Saturday, March 01, 2003

By the People..

I can't help but find charming this little bit on President Clinton's appearance for jury duty.
Difficult Tirane

Here's a charming slice of rural life from Albania. I am sure, of course, that this never happened when they were communists.

Via Bitch Girls.
Unlike the rest of those squares...

Tom Lehrer, whose recordings I've enjoyed (and sung, to my friends bane) since I was eight years old, turns out to be a real bastard.

I was against the manned space program then and I'm even more against it now, that whole waste of money. And so, when seven people [on the Columbia] blow up or become confetti, then they've asked for it. They're volunteers, for one thing.

Via Tim Blair.

Friday, February 28, 2003

PETA sinks further into anti-human depravity

PETA would now have us believe the meat industry is just like the Holocaust which killed six million Jews.

I admire religious and ethical and health-concious vegetarians. Despite being a confirmed eater-of-flesh, I am happy to go out of my way to make sure my parties have sufficient vegetarian fare for my few friends who don't partake. But there is nothing about PETA -- nothing at all -- that commends itself. Now they've gone a step further.

PETA has now elevated itself to the same moral plane as those who fought the Holocaust --- the priests who forged baptismal certificates by the hundredcount, the Miep Gies who hid the Jews, the Oscar Schindlers who protected them, the soldiers who died to free them. PETA suggests that killing Jews is just like slaughtering pigs. And if you don't agree with them, you might as well be loading the damned boxcars. This is simply too despicable for words.

Decades from now, what will you tell your grandchildren when they ask you whose side you were on during the "animals' holocaust"? Will you be able to say that you stood up against oppression, even when doing so was considered "radical" or "unpopular"? Will you be able to say that you could visualize a world without violence and realized that it began at breakfast?

I don't eat eggs, so I'm Elie-fucking-Wiesel.

UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League has told PETA to go screw itself.
This is just charming.

Saddam threatens to gas the Kurds the moment the shooting starts. This, of course, with the WMDs he doesn't have. Lovely.

Via Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings.
We're in the Army Now! Well... now, anyway.

Over at Bill Gertz's column at the Washington Times, this is worth a note:

Morale is low in the Iraqi army and many soldiers are preparing white flags of surrender, we are told by someone in northern Iraq who recently interviewed two defectors from Saddam Hussein's army. One was a captain who defected from the 5th Mechanized Division of the 1st Corps, based near the northern city of Kirkuk. The captain told our informant that the heavy division was only 35 percent combat-effective. The captain said morale was so low that younger soldiers are speaking openly about surrendering — before the first shot has been fired.

Another defector from the same division noted:

...that of the 28 tanks in his care, only six were working. The others were broken down or otherwise in need of repair.

There's still going to be a fight with the Republican Guard and the Special Republican Guard, but the Regular Army will collapse in less than a day.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Elie Wiesel doesn't rule out war.

"I believe it is the moral duty to intervene when evil has power and uses it," Wiesel said. "If Europe were to apply as much pressure on Saddam Hussein as (it) does on the United States and Britain, I think we could prevent war," he said.


From my Defence Minister

My Defence Minister directs my attention to a presentation given yesterday at the Pentagon about Human Shields and the Iraqi predisposition to put Mosques in really safe locations, like inside the perimeter of an ammunition dump.

Settling on Soyuz

"The Soviet Union has become the seacoast of the Universe."
- Nikita Kruschev

Looks like we're going to send one astronaut and one cosmonaut for station-keeping duty, and we will bring home the current three person crew, my guess is sometime mid- to late-April. New legislation will pay for additional Soyuz spacecraft to maintain the space station.

What about Dr. Phil?

Deepak Chopra thinks he should take the Pope and the Dalai Lama to Iraq to serve as human shields. After all, I usually think of those three as equals.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

A wee pint of whiskey.

Mrs. Earthling was kind enough to buy me an evening of whiskey tasting for my birthday. So on Saturday, she and I wandered over to the Lafayette Park Hotel and, for $35 a head, we were treated to some terrific fiddle music, a better-than-adequate cheese tray, and outstanding lecture on malt whiskey by the owner of both the Signatory whiskey bottler and of Edradour, Scotland’s smallest distiller. And, of course, an opportunity to try some malt whiskey.

I was a bit concerned that this whiskey tasting would involve six or seven small drams and lots of opportunity to buy whiskey by the hogshead. I had no need to worry. We were given a chance to try no fewer than fourteen different single malt whiskies, a total absence of sales pressure and, ultimately, a cab drive which, if Mrs. Earthling and I had been sober, would have been frightening (though not so frightening as the Florentine Taxi Attempted Nun-o-cide of 1999, where for nine terrifying minutes I could not close my eyes and Mrs. Earthling could not open hers).

A particular bottling of whiskey is often refered to as an “expression” and many whiskey houses have several expressions of whiskey: the Macallan can be found in 12, 15, 18 and 25 year old versions as well as a 12 year old cask strength. Laphroiag has three - 10, 15 and 30. Glenmorangie has, if I’ve counted right, seven in general circulation. Most of the bottles you’ll see in the bottle shop, the ones with the nice labels, are the “official” bottlings - the ones authorized and sold by the given whiskey house.

