And Now Gomery’s Being Mean to Harper

Now even I am starting to feel bad for the PM. First, Ben says our Prime Minister “doesn’t have enough confidence in himself, sadly.” Now Gomery says Harper has bailed on accountability:

John Gomery, in a wide-ranging interview marking the second anniversary of his final report, expressed dismay that the federal Conservatives have ignored his key recommendations for reform. “I have to tell you, I’m very disappointed,” Mr. Gomery said from the farm in Havelock, Que., where he now lives in retirement. “I worked so hard, and I got other people to work hard, and we gave very serious thought to what we were recommending. I thought it deserved a debate.”
Instead, said the former judge, most of the political and bureaucratic changes he proposed fell into a “black hole” of indifference or were rejected out of hand.

I’m worried. I’m worried that leadership has collapsed to the level that I can’t think of a single leader of any party before Martin became PM who would not now smoke the present Government in an election yet there is no one who can step up and do that now.

I never thought I would miss Deb Grey so much. Or Eugene Whalen.

Please Don’t Hit Me. Please Don’t Hit Me. Please Don’t Hit Me.

Drag. I just got the new shingles up this year – like 40 year shingles, you know. And now there’s space junk a fallin’. Space junk can look cool when it’s falling except when it’s falling on you.

I must have told you this but last summer, we were sitting out back in the early evening when someone said – what is that. Looking up there was this thing in the sky, a pivoting white cylinder falling and falling straight at us. I must have told you. Never? Well, there was nothing to give any perspective so we didn’t know if it was three feet long 300 feet up or 30 feet long half a mile up. It kept falling and we figured which wall were were about to hide up against when a cross current took it away off past the lake.

But a CIA spy satellite is not going to go that. It’s going to smash my new shingles. Please don’t hit the new shingles. Maybe ask the Chinese to help.

Japan: Where Faith And Beer Come Together

Jay has been lamenting the divide between Southern Baptists and their beer. You know, it was darn pesky of the Lord to hang around in taverns and make wine when you think of it. In addition to the work, however, of Rev. Taffy Davis in Macclesfield, England, Jay found one US pastor who has followed in the steps of the Big Guy and brought the word back to the tavern. Good stuff.

Interesting, then, it was for me to find out this sort of thing is happening under other faiths as well as this story from last month about Buddhist monks in Japan shows:

This is what you might call “Buddhism-lite” though. It is performance, not preaching. After their first session on the stage, which lasts about 20 minutes, they sit down with the audience for a drink and a chat. One of the monks gets a bag of balloons out of his pocket and starts sculpting balloon flowers for some of the older ladies sitting around the room. “Many Japanese don’t want to come to temple,” Hogen Natori says. He is standing behind the bar where he has lit up a cigarette as he chats with the drinkers. “They think Buddhism is very difficult, and deep and serious, but Buddhism is much more than that – exciting, funny even. I want to spread this kind of teaching.” He feels people are more receptive in a bar, when they are drinking and with friends.

Hmmm…that last bit makes it sound a bit like a pick up line: “Hey good looking – that’s quite the soul you have there.” The BBC has a short video of the monks in action at the Chippie Sound Music Bar in Tokyo. Be warned – having watched it, I am still not clear which beer goes best with “Ohmm”.

It Is UnCanadian To Question Or Embarrass Your New Rural Overlords!

The whole bleat of the Government of One is getting tired, is it not? How is it that after the PMO botches a story and then botches it again, that the Opposition then commenting on the botch is a deed done wrong? Only the mind of Peter MacKay knows that:

Dion pointed out Friday that Defence Minister Peter Mackay was in Afghanistan when the policy on detainees changed. When questioned on the issue, MacKay refused to answer and criticized Dion instead. “What Mr. Dion is doing, if he wants to be irresponsible and talk about briefings that he received, that’s a decision for him. I am not going to put Canadian soldiers or the people that they’re there to protect in harm’s way by talking about operational details or what takes place in the theatre.”

