AG Calls For New Assault Weapons Ban

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Maybe I was too quick to praise Obama's gun stance. AG Eric Holder says that the Administration will seek to reinstitute the 90's era Assault Weapons Ban. He is making an interesting justification by saying that one of the reasons is the increased frequency of Mexican Drug Cartels using these kinds of weapons in Mexico. He believes that they are getting them from US gun shops.

As I said in my comments on the previous gun related thread, I think that law abiding citizens have a liberty interest in being able to own and use firearms. If the government seeks to infringe upon this interest, there should be a compelling interest and it should be done in the most narrow way possible. Given that "assault weapons" are rarely used in crimes (they account for less than 1% of national homicides and in some states, less that .1%), I fail to see how a ban can be justified. I also see this as being a bad political move. Surprising to me, Pelosi isn't interested in passing a ban.


"Excuse Me, Waiter..."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Yeah, there's seaweed in my beer."

Normally, I would send a product back to a kitchen if there was seaweed in it. A guy's got to draw the line somewhere after all. But today is a different day. I went down to one of my two Beer Meccas in town, and discovered Heather Ale Ltd's Kelpie Seaweed Ale. Seaweed beer. Hm.
The bottle itself boasts that seaweed from the beautiful Argyll coast is mashed-in with the malts to impart an historic flavor achieved in older times by fertilizing barley fields with seaweed. I guess having my 'druthers, I'druther that this was the "old" way. But what the Hell. If I can go to my buddy Greg's house and eat a kind of fruit that you're not supposed to eat until it's rotten, then a seaweed ale is pretty tame.

My brain prepared my tongue for an onslaught of fish, salt, other words, my brain prepared it for sashimi or sushi rolls. I like those flavors in sushi. Probably not in my beer.

Boy was my brain wrong. This beer is excellent.

Kelpi poured into my Imperial Pint Glass a deep, nearly opaque brown; dark mahagony with ruby-red highlights. It poured a creamy light-brown head, thick and tall, that stood quite well before slowly dissipating. But it wasn't the appearance that proved my brain wrong.

It was the aroma. Sweet, creamy milk chocolate hit my nose like I stood in a Nestle factory. This chocolate dream was supported by a beautiful roasted malt aroma. Not coffee at all. Just pleasantly toasted. The malt backbone of this beer is tremendous. It reflects some of the best 80-shilling scotch ales I have tasted, plus a load of chocolate. And then there it is...way underneath all of this lovely window dressing...that scant hint of salt. I am transported to Scotland, outdoors at a pub drinking a lovely local ale, and a light breeze carries in from the ocean just that tad of sea salt that those of us surrounded by fresh water get occasionally jealous of.

The taste paralleled the aroma. Chocolate is the first and the last thing you taste. Throughout the beer your tongue is comforted by that lovely Scottish toasted-meets-malt flavor (which comes in part from kettle-roasting their malts as opposed to fire or giant ovens). And like the aroma, there is just that bare, scant saltiness that dries the tongue, as this would otherwise not be a dry beer. It reminds me of drinking beer after swimming in the ocean, my tongue and lips still salty from the surf. It's almost not there at all; the taste itself is almost a memory. Perfect.

This full-bodied beer has a creamy texture, accentuating the milk-chocolate qualities of the aroma and taste. It finishes malty with that toasty undertone, and makes you want more. People who are wary of "dark beers" I think will actually be surprised with how good and drinkable this beer is. You just have to trick your brain to get over the whole "seaweed" part of the label!

This beer surprised me with how good it is. I will be back for more.


Joe Biden--Stimulus Czar

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I was never pleased with Biden being tapped as VP, but I had hoped that he would be placed in charge of minor projects and attend the funerals of minor foreign dignitaries. This is why I was surprised to find that he was tapped to oversee implementation of the $787 billion economic stimulus package. While I don't have all the details as to what this jop entails, it would seem to require a person that has great organizational skills and is deft at managing people with differing political views.

This just seems to be a bad pick. This article seems to indicate that Biden has some serious concerns about the package. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with being concerned, but I do wonder if might be better to have a person that is more confident of the plan. I will readily admit that my lack of enthusiasm is coming from the fact that I don't like Biden. I never have. I am hoping some ATK'ers can convince me that I shouldn't be so worried.


