee, and licorice. 2

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

TASTE (0-5): Dark roasted malt packs a punch that mirrors the smell with strong flavors of coffee and dark chocolate with a bitter finish. The alcohol is apparent, but works well with the big flavors. The mouthfeel is syrupy, thick, yet smooth. The body is heavy and with the rich flavors this is one to savor. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Rich and lasting. 2

OVERALL (0-6): At times, imperial stouts can be overpowering and it can be a fine flavor line between rich and too rich. It’s a line that Narwhal Imperial Stout walks right up to while staying on the side of delicious goodness. It’s a big beer that packs a punch and will keep you toasty on the chilliest of nights. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Home Field Advantage

Taking a business trip to Seoul has left me a bit out of pocket for the last week or so. I heard rumors about some kind of election taking place here when I was gone. I’m sure it wasn’t too important or consequential or anything.

I’ll have a more thorough recap of the journey later. For now a quick overview.

Magazines Read
First Things
National Review

Books Read

The Gold Bat by PG Wodehouse
Death at the Excelsior and Other Stories by PG Wodehouse
Summer Lightning by PG Wodehouse
How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon

Beers Quaffed
Hite Ice Point
Hite Max
OB Cafri
OB Cass
OB Golden Lager
Hoegarden Witbier
Leffe Blonde
Pilsner Urquell

Like all such trips the best part is being home again.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Sun Also Rises

Hope Over Experience:

Some of our conservative friends will argue that Mr. Obama's victory thus represents a decline in national virtue and a tipping point in favor of the "takers" over the makers. They will say the middle class chose Mr. Obama's government blandishments over Mr. Romney's opportunity society. We don't think such a narrow victory of an incumbent President who continues to be personally admired justifies such a conclusion.

Perhaps this fear will be realized over time, but such a fate continues to be in our hands. There are few permanent victories or defeats in American politics, and Tuesday wasn't one of them. The battle for liberty begins anew this morning.

Last night was a setback not a surrender. Let the new battles begin.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

HWX, Apollcalypse Now

It’s a special electionedition of the Hinderaker Ward Experience.  According to the latest data from Nate Silver, there’s a 91% chance you’re going to love it. 
John Hinderaker of Power Line and Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas got together last night for one final look at the Presidential race before judgment day. We were also joined by the great Paul Mirengoff of Power Line.  
math explosion
We talk about -- what else -- the latest polls!  It’s the ultimate showdown, with Nate Silver and his spreadsheet on one side, and most of the conservative commentariat on the other. According to no less an authority than Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, you’re stupid if you think this election is close. And John Hinderaker and Paul Mirengoff think …. the election is close.  Only one reputation will survive tomorrow’s result and we set the stakes in today’s show, ending with some fearless predictions of what will actually occur tomorrow.
Later, a very special Loon of the Week, where we breach all protocol to present it to the current leader of the free world (no, not Sammy Hagar).
And stay tuned for our awards presentation to past winner of the HWX Secret Word contest, Keith Keystone. He’s a Ricochet member, he’s a listener to HWX, and for his good deeds, he got five minutes on air with the boys. Want to be that member who gets to be on the air with John and Brian for the next episode of HWX?  Be the first one in the comments section to name this week’s secret phrase, and you are in.

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.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Projection

Is it time for the election already? It seemed like only yesterday we were watching the Republican primary debates and caring what people in Iowa and New Hampshire think. Too bad the campaign can’t go for a few more month, right? Yes, I’m kidding. No matter what happens on Tuesday, I think Americans of all political persuasions will be happy to get the 2012 presidential campaign behind us and move on to other things. Like who’s going to run in 2016…

So now let’s get down to predicting making a wild ass guess about what’s going to happen tomorrow.

MN House and Senate: A few months ago, I was sure that the Minnesota GOP was in danger of losing their majorities in both the Minnesota House and Senate. Now, I’m not sure anymore. Trying to analyze this on a race by race basis is something that I have neither the expertise nor inclination to pursue. So instead, I’ll rely on the wisdom of Mitch Berg and go along with his conclusion that we’re likely to see the GOP still in control of both chambers after Tuesday.

