Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire.

I confess that I put off sampling this offering for quite a while. A little honey in my whiskey? Sure! But cinnamon? That gave me pause. However, of late I have been trying a number of flavored whiskeys for review here and I finally got around to this one.

I was honestly surprised at how much I liked it. There is a real nose of cinnamon, but the flavor is just slightly sweet (you can definitely taste the brown sugar). Because of its sweetness, I was hesitant to experiment with any mixers (and it stands just fine when served neat), but I was already planning a batch of bourbon slushees,1 so…

I have to warn you that this is a weak drink, measuring a mere 70 proof (35% ABV)–practically soda pop! And you’ll need to rally be in the mood for something sweet to properly enjoy it.2 That said, I have the remains of a fifth chilling now so I can sip it this afternoon while I float in the pool.

You can pick up a fifth for around $20 (a bit more for my friends in the UK).

Here is a review from The Whiskey Exchange.

1 Technically I made sour mash slushees and they were a big hit (I used apple juice concentrate, black tea, and JD’s Tennessee Fire in my recipe). It goes well with hot cider, too.

2 Yes, I am generally in such a mood. It goes with being a drunk.

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Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Jameson’s Irish Whiskey.1

Jameson’s Whiskey is one damned fine sipping whiskey, comes to us from the Irish Distillers of Pernod Ricard in Cork, Ireland, and is easily the world’s best-selling Irish whiskey. I myself have been enjoying the occasional bottle since…oh, around ’92 or ’93.2

Jameson’s was first distilled back in 1810 by a Scottish immigrant to Dublin named John Jameson, and had been continually making the world a better place ever since.3

This is one of those whiskeys that I simply refuse to pollute with a mixer. Best taken neat or on the rocks, Jameson’s is triple-distilled to remove impurities and offers a nice, clean flavor. Jameson’s has both a mild scent of honey and undertones of honey and citrus. At a mere 80 proof (40% ABV) Jameson’s packs a little less kick than my beloved Jack Daniels. You can usually pick up a bottle for ~$25 (as always, my UK friends’ price may vary).

Here’s a review from the good folks at The Whiskey Jug.

And, in celebration of my ancestry, here’s a little tune to drink by. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

1 Because of course it is. This is St. Patrick’s Day, one of America’s annual ethnic drinking holidays (together with Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, and Oktoberfest; who says America doesn’t embrace diversity?4)

Do I need to remind you good folks that I’m a drunk, rather than an alcoholic?

3 You know me Irish ancestors invented whiskey (or uisce beatha in the original Gaelic and means “Water of Life”). Whether you believe that God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from conquering the world or to give us all a respite from the insanity of politics, any drinker whose ever tasted a glass must credit that it’s magic.

I have to admit it–I pretty well stole that line from @jimgeraghty.

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The Week In Review

President Trump has been claiming that his communications were wiretapped by the Obama administration prior to the November election (an accusation that has some sympathy on the right). This is being denied on multiple fronts—including by FBI director Comey. While I do not believe President Trump to be a credible source of information for…well, anything…I have been lied to so often by Mr. Obama, Congresswoman Pelosi and the rest of the vile vipers in DC that their denials simply carry no weight with me. That said, until the Trump administration offers some kind of evidence, I’m going to go ahead and assume the Mr. Trump is lying.

Mr. Trump issued a new immigration EO on Monday. The new order is somewhat more carefully crafted than the last (full text here). Meanwhile, the government of Mexico continues to resist the administrations push to deport illegal immigrants. As the administration continues its efforts, the press is working to highlight every possible sob story. Regular readers of this post know that I lean toward open borders (while acknowledging the problems with that preference), but I calls ’em like I sees ’em, and the press is clearly trying to shape the narrative.

The IRS is experiencing budgeting difficulties. This is my sad face. Listen, I’ll grant that tax collectors are a necessary evil, but both the words “necessary” and “evil” apply—and the IRS has all-too-routinely abused its authority (quite famously during the Obama administration). Still, even if you were the most honest and upright employee of the agency, I wouldn’t want my daughter to date you.