Obama takes a (kinda) pro-gun position

Sunday, February 22, 2009

To say that supporters of the 2nd Amendment were unexcited about Obama is a huge understatement. He has an abysmal record when it came to supporting gun rights, but considering he was representing the very anti-gun state (for the most part) of Illinois. He campaigned as somewhat of a centrist and while I didn't think he would rescind a bunch of strict gun laws, I thought he would be neutral on the issue and not really pursue a gun control agenda.

His first gun-related action is surprisingly positive on several levels. One, he is taking a pro-gun stance in an area that is not all that likely to have garnered a lot of attention. In other words, he could have said no and there wouldn't have been a whole lot of opposition. Two, he is supporting one of Bush's last minute regulations.

According to the Denver Post, officials from Obama's Justice Department defended a regulation that allows concealed carry in National Parks. Several groups had filed a suit and requested an injunction that would prevent the regulation from taking effect. The Administration is arguing against the injunction. I haven't seen the complaint, but the Denver Post article says that the groups are arguing that the government didn't conduct an adequate study into the environmental impact of this regulation. I am curious as to what the impact would be. I suppose that concealed carriers wouldn't be able to resist the impulse to whip it out and start blasting away at wildlife and trees. The groups also contend that visitors, such as school groups, wouldn't want to visit parks.

Some conservatives are wodering if this is just some ploy or are otherwise downplaying the action. Personally, I see it as evidence that Obama is trying to be a centrist and take an intelligent view of the Constitution and civil liberties.



This has been a slow week for me, so until I can work on something a little more substantive, I will throw out Яolcats, a site of Eastern European Lolcats, translated to English. For the most part, I find Lolcats kind of annoying (partially because I am not much of a cat person), but these seem better.

Have strength, my little cabbage. By the mercy of NKVD Order No. 00447, we have been chosen for Resettlement.

We will show the tin mines of Kolyma the true power of the proletariat.

Your inactivity is criminal, porcine gastropod…

Go back to Oklahoma!



Friday, February 20, 2009

The name of today's beer is cool enough to be the title of the post. I had once joked that it would be the bees-knees if they had beer pop-sickles. A hopsickle, if you will. I'm perfectly happy to drink this in lieu of an actual beer-flavored pop-sickle.

This is the final review in my series of beer from George's recent generosity. Thanks again, George!

Without further ado: Moylan's Brewery Hopsickle!

I will say right off the bat that this is a hop-bomb. No, this is a hop nuke. The relative balance of last week's DIPA review is undone by Hopsickle; beaten, put to shame, and left to cry alone.

Thick off-white lace clung to the glass, and should have served as a warning to my taste buds that had to hang on for dear life as I drank. I was surprised at how long the head stuck around, thinking it would have dissipated as quickly as many DIPAs and TIPAs. The beer itself was a deep amber and hazy as a foggy morning. The density of the haze is indicative of a silly amount of hops.

The aroma was like sticking your nose into a spice rack. Citrus like grapefruit and limes, wild flowers, peppery spice and even some pipe tobacco (not that anyone keeps that in the spice cabinet, but still...). Among the massive hop aromas peeks a hint of sweet malt and the suggestion of a fruity aroma from the alcohol.

My tongue started screaming before I even raised the glass to my lips, but away I went. The hop bitterness was bold but juicy, with lush flavors. It was a forest of herbs and citrus, so much so that the flavors were almost lemon-puckery. It's not that the bitterness is overwhelming. Instead, it approaches the precipice and peeks over, but never takes the leap. This is a big, full-bodied beer, smooth and creamy on the tongue. Though when cold I couldn't get a sense of the alcohol, as the beer warmed a bit I got a nice hint of a peach or pear fruitiness from it.

This beer is huge. If you already have trouble with IPAs, stay away. But if you are a hop-head and want to play a fascinating game of "name that hop," grab a Hopsickle and go to town. I had a bag of pretzels nearby as a palate-cleanser between quaffs, but it's as if I was eating unflavored rice cakes. Didn't make a difference. I enjoyed this beer like someone would enjoy a single malt scotch; huge, challenging flavors to be discovered and enjoyed.


It's The Economy, Stupid

Monday, February 16, 2009

If I would have paid attention at Grand Valley State to my Econ classes, I would have understood what is going on in Washington.

But I had...other priorities. Or something like that.

Anyway, I give credit to Mike over at Mike's Neighborhood and Mr. Furious over at the like-named blog for informing me, shedding light on the disaster, and, most importantly, showing me that' not only being handled poorly, but being handled in such as way as to benefit a small cadre of insiders.

