Beer

The problem started soon after people started messing around with barley and other grains.  Sure, they were an interesting crop that you could make a lot of with this “plow” thingy, but what could you do with it? You can imagine the debate running on and on, with the Sumerians that were pro-grain being called all kids of names by the anti-grain faction of Sumeria.  Somewhere along the line, some of this grain rotted in bowl of water in a very careful kind of way and soon there was something everyone could agree on – it was a tasty and good thing, and not just because it was alcoholic.  The whole debate got a lot more mellow after a few bowls full of it were downed, and everything was allright.

That’s about how making beer was the first act of civilization.

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Craftsmanship

Woodworking is a strategic craft.  It often starts with a plan, but it may start with a irresistible chunk of raw wood that seems destined to be an expression of beauty.  In either case, the goals are formulated, the steps outlined and the tools sharpened.  Perfecting the craft itself isn’t much different.  The woodworking his or her self is the block of uncut wood, molded and shaped through years of practice, mentorship and gobs of quantity time with other devotees of the art.  Together, it is the Way of the Craftsman – patient yet active, contemplative yet expressive.

It’s also the way that I approach writing.  I believe many others do as well, but I very much wish that this view was universal.

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The Heart of It

The facts start out simple enough.  A black guy in Cambridge came home from a trip and had to force his way into his own house.  A neighbor heard the noise and called the cops.  One thing led to another, and the cops wound up taking in the man who broke into his own house.  The details of the story that led to the arrest?  They are incredibly unimportant as the story took on a life of its own.  That’s the real story here.

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Handles

It’s one of those things that happens on The Daily Show.  A perfectly normal roasting of a “Good Morning America” segment on Michael Jackson hysteria was being pulled off by … well, by merely playing the self-parodying thing.  Just when it didn’t seem like it could get any stranger, a man was introduced as a “Celebrity Gravesite Expert”.

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Economic Powers

One of the many huge bills pending before Congress right now is the financial system overhaul.  This is a big complicated mess of a proposal that a lot of people are very skeptical about, and for a good reason – it’s very hard to understand.  I’ve been slow to write about it because I was about as confused as anyone when I saw the big chart supposedly explaining it.  That’s a pity because now that some of the details have sunk in it looks like it’s not too bad overall.  It’s only missing that one thing that Democracy demands – clarity.  I happen to believe it’s not as hard to do that as it seems.

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Stated Reasoning

State governments have been getting a lot more scrutiny lately for one reason:  they’re not doing too well.  California has become the best known example, but Ohio, New York, and Illinois lead the list of big state governments that suddenly went from obscure to major crises.  The problem with that statement is at both ends – how a Depression wrecks a state budget is obvious, but the relative obscurity of this branch of government is where the real problem lies. Very few people know just what states do anymore.

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Channel 6

Perhaps late at night everything seems a little funnier.  Or maybe it’s a good time to think things through as if ideas are sheep waiting to be counted.  Maybe I started to really like the host, Big Wilson, and his little riffs on a cheesy electric piano.  Whatever the reason, I spent a lot of time as a kid watching WCIX, Channel 6 in Miami, late at night.  While it wasn’t the main idea, though, what I got was a cultural education like no other.

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