Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Talking out of my ass, Death Penalty Polling edition

Over at his place Sullivan has a post up about The Demographics of Death Penalty support, as broken down by race and gender.

The thing that interests me is that black American's support for the death penalty hits a low point in the 60s-70s and then increases through the later 70's and 80's, and starts to come down again in the mid-90's.  Just looking at that, I suspect that the pattern roughly follows crime rates.  White support for the death penalty, on the other hand, hasn't decreased commensurate with the falling crime rates of the past decade and a half.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Cocktail For Sunday Night

The George Thomas
Old Slow Trot
A Chickamauga on the Rocks

3 parts Bourbon (I use 101 proof)
1 part Creme de Peche ( I use GS Massenez)
1 dash bitters (Aromatic lime bitters works best, but Peychaud's will work, I suspect orange bitters would work as well)

Combine ingredients over ice in an old fashioned glass and stir.

This drink is named after General George 'Pap' Thomas, the Virginia-born Union general and 'the Rock of Chickamauga' (hence the alternate name for the drink). I wanted a drink that felt both 'western' and 'southern' hence the bourbon on the one hand and the peach liqueur on the other.

Like it's namesake, it's unassuming and not flashy, but packs quite a wallop when it hits you.

The drink is essentially a 'fancy' cocktail with the curacao replaced with creme de peche. The recipe would work with another whiskey (such as Rye) or Brandy as well.

I'm still tinkering with the recipe -- if you want to 'dry out' the drink, make the ratio of whiskey to Creme de Peche 4/1 rather than 3/1.  This is particularly helpful when using Peychauds -- the lime bitters 'lightens' the flavor and the drink can seem rather thick and sweet if Peychaud's are used in the 3/1 ratio.

If making the drink for multiple people I suspect the best ratio is 24/7 whiskey to creme de peche.  This is impractical in smaller quantities, however.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's not where you're going that matters...

My interlocutor RMB and I are both fond of books many people seem to find dull.  Some of them, like Middlemarch, are classics that people don't give a fair shake (perhaps because they're already expecting a boring novel).  Others, like O'Brian's Aubriad and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, are genre classics that many fans of the same genres tell me are too dull to read.  They loved the movies, though.

And I have to say that I can see where they are coming from.  Neither series of novels is in a hurry to get to the action, and the authors of both seem to think that an anticlimax is the best kind of ending (I happen to agree, but that's another post).  But I'd like to focus on one 'boring' feature of both series that I think is actually a great virtue: the amount of narrative space devoted to traveling.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Truth is Not Hidden

In one sense, the battle against 'alternative explanations' for the civil war (ie, those other than slavery) is a battle against belief in hidden truths.

The fact that secession (the more proximate cause of the war) is about slavery is obvious.  Alexander Stephens called Slavery (and racial inequality) the 'cornerstone' of the confederacy.  The Secession ordinances of just about every confederate state cite their desire to protect slavery.  Wartime southern propaganda is redolent with mentions of 'abolition hordes.'

In the North things are admittedly less simple -- the same nation that went marching to war singing 'John Brown's Body' was deeply uncomfortable with emancipating slaves (at first).  Yet just because the civil war did not start as a war for abolition does not mean it wasn't a war against slavery.  To use the terms of the time, it was a war against slave power and the rebellion that power had spawned, whether or not it involved immediate abolition.

These things are obvious.  The effects of the war are even more obvious.  And I think that's one reason why people resist saying that 'slavery* caused the civil war.'  It's obvious.  And many people, particularly intelligent people, resist obvious truths.

I can think of two reasons for this.