Thursday, January 30, 2014

HWX, with Mark Steyn

It’s midweek special edition of the Hinderaker Ward Experience (HWX).  John Hinderaker of Power Line and Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas reconvene to review the critical issues of our time. 

We were joined by the great Mark Steyn for an extended discussion of what he’s been up to of late, in particular getting sued by global warming theorists for the crime of exercising his right to free speech. Topics include how this relates to the larger movement by the Left in attempting to silence dissenters, the whims and depredations of the American legal system, how this has affected Mark’s relationship with National Review, and ways Mark’s admirers can help him in his defense.   These topics may sound heavy, but they’re handled with Mark’s characteristic √©lan and light-hearted touch. 
Also featured is Loon of the Week (democracy ending to thunderous applause) and This Week in Gatekeeping (the New York Times’ continuing attempts to keep the concepts of millions and billions and trillions straight).  The show wraps up with some Super Bowl predictions, and a look back at our ability to predict anything accurately in the past.
This podcast is brought to you by Encounter Books. This week’s pick is Glenn Reynolds' The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education From Itself . Check out and get 15% off this, or any title, buy using the coupon code RICOCHET at check out.
There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Can't Get Enough

Saturday’s WSJ had an article on beer called IPAs for People Who Don't Like IPAs. Since I love IPAs it didn’t exactly call out for my attention. However, as I also love variety in my IPAs I read on.

Now fatigue of a different sort has set in. Drinkers are tired of the bitterer-than-thou arms race, and hops breeders are listening. The latest IPAs aren't a taste of pastoral Britain or evergreen Oregon forests, but of the tropics.

That's due to new strains of so-called "high-oil" hops. Hop acids like humulone provide bitterness and preservative value, while oils contained in the plant give flavor and aroma—Citra's orange-soda-like thiol or the clove-like caryophyllene in Apollo.

You don't need a biochem degree to appreciate these hops, just a good thesaurus. Take the Mosaic variety, a galaxy of flavor. Born HBC369 on Jason Perrault's farm in Yakima Valley, Wash., Mosaic is a cross of Simcoe (notes of dried plum) with Nuggets (woodsy, herbal). Mr. Perrault tastes blueberry in this strain; I get a tropical fruit basket. Used in Odell's Woodcut 6 ale, it's apricots in syrup; in Samuel Adams's Latitude 48, it's guava nectar, oily and rich.

Working with small-crop, experimental breeds, little brewpubs like San Jose's Hermitage lead the way—keep a nose out for their satsuma- and tangerine-tinged Mandarina Bavaria. Indeed, batches often have to be small. Some hops go from code name to industry darling to rarity in a season. Citra took off in Sierra Nevada's Torpedo—the most popular IPA in the country—and then became nearly impossible for craft brewers to find. Knee Deep Brewing had to rename (and re-hop) their Citra IPA—it's now called, aptly, Hop Shortage

The article went on to list five of the best of these sweeter more nuanced IPAs. Among them was one of my favorite beers which technically isn’t really an IPA: Eight-Bit Pale Ale from Tallgrass Brewing. I love the unique flavor profile of Eight-Bit and was pleased to see it recognized in such a prominent manner.

My view on IPAs (and beer in general) is the more the merrier and that includes more variety.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Lone Survivor, In His Own Words

'Lone Survivor' has been the hit movie of the season and is approaching $100 million in domestic gross.  During the Bush years, Hollywood had a habit of producing movies that were critical of US military efforts and were also box office bombs, so this represents kind of an opposite approach and result.  Here’s hoping the moguls are doing the cause and effect calculus.

Before it was a movie, it was a book, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 1, written by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.  Back in 2007, he appeared on the beta, radio version of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience (then known as The Northern Alliance Radio Network) for a fascinating hour long interview.  For those who’ve seen the movie, and those who haven’t, you can hear the fascinating first-hand account of this mission from the man who lived it, here.

Those missing Chad's voice can reacquaint themselves with his dulcet tones, and it also features a cameo appearance by MST3K’s Mike Nelson. Good stuff.

Stillwater Runs Deep

It’s been a tough couple of years for summer festival lovers in Stillwater.  The beloved, venerable Lumberjack Days went bankrupt a few years ago.  The company which owned that name refused to relinquish it for use by others.  A new festival has been methodically discussed and debated for years, and now, finally, it's been approved by civic leaders with the name Stillwater Log Jam.  For a festival with live music as a primary component, located in a city founded on the timber industry, it seems like a perfect name.

Until this week, according to the Pioneer Press:

“The city has concerns over the name that was chosen," [Mayor Ken Harycki] said Thursday. "We were made aware -- how can I put this delicately? -- that the name was a vulgar reference that we would prefer not to have associated with a family event in the city. We don't want to be the laughingstock of the nation."