There is a report that Senator Schumer intends to block Mr/ Trump’s “Great Wall” from receiving the necessary votes for appropriation. I oppose the wall, but I recognize that many of my fellow Americans do not. So I am more curious than involved in seeing how this plays out. Honestly…I think I’m good either way.

There is an interesting case going on locally in Vegas—a family that was convicted of running an illegal, off-shore gambling ring (after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor offense) claims they are listed as felons by the federal government. This is one of those cases where (had it gone to trial and I had been on the jury) I would have voted to acquit no matter what evidence the government presented. I think all citizens should educate themselves on the principle of jury nullification.

In their ongoing effort to make flying so unbearable people just stop, the TSA has introduced new pat down procedures that some folks on Twitter have called “legalized groping.” Evidently expecting a fresh font of complaints of sexual assault, the TSA has been alerting local police departments of the new procedures. For my part, between the TSA and shrinking leg room I’ve stopped flying.

We finally got a look at what the Republican party calls a “repeal” of Obamacare. It’s about as bad as you would expect from this collection of spineless cretins. Rather than simply repeal the PPACA (as I tweeted on Monday), this proposal tries to give something to everyone. Remember when the Republicans claimed to be the party of the Constitution? By replacing subsidies for health insurance with tax breaks for HSAs (and saving no real money), these idiots are trying to claim this is the conservative solution. President Trump—who is no more a conservative than I am a penguin—has been praising this monstrosity on Twitter and promising that the real reforms (e.g. eliminating prohibitions against selling policies across state lines) will come in phase 2 & 3.*

The US Supreme Court has punted on the issue of whether gender identity falls under federal aegis for discrimination cases. Even a year ago, I doubt I would have read the article. However, if you are one of the couple dozen folks your read my debut novel,** then you know this is something I follow these days. This entire case, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., is a State issue. I’m not sure that I care who uses what bathroom, but I see where others might and I’m pretty sure no group of judges’ “one size fits all” solution will be…just. (Of course, regular readers will know that I am highly suspicious of any expansion of federal power anyway.)

Wikileaks is targeting the CIA now. The organization’s latest attack on the US includes more than 8,000 documents.

The proposed Las Vegas Raiders football stadium has secured a new backer: Bank of America. Which begs the question…why can’t the folks who want to build this thing find sufficient funding that no public monies are required? Right now, $750 million in bonds from Clark County are a key component of the stadium’s financing. I’m a property owner in Vegas and would vote against this in a heartbeat.*** Meanwhile, the governor is pushing for more tax increases so he can expand education spending (among other things).

The hunt is on for monies to pay for Mr. Trump’s promised border wall. Regular readers know that I’m not in favor of the project, but I cede that I’ve been outvoted. I have significantly less of a problem with this project than I do the Republicans’ revised health care bill.

As the Trump administration continues dismantling the Obama legacy, AG Sessions has asked for 46 US Attorneys’ resignations.

Finally, the Catholic church may be reconsidering its centuries-long practice of demanding all priests be celibate.

*I ask anyone who believes that to send me their contact information, SSAN, and complete bank account info. There are some investments I would like to make on your behalf, you kind, trusting soul you.

** Blood Debt: A Modern American Romance. Just $3.99 on Kindle!

*** Yes, I know that UNLV will use this stadium as well. I do not care.

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Cigar of the Week

The Cigar of the Week is the Montecristo Desde 1935 Club Selection Robusto.

This Montecristo measures 5″ and has a ring size of 52. It is a full bodied cigar featuring Nicaraguan tobaccos and an Ecuadorean wrapper. I picked up a sampler pack a couple weeks ago and have been enjoying them immensely.

This stick burns cleanly and has both great taste an a nice aroma.

Here is a review from Cigar Aficionado.

This stick enjoys a 3 1/2 star average rating on Thompson (several of the ratings are 5 star–I’d lean toward 4 stars my self), where you can pick up a box of 24 for ~$170. That box includes a bonus pack of 10 Romeo y Julieta Bully Grande Corojo Robustos, which means $5/ stick.

Recommended.

