Thursday, November 29, 2007

"LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup" Psalm 16:5

Very interesting piece from today's WSJ:

Trappist Command:
Thou Shalt Not Buy
Too Much of Our Beer

Monks at St. Sixtus Battle
Resellers of Prized Brew;
Brother Joris Plays Hardball

November 29, 2007; Page A1

WESTVLETEREN, Belgium -- The Trappist monks at St. Sixtus monastery have taken vows against riches, sex and eating red meat. They speak only when necessary. But you can call them on their beer phone.

Monks have been brewing Westvleteren beer at this remote spot near the French border since 1839. Their brew, offered in strengths up to 10.2% alcohol by volume, is among the most highly prized in the world. In bars from Brussels to Boston, and online, it sells for more than $15 for an 11-ounce bottle -- 10 times what the monks ask -- if you can get it.

For the 26 monks at St. Sixtus, however, success has brought a spiritual hangover as they fight to keep an insatiable market in tune with their life of contemplation.

The monks are doing their best to resist getting bigger. They don't advertise and don't put labels on their bottles. They haven't increased production since 1946. They sell only from their front gate. You have to make an appointment and there's a limit: two, 24-bottle cases a month. Because scarcity has created a high-priced gray market online, the monks search the net for resellers and try to get them to stop.

"We sell beer to live, and not vice versa," says Brother Joris, the white-robed brewery director. Beer lovers, however, seem to live for Westvleteren.

When Jill Nachtman, an American living in Zurich, wanted a taste recently, she called the hot line everybody calls the beer phone. After an hour of busy signals, she finally got through and booked a time. She drove 16 hours to pick up her beer. "If you factor in gas, hotel -- and the beer -- I spent $20 a bottle," she says.

Until the monks installed a new switchboard and set up a system for appointments two years ago, the local phone network would sometimes crash under the weight of calls for Westvleteren. Cars lined up for miles along the flat one-lane country road that leads to the red brick monastery, as people waited to pick up their beer.

"This beer is addictive, like chocolate," said Luc Lannoo, an unemployed, 36-year-old Belgian from Ghent, about an hour away, as he loaded two cases of Westvleteren into his car at the St. Sixtus gate one morning. "I have to come every month."

Two American Web sites, Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, rank the strongest of Westvleteren's three products, a dark creamy beer known as "the 12," best in the world, ahead of beers including Sweden's Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter and Minnesota's Surly Darkness. "No question, it is the holy grail of beers," says Remi Johnson, manager of the Publick House, a Boston bar that has Westvleteren on its menu but rarely in stock.

Some beer lovers say the excitement over Westvleteren is hype born of scarcity. "It's a very good beer," says Jef van den Steen, a brewer and author of a book on Trappist monks and their beer published in French and Dutch. "But it reminds me of the movie star you want to sleep with because she's inaccessible, even if your wife looks just as good."

Thanks to the beer phone, there are no more lines of cars outside the monastery now. But production remains just 60,000 cases per year, while demand is as high as ever. Westvleteren has become almost impossible to find, even in the specialist beer bars of Brussels and local joints around the monastery.

"I keep on asking for beer," says Christophe Colpaert, manager of "Café De Sportsfriend," a bar down the road from the monks. "They barely want to talk to me." On a recent day, a recorded message on the beer phone said St. Sixtus wasn't currently making appointments; the monks were fresh out of beer.

Increasing production is not an option, according to the 47-year-old Brother Joris, who says he abandoned a stressful career in Brussels for St. Sixtus 14 years ago. "It would interfere with our job of being a monk," he says.

Belgian monasteries like St. Sixtus started making beer in the aftermath of the French Revolution, which ended in 1799. The revolt's anti-Catholic purge had destroyed churches and abbeys in France and Belgium. The monks needed cash to rebuild, and beer was lucrative.

Trappist is a nickname for the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, who set up their own order in La Trappe, France, in the 1660s because they thought Cistercian monasteries were becoming too lax. The monks at St. Sixtus sleep in a dormitory and stay silent in the cloisters, though they speak if they need to. Today, though, Trappists are increasingly famous for making good beer.

Seven monasteries (six are Belgian, one, La Trappe, is Dutch) are allowed to label their beer as Trappist. In 1996, they set up an alliance to protect their brand. They retain lawyers in Washington and Brussels ready to sue brewers who try use the word Trappist. Every few months, Brother Joris puts on street clothes and takes the train to Brussels to meet with fellow monks to share sales and business data, and plot strategy.

