The Beer Drinkers’ Bill Of Rights

A depiction of the first debates on the rights
of beer drinkers, Greece 4th century BC.

I’ve been thinking about this beer stuff for a while now and have decided that it is right and proper that a Beer Drinkers’ Bill of Rights for us all be established. Any bill of rights, after all, is just a statement of fundamental law under which the many and individually weak define their relationship with powerful forces controlling a jurisdiction, whether they be the state or in the trade. That being the case, it is time that we admit that we have a jurisdiction of our own, that we assert the existence of the nation of those who love beer and that we define some elemental principles which the people of that nation hold to be self-evident

To that end I propose as follows:

1. All have the right to beer, the right to own beer and the right to their own beer.
2. Local beer shall be available and shall be excellent.
3. Beer shall not be taxed in undue proportion to other consumables.
4. Beer, including its constituent elements, shall be explained and explicable to the drinkers of beer.
5. Regardless of the source, beer shall be snob-free, plainly advertised and made available with minimal intermediaries, both in terms of consultation and transaction between the brewer and the drinker.
6. Beer shall be offered in a variety of packaging formats which shall include low cost formats.
7. Beer shall be safe and shall be accepted as a wholesome food and shall be recognized as an important and moderate agent in the pursuit of happiness.
8. The diverse rights to and of beer enunciated herein shall be guaranteed subject only to such reasonable limits as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

It may be the cold medications, sure, but I am convinced of the need of this. There may be amendments and additions to this list which can be submitted to via the comments as a form of constitutional assembly. Further, commentary upon each right shall be enunciated though discourse.

Do We Love The Beer Or Brewer?

Lew has written another segment of his unfolding manifesto on his relationship to craft beer and the craft beer industry and triggered a long discussion. I take this as his key point:

I have to tell you, this kind of “let’s treat craft beer with kid gloves” stuff has been bugging me for years. It’s one of the main reasons I started this blog and my website. I don’t have a lot of patience with people who blast beers from positions of ignorance — “This IPA sucks! I hate hoppy beers!” — but when a beer is not good — poorly packaged, poorly formulated, or just plain insipid — I don’t want to be told by some brewer that it wouldn’t be nice to say so, or that if I felt I had to say so, I should say so nicely.

Hey, we’ve all heard it from mothers and grandmothers (and editors): if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. Well, how am I going to talk about light beer, then? Seriously, if a critic can’t say negative things, he’s gagged. And if I can’t say those negative things in an entertaining, creative way…what the hell am I getting paid for?

He is right but in being right also begs the question of the importance of his rightness. Don’t get me wrong. I like Lew lots. I even make a point of paying for his books and not hitting him up for review copies largely because he was an early adopter or at least supporter of my blogging about beer, what, for the best part of four years now. All I mean is like any voice with audience you have to remember that the subject matter itself is the important thing. Last month I thought out a bit of my mini-manifesto around being a fan. But while I am a fan of the great brewer I am really a fan of the brew more than anything. And I am really only a fan of what the brew does for me…not Lew… not the brewer… and not you out there (however nice you all are – and you are.) As a result, I am quite content not to get Cantillon and other Belgian sour beers, quite content to describe Rodenbach Grand Cru thusly…

That is all there but you have to appreciate that the acidity is that of a sub-puckeringly sharp wine. Vinous does not cover how sharp. Tart but only in the sense of King Tart of the Tartonians. Within the tart the is some reflection of spice and certainly a gooseberry-rhubarb custard trifle would go well with this.

…or to say of another of its general ilk: “I cannot hate it. Yet I am sure it hates me.”

If someone does not agree with me I do not understand how that changes the experience I have when those thing-like-fluids are in my mouth. For me, it is only about the fluid just as a pub is only about the actual experience you have or I have – not the hype or the good time a pal’s sister’s friend had 15 months ago. That may mean you have to take yourself seriously, too, and pay attention to what is in the glass and not rely on others anymore, even me, than you would rely on advertising or if the brewer is friendly, starting out or your cousin.

There. Another bit of the manifesto.

Hair Of The Dog: A Couple of Difficult Cases

This may turn out to be an epic. It may end in tears. Whatever it is you can click on each picture for a bigger image.

In the early fall – actually on September 28th 2006 just after noon – I jumped into my first LCBO private order, two cases from Hair of the Dog brewery in Portland Oregon being organized by the excellent gents, those Bar Towellers out of Toronto. I faxed through my deposit of $51.60 CND on a total order of $197.96 CND. I ordered one each of Doggie Claws and Fred, two 10% or so barley wines from one of North America’s top boutique brewers. I had a Fred when I was at Volo earlier this year. And then I waited. And waited.