So when the Tories let loose with the fact about where Opposition government leaders will be in a war zone before it happens, well, that is not bad. But to point out the foolishness of the PMO after it spills the beans? Now that is UnCanadian.

The Last Friday Bullets Before February

Janufeb. The grey blur before the melt, made more grey those three out of four years without Olympic curling. It is the time when the Morton teeters, when show turns that other colour. We’ve seen the dark edge of the storm and even had double lake effect this week. I heard an ad for large screen TVs telling me how they bring the family together.

  • Australians should be scared of coming to Canada? What a load. I thought Australians were fearless of backpacking though third world gang zones blind drunk, spraying the combatants with obscenities and just emptied beer cans? Bleaters of the right will go on about the terrorist references but note this:

    “Heavy snowfalls and ice in the winter can make driving dangerous. The wind-chill factor can also create dangerously cold outdoor conditions. … The province of British Columbia in western Canada is in an active earthquake zone. Alberta and British Columbia are also subject to avalanches. … Tornadoes can occur in some areas of Canada between May and September. Bush and forest fires can occur any time in Canada.”

    Whimps! This is the real crisis and a funny one as we consider what terrorism and natural disasters really means to an Australian – no access to beer for a couple of days.

  • What happens if two pass too close and the lines tangle?
  • One point on the Manley Report that is important and telling in the brader context is a critique of the Government of One policy that we are living under these days:

    The panel members called the policy unhelpful and said it was undermining public support for the mission and presenting a skewed picture of why Canadian troops are being asked to put their lives on the line in Afghanistan. Chairman John Manley, a former foreign affairs minister, said the decision taken at the “centre” – in the Prime Minister’s Office or the Privy Council Office – to allow only the Defence Department to speak on the mission means Canadians are being told their young men and women are dying without being given “any context in which they can say this is why and this is meaningful and this is tragic but it’s worth it.”

    Leadership tells us why we need to do things, makes it compelling. Shutting up is the same as creating confusion. No wonder he gets treated the same way. Would you vote for Manley now? Who wouldn’t?

  • I haven’t watched tennis for years but maybe that will change now that the log jam has broken.
  • Rampant freeloadery and responsibility shiftery which can’t even get its act together on a 42 year timeline for achieving something!
  • The Economist puts it well:

    Mr Harper has been unable to do much more than survive. Respected for his competence, he has all the charisma of an automaton. “I thought that people needed time to get used to Mr Harper,” says Roger Gibbins of the Canada West Foundation, an Alberta-based think-tank. “But it’s turned out that to know Harper is not to love him.” That is especially true for women. Opinion polls show little change in allegiance since the last election—except for a brief moment of Conservative advance last autumn…This year is shaping up to be Mr Harper’s most difficult so far. But there is not yet any sign that the opposition will feel sufficiently emboldened to bring him down and trigger an election.

    So more of the Great White Yawn…except to Australians. Boo!

How long until The Beat Authority? How long until Darcey posts the Beer and Blues? Lord, how long?

It’s Like No One Really Want To Win This Race

Another day another come back kid:

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran as a son of Michigan though he left the state nearly 40 years ago, won a commanding victory Tuesday in the Republican primary here with a message aimed at voters deeply anxious about the state’s ailing economy. Mr. Romney defeated his principal rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, by winning a clear plurality of Republicans and conservatives, who turned out in greater numbers than they had in the 2000 primary, which Mr. McCain won.

Now I am hopeing for Fred or Rudy in South Carolina. A new winner for every state, I say!

Ann Arbor went 9% for Kucinich. Watch out for Kucinich. He is coming on.

Big Hop Bombs: Extreme Beer And Your Personal Limits

It’s always a big day when Eric Asimov writes a beer article for The New York Times. Being Canadian, a culture with a deep seam of neediness running through it¹, you glow when you feel like you are noticed just as when the beer nerd’s nerdiness gets the MSM treatment. But in today’s article all was not nice – there was a bit of push back from him and the panel against the extreme hoppiness in beer that have marked a certain sector of the nerd herd:

“The hoppiest beer?” Garrett asked. “It’s a fairly idiotic pursuit, like a chef saying, ‘This is the saltiest dish.’ Anyone can toss hops in a pot, but can you make it beautiful?” Phil likened the appeal of these beers to the macho allure of hot sauces, which almost dare enthusiasts to try the hottest ones.