Voter ID Ballot Initiative: This one is pretty a no brainer. Voter ID will pass, the only question is by how much. I’m going to go with 61%.

Marriage Ballot Initiative: A much tougher call here. Opponents of the measure have spent a ton of money trying to defeat it and if you judged the outcome based on the number of “Vote No” signs you see in the Twin Cities, it would seemed doomed to fail. And polls indicate that support is not above the 50% threshold needed for it to pass. However, this is an issue where the way people say they’re going to vote and the way they actually vote don’t always coincide. It’s going to be close, but I think marriage amendment will pass. Barely.

MN CD1: This would seem like a district that Republicans should be able to make a race of against incumbent Democrat Tim Walz who tries to portray himself as a moderate in spite of a rather liberal voting record. But the GOP hasn’t been able to in the past and won’t this year either. Walz wins reelection.

MN CD2: After redistricting, these was some thought that John Kline could be vulnerable with a more Democratic district. But Republicans have nothing to worry as Kline cruises to another comfortable win.

MN CD3: Remember some people called the Third a “purple” district? Looks pretty red this year as Eric Paulsen wins easy.

MN CD4: Sigh. Betty McCollum in a cake walk. Again.

MN CD5: Double sigh. I’m not sure what Keith Ellison would have to do to lose an election in the Fifth, but it would have to epic scandal. In the absence of said scandal, Ellison can be assured of reelection every two years even when facing a worthy challenger as he is with Chris Fields this year.

MN CD6: After her failed presidential bid, there was speculation that Michele Bachmann would not seek reelection to her newly redistricted House seat. And after she announced that she would and Jim Graves won the Democratic endorsement to challenge her, there has been speculation that could lose. That’s not likely to happen as she should win by 4-5%.

MN CD7: Collin Peterson reelected.

MN CD8: The Eighth is the most closely contested Minnesota Congressional race and the toughest to call. I have a hunch that Chip Cravaack will hold on against DFL challenger Rick Nolan, but it will be tight.

MN US Senate: Amy Klobuchar is a perfect candidate for Minnesota. She’s managed to create an image as friendly and folksy person and practical and pragmatic politician despite having a voting record that only a true liberal could love. I’m not sure if any GOP challenger could have given Klobuchar a real race, but Kurt Bills never had a chance. Even if Romney makes Minnesota close and down ticket Republicans do well, the Senate race is going to be a blowout. Klobuchar will win by 15% maybe even 20%.

President: For some time now, I’ve believed that Mitt Romney would win the presidency. And I’ve clung to that belief despite the ups and downs of the campaign. I outlined the main reasons Why Romney Will Win in September and hold to them today.

I took at stab at estimating what the electoral college will look like in a WSJ contest. I gave Romney most of the potential battleground states, but none of the potential ‘stache shavers of Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Minnesota. As I’ve said before, if Romney wins Minnesota it means it’s a landslide election and I still don’t see that. My final tally is:

Romney 295
Obama 243

We’ll know soon enough.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXI)

Another better edition of Beer of the Week sponsored as always by the sharp folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you cut through the clutter and find the wine, whiskey, and beer you need.

Our featured beer this week is from Colorado’s Great Divide Brewing. Claymore Scotch Ale:

Named for a medieval Scottish sword, Claymore Scotch Ale is our tribute to the legendary “Wee Heavy” beers of Scotland. This malty, deep-ruby beauty features lots of caramel sweetness, a reserved hop profile, and a subtle warming character. Unlike its namesake, this beer only requires one hand, but it’ll still make you feel like nobility.

Six pack of 12oz bottles goes for $8.99. Standard Great Divide label with royal green color and a swordsman wielding impressive namesake weapon.