Around the first of December, the order came into Toronto, I paid the balance and waited for it to make its way 220 km or so east to Kingston. Then there were rumours of issues with the capping. Excellent, I thought – bottle variation. The curse of decent wine. Jon Walker, a Bar Toweller, noted:

This thread worries me. As a result I went in to check on my stash of HOTD and indeed many of the caps are not fully crimped onto the bottles. Most flair at their base and do not fully grip the lip of the bottle. I was actually able to press up on one with my thumb and get the gas to release in the “PPST” common to uncapping. What do I do know? I don’t have a capper to close the caps properly (if they actually CAN be sealed, perhaps they are the wrong size???). I’ve got just shy of 70 bottles left and I’m loathe to believe I might lose some to oxidation due to loose caps.

The cases showed today, 21 December 2006, about 12 weeks after they were ordered which is really not that bad seeing as I think the beer was still in the tanks when the order was originally placed. But there was an obvious problem from one look at the case of Fred that seemed to echo Jon’s words above.





When I got home I decided to have a look inside and what I found was not pretty. The inside of the box was soaked. Ten bottles were seriously uncapped with significant beer loss with mostly empty necks like above at the right. In addition, twelve were showing little beer loss and two showed some promise. All were irregularly capped in the same way. Some caps show some rubbing and wear like there was a mechanical issue when they were put on.

It looked as though it was shipped upside down as there is plenty of yeast in the necks and a fair amount of beery sneakery out from underneath the caps. No violence to the box, just seeping. This may actually be a short term saving grace. The smell is also rich and clean, not sour like a bar on Sunday morning. I will have to have one. I am a little depressed, a little pissed off and a little curious. I have not even looked at the box of Doggie Claws.





Much to my surprise, the beer, picked from the worst group of ten, opens with a loud Pfffft!!The yeast had created a seal inside as you can see below to the right and it pours with a huge head. It is huge and lovely and lively. Hallelujah! Christmas is saved. Christmas is saved. And the Doggie Claws show no sign of leakage at all with the same location of the irregular capping as the Fred but with a lot less severity.

So it will likely be a crap shoot one a bottle by bottle basis but if that yeast cakes up it may last throughout the holidays at least. “Pour slowly to allow sediment to remain in the bottle” it says on the back. What can you do? That yeast is my best friend right about now, the life in the ale securing what the dim-witted capped and shippers could not. I would hope the legal saying “buyer beware” is popping into readers’ minds right about now.


Cyclops – Perhaps The Worst Idea Ever

Describing taste in words is funny business but making the effort is worthwhile as it provides you with a mechanism through which you can record your experiences with food and drink, and especially craft foods like real ale. We each take in the esters, phenols and other organic elements and recreate their interconnection in our own minds as we sip, sometimes discovering what the brewer intended and sometimes finding out new nuances never expected. Then you use your words to frame your experience. Do it often enough and you develop your own descriptors that make sense for your experience.

So it is inordinately shocking, then, to learn about what may be the worst idea in the craft beer movement I have ever heard of – a standardized system of beer description not unironically called Cyclops:

Cyclops, the new scheme launched today at the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court in London, has the backing of 14 real ale breweries. Under the scheme, the brewers have agreed to follow a standardised template on all promotional material, describing the style, smell, look and taste of their beers. Bitterness and sweetness – the two main measures used to describe real ale’s characteristics – will also now be scored from one to five.

Cyclops follows a pilot scheme introduced by Leicester brewer Everards, which simplified the language used to describe real ales on promotional materials so customers knew exactly what to expect. A Campaign for Real Ale spokesman said: “Real ale is an incredibly complex drink with an enormous range of styles and tastes. Cyclops will demystify real ale so drinkers will know what a beer will look, smell and taste like before they part with their cash at the bar.”

This is tragic. And it is stunning that CAMRA supports such a thing. It is important at this moment in time that the most famous Cyclops, Homer’s Polyphemus, was blinded for life by drinking strong wine and ate people. This is hardly the making of a good brand. But even when he had one good eye he saw things…like he was born with one eye in the middle of his forehead – as in without particularly strong ability to see things from other perspectives. Plus, as man eating giant shepherds who get tricked a lot, they sort of fit the images of a rural rube caricature, kinda like in the satirical play by Euripides

And that is sort of what the program takes the craft beer lover for in presuming to tell you how to taste – it takes you for an ignorant oaf. It will create one recommended way to look at things and a snobby attitude to those who find their own way. Reject such mecho-branding systematic standards that will homogenize response patterns and trust yourself. If you think a beer tastes like the armpit Polyphemus after a long night in the cave (if you know what I mean) while the brewer tells you something like “it is a 5 (bitter), 3 (waterhardness), 3 (maltiness), 2 (mouthfeel) and 4 (overall) pale ale” then you just trust yourself and know that is likely tastes like that armpit.

¹…which would have been funnier if, instead of saying he was called “No man” thus leading to lots of punning hi-jinks that confused the big old dope, Odysseus had actually called himself “Norman” which would have led to a lot less confusion and likely the eating of Odysseus in the first few scenes thus saving thousands of undergrads the misery of figuring the whole thing out.

