Archive for the ‘history’ tag
For many years I’ve heard many variations of the question answered here by the New York Times Ethicist columnist, Chuck Klosterman; whether moral failings or even alleged moral failings are reason enough to avoid the work of certain offending artists.
I was discussing with a friend whether it is permissible to boycott Woody Allen’s films in the wake of the sexual-abuse allegations. We both thought it would be wrong to further empower someone who may have sexually abused a child. But our legal system is built on the principle that the accused are innocent until proved guilty, and preserving that value is important whether or not you believe the allegations. Is it permissible in this case to boycott, or should we presume innocence? J.K., NEW YORK
When news of Dylan Farrow’s accusation against Allen resurfaced earlier this year, I received many emails that were all different versions of the same question: “Is it acceptable to continue watching (and re-watching) Allen’s films if any part of me believes he may have molested his adopted daughter?” Your query is both similar and different; you’re wondering if it’s O.K. to stop watching his movies, even if he has been convicted of absolutely nothing and insists that he’s innocent.
My answer to both questions is yes.
There are many who find themselves wondering if they can still love “Manhattan” or “Crimes and Misdemeanors” if the allegations against Allen are true. It’s highly unlikely, however, that those same people would wonder if they needed to move out of a house if they discovered the carpenter who built it had been accused of the same offense. This is because of art’s exceptionalism — we view artistic endeavors as different from other works. But it’s this same exceptionalism that allows a person to consume art by people they see (rightly or wrongly) as monstrous: What you know about an artist can inform the experience you have with whatever they create. A film is not just a product that has one utility; it’s a collection of ideas that can be weighed and considered in concert with one another.
Watching a movie is not a tacit endorsement of the person who made it.
(click here to continue reading On Boycotting Woody Allen’s Films – NYTimes.com.)
Can you separate the artist as an individual from their work? I settled this question long ago, for myself, by agreeing to let myself read and enjoy poetry written by Ezra Pound. Ezra Pound seems like he was a virulent anti-semite, a Nazi-sympathizer, and so on, and yet his poetry is intriguing. Roman Polanski admitted having drugged and screwed a 13 year old girl, and yet “Chinatown” is still a great film, as is “Knife in the Water”. John Lennon might have hit Yoko Ono a few times, does that mean I can never listen to “Working Class Hero” again? What about David Bowie’s Third Reich fixation during the time of the recording of some of his best albums? The list goes on and on: artists who were assholes, thugs, sexual deviants, or even worse, Scientologists! Does it matter if Henry Ford was a Nazi-sympathizer? Would you still drive a Ford car? Like Mr. Klosterman says, would you boycott your house if you discovered one of the carpenters who worked on your kitchen did some vile thing ten years ago? Where does it stop?
It’s a variant of the old cliché: Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner, in this case, Hate the Artist, Love the Art. Or not, it’s your own choice, and your choice alone to make.
Much less well-known is the West Chicago Street Railroad’s (WCSR) former powerhouse, still standing in the West Loop at Washington Street and Jefferson Street. Equipment in this building drove two cables: one that pulled cable cars through the tunnel under the Chicago River along Washington Street and around the downtown and another shorter cable that pulled cars from Washington Street and Jefferson Street to Madison Street and DesPlaines Street.
This former WCSR powerhouse at Jefferson and Washington streets drove the cables that pulled West Side cable cars through the tunnel under the South Branch of the Chicago River and around two downtown loops. It is now the headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134. The building was vacated in 1906, and for decades it housed the Chicago Surface Line’s Legal and Accident Investigation Department. Subsequently, it was modified—more substantially, perhaps unalterably, than the NCSR’s powerhouse on LaSalle Street. Several dormers were added at the roofline, the rear portion of the building was extended, and the smokestack was removed. Most significantly, a large stone wall covers much of the first floor. Today, the building serves as headquarters for Local 134 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which also hosts the monthly meeting of the 20th Century Railroad Club.
embiggen by clicking
I took Former Powerhouse of West Chicago Street Railroad on January 16, 2013 at 01:10PM
and processed it in my digital darkroom on January 18, 2013 at 04:39PM
Amusingly, since I recently sat through Kevin Costner’s portrayal of a root in’ tooting’ Eliot Ness with tough guy dialogue penned by David Mamet, there seems to be a mild controversy brewing whether or not to name a federal building after Ness who seems to have been quite a lot milder than the fictional version…
Far from the pistol toting, Al Capone-busting Chicago lawman of lore, Eliot Ness “was afraid of guns and he barely left the office,” according to a retired IRS agent who spoke out Friday against naming a federal law enforcement building in honor of the Prohibition-era leader of The Untouchables.
Ness was lionized thanks in part to oversimplified Chicago newspaper articles about the fight against Capone that downplayed the essential but less sensational role the Internal Revenue Service played in bringing the bootlegger to justice for tax evasion, said former agents at a City Hall hearing. Those early accounts were later conflated by authors and Hollywood producers into what they said was the legendary-but-inaccurate Ness character portrayed by Robert Stack on TV and Kevin Costner on film.
