Monday, December 31, 2012

This is what's getting me through Anderson and Kathy

NYE cocktail:

2 parts blended scotch
1/2 part bourbon
1 part tonic
1/2 part simple syrup
1/2 part lemon juice
Dash Angostura bitters

Shake together. Serve over ice with a slice of lime.

Naming suggestions welcome.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, starring Glenn Hubbard

Back in 2008, a friend of mine used to scare undecided voters off the fence by making spooky noises and then saying, instead of "boo!", "President Palin". (This guy moved in, among other things, Serious Burkean Centrist circles, where people were sensitive to thatkind of entreaty. Plenty of people on my Facebook feed thought she was the second coming of Reagan.)

This year, there wasn't really any boogeyman in clown paint that you could do this with, but Taibbi ain't alone in wondering whether "Treasury Secretary Glenn Hubbard" wouldn't have made a fine horror movie if the 47% had been on the other foot.

Rolling Stone Mobile - Politics - Politics: Glenn Hubbard, Leading Academic and Mitt Romney Advisor, Took $1200 an Hour to Be Countrywide's Expert Witness

Also, too: IANAL, but when your deposee doesn't answer the fucking question, why on earth wouldn't you just ask him again until he either gives you a yes or no answer or you have grounds for the judge to give him a night down at County for contempt?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

This is not the Nuclear Option

Good christ, people, do your homework before filing a story: The Hill:
Changing rules with a simple majority vote is considered so controversial it is sometimes called the nuclear option. Democrats backing the maneuver have described it as the “Constitutional option.” 
And TPM:
Changing the rules of the Senate ordinarily requires 67 votes. But the majority also has the option of approving rules changes with 51 votes at the beginning of a new Congress — what reformers call the “constitutional option” and opponents dub the “nuclear option.”
Neither of these is correct. The Constitutional/Nuclear Option is a risky in-session parliamentary maneuver primarily anticipated in the event of a filibustered nominee (somebody the President and majority party want to make a hill to die on). The maneuver involves appealing to the Parliamentarian for a ruling on the constitutionality of the filibuster rule (the argument being that the ability of the minority to filibuster a nominee is incompatible with the "advise and consent" clause). Upon a negative ruling, the rule is voided and a new rule is put in place without the offending provision, which most expect to only need a simple majority to pass.

What is being proposed now, by contrast is a perfectly usual first-day-of-session change in a rule, which never requires a two-thirds majority. The operative principle is that an earlier Congress cannot bind later Congresses to any course of action: the original adoption of rules was by simple majority, so changes of rules "in the normal order of business" (interpreted to mean "at the beginning of a session") cannot require a greater majority than the original adoption.

This is complicated by the fact that, while the House gets refreshed every two years, the Senate thinks of itself as a continuing body, and senators who oppose any particular rule change are fond of arguing that there is no true opening day on  which to change rules. Which, if you look at the history of this argument, is always deployed in the most rankly opportunistic fashion.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Horde of nieces and nephews...

... has descended!

and the whole gang:

Bitching about UAcalc

To Ralph Freese and the others responsible for UAcalc:

If your XML-based file format for finite algebras involves each row of each operation table to be labeled by the elements comprising the row, then why on earth doesn't the calculator use that information? If I have a three element operation \(m(x,y,z)\) and the first row given in the XML has label r = "[1,2]" (meaning \(m(1,2,x)\), with \(x\) ranging across the algebra), why does UAcalc think that this is the row \(m(0,0,x)\)?

Latte-sipping Beltway consensus

You know what would be really helpful, Howard Schultz?
Starbucks is getting into the debate over the looming “fiscal cliff.” CEO Howard Schultz has posted a letter online explaining that for the rest of the week, employees in the megachain’s Washington, D.C., stores will write “Come Together” on customers’ coffee cups.
1. Not confusing the Fiscal Slightly-Downward-Angling-Slope with a debt crisis:
In the spirit of the Holiday season and the Starbucks tradition of bringing people together, we have a unique opportunity to unite and take action on an incredibly important topic. As many of you know, our elected officials in Washington D.C. have been unable to come together and compromise to solve the tremendously important, time-sensitive issue to fix the national debt. You can learn more about this impending crisis at
2. Not propagating the false narrative that old people with an entitlement complex, rather than two off-balance-sheet wars, double-digit unemployment, and a medical cost system which Obamacare is only praying to bring under control, is driving our current unsustainable economic/fiscal course.

