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Archive for September 7th, 2021

Why the World Overlooked Canadian Whisky

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Dan Nosowitz had an interesting article in Atlas Obscura a little over a year ago that just came to my attention. It begins:

CANADIAN WHISKY IS ALL CONTRADICTIONS. It’s unknown and yet somehow incredibly popular. It’s critically dismissed but wins global whiskey awards. It’s blended, which whiskey drinkers have been indoctrinated to think means it’s inferior, yet blending is what gives it its quality. Canadian whisky is among the most fascinating liquors on the market. And yet, chances are, if you’ve bought some, you did it by accident.

“What shocked me the first time I wrote a piece about it was how big Canadian whisky was,” says Lew Bryson, a drinks writer and author of several books on whiskey. “It was like an iceberg. So much of it was below the surface, you never noticed it.”

Let’s start with the spelling. Canadians spell it “whisky,” Americans spell it “whiskey.” The former comes from Scotland, the latter from Ireland. Canada has a much larger Scottish influence than the United States does. In distillery-dotted Prince Edward Island, for example, more than 40 percent of the population claims Scottish ancestry, and Nova Scotia literally translates to “New Scotland.” Many of the country’s founding fathers—James Douglas, John A. Macdonald, Alexander Mackenzie—were either Scottish or Scottish-Canadian. In any case, the production of Canadian whisky is more similar to Scotch whisky than it is to Irish or American whiskey, so the spelling makes sense on several levels.

While American whiskey, especially bourbon, has lately carried the connotations of rural, traditional, authentic, and endemic, Canadian whisky largely doesn’t feel like any of those things. That’s probably due to the way the Canadian whisky industry began. The earliest Canadian distillers, which were founded much later than American distillers, in the 1830s or so, weren’t actually distillers, at least not primarily. Instead, they were millers. As a way to use up waste wheat, they fermented and distilled it into liquor. Canadian whisky didn’t start out with small craft distillers; it started with big companies. “It didn’t take long before spirits, whisky, became the major profit centers for these businesses,” says Davin de Kergommeaux, whose book Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert introduced the world of whiskey criticism to the wonders of the Great White North.

For the first century of Canadian whisky, there wasn’t really a Canadian style. Individual distillers went their own way; some were English, and a surprising number, including important ones such as J.P. Wiser’s and Hiram Walker, were American. When the American Civil War disrupted the entire American whiskey industry, Americans imported whisky from Canada, and Canadian distillers even brewed “American style” bourbons specifically for export. Soon Canadian whisky was the best-selling whisky in North America.

But in a continuation of the long tradition of Canada being buffeted about by whatever dumb stuff the United States was doing, the Canadian whisky industry was battered by American Prohibition. Many distillers sold for pennies on the dollar, and Canadian Club sold for less than the value of the whisky in their warehouses. A couple companies did sprout up or thrive by figuring out how to supply the bootlegging market—the Bronfman family of Montreal did it so well that they were able to buy Seagram’s, a longtime Canadian distillery, a few years before Prohibition ended.

While many American distillers and brewers returned to their pre-Prohibition recipes, Canadian whisky evolved, turning into something new. Although de Kergommeaux says there’s no documentation, and no specific date of its creation, the Bronfmans are generally credited with creating the technique of making what we now know as Canadian whisky. By the 1940s, there was a definable style, one extremely unlike American whiskey. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

To make American straight whiskeys, different grains are mashed together, then fermented, distilled, and aged. Canadian whisky is totally different. Instead of mashing all the grains together, Canadian distillers mash, ferment, distill, and age each type of grain separately. Then those finished whiskies are combined. That gives the blender an incredible amount of freedom—each individual grain can get individual attention.

Maybe you want to use toasted new barrels for your rye, heavily charred barrels for your corn, and very old barrels for your barley. Maybe you want to use a rye whiskey that’s been aged for a decade and a barley whiskey that’s brand new. It’s even permitted to add in up to 9.09 percent of finished other liquor. So if you want some sherry tones in your Canadian whisky, well, just add a percent or so of actual sherry. “There’s a lot more paint on the palette,” says de Kergommeaux.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts the vigorous activity of small independent craft distilleries in BC and the really excellent and unusual spirits they produce — not just whiskies, but gins, eau de vies, akvavits, rums, single-malt Scotch-like whiskies, vodkas, and liqueurs. It’s an amazing array of offerings and most of it is of exceptional quality and interest. They are distilled from corn, barley, honey (mead), and even fruit — like Kiss.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 11:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Drinks, History


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Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 11:34 am

McSweeney’s eloquent appeal to get vaccinated

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Wendy Molyneux pens a heartfelt appeal to the public to get vaccinated. It begins:

Oh My Fucking God, Get the Fucking Vaccine Already, You Fucking Fucks

Hi, if you are reading this essay then congratulations, you are still alive. And if you are alive, then you have either gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, or you still have the opportunity to get the vaccine against COVID-19. And holy fuck, if you aren’t fucking vaccinated against COVID-19, then you need to get fucking vaccinated right now. I mean, what the fuck? Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck.

