Violence is the Last Refuge of the Incompetent

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who knew what J.R.R. Tokein would be on to with this quote from Lord of the Rings:

Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

I have had some trouble understanding how I feel about the outcome of the Moussaoui trial. I guess I don't really get much of a say, what with not being a juror nor being a family member of a victim.

As an American, though, and certainly stung by all of the events on September 11, I suppose there is entitlement to some sort of an opinion as to the fate of this....half-wit.

Moussaoui's defense team, people whom I do not envy, made an interesting point in their claim that to sentence him to death would be essentially to play into his hands; to be a martyr. This is a claim which the jury rejected, according to NPR reports. Interestingly, the jury also rejected the defense's claims that Moussaoui was schizophrenic. The jury barely agreed with anything the defense said at all. So...why not kill him?

Despite actually rejecting most of the defense's claims, the jury still did not find enough evidence that Moussaoui ought to be executed. But maybe that's the wrong way to look at it.

The jury found plenty of evidence to kill Moussaoui...just not overtly. He will die, just in prison. In fact, he's going to the "super-max" prison in Colorado, under special circumstances which will not allow him to have any contact with the outside world. At all. For the rest of his miserable life, however long or short that may be. I think that U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema said it best when she stated that Moussaoui will "die with a whimper," for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A perfect way for such a man, so full of himself and full of bravado, to die: alone, in the dark, with nobody watching. I only hope that no newspapers run a story the day he dies.

Maybe it is a pefect ending for us as Americans. We retain the moral high ground. To have killed Moussaoui to make him pay not only for his crimes but the crimes of all of the other terrorists that day would be wrong. Our system of justice does not allow for us to exact punishment on people for what everyone else around them did. We only get to exact punishment on the person in question for what they did. To allow an exception, even in this extreme case, tears apart what we say we stand for. Killing him would have been a visceral reaction to what happened in total on September 11, but to sentence him instead to a lifetime of solitude leaves our justice system intact, and leaves Moussaoui to fade away with no punctuation to his miserable life.

Where I am torn is in my own visceral need to see him..someone..anyone pay for what happened. I want to watch someone burn for the tears of the families, especially the families who are angry with this verdict. Where are they supposed to find peace and closure, with him and his ideas still breathing?

And then it hits me: we have devalued him and his ideas. By killing him, we would have admitted his claims of dangerousness and his overblown claims of power and fear. By killing him, we lend creedence to the power of his message and ideas; that his message and ideas are so powerful and worrisome that our only choice is to kill him so they go away. But instead, we show the world what he truly means: nothing. He and his ideas stand alone, apart from everyone and everything else. Nobody is listening and nobody is taking him seriously. Silly, inept, failed and completely insignificant.

Maybe we did, then, exact incredible justice. America has sentenced Moussaoui to Hell on Earth: solitude and darkness. And hopefully, an afterlife to match.


Music and Beer

Friday, April 14, 2006

In the spirit of the continued Friday Random 10:

I like music with my beer; sometimes the music itself sets the tone for me. A few weeks ago, I did food-and-beer, so in that same spirit, I will attempt music-with-beer. Here goes nothin' but a hangover:

1) Triple Corpse Hammerblow-- Children of Bodom. Good ol' European speed metal, complete with cheesy synthesizer and faster-than human guitar. Speed metal like this, lightning fast and a little cheesy, deserves nothing better than Pilsner Urquell: fast, light, racy, and just mass-market enough to be cheesy, even though it was one of "the first" pilsners.

2) Got to be More Careful--Jon Cleary. True, true down South New Orleans funk. Hell yes. Smooth, slow, funky. Sounds to me like a peat-smoked Scottish Wee Heavy like Skullsplitter. Sweet, slow, smokey; like a cigar, a scoth and a beer all at once.

3) Dust My Broom--Freddie King. Freddie King, a blues guitar GOD, pays perfect homage to a classic of classics. Listen to this with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which is an updated version of an old classic style.

4) H--Tool. Deep, dark, brooding music from Tool matches well with Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout: dark, deep, complex as Hell, a little unhappy but you somehow feel etherial drinking it.

5) Voices--Disturbed. Mass market bullshit deserves mass market bullshit: none other than Miller Lite. Lite unoffensive beer for lite, unoffensive nu-metal.

6) Township Rebellion--Rage Against the Machine. Political Rebellion, which is pretty much what beer is anyway, being the "drink of Democracy." I can think of none other than Rogue St. Red Ale. It's Rogue. The bottle has a picture of Che Guevara on it.

7) Pueblo Nuevo--Buena Vista Social Club. Speaking of Che... Anyway, Cuban-inspired piano jazz deserves Rogue (again) Jazz Guy Ale. Still smooth, and this time the picture is Che in sunglasses. The finish is a nice, smooth dry "hop." Just like the song.

8) Wynona's Big Brown Beaver--Primus. Weird funky metal whatever it is meets Frank Boon's Gueuze: a weird, funky concoction of wildly pleasurable Belgian-style spiciness and fruitiness ixed with a hint of a barnyard funk. Just like Primus.

