Thursday, March 27, 2008

A dumb Hoover institution article, purified. First in a series.

This Article was referenced on James Nicoll's livejournal. I read it, and it pissed me off.

This is the outline of the article:

Par 1. [Claim: Religious western monotheists value the material world less that they would otherwise because the material world exists by grace of diety and can end in apocalyptic catastrophe, rendering an imprudently high valuation pointless.]
Par 2. [Claim: Rationalist unbelievers don’t believe that the material world bears a discount value due to unpredictable, supernatural catastrophe.]
Par 3. [Claim: Rationalist unbelievers do believe in unpredictable, natural or manmade catastrophes.]
Par 4. [Financial markets are complacent and grow, due to a belief in Progress.]
Par 5. [Financial actors ignore the world except for the parts they parse for profit.. They ignore bankrupts who incessantly predict apocalypse.]
Par 6. [Doomsayers are dyshedonic and are ignored in practice because they bring market players down, man.]
Par 7. [Financial markets rationally ignore incontinent doomsayers because financial markets wouldn’t exist past doomsday. Better to plan on no doomsdays.]
Par 8. [Financial markets shouldn’t continue to ignore incontinent doomsayers because its irresponsible to ignore incontinent doomsayers, whether they are invoking the Apocalypse of St. John or the splitting of the moon by Wolf-Rayet neutrino beams. The claims of incontinent doomsayers do apply to financial markets, because some kind of catastrophe will occur.]
Par. 9 [The market must consider conditions necessary and in total sufficient to avoid natural apocalypse, because there might be no apocalypse and therefore markets will develop in the absence of an apocalypse.]
Par. 10 [A necessary condition for apocalypses are that they are global. Globalization is global. Good globalization might not be the global condition necessary to avoid apocalypse.
Par. 11 [Globalization means the promiscuous mixing, cultural familiarization, mercantile intermingling, of nations and ethnic groups until ethnic and national groups no longer exist. Globalization annihilates ethnic and social difference, because it forbids social exclusivity. Globalization enables secret global cabals of global elite masters, who function at the expense of local cabals of local masters.]
Par 12. [Globalization conflicts with existing conditions.]
Par 13. [Globalization has progressed, and has reachieved a level comparable to that in 1913, right before the First World War.
Par 14. [Because it is in conflict with opposing factors, globalization will either succeed or fail.]
Par 15. [Many people believe globalization is bad because it helps terrorists and criminals. Separation between peoples is a present necessary condition for peace, and globalization annihilates borders and distance, bringing war and tyranny. Good globalization should avoid war and tyranny, depending on the ease of war and tyranny and the fallen state of Adam’s seed.]
Par 16. [There are many different kinds of anti-globalists. Antiglobalists are all wrong because they want to globalize anti-globalization. Combinations of antiglobalisms are self-contradictory, and some antiglobalists are secret judeo-bolshevik capitalist globalists.]
Par 17. [Some people, atomically, can pretend aloofness from globalization, but not everybody, and no countries or nations.]
Par 18. [The people divided or united can’t end globalization by choice or positive action. Globalization can only end by accidential catastrophe or war. This would suck for everyone, so ending globalization would be bad.]
Par 19-20. [The hegemonic west has reified globalization as the means to peace and physical safety for 400 years. Globalization is Hobbes’ Leviathan, thanatophobocratically murdering the natural world and its classical virtues for a Lockean inheritance of civic passivity and social artifice through global systems of trade and commerce.]
Par 21. [Thalassocratic Britain was the first globalist imperial commercial Leviathan. The filthy European globalist Hegelians and Bolsheviks fatally undermined Thalassocratic Britain with arms and war through the teens and twenties, because they wanted an end to conflict in a glorious perfect globalist future.]
Par 22. [The West fetishizes globalization, despite repeated disappointment, because globalization is the West’s tool for global dominance, as shown by the history of financial markets, where failures of globalization mark tremendous crises.]
Par 23. [Modern financial manias are caused by misapprehended globalization, and the liquidation of bubbles are caused by the revelations of globalizations difficulties. John Law’s system and the South Sea Bubble were the first examples of the misunderstanding of globalization and through happening retarded the progress of globalization.]
Par 24. [The progression of booms in various transport and communications industries further illustrates the false consciousness of globalization. The progression ended in 1930 and the world recoiled from globalization for two decades.]
Par 25. [The unlimited but uncertain possibilities offered by globalization excite financial actors to folly. Boring static local things don’t excite financial actors.]
Par 26-8. [The biggest bubbles of all, both real-estate, in Japan and the US, are also caused by globalization. The Japanese bubble was caused by globalized millennialism for Japan’s Hegelianly perfected corporate management. The American boom was enabled by global enthusiasm for America’s centralizing globalism. This boom applies to other centers of globalization, like London, where the filthy unbelievers are buying all of the blood-blessed soil.]
Par. 29-30. [Bubbles are getting stronger and more frequent over time, especially recently, when more have happened than ever before, and worse, and repeatedly in the same places, though aversive conditioning and inexplicably absent stupidity would indicate otherwise. This is because all bubbles are the same bubble, which is the modern enterprise of globalization itself.]
Par 31. [Now is different from before because the failure of globalization will end humanity, and this is the last, greatest, and most buoyant chance globlization will have.]
Par 32. [Globalization will end somehow, and chance of it ending should modify the expected value of securities, because the failure of globalization would render securities worthless, or at least highly volatile.]