If getting a mention in the San Jose Mercury News’s  “Weird News” section is any indication, too late Ken Harycki.

Mayor Harycki doesn’t name his source on this information, but I like the clandestine tone of the “we were made aware” phrasing.   Sounds like he received a midnight phone call from some shadowy, ancient organization dedicated to preventing the reemergence of the evils of timber related obscenities.  My guess, it was the Interior Logging Association.  (Interior Logging?  Wink, wink nudge, nudge, know what I mean?)

I must admit, I’m not aware of a vulgar connotation for Log Jam.  Given my social circle, if one existed, I would have heard of it.   The Urban Dictionary produces two possibilities for Harycki’s consternation, which I will not link to as I prefer not to have it associated with this Family Blog.  Both seem like they are entirely made up and not actual euphemisms in use by anybody.   One is a rather pedestrian scatological concept, and the other involves nine people having sex with a ladder.  Maybe Harycki knows of some bizarre fire department demonstration planned for Stillwater Log Jam that could be misconstrued and that got him nervous.  Outside of that, this seems to be an overreaction on his part.

But he’s the mayor, his dictates must be heeded.  Therefore, according to sources, the Stillwater summer festival will revert to its original name from the 1800’s, celebrating that other historical industry of this old river town:  Stillwater Salami Polishing Days.

And with chaste hearts and minds of Stillwater’s populace now protected, Mayor Harycki can turn his attention to the real enemy and purveyor of civic festival moral turpitude, our neighbors to the north in Scandia.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Beer of the Week (Vol. CLXXXIX)

Another irregular, at this point almost random in nature edition of Beer of the Week, sponsored as always by the orderly folks at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who can help you find the precise wine, whisky, or beer you need.

There are amusing series of videos on You Tube that compare how words sound in German versus other less guttural tongues.

As my colleague Brian “Saint Paul” Ward likes to say, “It’s funny ‘cause it’s true.”

Our featured beer is the first we’ve reviewed from Excelsior Brewing Company which is located just a stone’s throw (if you have a Nolan Ryan-like arm) from the shores of stately Lake Minnetonka. I grew up near Excelsior and when I heard that a craft brewery was opening up shop there I was excited. I’ve visited the brew house a couple of times and thus far haven’t been real impressed with the product. While the design of the brewery’s logo and look and feel of the web site is impeccable, the beer hasn’t held up its end of the bargain.

The name of our featured offering from Excelsior Brewing is one that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Bitteschlappe Brown Ale:

Heilige Kuh! Es ist die Bitteschlappe! Our traditional Munich style brown ale features a medium body with brisk carbonation and a Munich sweetness carrying the beer to a soft finish. The quintessential beer for your main course, enjoy with a savory steak or pork dish. Prost!

My German’s a little rusty, but I believe the name roughly translates as “Please slap me.”

220z brown bomber bottle retails for $5.99. Lake themed label with a dock and gulls.

STYLE: Brown Ale


HEAD (0-2): Tan color, good volume that fades quickly. 1

COLOR (0-2): Sharp brown and clear. 2

AROMA (0-2): Caramel and bready. 2

TASTE (0-5): Flavors of sweet roasted malt with caramel and toffee. Just a hint of bitterness. Smooth creamy mouthfeel with a medium body. The alcohol is well disguised and the beer is quite drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Very pleasant. 2

OVERALL (0-6): A nice brown ale. Flavors that are moderate yet tasty making it satisfying while refreshing. I tried Bitteschlappe at the brewery and it was by far my favorite then. And I enjoyed it again from the bottle. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On the Home Front

Tobin e-mails with a worthy request:

Our neighbors lost their house in a fire on New Year's Eve. Several of us in the neighborhood started an online fund-raising drive to help them recover what was lost. If you'd like to publicize this on the Fraters Libertas site I sure would be appreciative, and I'm sure the family would be as well.

Of course we’d be more than happy to spread the word for a good cause. Check out the Help the Herrera Family Recover site and pitch in to help out if you can.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Continuing Education

The Prager University site has been revamped with a slick new look and feel. The content is as superb as always and now you can also take quizzes and get credit for each short but ever so sweet course you view.

The latest such offering is called “Why Rent Control Hurts Renters”:

Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute shows why price ceilings on apartments hurt those it intends to help -- but also why rent control is here to stay. She explains the background of rent control in America (focusing on New York in particular) and the negative effect it has on prospective renters and on the quality of rent-controlled apartments. Did you know that landlords of rent controlled apartments in New York City rarely improve their properties? Watch this video and learn why. Hint: They know that there's a long line of people ready to move in if their current tenants get fed up. And even though evidence suggests (and economists on the Left and Right agree) that rent control is self-destructive, the voters love it!