3. Prioritizing good policy over Beltway split-the-difference pseudo-moderation by having what your employees write on cups be good policy, like, say, protecting Social Security (which is not relevant to the Fiscal Slightly-Downward-Angling-Slope and does not contribute to the deficit in any way), instead of useless platitudes like "Come Together".

The problem here isn't that politicians are unwilling and unable to come together. The problem is that what the GOP is willing to offer (to the extent that we can tell any specifics of what the GOP is offering) is well across the Democrats' red line, and that the Democrats' red line is well past what their constituents -- hell, well across what the GOP's constituents -- want.

Look, Howard, let's everyone admit it: the Republican Party is bad for business. If we had a sane opposition party, a bipartisan plan investing in the country's infrastructure and getting Americans back to work would have sailed through both houses, financed by money borrowed at negative interest rates. Instead, you're trying to sell coffee to people who are struggling to make ends meet because it takes more than four months to find a job.

So if you're going to make a gesture, don't make one which pushes for what's worse for your employees -- and for yourself.

White Boxing Day?

I'll allow it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Irish Redshirt Freshman

Bottled the small batch of what I've decided to call Irish Redshirt Freshman. Got about 1.5 gallons total (down from an original boil volume of 2 gal), which is a little less than I'd wanted, but that's life. Primed with dry table sugar again this time instead of mixing in sugar syrup; no sense in playing the national championship game flat due to a coaching error.

Now this little recruit has two weeks to get ready to play for all the marbles. Ironically, it's staying right here, while I'll be flying off to South Florida.

I'm drinking the sample I pulled off for gravity measurement (FG 1.010 against an OG of 1.050, thank you very much), and it's already quite tasty (though definitely young and raw -- again, like the Redshirt Freshman it is). A little sweet up front, with bitter underneath; a little puckery in the mouth.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Drumstick au vin

You're gonna be out in a tuxedo until 11. And no cocktail weenies either. What do you do?
Well, if you're me today, you find a ziploc of chicken drumsticks in the freezer and make chicken au vin:
2 lb bone-in chicken
1 cup chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 cup red wine
2 healthy squeezes ketchup
Spices and seasonings to taste: whole peppercorns, ground black pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic.
Mix stock, wine, and spices in a bowl. Place chicken in crock pot. Pour liquid mix over chicken. Cook in crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.
Serve over noodles. Beverage pairing: dark beer, such as brown ale or rye porter.
Idea for next time: use those gigantic turkey drumsticks I see at Kroger.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bottle conditioning blues

So, the last couple batches of beer I've brewed have had problems carbonating. I suffered through two weeks' worth of pumpkin spice beer which was both bad (the yeast never really were happy) and flat, and also subjected a couple of coworkers to it; but I put my foot down when my IPA came out flat too, cause that beer is damn tasty.

One of the MCB guys suggested reagitating the bottles every couple of days, and that worked ok. Oddly, the 12-oz bottles have showed a different carbonation level than the larger ones, which tells me that my sugar solution didn't mix evenly in the bottling bucket.

So anyway, last night I opened one of the big 22-oz bottles of pumpkin stashed at the back of my aging cabinet. I'd agitated them too, and wonder of wonders, it had a puny little head when I poured it! And that made it a lot more drinkable, naturally.

Moral of the story: if you're wondering whether a bottle has carbonated, check if there's yeast residue settled out at the bottom. If there's not enough, turn the bottle upside down a few times to get everything agitated and leave for a week.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Epic win at Brad Delong's blog

Cosma Shalizi, in comments: "More elaborately: our gracious host would really like to be just a little bit to the left of a technocratic center, and to debate those just a little bit to his right about optimal policies within a shared objective function, and pretending that it is a technical and not a political discussion. But because shit is fucked up and bullshit, and because everyone at all on the right has spent forty years (at least) doing their damndest to make sure shit is is fucked up and bullshit, even the smallest gesture in that direction is not so much reconciliation as collaboration. And so our host has sads. (So, for that matter, did Uncle Paul, before he learned to relish their hatred.) The realization that this applies to economists --- that much of the discipline is not a branch of science or even of dialectic, but merely of rhetoric (and not in an inspirational, D. McCloskey way either) --- cannot come too soon. Whether someone who still assigns Free to Choose to callow freshmen, in 2012, is really in a position to complain about the absurdities of Casey Mulligan is a nice question; but recognizing that half your erstwhile colleagues were always mere ideologists is a step in the right direction."

