Brew Day!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Last Sunday was again Brew Day at the Smitty household.  Joined by a few of our beer buddies from this blog, we took care of my "world famous" Maple Syrup Porter.

I had intended to do 2 brews simultaneously, but due to a small error (I didn't have the right ball vales and barbed fittings for my smaller set of mash/lauter tuns), we had to skip the American Wheat Ale and stick with the Porter.  Oh me an excuse to brew again!

My top-secret recipe, for those of you wishing to try my favorite brew:
9 lb Maris Otter
1 lb English Brown Malt
1 lb Crystal 40L
10 oz. English Chocolate Malt
1.25 oz English Fuggles (60 min)
0.5 oz. English Fuggles (10 min)
32 oz Grade B maple syrup (end of boil)
1 smackpack White Labs London Ale (WLP013)

Mash 18 Q water for 60 min at 154 degrees (water in tun @ 166 degrees)
Mashout 6Q at 175 degrees for 10 minutes
Sparge 23.25 Q water at 170 degrees

1 week primary, 2 weeks secondary.

Force carbonate 10.2 psi at 45 degrees for 1-2 weeks; desired volumes:  2.1.

And here, less than a day later, is some beautifully active fermentation!


Today in Science History

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Continuing in our chain of sciencey threads...

If you had the controls of the mars rover and could place historic tire tracks on the Martian surface, what would you do?

Head to the nearest high value science target? Sign your name? Write: “Hi mom”?


I’d do what the folks at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory did.  I’d draw a giant phallus.

Source:  link


Evolutionary Regression

On a whim, on one of my favorite blogs (It's Okay To Be Smart), I decided to take the science test offered at a link in one of Joe's posts.

My result:

13 out of 13.

I outscored 93% of the test-takers.

I am not writing this to brag or pat myself on the back.

I am writing this because if somebody gets any one of these questions wrong, it's no wonder we lag the way we do in our science scores.  I expected to get the score I did, because the questions are so easy, I'm pretty sure Smitty Jr knows the answers. Everyone on this blog will get 13 of 13.

Seriously:  "Lasers work by focusing sound waves.  True or false."  That kind of stuff.

But the bulk of test-takers got between 3 and 6 wrong.  And the 1% that got 0 or 1 question correct...I hope they are still in elementary school, or trolls.

Take the test.


Dick of the Week

Friday, April 19, 2013

Co-opting a theme from long-time beer buddy Mr. Furious, I present to you this week's Dick of the Week:

To do what with, Nate?  Cuddle it close like a blankie?

I think law enforcement is doing a fine job.


A close second-place Dick of the Week.


I Can't Think of a Title

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

First, this thought from occasional kegger Bry_Mac:


And then, there's this:

Report: 8-year-old boy killed in Boston Marathon blasts identified

Here's my guy, who turns 8 in a month and a half:

Nope.  Can't imagine.

I trust the FBI and Boston's Finest are doing everything they can to find the perpetrator terrorist responsible for this.

No politics.  No statements.  Just...find them. It won't bring the 8 year old back, it won't heal his mommy's traumatic head injury and it won't give his little sister her leg back.  It won't make the world, governed by randomness, make any more sense.  But we have a system of justice, and this is a person or these are some people in dire need of some....justice.  If you catch my drift.


This is the stuff of my dreams.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Fusion Driven Rocket - on to Mars in 30 days.

"NASA, and plenty of private individuals, want to put mankind on Mars. Now a team at the University of Washington, with funding from the space agency, is about to start building a fusion engine that could get humans there in just 30 days and make other forms of space travel obsolete.
'Using existing rocket fuels, it’s nearly impossible for humans to explore much beyond Earth,' said lead researcher John Slough, a UW research associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics in a statement. 'We are hoping to give us a much more powerful source of energy in space that could eventually lead to making interplanetary travel commonplace.'
The proposed Fusion Driven Rocket (FDR) is a 150-ton system that uses magnetism to compress lithium or aluminum metal bands around a deuterium-tritium fuel pellet to initiate fusion. The resultant microsecond reaction forces the propellant mass out at 30 kilometers per second, and would be able to pulse every minute or so and not cause g-force damage to the spacecraft’s occupants."
The Register



Dysfunctional Family Fun

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We've now discussed politics, guns, and now religion on ATK.

