Coming Up for Air

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

John Cole over at Balloon Juice does a nice little "while I was away" piece. Pretty much sums up the fun I was missing in the past week as I was swamped with 2 weeks worth of late nights and long days.

A few news thoughts of my own to add to Mr. Cole's:

1) Try this beer. It is an especially lovely dubbel that's been around for a long time. I had some last night and was reminded of what a world-class example of the style it is. Corsendonk Pater Abbey Brown Ale. Belgian goodness.

2) Finally got around to bottling, fermenting and drinking this concotion. I must say that I am quite happy with it. It has a taste quite reminiscent of Killians. But Killians, being a lager, has a more pronounced hop-up-front with a grainier malt taste overall. Mine, being an ale, brought out fruity esters and more of the malt's sweetness than its graininess. That being said, it has the hints of what makes Killians so damn likeable. So far, it's been a big hit.

3) Just heard Spyrogyra's Wrapped in a Dream the other night. Masterful. One of the key tracks is Impressions of Madrid. Absolutely beautiful music.

4) Well no shit.

That about sums it up for now.


An Honest Man Can Feel No Pleasure...

Monday, December 11, 2006 the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.

--Thomas Jefferson, in a letter he wrote to John Melish (a friend and early American cartographer)

I love the quote, which is extremely relevant in today's circumstances. This idea from the true American revolutionary is the foundation of a good President's mindset. Leadership is not about the exertion of power.

However, the quote is all the more relevant given the death of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who clearly derived intense pleasure from the exercise of power. Some statistics, nay, evidence of brutal exercises of power over one's fellow citizens includes:

  • Overthrowing a Democratically-elected government in a violent military coup;

  • 17 years in power, unchecked;

  • $28 million of the Peoples' money hidden in personal accounts;

  • Approximately 3,200 people killed or "made to disappear;"

  • Thousands more tortured, detained illegitimately, or exhiled;

Just to name a few. Even the Wikipedia entry on him is less than flattering.

There is a burgeoning discussion of this dictator-cum-corpse in Mike's Neighborhood to go check out as well.

But what really gets me are the loads of Pinochet apologists. There is a swell of bloggers and opinion editors willing to excuse this brutal dictator because of the strength of the Chilean economy that he set up. Never would I expect, though, an NPR affiliate to be among the list of the apologists.

Sure, they list a string of atrocities. But the title of the piece is "Pinochet's Economic Legacy." Not "One More Dead Bastard" or "Good Riddance to a Brutal Dictator" but "Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining [followed by much hand-wringing and meek shrugs]." The article also has lovely musings like:

  • Many have criticized his brutal regime, but he leaves behind a tremendously successful economic legacy [emphasis added]

  • Pinochet [violently] seized power [from a legitimately-elected government] in Chile in a 1973 coup. He then turned his country into a laboratory for free market reform [good for him!]

  • Even Pinochet's worst critics admit his economic model has been a success [worst critics??? What the heck have his best critics said??? That he was pretty cool??]

Chile's economy is strong. But to include in a vicious dictator's eulogy in an apologetic sort of "sure he was bad, but he did make one good policy" is to excuse the murder, torture, lies and corruption that were endemic to his regime.

Better to just say that's he's dead and be done, rather than candy-coat and excuse his crimes against humanity.


Winter Beer Offering

Friday, December 08, 2006

So here we are in Michigan with snow on the ground, frost in the air and ice all around. Winter has hit with a vengeance.

All of the cold reminds me that it's time to start guzzling my favorite winter beer offerings; heavier, darker, sweeter offerings with higher alcohol and more minerals, malts and proteins to satisfy the lingering hunger of winter or to provide that warming glow we need in the wintery North to survive the harsh winter winds and deep snow and ice.

Or we could wear a sweater and turn the heat up, but is that as fun?

Today's winter beer offering is Michigan Brewing Company's Bavarian Dark, which is technically a Munich Dunkel Lager.

MBC's creation pours a rich dark brown with a slighty eggshell-white head; just barely off-white. Not too thick, about an inch, with decent retention. Held up to light, this lovely dark brown beer yields beautiful ruby highlights.

The beer smells exquisite. Big, sweet Munich malts, almost like bread crusts, with a strong showing of chocolate and toffee. Imagine a chocolate cake baking in the oven. There is just a hint of coffee in the background; not a dark roast or a bold roast, but just that hint of a coffee bitterness.

The taste is so warm and inviting, reminiscent of that huge mug of hot chocolate in front of your fireplace. The sweetness of the beer is not at all cloying but is up-front. It's a fantastic highlight of the Munich malt. The chocolate is right up there with it, having acquired a definite chocolate taste without actually adding bakers chocolate. There is also a pleasant roasted-nut taste in the background; chestnuts roasted on an open fire. The hops are there; perceptable but not overwhelming at all. The fine German Noble hop, found prolificly in Sam Adams Boston Lager, is used much more sparingly in this beer, which is meant to highlight the Munich malts.

The moderate carbonation makes this beer really easy drinking, and provides a slight alcohol warmth at the end for that pleasant toasty feel.

Not as smokey as a rauchbier, not as toasted as a Schwarzbier and not a massively heavy-sweet as a bock or doppelbock, this is a well-balanced, sweet, chocolatey beer meant to please and entertain and highlight the fine genetic miracle that is the Munich malt. While the kids drink hot chocolate on a cold winter evening, you get to drink MBC's Bavarian Dark.


Lame Duck

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sorry no posting lately. It is Michigan's Lame Duck session and I am morning to night, 18-hour days for the next week or two. All I do is get home and drop. I think I have a wife and kid, but only in the form of a lump under covers in my bed, and a lump under covers in a crib.

More posts when the Lame Duck finally drops dead.



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