Controversial issues

Usually, I agree with Michelle Malkin, and I'm happy to say so. However, I've found that I just don't support the classic Conservative view on abortion. To compound the disagreement, birth control is again under attack from the same quarter. The comments on that post range from defense of cheaper hormonal birth control because abortions (or alternately, college tuition) are more expensive and more destructive long-term (oy), to declaring that all college students and young people should just abstain.

I present, as an alternative defense of cheaper hormonal birth control, the following situations.

1. A married couple, in which the woman would die if she became pregnant, and is allergic to latex (it happens more often than publicized). Her only option is hormonal birth control, but her low-cost insurance refuses to pay for it (as many do) and she cannot fit anything extra into her budget if she wishes to be able to save for emergencies.

2. A teenage girl who needs it for skin problems, but her parents don't have insurance and she is unable to get it herself, because she doesn't have a job, nor will her parents allow her to have one.

3. A woman who has tried several different hormonal treatments to limit her severe PMS-related mood swings and debilitating cramps, but is intolerant to many of the mainstream methods available. The options left are extremely expensive, and her insurance will not cover, because they deem it unnecessary, since hospitalization is not required on a monthly basis, and therefore it's cheaper for them to do nothing.

Those are just a few examples. Ask the women around you what they pay for their birth control, and they will probably tell you they can't afford it without insurance, and insurance only pays for the bare minimum.

In addition, some studies have come out recently that say women who use hormonal birth control have a lower risk of some cancers. A pound of prevention, after all.

It isn't just high school and college students who use birth control. It's the rest of us who actually need it in our everyday lives, and to deny it to us on the basis of price makes very little sense. The overall continued idiocy from many voices on this topic makes me shake my head in disgust.

Can white wines age?

A coworker of mine recently was surprised when we started stocking the 2002 Riesling (reviewed previously), claiming that "white wines don't age."

On the contrary, some whites age very well. It is not the grape, although some age much better than others, but the level of acidity, and degree of complexity that determine how well a specific wine will cellar. Just like reds, whites are made to either drink young, or age well.

Chardonnay, especially a well-made Bourgogne Blanc or Macon Blanc-Villages, or even some of the higher-end Californias, can age beautifully, taking on a golden-straw hue that almost shimmers in the light (perhaps that's the oak?). Riesling becomes almost toasted brown, while Pinot Grigio turns a deep lemony-orange colour. The flavours tend to develop length on the palette and finish, with floral and mineral notes mellowing and becoming secondary to the fruit. Sauvignon Blancs do tend to go through a dumb stage for about four or five years, but by seven years into it, the citrus has overtaking any lingering herbal excesses, while the acid has smoothed out and become a soft complement. I personally prefer older Sauvignons, as the young ones are far too crisp and sharp, and the grassy notes are overwhelming on my palette and retro-nasal passage.

So, on that note, throw that interesting bottle of white into the cellar, and let it age a few years!


Out of town

I'm going out of town for a few days, hopefully I'll be able to post, but given that it's a family thing, I may not get to the computer.

I fly out at 7am tomorrow morning, so off to bed with me!

Dr. Deinhart Riesling Kabinett 2002

This was such a spectacular wine, beautifully matured with green apple prominent both on the nose and the palette, accented by lovely floral notes (I believe I was getting a bit of something very white and perfumey, but I can't place the exact flower) and with a finish that lasted somewhere around a minute, although the last 20 or so seconds were very mild and required concentration to notice.

I had thrown this into my fridge for a day or so before tasting, so it was a bit colder than it should be kept, though I don't believe it adversely affected the flavours. The complexity and fruitiness of the wine is exactly what I expect of a Riesling, being nicely medium-full bodied and with a touch of sweetness. The sugar isn't cloying or overwhelming, instead being more like biting into a well-made complex fruit salad. The overall impression is that of an early fall picnic in an orchard.


Patterns and Fur

I'm a cat-obsessed crank. I admit this freely. Anyone who has followed my writings before understands this, and possibly remembers when I adopted my two furballs.

Though they aren't so much furballs as they are freakishly old kittens - littermates who are now about 2 1/2 years old, but still act like they're 5 mos old. Ah, cats.

Anyway, this post isn't about them, it's about another set of sleeping lumps. No matter how sweet they look, just remember they rule our lives, not the other way around, and they are always willing to prove it to us. Taking our beds for their naptime is only one way of reminding us of their superiority.


Wines I need to try, Part 1

Oh good lord, there are so many wines I need to try. And I really should do this methodically, though I don't think that's going to happen.

On that note, let's begin.

2001 Punk Dog Wines "Sophie's Riddle" Red Wine, Sonoma - I love the name of this, and it was received well at the San Francisco wine festival in September. Beyond which, I have an affinity for 2001 California wines, though more specifically Napa than Sonoma. In general, I find Sonoma wines to be overblown and far too hot for my tastes. Napa's tend to be a bit more balanced and have enough fruit to balance a 14 or 15% alcohol content.