Beer Science: Pabst Against Pabst


Ever since my pal portland came up with the phrase beer-tasting water, I have been a little too obsessed with Pabst Blue Ribbon. But then I realized I had a unique opportunity to perform my sort of science experiment: a side-by-side comparison of a PBR from the US against one brewed under license in Canada by Sleeman of Guelph. Even though any possible outcome of this project will not advance the human condition one bit, I took on the challenge.

pabst1First, I noticed the price. A six of Canadian PBR is $7.50 at the LCBO. The US version was $4.60 at a gas station on 12E, east of Watertown, NY. I knew I was getting ripped off, too, as I had seen $3.29 for the six at another place that was sold out. Then I noticed the cans. There is clearly more blue ribbon on the PBR stateside. Does this matter? I suppose not. Both also have the River Plate red sash which is quite natty.

pabst3To be honest, the beers taste pretty much the same – sort of bland, the pablum of beers yet without off flavours and somehow comforting. Like pablum, no self respecting adult would look forward to the taste but, once presented with it (like a new father feeding pablum to his little baby for the first time and scraping it off his hands knees and forehead), one is less turned off than one might expect. Yet the Canadian version, right in all pictures, is clearly a notch lighter and by the end of the glass as it warms and the bubbles die away it maybe even more watery.

What have we learned? Not much. Except I have ten more in the fridge.

Man Is The Measure Of All Things

Here is my half-baked unified theory essay based largely on idle car driving and long meeting daydreaming. Entire chunks could be rewritten and reversed, deleted even. I am too lazy to edit it any more and I am note convinced myself but, thought I, what the heck. I’m posting it for comment but given that I am calling it half-baked I would expect that the comment would not be of the “yor a moeron” sort. Pick out what you like, mix and match, compare and contrast.

I don’t know why the opening of Jane Taber’s column in the Globe and Mail last Saturday has clung to the back of my mind:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent last Saturday night at 24 Sussex Dr. fiddling with the TV, trying desperately to find the channel that carried Ben and Rachel’s favourite show, The Forest Rangers. It was the Harper family’s first Saturday night at the Prime Minister’s official residence — the family of four and their two beloved cats moved in just two days before — and the cable wasn’t hooked up. “I told Stephen I would arrange the channels on Monday, and he said, ‘No, let’s do it right now,’ ” Laureen Harper wrote in an e-mail this week. The Prime Minister proceeded to call the cable company…

It is not a sour thought at the sight of a Dad trying without any luck to figure out the electronics or a hapless moment for the new PM that saddens me. It’s that it was The Forest Rangers. Secretly, I hope it is a remake I have not heard of but I suspect it is that same show that was never part of my growing up – because even at 42 it was before my time. I suppose what makes me really sad is that in the last four and a half decades of entertainment communications there is nothing better for a couple of kids to watch than the show that made The Beachcombers seem like Shakespeare – even if their parents hold a pretty tight rein on the TV’s remote control. But I doubt it. Who would remake the Forest Rangers? Who now could?

Is this another post about the false promise of recent changes in mass communications? I suppose it is. This weekend, taking in a movie in a 1930s cinema as well as an excellent live hockey game, I was struck like I should not have been struck how the digital advance is something of a regression. We have a population that has, say, doubled in the last so many decades but the volume and variety of entertainments has exploded. And, while the technological advances have been impressive, has the content kept up? Is it possible that there could be so many more things with which to be entertained or informed without a relative dilution of the actual quality of content?

What have we given up due to the dilution? Audio fidelity in favour of tiny ear plugs. The ability to value excellence in favour of the ability to value what we choose or, worse, what we do. Even TV as a topic for water cooler talk is dumped in favour of the replacement of water cooler talk, the SuperNetWay. We have exchanged audience for authorship and awarded each of ourselves the same prize. Except maybe for Harper as Dad. For him there is that world of kids playing in a fort (without any explanation of who maintains it and on what budget) and helping with some sort of government administrative function in relation to lands and forests (despite the child labour laws). There is something back there in that show which is not here – the suspension of disbelief, that awareness that what your are taking is has acceptable flaws.

But we are such mooks now – suckered by belief in whatever we have placed before ourselves. All it takes is for a new self-flattering toy or medium to come along to make ourselves earnestly believe we must have it. And so with politics – we are so determined to be a vital player in the administration of government that we value our whim is as good as a policy borne of the toil of hundreds and the rulings of decades. We can no longer suspend our disbelief as consumers or citizens but are locked into our own certainty in relation to all things, creating a flat world where anything is pretty much as good as any other thing. We cannot defer. We must each be authority if we are also the personalize me. So no journalist is worth their salt, no policy can be trusted, no means to assert our own personal dominion of expression can dared be passed up. We each pick at the world yet pick each our own world. Less shared, less trusted. More me-like-ness.

