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April 01, 2005


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Syd Webb

There were things that I was going to post about in the past two weeks, posts which will have to be postponed, since my source materials are now scattered across two boroughs of New York City.

Bummer. But more to the point, what happened to the stout and the NYC Married Maths Teacher's brewing kit?

This fellow won a Pulitzer. Why?

Why does Dan Brown top the best seller charts? Because he writes engaging, page-turning material that allows undiscerning readers to suspend their disbelief. BTW, what are the sucess criteria for winning a Pulitzer? Don't you have to demonstrate journalist-levels of accuracy?

Tony Zbaraschuk

I would really like to see all these missing posts.

Andrew Reeves

I think that this is what happens when someone writes a book for non-specialists. The specialist will read it, gnash his teeth in frustration, possibly throw the book against the wall, and then move on. The non-specialist will read it and say, "Sounds good to me."

This is why people like Manchester publish things like the execrable, A World Lit Only by Fire.

A New York City Math Teacher

"What happened to the stout?" asked the Antipodes.

Well, Syd, there were two batches of stout comprising ten gallons. Because of the vagaries of my high-rise kitchen, specifically because I do not own a 40 liter stockpot, we had to split the grain and the malt a little unevenly between two smaller 3 gallon stockpots.

Now, if you ask around, the fact that I own two separate stainless steel stockpots capable of containing in aggregate six gallons (enough fluid that were it gasoline, I could drive to the beach house) is a little unusual.

Whatever. Two batches.

Batch the first: a sweet dessert stout measuring 1.07 on the Balling scale at yeast pitch. Fermented so strongly that it overthrew the water lock at the top of its carboy and sprayed half-fermented beer kinda everywhere. The yeast took it to 1.015 sg (about 6% alcohol). And it had a lovely cinnamon flavor, with a little residual malty sweetness. I don't know if the bottling charge has built up much of a head, however. The one bottle I tried post-bottling, at week+1, was rather weakly carbonated. I think we may have built up too much alcohol. But it's a fine sweet stout in the old English tradition. I'll put my part away for next winter.

Batch the second has been lagering in a carboy in the closet for two weeks post primary, and it went from 1.05ish to a specific gravity less than one. Which means the yeasts went gang busters. Probably near 8% alcohol. It was dark, a little thin, but very smooth at racking.

Inquiry? Does anyone want my extra unwanted brewers yeast?


Tony Z, I'll see what I can do.

Andrew, it's not simply a question of non-specialist writing. There are certain shadings of phrase that make me wonder if Diamond has internalized certain beliefs of an older generation of white guys who have lived in PNG. There's a bait-and-switch routine he makes between Han Chinese, people who speak Sino-Tibetan languages, and people he claims have an origin from what is now China. It's hard to be that imprecise accidentally.

Syd, the small stout I had, pre-bottling, tasted delicious. I am not much worried about the lack of carbonation, since the previous batch suffered from a surfeit of it.

NYCMT, I will be more than happy to help with the bottling, and also to provide a place to stash the equipment come Pesach. Goodness knows, I have storage space. Nothing but.

Will Baird

I wondered what happened to you, Carlos. You dropped off SHWI and AHF PDQ.

I gotta ask. What did you think of _Collapse_? You read it, ja? Und so? I'm rather curious. I think he had an uberzweihanderschlachtaxt to grind (sorry, Claudia for the horrible German). I get the feeling he drank some Kool-Aide at some time about 'complex societies' that I've seen in anthropologists before.


Will, you might want to track down a copy of _The Collapse of Complex Societies_, and compare and contrast. In your copious spare time, of course (congratulations!). I'll post about it, but I still owe Language Hat a post on Lorine Niedecker, in addition to all of the above -- and hers is one of the few books I didn't put into storage, so I have no excuse. Well, other than exhaustion.


Mike Ralls

I'd love to see you review _Collapse_ sometime. Should I even bother to flip through it?

For anyone who is interested we had a discusion of GGS over on SHWI a while ago that was started with some book notes of mine:


Danny Yee

As you can see from my review of Guns, Germs, and Steel, I thought it was actually quite good, though I had some qualms.

The stuff he's written since has looked so clueleess that I've never done more than look at it in bookshops.

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