Month: May 2014



I never knew this: “With more breweries per capita than any U.S. city, Asheville, N.C., has become a sort of Napa Valley of beer.”

Of course, the bigger boys now want some of the action, too: “Outsiders have noticed that Asheville’s locally owned, small-batch-beer scene is hot. And they want to join the party. The city is now getting a major infusion of new suds and cash as large out-of-state breweries come to town. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., based in Northern California and one of the largest breweries in the country, has opened a production facility just outside the city. New Belgium, of Fort Collins, Colo., is planning to open one here in late 2015. They follow Oskar Blues, a company from Lyons, Colo., that built a second location in the nearby town of Brevard in 2012.”


It’s a good thing, of course. Competition is always, without exception, a good thing, as long as none of the players tries to put the government thumb on the scales to get an unfair advantage. Which, of course, is something businesses often try to do, especially big businesses. The only way to stop it is to take away the government’s thumbs, but I think we’re far away from that ever happening. … Read the rest


Thinking about starting an online local newspaper? You may want to check out this essay by Bill Kauffman about The Batavian. Excerpt:

Five years of 12-hour-a-day and seven-day-a-week workloads later, Owens has embedded The Batavian in the public mind. From his office on the second floor of the Masonic Temple on Main Street, Howard covers local government and politics, arts, culture, sports, business, crime, the natural world: all that is beautiful or ugly within his beat of Genesee County.

Billie Owens, like her spouse a former Southern California reporter, is The Batavian’s editor, resident grammarian, and writer of such deadpan police-scanner entries as “Pantless man making snow angels on South Main Street” and “Boyfriend allegedly takes pregnant girlfriend’s pack of smokes.” . . .

“People like knowing why the fire trucks just went down Main Street or why all of the police cars are gathered at the end of their block,” says Howard. “The Web makes it possible to report real-time news that simply didn’t exist in paper or broadcast eras.”

So when the siren screams… or a yegg gets pinched… or a lamb is born during a blizzard or the conversation turns to malversation… The Batavian has the story.

Will every small city or county someday have a Batavian of its own? “Hard to say,” replies Howard. “Most people don’t want to assume the risk and work that hard for something with no definitive payoff. I believe the opportunity is there. Most small and mid-size cities are underserved for news by their existing local news organizations. Opportunity abounds for those willing to take the plunge.”

Either because I’m boring or Kauffman is so entertaining, I have put Batavia on my If-I’m-ever-in-that-area-and-it’s-not-too-big-of-a-hassle-places-to-visit list.

Read the rest



This has a strong ring of truth to is, at least to me:

“The truth is, processed foods contain carefully orchestrated flavors and other sensory factors designed to be as addictive as possible. This is in stark contrast to whole foods, the taste and consistency of which was created by nature and therefore work with your body to satiate hunger and nutritional cravings.

“[J]unk food manufacturers have taken flavor science to extraordinary levels, and the artificial ingredients used to produce that sought after ‘bliss point’ can seriously confuse and befuddle your body’s metabolism.

“For example, the sweetness from non-caloric artificial sweeteners tends to disrupt your metabolic response to real sugar, thereby exacerbating obesity and diabetes. Your body simply isn’t fooled by sweet taste without calories, so it keeps signaling your brain to keep eating, as the point of satisfaction has not yet been reached.”

Link.… Read the rest


A handful of great passages from Joseph Epstein’s new book of essays . . . and I’m only about 15% of the way through it:

“[I]n the matter of literary criticism, as Mencken once remarked, it is only justice that hurts.”

“[I]f the same progress as had been made in education were made in the culinary arts, we should today still be eating soup with our hands.”

“The physicist Wolfgang Pauli used to respond to the inadequate answers of his less than brilliant students by saying, ‘That isn’t even wrong!'”

“Give something a concept label—ah, attention deficit disorder, ah, mid-life crisis, ah, soccer moms, ah, the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace—ah, how soothing it all is! But it oughtn’t to be. Invoke those concepts—and many others—and, poof!, reality leaves the room.”

“Sigmund Freud—whose thought Vladimir Nabokov once characterized as no more than private parts covered up by Greek myths . . .”.

“Once [my co-worker] Philley telephoned the Fat Man to thank him for a [call girl’s] number which proved very satisfactory. ‘Hi Fred,’ Philley said, ‘just calling to thank you for that Doris number. Terrific! Really great! Everything you said she was, and more.’ A gravelly voice at the other end responded: ‘This is Mrs. Moscowitz.'”

Read the rest


Kontent from the Kindle

Perhaps the most interesting passage from my Memorial Day Weekend reading. The author is writing about the shocking dearth of archeological remains from approximately 630 to 930 AD and historians’ struggles to account for it:

Another school of thought, most influential in Europe, denies the existence of a Dark Age at all and claims that the three hundred years between the early seventh and early tenth centuries never existed, and were merely a fictional creation of scribes working for the Emperor Otto III at the end of the tenth century. The most important proponents of this theory are German writers Heribert Illig and Gunnar Heinsohn.

So, in essence, we’re not living in 2014, but rather 1714. And there was no Charlemagne.

Outlandish, sure, but interesting enough to get its own Wikipedia entry: The Phantom Time Hypothesis

The phantom time hypothesis is a revisionist history and conspiracy theory developed in the 1980s and ’90s by German historian and publisher Heribert Illig (born 1947 in Vohenstrauß, Germany). The hypothesis proposes that periods of history, specifically that of Europe during the Early Middle Ages (AD 614–911), are either wrongly dated, or did not occur at all, and that there has been a systematic effort to cover up that fact. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation, and forgery of documentary and physical evidence.

Aside: The period of time from 400 to 1000 AD has been attracting a ton of ink, some of it acrimonious, over the past forty years, much of it spawned by archeological finds. I’m really “digging” it. Expect more posts about this era over the next several months.

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A Random Passage

“Anyone who believes that advertisers control consumers need only be told a few names: Tucker, Henry J., Ford, Edsel, Mercury Park Lane, Studebaker, Wagonaire, Lincoln Blackwood, AMC Marlin, Buick Reatta, and Eagle Premier. These were among many automobiles that were marketed strenuously by their manufacturers but quickly discontinued due to weak sales.”

Thaddeus Russell

Read the rest