Tag Archives: Opinion

This man might just be…

…the Stupidest Man in the World:





What I don’t get…

Many things, but today I have to rant about people trying to discern the thoughts of actions of the “founding fathers” of our country in order to make decisions today.  Don’t get me wrong, what was accomplished at the end of the 18th century by these people was important.  They created a country premised on the assumption that each individual has rights, rights which are not granted by the state or by a king or a pope, but inalienable rights granted by our creator (we can argue about the creator later – I believe it is a what not a who but I digress).  The work they did was fantastic, but not perfect.  The most obvious example is the small sample of humans that were called slaves at the time. So the founding fathers were a good, creative lot, but not perfect.

So why do some require their thinking and reasoning be filtered through a 200 year old worldview?  The second amendment is a perfect example of a law that, at the time, made good sense, but today obstructs the attempts by many reduce unnecessary death and suffering in this country.  Likewise, this week the Supreme Court ruled that legislative prayer was acceptable in part because it is traditional and many of the founding fathers participated in similar prayers during their time.  So what? Like slavery, what might have been accepted then is not accepted now.

I don’t get it.  Let’s argue ideas on their merits.

The Conscience of the Puppet

I often start my day by opening Wikipedia and reading the “On this Day” section of the front page. Today it noted that on this date in 1940, the Walt Disney movie “Pinocchio“, the first animated film to win a competitive Academy Award, was released to theaters. I clicked through to read a bit more about the movie, as I had not seen it in a long time. Because of Gepetto’s wish, the Blue Fairy makes Pinocchio come alive, though he is told that in order to become a real boy he had to learn right from wrong by listening to his conscience. Since he was not sure what a conscience was, Jiminy Cricket was appointed to be his conscience. And so the movie goes.

How funny. Many theists argue that morals must come from a god or a book such as the Christian Bible.  Some argue that while each of us has a sense of right and wrong, that conscience must be written into us by a creator.  In the case of Pinocchio, he learns his sense of right and wrong from an animate, non-ethereal being.  A cricket to be precise.

So congratulations to Disney, celebrating over 70 years of confounding the morality stories of conservative theists. Have One Million Moms heard of this?

A Small Rant

There was news from Oklahoma this week.  A judge rules the state law banning same sex marriage was not constitutional.  And of course the howling began.  You see, Oklahomans voted to outlaw same sex marriage, and now a judge has contravened the will of the people!

OK – here is the point: people, you don’t get to vote to take away other people’s rights.  You can’t vote to re-establish slavery, for instance. One may question whether or not marrying a person of the same sex should be a right.  Well here is my take: the government allows two people to enter into marriage, a contract which convenes certain legal rights to the two people in question.  I guess I just don’t see why the government should bother to look at the two peoples’ naughty bits before agreeing to proceed.  Should the government confirm the two people are of legal age?  Yes, of course.  What about whether one or both of the parties is already married? Well, yeah.  But do they need to check that one has a penis and the other a vagina?  No, I don’t think so.

And this will not lead to people marrying animals.  Can an animal get married today? No.  Can an animal consent to marriage? No. Well what about three people getting married?  Note: the government does not allow that today, so allowing two people of the same sex to marry does not change that.  Want to marry a child? Sorry, there are age of consent laws and if your partner isn’t old enough tough luck.

I just wish people could put their bibles down, relax, and just wish the newly married couples the best.

Get Your Guru On!

Can’t get enough of New Age Spiritualists? Well, you can be one too!

Uerige Sticke and Doppelsticke

imageI bought one bottle each of the Uerige Sticke and Doppelsticke during some recent travels back to Arkansas.  Both of these beers rate something like 92 on Beer Advocate, so I thought they might be worth a shot.  Besides, the narrow little flip top bottles are way too cool to pass up.

The aroma was sweet caramel with low hop notes and raisin like malt.  The beers seemed flat, not from lack of carbonation but from lack of flavor.  Besides a some raisin character like malt flavor and somewhat strong bitterness, nothing really stood out.  The flavor finished slightly bitter and sweet. These were old and potentially mistreated samples.  It is a long way from Europe to Arkansas.

The moral of the story is drink fresh beer!

Five to One, One in Five…

No one here gets out alive.

Ray Manzarek (1939-2013) was the keyboard player for The Doors.  Jim Morrison was the visible front man for the group, but Ray, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore helped to create the unique sound of the band.  I don’t think Morrison would have been as effective with any other musicians.