I know there are a variety of opinions out there about the economic crisis and its mismanagement, but for me, Mike has made it clear, and I think he does a great job, at least among the little network of readers and blogs around, um, this particular keg, of putting all of this in terms that someone with my general lack of understanding can understand.

Go read the following posts on these blogs, and then, as importantly, go visit the links in the comments sections for more and deeper links.

Mike's Bad Bank: Bad Policy, Bad Economics, Bad IDea, Bad News

Mr. F's FAIL

Mike's Scare Tactics: They're Not Just For Republicans Anymore

Mr. F's Not Getting It (read: Obama is not getting it, not that Mr. F doesn't get it...)

Mike's The Insider, followed shortly by his The Insiders(part of a fantastic Moyers interview)

Mr. F's Lecture Hall (follow the links therein)

Mike's post on Pelosi and Frank's complicity

Mike's snark-filled post Let's Just Establish a 4th Branch of Government

Mike then schooled me on a glib remark I made about my own ignorance and acceptance of whatever Obama says as good, and sent me to 4 other places I encourage you to check out too: Naked Capitalism, Jesse's Cafe' Americain, The Big Picture, and The Cunning Realist.

I only offer these various links because they are how I finally came to understand the nature of the crisis and what is wrong with the response so far. Maybe soon I'll be smart enough to offer a different solution. Right now, I am questioning the response as serving too narrow an agenda.

Have at it, and if you see other links or takes on all of this that I or we am knw where to put them (in the comments section, of course!).


The Best Green Beer

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What makes today's beer selection better than most green beer is that it's not exactly green. Though, after the review, you may be envious, speaking of green.

Today's beer comes again compliments of George: Green Flash Brewing Company Imperial IPA. A big massive double IPA.
This gold-and-orange potion, clear as a bell, was capped with an inch and a half creamy, fluffy head. The head slowly relaxed into an ever-present lid over the beer as the liquid shrank its way down the glass. In its receding wake it left a lovely sticky lace down the sides of my pint glass.

As I beg for in all of my West Coast IPAs, I got all the citrusy hops I could ever want, right on top of a big heap of pine; it's like the pine trees in California grow oranges instead of pine cones. Despite the loads of hops, there is a sweet malt aroma that hints at bigger flavors to come. The malt doesn't compete, aroma-wise, with the hops, but there's enough there to let you know this isn't a run-of-the-mill hop bomb.

Make no mistake, this is a giant IPA. The malt sweetness is definitely dominated by the hops, but still strikes enough of a balance to keep it worth drinking gulp after gulp. The malty sweetness stays as an undercurrent, sightly sticky on the palate and the lips. Big grapefruit hops dominates, and interestingly, the orange-y hops yield a bit of sweetness along with the malt. The finish is slightly peppery and dry.

For a DIPA, this is surprisingly light-bodied beer with enough carbonation to seemingly lighten it even more. The heavier tastes give it away. I really enjoyed this beer. Not quite as much as last week's review, but certainly this is a beer worth trying, especially for you hop-heads. This is is definitely hoppier than Alesmth's offering, which, again, is currently my favorite of the style. That said, if you can get you some of this Green Flash, get it.


Death Star For Sale--$15,602,022,489,829,821,422,840,226

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

While watching the Return of the Jedi, Ryszard Gold wondered how much it would cost in US dollars to build the Death Star. The cost is listed in the title--over 15 septillion dollars. How much is that? According to the author:

the DS would cost 1.11 TRILLION times the amount of money available in the world, that’s not even including the fact that the majority of that is digital and not physical.


The Iraq war would have to last 124 TRILLION years, or 9,730 time the age of the UNIVERSE to equal the costs of building one measly Death Star.


The return of the Fairness Doctrine

Saturday, February 07, 2009

My six year old's three favorite words seem to be, "that's not fair." This follows some injustice, real or perceived. As tempting as it is to respond with, "life's not fair," I really try to explain why it is fair or why the unfairness is occuring. In some cases, the unfairness sucks and there really isn't a good solution.

The Fairness Doctrine was introduced in 1949 and existed in various forms up until 1987. Basically, it requires radio and television stations to present both sides of "controversial" issues, but does not specify how this should be done. Prior to the last election, there was some interest in bringing this back in response to conservative dominance of talk-radio. There didn't seem to be a lot of support, but conservatives were up in arms about it and were convinced that Obama would push for it's return.

