I am a big fan of schwarzbier, but there are relatively few on the market. The most common one is KÃ¶stritzer, a beer from the former East Germany that has become widely available since the brewery was purchased by Bittburger.
Sam Adams now has a Black Lager. I have not had a KÃ¶stritzer in some time, so it is hard to compare them (note to self: buy some KÃ¶stritzer and arrange for a taste test). My immediate reaction to the Sam Adams was that it is probably better, and that is saying something. Very rich malt, perfectly black color (some alleged shwarzbiers don’t quite live up to the name), and just enough hoppiness to balance the malt. (This is a style that should not be particularly hoppy.)
My standards of the style are U Fleku (available only at the brewpub in Prague), Herold Dark (apparently no longer being imported from the Czech Republic, at least to the West Coast), and Rio Salado Thunderhead (Tempe, Arizona, never sold in California). While I have not tasted U Fleku’s brew in almost exactly a year, or the others in a longer time, I would say that the Sam Adams may be a notch below this trio of stars of the style. But very good.
OK, so I have more to say about the war, after all…
Several days into the fighting, the Israeli Foreign Minister addressed the principle of “proportionality.” She said that the judgment of whether a state’s military retaliation was justified or not had to be based on proportionality to the threat faced by the state.
But this misses the point. In fact, the actions would not even pass the Foreign Minister’s test, as Israel fought this as though it was facing a conventional state enemy in Lebanon, while at the same protesting that it wanted that very state to come to its–Israel’s–aid in fighting what it called simply a terror threat. In other words, the justification, like the strategy, was schizophrenic. (more…)
UPDATED: Phew, no dumb moves by Stoneman! Interesting discussion on the Angels, Yankees, Dodgers, Padres, and others ongoing at the propagation bench.
With today being the non-waiver trade deadline (1600 New York time, to be precise), I will be checking the news nervously as I await word on whether the Angels package some of their highly desirable prospects (or even a member of the current rotation) for that ONE BIG BAT.
According to this morning’s LA Times, the Angels offered Ervin Santana and Erick Aybar for Miguel Tejada. The Orioles said no. Thank you Orioles! Sure, Tejada is an outstanding hitter, but not only did he not want to move to third base (as the Angels would have wanted), but also giving up a young stud of an arm strikes me as too high a price, despite Tejada’s being signed through 2009. Aybar is a pretty good prospect himself, although not the blue chip like Howie Kendrick (who is now playing regularly for the Angels) and Brandon Wood (a power-hitting shortstop at AA who is one of the best prospects any organization has at that level).
Supposedly the Angels are going to be aggressive in trying to get Alfonso Soriano. Given that he is 30, a free agent at the end of the year, a poor defensive player, and had not hit especially well outside his hitter-friendly home parks before this season,* he should not command premium prospects. The Times also reports that the Angels tried to package several less-premium prospects for Soriano, but the Nationals would not bite.**
I would rather stay with the team we’ve got than break up a starting staff (that has some question marks with Colon again in the DL) or any top prospects.
Meanwhile, the Yankees pulled off the kind of coup only the Yankees can. For four minor leaguers (none of whom is a big-time prospect), they got Bobby Abreu (and his .420+ on-base average) and Cory Lidle (an upgrade for a staff with its share of mediocre starting pitchers). It is the kind of trade only the Yankees can make because of the huge contract that the Phillies wanted to unload in trading Abreu, whose power seems to have deserted him since he won the Home Run Derby last summer. It’s a brilliant trade: A salary dump for one team and a key piece that could make the difference in the race for the other.
* From 2003 through 2005: .260/.303/.465 away; .301/.346/.553 home. Somehow how he is hitting .296/.385/.663 (!) at DC Stadium so far this year. Fluke!!
**”The Angels, according to sources, tried to build an offer around Aybar, triple-A left-hander Joe Saunders and an outfielder such as Reggie Willits or Tommy Murphy. The Nationals asked the Angels for infielder Howie Kendrick, who is virtually untouchable, and have shown interest in [pitching prospect Nick] Adenhart.”