I like the comparison to saltiness and it reminds me of the idea that the search for the strongest beer, an earlier extreme beer obsession, is as dumb as hunting for the strongest Scotch. One thing I noticed was that the beers chosen that I was familiar with were not the most hop-ridden out there by any stretch. Dogfish Head 90 looks up to their 120, I found Simcoe Double IPA balanced (something I could not say for the brewer’s bigger Eleven) and only Un*earthly broke the now standard 10% alcohol limit that now sort of divides extreme between really strong from insanely strong.

Stan notes at his blog that some in craft beer are not so prudent or concerned with beauty when he shares this update from Avery about their 2008 version of New World Porter:

While some observers may posit that the hop shortage is a good thing, forcing brewers to become more efficient and prudent with their use of hops, we at Avery tend to disagree. Hops are the heart and soul of our beers and we refuse to compromise our recipes or our flavors. Even more, as if to scoff in the face of common sense and basic brewery economics, we decided to increase the hops that were added to this years New World Porter. The 2008 batch is truly a black IPA.

Something tells me that this could well just not be a beer for me. After a few of years of these big brews I am starting to think that I have a natural limit of around 8.5 percent beyond which beers start to have a diminishing return unless there is something else to particularly attract my attention. I also have a limit as to hop acid and that is defined by the need not worry about the state of my tooth enamel…unless, say, there are those arugula hops from Ithaca in there. This is no different than my sour beer studies leading to my limit for acidity being far closer to Kriek De Ranke than to Bruocsella 1990.

Is it wrong to say that you can’t go all the way or at least as far as others go? Old farts call this a sign of maturing. The immature call it the sign of an old fart. To my mind, Asimov’s NYT article leaned towards old fart territory without explicitly saying so. The other end of the pendulum’s swing can be found at this busy forum filled with unimpressed lame-‘cusatory BAers. It’s like everyone is unhappy with everyone else and, frankly, Pete Brown is pretty much fed up with the lot of you.

Yet these things only go so far. Can someone else tell us what to think, to taste? There is nothing more odd than sitting over the same bottle with experienced fans and hearing differing comments, different experiences of pleasure. In many ways, beer has an audience of one and that is you. So what have you learned about yourself? Which path would a brewer have you walk but you won’t follow? Is it and overly Burtoned mineralized brew? Too still, too hopped, too smoked or just too much goddamn yeasty floaties? Or is it the milds, lights and other table beers that bore you or, worse, wear you out from trips to the can? Remember this: we each have to make our old way in this wicked world and there is no better example of that than the love of beer. What thing about beer have you learned not to repeat?

¹Think Sally Field saying “They like me! They really like me!!” and add snow.

Ontario: 666, Devil’s Pale Ale, Great Lakes Brewing, Etobicoke

A very strange thing has been happening lately. I am going out to a store in my own town and buying the same Ontario-made beer week after week. I wrote about Lake Ontario’s (not Lake Erie’s) Great Lake Brewing’s take on a winter ale a few weeks ago. That beer was a bit frustrating as, while I liked it, I had to buy it in a presentation pack for more than a bit too much. This beer, however, if anything is under-priced at $2.50 a tall can. Better than that, 666 has turned out to be a bit of a puzzle to my mind and in the brewer’s description:

Brewed with 6 select malts and 4 premium hops, it has a rich mahogany colour, reminiscent of early English pale ales. The wonderful hoppy aroma is revealed even before your first sip, followed by a hearty malty body, and culminating with a pronounced bitterness. Prepare yourself for a devilishly good time…

Hmm…six percent…hearty malt body…English hops. Is this a Burton, the elusive Georgian and Victorian bad boy of pale ales before the advent of barley wines? My only possible comparator could be Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome, itself a likely pretender, reviewed back here and happily sampled every year. The only thing I think might be against that 666 is claim of final hoppiness but I won’t know until I pop the caps.