Sometimes I think that the few years of this millenium have seen two changes which have melded unexpectedly: the rise of networked information technology and the rise of the fear and the security demand in response to terrorism despite almost five years now passing since, hopefully, the anomaly of 9/11 that shook us out of the sleep and pattern of tens upon tens being blown up here and there on a regular basis between nation upon nation, tribe upon tribe genocides. We can forget sometimes that there was life and community and many of the same problems in 2000, 1999 and before. We trick ourselves that all has been changed. About a year ago I wondered if we were post post 9/11. I wondered it again a few months later, the day before the bombings in London. But maybe the trick is on us, that the uni-mind of internet and homogenization of shared concern has left us burned a bit, blurred a bit even as we technologically assert our individual autonomy. So concerned with our fear of flying – even while we are on the ground – that we now have met unending earnestness and each of us shaken hands with it and made it our own. I thought there was an end to irony in the weeks after September 11th but now I think we lost more than just that as tools of surveillance and information merge in the one screen wired to the network, taking and giving, providing what we can say we have made up ourselves. We must believe now, nothing left to be suspended. Where would you stand during the suspension?

What to do? Doesn’t anyone think this is just a town full of losers to be blown out of? Maybe Steve does. Is the Harper family gathering around the black and white world of the past one way to assert the contrarian way? I still think it is a little sad but I don’t know why exactly. I wish them well.

Am I A Beer Geek?

Even though I prefer “beer nerd” I guess this description fits me:

…it was Sean Ziegler, pouring beers for Dogfish Head brewery at at the Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines Festival Saturday, who told it. “Wine is like an art. Your always subject to nature,” Ziegler said. “Beer is more like a science. Hence, the name beer geek. You can measure the color, the hops, the sweetness – and theoretically – if you can measure it, you can reproduce it over and over again.” The predominately male crowd at Saturday’s festival is part of a larger beer culture much different than the quantity guzzling, can crushing frat boys often associated with beer. These beer lovers crave knowledge about their favorite carbonated beverage. They seek out brews that are complex in color and flavor and do it through tasting, smelling, attending festivals, visiting breweries and cooking up their own concoctions. “There’s not a beer I don’t like, there’s not a beer I won’t taste, there’s not a place with a brewery that I won’t visit,” said Chris Katechis of Oskar Blues Brewery, who was serving up Old Chub Scottish style ale among others. “Everything there is to know about beer, we want to know. What time the brewer wakes up and starts brewing – we want to know.”

Is that you, too?

The Red Ensign Standard, Edition XXXII

The Elemental Form
Red Ensigns. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been working on this edition of the Red Ensign Standard for a while. Some of my readers may have no idea about Red Ensigns so it is good that wikipedia has a good post about them. If I can take credit for being around at the start of this project called the Red Ensign bloggers, I would note that my first post in response to that first post of Packwood’s was on all the variety of Red Ensigns there were in the world and how they trace a common thread among many peoples wherever the British had been. While I started simply as a flag lover, I did begin to notice a pattern – that the Red Ensign has often been present wherever the goals of freedom and liberty have been advanced…even if at certain times it was not raised on the side of that progress. The Stars and Stripes is even a Red Ensign if you think of the white stripes as an overlay on the red background – which is actually how the design developed.

And that made me think about the fact that I am a lucky man. I live in Canada and I am proud of by far the greatest part of what makes our nation what it is today. It is neither perfect nor arose from any revolution – for much of the good I have a great debt to the continuing past. I am a kid of the British Empire as I am a kid of Scots immigrants. The tail end of the Empire got us to Canada – this time. It was the first plane trip of emigration after years of sailing here and back. Many of mine had been back and forth to Canada as far back as some relatives called McGill were in Quebec in the 1700s. Apparently one great-grandfather of mine was even born in the US – imagine that. None of these trips were anywhere near the most dangerous trip taken under the flag of the Empire either – those who went before were in India and the Sudan with the British redcoats not to mention WWI and WWII in the next two generations.

re2Those generations forged peace. I got to grow up here and enjoy that peace after a wave of mid-50s immigration only because I, like so many others, was born of parents who got to move here from so many lands. I think of Canada as an expression of the success of the Empire in its tolerance and diversity of people who came to be Canadian five decades ago. Inclusion – of a sort – has been part of the nature of Canada even back to the first British Empire and the centuries of success of the Quebec Act and protection for that part of the culture; similarly, the First Nations were protected by the Empire’s Royal Proclamation of 1761 though with less success and respect. We have our lost gratitude for people like those who fought at Quebec in 1755 against the American invasion, and like Molly Brant whose force of thousands of Loyalist Mohawks basically kept Upper Canada from the British from the 1780s right through to the Rebellions of 1837 when Tyendinaga’s again joined in the militia at Kingston. If it were not for the choice and the bravery of the followers of the Brants who came north after the American Revolution, it is likely Canada would not go past Montreal these days. We owe both recognition and debt to all these parts of our community. We repay that through continuing acceptance and justice…or at least we should. But we fail and we get sidetracked, too. Some now even disparage our multicultural society but then compare Canada with the recent experience in France:

Amin Kouidri, 20, has been hunting for a job for more than two years now and spends his days drifting around a government housing project here under the watchful gaze of France’s national police. He and his neighbors in one of France’s now-notorious housing projects say that they feel cut off from French society, a result of a process of segregation lasting for decades, and that alienation and pressure from the police have now exploded in rage across the country.