Brad DeLong : DeLong Smackdown Watch: Cosma Shalizi

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crafty, crafty brews

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout at M.L. Rose West. Lovely subtle flavors, great malts.
Ms. Heel-Filcher is meanwhile enjoying a Left Hand Milk Stout. I do believe I've never had that beer with N2 instead of CO2.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dual Mandate ahoy!

The Federal Reserve announces that it's going to do its damn job!

"This is a big deal. The Federal Open Market Committee has abandoned its practice of talking about its future policy in terms of the calendar, such as pledging low rates until 2014, and instead making clearer 1) That the path of monetary policy will depend on the economy, not some arbitrary date, and 2) What exact economic conditions it would need to see to change course.

Perhaps more notable, the Fed is explicitly stating that it can envision letting inflation float above—but only a bit above—its 2 percent target as a price for getting the job market back on track."

From Wonk Blog: Huge news out of the Federal Reserve

Ezra reminds us why it's a damn shame ...

a) for John Boehner that POTUS has learned how to negotiate
b) that Ms Heel-filcher has never seen Die Hard.

"Whatever House Republicans might think, the White House is all steel when it comes to the debt ceiling. Their position is simple, and it’s typically delivered in the tone of voice that Bruce Willis reserves for talking to terrorists"

Washington Post - The GOP’s dangerous debt-ceiling gamble

I can't help Boehner with his problems, but part b) is on the menu for tonight ;)

...but the government never does it cheaper, or so I've been told

"Here's a rule of thumb to consider for when government should take a role in providing a service: When it's cheaper. That doesn't mean cheaper merely in a narrow sense, such as cheaper at the cash register, or for some people rather than others. Government can always achieve that end simply by subsidizing things by fiat.... Rather, it means cheaper for the economy or society at large."

Of course, you'll hear a certain brand of "conservative" insist that the government can never do anything more efficiently than the private market. As always, when you hear this, you fix them with a cold stare and ask them how efficiently the private market electrified the rural U.S. Or, if they live in the DC area, you can ask them how efficiently the private market built the Greenway extension to the Dulles Toll Road.

"And that points us to the idiocy of an unaccountably popular proposal aired in connection with Washington's "fiscal cliff" cabaret: raising the eligibility age for Medicare.

There seems to be a consensus developing that raising this age to 66 or 67, from today's 65, would be a fairly painless way of demonstrating our commitment to fiscal responsibility. You're all living longer, so what's the big deal? — you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of Medicare, if you're a little more patient.

Best of all, the change would save the federal budget $5.7 billion in 2014 alone.

Calculations such as these typically are made to look good by considering only one side of the ledger, the side showing the cost to government accounts (often only the short-term cost). This is a handy trick that can be applied to almost any situation, the way the ShamWow can mop up any spill.

What's on the other side of the Medicare-age ledger? Plenty... Put it all together, as health economist Austin Frakt did, and you find that saving that $5.7 billion on the federal books would cost society as a whole $11.4 billion. To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, this is how you save money in the Bizarro world."

When government does things better than private enterprise -

in which Jon Chait does his best Juan Manuel Marquez impression

When Jon Chait is on, folks, do not put your guard down until the final bell. I have no idea what I mean by this metaphor, except that the two Tiger-Beaters-On-The-Potomac in question are lying in a bloody mess on the edge of the mat.

"Politico editors Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen today have published what may be the most revealing piece I have ever read about the Washington power elite. The value of the piece is almost entirely anthropological. That is to say, read at face value, it tells the reader almost nothing new. But examined as a cultural specimen, it offers profound insight. The piece reads as if it were written by Upton Sinclair, if he were taken prisoner and trying to smuggle messages out to the world past a particularly literal-minded group of censors."

Politico Accidentally Exposes Beltway Elite -- Daily Intelligencer

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In our hearts they burn

Many thanks to my buddy Bill, who recommended American Gods right before a three-week period featuring two road trips from Nashville to South Bend. And many thanks to the leisure reading collection at the Vandy library, who had a pristine copy on CD. I think it was getting dark around Kokomo when we reached the interlude "Coming to America: 14,000 BC". In that section, an old matriarch, Atsula, has led her people across the land-bridge to Alaska, escaping a natural disaster foretold by a god. And while she certainly believes in the god of her people (because in the world of American Gods, gods actually and empirically exist), she is still skeptical of their true power. Atsula is the first humanist, and tells her people that "Gods are great... but the heart is greater. For it is from our hearts they come, and to our hearts they shall return."

And then I got a hankering for some Insomnium. Totally unconnected events, of course.