Par 33. [Insurance, the ostensible tool of hedging against apocalypse, can’t hedge against apocalypse and even the insurers are admitting as much.]
Par 34. [Recent volatility marks the frequent alternation of conscious boundless optimism with depressed, inchoate existential anxiety. People are taking greater risks because they only have faith in the promises of the Global Beelzebub.]
Par 35. [The prospect of imminent death commands attention! Some things hope against hope for good outcomes. We all do!]
Par 36. [The threat of global catastrophe is also a threat of personal catastrophe. Existential anxiety on an individual level drives anxiety in the mass, which drives the volatile swings of the globalization project.]
Par 37. [Labor, technological, and financial investments in true globalization are the best investments against bad globalization.]
Par. 38-40 [China will be good for the world as long as its citizens produce more ever more cheaply and don’t compete with all the rest of us for resources and new industries and markets. But Chinese workers are not getting cheaper and they are using too much of our oil. This hurts us. But cutting out the Chinese would be bad. China offers a lot of promise in unpredictable ways.]
Par 41-2. [China is just another one of the fairy tale promises of globalization, because China’s rise depends on the contradiction of outside globalization harnessed to internal anti-globalization.]
Par 43. [The Internet is another of the tools of globalization. The Internet robustly defies boundaries and grows.]
Par 44-5. [Volatile beliefs about the Internet are informed by technological fairy tales, because the chance of failure is so great in any particular bet that bets are being made badly. Also, betting on globalization by being stupid about the internet is stupid. It is hard to both be smart and right. There are lots of big, smart, rich people in the Internet, and most of them might be making extremely stupid decisions.]
Par 46. [The key to good globalization is defense against bad technological things, and also security. The aforementioned big smart rich people aren’t investing in security.]
Par 47-8. [Hedge funds bet on predicting the volatility of financial assets, and will succeed if civilization doesn’t end. But most hedge funds are run by smart people making dumb decisions based on bad information or bad kinds of globalization. They gamble a lot, unless they are looking to do good by doing well. Most aren’t, and enable each other with autistic, sphexish decision-making and perverse manipulation.]
Par 49. [We can’t trust investors to enable good globalization through historical investment methods. Investors ignore too much bad globalization, which multiplies the risk of catastrophe.]
Par 50-1. [Can good globalization satisfy all desires? Does globalization inherently imply bad globalization? No, and yes, because autonomous individuals can be commodified, abused, and depersonalized by amoral cosmopolitan Judeobolshevik capitalists.]
Par 52. [We are presently too stupid to construct good globalization without risking total catastrophe.]
Par 53. [The people who will do well in the future will be the ones who can measure the cost of apocalypse. But the smart people don’t want to do this.]
Par 54. [Even if we wanted things to end well, they won’t. It will all end in tears in universal revulsion against false consciousness, the belly lint of the globalization canard.]
Par 55-6. [The Universal Revulsion has begun. You can’t fight it, because you are dumb and will make bad choices. Things are looking good for the end of the world. Oil, Saudi, blacks, INFLATION.].
Par 57-8. [Things might get better. Globalization might work. The horse might sing. If it doesn’t we all die. But only you can make the right decision. Too bad you’re too stupid.]