I don’t recognize this – even though my children go to school with kids unlike them in language, holidays, habits. I don’t recognize it because it does not exist here despite both the hyperventilating of some and some real uglinesses. In the school near here everyone’s experience is celebrated – even those of our vets. This year the Remembrance Day events in that small elementary school were far more elaborate than anything I recall. Maybe we have learned something from the Dutch who came here in such numbers in the 50s, something about remembering and respecting. Maybe we lose that when we become adult and maybe we have problems needing resolution but I know I don’t recognize that rage in another country. I can tell the difference.

re3I am also lucky that I live in Kingston with its legacy of confederation world all around us as well as our memorials the those who sacrificed to give us the world we have today. Throughout this post I have placed photos of the stained glass in Kingston’s City Hall that was dedicated to remembrance of all who worked and fought for the country in the First World War. Click on the images for a larger view. It is hard to place ourselves in the minds of those who fought fascism in WWII and harder to conceive of the thoughts in the trenches in WWI. It is safe to say, however, that didn’t fight for may of the things any of the things we argue over now. They did not fight for the libertarianism of I, me, mine. Likewise there is likely not much Trudeaumania and what followed on their minds: large deficits rung up by gutless Grits and Tories from the 60s to the 90s. They fought for their community, their friends, their home – a common belief in something right – and their efforts, despite Somilia, for that “something right” have continued in Korea, in the first Gulf War, in the Medak Pocket, with our jets over Belgrade and now with JTF2 in Afganistan. Don’t get me wrong – Canada is still really stunned sometimes like this, too:

Clifton Wenzel flew almost 50 combat missions during the Second World War and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Cross. But, in spite of his record, he was told when he left the service he didn’t qualify for a pension.

re4But it has always been so. There is a lot not to look back on with respect. The past was when women had no vote, segregation in Canada was normal and the state insensibly intervened with prohibition and censorship. Kids, like one of the great Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair, died unable to afford the doctor. After the First World War, many of those that fought came home to fight in social equity and social programs for health care and other forms of relief expanded. After the WWII, the common practice of excluding people from services and accomodation based on religion or race was no longer accepted and the first human rights codes came into law. Conservative Prime Minister Diefenbacker joined the 1960s civil rights movement with our Bill of Rights. The bar was raised further in the early 80s when all provincial governments, but for the then separatist leaders of Quebec, came from across the spectrum and signed on to entrenchment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in our constitution. The economic miracle of the 20th century coincided with the movement from protection of the interests of the strong to rights for all under the hybrid of social democracy and free market capitalism we enjoy today. Those are the things we can claim as the legacy of the past, too, and the Red Ensign is a great expression of that diversity, that progress, that fight. That is why I like it so much. That old flag with a fish on it…or Jerome the giraffe.

Here is the review of the Red Ensign Bloggers for 7 to 21 November 2005. You will see that I note the references to posts about Remembrance Day, something our glorious leader considers critical. Silence on the event is also noted, usually in kind:

A Chick Named Marzi has been having some web issues over the weekend. She expresses some unhappiness with the down side of sharing your views on the web, being swamped with disagreeable emails and regrets the loss of Martha Stewart’s version of The Apprentice.

Abraca-Pocus! honoured Remembrance Day and Veterans Day and her Uncle Eddy. She also raises the fearful spectre of yet another generation – Generation C.

Absinthe & Cookies honoured Remembrance Day and gave Mexican Food a go.

Albion’s Seedlings proposed a theory for an Anglosphere Blog but has serious troubles understanding Canada in a can’t let go of the failed control of Empire sort of way yet…and missed Remembrance Day.

At All AgitProp, all the Time…there has been little time to blog as he has very busy.

Angry in the Great White North has been…angry: he is shocked at treatment of veterans with VIA rail housing them in a barracks; shocked at the Prime Minister skipping the Commonwealth Conference; and shocked at Paul Martin not understanding that the election he wants called falls in Easter. I should read the angry man more often as, while true to his name, he is picking up stories others don’t.

Anthroblogogy is written by an ex-pat in USA with a love of ammo who celebrated National Ammo Day and and speaks of these little shining objects as one might speak of fine cigars or wine. He remembered Armistice Day and Veterans Day.

John at Castle Argghhh! is the Master of Ammo and none of that sissy small arms stuff like at Anthroblogogy. Cannons roar at the Castle Argghhh! He held an excellent discussion followed his consideration of the role of the military chaplain, provided the most comprehensive round-up of Remembrance Day and Veteran’s Day Observations and invited us all to Fort Leavenworth because someone else was buying the wine and cheese. Jon is one of my favorite reads, a daily stop and the unofficial ethical guide for the Red Ensigns.