I’ve been doing my best to stay relatively clear of the Israel-Hezbollah/Lebanon war. But I think that the impact of the news I woke up to this morning–the attack on civilians in Qana (of all places), the cancellation by the Lebanese government of the US Secretary of State’s visit, and the mob attack on UN offices in Beirut–was best summed up by Jonathan:
UPDATED, 3 August, with a new link, at bottom of original text.
The images, such as those posted by the BBC, from the election in Congo (Kinshasa) today are inspiring. Nonetheless, as voters struggle with a massively long ballot, comprised of candidates of various armed factions, it is hard to be optimistic that this election represents genuine democratization.
There are thirty three presidential candidates, including incumbent Joseph Kabila. An absolutely majority is required; if it is not achieved today, a runoff will be held on 15 October. (That’s a long time between rounds!) Parliament is also being elected today; obviously, with so many presidential candidates heading different party (and I use that term loosely) tickets, the next president will face a very fragmented assembly. The Congolese constitution, approved via referendum last December, is premier-presidential (as Jonathan Edelstein and I discussed); that is, the president nominates a prime minister who must form a cabinet that is capable of obtaining and maintaining the confidence of the parliamentary majority. More to the point, most of these parties are armed organizations, meaning they retain other means of showing their “no confidence.”
I believe the electoral system for assembly is FPTP, but I would appreciate it if any readers can confirm or correct this.# The bad news in the use of FPTP in this fragmented context is that many legislators are sure to be elected with small pluralities, resulting in a lot of votes effectively “wasted.” The “good” news is that members elected to represent (a fraction of) their localities may be more easily brought (bought?) into a majority coalition than members elected on closed proportional-representation lists assembled by warlords might be. (That is, regardless of electoral system, most candidates will have been nominated by warlords, but members elected in local FPTP districts may prove more independent-minded than members who owe their seats to party leaders’–i.e. warlords’–rankings.*) Of course, again, in a context of armed groups only partially and presumably conditionally having converted themselves into political parties, the electoral system and constitution are hardly the most important factors in how the next phase of Congolese politics will progress (or regress).
Nonetheless, institutions matter–even in the context of domestic conflict.
To see the risks of counting on “democratization” when one or more parties to a conflict remains armed even after entering electoral and parliamentary politics, one need look no farther than recent world news headlines from a region a bit to the northeast of Congo.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is a huge country in the very heart of Africa, and domestic conflict has had a habit of spilling over into international conflict ever since its bloody independence from Belgium. The country remains host to the largest current UN peacekeeping operation, and the services of the latter are likely to be continued necessary for some time.
# On this question, see the comment below by Bankci. Many districts are FPTP, but many others are open-list PR (often with small magnitude).
* As to whether a compromise–either open lists or MMP–might be a more appropriate choice, I don’t have anything specific to say for the Congolese situation. However, I did address the idea with respect to the Liberian situation some months ago.
I recommend Jonathan’s comments on The Challenges to Come. In particular, I agree with his following observation:
The danger [of candidates using their militias to settle post-election scores] will be especially acute if Kabila wins a first-round victory after a long count. If the election goes to a runoff, the also-rans would have an incentive to make deals with the leading candidates rather than taking their case to the streets. A first-round win, on the other hand, would put Kabila in the president’s chair without the need to buy support from the smaller warlords and local bosses… Also, extended counts often generate disputes and conspiracy theories… one of the also-rans might capitalize on these suspicions to challenge a narrow Kabila majority.
This is an example of the previously referenced ‘Donut’ peach, both before and after surgery. (Pardon the less than totally clear photos.)
A legend–and I can’t provide a source or any claim that it is true–is that these pintau peaches (i.e. flat peaches) were favored by a Chinese emperor because he could eat the whole thing without ever getting his fingers sticky. (It is sort of possible; I tried it once, for the historical significance of it all.)
And then you can look through it.
