July 31, 2006
Is it bad form to be praying for surgical complications?
Fidel Castro announced Monday night in a letter read by his secretary live on state television that due to illness he was temporarily relinquishing the presidency to his brother and successor Raul, the defense minister.
In the letter read by his secretary Carlos Valenciaga, Castro said he had suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and Cuba, and had to undergo an operation.
I can see two benefits if Castro has a meeting scheduled with the Reaper.
1. The people of Cuba may be lifted out from under his oppressive thumb, and can finally get back to the wonderful, vibrant society they had before Castro.
2. We can end this silly embargo, so I can buy some Cuban cigars!
Three Headlines on Yahoo! today, one right on top of the other…
There’s the old proverb, “May you live in exciting times”. Personally, I’d prefer space travel and wild technological progress, rather than this sort of “excitement.”
People keep urging Israel to keep their responses to terrorist attacks “proportionate”. What?! Who would say such a crazy thing except those in love with war? If they kill three people, and, wanting to be proportionate, Israel kills three people, that only keeps the cycle of violence going on forever. And that is not a cycle you want to be on, because, if you do too well, the French will act all surprised when blood tests on a man reveal the presence of testosterone.
Check it out… I really need to make IMAO a daily read again…
July 30, 2006
I find that most editorial cartoons are really good at communicating a really bad point. Usually, it is that so-and-so is stupid. I am not sure that this one by Etta Hulme is any different in that respect, but I find it very interesting. I hope it can spark some conversation – I’d like to hear some opinions on it. Is there a fair point being made? Talk to me.
I think the point is quite clear.
According to minimum wage opponents, we believe that arbitrarily increasing the cost of labor will have a corresponding increase in the cost of goods and services which use that labor.
Well, what’s happened in government? Over 9 years, we’ve seen an enormous arbitrary increase in the salaries of people who make our laws. What’s happened to the federal budget (i.e. the cost of government)? Enormous increases!
July 29, 2006
The Frankenbeer is really starting to come into its own. For a long time, it had a harsh grainy flavor, with a completely unbalanced malt profile. A bit of age, however, has really turned it around. Some of the malty sweetness has started to balance the grainy and alcohol flavors. It’s actually starting to taste quite delicious. Which, of course, makes me upset that I drank a lot of it before it’s gotten this good, now that I like it!
For the beer aficionados in the group, it’s got a bit of estery sweetness on the front end, followed by a chocolate aroma. The first taste is chocolate & nutty, with still a little alcohol kick. It’s not a very full feeling on the tongue, and it’s a bit too heavily carbonated for the style, giving it a bit of a thin feel going down. But overall, it’s pretty darn tasty.
I went to the local homebrew store today to pick up my next batch’s ingredients, and decided to take a sample in for the guys to give their impressions. Based on their taste, they said it could fall under the “Belgian Strong Dark” style, and they thought it was tasty. Good times.
July 28, 2006
Wow. I had written off this eventuality completely. Back in October, I bought a Motorola RAZR from buy.com for $200. A big factor in the decision to buy was the $200 rebate they were offering. That’s right, the phone would be 100% free!
So I bought the phone. And I got the rebate paperwork. It said you have to wait 180-210 days after buying the phone to submit the paperwork. Of course, they’re trying to get you to forget the paperwork, and forget the $200. Then, on top of that, there are all sorts of hoops to jump through. You need to fill out the paperwork perfectly, then you need to make sure you have a bill from the right time period, and you have to make sure the credit card, phone bill, and original purchase are all the same name, which could have been a problem if I had bought the phone for my wife. But I remembered, and then I sent it in.
That’s when life gets interesting. They say it will be 10-12 weeks to get a check, after you submit the rebate, and that’s nearly gone by. And a few weeks ago, my rebate mysteriously disappeared from their “tracking” site. Worried, I did a google search, and found something that really worried me.
At that point, I determined it was probably a lost cause. It’s only $200, and while that’s not exactly chump change, that’s just not enough money for me to send a lawyer after them. It may be a matter of principal, but I don’t have the time or energy to fight it. I figured I got myself a nice phone at a decent price, and I’d just expect to never see the rebate.
Until I got a check today for $200! WOOHOO!!!