Asiapundit. Ah, Myrick. The man with two places on the Red Ensign blogroll. Asiapundit is a great blog about another place – Asia. While there was no Remembrance Day post, he did pay two days of silen homage on the 11th and 12th. He has documented the chinese sign war against terrorism and has documented the effect of China’s blocking of blogs. He has also unfortunately provided my mind with the image of a skeletal Hello Kitty.

Ah, Damien of Babbling Brooks – a venerable if battle worn blogger, Damien has posted twice in the last two weeks. He is rightly upset at the state of procurement for Canada’s military and honours Remembrance Day.

At Blue Perspective, there were Remembrance Day poppies and lets loose the rumour that the Tories might cut GST.

Blue Tory honoured Remembrance Day honoured with Flanders Fields as well as “It is the Soldier”. While lots of news about the impending election from a Conservative perspective as you might expect from the name, Blue Tory has the grace to not slide into the sort of sweary mary talk. It must be the good influence of the NDP working its magic. A welcome voice from a different view than mine and his blog picture shows him in a grey dress shirt with a grey tie – something entirely 1983.

Unsettling cosmic news as Bound by Gravity is bound no more – Andrew quit blogging on 9 November.

On Remembrance Day, BumfOnline did a great job giving information on where one might shor respect in Calgary. A good reminder that blogs can actually provide information rather than repeat the opinions of strangers.

Canadian Comment did not post in the last two weeks and missed Remembrance Day as a result.

At Canadianna’s Place, for Remembrance Day, someone who refuses to wear the poppy was roundly taken on in a very good if fisky post. Otherise it is all election and the problems the Tories are facing positioning themselves. Good reflective posts from a conservative supporter.

Chris Cam missed Remembrance Day but he is dealing with and sharing the problems of being a working parent who travels. Plus he is a Red Sox fan. Good personal writing.

Conservative Canadienne honoured Remembrance Day with some interesting historical photographs and also addressed that unmentionable guy’s argument against wearing the poppy. He also looks forward to a fiscal plan from the Conservative Party.

Darcey of Dust My Broom is one of those prolific daily bloggers that give blogging a good name. Like Castle Argghhh! he ran a massive round up of Remembrance Day posts and featured the Red Ensign from Vimy. He covers the little discussed topic of aboriginal politics from a western Canadian view well. He provides a glimpse of things to come in his post Winterpeg.

ESR | Musings…did not cover Remembrance Day and mainly covers US politics as well as NFL on Mondays.

Here at Gen X at 40 the usual brilliant if pointless fare. I covered Remembrance Day with a couple of photos of one naval vet waiting for the ceremony to begin. The map of the global Gen X 40 Nation was created along with one for the sister station at A Good Beer Blog. So far beer is winning. Was there any doubt? The idea of a creating your own GUIs with a pen interface caught the nerd in me.

Remembrance Day was honoured at Grandinite with a personal essay on its importance. He also wishes Harper would get the guts to force the call of the election.

Hammer into Anvil wonders where the civil rights marches went as a means of protest.

Italics Mine is run by cartoonist Blair Hansen who has run into a bit of a wall getting them published other than on his web site. He notes that Ottawa is much colder than Afghanistan and actually argues about a position in relation to softwood lumber, a massive dispute which numbs my mind.

At John Murney’s Blog there is a guy called John Murney writing a blog. He actually has nice and genuine things to say about Shania getting the Order of Canada. He honoured Remembrance Day with observations on the last five WWI vets

John The Mad honoured Remembrance Day by republishing the eulogy of Canada’s Unknown Soldier from May 2000, pondered burnings in effigy and celebrated his first blogoversary by giving the Anglicans the gears about their treatment of Isaac.

Glenda of Just Between Us Girls recalls the letters from war in a really great Remembrance Day post, shares her version of the “I Am Canadian” speech and shares and writes a quite a good piece on abortion. A blogger to watch.

Minority of One has not published since October 14th

At M.K.Braaten, it is all about the coming election with posts about the mini-budget, the reasons to not call an election and Alberta’s western separatism movement. What do these people in the west of Alberta want anyway?

At Musing, the fact that there are only 50 US and five Canadian WWI vets left was a source of sadness, neatly distinguishes between true libertarians and high school goofballs and discusses a number of US political issues.

Musings of a Canadian Slacker, true to the name, last posted on October 30th and before that not since May.

Myrick, the man behind Asiapundit, has not posted to his own site since 12 October.

Quotulatiousness, run by Brigadier #3 in a three-man Brigadier relay team, has been cutting and pasting like a mad man. He loves Lee Valley Tools, the land of hardware porn, shares the humour over Open Source Media and, dry witted man that his is, actually quoted from Mark Steyn. I had to tape me ribs. What a wag! Nicholas remembered the vets in his own family for Remembrance Day.

