Month: October 2011


Happy Halloween

If you want to see the difference between adults and children, look no further than Halloween. For little kids, Halloween is the biggest holiday of the year after Christmas.

When kids get older, Halloween fades in importance. My first child was old enough to enjoy Halloween when I was 29. During the preceding 15+ years, I had pretty much completely ignored Halloween and had forgotten how much the holiday meant to little kids. During the early years of our marriage, before we had kids old enough to enjoy the holiday, Marie and I religiously handed out candy, but other than that, I didn’t pay any attention to it. I had simply forgotten that, for the little kids, the holiday season starts on October 31st.

I am now entering my 17th year of taking the kids trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, our cultural bankruptcy goes on full display tonight. A lot of houses won’t hand out candy. There are families in which both parents want to take the kids trick-or-treating, so they turn off their lights and don’t reciprocate. There are people who simply don’t want to spend $5 on cheap candy and perhaps even some who can’t afford it (though they can, of course, afford cigarettes and booze). There are people who forget, and there are people who don’t want their TV program interrupted. When I was a kid, very few houses failed to hand out candy on this evening. Today, the majority of houses go dark.

It’s the disease of Wall Street and California government finance displayed on Main Street. In his most-recent book, Boomerang, Michael Lewis struggles to understand how the people on … Read the rest

But I am of the opinion that a centralized administration is fit only to enervate the nations in which it exists, by incessantly diminishing their local spirit. Although such an administration can bring together at a given moment, on a given point, all the disposable resources of a people, it injures the renewal of those resources. It may ensure a victory in the hour of strife, but it gradually relaxes the sinews of strength. It may help admirably the transient greatness of a man, but not the durable prosperity of a nation. de Tocqueville… Read the rest


Just sittin’ around drinkin’ with the rest of the guys/Six rounds bought, and I bought five. Roger Miller. Possibly my favorite song lyric of all time.


How long can I survive on beer alone?

“Not more than a few months, probably. That’s when the worst effects of scurvy and protein deficiency would kick in. (Liver disease is a serious risk of chronic alcohol use, but it takes longer to arrive.) If you kept to a strict beer diet—and swore off plain water altogether—you’d likely die of dehydration in a matter of days or weeks, depending on the strength and volume of beer consumed. There’s plenty of water in beer, of course, but the alcohol’s diuretic effect makes it a net negative in terms of hydration under most conditions.”

Link. … Read the rest


Drinking Corner

Everyone is getting into the craft beer business. A client recently sent me this link to The Abbey Beverage Company. The Benedictine monks of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert (New Mexico) control 84 % of the Abbey Beverage Company through a separate corporation, St. Luke’s Corporation.

It sounds pretty complex for bunch of monks, but hey, monks have done sophisticated and great things throughout history. And it sounds like they’re kicking out some great beer:

Monks’ Ale is a Belgian-style Abbey ale, a single, the type of beer the monks would drink on a daily basis. It is 5.1% alcohol by volume, 18 IBU, and has a starting gravity of 1052 or 13° Plato. It is made with a blend of three malts from the U.S., Canada and Belgium. We use only the finest European hops, including German Hallertau Hallertauer, Czech Saaz, and Styrian Goldings from Slovenia. Our yeast was originally from the brewery of the Belgian Trappist Abbaye de Notre-Dame d’Orval.

Email picReceived in an Email Newsletter

Membership in “gangs,” has mushroomed in both suburbs and inner cities by 40% since 2009, according to the FBI’s National Gang Threat Assessment. Known gangbangers now number 1.4 million.

The new trend this year, as sniffed out by John Robb at Global Guerrillas, is the “increasing presence of gang members in the military (primarily the Army) and the transfer of combat skills gained in Iraq/Afghanistan to the street.

“The FBI report states that 100 police jurisdictions have reported coming into contact with gang members with recent military experience.”

As usual, the FBI is late to the party. As far back as 2006, the

Read the rest


The Philosophical Life

A rambling little piece

Alex is a Freshman at the University of Michigan. He’s taking “Introduction to Philosophy,” and he’s really digging it.

I guess he went in with one advantage: a father who encouraged him to take the subject seriously, not to feel stupid for grappling with the higher questions of existence, and not to think he’s wasting his time because he’s not learning how to make money. I’m certain that many fathers install such thoughts in their kids and, in fact, I’m willing to bet that 90% of fathers do so. History is filled with fathers who want their son to put away foolish things and move onto the route of worldly success. St. Francis (not a formal philosopher, of course, but among the wisest ever) and St. Thomas Aquinas come immediately to mind, and I’m willing to bet that, if you lined up the twenty greatest philosophers, 15 had fathers who objected to the philosophical path. I know John Stuart Mill’s father encouraged his philosophy, but other than that? I suspect the philosophically-sympathetic fathers are few.

It’s not surprising, of course. If the father is responsible, he knows what it takes to raise a family. He wants his son to be prepared for the grind, and philosophy isn’t exactly a training ground for the stock market and nailing down the big sale. But I told Alex to embrace such classes anyway. I incline toward the view that a liberal arts education ought to prepare one to live life, not tell a person how to make money. He’ll have time during his Junior and Senior years to learn a craft, … Read the rest