The testimony came as aldermen took a closer look at a notorious chapter in Chicago’s history with a movement afoot to rename after Ness the headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington, D.C. U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk are pushing for the name change, but veteran Southwest Side Ald. Ed Burke, a history buff, says Ness simply doesn’t deserve the honor.
Other Ness critics say his personal shortcomings contradict the strait-laced, incorruptible persona that brought him fame. By the end of his life, Ness was in debt, drinking heavily and had cheated on all three of his wives, according to several biographical accounts.
(click here to continue reading Chicago aldermen: Eliot Ness overhyped – chicagotribune.com.)
from the original press release, January 10, 2014:
Illinois’ U.S. senators proposed today that a major federal law-enforcement building in the nation’s capital be named for Eliot Ness, the Prohibition-era crime fighter who helped bring down Chicago gangster Al Capone.
The headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, built in recent years, would be called the Eliot Ness ATF Building under the senators’ resolution.…
“America’s fight against dangerous drug gangs is far from over,” Kirk said in a statement with the two other senators, “but in honoring Eliot Ness’ public service and his tireless crime fighting we reaffirm our commitment to safe streets and ensure that justice is brought to the Illinois families who have suffered.”
Added Durbin: “Chicago gangster Al Capone believed that every man had his price. But for Eliot Ness and his legendary law enforcement team, ‘The Untouchables,’ no amount of money could buy their loyalty or sway their dedication to Chicago’s safety.”
(click here to continue reading ‘Untouchable’ idea — building named for Eliot Ness – Chicago Tribune.)
I don’t know much of the history myself, but I would not be surprised if notorious press manipulator J. Edgar Hoover did not have some involvement in the marketing of The Untouchables.
As an aside, do you have a good suggestion for a book on this topic?
The Nigerian scam may seem like a scourge of the Internet age, but it actually predates email. Before we started getting all-caps proposals in our inboxes, con men in West Africa plied their trade by fax and paper letter. Some of the first scams to make their way to Western Europe arrived by telex in 1989 and 1990, when businessmen in Britain started hearing that a wayward tanker of Nigerian crude could have its cargo claimed for bargain prices — in exchange, of course, for some cash upfront. Before then, Nigerian fraudsters aimed their grifts at locals. One scheme was the “wash-wash,” a literal money-laundering in which the mark is shown a valise of supposed bills blackened with Vaseline and iodine and promised a cut if he pays for an expensive cleaning agent.
(click here to continue reading Who Made That Nigerian Scam? – NYTimes.com.)
The scam is even older than that:
“Some of these guys came out and started perpetrating fraud,” says Andrew Apter, an Africa historian at U.C.L.A. “They used the language and insignias and letterhead of financial offices to lure people in.”
Apter has traced this sort of misuse of official iconography as far back as a century. When Nigeria was established as a colony under British rule in 1914, its first governor cracked down on scammers in fake uniforms who claimed to be collecting taxes on behalf of the empire. The advance-fee scam itself — whereby payments are extracted from a sucker who hopes to gain an enormous treasure — seems to have originated elsewhere. According to Robert Whitaker, a historian at the University of Texas, an earlier version of the con, known as the Spanish Swindle or the Spanish Prisoner trick, plagued Britain throughout the 19th century.
(click here to continue reading Who Made That Nigerian Scam? – NYTimes.com.)
The Spanish Prisoner is a confidence trick originating in the late 16th century.
In its original form, the confidence trickster tells his victim (the mark) that he is (or is in correspondence with) a wealthy person of high estate who has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity. Some versions had the imprisoned person being an unknown or remote relative of the mark.
Supposedly the prisoner cannot reveal his identity without serious repercussions, and is relying on a friend (the confidence trickster) to raise money to secure his release. The confidence trickster offers to let the mark put up some of the funds, with a promise that he will be financially rewarded when the prisoner returns, and perhaps also by gaining the hand of a beautiful woman represented to be the prisoner’s daughter. After the mark has turned over the funds, he is informed that further difficulties have arisen and more money is needed. With such explanations, the trickster continues to press for more money until the victim is cleaned out or declines to put up more funds.
(click here to continue reading Spanish Prisoner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
Every deed and action that humans have done to each other has already been done in prior centuries…
Former USPS building, now to be? Casino? who knows…
Bill Davies bought the site, but I don’t know if his plans have yet been finalized.
Bill Davies, the secretive British investor who wants to redevelop the old Chicago Main Post Office, is making a new bid for credibility with revised plans for the massive building that straddles Congress Parkway.
His latest proposal, which got its first airing at a community meeting Tuesday night, calls for making the federally landmarked building a mostly residential and parking complex and the centerpiece for surrounding hotel rooms, stores and offices.
Davies has hired Chicago architect Joseph Antunovich of Antunovich Associates to craft the plans for a first phase of 5.2 million square feet, more than what’s in Willis Tower. It would include a 1,000-foot-tall building east of the post office, and a later phase envisions a tower that would top Willis in height.
Everything changes eventually, but is there a good reason to kick out Sam Sianis from this location of the Billy Goat? Doubtful, just greedy real estate corporations…
No Pepsi. No fries. No desire to change things.