Fun with fruit!
The best part, of course, is the eating. These are great peaches.
Finally, a nomenclature note: These peaches are sometimes called ‘saturn’ peaches, but appropriate though that name may be, there is also a patented ‘Saturn’ variety that is not a flat (donut-type) peach, but rather a double-flowered tree with ‘ordinary’ fruit. I have seen them confused in some catalogs and other sources. As far as I know, there is no flat peach on the market that also has double flowers, so if you see such a variety advertised, ask some probing questions.
There was a bonus white apricot in the ‘Shaa Kar Pareh’ tree. This was right near the fruit I picked almost three weeks ago, but it was so small that I did not think it would ripen. But it did. Small, but packed with flavor and juice. A great “white” apricot, viewed here whole and sliced. If only I could post the taste!
Thanks for Greg for the tip on the Texas Rangers having acquired Carlos Lee from the Milwaukee Brewers. I don’t know whether this is good news (the Rangers got him instead of the Angels) or bad news (a division rival adding that coveted BIG BAT will increase pressure on Stoneman to do something stupid).
Wow, two pretty good major leaguers, Francisco Cordero and Kevin Mench (plus Laynce Nix and a minor leaguer), for Lee (and a minor leaguer). Can you say, seller’s market?
The pitcher (and ex-closer) Cordero, whom the Rangers traded, looks superficially like he is having a poor year. His ERA is 4.81. But away from Texas it is 3.20. He has walked 16 and struck out 54 in 48 2/3 innings (overall this year).
Kevin Mench is having a year (and career) not much less productive than Lee’s, and while he is better in the friendly hitting envorinment of Arlington, the gap is not great.
Lee’s road numbers are really good this year (.352 OBP/.596 SLG, compared with .347/.549 overall). But it is out of line with the rest of his career. And he is 30. (Mench is 28.)
In other West-division trade news, I’m a little puzzled as to why the Mariners got Ben Broussard, and why apparently so cheaply (Shin Soo Choo and a player to be named). Broussard is having a career year, but at the price he commanded, he is precisely the kind of player a team looking for one bat to add to its lineup should be after. He might never have another good year (though he was pretty good two years ago; on the other hand, he is 29). He might not even have two more months as good as three of the last four. But the low cost (a minor-leaugue outfielder who is by no means a leading prospect) makes it worth seeing if he might be able to keep his hot bat going a little while longer.
With the deadline approaching for non-waiver trades, we are hearing the usual high demands from the non-contending organizations holding the players contenders want. For instance (via 6-4-2) Nationals’ GM Jim Bowden supposedly wants, in exhange for Alfonso Soriano:
one from column A of John Lackey, Ervin Santana, or Jered Weaver, and one from column B of Howie Kendrick or Brandon Wood.
I wonder, in these conversations, when Bowden (or another “seller” GM) says something that ridiculous, what does Stoneman do? Hang up? Ask how the wife and kids are doing? Comment on how DC-like the weather has been out here?
For the record, I would not trade one of those players for Soriano (or Abreu or Lee, for that matter).
Meanwhile, with 101 games under the belt, the Angels are in a first-place tie in the AL West (which happens to be good enough only for seventh in the fortunately irrelevant overall league standings). It’s now a 61-game season, and I while I still think the A’s are the favorite, I think they will regret not burying the Angels when they had a golden opportunity to do so.
The Angels do not need that “one more bat” to ensure winning the division (let alone beyond that). Three more bats and retirement parties for Garret Anderson and Adam Kennedy (and Darin Erstad, but he’s contributing by cheerleading from the DL), sure. But I can wait for those.
For the record, as I have said in the comments over there, I intend neither to endorse the Israeli actions–which I consider excessive–nor to imply that improving the Democratic Party is in any way my motivation for supporting center-left third-party bids.
I gave up on the Democratic Party long ago, which is why I have been a third-party supporter since at least 1980. I have not yet given up on the possibility that a Jewish homeland in Palestine could be a haven of peace and liberal democracy. It isn’t easy being green. Or Zionist. And some days I am uncretain whether I am either. But I am always a democrat–and never a Democrat.
