Boston Tea Party(?): Another Blast From the Past.


I really do try to avoid back-to-back “blasts from the past” but this is just so apropos…

Some people on the Left have been attempting to compare the riots in places like Portland to the Boston Tea Party However, they could not be more different.  The Boston Tea Party was very tightly targeted. It was aimed at tax laws that specifically favored the British East India company over local merchants. (A bit more complicated than the “tax on tea” typically taught in schools or on “Schoolhouse Rock”.) They targeted the tea in question, and _only_ the tea in question. Collateral damage in the form of a padlock broken to access the theater was replaced, by the protesters the next day. In, short, it’s almost exactly unlike the current riots.

I wrote this post a couple of years ago as a “On this day” post, which goes into more detail:

Some years ago when A Certain Politician said “It’s not time to party like it’s 1773” media pundits laughed saying This Politician did not know when the revolution started.  However, That Politician did know when the Boston Tea Party occurred–something those media pundits apparently did not.

The road to to the Boston Tea Party began with The Townshend Acts of 1767 which established, among other things, a tax on tea imported to the American Colonies.  These acts were eventually repealed, but the tax on tea remained.  Fast forward to May 10, 1773.  The Tea Act permitted the British East India Company to sell tea without paying those taxes, giving it a competitive advantage over other merchants.  This was essentially a “bailout” of the British East India Company which was struggling, partly because of competition from tea smuggled from the Netherlands where taxes were much lower.  Rather than accept that this import tariff idea of 25% was just bad economics, they instead simply relieved the British East India company from the burden of the tax. (well, Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations was still a few years in the future and Mercantilism was in full swing.  Rather than counting the wealth of the nation as the sum total of goods and services available to its people it counted it as gold in the treasury and only counted the upper classes rather than the population as a whole.  So perhaps they could be forgiven for not understanding economics that had not yet been developed.)

In essence, what the Tea Act did was allow the British East India company to ignore the import duty in England, and to deal directly with the colonies.  The duties collected in the colonies, imposed by the Townshend acts, were retained.  Still, by reducing one level of taxation it reduced the overall cost allowing the British East India Company to sell its tea more cheaply, both in England and in the colonies, than competitors.

In the American Colonies there were two primary complaints about the Tea Act.  The first was the belief that the tax violated their rights as Englishmen to “no taxation without representation.” The taxes were passed by the British Parliament in which the colonies were not represented. The second problem was more practical:  the British East India Company was being given a special advantage over domestic colonial importers.

When the Tea Act was passed, retaining the tax on tea imported into the colonies, there were warnings that this might lead to another colonial controversy (said colonies already proving restive under what they considered rather high-handed British rule).  Former Chancellor of the Exchequer William Dowdeswell, for example, warned that the Americans would not accept the tea if the Townshend duty remained.

The warnings were not heeded.  The Tea Act went into force.

But notice something there.  The Tea Act did not increase the taxes paid by the American Colonists.  The tax on tea was simply retained.  Indeed, colonists could pay less if they simply bought the tea imported by the British East India company.  They were being given lower taxes…if they bought tea from that one company.


So it wasn’t paying taxes the colonists objected to.  It was that dual pair of issues:  no taxation without representation and the bailout of the “official” corporation at the expense of others. (I guess Parliament thought the British East India Company was “too big to fail”. History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.)

Protests continued from the passing of the Tea Act in May into the fall.  In late November, the tea ship Dartmouth arrived in Boston Harbor.  American Patriots, including Whig leader Sam Adams, met and organized essentially a boycott of the tea, watching to block any attempt to unload the cargo.  They argued to have the ship depart, with its tea, without paying the duty.  Loyalist governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, however, refused to allow them to depart.  Two more ships arrived.  They, too, were prevented from unloading or from leaving.  December 16th arrived, the last day before which the Dartmouth must either pay the duty or have its cargo confiscated, Governor Hutchinson again refused to allow the ships to depart.

A meeting of patriots led by Sam Adams broke up.  Contemporary reports indicate that he tried to stop people from leaving as the meeting was not yet over.  Claims that his statement “This meeting can do nothing further to save the country” being a signal to start the Tea Party appears to be something invented nearly a century later.  Many of those leaving donned costumes, dressing as Mohawk warriors.  This accomplished two things:  one is that it disguised the individual features of the protesters, the other was that by choosing Native American regalia instead of simple masks, they identified with the Americas and the country then undergoing its birthing throes.

Over the course of the evening, somewhere between 30 and 130 men boarded the three vessels and dumped every chest of tea into the water.  They were very careful not to damage anything else and indeed, in one case where they broke a lock to get access to the tea they replaced the lock afterward.

Sam Adams may or may not have actively planned the Tea Party.  He certainly did take a hand in publicizing and defending it afterward.  And as a result, the Boston Tea Party became one of the major stepping stones in the rising tide of discontent in the American Colonies that led to their eventual separation from Britain.

Math: It’s not Just for Breakfast any More (a blast from the past)


On another Social Media platform (I saw it on FaceBook, but it was copied from elsewhere) the claim was made:

The F-35 fighter jet budget is set to exceed a total of $406 billion.  Remember that when they say single-payer is too expensive.

Let’s run with that, shall we?  First off, that budget is over ten years.  So that would be $40.6 billion a year on average.  Population of the US, as of this writing is estimated (US Census Bureau) at 325,428,250 (it will be higher by the time you look at it, if you do).  Let’s just say 325 million.  That means the F-35 budget, if the project were completely abandoned and all the money shifted to health care, would be worth $125/year per person.  How much health care do you think that would buy?  One, two office visits?

Just because something sounds like a lot of money does not mean it is a lot of money when it’s applied to every man, woman, and child in the US.

Let’s work that from the other end.  The average health care spending, per person, in the US is $10,345.  That’s the total of government, insurance, and individual expenditures.  All of it.  So, the total expenditure over the entire US is just under $3.4 trillion.

The 2016 Federal Budget, the whole thing, was $3.85 trillion

Having the government pay for health care would be almost as big as the entire rest of the government combined.

This, of course, is the part where someone claims that it will be so much more efficient and cheaper to have the government do it.

Don’t make me laugh.  The government is never more efficient than the private sector and it’s never cheaper.  Yes, you can point to foreign nations that get their drugs cheaper but they can only do that because, frankly we subsidize them.  The cost of getting new drugs and treatments approved and brought to market is enormous.  Then there are the ones that never do make it to market, where some problem is found along the way and the drug/treatment is never approved.  Those costs have to be recouped as well.  On balance, pharmaceutical companies make a gross profit in line with the risks.  The total revenue is high, yes, but the total cost is high as well.  Nobody’s going to invest a billion dollars in new medicines unless they’re going to make a reasonable margin on it.