The Billy Goat Tavern has been a Chicago landmark for generations and a fixture underneath North Michigan Avenue for almost 50 years. And its owner wants to remain there, regardless of whatever redevelopment goes on above it.
Sam Sianis, who runs the tavern and is the nephew of the Billy Goat’s original owner, William Sianis, said Tuesday that he knew nothing of potential plans for a massive redevelopment disclosed Monday that would involve replacing the Realtor Building at 430 N. Michigan Ave. That project, on property located above the Goat, would at least temporarily displace the tavern from the subterranean location it has called home since 1964.
“I want to stay here,” Sianis said. “I’ve been here for almost 50 years. Like the Realtors, I’m part of Michigan Avenue.”
…”Nothing has changed since 1964,” Sianis said. “Nothing has changed from the time we opened up to now.”
Asked if he’d like a more modern, fancier new home as part of a new development, Sianis fell back on the cadence — No fries! Chips! No Pepsi! Coke! — immortalized by John Belushi in the “Saturday Night Live” skit that made the place famous.
“No fancy,” Sianis said. “I want it to be the same.”
Staying put wouldn’t be an option if the building above it is razed and redeveloped, but the National Association of Realtors thinks it has come up with the next best thing: Pick up the various pieces of the tavern, picture frame by picture frame and chair by chair, and move the Goat across the street.
(click here to continue reading Billy Goat proprietor wants to stay put amid planned development – chicagotribune.com.)
Moving to a location in the basement under the Wrigley Building would be ok, though I wonder how much the odor of the hamburgers, chips, Pepsi waft up to the floors above?
Chuck Sudo of the Chicagoist describes the planned development thus:
An ambitious project to turn one of Michigan Avenue’s iconic buildings into a mixed-use “destination building” could have some short-term consequences for tourists and local media folk. The National Association of Realtors board unanimously approved a plan to raze its 13-story building at 430 N. Michigan Ave. and replace it with a new building including a high-end hotel, condominiums, office and retail space and an open plaza. The proposed new building would be mirrored after the NAR’s New York City-based project and could be as much as 93 stories high.
The NAR would also relocate its headquarters to Chicago which the Emanuel administration would surely tout in a press release as another sign the mayor is bringing jobs to Chicago if this project gets the green light. The NAR has an unnamed partner in the project. Pamela Monroe, chair of NAR’s Real Property Operations Committee, would only say the group is “a world-class partner with premium credentials” that is “very private” and “extremely well-capitalized.” The Realtor building is one of the few properties remaining on North Michigan Avenue that hasn’t been developed in recent years and the NAR bought the building behind it that houses 437 Rush restaurant.
(click here to continue reading Michigan Avenue Development Project Could Displace Billy Goat Tavern For A Spell: Chicagoist.)
I wonder if the “hex” on the Chicago Cubs would be broken if the Billy Goat was forced to move?
The Goat’s role in Chicago as a well-known bar goes back generations. It has been a hangout for journalists for decades and earned headlines regularly through owner William Sianis, an impresario as well as barkeeper. He’s the one who placed a hex on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 after his pet goat was kicked out of Wrigley Field during the World Series.
And the slow, sad decline of the Wall Street Journal continues under Rupert Murchoch’s helm. Today’s edition of Punditry Gone Wrong is via an OpEd from noted policy expert Suzanne Somers.
Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine writes:
Reminder: This appeared in The Wall Street Journal.
In addition to offering her “down and dirty” advice for retirees, Somers has strong views on socialism:
And then there is another consideration: It’s the dark underbelly of the Affordable Care Act reminiscent of what Lenin and Churchill both said. Lenin: “Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state.” Churchill: “Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens.”
Unsurprisingly, Lenin never said that line — it’s a decades-old right-wing fabrication. The more curious line is the Churchill quote. It’s almost certainly fake, too; it does not appear in the LexisNexis database or in Google. Unless Somers has done original archival work on Churchill, she seems to have fabricated that quote on her own, or possibly received it via chain e-mail.
But the more interesting question is what does Somers think it means? Does she believe Churchill was warning the world of the dangers of a national health-care system? If so, that’s weird, because he strongly favored such a system. Given the latter, is she holding up Churchill as another European despot who, like Lenin, sought to impose universal health care on his citizens? Somers’s side-by-side listing of Churchill with Lenin, along with Churchill’s actual support for nationalized health care, makes the latter more plausible.
(click here to continue reading Suzanne Somers’s Strong WSJ Obamacare Critique — Daily Intelligencer.)
News You Can’t Use
Philip Bump of the Atlantic adds:
Her argument bounces around a bit, but centers on three things. First: Canadian health care doesn’t work and Canadian doctors want to come to the United States because “they want to reap financial rewards.” Second: Pre-existing condition coverage is good for seniors, but nothing else is. And, third: Lenin and Churchill saw health care as a tool to control the public.
The Canadian stuff is based mostly on an anecdote. That her sister-in-law had to wait to see a doctor is sad! But an old Maclean’s article isn’t terribly compelling, nor would be the idea that Canadian doctors want to come to America to make money. That’s the whole point! Doctors here have far fewer limitations on their ability to make money, which is one factor in increasing health care costs. If you were told you could make way more money doing the same thing somewhere else, you might move, too. That doesn’t mean you’re doing bad work where you are. Regardless, Somers’ claim is not true.