2006 Thomas Fogarty Winery Gewurztraminer, Monterey - I'm incredibly curious as to how California does Gewurtz. I love it as a grape, am particularly obsessed with the German (vs the Alsatian), and thoroughly fascinated as to how cooler-weather grapes would do in California, especially such a warm area as Monterey.

2003 York Creek Cellars Cabernet Franc, Spring Mountain District, Napa - I adore the Spring Mountain appellation in Napa, and I adore Cab Franc, so this is a match made in heaven.

2005 Orin Swift Cellars "The Prisoner" Red Blend - Although I've tasted this before, served at Telepan in the Lincoln Center neighbourhood, I've never really sat down and evaluated it before. However, it seems to be a wonderful wine, and one I'd like to get to know better.

2002 Dr. Deinhard Riesling Kabinett, Pfaltz, Germany - I have a bottle of this at home, waiting for the weekend. The colour is a beautiful autumn gold, and I expect it to be fully mature and ready to drink. Since the store just received two cases, I'm looking forward to selling it.

2003 Graves Syrah, Paso Robles - I've had the 2002 of this wine, and am very intrigued by what I read about the 03. In general, this seems to be a region overlooked for Syrah, although the Merlots and Cabs are fairly boring.

So there's part one. I'm sure there will be a part 2, 3, 4, etc, and I'll try to link them all up through a common tag.

Dunning-Kruger effect

Recently, I read this article from Barry Campbell, and was pleased to find out that the phenomenon I've encountered in my years of study (and my years of working in the service industry) has a name and has been extensively studied.

I've just come across another example of it, this one from a member of NYRA. Not that I'm overly surprised by where I found him, given my history with that organization. In this case, the person in question seems to be a relatively new member (at least since I left off working with them a few years ago), so perhaps there's hope.

Maybe this is why teens and young people are seen as being stupid or incompetent. In their need to be seen as mature and intelligent, they (we? Can I still include myself in this?) overcompensate through excessive self-confidence, bordering on arrogance. So older and more experienced heads push the younger one into a box labeled "young and stupid" and leave them there.

Seems to be a circular argument, with no real solution. Orgs like NYRA are good, just like the ACLU is good, but there needs to be temperance. At least NYRA is a bit more moderate and neutral than ASFAR (no, I'm not linking to them).

The question is, at what point will people start taking responsibility for their ignorance and working to change the circumstances. Age has nothing to do with that, only determination.


France and the anti-drink lobby

Apparently, France has a very strong anti-alcohol lobby. One of their recent moves was to have a couple of major names in the alcohol business fined for promoting the consumption of alcohol in their advertising. What they mean by that specific phrase, is that the companies involved associated alcohol consumption with having a good time, rather than just stating the facts of the product, which is evidently all that French law allows.

Heineken, one of the two companies fined tens of thousands of euros, responded by appealing the decision.

They just lost.

I'm more than a bit disturbed by this prospect, especially considering that some of my favourite wines come from French appellations. This sets a precedent that is patently anti-alcohol, and is somewhat reminiscent of the early pre-Prohibition actions. Considering that there has also been a push lately to establish drinking ages throughout European countries, and I feel like we're seeing motion in the wrong direction regarding individual responsibility for self.



Wow, so I really shouldn't say I'm so tired of arguing, then start an argument with someone.

I'm a hypocritical idiot. As usual.

I am tired of arguing though. I'm even more tired of people trying to shut me up because I don't agree with them. And I have a headache for the ages. And no more coffee. So I'm going to take myself off now, and do paperwork.


Muhammad cartoons

I've been following the Muhammad cartoon stories in Europe for the last long while. It's such an obvious suppression of speech that it fits in nicely with my major focuses these last several years.

Today, Fox printed this story about Danish newspapers reprinting the cartoons that started all the trouble.

At least three European newspapers — in Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain — also reprinted the cartoon as part of their coverage of the Danish arrests.

The best defense against suppression of speech is to speak. The best way to ensure that we are still able to express ourselves in the years to come is to stand up and yell. This is a pretty good start.


Thoroughly disturbing commercial

Make the people on the AT&T commercials stop abusing the internet, please. No one should ever have to see an abortion like that.


Just pretend the above header is centered. I can't get the damneable image to do what I want, and it's driving me nuts.


It's odd...in all my years of on-and-off blogging, I've always had one thing common to all my sites - a healthy dose of vitriol and bile. Suddenly, I find it unsatisfying to get into arguments over points that, in the end, are just my opinion vs. theirs. I'm not a relativist, but I do believe that people hold their opinions dear, use them to define themselves, and become very, very scared if someone challenges those ideas. I could quote a hundred sources, obscure and well-known, and my opponent(s) in the debate will just counter with ideas that support what they say. It is rare to find the person who can debate with a truly open mind. As a result, I find myself, lately, associating only with those who share my opinions, or those who really are willing to listen and adjust what they believe based on my arguments.