But the place to explore the corners the vast world of single malt is to be had with the bottlings – expressions – that can be had from independent companies. By way of background, should note that most malt whiskeys do not go into single malts -- upwards of 90% of malt whiskey production is shipped to the large blended houses - Dewar's, Johnny Walker, Teacher's, Chivas. For plenty of reasons - cash flow, what have you, it's never been a part of the Scottish whiskey business to hold onto your casks when there is someone out there willing to pay for them. Even the big name singles - Glenfiddich, Macallan, Glenmorangie - who have very large demands for their single malts, regularly sell of casks.

There are a number of independent bottlers, probably the three most common are Cadenhead's (a ubiquitous green bottle with a painted/silkscreened logo on the bottle, and a smaller paper label), Gordon & MacPhail, and, relevant here - the Signatory. These folks buy casks so they can make their own "expression" of single malts and it these bottlings to which we were treated. (Click here, and you’ll see an array of Signatory expressions so you can see what to look for at the bottle shop.)

We tried the following:

“Orkney” 7-year
“Campbelltown” 9-year
Bladnoch 1991 (11-year)
Highland Park 1988 (14-year)
Macallan 1990 (11-year)
Tormore 1989 (12-year)
Ardmore 1992 (10-year)Clyenlish 1983 (17-year)
Caol Ila 1991 (11-year)
Port Ellen 1979 (22-year)
Laphroiag 1988 (13-year)
Glen Esk 1971 (29-year)
Cardhu 1975 (27-year)
Edradour 1989 (13-year)
Edradour 2003 (8-day old)*

Technically, this isn’t a whiskey, of course, since it hasn’t aged three years. It was raw malt spirit, aged on the flight over

The first two - the Orkney and the Campbelltown (you can see examples in the second picture on the prior link) are “unvintaged” bottles and I think the most useful discovery of the lot. For both tax reasons and brand protection, some whiskey is sold in much younger form with the name of the distillery omitted and replaced with a regional appelation (e.g. Speyside, Islay). While it is from one distillery, and remains a single malt, unless the bottle comes from one of two of these appelations (i.e., Mull or Skye), which each have one distillery (and will tell you that the whiskey is Tobermory (about which I’m agnostic) or Talisker (which is fantastic), respectively), you can never be quite sure what single malt you are drinking. If you want to really learn about malt whiskey, this might not be your best choice, but if you just want to enjoy it – these are a great option if you can find them and, at around twenty dollars, they’re a steal.

Of the other whiskeys, the two stand outs for me were the Caol Ila ($50ish a bottle) and the Cardhu (in the 27-year version, $150. In its 12-year expression, probably about $30.

Caol Ila is, I think, my favorite Islay malt. It’s sweeter and a little less peaty than, say, Lagavulin, but I think the balance is near perfect. Caol Ila is not, to my knowledge, available in its “official” expression, but it can be had as one of these Signatory bottlings.

The Cardhu 27-year old was nectar. Sweet and had a bit of dried fruit to it. The 12-year old is in a squat bottle, about the size and shape of a Conitreau bottle, and with its gold-on-red label, it’s easy to miss. But I’m going to give that one a try soon.

* * * *

The event was quite a bit of fun... a chance to talk to some other whiskey enthusiasts and, with a single exception, no one seemed keen to either bludgeon other folks with their own knowledge or pretend to like a whiskey because they though they should like it. In fact, our lecturer was particularly happy that someone spoke up and said they hated a particular malt. That’s the point. Find something you like and drink it and share it with friends.

Look around for a malt whiskey tasting in your neck of the woods – ask your local bottle shop if they know of one or, perhaps, if they could consider arranging one. At $35, the evening was a bargain, easy on the pocket book.... albeit hard on the liver.
I don't think I was duped, exactly

But turns out there may have been plenty of medical reasons for Jesica Santillian's family not to donate the organs something which I allowed in my update to my comments about this subject. Neither the hospital nor the family is commenting.

I'll reserve my judgment, then, but if they could donate organs and they did not, I think they stink. If they couldn't and would have, they have my deepest sympathies.
France went all-in to stop this war...

Eastern Europe called. Turkey checked. The EU went all-in. But France just looked at her hole card, and she can't beat what were showing.

And she's pissed.
Finally got my old archive up

You can read my really early stuff now --- and my early February stuff is finally back up, too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Why I listen to Pacifica Radio, I have no idea

I went to pick up Mrs. Earthling at the train station this afternoon and turned on KPFA, the local (Berkeley, CA) Pacifica Radio affiliate and was treated to an interview with Larry Burns of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. The discussion was, fairly enough, about the growing US intervention in Colombia - which is something I generally oppose and would, in fact, oppose completely if only that Communist Hugo Chavez in Venezuela went away. But I'll rant about Latin American communism some other time.