As for the elderly, Somers is very concerned about their health coverage, though in generally vague ways. She acknowledges the value of covering preexisting conditions, but then segues into “let’s get down and dirty; the word ‘affordable’ is a misnomer.” Why? Because premiums are “doubling and tripling” as you “hear on the news” and “most frightening of all, your most intimate and personal information is now up for grabs.” In this case, “the news” probably means Hannity, and “personal information” means … no idea. No idea what that means. She of course misses the whole point about pre-existing conditions: yes, premiums for some people with pre-existing conditions will go up — since many pay no premiums, since they can’t get coverage. And that’s good for kids with cancer just as it is for the elderly.
(click here to continue reading Having Conquered Cellulite, Suzanne Somers Takes On Obamacare – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire.)
update: apparently, Mr. Murdoch’s fact checker army had been furloughed, but are now back in the office. The WSJ appended this to the bottom of the story later on today:
CORRECTIONS AND AMPLIFICATIONS:
An earlier version of this post contained a quotation attributed to Lenin (“Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state”) that has been widely disputed. And it included a quotation attributed to Churchill (“Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens“) that the Journal has been unable to confirm.
Also, the cover of a Maclean’s magazine issue in 2008 showed a picture of a dog on an examining table with the headline “Your Dog Can Get Better Health Care Than You.” An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the photo showed and headline referred to a horse.
(click here to continue reading Suzanne Somers: The Affordable Care Act Is a Socialist Ponzi Scheme – The Experts – WSJ.)
I’ve never actually tasted rock and rye, though I’ve heard many, many songs mention it. Charlie Spand, Grateful Dead, Wood Guthrie, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and others come to mind.
Rock and Rye has always been seen as distinctively American—it was one of the few domestic liquors presented at the American pavilion of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. When sociologist Edward Alsworth Ross wrote about immigrants in his 1914 text “The Old World and the New,” the drink was the very symbol of assimilation: “In the Italian home the bottle of ‘rock and rye’ is seen with increasing frequency by the side of the bottle of Chianti.”
As befits a rock-solid piece of Americana, the drink found its way into a succession of popular songs. There was a “Rock and Rye Rag,” a “Rock and Rye Polka,” and barrelhouse piano man Charlie Spand belted out a blues in praise of “Rock and Rye,” marveling that “You got good stuff/ I can’t drink enough.” Blind Lemon Jefferson, in the “Big Night Blues,” hollered “Wild women like their liquor/their gin and their Rock and Rye.”
The most demonstrative ode to the pleasures of Rock and Rye came in the 1948 ditty of that name sung by Tex Ritter: “When there’s worry on your mind, here’s what you should try/Go to bed and rest your head and take some Rock and Rye.” Soon old Tex is slurring the drink’s praises, and in-between giddy hiccups there comes the declarative clank of ice in a glass, followed by the satisfying gurgle of liquor being poured.
But the greatest musical tribute to the sugared whiskey concoction came in 1934 when Earl Hines and his Orchestra recorded a hard-charging dance chart called “Rock and Rye,” penned by arranger Jimmy Mundy. It was the sort of swing anthem that would soon catapult Benny Goodman and his band to fame. That’s because, in 1935, Goodman hired Mundy away from Hines, and the killer-diller Mundy style on display in “Rock and Rye” would distinguish many of Goodman’s biggest hits, including the definitive Swing Era epic, “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
(click here to continue reading How’s Your Drink? Eric Felten on the Rock and Rye – WSJ.com.)
Here’s a recipe, if you are feeling adventurous. Have you ever tried a sip? or to make it? I’m not quite sure what horehound is, but according to Robert Johnson, it might already be on your trail…
Rock and Rye
Adapted from LeNell Smothers
- 1 bottle rye whiskey
- 3-5 tbsp rock candy
- 2 slices orange
- 2 slices lemon
- 2 pieces dried apricot
- 1 slice pineapple
- 1 tea bag full of dried horehound
Combine whiskey and sugar in a jar or decanter. All other ingredients optional.
Allow all—except for horehound tea bag—to steep for a day or two or more. Leave horehound in for no more than two hours. When sugar is finally dissolved, strain and bottle.
Cough a few times and clutch your chest in distress. Then serve the Rock and Rye on the rocks.
CHICAGO — Police destroyed a million-dollar racket when they trapped a powerful gang of counterfeiters dealing in American Express Company’s travelers’ checks. Working on information received from a stoolpigeon in the underworld of Pittsburgh and aided by the double-crossing of several of the gang’s Eastern distributors, police arrested nine men, including the notorious George H. (“Bugs”) Moran, once claimant to the throne of Chicago’s gangdom. The counterfeiting gang was organized on the ruins of the mob which once ruled Chicago’s North Side under the iron leadership of Moran. The thugs who made up the old mob were killed or scattered in gang warfare with the henchmen of Scarface Al Capone, the South Side mobster who is now serving an eleven-year term in Alcatraz for income-tax evasion. A remnant of the old gang carried on until the repeal of prohibition broke its back. Police heard little of Moran until about six weeks ago. …
1938 Al Capone’s Arch Foe is Arrested
I have nothing to add to the discussion re: the horrible events at the Boston Marathon, so I’ll echo what Wittgenstein wrote in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
I did wonder what the phrase: false flag attack meant. The right-wing nut jobs accuse the government of setting the bombs off for whatever twisted reason the nut jobs came up with. Seems ludicrous to you and me, but then we are sane.