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The rest of the crabapples

crabapple1, originally uploaded by rvrgraves1.

And here, in a brewing bucket, a berrying bucket, and yet another Freshdirect box, are the remaining crabapples, waiting to be trimmed, cleaned, crushed, and pressed.

Here are half the crabapples

crabapple2, originally uploaded by rvrgraves1.

The white bucket on the right holds the trimmed crabapples, right now one eighth of the total.

On the left, a Freshdirect box contains about a fourth of the remainder.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Cider in the bosom of Penelope

Ten years ago, after a delicious meal capped by a wonderful *smooth* Norman cider, my friend The Best Man and I decided that we would try to make our own cider, the kind that makes you happy but puts your legs to sleep.

It isn't easy, making cider, when you don't know how. I mean, you *know* about sterility and temperature control and sugar control and acidity, but it's all theoretical, out of books. We didn't have the money to buy proper working containers and other assay equipment, and we reused (after careful cleaning and sterilization in boiling water) bottles so we could ferment in the bottle. I remember at the time
thinking that the carbonation in the wonderful Norman cider *had* to be the result of second fermentation, like champagne. And I thought it would be much more clever to control the yeast by using a particular champagne yeast, so we could do the malo-lactic thing. So we pasteurized the cider in a pressure cooker after we pressed it.

The pressing of the apple pulp needs to be described. We didn't take the apple orchard up on their offer to pulp the two bushels of apples that we bought (four different strains, McIntoshs, Jonagolds, Akanes, and this Norman apple that was very astringent), because we didn't have containers to transport the pulped apple in. And anyway, the apples would have started to work during the drive back to The Best Man's kitchen.

Setting: The AXE House, on Wyckoff, the chemistry frat, down on hard times, and taking in retail slave boarders. I remember Sparvero piloting starships past the Pyrex space stations on Garcia's black felt hexmap - located in the dining room of this... confraternity. Now we hauled the 28 dollars worth of two bushels of assorted apples past the moldering remains of ramens gone by, through the double doors through the scullery to la batterie du cuisine.

So we were going to use The Best Man's 1 + 1/2 quart Cuisinart he borrowed from his mother.

Have you ever tried to grind up two bushels of apples in a 1 + 1/2 quart Cuisinart? Ahem. There were oxidation problems - viz. the apples turned brown before we could finish all of them. But I especially liked the number of times we had to run the cuisinart, and the couple of hours we had to let it rest because it was getting too hot.

We pressed the apple pulp in old pillowcases (laundered in chlorox and rinsed *very* well), by putting the pulp in the pillowcases and twisting. Very tiring, but we pressed three gallons of cider.

Okay, sterilized bottles, pasteurized cider, champagne yeast, added sucrose to bring the sugar percentage up to seven percent. Of course, how should we know, lacking any way at all of measuring dissolved solids? I added a five pound bag of sugar. The Best Man looked dubious. Corked, wired, topped with condoms (hey, don't laugh) it was a way to measure the productivity of the yeast - the evolved CO2 would diffuse through and around the cork into the condom, inflating it. If you know the
permeability of the latex, and you know the surface area of the ballooning condom, you know the volume of gas evolved over time, and thus, the amount of sugar digested. It's a way to tell when the fermentation is finished.) Laid down in the basement in the furnace room (steady temperature of ~60 degrees, as opposed to the rest of
the unheated basement) and worked for three months.

Pop! Bang! Shatter! Crash! Crash! Bang! Out of eight 750 ml champagne bottles we filled, six exploded over the course of the primary fermentation. Had a great comment from my friend The Ketubah Witness "You really fill your condoms well." Bang. The sound of the seventh being smashed against the floor after it ejected its cork under considerable pressure and promptly rotted. Not vinegar - putrefactive rot. The sugar content must have been a bit *too* high.

The eighth bottle. The last hope. Thirty hours of labor, about forty dollars worth of apples, yeast, various simple brewing paraphernalia.

I was at my parent's house one weekend, and The Best Man drove down from Penelope's Bosom with the last bottle of cider. We had decided to give up on trying any secondary champagne fermentation to bring the presumed alcohol up to 11% -- this one wasn't in a champagne bottle, and a couple of the ones that exploded *were*. We didn't want to let this sit for malo-lactic fermentation - who knows what would have happened, and anyway, this couldn't possibly be a good way of doing this.