In any event, LGM is one of my favorite blogs, and I am grateful for the exchanges with Rob, Scott, and DJW.
Ukraine’s constitutional deadline for the formation of a majority government after the 26 March elections has now passed. President Viktor Yushchenko has not indicated what his next move is, and there is much speculation over whether he is preparing to dissolve parliament or is simply negotiating for cabinet portfolios for his Our Ukraine party.
As I understand the Ukrainian constitutional amendments that took effect on 1 January–and Ukrainian experts disagree with one another over their interpretation– the conditions under which Yushchenko could dissolve parliament are lacking. Parliament has sixty days from its first post-election session to form a majority, which then submits a candidate for Prime Minister to the President. As best I can tell (reading translations of the amendments and a Council of Europe analysis), the President has no choice but to formally appoint the candidate put forward by the majority.
That candidate is Viktor Yanukovych, and the majority that has put his name forward is made up of his Party of Regions, the Communist Party, and the erstwhile Yushchenko ally, the Socialist Party. That candidate was put forward before the 24 July deadline, and thus, even though he has not been formally appointed yet, it would seem unlikely that the President could trigger the conditions for dissolution simply by sitting on the nomination of a candidate whom he does not favor.
Yushchenko claims he has until 2 August to make a decision. That may be so, but it would appear that the “decision” must be to accept Yanukovych as Prime Minister. But no doubt–in addition to seeking portfolios–he is looking for a way to claim that the presentation of the majority’s candidate was somehow irregular.
Some members of Yanukovych’s coalition claim that parliament can formally approve the appointment of the Prime Minister if the President fails to act. The President claims that such an act would be unconstitutional. Oleksander Moroz, the head of the Socialist Party, claims that parliament is ready to disobey any dissolution order.
With the parties not having agreed on Constitutional Court nominees to fill vacancies, it is not clear who currently has the authority to rule on such disputes.
Coffee and cocoa are right up there in my list of favorite processable crops. But this is not actually a planting about either of them, but about a particularly odious type of processed product, spam.
Now, I have received some odd “business propositions” via e-mail. Most of them are of the sort that Fontaine recently wrote about (and even responded to, for the fun of it). But this one that I received today strikes me as one the stranger ones:
I am consulting in the field of the export of the coffee and the cocoa.
I come by the means of this note to propose the goods to you which I have in this moment even in my possession and for which I must find a purchaser.
From El Tiempo, a column by Fernando Cepeda Ulloa analyzes the recent results of Colombia’s political reforms. I am too lazy to translate this, so apologies to my readers who don’t understand Spanish. I will copy the first three paragraphs only. It is the third that is particularly noteworthy!
La Ley de Bancadas servirÃ¡ para ponerles orden a los debates en el Congreso. Hay que modernizar el sistema electoral.
El impacto de la reforma polÃtica
El Consejo Nacional Electoral ha informado que un buen nÃºmero de los partidos inscritos ya dejaron de serlo porque no cumplen los requisitos.
By Nicolas Heidorn, a Truman Scholar at Claremont McKenna College (home of Polysigh‘s John J. Pitney), the following is an excerpt from an op-ed that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune:
Most local elections in California take place under a first-past-the-post voting system (the plurality winner system), which all too often enables candidates to win without a majority. In the 764 single-seat local elections in 2004, 78 candidates were elected without a majority of the vote, according to data compiled by the California Secretary of State’s Office and the Institute for Social Research at California State University of Sacramento…
In races that are uncontested or where only two candidates are running, one candidate must mathematically receive a majority. But for the local races in California in 2004 with three or more candidates, 37 percent ended with the winner getting less than a majority.
As Heidorn notes, in 2004 Oceanside (the city with boundaries closest to Ladera Frutal) elected a mayor with 39.6%, against a runner up with 37.8%.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4