A Mead-incidence

My first batch of mead. I started this Thursday and didn't have time to post until today, only to see Grim had already posted on mead making.

I only did one gallon since this is a bit experimental. It should be ready to bottle in 2-3 months, if all goes well. For this recipe, they say it's good to drink at that point, but better if it ages 2-3 more months, and  better still after a year.


When I first named this “Grim’s Hall” I had in mind a meadhall, like Beorn’s Hall or Hereot. Now, twenty years and more on, I make sure to keep the vision. 

Ten gallons of blueberry/blackberry mead, made today and hopefully ready by Christmas.

Straight mead, bottled and ready today.

Grim's Smoked Whiskey Cheese

So I learned this recipe from a guy, but his version lacks a lot of the smoke flavor. He gets some from the Jack Daniels, but then he uses just cheese and jalapenos. I like this one better because it gets two additional smoke flavors, making it very rich. Mine is also spicier and less sour because of the substitution of rye whiskey for the Tennessee, but if you like sour mash flavor you could use Jack or even a bourbon.

Grim's Smoked Whiskey Cheese

3 strips bacon (I used applewood-smoked, but any smoked bacon should do)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or just grab a few peppers and mince them as you cook)
1 shot Rye whiskey (I used Old Overholt)
2 cups Queso Chihuahua (or substitute another melting cheese like Monterey Jack)

In a cast iron skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. Set bacon aside to cool so it can become brittle for crumbling. Reserve all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat for later use (as in biscuits). In the remaining tablespoon of hot bacon fat, sauté the garlic for just a few seconds until it browns. Add the chipotles and adobo sauce, stirring until fragrant. Add the whiskey and then immediately the cheese, so that the steam from the whiskey begins to melt the cheese. Stir over medium heat until molten. Crush the bacon into crumbles and return to the cheese mixture. Serve over any sort of fried potatoes, or however else you wish. 

Faster than a Greased Pig

The Army Times has a fun retrospective this week on an incident in which a relieving aircraft carrier was bedeviled with greased pigs.

Murder Rate Dropping Sharply

These statistics are subject to some manipulation, though mostly at the local level,* so it is less likely than with the 'happy-happy-joy' economic talk that the Feds are just blustering to try to re-elect Uncle Joe.
The new fourth-quarter numbers showed a 13% decline in murder in 2023 from 2022, a 6% decline in reported violent crime and a 4% decline in reported property crime. That’s based on data from around 13,000 law enforcement agencies, policing about 82% of the U.S. population, that provided the FBI with data through December.

“It suggests that when we get the final data in October, we will have seen likely the largest one-year decline in murder that has ever been recorded,” said Jeff Asher, a former CIA analyst who now studies crime trends.
They would like to blame the pandemic for the anomaly. 
Asher and other experts say the biggest factor behind the drop in crime may simply be the resumption of anti-crime initiatives by local governments and courts that had stopped during the pandemic.

“After a terrible period of underfunding and understaffing caused by the pandemic, local governments have, by most measures, returned to pre-pandemic levels,” wrote John Roman, a criminologist at the University of Chicago. In an interview, Roman said, “The courts were closed, a lot of cops got sick, a lot of police agencies told their officers not to interact with the public. Teachers were not in schools, not working with kids.”

Asher said, “The tools that we ordinarily have used to interrupt these cycles of violence were gone in 2020 [and] 2021.”

While the social chaos caused by all the pandemic emergency measures may have had some effect, I strongly suspect that the real reason for the increase was the BLM movement's success at making police afraid to do their jobs, while undermining government funding for policing. Suddenly police were in danger of prosecution if a stop went bad, risking decades in prison or potentially capital charges. Suddenly, Democratic hostility to police was so stiff that, e.g., the city council in Asheville refused to pay for police body armor -- at once increasing the risk of policing, and demonstrating clearly that police did not have and could not expect the support of their own government. 

So yeah, they pulled back. Small wonder. Since the risk of being caught was down, the perceived cost of the crime was lower. That being the case, it's simple economics why the murder rate went up.

* The FBI Uniform Crime Report has been an occasional topic of this blog from the early years. It's a problematic report in a lot of ways, most especially in that it depends on local reporting. Local agencies don't collect the data in the same way, which means that it's not at all clear that there's an apples-to-apples comparison from one jurisdiction to another. Only some crimes are tracked, so a difference in standards between jurisdictions in how to charge an offense can create noise. 