9) Je M'Endors--Michael Doucet and Beausoleil. Classic cajun folk music deserves the best that French beers have to offer: 3 Monts Biere de Garde. Fast, churning carbonation with a big burst of spice up front, just like a cajun two-step. Fast fast fast and pleasant as Hell.

10) Vide Infra--Killswitch Engage. Melodic, with crunching guitars (with extra crunch) and relentless double-bass drum topped-off by back-of-the-throat lyrical shredding meets 21% ABV 120 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head. Searing alcohol at 21%, balanced sweetness with a huge hop attack that leaves my head pounding the next morning.


If Miller or Bud Had Their Way.....

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Miller, Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, MGD Lite, Icehouse, Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Select, Bud Dry, Bud Ice, Bud Ice Light, Michelob.....what do they all have in common?

They are all light lager. They are all made the same way, with the same adjuncts, using lager yeast, cold fermented and cold filtered. The point is that between Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Company, there are more than 50 individual products, all of which are exactly the same thing.

Through aggressive marketing campaigns, the two giants have convinced us that each product is a new, different and compelling option. They have given each of their beers a different character and appeal, and to huge success. People swear that there is significant taste differences even between Bud Lite and Miller Lite to the point where they 'swear by' one or the other.

Before you think this is simply a tirade against the brewing giants....

Look at our options in Iran. We really one have one option; one self-fulfilling prophecy.

One of today's lead stories in the Washington Post is "Iran's Defiance Narrows U.S. Options for Response." Paragraph after paragraph, while complaining that "no other option exists" but to essentially 'live with the situation[paraphrased]' seems to make overtures for war, because it presents 'living with it' as essentially unacceptable to any reasonable human being. Sort of like "do want this lovely golden lollypop with honey and ponies that tastes like strawberrys dipped in chocolate and champagne that will make you $1,000,000 or that other hard candy over there?"

Consider the last paragraph of the article, taken within context of the tone of the entire article itself:

"We've been trying coercive diplomacy and the Iranians have just sent a very clear message: 'Nice try, it just won't work,' " said Clifford Kupchan, an analyst at the Eurasia Group. "The only diplomatic option we haven't tried" is to cut a deal directly. "We might as well try putting everything on the table."

Take that quote in context with:

"Their Plan A is to put incremental pressure on Iran so it will cave," said retired Air Force Col. P.J. Crowley, a National Security Council aide under President Bill Clinton who now works at the liberal Center for American Progress. "And there is no Plan B."

Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, complained during an appearance yesterday in Houston that it is hard to find a diplomatic resolution because Ahmadinejad "is not a rational human being."

That has left Bush with few attractive alternatives. "At this point, your options seem to be not good and scarce," said Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Your other option is living with it . . . and I think that's what will happen."

While the article, then, ends with a statement about putting all of the options on the table, the rest of the article hints that really, there are no other options. Certainly other options exist, and they are pointed out in the article. But Dick Haass points out here what each of those options ends up with:

If Iran violated the terms, he [former Bush State Department Official Richard Haass] said on the Web site of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he is president, the deal would spell out consequences including sanctions and "conceivably military force."

And there it is. Be it Miller, Bud, or whatever, we appear to have options via aggressive marketing. But at the end of the day, what options do we really have? Or more to the point, what options are we actually given?


Buy My House

Thursday, April 06, 2006

My lovely beerwife Jennifer, my awesome brewoffspring Isaac and I are moving! We have found a lovely house North of town that we absolutely must have. It is beautiful, it is in a great school system, it is in an affordable and un-snobby, non-gated community, it is right off of the entrance to a complex of major is everything we've ever wanted to grow up. Plus, it has a pre-plumbed basement so that I can expand my "major brewing operations!" Or make a rec room, bathroom and fourth bedroom/den like Jen says. I'm still thinkin' brewery. I may even keg my own beer and run tap lines stright into my beer, in my kitchen, all the time.

With that said, this whole idea, this whole goal, this whole dream is based on our being able to sell our house.

So.....BUY MY HOUSE!!!

Built in 1916, our house has all original woodwork and hardwood floors in the dining room and living room. New tile floor has been installed in the kitchen. New self storing storm windows were installed in 2002. Our palatial Bathroom was completely remodeled and updated in January 2004, including updated plumbing and electric. A new very manly deck was put on the back of the house in July 2005. 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, over 1200 sq. ft. It's a quiet neighborhood and good neighbors. Convenient to downtown or MSU; 1 mile from the Capitol and LCC, 5 minutes to MSU's campus.

$114,900. Inexpensive. With taxes and a down payment, you're looking at less than $1,000/month.

Interested or have questions? Make a comment in this blog. Pictures available upon request.


The Results...

Monday, April 03, 2006

So, I gotta wait up to three months for the actual results of the test, but for now I am an Apprentice, and am in the Beer Judge Certification Program. I am part of the magical list of people who are called upon to work at and judge competitions. How cool!

The pressure of the test is off my shoulders, and at the end of the day, I feel like I did pretty well. There were just a few answers I am unhappy with, but overall, I am sure I passed.

Thanks for all of your support, those of you silly enough to read my blog. Of course, I will continue to talk about beer, and the site is still dedicated to the pursuit of good damn beer.

But I can also again return to making fun of this.

Or bitching about things like this.

Or waiting with baited breath to see what happens with this situation.



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