As it stands now, the US is paying those costs.  Am I happy with subsidizing the rest of the world this way?  No.  I’m not.  But if that’s the cost of continued medical progress, I’ll pay it.

One might propose instead of businesses investing and developing medicines for profit and let government handle it.  Well, that would mean that you’d need to fund that cost publicly as well, and that’s hardly an argument that government will reduce cost of healthcare.  And if they did that, well, I’ve discussed the issue of profit motive vs. socialized medicine before.  As things stand now the US is #1 in things like Nobel Prizes in medicine, in new treatments and medicines, #1 in cancer survival rates.  There is a reason for that.  And even medical countries based in countries with various forms of socialized medicine can still make profits so long as there’s someplace (like, say, here) they can sell to make that profit.  If you want to see what will likely happen if that profit motive is taken away and it’s all government controlled, look at the rate of medical developments coming from places where that is the case.  The old Soviet Union would be a good example.

So, no, going to “single payer” would not reduce the cost of health care except at a very high price indeed.  No, the only way they would reduce cost is by reducing care.

And if we stop paying for the new develoments, who’s left who will?  Progress slows to a near standstill.

That’s what “government reducing costs” would mean.

But to get back to the original point, people like to try to compare a single number that seems large with a much smaller number that applies to lots and lots and lots of people.  Another example is CEO compensation.

Let’s take a popular case.  The CEO of Walmart has a total annual compensation of $22.4 million.  That sounds like an enormous amount.  Why, if he took less, he could give all those employees a big raise, right?  Wrong.  Walmart employs 2.3 million people worldwide.  So if the CEO took nothing as pay and bonuses, worked purely out of the goodness of his heart because, I don’t know, he found it fun or something, the money saved would allow him to pay those people a raise.  Of just under $10.  A year.

But wait.  That’s worldwide.  Suppose we say just forget those damn foreigners and only use that money for Americans!  Why that would mean they’d only have to split that raise among 1.4 million people.  That CEO compensation divided among them would give them a raise of…$16.  Per year.

This is just simple math.  People compare some “big ticket” item with “small ticket” items and don’t mention how the very large numbers of those small ticket items add up, or how very little the large ticket item would really stretch among the many to whom those small ticket items apply.

So when someone says “if we can afford X, then surely Y isn’t too expensive” take a closer look.  Just how much of those “Y” do we have to buy and how much is the total cost?

Math.  It’s not just for breakfast any more.

No-Churn Low Carb Absinthe Ice Cream


Adapted from another recipe I saw.  The key change I did here was use a low carb (actually no carb) substitute for sweetened condensed milk.  Thus, there’s a two-step process here, the first making the sweetened condensed milk substitute, the other making the ice cream itself.

Ingredients (Sweetened condensed milk–actually cream):

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar equivalent of the sweetener of your choice (I use Splenda/sucralose)

Put the ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan.  That may seem large for the amount of material but you’ll need the space as the heavy cream tends to foam up quite a bit as it boils.

Bring it to boil over medium heat.  Stir occasionally.  Boil until the total volume is reduced to 2 cups, probably about 30 minutes.  I would periodically remove it from the heat stir it to break up the foaming, then pour into 2 cup measuring cup.  If it filled the cup while still having a significant amount of liquid in the pan, I poured it back and returned it to the heat.

Once it is reduced, transfer to a heat resistant container and place in the refrigerator.  It will thicken as it cools.  It should be ready to use in about an hour although it may be convenient to make it the day before.

Ingredients (the ice cream)

  • The sweetened condensed milk substitute described above (you can use a can of actual sweetened condensed milk if you’re not concerned about low carb–the 2 fl oz difference between the can of sweetened condensed milk and the substitute made above is not critical)
  • 1/2 cup absinthe (or your spirit of choice).
  • Dash salt
  • (optional) Anise seed, about 1 tsp
  • (optional) green food coloring a few drops
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

in a large mixing bowl combine the first three (and the two optional if used) ingredients.  Set it aside.  For the absinthe, I used the bitterest of the varieties I have on hand, “Mephisto” absinthe.  I thought that it would go well with the extra sweetness.  And, to be honest, I used quite a bit more than in the original recipe on which I based this which appeared to use just a couple ounces.

In another mixing bowl of at least 6 cups capacity beat the heavy cream until it is a good, stiff, whipped cream.

Fold the whipped cream into the bowl with the other ingredients until well combined.

Transfer to a freezer container, preferably something with a tight lid, and place in the freezer until frozen (2-4 hours at least).

Because of the alcohol content of the absinthe it won’t actually freeze solid.  You’ll end up with a very soft ice cream that tastes absolutely wonderful.  Makes about 6 cups.

Protein 0 g/cup, Carbs 0 g/cup, Fats 34.5 g/cup

Note that a 1 cup serving contains just about 3/4 ounce of absinthe and since absinthe tends to be on the strong side of spirits, please enjoy responsibly.

“Help I’m Being Repressed!”


So, Federal agents in unmarked mini-vans are going around and arresting (the screaming leftist pundits are saying “kidnapping”) Antifa and BLM agitators invovled in riots, vandalism, and other crimes (same leftist pundits say “protests”).  And I’ve seen some folk out there asking folk like, well, me, why we aren’t up in arms and using our guns to resist that “government overreach” (since that’s one of the things we argue regarding the 2nd Amendment and RKBA is that it’s as a hedge against government tyranny).

But here’s the thing:  The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.

The enemy of my enemy might be my friend.  He might be someone who, while not a friend, nevertheless be someone I can work with against a greater enemy.  Or he might be very bit as much as, if not worse than, the other enemy and it would simply be better for me to stand back and let them slug it out with each other:


And when it comes to Antifa and BLM, they fall into the last category.  You see, avowed Marxists, intent on overthrowing the Constitution, intent on demonizing me in every possible way, including about my support for RKBA (which they are now complaining I won’t use in their behalf; see the hypocrisy?), are as big a threat as government overreach if allowed to continue.

Add in that as much as they scream about a “right to protest” there is no “right” to do the things they are doing.  There is no “right” to vandalism just because you call it “protest”.  There is not right to riot just because you call it protest.  There is no right to arson just because you call it protest.  There is no right to looting just because you call it protest.  There is no right to doxing just because you call it protest.  There is no right to breaking and entering just because you call it protest.  There is no right to detain people against their will (blocking traffic and otherwise interfering with people’s lawful free movement) just because you call it protest.  And there certainly is no right to assault and battery just because you call it protest.