There is also some outright manipulation. Tourist towns and college towns especially tend to manipulate by doing things like reporting burglary, a tracked crime, as 'trespassing,' which doesn't make the report. "Rape" is often reclassified by college police as "sexual assualt" in order to keep campus rape numbers apparently low. The FBI occasionally messes with the numbers as well, but it's more commonly corrupt local police chiefs who want to artificially decrease their numbers. 


As this NYT article summarizes, Freaknik was a party in Atlanta in the springtime that involved very large crowds of young people, almost entirely black, taking over the streets and having a festival. I was myself young and in Atlanta during those years, and I attended one once. From what I saw of it, it was mostly just young people hanging out, doing drugs and drinking while driving, and generally using the mass of the crowd to violate the sorts of laws that restrict young people from such things. 

There was definitely an element of racial pride at work. Several people expressed to me that I wasn't safe and ought to leave right away, although in fact no one attempted any violence against me. It was clearly in the air, though, that this was a black festival, and that they were the ones who had the power to take over the streets for a while and do what they wanted there. Again, however, no one made any sort of attempt against me; what I received there were warnings that I wasn't safe, not acts of violence. 

I've been to a few things since then that had a similar kind of lawlessness, but without the element of race. Large enough crowds completely overwhelm policing, and tend to produce liberation from ordinary bothersome laws. I've always enjoyed those occasions, though being so liberated I don't find that I actually take any liberties. I like the feeling that comes from the recognition of being free, and being free I do what I want -- which is what I do anyway. I like the absence of law, but not because it changes my behavior. 

In any case I didn't have any bad feelings about it. Just kids having fun, as Crocodile Dundee said.

UPDATE: If you can’t read the article because of a paywall, its major theme is that the once-youthful participants are now 30-40 years older and quite abashed about the whole thing. A new documentary has them worrying about how they might have been caught behaving in that pre-cellphone era when people didn’t expect to be on camera. Now older and respectable, they look back on the event being revealed with trepidation. That’s charming, in a way. 

Reason on Jackson

Reason magazine says that Jackson's words on free speech are being misconstrued. You can consider their arguments if you like.
The government, of course, does not have the right to punish someone criminally for the vast majority of speech. But does it have the right to persuade?

Jackson may think it does. Her "hamstringing" comment came attached to a hypothetical scenario she posed to Benjamin Aguiñaga, Louisiana's solicitor general, who argued the Biden administration had overstepped when it contacted social media platforms and attempted to pressure them to remove posts it found objectionable. Suppose a challenge circulated on social media concerning "teens jumping out of windows at increasing elevations," Jackson said. Could the government try to persuade those platforms to remove that content?

No, Aguiñaga said, because that's still protected speech, no matter how dangerous.

That might very well be the correct interpretation. But Jackson's take—that such a view could place too much restraint on the government—is one that's held by many, including, it appears, some of her more conservative colleagues. Kavanaugh, for example, invoked his experience working with government press staff, who regularly call reporters to criticize them and try to influence their coverage. 

The cases are different: Kavanaugh is talking about the government attempting to persuade reporters to alter their own speech. This is a case about trying to use government "persuasion" to get outlets to ban other people's speech. It's really an attempt to use the publisher to silence opinions the government doesn't like, i.e., to censor by proxy.

I don't think the government should have the power to do by proxy what it is forbidden from doing by itself. However, the SCOTUS has long accepted massive 4th Amendment invasions by a similar argument: that the government can dodge its ordinary duty to obtain a warrant before spying on your communications simply by going to your ISP or cell phone provider and asking them to provide your content out of their free will. 

Trying to get the government to actually respect its constitutional limits in those cases has so far proven impossible; I suspect the SCOTUS will find that the government can violate the first amendment, too, so long as it does it by proxy.

More Tomfoolery on Guns

Chicago is suing Glock, manufacturer of one of the most popular lines of handguns in the world, because criminals have figured out a way to illegally modify Glock's products. 
Glock does not manufacture or sell auto sears, which are illegal. The lawsuit claims that some auto sears are marketed and sold with Glock’s name and logo, but that there is no evidence Glock has tried to protect its trademark from third-party manufacturers.

What, I wonder, is one supposed to do to 'protect one's trademark' from criminal organizations carrying out illegal activity? Sue their nonexistent corporations over trademark violation? Have your lawyers send 'cease and desist' letters to their nonexistent address? 

If you don't know what an auto sear is, the Post would also like to misinform you about that too.

Called “auto sears,” the metal or plastic pieces are fitted inside the firearms and can be purchased on the Internet or made on 3-D printers. They allow weapons to fire up to 1,200 bullets a minute.

It is absolutely not the case that you could fire 1,200 bullets in a minute using any Glock handgun, auto sear or not. Even if you managed to build a couple of magazines that held 600 bullets each, which would reach to the ground, you still couldn't do it. Heat issues alone would destroy the frame of the thing. 