Anything else to ruin our family Thanksgiving dinner?


The Scale of the Universe.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

We interupt this broadcast of insults, flamewars and name calling to post an important link of nerdly goodness. You may have seen this view of the universe, but this one is new and improved and otherwise awesome. See the scale and hugeness of the universe here.


Tyranny of the Lunatics

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Via Streak, in another "gun culture" post, he draws our attention to this article regarding a constitutional amendment in North Carolina for "gun freedom."

In yet another one of Streak's posts, I kinda derided myself for not deriding the nuttier fringe of gun enthusiasts, collectors, and the like.  Being steeped in gun culture myself, owning guns, and generally believing in responsible gun ownership, perhaps, like the Jimmy Carter post below, it is more impactful for people of a certain predilection to participate in "policing their own."  

So here it goes.

A Republican lawmaker in North Carolina is proposing an amendment to the state's constitution allowing residents to carry concealed weapons, in an effort to block federal "tyranny."

Fellow gun enthusiasts, owners, sporters, supporters, collectors, sellers and others:  this shit is stupid.  There a number of reasons, but let me select a few more quotes from the HuffPo article linked above, and respond in kind as to why the things you say and do are not helpful to the average gun-owning collector, enthusiast, etc.  In fact, they opposite-of-help our cause.  Stop helping.

To wit:

he wanted the North Carolina Constitution to provide more gun rights

Look.  The federal constitution and nearly two hundred years of court decisions already grant those of us with guns every "right" we can imagine.  We can own them.  We can own lots of them.  Though we may have to jump through a couple hoops, it's possible to own current military-style weapons as well.  There are actually very few places we can't take them.  So, by saying we need more, you make us sound greedy (at the very least), and paranoid.  Most of us, actually, are fine with reasonable restrictions, and don't feel like we need more.  We have about as much as one can have in terms of "rights."

along with legislation he plans to introduce that would allow teachers to carry guns. The amendment would block concealed guns from schools, courthouses, federal buildings and buildings prohibiting guns, which Pittman said he included to help gain passage.

Ah, guns in schools.  I understand each family introduces weapons to their kids as varying times, and that's our "right," if you will.  My oldest, at 8, gets a BB gun, and perhaps, if he shows proper discipline, we'll discuss a .22 when he's maybe 12.  But the presence of guns in schools is something that makes a lot of gun owners nervous.  Accidental discharges, bad amount of training on a course at your local gun club prepares people to fire under pressure.  I spent 8 years in the Marines, and there are still some people I don't think can handle firing under stress.  I want my sons' teacher's first reaction to be to get my kids the fuck out of the room, not B.R.A.S.S. principles or where the gun is.  Many, many normal, regular gun owners feel the same.

As for courthouses and the like, why?  Just...why?  What is it about your life that makes you either so miserable or so afraid that if you're not armed every moment, that you're in peril?  I think I know.  It's paranoia mixed with guilt over not having had the balls to enlist and get to play with the Really Big Guns.  You need help, not more guns.  

Pittman told the crowd that he wanted to fight President Barack Obama's gun control proposals.

"I hope and pray that never happens, that we never actually have to fight the government for our freedom," Pittman said. "But if we do, if they're going to be coming at us with fully automatic weapons, we ought to at least have semiautomatic weapons to respond. I want you to have the ability to deter those who wold impose tyranny upon you."

