Quick tasting notes: Orchard Street Jingle Ale

The Northwest has a wealth of small independent breweries, and each seems to be in the holiday spirit with the production of holiday ales. (For those who haven’t had the pleasure, a holiday (also known as Christmas ale, winter ale, or seasonal ale) is a one-off ale, usually dark, brewed with various spices.

I had resolved to make notes on each of the holiday ales I’ve tried this season; alas, I’ve let the Pyramid Snowcap and one other whose name escapes me by without taking notes. But Orchard Street Jingle Ale is far too good not to review. Dark and sweet almost but not quite to the point of heaviness, apparently spiced with ginger and cinnamon, complex and satisfying. If you’re in the small distribution area of this beer, you’re lucky. I’m going to try to get up to the brewpub to check this stuff out from the tap (they’re in Bellingham, so it might have to wait a while; no official web page that I can find).

On the difficulty of changing one’s address

I wouldn’t have thought that moving this blog to a new server would take so long. On one level, it’s done: all my old data is on the new server, happily cooking along, and I’m directing all the new content to the new site. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that there are a lot of blogging infrastructure tools out there that have a long memory. Google is one of them. There are about 7,270 search results for me at my old address (which still has a page rank of 6), compared with only 184 at my new one. Bear in mind that both sites have the same content. Google just hasn’t finished spidering the new site.

This is partly because very few people have updated their links to my site. Most people’s blogrolls have been updated, but links like my blog of the Apple keynote have not.

And, of course, despite my plea, there are still a ton of people hitting the old site’s RSS feed with aggregators–Radio, Frontier, and NetNewsWire. Sigh. I appreciate the attention, folks, but you’d actually get fresh content if you came here.

The irony is that Dave Winer was one of the folks who worked to design and implement RSS redirection, the “I’ve Moved” notice for RSS subscriptions, but it hasn’t been implemented in Manila yet.

The other thing that set me off

I should post a link to the other article that set me off this morning, also in the Washington Post: “In Terror War, 2nd Track for Suspects: Those Designated ‘Combatants’ Lose Legal Protections.” The Post is coming around to points that I started making last year:

…under authority it already has or is asserting in court cases, the administration, with approval of the special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, could order a clandestine search of a U.S. citizen’s home and, based on the information gathered, secretly declare the citizen an enemy combatant, to be held indefinitely at a U.S. military base. Courts would have very limited authority to second-guess the detention, to the extent that they were aware of it.

The article says that part of the debate is about who gets to declare someone an enemy combatant. The administration wants the power to reside solely in the president, with no checks save re-election. Says Solicitor General Theodore Olson: “Who will finally decide [whether the decision to designate someone an enemy combatant is a right or just decision]? Will it be a judge, or will it be the president of the United States, elected by the people, specifically to perform that function, with the capacity to have the information at his disposal with the assistance of those who work for him?”

Personally I think the Constitution has been pretty clear from the start that the job of the judiciary is to make the decision that the executive branch is acting rightly and justly. But then, what do I know? I’m just a Grouchy Blogger.

Grouchy Blogger Civil Liberties update

I have been deliberately not blogging about matters political, including our charming Attorney General Singin’ John Ashcroft, for a while. But the latest report in the Washington Post, that Ashcroft urged his staffers to deny FOIA requests, tipped me over the edge.

The story is bad enough. The Justice Department has in the past withheld data that it knew made its positions untenable, including enforcement of gun laws (Reno) and failure to prosecute terrorism cases (Ashcroft); now it’s implicitly promising its staffers that they will be shielded and supported if they decide to deny a FOIA request in part or whole, thus institutionalizing the denial of access to data that could prove it acted in error. The subtext is scarier. It is emblematic of the Bush Administration’s, and Ashcroft’s blatant disregard of the laws and Constitutional framing that they have sworn to uphold that Ashcroft has reversed the direction of the previous administration to consider all government information public unless there is a pressing need to keep the information secret. The author of the article, James Grimaldi, writes, “Justice Department bureaucrats, with Ashcroft’s blessing, are trying to muzzle the watchdogs.” It seems to me that that’s not all they’re trying to do.

John Ashcroft is conspiring, with the complicity of the Bush administration, to draw a dark cloak of secrecy over the workings of government. At the same time, he is lifting all the restraints that have kept our government from trampling the rights that our founding fathers fought for.

Now is the time to act. Write your congressman. If they’re a member of the Republican majority, maybe they’ll stop serving in Bush’s chorus long enough to think about what they’re signing up the country for. If they’re in the Democratic minority, maybe they’ll have an awakening of conscience and start acting like a principled, visionary opposition party.

But act. Before Bush and Ashcroft succeed in making dissent illegal.

Payback will be hell

Good morning! Thirty years is far too short a time with all of you. As Bilbo Baggins once said, I feel I know less than half of you as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as I should.