 

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Looking for Beta Readers

I’m looking for beta readers for my upcoming hard sci-fi novel Voyage Beyond Fear.1

In particular, I am looking for folks that have a background (or interest in) astronomy and/or astrophysics. I’m also looking for people that have served in the Navy (especially the US Navy, or the naval services of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, or other navies of the British Commonwealth).

Voyage Beyond Fear is the story about mankind’s first starship–a privately funded effort that follows on from the accidental discovery of a way to crack the FTL barrier–and is set in the near future. There is a description of the book here.

The novel’s rough draft is nearly complete (estimated completion date is early April), and I’ll be sending the book out in late April for initial input from any technical experts that I succeed in recruiting.

Because I am looking for technical expertise or naval experience, I am willing to pay a small fee to those readers. Readers that do not have such a background, but are interested in being beta readers on the second go ’round (likely sometime in May), will be entitled to receive a complimentary copy of the book when I publish it in late summer.

If you are interested, you can send me a DM @Circle_Bee, or reach me via the contact page on my website.

1 “Voyage Beyond Fear” is the working title. I’m still playing with ideas something better.

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Book of the Week

The Book of the Week is actually the Series of the Week this go ’round: Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome.

Unfortunately, we lost Mrs. Robson (nee McCullough) in 2015. Fortunately, she left behind a considerable body of work, and her Masters of Rome series is my favorite.

The series charts the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire under Augustus Caesar, focusing on the major players: Marius, Sulla, Caesar, Octavius, Marc Anthony, Cicero, and Cleopatra. While the series is incredibly well researched (and will delight history buffs) it is far from a dry reveling of events. Mrs. Robson brings these men and women to life, rendering them as all-too-human, with all their vices and virtues intact.

Amazon offers the entire series in paperback or via Kindle, but you can by decent hardback copies for a relatively small price, and the series enjoys my highest recommendation.

Whether you are interested in the history, the historical persons, or just a great story, this is a series well worth your time.

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The Week in Review

Mr. Tom Perez (former Secretary of Labor) has been elected as the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, defeating Rep Keith Ellison (D-MN). As I tweeted last Saturday, I was pretty confident that Congressman Ellison had this locked up…which is just a little reminder that I shouldn’t be making any more political predictions.

There was yet another awards show this week. I’ve no doubt that a bunch of folks with high school diplomas and BAs in theater gave their sage advice on the direction of the country. But what I know for a fact is that someone announced the wrong best picture winner. (And am I the only cat who didn’t see any of the nominated films?)

The NYT was caught parsing the president’s CPAC speech to the point of telling a lie. The Times caught lying? Again? This is my shocked face.

Seems not a week goes by without some Islamic terrorist group reminding us why they are hostis humani generis. In this case, Abu Sayyaf has beheaded a 70 year old German man some three and a half months after kidnapping him and murdering his girlfriend.

There is a plan in place for Raúl Castro to step down and retire next year. Miguel Díaz-Canel is his designated successor. Here is a profile piece on Mr. Díaz-Canel (who, as Castro’s designated successor, I presume to be a horrible human being who will continue the regime of oppression).

Looks like it was a dose of VX nerve agent that was used to assassinate Kim Jong Nam.

Mr. Wilbur Ross has been confirmed as the Secretary of Commerce.

President Trump’s speech to Congress Tuesday evening seems to have gone over well with most of the country. Some number of Democrats hissed at him. I remember when being disrespectful to the president while he was addressing Congress was racist. I’m glad that’s in the past, as I’m pretty sure I haven’t really respected any of them since Mr. Reagan—and I had a few problems with him, too. You can read the text of his speech here.

Amazon.com’s cloud hosting service suffered a mishap on Tuesday. The effects were widespread, and some of the responses were hilarious.

Former Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Conrad Hafen has been banned for life from serving on the Nevada bench. Mr. Hafen was the JP that ordered a deputy public defender handcuffed for advocating for her client. Personally, I would have liked to have see him put in stocks in the public square, but I guess I’ll have to settle for this.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson has been given a $1,000 fine and a public reprimand for her inexcusable abuse of authority to help a friend secure a divorce from her estranged spouse. This is a follow up to her “tearful admission of wrongdoing” earlier. Just in case I wasn’t clear last time I mentioned this, JP Andress-Tobiasson is unfit to sit the bench and should have been removed from office and banned from the bench for life (as Mr. Hafen has been)…but then, our masters aren’t really subject to justice, are they?