The monks know their beer has become big business. That's fine with the brothers at Scourmont, the monastery in southern Belgium that makes the Chimay brand found in stores and bars in Europe and the U.S. They've endorsed advertising and exports, and have sales exceeding $50 million a year. They say the jobs they create locally make the business worthy. Other monasteries, which brew names familiar to beer lovers such as Orval, Westmalle and Rochefort, also are happy their businesses are growing to meet demand.

Not so at St. Sixtus. Brother Joris and his fellow monks brew only a few days a month, using a recipe they've kept to themselves for around 170 years.

Two monks handle the brewing. After morning prayer, they mix hot water with malt. They add hops and sugar at noon. After boiling, the mix, sufficient to fill roughly 21,000 bottles, is fermented for up to seven days in a sterilized room. From there the beer is pumped to closed tanks in the basement where it rests for between five weeks and three months. Finally, it is bottled and moved along a conveyor belt into waiting cases. Monks at St. Sixtus used to brew by hand, but nothing in the rules of the order discourages technology, so they've plowed profits into productivity-enhancing equipment. St. Sixtus built its current brewhouse in 1989 with expert advice from the company then known as Artois Breweries.

In the 1980s, the monks even debated whether they should continue making something from which people can get drunk. "There is no dishonor in brewing beer for a living. We are monks of the West: moderation is a key word in our asceticism," says Brother Joris in a separate, email interview. "We decided to stick to our traditional skills instead of breeding rabbits."

The result is a brew with a slightly sweet, heavily alcoholic, fruity aftertaste.

One day recently, the wiry, sandy-haired Brother Joris returned to his office in the monastery after evening prayers. He flipped on his computer and went online to hunt for resellers and ask them to desist. "Most of the time, they agree to withdraw their offer," he says. Last year, St. Sixtus filed a complaint with the government against two companies that refused --, a Web site that sells beer, cheese, chocolate and other niche products, and Beermania, a Brussels beer shop that also sells online. Both offer Westvleteren at around $18 a bottle.

"I'm not making a lot of money and I pay my taxes," says owner Bruno Dourcy. "You can only buy two cases at once, you know." Mr. Dourcy makes monthly two-hour car trips from his home in eastern Belgium.

"Seek the Kingdom of God first, and all these things will be given to you," counters Brother Joris, quoting from the Bible, adding that it refers only to things you really need. "So if you can't have it, possibly you do not really need it."

CNN Republican Debate --
What a Bunch of Idiots!

I mean of course ...

... CNN? or,
... the Republicans?

It could be both. What I mean is: What were the Republicans thinking when they agreed to let CNN be the forum for their debate? Did they really think it was going to be "fair and balanced". I'm surprised one of the questions wasn't "When did you stop beating your wife?"

Check out this takedown from Powerline:

This was a classic CNN con job.

They chose the questions so once again we get the liberal's perspective of conservatism.

"What would Jesus do?"
"Do you believe this book"
Lock and loaded gun prop question.
Confederate Flag.

And of course...Should women go to jail if they have an abortion.

If the Republicans agree to one more debate on CNN I will begin question if they have the intelligence to lead this country.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stomach Turning Video

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Should've Bought a Mac

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gator Story Comments

I just got done reading the reader comments on the Gator story (see below). There were so many good ones that I'm posting some of them here:
  • "That animal should have been rewarded with more ciminals to eat."
  • "maybe he should have stolen a boat before heading for the water...."
  • "It's to bad that his buddy couldn't keep up with him. Think of the money it would have saved..."
  • "brings new meaning to taking a bite out of crime"
  • "Even gators like "Mexican Food"."
  • "if you enter the Gators House, expect to be invited to supper and you are the main course."
  • "Don't do the crime if you can't bring the Thyme."
  • "Wonder if the guy tasted like chicken to the gator."
"Brings New Meaning to the Phrase
'Take a Bite Out of Crime'"

I'd love to be able to claim the above quip as my own, but it was in the reader comments to this news story which I saw on Of Arms & the Law.

Suspected Car Thief Eaten by Gator

Man Died After Fleeing From Police Into Pond on Fla. Indian Reservation


Nov. 13, 2007 —

Authorities in Florida are saying very little about an incident last week in which a suspected car thief reportedly fled from police into a small pond on an Indian reservation and was eaten by an alligator.