There is no “right to protest” that makes illegal things legal.  There are certain things that the government is forbidden from prohibiting, certain rights you have that can be used for protest, things like free speech, a free press, the right to peaceable assembly (those things in the preceding paragraph are not peaceable, they are pretty much the exact opposite of peaceable), and the right to petition government for redress of grievances.  But criminal acts are still criminal acts even if done in the name of “protest.”

The vans being used by federal agents are unmarked?  Show me anywhere in the Constitution which says that Federal law enforcement can only make arrests while wearing distinctive police uniforms and in distinctive marked cars.  Do you think US Marshals in history had “Federal Officer” dyed into their horse’s hair?  Police detectives in plain clothes driving unmarked vehicles make arrests all the time.  They only have to identify as police to the person or persons they are arresting.  Neither uniforms nor marked cars are required.

The claim is made that they don’t Mirandize the people they are “kidnapping” (arresting, in point of fact). Again, they don’t have to.  The Miranda warning is only required before interrogation.  And even then, failure to do so only makes any statements made without the warning inadmissible in court.  It does not invalidate the arrest itself.  “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Failure to give that warning simply means that it can’t be so used.  Anything else they have is still perfectly admissible.  If they’ve got enough to hold you without the statement, then they can still hold you.

As for federal overreach, well, I’d warned folk about the danger of making so many things federal crimes rather than leaving it to States and municipalities.  But no, you had to push for more and more Federal power.  And, indeed, you’re pushing for more now.  You don’t object to more Federal power and overreach.  You only object to being on the receiving end of it.  If you “win” you’ll put even more in place.  No thanks.  I’m not going to help you deprive me of even more rights.

Now, if your rights were actually being violated, I would be in a difficult moral position.  My own principles say that you have your rights even if we disagree.  But you’re using your rights in an attempt to influence government to deprive me of mine.  Fortunately, I’m not in that position because you didn’t limit your action to things that are actually your rights.  No, you had to go beyond, far beyond, your actual rights and doing it in an attempt to not just deprive me of my actual rights but to demonize me making me your enemy.  And you want my help?




Mills of the Gods Redux: A Blast from the Past


Expansion of an earlier post from my older blog.

Folk who know me know that I am not a Trump supporter.  I have not been a Trump supporter.  I am not a Trump opponent either.  When he does something of which I approve, I say so.  When he does something of which I disapprove, I say so for that too.

On balance, I think that he has proven to be better than the alternative we could have had, at least once we got to the general election.

On the other hand, going into the election I had no reason except the word of someone who admitted that you couldn’t trust his word and that everything he said was “just flexible suggestions” as to his being any better than Hillary.  I was able to cite five, possibly six, of the Bill of Rights that he was willing to violate in order to get what he wanted.

And people cheered this.

Still, since then he has proven to be better than I expected and farbetter than I feared, especially in appointing, and getting confirmed, a Supreme Court justice that actually considers the Constitution to be the Supreme Law of the land rather than something to “get around”.  And then he did it again with a Justice that, while not perfect, was at least as good as the one he was replacing.  Neither was the absolute disaster for Constitutional law and the rights of the individual that Trump’s main opponent and the only one who would have had a chance at winning, would have chosen.

So.  I was wrong.  And I have never, ever been so glad to be so wrong about anything in my life.  He’s not been perfect (Civil Asset Forfeiture, the continuing Prohibition II, Bump Stocks, and some other things), but far better than I had any reason to expect.

That said, I keep running into people who are insist on only voting for the “perfect” candidate.  “The lesser of two evils is still evil” is a common watchcry and that doing so is simply a somewhat slower slide into tyranny.

The flip side is that voting for the “perfect” (from my perspective–I expect yours would be somewhat different) candidate when that candidate can’t even get the support of 2% of the voters is a quicker slide into tyranny.

“All or nothing” is a good way to get “nothing.”

I like the metaphor that Neil Gaiman used for his career.  It’s like a mountain in the distance.  And as long as I can keep moving toward that mountain I’ll eventually get there.  Don’t try to do it all at once.  That will fail.  But I can get a little bit closer than I am now.  Then, from this new position, look to see if I can get a little bit closer from that.  And then again.  And so on.

By this chart at the top of this I’m a pretty much a Paelo-Conservative/Classical Liberal.  Some infrastructure things (roads on the chart) I think are appropriate for government, others not.  On the flip side I’m of mixed feelings about education so between them I figure it’s pretty much a wash and the “Paleo-Conservative” label fits fairly well.  Add in that with “health care” and that things like with infectious diseases other folks actions, or inaction, threaten me and it gets a bit complicated.  But still, Paleo-Conservative is probably pretty close.

But look at where we are now.  We’re so far from that “goal” that the Hubble couldn’t see it.  If I had a true Paleo-Conservative candidate to run for office, it’s extremely unlikely he could win (even in a fair election, never mind when the other side(s) cheats).  And if, by some miracle, he (or she) did win, there is simply no way I’d get a paleo-conservative Congress to go along.  Republicans, the so-called “right wing” aren’t even close to that paleo-conservative position.    Consider the claimed desire to repeal and replace Obamacare, while keeping things like the pre-existing condition mandate (regardless of how economically unsupportable it is)?  The claim is often made (with pretty graphs to “prove” it) that the “Left” and “Right” have become more extreme–the Left has gone more Left, the Right more Right–but they really haven’t.  They’ve both moved (or been shoved) in the same general direction.  One may be moving faster than the other increasing the separation between them but “More right” has not been the direction the Republican party has been moving.  It’s only by redefining what constitutes the “center” that this illusion is perpetuated.  And the Democrats?  Well look at that chart again.  Is there anything in the “Total Socialism” in that chart that they aren’t agitating for?

In the end, despite how much the media makes of the issue it’s really a matter of “modern conservative” and “modern liberal” (Republicans and Democrats) having both moved bit outward on the chart.

There’s a concept called the “Overton Window“.  Basically, it’s an expression of the idea that people in general are risk averse.  They’re used to the situation that they find now.  Big changes from that are risky so most people aren’t going to support big changes.  The changes that are made at any given time have to be modest or people will reject them.  (Note also that this tendency toward risk-aversion is why the left, with its promises of security, has had such success, but that’s a topic for another day.) So, we have to pick modest goals and focus on them piece by piece, in an incremental approach, to have any expectation of success.

So, I’m not going to get paleo-conservative, not in terms of national, or even State policy, not for a long time if ever in my life.  But I might get somebody a little bit closer than we are now.  And if I can get that, then the next cycle, maybe I can get somebody a little bit closer than that.  And a little bit closer the next time.  And the same shifting “Overton Window” works here.  As government becomes less intrusive, less restrictive, less all-encompassing, why people can get used to that too, just as they have motion the other way.