The Raging Ranter has not raged since October.

The Ravishing Light has been dim since mid-October.

Rhetoricking with Myself, in a three post return to blogging after two months off, did not post on Remembrance Day but did chide Forbes magazine for noting blogs are pretty much bad and then disses the “new” Macleans, a Canadian magazine apparently delivered to dentist offices two months after publication. Very post-magazinist views.

Rightjab has come back from the Arctic Island where he was stranded since June to write one triff post on the Federal election (which surely must be coming if all the bloggers are talking about it) on the point that polls must be wrong as he has never been polled. This is a good point. I was polled on salad dressings and health care once. I am in favour of each.

Robot Guy has a 1970s-esque web site design going for him which is weird as the web only came into being about 15 years ago. There is something very Space 1999 about it. He a post about the Moons of Saturn, he plays sudoku right in front of your eyes but syndicated “Day to Day” which I cannot bear – though this is about one-third notch less bad than making me feel flayed like it used to before I made fun of it at Castle Argghhh! His coverage of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System makes up for it. He honoured Remembrance Day with Flanders Fields.

Update: Ed, the Robot Guy himself, asked me:

Could I get you to link to the monster sudoku here rather than the more mundane Thursday version?

There you have it. You know I had no idea there were grades of sudoku (not knowing even what sudoku is) but I am glad to hear there is monster sudoku which reminds me of this treasured recolection from childhood. I think Giant Robot took on the Monster Sudoku in episode 5 of season 3.That is the update…back to the past with you!

Ruth of RootleWeb sent me a largenumberof links on The Belgic Confession: Article 36and a wingy movie called “The Monstrous Regiment of Women” which I am sure not to ever see, especially now. In politics, Ruth covered the PQ Leadership race, the Big Brother Law, ElectionTiming, and the new Jack Laytonese, a language now audible to conservatives in Canada. Ruth honoured Remembrance Day.Cheery old intern Jay at the Shiny Happy Gulag came out of the forced labour camp for his first post since September on topic of a quote gnostic societies. No, I am not sure either.

Skeet Skeet Skeet has been AWOL since June and will likely be asked to leave the Red Ensigns…if anyone can find him.

Stephen Taylor is simply the man. I can say this because I have met him but unlike every other Red Ensign blogger I have met, I did not have beer with him. He rightly honoured Remembrance Day with a field of poppies. He does most things rightly, come to think of it. He announced the sad – nay, tragic – news that Paddy Binns, the premier of PEI, might run for his old Federal seat currently held by a stick painted red or some other stalwart of the Big Red Machine. He questions the polling methodology of the Liberals…yet stays quiet on the whole issue of why Rightjabman has never been polled. I know Monty knows, Steve knows Monty and now I want to know, too.

Striving Against Opposition stopped doing so mid-October.

Taylor & Company sounds like the name of either a men’s clothing shop or a high-end coffee shop. It is neither. Unlike Mr. Taylor supra, I allowed Chris (aka “Mr. T” or “T is for Taylor not t-totaller”) to sup ale with me and even to share a cab. He is decency itself. His Remembrance Day post (like mine…and damn few like us, I say) was an actual bit of citizen journalism with photos of many units present at the cenotaph at Old City Hall in Toronto. I think he is tempted to start A Good Scotch Blog.

The Conservative Hipster wrote an exceptionally good piece in the form of letter to our vets for Remembrance Day, notes the case of Darth v. Trump and ponders the Ontario voter in…oh, my…there appears to be an impending Federal election. Who knew?

The Freeway To Serfdom missed honouring Remembrance Day but contemplates the coming winter in Canada rather nicely. He speaks of being a bookish introvert. I think he is tired of talk about the impending election. I like him already.

[Ed.: At this point I would like to note one thing – holy freakin’ moly – this is takes lot of reading. I wonder if anyone else in the few left below will write something about…ummm…the timing of the impending Federal election.]

The Green Baron was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, suffered an engagement break-up and reinlisted in the US Army and as a result did not post from the end of August until Remembrance Day. Wow. No disrespect at all to the green one…but all I did in that time was put on some weight and blow my hockey pool picks. He is also quite, and quite uniquely, unkind to France.

The High Places did a great round up of Remembrance Day posts from the blogging Tories, that other more successful blogroll that we secretly envy and despise…unless we are on it. He ponders an interpretation in Lego brick of the greatest story ever told. He also takes a bash at the Vancouver civic election as well as the Surrey Civic Election. I like municipal politics and blogging except I can’t do it. And he discusses some panicking Tories in light of the…impending Federal election.