The heyday of The Doors was during my preteen years, but in the late 70s the enjoyed a resurgence that I was a part of.  Ray and the other members never had significant musical success after Morrison died (at least, not commercially), but the renewed interest in The Doors offered them all the opportunity to capitalize a bit on the work they created in the late 60s and early 70s. Their music is a significant portion of the soundtrack of my life.

Click below for a listen.


Hop Slam vs. Ray Slam

Cloning a favorite beer is a tough task.  Trying to figure out a recipe by the seat of your pants, i.e., tasting and guessing, can be fun but the odds of early success are long.  Often you can find a clone recipe in a book or on the intertubes, but you have to be careful of the provenance, sometimes those recipes are good, sometimes not.  I have actually heard a number of success stories simply based on calling or e-mailing the brewery in question.  Brewers are generally a good lot, and often they are willing to give you some pretty strong clues to their recipes.

Ray, a good brewing friend and beer brewing mentor loves Bell’s Hop Slam, and he took the latter route and got some good feedback from the brewery.  Recently he acquired a couple of cases of Hop Slam and made his own clone.  He offered me a bottle of each, and I decided to put him into the cold light of a serious one on one comparison.

What are the rules of calling a beer “cloned”? After all, it is easy to find subtle differences in different batches of the same commercial brew.  I think the concept that was used on the Brewing Network’s “Can You Brew It?” show is a good one: if you were drinking the commercial version of the beer at a party or a bar and your second beer was the cloned version, would you notice a difference?  This is a pretty fair metric and it is consistent with the spirit of home brewing.

So how did Ray do?  Well, lets first look at color:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture is almost unfair.  Ray’s clone, on the left, looks very much darker than the Hop Slam.  And it was, but the photo does exaggerate the difference.  But it had a nice white head just like the Hop Slam.  Would a person enjoying a casual beer notice a difference?  Maybe, maybe not.  Side by side, sure.  But if you had finished your glass and a second beer was brought to you, you might not notice.  Certainly if Ray were brewing this again I might suggest adjusting the grain bill just a bit to lighten it up, but all in all, pretty close.

Aroma?  Well, some differences emerged.  The Hop Slam gave me a slightly resinous aroma with apricots and maybe a little mango.  These aromas were not as strong in the Ray Slam, and there was also a slight ethanol sweetness that was not as evident in the Bells.  Noticeable in the casual setting? Maybe.

The flavor differences were another story.  The Hop Slam was slightly piney in flavor with apricot and mango.  It had a nice light body (for a 10% ABV beer!) with a slightly catty and cloying finish.  The Ray Slam had more subdued hop flavors that were dominated by some alcohol warming that while not unpleasant was certainly different from  the Bells.  In fact the Bells has a bit of an earthy hop bitterness in the finish that in some ways is similar to the alcohol warmth from the Ray Slam.

So cloned or not cloned?  Well, I am afraid I will tell my good friend that it is not cloned.  Not that he made a bad beer, but it is noticeably different from the Hop Slam when compared side to side.  And I think a discerning beer drinker would notice that difference, too.  The alcohol warming was not strong enough to be called solvent like or unpleasant, it just stood out as different.

Why the difference? I point to fermentation, which I think is often the difference maker in home brewing.  Hop Slam is a 10% ABV beer, and it uses some honey to lighten the body. With that much food, the yeast will go to town and it is easy for the fermentation to proceed a little hot. Even in a cool room the wort can build significant heat during fermentation.

So how do I like the Hop Slam?  I don’t think it is my favorite IPA.  Of course, I also prefer a chocolate cake with chocolate icing over a white cake with chocolate icing.  Do I hate white cake with chocolate icing?  Nooooo.  I will eat it up.  Same way with the Hop Slam.  It is a great beer, but I think if you offered me a Southern Tier Unearthly IPA, well, my choice would be clear.  Hop Slam is the white cake.

Breaking News – Pope Retires

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

It’s December ?


When it is almost 15 degrees Celsius in Western Pennsylvania just nine days before Christmas, it is hard to stay inside.  I did a little work in the garden today (I even found a few missed potatoes, the garden keeps on giving) and finished up by enjoying a truly great beer, Pennsylvania Brewing’s St. Nicholas Bock:


This just one luscious beer.  It smells of sweet malt and dark bread.  The taste is smooth and sweet, with rich malt flavor and just a slight hint of toast.  It finishes with just a touch of alcohol warmth that is just so mellow.  Much like a great English Bitter, this beer can be enjoyed with hardly a passing thought; but taking a moment to contemplate its subtleties and depths of flavor make it so much better.  Yum.