The problem, of course, is the other side is doing the exact same thing.  So not only do I have to try to move in the direction I want, I have to resist their effort to move back the other way.  And if I’m not strong enough to prevent that adverse movement, I have to at least slow it down, try and put myself in a position to strike back when I am stronger (or when they’re weaker).  And that might sometimes mean trading.  When you can’t hold everything against a strong opponent then you have to pick your battles.  You might have to give up ground in one area in order to gain or hold ground in another.

People tell me “compromise doesn’t work.” Actually, the cases they site are excellent examples of how very well it does work.  It’s just that it’s been a weapon used against us.  Conservative/libertarian types are like folk sticking to single shot rifles to “not waste ammo” while the other side has been using repeating rifles and machine guns.  Win small concessions, then use that new position as a springboard to win more.  Repeat until you’re where you want to be.  It’s a tactic that works.  So far, it’s worked for our enemies.  Maybe it’s time for it to work for us.

So look at that mountain.  What can we get that moves us closer to the mountain, even if only a little bit?  Get it.  And then keep the pressure on.

The mills of the gods grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.

My Life Part Eight: Hot Rod Road

As I mentioned previously, on moving to Ohio my family lived for a while with “Uncle Denny”.  Uncle Denny was a serious car guy.  I mean really serious.  He had a Ford Model A in his garage that he was restoring.  At the time the car was little more than a shell with an engine (not original–a Chevrolet engine I think–and transmission.  No drive shaft or differential.  The driver’s seat and steering column were installed I think (if I’m not conflating with another project).

Denny had a pretty thorough setup in his garage.  He had an oxy-acetylene welding and an arc welder of the stick type (MIG welding hadn’t really come into its own yet and was not yet commercially available).  He had an air compressor, which I mostly remember for his use with a paint sprayer.

Denny's Garage

Denny could always be found working on his project or on other cars either in his garage or in the yard between it and the house.  Garage was not attached.  The garage is still there (picture above) although the yard is now fenced in.  Frequently back then folk would come over, pull their cars up into the yard, and then and Denny would work on them.

I could often be found hanging out with Denny in the garage or in the yard watching as he was working on cars and eventually “helping” by passing tools to the folk working on the cars.  I got pretty good at selecting the right wrench from looking and visually estimating the size of the bolt head.

About that same time I got what was the first actual “novel” that I distinctly remember reading.  “Novel” as distinct from the very short picture books of my earlier childhood.  I may have read others before this, I don’t know, but none of them have stuck with me enough to distinctly recall.  The book was “Hot Rod Road” (picture at the beginning of this post–and the pic is a clickable link to Amazon if anyone is interested).  The book centered around Steve Barker, a 16 year old car and drag racing enthusiast.  Coming in on top of my exposure to Uncle Denny it made a great impression on me.  Recently someone asked the question of what was the first novel we remembered reading and that one popped up in my head.  Just for nostalgia value I found a copy of it and found that it held up surprisingly well.  Oh, sure, it’s very much a period piece, describing an America that has changed much, but the story was still quite enjoyable.  A coming of age story of sorts centering around drag racing–legal drag racing not illegal street races.  Nostalgia factor aside, I can still read it with enjoyment today.

In that period I was still a big reader of comic books (and would be until the mid to late eighties).  Among the comics I read then were a few “anthology” comics on automotive and racing themes.  I remember one story about some kid who got a Model T and “restored” it.  They largely skimmed over the “restoration” except to have the main character say that he was installing a Chevrolet engine and transmission and that he’d have to beef up the drive shaft and rear end for that.  Then the story had someone next to them at a stoplight laughing at their old car.  They race.  The Model T wins (because, of course, it had a modern for then drivetrain).  The a pic of them driving around the street with the caption “they loved the roomy old Model T.”

At about this time there were two cartoons I tended to follow:  Skyhawks, a series centered around a family who ran an air transport and rescue operation (I was infatuated with all things related to flying) and Hot Wheels, which helped cement my interest in cars and racing.

Based on that, I wanted to be a race car driver.  Bruce was highly disdainful of the idea.  Yeah, you might win a few but then spend all the prize money and then some on rebuilding the car for the next race. While this is, in fact, pretty much true–as the old saw goes, “How do you make a small fortune in racing?  Start with a large one”–I was in no danger of squandering money on race cars (not at 10 years old) and my interests would likely (and, in fact, did) change.  He could have handled that better.

Have I made clear how much I’ve come to despise that man?  Oh, it gets worse.  Trust me.

Denny was very much into actual restoration.  He was quite disdainful of what he called “Hot Rods” where someone would take as a base an antique car, cut off the top, remove the hood and fenders (or leave little fenders mounted on the suspension that just barely cover the tops of the tires)–cars that lose all practicality usable just for show and possibly racing (and generally illegal racing at that since they’ll hardly be competitive in sanctioned events).  And all that on top of having now depleted the limited supply of actual antique and classic cars.  But he didn’t let his personal disdain get in the way of working on cars since while I was there someone brought over such a rod for…something.  I don’t really know what it was.

We only lived with him a short time (and in the house next door for a bit longer) Uncle Denny had a pretty big influence on me.  With him sparking an interest in things mechanical and Bruce inspiring an interest in things electronic it’s no great surprise that I developed and maintained (to the present day) an interest in “gadgets” of all types.

During this time school and my social interactions were something of a mixed bag.  I made a few friends in the local area (including one who actually had Hot Wheels toys and race sets, including the then-new chargeable motorized cars, “Sizzlers”!).  Changing schools, however, did not end the bullying I experienced from my previous schools.  Oh, it was almost never actual fights (which would generally not really be fights so much as me being beat up).  No, it was verbal abuse and social ostracism.  I may also have started what would be a lifelong battle with depression about this time.  I say “may” because I really don’t recall much along that line although within a few more years I definitely would be well into it.

One day, while we were staying with Denny, my mother collapsed.  She was on the phone and she just…sank to the floor.  Things are a bit of a blur after that.  I don’t recall how we got help for her.  I think I may have called the operator (this was before 911 was available in that area, or if it was I didn’t know about it) and we got an ambulance for her.  She spent some time in the hospital and ended up having a hysterectomy including removing one of her ovaries (she ended up needing to take hormone supplements for years afterward to avoid things like growing a very obvious mustache).  I came to find out later that apparently Bruce had picked up a sexually transmitted disease from a “working girl” (as the euphemism was) and got himself “fixed up” but said nothing to my mother with the result that she was not only infected but the infection had time to progress to the point of irreversible damage.