STYLE: Scotch Ale

COLOR (0-2): Dark brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Rich roasted caramel malts. 2

HEAD (0-2): Light volume, tan color, good lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Toasted malts with flavors of coffee, chocolate, toffee, raisins and nuts. Medium bodied with a slightly bitter yet smooth finish. Mouthfeel is creamy and a bit oily. The heat is mostly muted although you can pick up a bit at the finish. Not especially drinkable, more suited to sipping. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): A little syrupy and sweet, but tasty. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Many brewers like to use variants of “wee heavy” beers as their winter offerings and I’m quite fond of the style. Sometimes they can tend too much toward the sweet side and I was glad that Claymore Scotch Ale did not. It’s a good combination of flavors that strikes a the right balance. It’s a perfect choice for this time of year as the first chills of winter are upon us. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Thursday, November 01, 2012

HWX, Halloween Style

Earlier this week we taped a special All Hallow’s Eve Eve edition of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience.  John Hinderaker and I together again and caught up in the excitement of the election season with one week to go before the big day.  We discussed the recent polls showing the building Romney momentum, our favorite recent political advertisements, and dissected the characteristic tone of the Obama campaign and what that may portend for next week.   We also analyzed the latest developments around the Benghazi attack.

Then it’s Loon of the Week, featuring gutter dwelling politicians of Minneapolis (literally) and the thin line between voting and sex.  And this Week in Gatekeeping, with the nation’s premier newspaper finally getting to the bottom of the Benghazi story.

It's a day late and a dollar short, but for my pal Chad the Elder, I present to you this year's variation of the greatest Halloween joke in history.

Your pals at HWX spent their Halloween podcasting.  How did other less dedicated, less talented podcasters celebrate their Halloweens?  They pumped-kin.  Boom!

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.  Enjoy!

Bringing Faith to Bear

On the 2012 Elections: A Statement of the Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops:

Our allegiance to God and our reverence for religious liberty are not sectarian interests; rather, they render testimony to ideals of truth and charity that serve all people. As Pope Benedict XVI states, “In the present social and cultural context, where there is a widespread tendency to relativize truth, practicing charity in truth helps people to understand that adhering to the values of Christianity is not merely useful but essential for building a good society . . . ” (Caritas in Veritate, no. 4).

The task of building a good society makes our Catholic civic engagement vitally important. But as Christians, we also have the religious duty of making the message of salvation known to all people. Impelled by the love of God, we draw others to Jesus Christ by doing good for our neighbor. And we fulfill this baptismal mission by conforming our lives to our faith so that we become the light of the world.

At election time, charity and truth are expressed through the votes we cast in favor of the inherent dignity of every human person and the common good of all. In this respect, faith must inform our electoral decisions. The Catholic faith is always personal but never private. If our faith is real, then it will naturally and necessarily guide our public decisions and behaviors, including our political choices.

And so, we, the bishops of Pennsylvania, urge citizens to vote this year, and we encourage Catholics to learn what our faith believes about the issues at stake in the 2012 election. To do this, we recommend a review of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship and Living the Gospel of Life, both available online at

Ideas have consequences. Beliefs shape our culture. We revere the best ideals of our American democracy. We embrace the truths of our Catholic faith. In this mutuality of politics and religious conviction—as informed citizens and as steadfast believers—we strive to fulfill the human vocation in our own day, just as all the saints have done in past ages.

In this Year of Faith, let us bring our faith to bear on how we vote this Election Day.

You can be a Catholic. And you can be an Obama supporter. But you can no longer, in good conscience be both. And while I’m sure that a fair number of Catholics will still try to live through that contradiction, I believe that there will also be a good number of Catholics who voted for Obama in 2008 who follow their conscience this time around.

Be Prepared

Roger Pielke on Hurricanes and Human Choice:

Another danger: Public discussion of disasters risks being taken over by the climate lobby and its allies, who exploit every extreme event to argue for action on energy policy. In New York this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared: "I think at this point it is undeniable but that we have a higher frequency of these extreme weather situations and we're going to have to deal with it." New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke similarly.

Humans do affect the climate system, and it is indeed important to take action on energy policy—but to connect energy policy and disasters makes little scientific or policy sense. There are no signs that human-caused climate change has increased the toll of recent disasters, as even the most recent extreme-event report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds. And even under the assumptions of the IPCC, changes to energy policies wouldn't have a discernible impact on future disasters for the better part of a century or more.

The only strategies that will help us effectively prepare for future disasters are those that have succeeded in the past: strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations. That is the real lesson of Sandy.