You guys, seriously.  When non-gun owners see this rhetoric, they think we're all nuts.  That the only reason we own guns is because we fear a government attack.  Most of us don't.  Most of us recognize that the rule of law works here.  Most of us feel like the only guys who feel that the government is just waiting for the right moment to strike wear Army Surplus cammies and write weird, disjointed screeds.  Also, that fails to take into account that our troops are A) sworn to uphold the constitution; and 2) sworn to obey lawful orders.  So for your delusion to come true, that means American troops would have no problem at all firing on....other fellow Americans.  No.  That's just fucking stupid.

Also, back to this part:

But if we do, if they're going to be coming at us with fully automatic weapons, we ought to at least have semiautomatic weapons to respond

Let's pretend like I and other normal, not-paranoid gun owners are wrong.  Let's pretend like somehow, American troops don't care about firing on other fellow Americans.  Again, I spent time in the Marines.  Been deployed a couple times.  Our firepower and training is un-fucking-stoppable.  You and your fat-fuck buddies with a couple Bushmasters and Remington 870s are absolutely no match whatsoever for several well-trained regiments.  Hell, even a solid platoon will fuck up a small town.  Have you seen what a MK-19 does?  It's a rapid-fire , belt-fed 40mm grenade launcher that fires 325 grenades a minute.  

If you wanted to play macho tough guy, you should have enlisted or become a cop.  All of this shit about "more guns" and "guns in schools to protect our kids" 1) fails along the same statistical lines as "ban guns"; and B) just makes us all sound crazy, when most of us aren't.

So stop helping us, please.  You don't represent the bulk of normal people, but you're the only ones who get any play, so the perception is that all gun owners are this paranoid, jealous, and misguided.  Please stop.


All WOMen Created Equal

Monday, April 01, 2013

Our fellow kegger Streak has, when he's not posting about gun culture and getting in fights with Steve, done some posts about conservatism, religion, and modern religious "values" that run counter to what we common chaff perceive as, well, religious values.

In that vein, and because the legislature is on Spring Break and I finally have time to write things, I offer the following post written by Jimmy Carter: Losing my religion for equality; Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

In it, Carter makes the case that he eventually left the Southern Baptist Convention after it "carefully selected  Bible verses" that women must be subservient to their husbands and are thus prohibited from certain roles or professions.  I'm a sucker for Carter, so no surprise I was a fan of this post.  Before I start my list of favorite quotes from his post, I want to put this in a bit of context for why, other than to scream "I AGREE," I am taking up valuable blog space with a post like this.

IMO, the point isn't that Carter "left" his religion by resigning the Conference; in fact, I believe Carter still believes quite strongly.  It never makes me dance a merry jig when someone's faith collapses or they are forced to "leave" a certain sect because they tire of its oppressiveness or backwards-looking philosophy. I "left" my faith long, long ago, if it can be said "never really having it" is a form of "leaving," so I no longer need to see other people losing faith to justify my own departure anymore.  I'll not dance on the Southern Baptist Convention's eventual grave, nor will I rejoice in Carter's obvious pain in having to leave behind and organization that he thought had done so much good for so many decades.

For me, the value of Carter's statement here is more about an increasing number of people not only recognizing that their faith is starting to grow incongruous with its own actual perported value system, but also doing something about it.  It is having the guts, really, to look an entire institution in the face and say "you're wrong."  It's to believe strongly enough in the freedom that life or religion are supposed to celebrate to recognize when cultural leaders have finally gone astray.

So no, it's not that Carter resigned anything.  It's that he needs to send a powerful message to the powers-that-be that they are no longer in-touch with the tenets of their own myths.  And instead of grumbling or hoping it gets better, he, a former President Of The Most Powerful Country On Earth, vocally severed ties.  That's powerful.


At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us....It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

In Iran, fellow keggers, against an oppressive regime, where they can be killed, women want freedom and are willing to stand up.  We're not Iran.  Nobody has anything to fear here but the scorn of the witch doctors.

And my favorite zinger:  The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

"And the timid acquiesence to oppressive rulers."  Poetry.  And that is what, but resigning and forming a new group and publishing his thoughts, Carter has rejected:  timid acquiesence.  Respect.



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