ABC News' South Florida affiliate WPLG reported that Thursday the Miccosukee Police Department, which handles law enforcement for the Miccosukee Indian Reservation, along with K-9 units from the nearby Sweetwater Police Department, responded to a call about two men breaking into vehicles in the parking lot of the tribe's 300-room resort and casino.

Police reportedly captured one of the men, but the other dived into a nearby retention pond  ignoring a sign that warned about dangerous alligators in the pond.

Eyewitnesses told WPLG that bystanders on the bank of the pond saw the gator, which the station reported was nicknamed "Poncho" by resort employees, and urged the man to swim back to shore, but he eventually screamed before disappearing underwater. The body of the man, who has not been identified by police, was discovered by divers Friday, 50 feet below the water's surface.

Gator Trapped, Put Down

The alligator that authorities believe is the one that killed the man was trapped and killed, and is now being held at All American Gator in Pembroke Park, Fla.

Under Florida state law, any alligator that kills a person must be destroyed.

Brian Wood, owner of All American Gator, told WPLG that the Miami-Dade County medical examiner hold him to hold the reptile for inspection. Neither the medical examiner's office nor Wood was available for comment, but Wood reportedly told the local station that it's not uncommon for a gator to behave defensively.

"Some gators have a nasty disposition, and he was a nasty gator," Wood told WPLG.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Liberal Bias

Someone once said something to the effect that media bias is so obvious that it's not even worth debating. If it was debated, one of the primary evidences of it, apart from liberal advocacy masquerading as "news" reporting (by far Exh #1), would be movie reviews. Movie reviewers tend to be so lockstep, rigidly liberal in their viewpoints that it's laughable.

Case in point: Bella

This tremendous movie has been out for a couple of weeks now. However, its been ignored by the majority of movie reviewers. According to the movie review site 'Rotten Tomatoes', there are a whopping 48 reviews of Bella. To give you some contrast, American Gangster has 167 reviews. Beowulf -- which hasn't even opened yet -- has 79 reviews.

And, of course, of those 48 reviews, many are negative. The reviewer for the Detroit News called it "A barely disguised anti-abortion tract". Gee, we can't allow movies to be taken over and turned into political propaganda now can we? Gosh, what was 'Lions for Lambs' about?

Obviously, many of Hollywood's movies are just that -- political propaganda. Take, for example, 'The Cider House Rules' from a few years back. That movie was a polemical tract agitating for abortion rights as a moral imperative. But, did reviewers blast it as a "not-so-thinly disguised pro-abortion tract"?

Not exactly. Here's what one reviewer said:
The film begins in the 1920s, where we are introduced to young Homer Wells, a resident of a secluded orphanage in St. Clouds, Maine. Taken under the wing of the orphanage’s director, Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine), Homer grows up in the institution, watches the other children find homes and comes to accept the fact that he will likely spend his entire youth there. Under the doctor’s tutelage, Homer even learns how to deliver babies and perform abortions, even though the idea of the latter is at odds with his personal beliefs.
Poke these liberal Hollywood apologists in the eye. Go see Bella this weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Way Cool


Bullet At 5000 Frames Per Second - Watch more free videos
Multi-color Laptops

Wow! You can pick from one of 8 different colors if you buy a Dell Inspiron laptop. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!!

Check it out:

Sure, it's an unreliable piece of junk -- but you can get it in Espresso Brown, Spring Green, or even Flamingo Pink!

What will they think of next!? Say, do they offer one in 'burnt orange'?
How Dumb Can You Get?
the sky's the limit apparently
Man Hurt Using Shotgun to Loosen Lug Nut
SOUTHWORTH, Wash. (AP) — A man trying to loosen a stubborn lug nut blasted the wheel with a 12-gauge shotgun, injuring himself badly in both legs, sheriff's deputies said.

The 66-year-old man had been repairing a Lincoln Continental for two weeks at his home northwest of Southworth, about 10 miles southwest of Seattle, and had gotten all but one of the lug nuts off the right rear wheel by Saturday afternoon, Kitsap County Deputy Scott Wilson said.

"He's bound and determined to get that lug nut off," Wilson said.

From about arm's length, the man fired the shotgun at the wheel and was "peppered" in both legs with buckshot and debris, with some injuries as high as his chin, according to a sheriff's office report.

"Nobody else was there and he wasn't intoxicated," Wilson said.