Philip Bump of the Atlantic explains:
What is a “false flag” attack?
The term originates with naval warfare. For centuries, ships have sailed under a flag identifying their nationality. During times of war, ships would sometimes change the national flag they flew in order to fool other vessels that they sought to attack or escape from. They would fly, in other words, a “false flag.” The term then expanded to mean any scenario under which a military attack was undertaken by a person or organization pretending to be something else.
What the questioner was asking, then, was: Did the United States government orchestrate this attack, pretending to be a terrorist organization of some sort, in order to justify expanded security powers?
Is There Historical Precedent for Such a Move by a Government?
The most famous example, however, is contentious. Conspiracy theorists (of which there are a lot in America) often suggest that the 1933 fire at the Reichstag in Berlin was a “false flag” operation by the Nazis to consolidate power and undermine the Communist Party. This is still a subject of debate among historians, some of whom think the man convicted of the crime, Marinus van der Lubbe, was actually responsible. In 1998, a German court exonerated van der Lubbe.
The nexus of fascist government manipulation and phony disasters has proven difficult for theorists to resist. Following most attacks similar to Monday’s bombings, there have been accusations that they serve as a tool of government oppression.
For example, the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary were quickly labeled a “false flag” operation by conspiracy theorists, the implication being that the Obama administration wanted to use the tragedy to tighten gun restrictions. If that was the president’s goal, the Senate wasn’t on board with it.
(click here to continue reading What Is a ‘False Flag’ Attack, and What Does Boston Have to Do with This? – Philip Bump – The Atlantic Wire.)
I guess I knew what that meant after all, just didn’t know the exact historically accurate phrase. I truly doubt the government decided to use Boston marathon runners as fodder in expanding the War on Terror, or the War on Gold, or whatever the nut jobs are speculating about.
From Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon:
On his radio show, Jones speculated that it may have to do with the sudden drop in the price of gold, a favorite commodity of paranoids everywhere. “With gold plunging, what could this signify?” he asked rhetorically. He also noted that Boston has special significance in American history, and because it’s where one of the planes took off from on 9/11. “I said on air that they’re getting ready to blow something up. To fire a shot heard round the world like at Lexington and Concord, and then they do it at this same place on the same day!” he said.
As Alex Altman of Time noted on Twitter, “Today is Patriots’ Day, which has significance for militia movement. McVeigh bombed Murrah Bldg on Patriots’ Day in 1995.” Patriots’ Day, a civil holiday in Massachusetts, commemorates those battles outside Boston that sparked the American Revolution. The holiday is now celebrated on the third Monday of April, though the battles actually took place on April 19, meaning the two dates are often conflated.
In addition to the Oklahoma City Bombing, which occurred on the 19th, the date also coincides with the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. As John Avalon wrote for the Daily Beast in 2010, the day has “emerged as a ‘Hatriot’ holiday for some anti-government activists and militia groups.”
This year, Patriots’ Day also falls on Tax Day, another important date for right-wing extremists. For all these reasons, Jones predicted that while “they might blame it on the Muslims, they’re going to blame it on the Tea Party.”
(click here to continue reading Alex Jones: Boston explosion a government conspiracy – Salon.com.)
There is usually a bit of history behind nearly every human endeavor, in this case, brandy.
Sometimes the influence of history is much less ideological. In fact, sometimes it can come down to something as base as money. The perfect example of this is Cognac. The origins of one of the world’s best-known digestifs is tied purely to commerce and geography.
The Charentes region, just north of Bordeaux, has produced wine since Roman times. During the 13th century, as international commerce began to develop, the region also was a source of salt. The Dutch, who were the world’s shippers at that point, started shipping the local wine as well as the salt. Because the region is also very close to the Limousin forest, where oak trees in particular grew, the container of choice became the oak barrel. Even today, oak sourced from the Limousin forest is the wood of choice for Cognac makers.
But there was a problem — the wine would often spoil during transport.
As a result, during the 17th century the Dutch began to distil the wine. Distillation involves boiling the wine and essentially concentrating it, with the result being a high-alcohol liquid. The name for this in Dutch was “Brandt Wein,” which translates as “Burnt Wine.” Eventually, it became known simply as brandy.
I have heard a few stories as to why they did this, aside from the spoilage factor. One was that barrels of “table wine” took up a lot of space on the boats and shippers were taxed based on the quantity of liquid that they were exporting. Another was that they could add this alcohol to drinking water to keep it from spoiling for their seamen as they travelled the world. This could explain why South Africa, which was also a Dutch colony, became known as a producer of brandy.
