Whisky abuse

Photo credit to Baskerville, here we are provided with a graphic depiction of whisky abuse.

A uber-short whisky primer, i.e. a good excuse for poor grammar and bullet points:

  • Whisky is spelled "whisky" unless you only drink American spirits in which case it's "whiskey" or "bourbon".
  • To be called "bourbon" a spirit must be (a) made in the US (b) made from least 51% corn, and (c) aged in new barrels.
  • If you're going to put anything (soda/pop, juice, lemon/honey, etc) in a whisky, use a blended: a single malt would be a waste.
  • Not all blended whiskies are necessarily crap - good ones do exist, don't pretend that Famous Grouse or Jamison should be lumped together with Johnnie Walker red/black.
  • When a blended whisky has a statement of its age, in Scotland each component spirit in the mix must be AT LEAST as old as the listed age, but in the US that age only refers to the minimum age of the "straight" whisky used in the blend (which must be >20% of the total), with the rest of the "whiskey" being neutral spirit filler.
  • One major element of a whisky's flavor is the presence/absence of smoke & peat. These factors are introduced when the malt is dried under peat fires. Islay whiskies, from the Western part of Scotland, tend to be the peatiest, while Speyside whiskies are generally smoke-free.

Weaning Gilmarsh

The story of a child raised in London through the 1930s and 40s, always finding himself on the wrong side of the tracks. The movie portrays his decline into the dank corners of British organized crime, syphilis, and prostitution.

Or, it could just be a student describing phases of the Moon and getting "waning gibbous" wrong.


Yes Sir, That’s my Baby

Some news is so big, it’s hard to figure how it best fits into a blog post, which is basically the only reason I haven’t blogged about it sooner. We’re having our first baby in August. I am excited to meet him. We had our first ultrasound this Thursday.  Above you can see our first view of the little guy with his little, revolutionary fist raised. He’s got a pretty beefy looking little bicep for a banana-sized person, don’t you think?

The ultrasound technology really amazed me. I hadn’t really researched what the ultrasound would look like before we went (which in retrospect kind of surprises me. I always research things!) Here is a movie of the 3D rendering. In this one he rubs his eye and touches his nose and cheek:

He weighs in at about 12 oz (0.34 kg). In this one I think it looks kind of like he’s laughing:

In the more traditional 2D ultra sound view, you can see his heart beating, and his spine. He kicks and wiggles around a bit:


What does it mean to be a "champion"?

The working title of this post was "Why I love football (round ball) and dislike football (pointy ball) and really should dislike them both".

The background of this is that, in general, I dislike events that depend significantly on luck or random chance. I suspect this sentiment may well be common among scientists, maybe particularly physicists, since I/we like to be able to know things, to predict things, or at least for things to be knowable or predictable (were there enough time to analyze the situation, take data, etc).

This is certainly the case when it comes to sports. Americans especially seem very fond of declaring one team to be "world champions", based upon some kind of playoff... but by its very nature a playoff increases the leverage that random chance plays, because of the smaller sample size. To my mind, the European soccer leagues handle the topic appropriately; each team plays every other team twice, once at home and once away, and the team with the best record at the end of the season is the champion. Not the #1 seed in the playoffs, because what's the point of the playoffs when you have demonstrated that you are the best team already?

March Madness is a brilliantly exciting construction, perhaps the best playoff system in terms of fan enjoyment, but does it do a good job of sorting out which is best team in college basketball? No way. The Super Bowl is an amazing showcase of the sport, but does the NFL playoff system properly sort out which is the best team that year? Sometimes, but often not. The World Series has great majesty and a nostalgic tradition that rolls back the decades, but it's a stupid way to crown a "champion" after the teams have already played 162 games - the very definition of a non-small sample size.

And now we come to the working title... not only does my rational/non-sports-fan side dislike playoff systems, but I dislike sports that themselves have outcomes for which randomness has strong significance, and the "meaningful moments" of a given game are few enough that the outcome of the game depends on a small sample size. A corollary to this is that I dislike sports for which the judgement of an official/referee can significantly influence the outcome.

Thus, I *should* like baseball (and I do), and cricket, and [what else?], and *should* dislike the NFL (it's love-hate), the NBA (referee arbitrariness), and soccer (but I love it). Really, I can't defend my love of soccer given the fact that the outcome of a given match depends on often no more than 3-5 referee decisions or other pivotal moments... but I do, even though I despise the NFL's volatility in the very same manner.

That's really all I got. I was curious to see if, as I wrote this, whether I arrived at any kind of conclusion, but it hasn't arrived yet. Anybody else able to help me out?