Even if your renting days are behind you, there are important economic principles at play with rent control that apply to many other areas.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Not Beer of the Week

Apparently there’s a bit of a furor in Iceland over a brewery’s plans for a special beer release. Icelandic beer brewed with whale bone angers hunt opponents:

What does it take to become a true Viking? According to one Icelandic brewery, drinking their beer made with ground-up whale bones will do the trick just fine.

To the consternation of much of the non-whale-eating world, the brewery, Stedji, announced this week that it was introducing a limited run of beer brewed with whale bones, making those who drink it into "true Vikings." The brew's month-long run during the Icelandic winter festival of Thorrablot is the product of a partnership with Icelandic whaling company Hvalur and has quickly incited a backlash from environmentalists against the whalebone-quaffing people of Iceland.

But for all the ire it's raised, we can't help but wonder: What does it taste like?

That is obviously the pertinent question. If you’re going to go to the trouble to grind up whale bones for a beer the end product should justify the effort.

It's dark, according to Dagbjartur Arilíusson, a spokesman for the brewery, and has a "smoked caramel taste with barbecued whale meat taste in undertone and aftertaste."

If I ever use the words “with barbecued whale meat taste in undertone and aftertaste” to describe a beer my days as beer lover will be numbered.

The whale meat flavor, he says, might be described as somewhere "in between beef and fish." The beer, which will not be available for export, is meant to be sipped alongside such traditional nosh as "soured whale fat, burned sheep heads, soured sheep testicles, salted fish, shark, etc.," that weighs down the tables of Thorrablot celebrations.

That probably explains why Thorrablot parties haven’t really caught on here in the States so far. If you do have a celebration planned, be sure to pair your soured sheep testicles with beer that tastes like barbecued whale meet.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

HWX, with Mark Yost

It’s a midweek special edition of the Hinderaker Ward Experience (HWX).  John Hinderaker of Power Line and Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas reconvene to break down the critical issues of the day.   Topics addressed include:

*  The ramifications of living in the god forsaken arctic wasteland that has been Minnesota this week

*  The potential extension of long term unemployment benefits and its utility as a political issue

*  John’s Power Line post on MSNBC and Rachel Maddow that is burning up the blogosphere this week
Loon of the Week, NYC’s Youth Poet Laureate Ramya Ramana

This Week in Gatekeeping, Geography corner with clarifications on Hawaii’s statehood and the relative locations of North and South Dakota

We were also joined by special guest Mark Yost.  He’s a Wall Street Journal author by day, fireman/paramedic in Chicago by night, and author of the terrific new book, The Cartel.   It’s the latest in his Nick Mattera series.  

In “The Cartel,” Mattera and his crew face a whole new enemy: Manny Banuelos is the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world’s most-powerful, drug-trafficking organization. In a ripped-from-the-headlines story, Manny and his gang don’t just go away when a newly elected Libertarian U.S. President legalizes marijuana.  Instead, they fight back, sabotaging government labs, blackmailing executives, and hatching a plan to control the world-wide drug trade. The only thing that stands in their way is Nick Mattera and his brave crew of firefighters, who are caught in the middle of this bloody turf war that’s erupted in the neighborhood around their firehouse.

It’s a wild ride, and all available from Amazon as an eBook for $2.99 (cheap).

There are 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 just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

You Know We’re Living In A Society!

Unfortunately, it’s that time of year again.  It’s the time when people have made their resolutions to exercise more and, therefore, are crowding the fitness clubs that people like me frequent at least twelve times a month year round.  While it’s true that most of these folks will give up on their unattainable goal within a month or so and return to their couches with their Cheesy Poofs and their super sized Mountain Dew, I feel it is necessary to go over some of my fitness club ground rules.

First, the basics.  Wipe the machine off after you’ve used it.  Nobody wants to put their hands on the elliptical machine handles that your sweat drenched paws just touched.  There are disinfectant wipe dispensers all over the place.  Take ten seconds to use them.  It’s a common courtesy if you’re not a self-absorbed jack wagon.

On a related note, don’t leave tissues, band-aids, empty water bottles, sweaty towels or anything else at the machine after you are done with it.  If it wasn’t there when you arrived, take it with you when you leave.  It’s a common courtesy if you’re not a self-absorbed douchebag.

Next, if you have to open the safety pin attached to the locker key please close the damn thing before you unlock your locker.  Nothing is more unexpectedly painful than reaching to unlock a locker and having a pin jammed into the skin between your thumb and forefinger.  It’s a common courtesy if you’re not a self-absorbed chucklehead.

Lastly, and I’m distressed that I even have to mention this, if I hold the door open for you, try to say “Thank you” or, at the very least, acknowledge my presence rather than just walking through the open door and carrying on with your life.  It’s a common courtesy if you’re not a self-absorbed melon farmer.