The man was taken to Tacoma General Hospital with injuries Wilson described as severe but not life-threatening.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ted's Not a Red
well, he is a red-blooded American

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Growing the Welfare State

Got this interesting piece from a friend in my e-mail today.
Where are we headed?

About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.”

“A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.”

“From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

“The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years.”

During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

3. From courage to liberty;

4. From liberty to abundance;

5. From abundance to complacency;

6. From complacency to apathy;

7. From apathy to dependence;

8. From dependence back into bondage.

Professor Joseph Olson of Hemline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some facts concerning the 2000 Presidential election:

Number of States won by:
Gore: 19
Bush: 29

Square miles of land won by:
Gore: 580,000
Bush: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by:
Gore: 127 million
Bush: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:
Gore: 13.2
Bush: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: 'In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned mostly by working and taxpaying citizens.

Gore's territory significantly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare...Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the 'complacency and apathy' phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the 'governmental dependency' phase to some extent.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million illegal aliens and they vote, then the development of governmental dependency will be significantly hastened.
This is the most compelling part:
"some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the 'governmental dependency' phase to some extent"

The whole problem with government is the increased dependency it creates. I recently read David McCullough's "The Johnstown Flood". The part of the story that struck me was that after the flood devastated the town, the survivors didn't sit on their hands waiting for the government to come to the rescue. The first thing they did was band together and "elect" a new town leader.

What makes this even more amazing is that the mayor and a number of other city officials survived. However, the survivors wanted to elect the town's most prosperous businessman and put him in charge. They obviously recognized that they needed a man of action, not a politician. That businessman had, unfortunately, been killed in the flood. So, they immediately "elected" Johnstown's second most prosperous businessman and put him in charge.

By the time outside help began to arrive, the townspeople had divided Johnstown into sectors. They had formed search parties by sector to look for survivors, had established aid stations for the injured, and morgues for the dead. They had teams collecting and disposing of dead animals to avoid the spread of disease, while other teams were collecting salvageable food and clothing.

As I read this, I could not help compare it to New Orleans. Too many folks down there didn't do anything because they'd been conditioned to wait for help from the government. Tragically, there were folks in New Orleans who died because the government didn't get there in time with food, water and shelter.

If 40% of our population is at this level of government dependency. What will our country be like when that percentage gets to 50%? 60%? 75%?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Remember Me

Monday, November 05, 2007

Top Conservatives??
I don't think so

A recent story out of the UK listed the top conservatives in the U.S. The top 20 according to these Brits are:

Republican presidential candidate [Please. This error runs through this whole list. Being a Republican is NOT the same thing as being a conservative. Moreover, the mere fact that Giuliani is the current Republican front-runner does NOT qualify as the top conservative.]

Commander of coalition forces in Iraq [Don't know much about Petraeus, and have never heard his political views. I suspect he's on the list by virtue of being the top general in Iraq.]

Internet journalist and talk radio host [I like Drudge, and suspect he leans conservative. But, to my knowledge, he's never written a book or article articulating conservative principles. So, his being on this list is questionable, and #3?? Come on. Haven't they ever heard of William F. Buckley in the U.K.?]

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives [The first one to even qualify as a conservative. ]

Talk radio host [Finally.]

Vice President of the United States [Hooray. (He should take some liberals hunting.)]

Defence Secretary [Whaa?]

Chief Justice of the United States [Whaa?]

Senator for Arizona and presidential candidate [Please. Being a Republican candidate for president does NOT mean you are a conservative.]

Presidential candidate [See above.]

Presidential candidate [This is getting old. See above.]

Secretary of State [Regardless of who's president, no matter how conservative he might be, they always take the most limp-wristed, spineless member of the cabinet and make them Sec. State.]

Former US ambassador to the United Nations [Should be in the top 5.]

Editorial Page Editor, The Wall Street Journal [Ditto]

Talk radio host [Don't listen to her much. Is she the most conservative woman? Don't think so. Try Michelle Malkin or Debbie Schlussel.]

Governor of Mississippi [A politician first; maybe a conservative if it advances his politics.]

Pollster and strategist [Never heard of him.]

Talk radio host [Heard of him, but never heard him.]

Congressman [One of the few true conservatives in Congress.]

Counsellor to President George W. Bush [Great political operative; led Bush's campaign against Kerry. But a conservative? I don't know.]


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