Can you believe that this little ball of fur:
Turns three years old today, and has grown into this menacing beast?
July 27, 2006
House Republican leaders, giving in to political reality, plan a vote to raise the $5.15 minimum wage before leaving Washington this weekend for a five-week recess.
“Whether people like it or not, we need to go ahead with it,” said Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., who supports the idea. “There’s a general agreement among Republicans (opposing the raise) that `maybe we don’t like it much, but we need to move forward with it just for political reasons.’”
The No. 3 House GOP leader, Majority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, said the plan was to have a vote before week’s end. But Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Republicans leaders were working to pass the increase but that “no decisions have been made.”
It was a decade ago, during the hotly contested campaign year of 1996, that Congress voted to increase the minimum wage. A person working 40 hours per week at minimum wage makes $10,700, which is below the poverty line for workers with families.
Democrats have made increasing the wage a pillar of their campaign platform and are pushing to raise the wage to $7.25 per hour over two years. In June, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to raise the minimum wage, rejecting a proposal from Democrats.
The chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee said the GOP would embrace the increase to $7.25 per hour and probably attach a proposal passed last year that would make it easier for small business to band together and buy health insurance plans for employees at a lower cost. Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., said the minimum wage bill probably will not include tax cuts such as a repeal of the estate tax.
Great… So let me get this straight.
You’re going to give the Democrats what they ask for. In order to try to make it slightly more politically palatable, you’re going to barely ease regulations on small business. And when you might have an issue worth going tit-for-tat on, and actually getting a real concession from the Democrats, you roll over.
An estate tax repeal would be the ultimate poison pill for Democrats on this bill. I can just see the quandary they’d be in, knowing they can’t vote against a minimum wage, but being against the estate tax repeal. And it’s a politically great move. If you’re going to do something to help the rich, why not do it as an offset to helping* the poor. Yet the Republicans are not going to do it.
The Republicans are showing, once again, that they’re just as statist as Democrats, but with some nice religious authoritarianism and hyper-nationalism thrown in on top of it.
Thanks, guys. I really feel good about voting for you chumps in 2004.
* Yes, I realize the minimum wage hurts the poor. But in the political world, perception is reality, and the perception is otherwise.
Below The Beltway linked with Libertarians And The GOP: What’s The Point Anymore ?
July 26, 2006
You Are Bud Light
You’re not fussy when it comes to beer. If someone hands it to you, you’ll drink it.
In fact, you don’t understand beer snobbery at all. It all tastes the same once you’re drunk!
You’re an enthusiastic drinker, and you can often be found at your neighborhood bar.
You’re pretty good at holding your liquor too – you’ve had lots of experience.
A man who police claim called 911 because he wanted to see a “hot chick” is cooling his heels in the county jail. Authorities said Tyler Engelhard, 21, told a dispatcher his parents ’should be in jail’ and that police would ‘find out why.’
A sheriff’s patrol rushed to Engelhard’s Candor home, believing a crime might be imminent.
When deputies arrived, the man claimed he had called as a joke and “wanted to see a hot chick.”
The deputies weren’t amused. Engelhard was charged with falsely reporting an incident and sent to the Tioga County Jail.
He’s been ordered to appear in town court next month.
Engelhard wanted to see a “hot chick”, and in the process, may have turned himself into “fresh meat”…
I posted the other day about Stephen Colbert getting Congressman Robert Wexler (who is running unopposed in 2006) to say “I enjoy cocaine because it’s a fun thing to do.”
Well, below is the YouTube clip of the same. Watch how Colbert completely manipulates Wexler into saying it. It’s pure mastery.
Below The Beltway linked with Friday Videos: The Colbert Report, Part I
July 25, 2006
11 races completed. 6 to go.
Nicky Hayden sits 34 points ahead of his nearest competitor (and teammate), Dani Pedrosa. Marco Melandri 10 points further back.
If Nicky rides consistently from here on out, he’s got this championship locked up. Pedrosa and Melandri are a season away from the level of riding to consistently beat Nicky to the point they can take the championship from him. Of course, since each race is worth a maximum of 25 points, Nicky crashing or having a mechanical failure can make it very close. But if Nicky rides well— and doesn’t have any horrible luck— he’s got enough of a lead to finish it out.