A man named Juan Thompson has been arrested for making a large number of bomb threats against Jewish organizations across the country. A former journalist with the website The Intercept, Mr. Thompson made some threats in his former girlfriend’s name in a campaign of cyber-stalking against her. Mr. Thompson is reputed to be a staunch leftist—which of course means an anti-semite.

AG Sessions is under fire for an allegation of perjury to Congress. Now, I’m no fan of the AG—I think he is as wrong as can be about drug policy and civil asset forfeiture—but when you peel back the onion on this one it starts coming across as a smear campaign. Why? Well, first, Mr. Sessions didn’t lie to Congress; when he met with the ambassador (in a Russian requested follow-up to a meeting between Sen. Sessions and Ukrainian representatives), he had no role with the Trump campaign, and met with them in his role as a senator. Then there is the matter of the Democrat congresswoman who has  publicly castigated the AG and said she never met with the Russians—but did.

Finally, Rachel Dolezal (remember her?) is having trouble finding employment. Good! This con artist deserves every sling and arrow that falls upon her. Now, if only folks had the good sense to treat Miss Dolezal’s fellow frauds Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren the same way…

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Whiskey of the Week

The Whiskey of the Week is Kessler Blended American whiskey.

Kessler advertises itself as an especially smooth whiskey, and they aren’t lying. Unfortunately, that may be all it has going for it.

Coming in at only 80 proof (40% ABV), Kessler has little burn and almost no kick. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it tastes…watered down. In all honesty, I cannot recommend this either as a sipping’ whiskey or a good mixer. That said, it is far from the worst drink I’ve ever had.1

Kessler is currently rated as the #2 best selling blended whiskey in America, so a lot of people must like it, but when I set it against JD2 it just doesn’t stack up.

Currently owned by Suntory Holdings (the same outfit that owns Jim Beam), Kessler is blended in Colorado. I usually try to add a little history to these posts, so here you go: Julius Kessler, a Hungarian immigrant, first distilled his brew in the 1888s and he made a go of selling it to various saloons throughout the Old West. (That’s right, this is an authentic Western Classic.)3 Thoughout its history, the Kessler brand has been owned by the Seagram Company (purchased in 1935), and was eventually bought out by Beam, Inc.

Here is a review from The Whiskey Jug.

Not recommended. That said, if you have a choice between this and, say, Seagram’s 7 go with this one.

1 I’m not even talking about tequila–just other whiskey’s.

Regular readers are well aware of the special place that John Daniels holds in my heart. What’s that? It’s “Jack” Daniels you say? Brother, if you knew JD as well as I do, you’d be calling him by his first name, too.

3 Unfortunately, like most “classics,” this one has more sentiment than quality.

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Navel Gaze of the Week

On cultural appropriation

This week I want to discuss one of the contenders for Silliest Idea Ever, that of “cultural appropriation.” Just to ensure we are on the same page, let us stipulate that cultural appropriation is the use of materials or elements of one culture by members of another. That use can be anything from playing music, to wearing clothing, to fashioning one’s hair, to eating the food of a culture that you are not historically, geographically, or ethnically descended from.

To borrow a phrase from the ever more thin-skinned among us, the concept of cultural appropriation is deeply racist from start to finish.

To suggest that a white woman cannot wear dreadlocks, or that indigenous peoples cannot serve as mascots for sports teams, or that a western singer can’t make use of Japanese imagery in a music video, or that college students shouldn’t wear certain costumes on Halloween or sombreros on Cinco de Mayo… Actually, when you string a list of “cultural appropriation” offenses together like that, it comes across as rather silly, doesn’t it? The complaint of a mewling child, perhaps?

“Pay attention to me!” (stomps foot) “I’m special! Momma said so!”