Yes, he was a real piece of work.  I told you it got worse.  And we’re not done yet.  Despite that my mother stayed with him. (Or perhaps not considering…well, I’ll get to those events in due time.)

I think it was in the summer between third and fourth grade when we moved out of Denny’s house and into the house next door.  We’ll pick up there next time.

July 20, 1969, “We Came in Peace for All Mankind”


Communicators in the text may be identified according to the following list.

CDR  Commander  Neil A. Armstrong
CMP  Command module pilot   Michael Collins
LMP  Lunar module pilot  Edwin E. ALdrin, Jr.
SC  Unidentifiable crewmember
MS  Multiple (simultaneous) speakers
LCC  Launch Control Center
Mission Control Center:
CC  Capsule Communicator (CAP COMM)
F  Flight Director

Remote Sites:
CT Communications Technician (COMM TECH)
Recovery Forces:
R  Recovery helicopter
AB  Air Boss

A series of three dots (…) is used to designate those portions of the communications that could not be transcribed because of garbling. One dash (-) is used to indicate a speaker’s pause or a self-interruption and subsequent completion of a thought. Two dashes (- -) are used to indicate an interruption by another speaker or a point at which a recording was terminated abruptly.

04 06 28 51 CC
Eagle, Houston. We read you now. You’re GO for PDI. Over.

04 06 28 57 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. Understand. AELD control circuit breakers. DECA GIMBAL AC – closed?

04 06 29 07 CDR (EAGLE)

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/4 Page 309

04 06 29 08 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 29 23 CC
Eagle, Houston. Your alignment is GO on the AGS. On my Mark, 3 30 until ignition.

04 06 29 29 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 29 33 CC

04 06 29 34 CC
3 30 until ignition.

04 06 29 38 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. Copy. Thrust translation – four jets – Balance couple – ON. TTCA throttle – MINIMUM. Throttle – AUTO CDR. Prop button – RESET. Prop button. Okay. ABORT/ABORT STAGE – RESET. ATT CONTROL – three of them to MODE CONTROL. 0kay, MODE CONTROL is set. AGS is reading 400 plus 1. Standing by for …

04 06 30 45 LMP (EAGLE)
Hit VERB 77?

04 06 31 04 LMP (EAGLE)
Okay. Sequence camera coming on.

04 06 31 32 CC
Eagle, Houston. If you’d like to try high gain, pitch 212, yaw 37. Over.

04 06 31 45 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. I think I’ve got you on high gain now.

04 06 31 49 CC

04 06 32 03 LMP (EAGLE)
Say again the angles, though.

04 06 32 05 CC

04 06 32 06 LMP (EAGLE)
I’ll set them in to use them before we yaw around.

04 06 32 08 CC
Roger. Pitch 212, yaw plus 37.

04 06 32 24 LMP (EAGLE)
OMNI’s in.

04 06 33 09 LMP (EAGLE)
… 10 … 10 percent …

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/5 Page 310

04 06 33 41 CC
Columbia, Houston. We’ve lost them. Tell them to go aft OMNI. Over.

04 06 33 51 CMP (COLUMBIA)
They’ve lost you. Use the OMNI’s again.

04 06 34 01 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 34 05 CMP (COLUMBIA)
Say again, Neil?

04 06 34 07 LMP (EAGLE)
I’ll leave it in SLEW. Relay to us. See if they have got me now. I’ve got good signal strength in SLEW.

04 06 34 13 CMP (COLUMBIA)
Okay. You should have him now, Houston.

04 06 34 16 CC
Eagle, we’ve got you now. It’s looking good. Over.

04 06 34 23 CC
Eagle – –

04 06 34 24 LMP (EAGLE)
– – descent looks good.

04 06 34 25 CC
Eagle, Houston. Everything is looking good here. Over.

04 06 34 29 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. Copy.

04 06 34 34 CC
Eagle, Houston. After yaw around, angles: S band pitch, minus 9, yaw plus 18.

04 06 34 46 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 34 59 LMP (EAGLE)
AGS and PNGS agree very closely.

04 06 35 01 CC

04 06 35 14 LMP (EAGLE)
Beta ARM. Altitudes are a little high.

04 06 35 45 LMP (EAGLE)
Houston. I’m getting a little fluctuation in the AC voltage now.

04 06 35 51 CC

04 06 35 52 LMP (EAGLE)
Could be our meter, maybe, huh?

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/6 Page 311

04 06 35 54 LMP (EAGLE)
Stand by, Looking good to us. You’re still looking good at 3, coming up 3 minutes.

04 06 36 13 LMP (EAGLE)
… real good …. about on.

04 06 36 18 CDR (EAGLE)
Our. position checks downrange show us to be a little long.

04 06 36 21 CC
Roger. Copy.

04 06 36 24 LMP (EAGLE)
AGS has gone about 2 feet per second greater …

04 06 36 36 CDR (EAGLE)
… ought to be … Stand by.,

04 06 36 43 LMP (EAGLE)
Altitude …

04 06 37 00 LMP (EAGLE)
… it’s going to stop.

04 06 37 18 CC
Eagle, Houston. You are GO to continue – –

04 06 37 19 LMP (EAGLE)
… closed … GO … at 4 minutes.

04 06 37 22 CC
Roger. You are GO – You are GO to continue powered descent. You are GO to continue powered des cent.

04 06 37 30 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 37 35 CC
And, Eagle, Houston. We’ve got data dropout. You’re still looking good.

04 06 38 04 LMP (EAGLE)
… PGNS. We got good lock-on. Altitude lights OUT. DELTA-H is minus 2 900.

04 06 38 18 CC
Roger. We copy.

04 06 38 20 LMP (EAGLE)
Got the Earth right out our front window.

04 06 38 23 CDR (EAGLE)
Houston, you’re looking at our DELTA-H?

04 06 38 25 CC
That’s affirmative.

04 06 38 26 CDR (EAGLE)

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/7 Page 312

04 06 38 28 CC
It’s looking good to us. Over.

04 06 38 30 CDR (EAGLE)
It’s a 1202.

04 06 38 32 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 38 48 CDR (EAGLE)
Give us a reading on the 1202 PROGRAM ALARM.

04 06 38 53 CC
Roger. We got – We’re GO on that alarm

04 06 38 59 CDR (EAGLE)
Roger. P30.

04 06 39 01 CC
6 plus 25, throttle down – –

04 06 39 02 LMP (EAGLE)
Looks like about 820 –

04 06 39 03 CC
– – 6 plus 25, throttle down.