As for Laguna? Nicky, as expected, finished at the top of the box. He’s a fast rider on the premier Honda team, and he’s got more seat time at Laguna than probably anyone else in MotoGP. 2nd place fell to Dani Pedrosa, which is truly amazing, considering this may have been the first time he has ever seen Laguna. He’s going to be a serious force next season. 3rd place went to Marco Melandri, so our top three championship riders finished 1-2-3 this weekend.
As for Valentino Rossi? His streak of bad luck continued. Due to a mechanical failure, he didn’t finish the race, scoring 0 points. He’s now 51 points behind Hayden, in 4th place.
Below is the last few laps, where you see Rossi having problems, and Nicky’s win.
It’s always fun to read something like this. Really makes you think an industry respects its customers:
“If you’re going to play with multi-billion dollar companies, you better come up with something really original,” he says.
Palmer adds it also helps that many beer drinkers aren’t sufficiently savvy to understand they’re being sold the bottle, not the beer. “Consumers are dumb. In a blind taste test, they couldn’t tell the difference between ale and lager but they say Steam Whistle tastes better because they bought it in a green bottle and paid more for it. It’s all perception,” he says.
Thankfully, after re-reading the article, I realized that this guy [Palmer] doesn’t work for the brewery being profiled here. But he is “a leading beer industry analyst”, which means he’s trying to take the industry the exact opposite way I’d like to see it go.
And unfortunately, they’re following his lead:
Forget the ’80s, Steam Whistle Brewing is real retro.
The six-year-old Toronto-based microbrewery is all about the 1950s, from producing its premium pilsner recipe in green bottles, to the ‘57 Chevy pickup trucks that deliver it, to the black and white television set watched by patrons at the inhouse pub. (Okay, so the brand isn’t 100 percent pure; the TV is hooked up to a satellite dish.)
“What we wanted to create here was the type of brewery you’d see in the 1950s and the type of beer you’d drink in the 1950s,” says Greg Taylor, co-founder of Steam Whistle and a veteran of Upper Canada Brewing Co. for ten years prior.
“Instead of having Chrysler vans out there with logos on them, we send these ‘57 Chevy’s out there. It sends a similar message about the ’50s â€” overbuilt quality and a lot of style,” he says.
Easily its biggest point of differentiation is Steam Whistle’s distinctive green bottle, a vessel that according to Taylor was commonly used a half-century ago. It costs a little more, but it’s well worth it, he says.
I don’t have a problem with the branding, with the attempt at being “retro”, or any of that. It is true that the number of craft breweries in North America is rapidly expanding, and you need something to differentiate yourself.
But green bottles? I’d prefer they do something that won’t make their beers skunky:
Skunky or cat-musk aromas in beer are caused by photochemical reactions of the isomerized hop compounds. The wavelengths of light that cause the skunky smell are the blue wavelengths and the ultraviolet. Brown glass bottles effectively screen out these wavelengths, but green bottles do not. Skunkiness will result in beers if the beer is left in direct sunlight or stored under fluorescent lights as in supermarkets. In beers which use pre-isomerized hop extract and very little flavoring hop additions, the beer will be fairly immune to damage from ultraviolet light.
Especially since they make a light-colored pilsner, which is much more prone to having this problem than something dark like a stout, and yet is still hoppy enough to have enough of the compounds discussed above. Ever wondered why Heineken tastes better out of a keg than out of the bottle? It’s because it’s shipped from Germany and then stuck in supermarket or liquor store refrigerators under flourescent light.
Style may count, but if you’re sacrificing quality in order to acheive that style, you might be making a bad deal. This brewery may be trying to differentiate itself from the macro market, but they’re getting into a market that increasingly understands that green isn’t good.
Hat Tip: Matt Duffy
#55 is up at OK so I’m really not a cowboy. Check it out.
One bit I found was this post about “Illegal” Music Downloading, in which he argues that downloading shouldn’t be illegal, just uploading. I guess we can just throw out all the laws we currently have against “possession of stolen goods”, huh?
Raise a pint to me tonight, folks, I’m 28!
Pole Dancing In The Dark linked with Better late than never
Below The Beltway linked with Happy Birthday
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