I thought this was a dead issue, but apparently Debbie Stabenow is working to have it brought back in some form. I have never been a huge fan of Debbie. She has never impressed me as someone that is really interested in working hard for Michigan. If this is the kind of legislation we can expect from her, I prefer she goes back to doing nothing. I should also note that Stabenow's husband (next to her in the picture) is a co-founder of TalkUSA, a left-leaning radio network. The Fairness Doctrine could certainly benefit him financially, so this may be a conflict of interest. I should also note that Obama has stated that he opposes the Fairess Doctrine.

The problems I have with the Fairness Doctrine are many, but I will just throw out a few.

--Who decides what issues are controversial and deserving of an opposing viewpoint?

--Who gets to provide the opposing viewpoint?

--How do they present their view?

--What mechanism will be in place to make decisions and how can someone or some group appeal that decision?

The other big problem is that, under current case law, content based restrictions on speech are generally not going to be allowed. I don't see how this will survive under the Constitution.

This issue begs the this really a problem that Congress (or the FCC) needs to look at? Yes, the media is biased. I think you would be hard pressed to find many places that seriously look at both sides of an issue. Personally, I think people should look at both sides, but most people tend to gravitate towards news and information that they agree with. While conservatives certainly have a strong hold on talk-radio, the same can't be said of all sources of information. Television and the Internet are very well represented of all points of views. This is most true with the Internet, where you can find an outlet for any belief and viewpoint.

Do we really want the gov't regulating what is presented to us by the media?


Friday Beer Review

Friday, February 06, 2009

Ugh. I downloaded the video review to Google Video, and you could see me just fine, but the sound just went "TSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSHSH..." so screw it. Will try again next week. Back to normal reviews for now, until I ficgure this video thing out.

First of all, a big huge hats-off and massive thank-you to King Of Beautiful Prose and ATK commenter George for sending me yet another unbelievable stock of California beers.

While they have all been incredible, one in particular stands out from the pack: Alesmith IPA. As the back of the bottle says, "It's Pretty Awesome." How nicely understated. Were it not for George, I would have to wait until I was back in San Diego, California before I could gt my hands on a bottle. And since that's not going to be any time in probably the next decade...thanks again, George!

From the 22-oz. bomber, this stunning, golden honey elixir poured crystal-clear and left a solid, creamy head. As I merrily drank away, the lacing down the sides was like a Victorian window dressing: elegant and thickly laced.

What I would expect for aroma, Alesmith delivered: piney-laden and resinous hops with plenty of that lovely West Coast citrus that I hunger for all the way over here in the Midwest. What really separates Alesmith from the rest, though, are all of the little surprises it leaves for my nose: crystal malt sweetness, honey, mango. Such exotic, tropic aroma that I could long for a lazy vacation on a beach in Hawaii.

The taste took me there. Crystal malt dripped with honey. Oranges and limes. Flora. Everything worked in perfect balance and harmony. There was enough hop flavor for me to know this was an IPA, but enough of that honey-laden malt to balance the beer and cut an otherwise hefty hop flavor.

The bottle conditioning added just the right amount of carbonation to the medium-bodied beer and even the tad of ethanol added a hint of spice but not a bit of heat.

This is bar far the best IPA I have had in a long time. I am working with our local beer mecca in Michigan to get this stuff shipped here. Maybe some of you other lucky souls can go to your place and get it. Color me jealous.

George: knows his words, and knows his beer.


Cheers and Jeers: Obama-style

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I thought I'd throw out some quick blurbs on some of our President's recent actions. I also wanted to follow up on some earlier comments and postings.

One thing that I am not all that excited about is that rendition will continue. I never thought this was a great policy and in many ways, it was torture by proxy. Hilzoy thinks that there is more than meets the eye. I have to admit I am skeptical of the gov't when they essentially say, "trust us...we won't do anything illegal or wrong." That being said, I am willing to take the president at his word for now, but I hope the press keeps their eyes on this issue.

A big cheer to Obama for Daschle dropping out. I don't think he ever should have been the nominee, but I give huge props to Obama for admitting he screwed up. Bush had an almost complete inability to admit he was wrong even when it 100% clear he was wrong. It is nice to see a president show some humility. It makes it much easier to trust that he will do the right thing.