However, what happened was that both the Dutch and the French producers began to see that leaving this alcohol, or eau de vie, in oak barrels for prolonged periods actually improved it.
And so, a new type of alcohol product was born, purely out of the need to export.
(click here to continue reading Some historical influences help explain wine, spirits.)
Reading this article in the NYT recently, made me think…
Forty years ago, Mr. Morse would snowshoe into the forest with his father to collect sap from galvanized buckets and load them onto a tractor. The farm has not changed much since then, but the winters have. So has the maple syrup ritual itself.
Scientists say the tapping season — the narrow window of freezing nights and daytime temperatures over 40 degrees needed to convert starch to sugar and get sap flowing — is on average five days shorter than it was 50 years ago. But technology developed over the past decade and improved in recent years offers maple farmers like Mr. Morse a way to offset the effects of climate change with high-tech tactics that are far from natural.
Today, five miles of pressurized blue tubing spider webs down the hillside at Morse Farm, pulling sap from thousands of trees and spitting it into tubs like an immense, inverse IV machine. Modern vacuum pumps are powerful enough to suck the air out of a stainless steel dairy tank and implode it, and they help producers pull in twice as much sap as before.
(click here to continue reading Maple Syrup Takes Turn Toward Technology – NYTimes.com.)
Forty years ago? That would be in the 1970s, and as it happened, I witnessed first hand such production at my family’s 100 acre spread called Frostpocket. I put out a call for some photos of it, and so far, have received three.
Frostpocket Maple Syrup Shack, originally uploaded by swanksalot. [scanned from a print, and slightly retouched in Photoshop]
The site of the Frostpocket Maple Sugar shack (photo taken a few years after we moved away)
As part of our family history, partially excerpted from:
In the spring of 1974 George tapped a few maple trees around his house and made five gallons of maple syrup. His evaporator was an old-fashioned flat steel pan that had been given to him by Wilfred. The next year George surveyed the hillside between Randy’s house site and south of the log cabin and found places for 288 taps. That spring he had the help of Greg Sperry and Bie Engelen, who had wintered over in the cabin, and of Colleen, who was pregnant with Katie.
George placed the old flat pan outdoors near his house and carried the sap to the pan in the old fashioned way, in buckets. The first run of sap was on April 7 followed by runs on April 15 and 16, April 20 and 21 and on April 22 and 23. Colleen pulled a muscle while carrying buckets of sap through the deep snow and her doctor ordered her to stop. She devoted her time to curing and smoking last year’s hams and starting tomato plants for the garden while George and Bie continued working in the bush until the weather turned warm and the sap stopped running. George made 25 gallons of syrup that year, much of which was amber or dark. George sold some of the syrup and used the rest at home as a sweetener. In the fall of 1975 a shed was built in the flats below the log cabin and the evaporator pan moved there. A large quantity of standing dead balsam fir trees were cut from the edges of the clearing and stacked near the shed for use as firewood the following spring.
Per my dad: “homemade tubing washer, taken about 1978.”
The eroded granite hills of the Eagle Lake Uplands are an ideal environment for the rock or sugar maple and the sugar maple is the dominant tree on the stony hilltops of Machar Township. The first generation of pioneers placed a high value on maple sugar and brought sugaring off equipment with them when they settled the township in the 1880s. By the 1970s there were half dozen maple syrup producers in the Uplands community.
The boiler where we made maple syrup, after about ten years of neglect.
For the 1977 sugar season, George designed a system of dump stations to reduce the effort needed to collect the sap. Gathering the sap from the sap buckets and hauling it to the evaporator is the most laborious part of making maple syrup. At least once a day when the sap is running, every bucket has to be emptied and the sap delivered to the evaporator and boiled to syrup as quickly as possible. On a warm day any delay might result in a finished product that is “dark”.
If the sap is left in the buckets overnight and the temperature stays warm throughout the night the sap may begin to ferment and will spoil. The spoiled sap can still be boiled into syrup but is will be very dark, have an after taste and be difficult or impossible to sell. Furthermore the spoiled sap will contaminate the buckets, tubing and storage tanks making any syrup produced thereafter more likely to be dark.
Most modern sugar bushes use a system of tubes that moves the sap directly from each tap to the evaporator house without the use of buckets. In January or February 1977 George and Philip set up 22 dump stations connected by black plastic PVC tubing to one of two storage tanks. One storage tank was mounted next to the evaporator in the sugarhouse. The other was a transfer tank located in a low spot between the log cabin and George’s house.
The men used a gas-driven gear pump to move the sap from the transfer tank to the storage tank in the sugarhouse. The sap was collected from the buckets hanging from each tap in the usual way but instead of carrying the sap to the evaporator, it was carried to the nearest dump station. From the dump station the sap flowed by gravity through the tubing to one of the storage tanks. Whenever the storage tank was partially full, George would build a fire under the evaporator and began to boil the sap into syrup. As the level in the evaporator dropped he would open a valve to move sap from the storage tank into the evaporator.