The London Fog is mostly about blogging municipal politics…but as it is 10:10 pm Saturday I will leave it to that for now and seek out a small jug of modestly priced but reasonably made medium oloroso to drive out the thoughts of the impending Federal election…

OK – let’s try that again. The London Fog is mostly about blogging municipal politics but takes a moment to recall Remembrance Day in the oddest way of all the Red Ensigns with a story relating how he can sympathize with vets providing recreational drugs for their pets. Other than that there are stories on or about issues surrounding what I am now referring to as the “IFE” including the cat who came back and the economic plan of the Grits all with a decidedly anti-Uncle-Joe slant. On the municipal scene, it’s all about the sewers.

The Meatriarchy shares my Atlantic Canadian shock at the failure to make Remembrance Day a public day of respect. He is also deeply involved with the War in Iraq and the War on Terror. Open Source Media makes him wonder about his own irrelevance. I need no such catalyst to consider mine.

The authors of the Monarchist honourRemembranceDay. They recall the day in 1975 that the Australian Governor-General did…something. [Ed.: sorry, I will be kind. Better put that another way.] One author lusts after my title of Esq., a bauble of my advancement to the bar. Aside from the royalist content, the Monarchists is a good read.

Victor at the Phantom Observer has a great post on why he marched on Remembrance Day.He also reviews the review by The Globe and Mail of the review of the 100 best Canadian books published by the Literary Review of Canada. Victor also goes after Federal Minister of Indian Affairs, Andy Scott and his actions or lack thereof in relation to Keeseekoose.

[Ed.: three to go.]

Tipperography has not posted since October 26th. That one was easy.

Toronto Tory missed Remembrance Day but took the time to mention a special someone lying to YOU in relation to the “IFE”. And then he pointed out that someone was LYING TO YOU in relation to the “IFE”.

I am very happy to conclude this review by reporting that West Coast Chaos included a great post about an interview of WWII vet Dave Harvard of Hazelton, BC. In another post on a particular issue of Smither’s municipal politics, WCC says no to saving the pool. I like the way WCC covers local news and only wish there were more posts. And not one reference to the “IFE”. Thank you. Thank you.

There you are. Another 26th of a year encapsulated. I am certain I missed no one because I used the blogroll and if someone is missing from the blogroll it is…my fault as I maintain the blog roll along with Ruth and Victor. The job of preparing the Red Ensign Standard was both much longer and more interesting than I thought it would be. These have been interesting times with the group to the point that even calling it a group and acting like a group is a challenge. It is my hope that members will reassert themselves a club of people who are interested in good web writing, regular web writing and the analysis of events from a Canadian perspective or awareness that includes respect for and understanding of the traditions which have and continue to make this a great country.

Below is a list of previous issues of the Red Ensign Standard. Some of the links may be dead as some members have signed off over the year and a half since this project began. Others have left the group through the sorts of finger-pointing schisms that only traditionalists can pull off. In each Standard you will, however, find that particular member’s take on the group and its meaning.

Castle Argghhh

Raging Kraut

The Last Amazon


Tiger in Winter (now blogging at Tiger in Exile)

Taylor and Company


Bound By Gravity

Dust My Broom

Ravishing Light

Babbling Brooks


Freeway to Serfdom

Nathan’s Updates From Seoul

Striving Against Opposition

The Phantom Observer



Turning 30 and a half

Canadian Comment

London Fog

The Monarchist

West Coast Chaos

A Chick Named Marzi

Raging Kraut

Robot Guy

The High Places

The Last Amazon

Robot Guy



One last thing. The next issue will be hosted by…who knows?. Contact “He Who Must Be Obeyed” Nicholas the Brigadier at his email address.

Now Linked at the ubercarnival.

When Is Theft OK?

If I never read the Boingsters, I probably would never encounter the “right to take” as a great new idea. But two recent posts point out something of the hypocrisy and the case-by-case arbitrary judgement that really is at the core of the arguments against respect for authorship – let’s call them the “anti-authorship” group – who call themselves “copyfighters” and part of the “remix” culture:

  • On June 29, 2005 Boing confirms that big Nike stole little rock band’s imagery without payment. The taking of the stuff of others wrong.
  • On July 6, 2005 Boing praises an essay in Wired which states that the new era of takery is here:

The remix is the very nature of the digital. Today, an endless, recombinant, and fundamentally social process generates countless hours of creative product (another antique term?). To say that this poses a threat to the record industry is simply comic. The record industry, though it may not know it yet, has gone the way of the record. Instead, the recombinant (the bootleg, the remix, the mash-up) has become the characteristic pivot at the turn of our two centuries.

So because it now can be done, it must be ok…except when we like the band and the company that takes is big. The sad thing is that people by what Boingsters like Cory Doctorow and Wired and they say about the appropriation of copyrighted material because he has successfully leveraged status rather than successfully argued the point. It is a tyranny of the self-described cool, which is a very weird tyranny. Sadder still is that there may be good arguments for specific accommodations of digital media which are lost through this broad and craptastic “remix culture” pap that sounds so neato…until it is your website layout, your icon, your text, your music and your art that is taken.