Now then, on to locker room etiquette.  Your dangly bits are not attractive and should be covered as much as possible.  Shaving while naked is not acceptable.  Standing at your locker and texting while naked is not acceptable.  Rubbing moisturizer all over your naked body is absolutely not acceptable.  I will concede that showering while naked is acceptable but I will never set foot in that steam filled bacteria incubator so do what you want to in there, just keep it in there.  Please try to remember, the locker room is not your personal bathroom.  You are sharing it with dozens of other men.  Behave accordingly.  It’s a common courtesy if you’re not a self-absorbed slubberdegullion (ok, so I’m running out of creative insults).

Bottom line here, people, is that you are sharing these facilities with other humans.  Try to act like one while you are there.

Friday, January 03, 2014

First World Problems

The government won't pay the rent when I’m on extended vacation to other continents.

Sad, but true, as reported by MinnPost:

Seniors in the district struggle with housing. For example, Somali senior citizens in Cedar Riverside receive rental support from the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority. They have been complaining about a pesky policy that prevents them from having an extended leave to visit their relatives in Africa.

This appears to be one of those situations where responsible public policy was dependent on a certain shared understanding of human behavior.  Namely, the provision of public housing was for the indigent, otherwise known as those who can't afford to travel to far off continents for extended visits. Secondly, those who have family willing to put them up for extended visits would prefer to live with that family permanently rather than have the government pay for their housing.

Apparently, these assumptions no longer apply in the present day.

I’m no expert in Minneapolis public housing policies, but this seems to be the operative interpretation of current law:

HUD approved the Absence from Unit Initiative as an amendment to MPHA’s 2011 MTW Plan. This initiative would preserve the rent obligation for residents who have a temporary loss of income related to an extended absence from the unit defined as 30 days or more. For example, a tenant may quit a job to be away from the unit or have their government benefits terminated because of travel outside of the country. This voluntary action results in a loss of income and consequently, a reduction in rent. MPHA believes such voluntary action should not result in increased Federal expenditures to support this family.  

Hats off to those ”pesky” bureaucrats for attempting to enforce common sense rules for doling out rent subsidies.  Alas, the prognosis for this little slice of governmental wisdom is murky.  Again, from MinnPost:

Rep. Karen Clark from neighboring district in the south was making inquiries on their behalf.

In other words, coming soon, taxpayer subsidized month-long vacations.  Only in America.

Can We Talk About The Weather?

The WSJ editors pine for the good ol’ days when weather wasn’t climate:

In case our California and Miami readers haven't heard, it's cold across most of North America. Very cold. Thursday's high in Minneapolis soared to 3 degrees Fahrenheit, which was toasty compared to minus-4 degrees in Winnipeg. The cold snap is spread across the Continent and includes a major snowstorm in the Northeast, which as usual is freaking out in ways that would make residents of the Twin Cities shake their heads.

Which is exactly what we’ve been doing of late especially when we hear things like “temperatures in New York will plummet into the teens.” My God, how will you poor people ever survive?

Our favorite headline of the week was the CBC report that "Winnipeg deep freeze as cold as uninhabited planet." The Manitoba Museum, a connoisseur of such things, is reporting that on Tuesday Mars had reached a maximum temperature of minus-29 Celsius (minus-20 Fahrenheit), which Winnipeg didn't reach until 3 p.m. that day. The Mars temperature comes courtesy of the Curiosity Rover.

This being 2014, when everything devolves to politics, any spell of cold or heat inevitably leads to explanations of climate change. The conservative websites are having a good time pointing to the cold temps as a repudiation of global-warming models, while the global-warming crowd says even the cold is proof of...climate change. You see, it's all about climate extremes. That's why the liberals no longer refer to "global warming."

Normal human beings who prefer not to politicize the weather report understand that climate change has nothing to do with what is...winter. The average temperature in Winnipeg in December was close to minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it only the fifth or sixth coldest on record. CBC says as recently as the year 2000, the Manitoba capital averaged minus-7.6 degrees in December.

For our part we're looking forward to the weekend NFL playoff games, especially the one in frigid Green Bay (Sunday forecast: minus-3). We long even more for the day when we can gripe about the weather without having to think about Al Gore.

That would be a welcome change. I’m all for a truce in the weather wars. While we can (and should) still argue about the causes and impacts of climate change, we should take weather out of the mix. If it’s unusually hot or dry today or this week, this month, or even this year it doesn’t prove that man-made global warming is taking place. Likewise, if it’s unusually cold today, this week, this month, or even this year it doesn’t refute the arguments for man-made global warming. Same goes for the hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, blizzards and other extreme weather events cited by both sides as evidence of the validity of their position.

Climate is climate and weather is weather. They aren’t the same thing and we should all stop treating them as such. Then we can return to a time when the weather wasn’t tainted by politics and was a neutral conversation topic to help break the social ice.

How about that weather, huh?