A big jeer for anyone who thought that Nancy Killefer should withdraw herself from consideration for the post of Chief Performance Officer. This seems like an honest mistake that could happen to anyone. Do we really need to demand that a nominee have a 100% mistake-free history with the IRS? Sigh.


The Self-Important Olympics

Monday, February 02, 2009

First of all, hat's off to ATK stalker and part-time commenter John R for the concept.

In my profession, I am surrounded by self-important people (and maybe I am too...I do have a blog, after all), who exact their self-importantness to varying degrees.

So John set up some "events" whereby self-important people can accumulate these events, the gold medalist being the most self-important tool you can imagine. You know the type: excessive speakerphone use, name-dropping, etc...and thus is born:

The Self-Important Olympics!

The events:

Most Elaborate Email Signature
It's fine to have a lengthy signature if it includes raw data: phone numbers, email, company web site. But this is the type of person that has a 12-line signature, inclusive of imaginary job titles and gratuitous salutations ("For A Better Tomorrow;" "Yours In Service;").

Most Absurd Business Card
Remember this scene from American Psycho? That's this event. Titles, attention paid to card-thickness, type, coloring, etc.

This person drops names in the most casual of conversations. Talking about your favorite restaurant? Drop a name of some bigwig you "spoke to" there. Even better, the true Championship-level namedropper mentions people by their first names, and in especially gratuitous circumstances, refers to them by nicknames (Governor Jennifer Granholm is simply Jenny). Extra consideration is given for the benign nature of the story in which one namedrops, as well as for whether or not the dropped name actually had anything to do with the story being told.

Busy Body
This event, and the person it encapsulates, is the behavior that is put on public display to show importance by way of level of activity. In other words, I am important because I am so damn busy. When you talk of your favorite TV shows, this is the person who sighs, throws up their hands and says "I just don't have time to watch TV." This person checks their Smartphone obsessively. This person walks around with cell phone almost permanently attached to their ear, or better yet, with Bluetooth constantly attached, even at lunch or just sitting in the office.

Originally, this was part of the Busy Body event. But it warrants its own event. This person will make every single phone call, even to family members, on a speakerphone. Too busy to life the handset, multitasking too much to hold a receiver, this person would call their own mother on a speakerphone. Those taped illegal conversations Blagojevich was having? He was on speakerphone on every one.

Reply All/Spamming
Regardless of the innocuous nature of an email ("If You're The Last To Leave, Please Turn Off The Lights"), this person will Reply All with wit. wisdom, or even just a brown-nosing response. This person will also forward "interesting" or "poignant" articles to everyone in the office. This person sometimes isn't in an email chain...they're the creator of incessant chains of emails.

Smartphone Obsession
Are you bothered by the fact that your phone isn't vibrating your hip every 3 seconds to indicate that you are receiving some sort of message, so you check it over and over, just to see? Do you check it in the middle of talking to someone else? Do you actually halt current conversations to mention the importance of a message that either just arrived or is due to arrive? Then this is your event.

Employee or Service Industry Abuse
The Champion-level abuser treats employees as if they are there simply to serve. This person tasks employees with absolutely the most benign tasks, but does so very publicly, to show dominance and importance. They like to show that the "have people." Further, the Champion of this event makes up obnoxious nicknames for the janitorial staff, asks to be addressed formally, and treats our hard-working individuals in the service industry as brainless automatons there to serve every ridiculous whim (my macaroni is a tad cool, please take this back to warm it up). What separates a gold-medalist, though, is the person who treats people who are not their own if they were.

Facebook Abuse
This is easy: the gold medalist is that person who somehow values quantity over quality in terms of updating their Facebook Status or in creating Facebook Causes/Groups. Do we really need an update when you're buying coffee or going to your car? This person thinks so.

This person wears pressed slacks and shirtsleeves to "River Cleanup Day." 3-piece suits are the norm, not the exception.

"Don't You Know Who I AM??"
Self-explanatory. If you have ever uttered this phrase to anyone at all, from waitstaff to law enforcement, then this is your event.

Each event certainly has its own bronze, silver and gold medalists, but we should certainly award a special medal to that special someone who wins a gold in the most accumulative categories. Did I miss any categories? Who would you put where (for instance, I am easily a bronze medal in Smartphone Obsession...I check constantly, but fall short of interrupting conversations to talk about who is emailing/texting me).

Have at it in the comments section.



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