Yet there are grown men and women who work themselves into high dudgeon about this and expect you to take them seriously. And not all of the people making these childish demands are in it for the headlines: about a year ago, I attended a screening of “Reel Injun.”1 One of the scenes depicted a boy scout troop, led by a German counselor, as they dressed in “Indian” garb and engage in war whoops.3 After the film, a young woman in the audience announced that the cultural appropriation depicted in the film offended her and…honestly, I don’t know what she said after that, because I had tuned her out.

Whenever I hear someone start to drone on about “cultural appropriation,” “privilege” (male, white, or other), or any other type of collective offense, I…just stop paying attention. Because at that point I know that the person speaking is not someone to be taken seriously.2 I’m dealing with a child—no, worse! An adult who has abandoned any pretense of maturity in order to act like a child…and one who is deeply ignorant of history.

Because human history is written in the blood of conquest. There is no place on this earth where the current inhabitants’ ancestors did not wrest the land by force from the previous occupants. Nor is there any culture extant today that is free of influence from other peoples. None.

Now, you may personally be a thin-skinned racist whose self-worth is intertwined with the belief that only people who look exactly like you should get to wear that shirt, get that haircut, use that eating utensil, wave that flag, vote on issues that affect you, marry people who look like you, breed with people who look like you… Oh, that’s different you say? Poppycock! It all springs from the same racist well. Perhaps, instead of telling strangers that they have “offended you” because they want to sample some of your culture, you should take pride in the fact that it resonates with them—or at least learn to slap it on a t-shirt and sell it for a profit.

In any case, when you accuse me of appropriating your culture, my response has been and shall remain: “Fuck you.”4

1 (c) 2009. Dir. Neil Diamond. Interesting film, and I recommend watching it should you get the opportunity. It is an eye-opening look at Hollywood’s depiction of American Indians from the native perspective.

Oh, sure, if they muster a mob or some such of course I’ll take them seriously. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out for everyone.

3 Yes, it looked just as stupid as you imagine. However, there is a vast difference between “You look like and idiot,” and “You are stealing my culture and should be publicly shamed!”

4 Sure, call my boss. Demand I be fired for being insensitive to your feelings. Oh, wait–I’m retired! I suppose you could call for my public shaming on Twitter… Maybe one of these days I’ll work up the energy to care. Tell you what, you go ahead an hold your breath while we wait to see how that works out for you.

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Book of the Week

The Book of the Week is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

 

I’ve got to tell you, when I first read this book back in high school (many, many years ago) I never anticipated how much I would come to love it. In fact, when I was first forced to read it (and perhaps because I was forced to do so), I really didn’t appreciate it at all! However, over the years it has really grown on me.

While it is–like pretty much all of Mr. Dickens’s work–a little…bleak…it is a great story of redemption and the tragedy that can be unleashed on the young by society’s bitterest people.

The novel follows the growth of young Pip who, after receiving a bequest from an (initially) unknown benefactor, sets his course on becoming a gentleman; the beautiful Estrella, whom poor Pip falls hopelessly in love with; and the vile Mrs. Havisham, who seeks to blight Pip’s journey to satisfy her own bitter desires.

While I generally prefer stories in which the hero’s journey reaches a happier conclusion, this tale is worth reading just for how well it is written. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a satisfying wrap up (there is!),  just that–depending on which version you read–the novel may not end the way you hope. Be advised, if you pick up a version with the “happy” ending, that wasn’t the way the author intended for the story to go. In fact, Mr. Dickens originally planned for the novel to end on a bitter note, and it was only at the insistence of his publisher that Pip and Estrella got to have that happy ending.1

You can buy this book both with the original and the publisher-mandated conclusions (some versions contain both), albeit it can take a bit of hunting to get the one you are after.

You can pick up various editions for free (as the manuscript is in the public domain), but Amazon offers some really nice hardcover editions.2

Higest recommendation.

1 Like many purists, my preference is for the original. Despite my liking for a happy ending, I think the original is just better written. That may reflect Mr. Dickens’s resentment of having to produce the other.

2 It may surprise regular readers of the Whiskey of the Week post, but I actually spend more money on books. That may be because after reading them on Kindle, I break down and buy hardbacks for my library.

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