As you can see, the Winter Welcome 2007-08 is much lighter, the dark amber orange ale sitting under white foam and rim. By comparison, the 666 is darker – chestnut with a fine rich tan rim and foam. On the nose the 666 speaks of roasty nuts with dark raisin, with a nod to oloroso sherry. The Winter Warmer leans more to orange marmalade but there’s plenty of biscuit in there, too. In the mouth, the two have about the same mouthfeel and, if anything, the Sammy Smith offering is more bitter: fresh green salad herb mixing with twig blended throughout the orange-kumquat biscuit malt. A sip of 666 is more about a rougher bitterness framing the darker dried winter fruits.

Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile himself, recently summarized Burton’s style in a few words – “a recognisably Burton Ale profile: red-brown, bitter-sweet, fruity and full-bodied, with a roast malt aroma.” It’s certainly hard to exclude this Canadian-Satanic joint enterprise of a beer from the categorization even if it were to turn out to be unintentional. It certainly is a lush brew, fruit-ridden with hop and a true roastiness within the grainy malt. Loverly. But is it Burton? Who knows? It fills a similar place in the pantheon but I would likely have to mail Martyn a sample. For now this side by side will have to do.

Friday Bullets? It’s The First Friday Bullets Of 2008!!

Iowa rocks. It’s a whole new reason to blog. Even though blogging is now like collecting 45s, most people having voted and having voted for the dreary contentlessness of Twitter and Facebook and stuff like that, by standing up in church halls and on basketball courts, the people of Iowa say no, they have listened to Oprah and Chuck Norris and shaken things up by introducing a little reality. To that end, a poem:

What you vote, what you vote today?
For Huckabee and Obammy.
A bad, bad day; who threw the money away?
Clinton and Mitt Romney-ee-ee.

Who writes lyrics on Iowa in the style of an Irish folk tune? Nobody, baby. Nobody.

  • Update: There is a European Vodka Alliance which champions Europe’s diverse vodka traditions. Who knew? Do they have summer jobs?
  • I am now excited for Michigan. By holding its primary on January 15th, it now stands weeks ahead of all other large states and after only the two traditional testing grounds of Iowa and New Hampshire. The Votemaster has his opinion up now and, because it’s unlinky, I will tell you he says it is still a race amongst Giuliani, Romney, and McCain for the GOP and Obama-Clinton for the Dems. Tiger, when not panicking theoretically, prefers following Real Clear Politics but that has none of the statistics theory chatter.
  • In other news, a little recollection of Canada’s role in crushing fascism showed up this week:

    He didn’t think much of it at the time, but as he drove home he considered the bag and its contents and assumed the flag might be the Union Jack. On further reflection, however, he recalled seeing black on the flag, a colour not found on the Union Jack. When he arrived home, he unfolded the flag and discovered it was not what he was expecting. In addition to the giant Nazi symbol that unfolded before him, the flag was signed by Canadian soldiers from the 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment that fought in Normandy in the Second World War. It lists various battles and the soldiers killed in action. A Lethbridge soldier also signed his name, although it is hard to read. Mr. Coburn realized he had found more than just a flag. “The hair stood up on the back of my neck.”

  • Once a pal of mine, with an evangelical bent, proved again for me that God had a great sense of humour by giving him both a telephone number and license plate with “666” in them. Apparently a whole town has had the same problem:

    A town in the US state of Louisiana is to be allowed to change its telephone prefix so that residents can avoid a number many associate with the Devil. Christians in Reeves have been unhappy since the early 1960s about being given the prefix, 666 – traditionally known as the Biblical “number of the beast”. For the next three months, households will be able to change the first three digits of their phone numbers to 749.

    What is “668”? The number of the neighbour of the beast – rimshot!

Busy week. Not really. But I need a weekend all the same. The Session tonight as well.