So, we went into my mother's laundry room in the basement, where the big sink was, with this lonely last bottle of cider and a couple of wine glasses. I wanted to taste forty-dollar homemade sparkling cider.

Tape unwrapped, condom removed.

"The cork looks good! It isn't wet and it hasn't moved out of the neck any distance!"

Good sign. Eased the cork out, slowly, slowly, *pop* the sound of rapidly expanding impounded CO2.

"It kept pressure! Yay!"

A little mist rose from the bottle spout as the gas solution de-saturated. I was careful not to joggle the bottle, to keep the gas from bursting out of solution swiftly.

"So, who'll taste first?" asked The Best Man. He looked at me expectantly. The
cider had been *my* idea.

I handed him the bottle and picked up the wineglass. He poured out the cider carefully. The color was good, golden with a hint of red. The consistency looked okay - it looked a *bit* more viscous than water, and the meniscus was more concave, wetting the sides of the glass more easily. The bubbles were larger than I'd thought they'd be, but probably that was gas nucleation on suspended sediments. We hadn't rebottled or filtered it, you see.

"Looks okay."

I swirled it in the glass and sniffed. It smelled like apples, there was the tang of the ethyl alcohol, and something heavy and pungent that I couldn't nail down.

"Smells like apples. Cyanide smells like almonds, too."

The Best Man watched me intently. His glass was on the countertop, empty. Clean.

"Taste it."

Very slowly I raised the glass to my lips and sipped a couple of milliliters.

Carbonation... slight sweetness... Waugh! Acetone! Paint thinner! I could feel my optic nerves tingling. My head swam. I bent over the lip of the laundry sink and spat it out. Poured out the wineglass, started the cold tap, filled it, and took a big mouthful to swish and gargle. The commercial paint-thinner taste was nothing compared to the musty rot aromatic after-taste. I remember thinking - "can fusel oils and methanol kill that quickly?"

"It isn't good?"

I coughed. "Taste it."

"I don't think so."

"Taste it, you son-of-a-bitch. I had to taste it."

"I had to eat part of that duck, too. I'm not tasting it."

"Than don't taste it."

I took the bottle and upended it over the sink. Smelled like apples, as it spun down the drain. The first time I ever tried home-brewing. He'd brought a bottle of the good Norman cider from Penelope's Bosom, though. And we enjoyed it with dinner.

Inaugural: the waxing night of post-partum day

The air conditioner is humming, to itself and to me, a grand song of-

Shit. There's twenty pounds of wild crabapples in the dining room, and it took me an hour to clean an eighth of them. Poor omen, eh?

Green, yellow, with sun-dappled rosy cheeks, the crabs were collected from three trees that have grown in a field in New York State's Catskill Massif. These three trees, in thirty minutes brisk collecting, yielded the aforementioned twenty pounds - actually, more like two branches from each of the six trees yielded that.

My intention is to clean, crush, press and sicerify (that means to faire la cidre) these wild Catskill fruits, and to write about it in this weblog.

Why homebrew?

Of all the industrial food products, the fermented alcoholic ones are the ones most straitened and joyless. Wait, that's not right - you drink it and they make lots of joy: the Goldschlager jello-shots slurped from the cleavage of a TriDelt in midwinter; the 87 cans of Milwaukee's Best in the alley between your study window and the Roach Motel after the strike-delayed Stanley Cup; the Drambuie that got in your last pair of clean underpants, up above Hodge Pond on Tisha B'Av, the night you thought to delve the Hymenated Hot Bi Babe with the Pole of Hebraic Law. Stupid jam jar.

So industrial alcohol definitely can have its place in the pleasure rituals of other people. And sometimes I am like other people, and can really go for a great Guinness, or that Pedro Ximenez superport, or gin gimlets in the East Village.

But the problem is that I didn't make any of that stuff. I just bought it at ridiculous markup. And I like to think of myself as a creator, a fount, a maker, and not some infinite-appetite sea-squirt of a consumer.

Also, the first time I tried to make cider, it was during a period in my life, about ten years ago, when I suffered the most exquisite poverty, and couldn't afford to buy the French apple cider of which I had grown very fond, and I made a proposal to The Best Man.