Saturday, April 21, 2012

Definition

Bluegrass: country and western music that is politically acceptable to Leftists.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Barack

One of the questions children seem to ask with mingled wonder and pity is, “What did people do before the Internet?” Well, some of them drank. People still do, of course, but there used to be a fairly elaborate culture of mixed drinks. I have recently received a 1957 paperback guide to mixing “nearly 400 drinks.” Some of the names I knew, or at least recognized. I couldn’t have told you that a Gibson was five parts dry gin and one part French vermouth, but I knew it was a type of martini. But I had never heard of a No Comment (one part rum, one part Swedish punch, one part applejack), a Sidecar (three parts cognac, two parts Cointreau, one part lemon juice), or a Pallas Athena (one jigger Ouzo, one pony Metaxa brandy, and two splashes cold water). (What’s a pony?) The little book also defines types of liqueur made from fruit, such as the Norman hard cider called Calvados. Then there is this one: “Barack. A colorless, fragrant spirit distilled from apricots and crushed apricot kernels. A favorite in Central Europe, Hungary, and the Balkans. A Czechoslovak brand is available in the American market.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Lesser Evil

To carry the topic from last time a little further, I note that a friend recently invoked the tragedy of the commons to justify government action. Without government action, he suggested, all sorts of worthy projects would not get done. When no one is responsible for solving a problem, the problem goes neglected. But private charitable and benevolent societies have existed throughout the history of our republic. They have often done a better job of targeting aid, because they have often been closer to the point of need. No one could argue with a straight face that such private organizations ever eliminated poverty or need, but then again the government hasn’t been able to do so either. All things considered, when setting the tragedy of the neglect of the commons against the tragedy of soft despotism, it seems the former is the lesser evil.