What you can do with an auto sear is fire 15 or 17 bullets at a cyclic rate of 1,200/minute. You won't hit anything you were aiming at, probably, but you can create an impressive display. That's really what the street gangsters are trying to accomplish; it's an elaborate sort of peacocking, dangerous mostly to innocent bystanders who happen to be in the neighborhood.

So they're a bad idea and you shouldn't install one. Should we ban them? We already did. Nobody's trying to repeal the ban. Chicago just wants to force Glock to spend a lot of money redesigning its whole line of products and then retooling its factories; it's just another attempt by people who oppose the Second Amendment to try to damage manufacturers of legal products that are normally used lawfully and responsibly.

I don't think the lawsuit's claim that Glock pistols are uniquely susceptible to these modifications is accurate. It is true that the Glock 18 is a select-fire weapon, manufactured for special police and military units in Europe. However, it's possible to generate automatic fire with a 1911 either intentionally or through accidentally bad gunsmithing. Semi-automatic weapons in general should be modifiable to perform automatic fire. Thus, one of the core claims of the lawsuit seems to be factually false -- and also the camel's nose, should the lawsuit succeed, in going after any other semiautomatic firearm manufacturer. 


It’s unusual for the equinox to arrive on the 19th, but Spring began at 11:06 PM local time. The winter was mild, and there were several good rides. Still and all, I look forward to the weather. 

Health (and healthy) skepticism

HotAir sings the praises of Vinay Prasad today, a man remarkable chiefly for his insistence on data and properly conducted experiments before he buys into the daily exciteable expert pronouncement. The feds probably need to round this guy up.

Rio Bravo

It’s 65 years ago this classic came to be. 

The film was a response to High Noon, which Howard Hawks and John Wayne considered against the American spirit. The idea that ordinary people would not step up to resist tyranny offended them. 

It’s a great movie. Maybe give it a try if you haven’t seen it lately, or at all. 

Steak & Guinness Pie

A day late for St. Patrick’s feast, but delicious all the same. 

Unclear on the concept

Ya think?

Politico is struggling to understand the voters' response to the lawfare against ex-President Trump. For months there has been the disconcerting news that Trump rises in the polls every time a new criminal prosecution is launched against him, or a huge civil judgment is imposed for $100MM or more.

Today's news is that the polls show what might be a signal that some voters, at least, would not completely ignore a criminal conviction in one of the pending criminal cases. The disquieting news in the detailed poll data is in two parts. First, the prospect of a criminal conviction moves the needle surprisingly little. About 44% of all voters would shrug it off, while almost 1/3 say it would reduce their likely support. Among independents, the results are similar. As far as I can tell, that could mean mostly that independents are composed of likely Trump supporters and likely Biden supporters, and that one group would dislike Trump even more if he were convicted, while another group would be largely indifferent.

Second, it's clear that poll respondents are answering without any particular reference to the precise lawsuit the poll was trying to ask about. It's almost, the article muses, as if voters were making no effort to think about the relative merits of the various lawsuits. Perhaps there is a group that is thinking "all the lawsuits are fine and no treatment is too harsh for this man I execrate," while the other is thinking "all the lawsuits are equally balderdash, so a conviction in any of them would have about the same (non)effect on me." As the author puts it:
First, it is possible that at least some Americans — perhaps very large numbers of them — are not clearly distinguishing the cases against Trump from one another or do not care about the sorts of distinctions that have occupied some legal commentators, including yours truly. Second, their opinions on Trump’s guilt may be a proxy for their views on Trump more generally and more evidence that we live in a 50-50 politically polarized country.
What the author does not grapple with directly is what it means for this multitude of lawsuits to be eliciting primarily a partisan response on the subject of guilt and innocence. Lawfare undermines the justice system's ability to persuade the public that justice is on the menu. When someone forfeits his credibility, he loses his ability to make his point outside his echo chamber. I think this particular lawfare's point is a bad one, so I'm pleased people are proving somewhat deaf to it, but it's a dangerous game for the broader future.

It occurs to me, as well, that we have been stuck at close to 50/50 for a while, but recent polls suggest we may be tilting. If that's the case, it will not necessarily be suffcient to throw just about any garbage on the wall in the confidence that it will stick with half the electorate. In November, if the stick rate is more like 48/52, Trump's opponents may have to figure out a way to criticize him in a way that can be heard by more than his bitterest and most entrenched enemies.

Has This Happened to Anyone Else?

Or is it just me? Cuz this is exactly how spring works here.