Go Buy a Shirt

Justice Thomas ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie here.

Chronicles of Plonk: Papio 2003 Merlot

Geez, I love it when people are suspicious of a good deal.  The
mrs and I were out running a few errands this evening, and I suggested
we check to see if her wineshop had any of that $3.60 "monkey wine"
left. "S-u-r-e," said she, always the good sport.  Lo! and
behold!  There were cases of the plonk, stacked for the
taking.  Ten of the chardonnay, and one each of the cabernet and
the merlot, through the checkout, into the boot of the Beater, and home
in a trice [$43.20 for a case of wine? Our grocery stores sell single bottles for more than that!
Tonight we sluiced down the leftover pizza with a Papio 2003
Merlot:  nicely dry, with plenty of fruit.  Another splendid
plonk!  I recommend a case.

Flag-Burning Hissy Fits

As usual, Mark Steyn says everything I think about the proposed amendment against flag burning, only better.

the folks most incensed by the amendment call this racism:


they call this facism:


and they call this well-reasoned protest:


Speech it may be, but none of these folks are nice people.

UPDATE: Cox and Forkum share my opinion of people who want to junk up the constitution; they’re not very nice either.

Beginning: Plonk Blogging

The blogs are full of specialty blooging: catblogging, birdblogging, foodblogging, gunblogging, and wineblogging, to name a few. I read many of these with great interest (OK, I skip all that kitty-cat crap), and I especially do appreciate the connoiseurship of the winebloggers. They point me to some truly remarkable vintages, and I value their experience, taste, and insight.

However, I always tell myself "Get a franken’ grip! This is just a farookin’ bottle of wine that you and the mrs are going to gulp down with supper!" [We do a fair bit of suppertime wine-gulping.] We do not, as a rule, drink $30 wine [3 bottles per week comes to $4680 per annum, before tax and aspirin], nor $20 wine, and only rarely $10 wine. And yet, we’re not untutored savages, drinking Boone’s Farm from a brown paper coozie; we do have our standards. Therefore, we have appropriated a term from the Brits, to describe palatable table wines that are priced under $5: plonk. We love plonk.

Plonk is wonderful. For about $1800, you can have a bottle of it with every dinner of the year, and maintain a low, even buzz. You can spit the wine back into the glass [Reidel crystal if you want, you can afford it] and bellow "Lousy, all that’s missing is the pickles!" and you’ll have still gotten a full $5 value, just for an excuse to act outrageously. But more often, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much good everyday wine is out there. My suspicion is that the developed world is close to being awash in good wines, and that many of the people buying "luxurious" wines are wasting their money, not realizing that the better is the enemy of the good. When I find a great luxury wine, I might buy one or two bottles. but I know it won’t last. When I find a great plonk, I buy 2 or 3 cases, and enjoy it for months.

Today’s plonk is Papio’s 2002 Chardonnay. The mrs stumbled upon a promotion at a local wineshop: Papio was selling for $3.60 the bottle [$1314 buys a year’s supply!], so she took a flyer on one. Although I am normally not a big chardonnay drinker [I have recommended some chardonnays for suppository use only], I consented to try the Papio with this afternoon’s homemade pizza. Dang! that’s pretty good plonk! Sweet with lots of fruit, a texture similar to a good Gewurtztraminer, only the tiniest vanilla tinge, and not a trace of oak. It’s a good thing the mrs only bought the one bottle, or we’d have split two over supper. The label is goofy, and has an interesting backstory; vintner Michael Kafka is a jazz afficianado with a soft spot for jungle primates. So…his labels have monkeys playing music in the trees. Not bad for monkey wine, I say. Papio 2002 Chardonnay, go buy a case.

Happiness is buying a fine bottle of wine to go with your dinner—and getting change back from a fiver.

Honey, we’re having reheated leftovers again tonight

I can hardly wait:

It has been more than 30 years, but Billy Jack is still plenty ticked off.

Back then, it was bigotry against Native Americans, trouble with the nuclear power industry and big bad government that made this screen hero explode in karate-fueled rage. At the time, the unlikely combination of rugged-loner heroics – all in defense of society’s downtrodden and forgotten – and rough-edged filmmaking sparked a pop culture and box-office phenomenon.

Tom Laughlin, "Billy Jack" in 1971, fought for the downtrodden.

Now the man who created and personified Billy Jack, Tom Laughlin – the writer, director, producer and actor – is determined to take on the establishment again, and his concerns are not so terribly different. Mr. Laughlin (and therefore Billy Jack) is angry about the war in Iraq and about the influence of big business in politics. And he still has a thing for the nuclear power industry.

Better take my lame-o medicine before seeing this one.

Get Yer FORTRAN Right Here!

Giggly young Michelle dropped by my office last week to ask about FORTRAN compilers and the IMSL math library, since the faculty and grad students here are under the (somewhat mistaken) impression that I’m some sort of computer wizard. Not having touched FORTRAN in 9 or 10 years, I allowed as how I’d have to do some research, but maybe I had an old compiler laying around that might be useful.

Two days and a lot of hacking later, this is what I’ve found:

However, Dr Keating took pity on Michelle and bought FORTRAN/IMSL package for her work. Nice for Michelle, but it’s a single-seat license. I just ran through the simple tutorial for the FORTRAN IDE, and it seems pretty solid, at least for the basic number-crunching that our statisticians like to do. I recommend the Open Watcom package for the rest of our folks.


These guys have it almost right:

"I know people mean well, but I just don’t think the symbol of this country should be used in that fashion," said [Lonnie] Jackson, an Army veteran of 24 years who saw action in both Korea and Vietnam. "I think profit, not patriotism is what pushes a lot of the people making this stuff. You have people sitting on the flag."

"I think it takes away the dignity of the flag," [WIlliam] Hay said. "I really do. It’s a reflection of our society. Everything is more casual. There is less respect for authority."

It’s not just authority. In society today, there’s just less respect.

Notice that William Hay is a Son of the American Revolution. I’m waiting for Dad’s genealogical paperwork to get verified, so I can be one too (g-g-g-g-grandfather Ross was at Lexington).