The fucking vaccine will not make you magnetic. Are you fucking kidding me? It just fucking won’t. That’s not even a fucking thing, and that lady who tried to pretend the vaccine made her fucking magnetic looked like a real fucking fuckwad and a fucking idiot, so get fucking vaccinated. Jesus. Fuck.

The vaccine also doesn’t have a fucking 5G chip in it. What the fuck do you think a fucking 5G chip is, fucknuts? You think it’s like some invisible nanotechnology they can suspend in a liquid and then just put in your fucking blood and then it what, exactly? Fucking floats around in your body going on Instagram and telling the government you went to the grocery store? No one fucking cares where you go, you absolute fucking fuck-barf. Fuck off with that. Fuck.

Oh, you’re afraid of fucking side effects? Fuck you. You know what has fucking side effects? Fucking aspirin, fucking Tylenol. You could be fucking allergic to pineapple, you fucking fuckwit. Everything has side effects. You’re being a big fucking baby with a huge diaper full of fucking diarrhea, complaining about maybe feeling slightly tired for a day or two while your asymptomatic COVID case you get and pass to some innocent fucking kid could wind up killing them or someone else. Fuck you, you fucking selfish fucking shit-banana, you unredeemable ass-caterpillar, you fucking fuck-knob with two fucks for eyes and a literal poop where your heart should be. You want a two-month-old to wind up on a fucking ventilator instead of you, a fucking adult, getting a fucking sore arm for a day? What are you, a pitcher for the Yankees? A fucking concert pianist? An arm model? Get the fuck out of here! Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck. Fuck you!

You think vaccines don’t fucking work? Oh, fuck off into the trash, you attention-seeking fuckworm-faced shitbutt. This isn’t even a point worth discussing, you fuck-o-rama fuck-stival of ignorance. Vaccines got rid of smallpox and polio and all the other disgusting diseases that used to kill off little fucks like you en masse. Your relatives got fucking vaccinated and let you live, and now here you are signing up to be killed by a fucking disease against which there is a ninety-nine-percent effective vaccine. You  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

I think she makes a good case.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 11:28 am

Disinformation’s death toll

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Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 11:21 am

The disastrous voyage of Satoshi, the world’s first cryptocurrency cruise ship

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One major drawback to libertarianism is that it doesn’t work — at least, it doesn’t work when it is tried in practice, though it does work reasonably well as a logic game separated from human experience — more or less on the level of Mastermind, but in abstract economics with abstract consumers and corporations.

In the Guardian Sophie Elmhurst describes the most recent Libertarian debacle:

On the evening of 7 December 2010, in a hushed San Francisco auditorium, former Google engineer Patri Friedman sketched out the future of humanity. The event was hosted by the Thiel Foundation, established four years earlier by the arch-libertarian PayPal founder Peter Thiel to “defend and promote freedom in all its dimensions”. From behind a large lectern, Friedman – grandson of Milton Friedman, one of the most influential free-market economists of the last century – laid out his plan. He wanted to transform how and where we live, to abandon life on land and all our decrepit assumptions about the nature of society. He wanted, quite simply, to start a new city in the middle of the ocean.

Friedman called it seasteading: “Homesteading the high seas,” a phrase borrowed from Wayne Gramlich, a software engineer with whom he’d founded the Seasteading Institute in 2008, helped by a $500,000 donation from Thiel. In a four-minute vision-dump, Friedman explained his rationale. Why, he asked, in one of the most advanced countries in the world, were they still using systems of government from 1787? (“If you drove a car from 1787, it would be a horse,” he pointed out.) Government, he believed, needed an upgrade, like a software update for a phone. “Let’s think of government as an industry, where countries are firms and citizens are customers!” he declared.

The difficulty in starting a new form of government, said Friedman, was simply a lack of space. All the land on Earth was taken. What they needed was a new frontier, and that frontier was the ocean. “Let a thousand nations bloom on the high seas,” he proclaimed, with Maoish zeal. He wanted seasteading experiments to start as soon as possible. Within three to six years, he imagined ships being repurposed as floating medical clinics. Within 10 years, he predicted, small communities would be permanently based on platforms out at sea. In a few decades, he hoped there would be floating cities “with millions of people pioneering different ways of living together”.

Politics would be rewritten. The beauty of seasteading was that it offered its inhabitants total freedom and choice. In 2017, Friedman and the “seavangelist” Joe Quirk wrote a book, Seasteading, in which they described how a seasteading community could constantly rearrange itself according to the choices of those who owned the individual floating units. (Quirk now runs the Seasteading Institute; Friedman remains chair of the board.) “Democracy,” the two men wrote, “would be upgraded to a system whereby the smallest minorities, including the individual, could vote with their houses.”

