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minderbender
Awesome Person 2011
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Feb 8 minderbender commented on First Draft.
A while ago, Slog would have people guest-blog for a week while attending every (?) cultural event in Seattle. I remember one guest-blogger wrote about an art exhibit, and Jen Graves jumped in to say something like, "You're doing it right! You're telling us how the art makes you feel, and that's how you should write about art."

I feel the same about this column. I think people will be more interested in the columnist's actual thoughts on/reactions to beer than stories about which brewery is doing what. I don't mean that it should be just a beer review column - there could be plenty of context and narrative also. But I would like to see some opinionated writing on the beer itself.

That said, there are plenty of interesting angles to pursue without tasting any beer. The first Trappist brewery in the U.S. was just certified in western Massachusetts. Separately, there was a splash in the homebrewing community when Obama released his homebrew recipes during the 2012 elections, and the politics/culture of homebrewing are pretty interesting, as @12 pointed out. (I brewed one of Obama's recipes and then drank it on election night, while re-watching Bill Clinton's convention speech. Great night.) You can get a flavor of the homebrewing culture on internet forums. Or check out the Mad Fermentationist blog, written by Mike Tonsmeire, a homebrewer who is about to release a book on brewing sour beer. By the way, one story that has been told, but that probably still has room to be re-examined, is the "homebrew origins" story of American craft beer. When Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing in the 1970s, he (allegedly) unleashed a wave of brewers, some of whom went pro and started brewing the interesting beers that constituted the first wave of American craft beer. Certainly as an anecdotal matter, a lot of professional brewers seem to get their start in the homebrew community.

There is also controversy within the craft beer community over "crafty" breweries - that is, breweries that are not actually as craft-oriented as they try to appear. It's a legitimate debate, since breweries like Goose Island (owned by Budweiser) still make excellent (but fucking expensive!) beer. But it sheds light on where beer culture is these days. (Struggling with issues of authenticity, snobbishness, commercialization, etc.)

Another fascinating window into beer culture is the Twitter feed @brouwervanklomp. Pretty sure it's fake, but it captures the lore of Belgian brewing in a really amusing way. Speaking of which, the geography and geology of beer are pretty fascinating. (Here's a classic NY Times story on the subject.) As for geography, I would be very curious to know why some areas (Colorado, Oregon) have become meccas of great beer, while others have not. (Why Portland and not Seattle?)

Oh, and Ron Pattinson is doing some great writing on the history and culture of beer. For instance, here is a pretty interesting post on how adventurous American beer drinkers are driving innovation around the world. (Another persistent theme of his: if you want to understand why beer is the way it is, look at the tax regime. There is even an academic paper about how efficient Dutch taxation of beer helped them defeat the Spanish in their war for independence.) By the way, Americans take the credit (rightly or wrongly) for rehabilitating all kinds of traditional styles that had been drowned in a wave of light lager (porter, Berliner weisse beer, gose, even IPA). It's a funny variant of the "Americans save the world" narrative, and it might even be true in this case.

In terms of a Washington angle on things, I believe Washington is one of the biggest hop producers in the U.S. Every year there is drama as people go out looking for the trendiest variety (lately I've been seeing lots of Mosaic, as well as Nelson Sauvin from New Zealand), and there are perennial shortages of the favorite varieties. But I have no idea what hop farming is actually like - would love to read about it.

Speaking for myself, the trend toward sour/funky beers is gratifying. A lot of new breweries are either focusing heavily on funky beer (Crooked Stave) or have a solid sour program (Westbrook, Modern Times, Trinity, Cisco). These beers are much more interesting, in my view, than the hop-bombs that American breweries were churning out 5-10 years ago.

So anyway you asked for our thoughts on the column, and those are my thoughts on the column.
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Feb 5 minderbender commented on Slog Poll: Opening Up MoMA's Sculpture Garden in the Heart of New York.
Don't give a shit, but wish they wouldn't tear down the Folk Art Museum building.
Feb 3 minderbender commented on Woody Allen's Defenders and Rape Culture.
@34 I don't see how we can make you happy. As the original post pointed out, to say that Woody Allen may be innocent is to suggest that his alleged victim is lying. So . . . shall we stop saying that he may be innocent?
Feb 3 minderbender commented on Woody Allen's Defenders and Rape Culture.
@31, I take it that logically speaking, if rape culture is a thing, then Woody Allen must be guilty? Seriously, fuck us people.
Feb 3 minderbender commented on Woody Allen's Defenders and Rape Culture.
This is really the ne plus ultra of ridiculous Ansel Herz posts.
Feb 3 minderbender commented on Abortion Rate at Lowest Rate Since 1973.
"So... the abortion rate is now where it was before abortion was legalized."