The old flat evaporator made syrup in batches. When all of the syrup in the pan was ready, George poured the finished syrup into retail containers and then sealed the cans. In 1977 he purchased a more modern evaporator that had partitions built into it. The sap continuously entered at one end of the pan and moved slowly to the other end where it was taken off as syrup.
George always made the syrup while Philip and Debbie emptied the sap buckets and carried the sap to the dump stations. When the storage tank was near empty the sap in the transfer tank was pumped over to the storage tank and George continued to make syrup until both tanks were empty. After a good run the evaporator was kept boiling until late into the night.
and to quote myselffrom 2010:
Maple syrup season was always my favorite time of year as a kid: spring meant snow was beginning to melt, plus there was lot of opportunity to play in mud as I walked the mile home from where the school bus dropped me off. I didn’t participate much in the actual maple harvesting process, but it does have an evocative smell which I can still recall after all these intervening years.
I don’t plan on joining in on the Ten Years After song and dance routine currently stumbling down Bad Memory Lane – Operation Iraqi Liberation was always a boondoggle, and I don’t feel celebratory towards its inception, nor nostalgic for those days when liberals were accused of being traitors, or worse. There were those of us who did march the streets in opposition to the invasion of a sovereign country on the flimsiest of pretexts, but then, as now, our voices were ignored and marginalized. This tiny blog itself1 was created because I needed somewhere to vent about the ridiculousness of it all.
Charles Pierce writes along the same lines, albeit with more vitriol, about war mongers like Bill Keller, Richard Perle and David Frum:
And precisely what risk did you “manage” ? What chance did you take? You gambled with other people’s children in a game you’d helped rig. What cost was exacted from you, sitting your fat ass in a swivel chair at a wingnut intellectual chop-shop while kids are still staggering around the wards without legs and arms, or the cognitive functions to get them through the day? What price did you pay? You have to send out for lunch one day? Show me the butcher’s bill for the Perle household, you vampire son of a bitch.
And let us not forget Perle’s onetime co-author, David Frum, who’s mysteriously been allowed through the tradesmen’s entrance back into the discourse conducted by decent people. It should be recalled, before we all start doing that which Winston Wolf cautioned us not to do, that Frum did a lot more than write one speech in 2002. Two years later, he also wrote a discreetly McCarthyite book with the aforementioned Perle called An End To Evil. If we’d found a single cache of biotoxins anywhere in Iraq, Frum would have been waving his warrior dick at CPAC last weekend. Instead, we hear about Dick Cheney, and Tony Blair, and how really sorry David Frum is for the hand he played in the deaths of so many people who are not named David Frum.
Shut up, all of you. Go away. You are complicit in one way or another in a giant crime containing many great crimes. Atone in secret. Wash the blood off your hands in private. Because there were people who got it right. Anthony Zinni. Eric Shiseki. Hans Blix. Mohamed ElBaradei. The McClatchy Washington bureau guys. Dozens of liberal academics who got called fifth-columnists and worse. Professional military men whose careers suffered as a result. Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets around the world. The governments of Canada and France. Those people, I will listen to this week. Go to hell, the rest of you, and go there in silence and in shame.
(click here to continue reading Iraq War Anniversary New York Times – Pleased To Be Shutting The Piehole Now – Esquire.)
There were other chicken hawks and war mongers equally as vile, like Andrew Sullivan:
Andrew Sullivan is re-publishing his posts as a war blogger: March, 2003 bit.ly/Z05QkS For the purpose of showing how wrong he was.
— Jay Rosen(@jayrosen_nyu) March 4, 2013
The horrible irony is that thanks to our collective amnesia, most people today mistakenly identify Andrew Sullivan’s punditry with intellectual courage — that he turned against Bush’s war earlier than most of his fellow neocon pundits, supposedly at great risk to his reputation and “brand” because he turned on the very same bloodthirsty war mob he’d been organizing and firing up for years — lending him contrarian credibility… despite his record of viciously attacking critics of Bush’s war as traitors, collaborators with terrorism and evil, at a time when being targeted as a national traitor by a major media figure like Sullivan was genuinely dangerous to a critic’s career.
People are already forgetting the ugly explosion of McCarthyism in this country around the invasion of Iraq and the months afterwards, just as they’ve forgotten the attack dog role that Andrew Sullivan played in all of that, before his allegedly “brave” turn away from Bush and towards a safer weathervane politics of libertarianism and Obama-boosterism.
(click here to continue reading If Andrew Sullivan Is The Future of Journalism Then Journalism Is Fucked.)
On the tenth anniversary of the American-led invasion of Iraq, Media Matters looks back at the work of some of the media’s most prominent pro-war voices. Instead of facing consequences for backing the invasion based on information that turned out to be false and criticizing war opponents, many of these media figures continue to hold positions of influence and continue to provide foreign policy reporting and commentary.
Paul Gigot / Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
Fred Hiatt / Washington Post Editorial Page
(click here to continue reading Where Are The Media’s Iraq War Boosters 10 Years Later? | Research | Media Matters for America.)