I'm not sure anyone will actually read this. There are so many blogs out there these days, and I'm just one of...well, not counting the splogs and marketing failures, let's say millions. Maybe not. I don't really know, but that isn't the point here. I need a space where I'm not confronted with vitriol and hatred just for trying to open people's minds or challenging what they believe.

I guess I'm a skeptic in the Classical sense...believing nothing till it is proven to me, and assuming that even if it's been proven, it hasn't really been proven. Perhaps, in some ways, this is a bad thing. It keeps me from just sitting back and enjoying what life hands me.

Though if life handed me something more than lemons, maybe I wouldn't have to spend so much energy making lemonade. No, I'm not being negative. I'm actually quite enthused about life right now, and things do seem to be going my way for once. Though I'm fairly convinced it's just a mischievous sprite or god deciding to keep me off-balance by making things go well.

See? Skeptic.

I guess I can go from here into a bit about my comment policy (not that I expect any, I don't think people will be reading this often): I reserve the right to delete any comments that are hateful, bigoted, violent, or spam. If they are threatening, I may report them to authorities for appropriate action. I also reserve the right to edit your comment if you're an idiot, and tag you as an idiot for future readers to learn from. Don't be an idiot.

I guess I should throw a disclaimer in as well.

My opinions and thoughts are my own, and do not represent the company I work for, nor my co-workers, nor my friends and family. Hell, I think most of them would disagree with what I have to say. I am not paid for this (yet) and receive no monies or other compensation for reviewing books, wine, or other products, though I wouldn't turn down compensation either. Please note that all writings here belong to me (unless otherwise noted) and my permission MUST be received before re-posting anything in large part or in it's entirety, unless you are just responding and need to quote relevant sections. If I find any of my writings being reproduced without my name attached, I will take whatever action necessary.

There we go. I think that does it.


Game weekend

I've been playing Final Fantasy XII all weekend. Blogging to resume when I get back to work.


Drafts, Drafts, and more Drafts.

I swear, I'm actually working on this essay. It has turned out much longer than I expected, and I have a couple of people editing it along with me. Keep your fingers crossed, and it should be up sometime today.

False information

The front page of www.redsox.com has false info about Curt Schilling's injury. In the article, they admit that no one is saying what exactly is wrong, but the front page (which is where most people get their info) they are saying it's a torn rotator cuff.

So I wrote them a letter:

I find myself extremely upset at the moment that, contrary to everything the club and Curt Schilling both say, RedSox.com has the nature of his shoulder problems as "torn rotator cuff" on the front page, whereas in the article there is a statement that the "nature of the...injury is unclear." This is not only shoddy reporting, but a patently false statement on your front page that should be remedied immediately. To continue to perpetrate the rumours that have been floating around for days serves no one, especially the fans who pay your lovely club money every year and keep it going.

Please fix this glaring error immediately.


Drafts and difficulty

I've been working on this draft for the entire day. There are multiple threads, and at the moment they're unraveling. I'm going to spend the next day or two getting the current draft edited, and I'll post the final result. The problem with writing an entry in Classic Essay style is that there's a limit I have to set myself, and I'm not used to that.

In the meantime, I'm going to go finish this bottle of Jules 2005 Syrah/Grenache blend.



Free Expression

Listened to George Carlin on The Brian Lehrer Show last night. He just said something that illustrated why I cannot consider myself a part of the Left, politically, anymore.

As he says, historically, censorship comes from the Right. However, due to the overwhelming belief of the Left that Political Correctness Is All, speech codes have infiltrated college campuses and have started to ooze into the workplace and the talk shows and the politicians have started to attempt legislation to ensure that words that they don't like, for whatever reason their odd logic has established, never becomes a part of everyday language.

--There is a lot more here, and I'm currently working on a draft of it. When done, it will be posted later today. Expect a fairly lengthy dissertation on the subject.


I have this tendency to re-start my blogs every so often. Usually, this is predicated upon some major change in my life, whether a move, a new relationship, a new job, or other major event. Saoirse na hOige was my first "real" blog, as opposed to online journal, followed by a couple of fairly idiotic and extremely personal blogspot blogs (all are now defunct, and I'm not feeding traffic to the URL's). Then I picked up http://www.karukeion.com, also known as "The Wisdom of Change," and it was intended to illustrate my growth into young adulthood. Well, I seem to be well on my way there, and now it's time for another change. For the moment, all posts will be here, then when the URL is up and running, at http://www.fallenicarus.net.

With any luck, I won't lose interest in this quite as fast as the others, and events in my life seem to have stabilized enough that I should be able to keep this up fairly easily.

But good lord, I really want Moveable Type back up. I'm really sick of using blogger. On that note, let's get on with it.