04 06 39 06 CDR (EAGLE)
Roger. Copy. 6 plus 25.

04 06 39 14 LMP (EAGLE)
Same alarm, and it appears to come up when we have a 1668 up.

04 06 39 17 CC
Roger. Copy.

04 06 39 23 CC
Eagle, Houston. We’ll monitor your DELTA-H.

04 06 39 24 LMP (EAGLE)
… worked out beautifully.

04 06 39 28 CC

04 06 39 29 LMP (EAGLE)
… looks good now.

04 06 39 30 CC
Roger. DELTA H is looking good to us.

04 06 39 34 LMP (EAGLE)
Ah! Throttle down – –

04 06 39 35 CDR (EAGLE)
Throttle down on time!

04 06 39 36 CC
Roger, We copy throttle down – –

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/8 Page 313

04 06 39 37 LMP (EAGLE)
– – … throttles down. Better than the simulator.

04 06 39 42 CC

04 06 39 48 LMP (EAGLE)
AGS and PGNS look real close.

04 06 40 08 CC
At 7 minutes, you’re looking great to us, Eagle.

04 06 40 13 LMP (EAGLE)
Okay. I’m still on SLEW so we may tend to lose as we gradually pitch over. Let me try AUTO again now and see what happens.

04 06 40 21 CC

04 06 40 23 LMP (EAGLE)
Okay. Looks like it’s holding.

04 06 40 24 CC
Roger. We got good data.

04 06 40 49 CC
Eagle, Houston. It’s descent 2 fuel to MONITOR. Over.

04 06 40 55 CDR (EAGLE)
Going to 2.

04 06 41 01 LMP (EAGLE)
Give us an estimated switchover time please, Houston.

04 06 41 05 CC
Roger. Stand by. You’re looking great at 8 minutes.

04 06 41 10 LMP (EAGLE)
At 7000 –

04 06 41 12 CC
Eagle, you’ve got 30 seconds to P64.

04 06 41 15 LMP (EAGLE)
… Roger.

04 06 41 27 CC
Eagle, Houston. Coming up 8 30; you’re looking great.

04 06 41 35 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 41 37 CC
We copy.

04 06 41 51 CC
Eagle, you’re looking great. Coming up 9 minutes.

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/9 Page 314

04 06 42 05 CDR (EAGLE)
Manual attitude control is good.

04 06 42 08 CC
Roger. Copy.

04 06 42 10 CC
Eagle, Houston. You’re GO for landing. Over.

04 06 42 17 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. Understand. GO for landing. 3000 feet. PROGRAM ALARM.

04 06 42 19 CC

04 06 42 22 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 42 24 CDR (EAGLE)

04 06 42 25 CC
Roger. 1201 alarm. We’re GO. Same type. We’re GO.

04 06 42 31 LMP (EAGLE)
2000 feet. 2000 feet. Into the AGS, 47 degrees.

04 06 42 35 CC

04 06 42 36 LMP (EAGLE)
47 degrees.

04 06 42 41 CC
Eagle, looking great. You’re GO.

04 06 42 58 CC
Roger. 1202. We copy it.

04 06 43 01 LMP (EAGLE)
35 degrees. 35 degrees. 750. Coming down to 23.

04 06 43 07 LMP (EAGLE)
700 feet, 21 down, 33 degrees.

04 06 43 11 LMP (EAGLE)
600 feet, down at 19.

04 06 43 15 LMP (EAGLE)
540 feet, down at – 30. Down at 15.

04 06 43 26 LMP (EAGLE)
At 400 feet, down at 9.

04 06 43 29 LMP (EAGLE)
… forward.

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/10 Page 315

04 06 43 32 LMP (EAGLE)
350 feet, down at 4.

04 06 43 35 LMP (EAGLE)
30, … one-half down.

04 06 43 42 LMP (EAGLE)
We’re pegged on horizontal velocity.

04 06 43 46 LMP (EAGLE)
300 feet, down 3 1/2, 47 forward.

04 06 43 51 LMP (EAGLE)
… up.

04 06 43 52 LMP (EAGLE)
On 1 a minute, 1 1/2 down.

04 06 43 57 CDR (EAGLE)

04 06 44 04 LMP (EAGLE)
Watch your shadow out there.

04 06 44 07 LMP (EAGLE)
50, down at 2 1/2, 19 forward.

04 06 44 13 LMP (EAGLE)
Altitude-velocity light.

04 06 44 16 LMP (EAGLE)
3 1/2 down, 220 feet, 13 forward.

04 06 44 23 LMP (EAGLE)
11 forward. Coming down nicely.

04 06 44 24 LMP (EAGLE)
200 feet, 4 1/2 down.

04 06 44 26 LMP (EAGLE)
5 1/2 down.

04 06 44 31 LMP (EAGLE)
160, 6 – 6 1/2 down.

04 06 44 33 LMP (EAGLE)
5 1/2 down, 9 forward. That’s good.

04 06 44 40 LMP (EAGLE)
120 feet.

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/11 Page 316

04 06 44 45 LMP (EAGLE)
100 feet, 3 1/2 down, 9 forward. Five percent.

04 06 44 51 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 44 54 LMP (EAGLE)
Okay. 75 feet. There’s looking good. Down a half, 6 forward.

04 06 45 02 CC
60 seconds.

04 06 45 04 LMP (EAGLE)
Lights on. …

04 06 45 08 LMP (EAGLE)
Down 2 1/2. Forward. Forward. Good.

04 06 45 17 LMP (EAGLE)
40 feet, down 2 1/2. Kicking up some dust.

04 06 45 21 LMP (EAGLE)
30 feet, 2 1/2 down. Faint shadow.

04 06 45 25 LMP (EAGLE)
4 forward. 4 forward. Drifting to the right a little. Okay. Down a half.

04 06 45 31 CC
30 seconds.

04 06 45 32 CDR (EAGLE)
Forward drift?

04 06 45 33 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 45 34 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 45 40 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 45 43 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 45 45 LMP (EAGLE)
ACA – out of DETENT.

04 06 45 46 CDR (EAGLE)
Out of DETENT.

04 06 45 47 LMP (EAGLE)

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/12 Page 317

04 06 45 52 LMP (EAGLE)
413 is in.

04 06 45 57 CC
We copy you down, Eagle.

04 06 45 59 CDR (TRANQ)
Houston, Tranquility Base here.

04 06 46 04 CDR (TRANQ)

04 06 46 06 CC
Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.