In the decade following Friedman’s talk, a variety of attempts to realise his seasteading vision were all thwarted. “Seavilization,” to use his phrase, remained a fantasy. Then, in October 2020, it seemed his dream might finally come true, when three seasteading enthusiasts bought a 245-metre-long cruise ship called the Pacific Dawn. Grant Romundt, Rüdiger Koch and Chad Elwartowski planned to sail the ship to Panama, where they were based, and park it permanently off the coastline as the centrepiece of a new society trading only in cryptocurrencies. In homage to Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym of bitcoin’s mysterious inventor (or inventors), they renamed the ship the MS Satoshi. They hoped it would become home to people just like them: digital nomads, startup founders and early bitcoin adopters.

Their vision was utopian, if your idea of utopia is a floating crypto-community in the Caribbean Sea. No longer was seasteading a futuristic ideal; it was, said Romundt, “an actual ship”. The Satoshi also offered a chance to marry two movements, of crypto-devotees and seasteaders, united by their desire for freedom – from convention, regulation, tax. Freedom from the state in all its forms. But converting a cruise ship into a new society proved more challenging than envisaged. The high seas, while appearing borderless and free, are, in fact, some of the most tightly regulated places on Earth. The cruise ship industry in particular is bound by intricate rules. As Romundt put it: “We were like, ‘This is just so hard.’”

s with many stories about techno-libertarian fantasies, the tale of the Satoshi begins in an all-male, quasi-frat house in San Francisco in the late 90s. Romundt – a softly spoken Canadian with the optimistic, healthy glow of someone who combines entrepreneurial success with water sports – was living with a bunch of software engineers, all of whom shared an intense dedication to personal improvement. “I was a huge Tony Robbins fan,” Romundt told me in one of several Zoom calls from his office in Panama. (Robbins’ themes of individual freedom, self-mastery and the accrual of significant wealth are evident from the titles of his books from that time: Unlimited Power; Lessons in Mastery; Unleash the Power Within; The Power to Shape Your Destiny, and, next level, Awaken the Giant Within.)

After his San Francisco stint, Romundt, the son of a hairdresser, created ScissorBoy in 2009, a popular online TV series on hairdressing, and then ScheduleBox, a website which offered a digital receptionist service for hairstylists to book in their clients. (Always digitally inclined, he had, according to his website, the world’s “most advanced mobile paperless office in 1995”.) “I used to work 17 hours a day, so I didn’t have a lot of freedom,” he told me. He did, however, make enough money to semi-retire in 2016 and then spent “no more than five hours a month” running his business. The giant fully awakened, he moved back to Canada, where he lived on a houseboat on Lake Ontario and went kayaking in the mornings as the sun came up. Enraptured by his lifestyle, Romundt wondered why everyone wasn’t living this way. On a flight one day, he saw a man wearing a T-shirt with “Stop arguing. Start seasteading” printed on it. Romundt was curious, they got talking, and the man turned out to be Joe Quirk, who was by this time running the Seasteading Institute.

So far, the Seasteading Institute had experienced variable, or zero, success with its projects. Early ideas for a “Baystead” and “Coaststead” off the coast of San Francisco and a “Clubstead”, a resort off the coast of California, never made the leap to reality. An attempt to create a floating island prototype in French Polynesia in 2017 met with fairly fierce resistance from the people of French Polynesia and collapsed a year later when the government pulled out of the scheme.

After meeting Quirk, Romundt decided he wanted to try again. Quirk introduced him to two other aspiring seasteaders, the passionately libertarian American Elwartowski and the bitcoin-wealthy German engineer Koch. Together, the trio founded a company, Ocean Builders. Using their own money, they funded the first attempt at a single residential seastead, in the form of a floating white octagonal box 12 nautical miles off the coast of Thailand. Elwartowski and his girlfriend, Nadia Summergirl, lived there for two months in early 2018, until the Thai government discovered the seastead’s existence and declared it a threat to the country’s independence, possibly punishable by life imprisonment or death. Elwartowski and Summergirl had to flee the country before the Thai navy dispatched three ships to dismantle the floating box. . .

Continue reading. There’s much, much more.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 10:57 am

l’Occitane Cade and the original Rockwell Model T

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As a matter of practice, for Cade shaving soap I use a brush with a synthetic knot, which has always produced a very good lather. With a badger or boar knot, my experience is that the lather is too often subpar. I don’t know why this is, but given my observations, I stick with synthetic for this soap.

And indeed today synthetic delivered again: a very nice lather indeed, easily aroused. The Rockwell Model T is a perfectly good adjustable, though perhaps the T2 has some non-obvious refinements. Still, the shave this morning was easy and harmless and left my face perfectly smooth despite having but a one-day stubble with which to work. Three passes and perfection — who could ask for more.

Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel, though always good to upgrade most aftershave splashes, has a particularly important role when an EDT is used as an aftershave, since an EDT lacks the various aftershave enhancements (e.g., glycerin) that help make a splash more than just a fragrance. A couple of squirts of Hydrating Gel added to the tiny pool of EDT in my palm made the aftershave experience quite good.

It a sunny day, and though autumn is in the air already up here, the temperature for the early afternoon is forecast to be 66ºF, which is fine with me.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 9:15 am

Posted in Shaving

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