Friday Four

Friday, November 25, 2016

1. One of my favorite breweries has done it again! Not only do I get to add to the list of beers with amusing names that I have enjoyed, but I can also recommend it here. Founders Brewing Company puts out its Backwoods Bastard Ale in the fall, and so it was that the name and the label art caught my eye and elicited a chuckle when I saw it on the shelf a couple of weeks ago.

But it was only because I was able to consult Beer Advocate with my phone that I bought it at all. That's because I learned that this beer was a wee heavy aged in oak barrels. I have to be in the right mood for a wee heavy, and oak-aged beer sometimes gives me a headache. Fortunately, the site rated this beer as world-class and I was in the mood to try something new.

The brewer describes the beer as follows:

Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit. It's a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.
And here's part of a Beer Advocate review:
[This] is a very dense, opaque [beer], but there are some lovely ruby/garnet highlights showing when held up to the light. Has very little head to speak of save for some fine, light tan bubbles gathering at the edge of the glass. Lacing is on the light side as well. The aroma is superb, with the bourbon blending with some caramel and peat for a great olfactory experience. The body is medium-plus and a touch chewy, and the liquid is satiny smooth going down.

Flavor has some caramel sweetness and brown sugar hitting the palate first. The bourbon is easily detected, mixing in with a bit of vanilla, some peaty malts and a hint of oak. Doesn't have much of your typical hoppy action, but it does finish with some earthy notes. The alcohol is, scarily, well-hidden in this tasty Bastard.
I expected this to be a beer I'd have to drink at least twice before deciding whether I liked it, but I made up my mind halfway through the first bottle. As an added bonus, this one did not give me a headache.

All that said, if you want to try this one, hurry.

2. Atlas Obscura tells of a "gift" given to the American ambassador to the Soviet Union by school children, which enabled the Soviets to listen in for seven years.
As tense and weird as the discovery of The Thing was, George Kennan said that having the listening device in his home also provided some amusement in hindsight. He recalled that when he first moved into Spaso House, he often practiced his Russian by reading aloud to himself in the bugged study. He looked for material that covered events and people relevant to world politics and diplomacy, and the scripts for Voice of America broadcasts, full of "vigorous and eloquent polemics against Soviet policies," fit the bill.

"I have often wondered what was the effect on my unseen monitors, and on those who read their tapes, when they heard these perfectly phrased anti-Soviet diatribes issuing in purest Russian from what was unquestionably my mouth, in my own study, in the depths of the night," Kennan wrote. "Who, I wonder, did they think was with me? Or did they conclude I was trying to make fun of them?" [bold added]
And why wasn't the first thing they did upon receiving this to look for a bug? The article doesn't nail this down conclusively, but it does note that the device was highly advanced for its time.

3. One of the more interesting possible cabinet members being considered by Donald Trump is John Allison for Treasury Secretary (HT: HBL):
[Allison] has long criticized what he calls the "massive" increase in regulation. The Charlotte, North Carolina-native has called for a repeal of 95 percent of regulations, including all of the Dodd-Frank Act, the 2010 legislation crafted in the aftermath of the financial crisis that sets strict capital requirements on banks, restricts banks with taxpayer-backed deposits from making proprietary trade and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Allison could be a popular pick among some of the grassroots Tea Party activists who helped propel Trump to the White House. He has funded a series of programs on college campuses to promote the works of libertarian novelist Ayn Rand and economist Friedrich Hayek in business and political science programs. [format edits]
Don Watkins, of the Ayn Rand Institute, has already made some good comments regarding the inevitable parallels some will draw between Allison and former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. All are good, but I particularly like this:
Washington didn't corrupt Greenspan. He actively sought out power and importance -- whatever convictions he held always took a back seat. John's achievements have come from living by his convictions.
I was fortunate enough, some time ago, to hear Allison speak about how he ran BB&T before he headed the Cato Institute, and would like to see him in that position.

4. Other positive news about the incoming administration comes from Bosch Fawstin, who notes that Reince Priebus recently, "spoke more truth about Islam in one sentence than Bush & Obama did in 16 years."

-- CAV

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