JULY 1969 AD


Does the End Justify the Means? A Blast from the Past


I’ve never liked the expression “the end justifies the means” either in straight or ironic mode because sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. Point out to someone using it ironically that there are cases where it does apply (the means of shooting someone dead is justified by the end of protecting ones family) and they’re “but that’s different” without articulating why it’s different.

The thing that got me thinking about this was the number of times when I was talking about some policy in Realpolitik terms–what might be achievable in the short run even though it falls far short of ideal–somebody will come and look at the “deal making” necessary to get the gain, sneer at the “compromise” and smuggly spout off about “The Ends (not) Justifying the Means”. It’s usually some big-L (Libertarian) type decrying that the policy in question includes a lot of stuff we don’t want–but have to agree to in order to get something we do want and which is actually a net movement in the direction we want to go.

So the way I have generally encountered it is being used in smug sanctimony to dismiss legitimate “you do what you have to, to make the gains you can” and is why we can’t have nice things.

And it’s generally Big-L types (largely because the policies I favor universally push in the “L” direction–I don’t know of anything on a public policy position, either in place or seriously being proposed with a hope in Niflhel of being implemented, which is too libertarian).

People who know me know that I lean very libertarian.  But I also have what I think is a realistic appraisal of the world and recognize that’s a minority position so I need to think more in terms of moving in the direction I want rather than magically getting my ideal society.

In my own thinking there’s three tests where (whether you call it “the end justifies the means” or not) doing something that on its own would be bad becomes justifiable in a particular situation or for a particular end:

1) The end must, itself, be something “good”. “The Holodomor was necessary to get rid of the Kulaks and enforce the collectivization of farmland in the Soviet Union” (an argument I’ve actually heard), breaks down once you recognize that “getting rid of the Kulaks” (by starving them to death) and enforced collectivization were themselves evil. Evil cannot be justified by evil.

2) The means must be necessary to the end. At the very least, one must reasonably believe that said means are necessary. There might be circumstances where I would have to perform emergency surgery on someone (stranded in the wilderness, for instance), but I can’t just cut someone who has an inflamed appendix open when the option of taking them to the hospital is available.  I would include as a special case in this “is the end reasonably achievable by these means”. (No, the “end” of a “fair” society is not reasonably achievable by establishing socialism.  It’s failed every time.  Whatever excuses you give for “that wasn’t real socialism” the fact remains that the attempt failed.  It always does.)

3) The “means” cannot be “bigger” than the good “end” to be achieved–even if we accepted collectivization as a “good” the lives lost in the Holodomor weigh far larger than any “good” accomplished. This one is a bit more complicated in some ways because how do you weigh, for instance, one person killing six attackers in defense of themselves–one life vs. six. But you can’t weigh it like that, or not only like that. Six who threaten the lives of innocents vs. one who does not seems to me a much more justifiable balance. And add in that the six are unlikely to stop with the one, that one isn’t just defending himself but himself and all who would otherwise come after.

It seems to me the “bad” examples of “the end justifies the means” (the kind of examples used to claim that it does not) fails one or more of these tests.

The thing is, people want a blanket statement like “the end justifies the means” to always be true or always be false. This leads to twisting words around to try to make it fit that desired truth/falseness when the simple truth is that blanket statements are rarely (SWIDT?) always one or the other. The real world is more complicated than that.

If you claim it’s always false, then when you have to do something unpleasant toward a longer term goal (like, say, rise in resistance to a government turned tyrannical), then somebody points out that unpleasantness and ask if you think the ends justify the means, well, then you’re left trying to explain how by using this and so definition of words that you don’t really think the ends justify the means and lose sight of the simpler question: In this case, does it? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. I think the three tests I gave provide a good start to determining whether a particular case does or does not.

The Birthplace of American Liberty


When it comes to the origins of Liberty in the United States, people have many ideas.  Some count it from the founding of Jamestown Colony.  There is some justice in that since it’s the step that set everything else in motion.  Some count it from the Mayflower arriving at Plymouth, based on the (largely mistaken) idea that the Pilgrims were looking for religious freedom.  And there is some justice in that since while they were looking for religious separatism rather than freedom, it did set in motion events that would lead to religious freedom in the United States.  Some count it from Philadelphia and the Second Continental Congress, since that is the time and place where the rebelling British colonies declared themselves free and independent of British rule and the reasons they listed for that declaration (particularly if you consider the first draft of the declaration and grievances that, sadly, had to be removed to get everyone to sign on to the document) amount to Britain denying the people their liberty.  And some will count it from the Constitutional Convention (also in Philadelphia) which established a government of strictly limited powers leaving most of the people to their own devices for most things.

And some, of course, go back farther, to the writings of Cicero “On the Commonwealth”, to the Dutch Republics, to Britains Magna Carta, to Greek Democracies and Aristotles writings on Politics, and to the Bible and the dispute between rule by judges and rule by kings.  All of those, of course had their role to play.

However, I contend that a much more direct and solid birthplace can be found in the smallest of the colonies, and today the smallest state:  Rhode Island.

To explain that we first have to go back to the first New England colony Plymouth colony, founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower.  The Pilgrims were an offshoot from the Puritan sects of the Church of England.  Whereas the Puritans wanted to reform or “Purify” (hence the name) the Church of England (Anglican Church), the Pilgrims were more of a separatist bent.  And so when the Pilgrims were followed by Puritans establishing the Massachusetts colony, the stage was set for conflict between the two branches.

For the most part the conflict was relatively low key.  But it was into this kettle that Roger Williams was dropped.  Williams, had taken Holy Orders in the Angican church but had become a Puritan while studying at Cambridge, thus ending any hope for real advancement within the Anglican church of the time.  And while he did not join the first wave, remaining in England under Archbishop William Laud became untenable and so he emigrated in 1630.

Williams was offered a position in the Boston church to fill in for John Wilson while the latter returned to England to bring his family back to New England but turned it down because it was an “unseparated church”, he having moved beyond simple puritanism to actual separation from the Angican church.  In addition, Williams was taking a position of separation of Church and State.  He began to put forward the idea that Civil magistrates should not enforce religious law, things like Sabbath breaking, idolatry, false worship, and even blasphemy.  He also presented the idea that each individual should be free to follow his own conscience in matters of religion.

These views put Williams in direct opposition to local Puritan leadership who still wanted to purify rather than separate from the Church of England, they considered their way the “true” way and were convinced it was a holy mission to impose that way on others, and thought what better way to apply civil law that in the enforcement of God’s law as they saw it?