As the reader is aware, a few days ago an light plane carrying four Americans and one Colombian crashed (or was shot down) in FARC controlled territory. Now, I don't have all the details of this plane crash so that Larry Burns wanted to claim it crashed after experiencing engine trouble, rather than go by the FARC's own claim that it was shot down is of little consequence to me.

What is of consequence to me was Mr Burns' outrage over the United States' initial claims that the two dead men, one American and one Colombian, were "executed." He then went on to say "following an autopsy"... (at this point, of course, I was happy to hear that they died in the crash; our government is not always perfectly forthcoming about stuff, especially when talking about the drug war, but that's not where he was going...)

...."the two men were not executed," Burns said, dripping with indignation. "They walked for a mile with their captors and then were shot while trying to escape." I'll say that again: they weren't executed (which would be bad), and the United States is full of crap to have suggested such a thing, they were shot while trying to escape (which is apparently just fine). And this was the end of this discussion between this guy and the host, as they went on to describe all manner of sins of the United States.

Well, of course, the FARC didn't execute them, which would be bad. They merely shot them while they were trying to escape and that's just fine with folks on the hard left in the United States.
Cruel? No. Unusual? Yes.

A man has been sentenced to 30 days in the doghouse.
Weapons of Destructive Mass

I think that whole PETA/CPSI anti-food, pro-fat tax crowd is full of crap. And, in general, they are. Then someone posted this nutrition label on Craigslist, and I thought it a joke - or a summation of the entire box of Pizza Rolls or something. It's not.

I'm going to the freakin' gym.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Three Votes for Mugabe

Mugabe's latest attempts to curry favor with Paris by criticizing the United States would be laughable if it weren't for the fact I bet there are plenty of folks here who think Mugabe is either right, clever or both:

Mugabe said his position in Zimbabwe was more legitimate than that of Bush in the United States. Bush, he said, had only become president after the very close U.S. elections in 2000 because the U.S. Supreme Court, "dominated by Republican judges" imposed him as winner of the polls. "And is it not ironical that Mr. Bush who was not really elected should deny my legitimacy, the legitimacy of President Mugabe, established by many observer groups from Africa and the Third World. Who, in these circumstances, should the world impose sanctions on? Robert Mugabe or George Bush?"

I challenge you, sir, to a duel!

Via Throwing Things, I note the existence of the Princeton Dueling Society where your honor can be defended with .68 caliber paintguns.

The only thing I don't like about this is that I didn't think of it.
Kidneys on EBay

Until this moment, there was not enough sympathy in the world for the family of Jesica Santillan, that heart-lung transplant victim mistakenly given the wrong blood-typed organs. Complications from the bad organs led, ultimately, to brain death, despite a second (and correctly matched) heart-lung transplant. She was removed from life support and died just a few minutes later. A tragic ending to a promising life.

Two.... two people died - and two families sacrificed of themselves - to give that girl a chance at life and now, that family refused to give up their daughter's healthy organs denying to other families the very same chance.

Now, I say of her family: they weren't worth the sacrifice.

The family spokesman says: "The family's been treated so poorly. They're very hurt. These are human beings." I don't give a damn.
I don't care how badly Duke University Hospital may, or may not, have treated this family. I don't care if they deliberately tried to kill this girl (which, of course, they did not). Your quarrel is with Duke University, not the family of the kid in Charlotte or Columbia. Other families looked past their own grief and made a sacrifice to help a girl they didn't know --- and this is how the favor it returned? I cannot begin to tell you how angry I would be if I were the family who lost a child who gave this girl her first -- or second -- heart-lung set for transplant.

I should get an organ, my child should get an organ, the logic goes, and some other family should be burdened. But I can't be troubled - I can't make that decision ahead of time to give up my organs or those of my child - when the burden falls to me.

Organ and tissue donation isn't about you, damnit. It's about the donor, it's about the lucky recipient bucking up and earning the sacrifice of others. I don't doubt Jesica would have lived up to it - what little I know about it is that kids always do. I'm sorry her family has scarred her memory by insulting the families of organ donors everywhere.

UPDATE: I'm not the only one who feels this way. And, fairly enough, the anti-rejection drugs may have dramatically decreased the value of Jesica's organs for donation. Nevertheless, the idea that the family made this choice on the advice of counsel, to preserve evidence for an autopsy and the future malpractice lawsuit is still quite offensive to me, thank you very much.
Forty-Five Seconds of the Grammy Awards

Fred Durst said, in his presentation speech for some award or another, "We need, you know, to end this war as soon as possible."

From the Los Angeles Times, via Andrew Sullivan, I note this (speaking of Iran):

....Some Iranians, particularly the young, say they would actually welcome a U.S. presence in Iraq because it would increase pressure on both their country's conservative Islamic regime and the fractured reformers who oppose it...."Are they changing their mind?" Goli Afshar, a 23-year-old student, asked as she alternately tightened and loosened her grip on a mug at a cafe on Gandhi Street. "Can they hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?"

An extremely privledged man living in the most priviledged country in the world wants to avoid war. A 23-year old student living in the toughest theocracy on the planet, where women are second-class citizens, is begging for it.