Eric Boehlert adds a thought: could those of us gnashing our teeth in 2002 have been able to reach the corporate media through Twitter? And changed the trajectory of that sad history? Probably not, but maybe…
Thinking about the historic failure of the Times and others in the media a decade ago, I couldn’t help wish that Twitter had been around during the winter of 2002-2003 to provide a forum for critics to badger writers like Keller and the legion of Beltway media insiders who abdicated their role as journalists and fell in line behind the Bush White House’s march to war. I wouldn’t have cared that recipients might have been insulted by the Twitter critiques or seen them as mean and shallow, the way Keller does today. Sorry, but the stakes in 2003 were too high to worry about bruised feelings.
Looking back, I wish Keller and other pro-war columnists had been “bullied” (rhetorically) as they got almost everything wrong about the pending war. I think the revolutionary peer connection tool would have been invaluable in shaming journalists into doing their jobs when so many failed to. (Keller later admitted the invasion was a “monumental blunder.”)
Twitter could have helped puncture the Beltway media bubble by providing news consumers with direct access to confront journalists during the run-up to the war. And the pass-around nature of Twitter could have rescued forgotten or buried news stories and commentaries that ran against the let’s-go-to-war narrative that engulfed so much of the mainstream press.
Considering the central role the lapdog media played in helping to sell President Bush’s pre-emptive invasion, I wonder if Twitter could have stopped the Iraq War.
Make no mistake, the nascent liberal blogosphere was raising its collective voice against the war in 2003 and calling out the press for its lapdog ways. In fact, one of the catalysts for the rapid expansion of the liberal blogosphere one decade ago was the ingrained sense of frustration. Progressive often searched in vain for passionate and articulate anti- war voices within the mainstream media. (And when they found a champion, Phil Donahue, he was summarily fired just weeks before the invasion.) Denied a voice, they created their own platform, liberal blogs.
The problem was the liberal blogosphere got the war story right, but they did it in something of a bubble. It was a bubble the mainstream media bolstered to isolate their progressive critics; to isolate and marginalize the new band of rowdy citizen journalists. Still new enough in 2002 and 2003 that they didn’t necessarily command journalists’ respect, and lacking the technological ability to reach into newsrooms, liberal blogs were often ignored by media elite, despite the fact the blogs were raising all the questions about the pending war.
(click here to continue reading Could Twitter Have Stopped The Media’s Rush To War In Iraq? | Blog | Media Matters for America.)
via Matt Wuerker, a final thought…Footnotes:
US Saigon Rift.PNG
The BBC has disclosed troubling history of Richard Nixon’s actions during the 1968 election, news I’ve not seen reported elsewhere. I just searched again, and for instance, The New York Times hasn’t mentioned this revelation, nor has The Washington Post, nor The Wall Street Journal. I wonder why? I’m not a conspiracy minded person, but it is a bit ironic that a British paper scooped the American press on a bit of American history.
Anyway, the BBC reports that Richard Nixon definitively sabotaged the peace talks between North and South Vietnam on the eve of the 1968 election by promising the government of Nguyen Van Thieu they would get a better deal if they waited until Nixon won the election. Foolishly, the South Vietnamese took this advice, and the Paris peace talks ended. Of course, the Vietnam War didn’t end for another 5 years, with thousands of U.S. casualties and thousands more Vietnamese casualties needlessly incurred.
There is no two ways about this: Richard Nixon deemed his own election chances more important than his country. Treasonous fuck.
The idea that Johnson might have been the candidate, and not Hubert Humphrey, is just one of the many secrets contained on the White House tapes.
They also shed light on a scandal that, if it had been known at the time, would have sunk the candidacy of Republican presidential nominee, Richard Nixon.
By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks – or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had “blood on his hands”.
It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign.
He therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault (born Chen Xiangmei – Chinese: 陳香梅), a senior campaign adviser.
At a July meeting in Nixon’s New York apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would come via Chennault.
In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris – concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.
Chennault was despatched to the South Vietnamese embassy with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal.
So on the eve of his planned announcement of a halt to the bombing, Johnson learned the South Vietnamese were pulling out.
He was also told why. The FBI had bugged the ambassador’s phone and a transcripts of Anna Chennault’s calls were sent to the White House. In one conversation she tells the ambassador to “just hang on through election”.
Johnson was told by Defence Secretary Clifford that the interference was illegal and threatened the chance for peace.
In a series of remarkable White House recordings we can hear Johnson’s reaction to the news.
In one call to Senator Richard Russell he says: “We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee, our California friend, has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends both, he has been doing it through rather subterranean sources. Mrs Chennault is warning the South Vietnamese not to get pulled into this Johnson move.”
(click here to continue reading BBC News – The Lyndon Johnson tapes: Richard Nixon’s ‘treason’.)
And yet, Johnson never went public with Nixon’s treasonous behavior. I wonder if LBJ had, and the country became understandably outraged, would Nixon have won the election? Probably not as it was so close. Also, would Regan’s team been bold enough to rig the end of the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1980? Also, probably not.
Update, at least one major news outlet has covered the story: Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. She compares Richard Nixon’s treason with the intentional misinformation in the run-up to the Operation for Iraqi Liberation, as the Iraq War was originally called before they realized the joke (O.I.L.) was a bit too obvious.