Williams was offered a teaching position in Salem, also of a separatist bent, but after the Boston leadership applied pressure on them Salem withdrew their offer.  Williams instead moved to Plymouth, then a separate colony from Massachusetts, which welcomed him.  However, he soon came to the conclusion that even Plymouth was insufficiently separated from the Church of England.  Furthermore, he started questioning the very idea of King’s charters, granting lands to colonists.  The locals, in his view, already owned the land.  What gave the King the right to hand it out?  Within a year he had moved back to Salem.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony (of which Salem was a part) were unhappy with Williams’ return.  Over the course of the next few years he would be called into court several times, finally being convicted of sedition and heresy and that he was spreading “new, diverse, and dangerous opinions.” They ordered him banished, fully expecting him to be sent back to England to face “justice” there.  Instead, he fled southward.

Williams, with a few others, bought a parcel of land from the local natives and set up his own colony of Providence on Aquidneck Island.  Here, he established his ideas of separation of church and state, religious liberty allowing all men (and, indeed, including women in that) to follow their own consciences on religious matters,

The new colony, which would eventually become Rhode Island, welcomed the religious and political dissidents from the neighboring colonies.  Anne Hutchinson and her antinominarians settled here.  William Coddington, John Clarke, Philip Sherman and others.  Williams insisted that any land they use be bought from the natives and not simply “granted” by some Royal Charter.

Over time, Williams views on personal conscience spread outward from religious liberty to a more generally libertarian view.  As he wrote in “The Bloody Tenet yet more Bloody”:

And yet to what other end have or doe (ordinarily) the Kings of the Earth use their power and authority over the Bodies and Goods of their Subjects, but for the filling of their paunches like Wolves or Lions, never pacified unlesse the peoples bodies, goods and Souls be sacrificed to their God-belly, and their owne Gods of profit, honour, pleasure &c…
If the Report of Mr Cottons interpreting that Scrip∣ture of Serving God with all our Might, &c. be true, to wit, of* employing our Civill Armes and Forcesto the utmost, and that against other Peoples professing Idolatrie and Antichristianisme: His Conscience (as I conceive) must needs force on and presse after, an universall Conquest of all Consciences, and under that (like those bloudie Spaniards, Turkes and Popes) lay un∣der that faire cloake, the Ruleand Dominion over all the Nations of the Earth…
Christ Jesus was of another opinion (who distinguisheth between Gods due and Caesars due: and therfore (with respect to*God his cause and Religion) it is not lawfull to deprive Caesar the Civil Magisteate, nor any that belong to him of their Civil and Earthly rights. I say in this respect, although that a man is not Godly, a Christian, sincere, a Church member, yet to deprive him of any Civill right or Priviledge, due to him as a Man, a Subject, a Citizen, is to take from Caesar, that which is Caesars, which God indures not though it be given to himselfe.

Governments (“Kings” as used here) tend to their own self-aggrandizement.  However, in Williams view of Christianity (his own religious belief) depriving a man of his liberty is not “Godly”, nor legitimate civil authority.  It is to “Take from Caesar that which is Caesar’s”.  Clearly, he indicates that each man is a Caesar unto himself.

In this passage you find the germ, put in religious terms but no less valid for being so, of the words that would find their way through Jefferson’s pen “to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Sadly, in time Williams, himself would turn away from these principles.  He would become a persecutor of the very libertarian ideals he put forward in the founding and early days of Rhode Island.  However, the ideals would not die.  They would live on despite his own betrayal of them and they would make their way into the founding of a nation and find their expression in the words and deeds of later generations of patriots, however flawed those individuals might themselves be, men like Samuel Adams and his cousin John, like Patrick Henry, like Thomas Jefferson, like Richard Henry Lee, and many others.  For all their flaws they set the new nation on a path that would lead to more freedom for more people than the world had ever known.

And Roger Williams and the founding of Rhode Island set it all in motion.

How to Prepare Absinthe


There are a couple of videos out on people trying absinthe for the first time and one on people trying the strongest absinthes (generally, in this case, “novelty” absinthes which are little more than gimmicks). Not only do they generally choose, let us say less well regarded varieties of absinthe for these videos but they don’t do it at all right.  Invariably they take it as shots and just knock it back.

That is entirely the wrong way to drink absinthe

I’ll admit that when I first tried absinthe I drank it straight.  At least I had the sense to sip it.  This may be a surprise to absinthe aficionados, but I found it quite acceptable that way.  There was a strong flavor of anise, a somewhat bitter undertaste, and the variety I had available then had a citrusy (shut up, spell check.  That is totally a word) finish.  Not bad.  At least one reviewer of absinthes (LigeiaRessurected on Youtube) considers absinthe too bitter to drink straight.  As always, your mileage may vary.

It was that very reviewer, however, who introduced me to the “proper” way to drink absinthe, the traditional way.  And that opened up whole new worlds.  It went from being an acceptable drink to truly amazing.

The basic principle is that you dilute the absinthe about 3-5 to 1 with ice water, and you don’t just dump in the water but add it in slowly, anywhere from a slow drip to a thin trickle.  The various herbs used in the making of absinthe (wormwood, anise, fennel, others) leave it infused with a number of “essential oils” (“essential” in the sense of “essence” not in the sense of “necessary”).  These oils are fully in solution in the straight absynthe but, as you dilute it they come out of solution forming an emulsion that gives diluted absinthe its cloudy appearance (called “louche”).  By diluting slowly it allows time for each of the various oils to fully emulsify in turn so that the complex flavor and aroma profile can completely develop.  Here patience is rewarded.  The water needs to be absolutely ice cold.

Usually, during the dilution the water is trickled over a sugar cube (I use cubes of monkfruit and stevia sweetener since I can’t do sugar), adding just a bit of sweetness to counter the bitterness of the wormwood.

Traditionally, there is an entire setup just for the preparation of absinthe.  Absinthe glasses are shaped with a “reservoir” at the bottom such that when the reservoir is filled with absinthe and water is added until the glass is nearly filled you have the proper dilution.  Absinthe spoons are basically flat spoons in decorative shapes with holes.  The spoon is placed across the mouth of the glass and the sugar cube is placed on it.  And absinthe fountains are glass urns on raised pedestals with one or more spigots at the bottom.  The urn is filled with ice water, the glass with absinthe, spoon, and sugar cube is placed under the spigot, and the valve adjusted to produce the desired rate of drip.

I don’t have such a set up yet.  Instead, I use a wine glass.  I use a shot glass to measure absinthe into it.  I place the absinthe spoon across the top of it (I do have one of those) to hold my sweetener, and carefully pour ice water from a carafe (lid mostly closed to restrict water flow) over the sweetener cube until the glass is full.

Once done, sip slowly to fully appreciate the mix of aromas and flavors.