This is a misreading of history. Abortion was already legal in a lot of states, including big states such as New York and California, when Roe was decided. I'm not sure where Dan got the opposite idea.
Jan 29 minderbender commented on What Do You Think About Bourbon-Flavored Beer?.
@16 this is the craziest claim I've ever seen you make. Did Will in Seattle hack your account or something?

Just to list a few outstanding beers that are 6.5% alcohol or higher:

1. Russian River "Pliny the Elder"

2. Russian River "Sanctification" (and in fact most of their sour beers are over 6.5%)

3. Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout (aged in bourbon barrels, incidentally)

4. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (likewise)

5. Petrus Aged Pale Ale

6. Troegs Nugget Nectar

7. Westvleteren 12

And there are a ton of good ones between 6% and 6.5%, including Rodenbach Grand Cru and Orval. Don't get me wrong, I love low-alcohol beers, but if I had to choose between only drinking beers that are above 6.5% and only drinking beers that are below 6.5% , it would be a very hard choice - there are just a ton of great beers over 6.5%. It is just insane to say something like, "At 6.5% you're only tasting raw alcohol." Are people really drinking Pliny the Elder (much less Pliny the Younger) for the raw alcohol flavor?
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Jan 27 minderbender commented on Kshama Sawant to Take Home $40,000 in Pay out of her $117,000 City Council Salary.
@35 this isn't really about NYC at all, I used Brooklyn as a comparison point because I knew that the numbers were remarkable, having looked up King County vs. Kings County out of curiosity a while ago. The point is that it's pretty east to live like the common man in a city where the common man earns $40,000/year, instead of the much lower average incomes in most big American cities. If you don't like NYC, then compare Seattle's numbers to Chicago's, LA's, Boston's, whatever. They are all much, much poorer. (The one exception I have found is DC, which is actually quite rich - a recent development, I think.)
Jan 27 minderbender commented on Kshama Sawant to Take Home $40,000 in Pay out of her $117,000 City Council Salary.
And just in case anyone thinks that I cherry-picked Brooklyn, here are comparable numbers for big, rich New York City.

Median household income:

Seattle: $63,470
NYC: $51,865 (about 82% of Seattle's, and note households are about 27% bigger in NYC)

Per capita money income:

Seattle: $42,369
NYC: $31,661 (about 75% of Seattle's)

Persons below poverty level:

Seattle: 13.2%
NYC: 19.9%

Median value of owner-occupied housing unit:

Seattle: $441,000
NYC: $501,500 (about 14% more expensive)

Imagine trying to live in Seattle on a New York salary (just multiply yours by 75%), and then imagine doing it while paying 14% extra for real estate (I don't have rent comparisons, but anecdotally I'm led to believe 14% is an underestimate of how much more New Yorkers pay).

So even if you think the relevant comparison to Seattle is NYC with its 8.3 million people rather than Brooklyn with its 2.5 million people, the picture is still clear: Seattle is richer and less expensive by a wide margin.
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Jan 27 minderbender commented on Kshama Sawant to Take Home $40,000 in Pay out of her $117,000 City Council Salary.
@25, you're the one who's not fooling anybody, these numbers are apples and oranges. Here are some comparisons:

Median household income:

Seattle: $63,470
Brooklyn: $45,215 (that is, 71% of Seattle's - and note that Brooklyn's households are about 30% bigger than Seattle's on average)

Per capita money income:

Seattle: $42,369
Brooklyn: $24,649 (that is, 58% of Seattle's)

Persons below poverty level:

Seattle: 13.2%
Brooklyn: 22.7%

Median value of owner-occupied housing unit:

Seattle: $441,000
Brooklyn: $562,600 (that is, about 28% more expensive than in Seattle)

So Brooklyn is much poorer and much more expensive than Seattle. The average Brooklynite would kill for $40,000 after taxes while the average Seattlite would have to take a $2,000/year pay cut to earn that much.

The point is not to shit on Seattle for being rich. The point is just that living on the local average income means something very different in an affluent city like Seattle than it would in a big eastern city.
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