And thanks to Esta for the technicolor reminder of my mortality. Never fear, dear, I’ve got September 20 circled in my calendar for a few years hence…

Holiday beginning: exhaustion sets in

We started our holiday decorating process last Wednesday with our first trip (but not our last) to Molbak’s for poinsettias (there are 39 different varieties of the plant there right now). Saturday I spent mostly cleaning up our garage, unboxing a few things that were still in boxes, and getting our second TV in the Sun Room set up.

This afternoon Lisa and I went back to Ikea (we were there yesterday as well to get some holiday decorations and a small chair for the Sun Room) to get some shelves. On the way back we stopped at Home Depot and got a six foot “Noble Fir” Christmas tree. We bought it on faith—it was still strapped tight—but we assumed (correctly) that it was in pretty good shape. And with the straps on, I was able to take down the right half of the Passat’s back seat, lay out one of our much abused painter’s cloths, and slide the tree right in.

Getting the tree into the house was a slightly different story. I ran out of upper body strength and patience half way through sawing the bottom 1/2 inch off the tree out in our garage. Fortunately a hammer and chisel helped get the last bit off. After a lot of swearing, vacuuming and sweeping, the tree was in the stand and the needles were out of the garage.

At this point we stopped for dinner, which was a mistake in retrospect. We ran out of steam. I got one string of lights partway on the tree and then stopped. Lisa went to bed and I will follow her once I finish writing.

This is the first Christmas tree we’ve had for at least three years, since the last (or next-to-last) year we were in McLean, Virginia. I think that once we finish setting it up we’ll have succeeded in claiming another piece of this house as our home. Unfortunately that’ll have to wait until Tuesday; I have practice tomorrow night.

I’m quite tired after four days of “rest and relaxation.” I suppose this is what aging does to you. (I’ll be thirty tomorrow.)

Ryan White HIV Program at UVA

The UVA Ryan White HIV Program was established in 1986 and has received a Ryan White Title IIIb grant to “expand and enhance HIV primary care in… the western half of Virginia.”This page at UVA discusses the program and has an enormous list of links on HIV and AIDS resources in Virginia and worldwide.

Figures of concern

The figures in the AIDS epidemic are repeated so often they tend to numb the viewer. Here are a collection of figures, including statistics with and without corroboration, that I present as a kind of collage of the impact of the epidemic (original sources hyperlinked):

  • “Last year, 2.3 million people died of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.”
  • “If AIDS continues unabated for the next 20 years, the worldwide death toll will reach 68 million.”
  • “Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, some 11 million children have been orphaned by AIDS.”
  • Most of the children in the world under 15 years old living with HIV or AIDS are in sub-Saharan Africa: 2.4 million, compared with 300,000 in the rest of the world. That number will continue to grow: in 2001, 700,000 new infections occurred in children under 15, compared with 100,000 in the rest of the world.
  • In the US, the CDC says 816,149 total cases of AIDS have been reported, with 467,910 deaths, including 5,257 children under age 15. New York City leads US metropolitan areas with 126,237 cumulative cases of AIDS, followed by LA, San Francisco, Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Newark, and Atlanta.
  • The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reports that 42 million people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS worldwide today. The rate of spread of the disease continues to outpace the death rate of the disease, with five million new infections and 3.1 million deaths in 2002.


PATH developing a better female condom

Following a reference in the Seattle Times photoessay, I found out about PATH, the Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health. Among many other technologies for diagnosis, immunization, and prevention, PATH is working on improving the vaginal condom (PDF). This is critical to preventing the spread of AIDS in countries like Zimbabwe where the high cultural emphasis placed on male virility slows the spread of male condom use.

Seattle Times: special report on AIDS

The Times has an enormous special section on AIDS today. Highlights include a pictorial essay with audio commentary about conditions in Zimbabwe. Interesting captions such as this one:

Women have little control over sexual politics in the sub-Sahara, where men pay a lobola, or bride price, to marry them, and then set the rules. The traditional male condom has proved a weak weapon in the fight against AIDS, so global health workers promote women-controlled devices, such as the female condom touted on this billboard.

Seattle Times: “Personal sorrow, global havoc”

Seattle Times: “AIDS: Personal sorrow, global havoc.” The Times runs an editorial from the newspaper’s perspective that’s crying out for hyperlinks (I really would like a source for the factoid that “by the end of 2002, 42 million men, women, and children will be living with incurable HIV/AIDS,” not to mention demographic breakdowns). But the paper does lay some blame squarely at the feet of our squeamish administration:

Medicine to fight mother-to-child transmission of the disease is available, but is not getting to where the help is needed. Programs to promote safe sex run into squeamishness in the Bush administration about advocating distribution of condoms.

Sexual abstinence is one message, but it flies in the face of reality, especially in destitute countries where selling sex equates to survival, not a moral dilemma. Women suffer half the cases of HIV/AIDS, with devastating effects on families.