One of the most-interesting beer pieces this year: A Shady Black Market Has Emerged For Hard-To-Find Craft Beers.
The gist? A combination of shipping costs and oppressive alcohol restrictions make high-quality beer unavailable, so people are buying prized beer through black-market channels, like eBay.
It's understandable and the practice--black marketing--has a revered history, especially in America.
But here's something from the article I can't understand, unless it's just an example of another American tradition: self-righteous busy-body-ness.
Yet at least hundreds of posts daily last year on eBay offered hard-to-get beers at astronomical prices, said Natalie Cilurzo, co-owner and president of Russian River Brewing, in Santa Rosa, Calif. She spotted the brewery's flagship Pliny the Elder, which sells for $5 a bottle, going for between $15 and $50, and its discontinued Toronado anniversary beer, which sold for about $25 at the brewery, being auctioned for about $700 last year.
"It was out of control," she said. "People were running liquor stores on eBay without any accountability."
She cited the steps that her company took that black market sellers are skipping: acquiring liquor and business licenses, paying sales, property and other taxes and selling responsibly. She pointed out the dangers of selling to minors online or the questions of who would be responsible if a drunk driver who'd bought beer sold illegally online killed someone.
She decided she had to stand up for the breweries.
"Stand up for the breweries"? People are buying their beer, then selling it without incurring the overhead expenses that ordinary outlets charge, but assessing such an obscene black-market surcharge that only a moron would pay the black market price and wait three days for it to arrive, when he could just walk down to the corner party store and buy it for half the price.
And it's the breweries that are getting screwed?
I might be missing something, but the woman's position strikes me as ludicrous and simply an example of someone who sees conduct he doesn't like and decides to do something about it, even though it doesn't adversely affect him.
It's good old American Puritanism. As old as Sam Adams and smuggling. It's just ironic to see it rearing its head this way.
It's not too often I run across a character that (i) is this colorful, (ii) is from Michigan, and (iii) I'd never even heard of. The following might be the most interesting passage about 20th century history that I've read in a few years.
It's a about a preacher named "James Francis Jones":
Prophet Jones headed the two largest Pentecostal congregations in Detroit during this period. He also broadcast a live weekly sermon over Canadian station CKLW, whose fifty-thousand-watt signal reached several Midwestern cities with sizable African American populations, and in 1955 began hosting a Sunday-night program on WXYZ-TV, making him the first African American preacher in Detroit to host a weekly television program. The radio and television shows, were, according to several sources, the most popular programs among the city’s African American population. With the help of sustained national mainstream media attention, including feature articles in Life, Time, Newsweek, and the Saturday Evening Post, by the mid-1950s, Jones’s admirers made up a substantial portion of the African American population as a whole. And he was almost certainly the most popular minister among Detroit’s black working class.
Jones reveled in materialist self-aggrandizement. He spoke not from a pulpit but from a $5,000 throne. In public he often wore a full-length white mink coat draped over European suits, and at home he liked to relax in satin slippers and a flowing robe decorated with sequins and an Elizabethan collar. He was doused with cologne and festooned with enormous jeweled rings, and drove a massive white Cadillac. But most impressive of all was his fifty-four room mansion, called Dominion Residence, which included a perfume parlor, barber shop, ballroom, and shrine to his longtime companion, James Walton, who died in 1951. Jones had the mansion painted a different color each season of the year. Perhaps most astonishing, nearly all of his wealth came from gifts he received from his followers, whose devotion to Jones was never cooled by the press’s constant exposure of his homosexuality.
New documents leaked by Edward Snowden show that the NSA actually spied on people while they played the video game World of Warcraft. I don't know — to me it sounds like some NSA agents had to think quick when they got caught playing World of Warcraft at work.
Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the "Tremendous Trifles" column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y'all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.
"A Farthing Newspaper," the very first of George Orwell's articles to appear in England, was published on December 29, 1928, in G.K.'s Weekly. [Michael Shelden, Orwell, London, 1991, p. 127]
Why I stopped shopping years ago: "Harassed boyfriend jumped to his death after his girlfriend insisted on going into another clothes shop. Tao Hsiao was shopping with his girlfriend in Jiangsu province, east China. After five hours Tao finally had enough and demanded to go home. When she insisted they go into another shop the 38-year-old chucked the bags to the floor and jumped over the balcony." Link.
I re-read Belloc's Europe and the Faith while I was in Rome last month. It's a pretty stunning work, especially when you realize that he (an amateur historian) dug up his Roman history from primary sources, after deciding that he'd had enough of the "Whig version of history" promoted by Macaulay and Gibbon (Chp. 36 of whose massive (ly misleading) work covers the years 455-476 and is entitled, "Total Extinction of the Western Empire").
About half of Belloc's nifty work is dedicated to explaining Catholicism's role in the late Roman Empire and disabusing the idea that the Roman Empire "fell" in 476 . . . which is a position that, as near as I can tell, nearly all historians concede today. Even the historians who still believe that 476 is the best date to use for Rome's fall concur with many of Belloc's arguments and agree that no one in the late fifth century saw any change as a result of the events of 476. It's fairly well-established that life in general in western Europe (in commerce, religious practice, taxation, military defense, Roman titles for officials) continued pretty much the same way well into the sixth century.
Anyway, expect further cogitations on Belloc's work during the coming year. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite quotes from Belloc's work, which I have, for the most part, been able to verify from other historians.
Odoacer held a regular Roman commission; he was a Roman soldier: Theodoric supplanted him by leave of, and actually under orders from, the Emperor. The last and greatest example, the most permanent, Gaul, tells the same story. The Burgundians are auxiliaries regularly planted after imploring the aid of the Empire and permission to settle. Clovis, the Belgian Fleming, fights no Imperial Army. His forebears were Roman officials: his little band of perhaps 8,000 men was victorious in a small and private civil war which made him Master in the North over other rival generals. He defended the Empire against the Eastern barbaric German tribes. He rejoiced in the titles of Consul and Patrician.
I made two technological purchases this month: an Acer 710 Chrome Book for $199 and a Roku for $40. My jury is still out on the Chrome Book, but the Roku rocks.
The Roku is a small device that plugs into your TV that allows you to stream "channels" that you'd normally have to watch on your computer. So, for instance, I can stream my Amazon Prime subscription through the Roku, which is allowing my family to watch a ton of TV (hooray! chalk one up for the idiots!) that they normally wouldn't be able to access on the TV. A few offerings we've enjoyed on our TV from our Amazon Prime account: Arrested Development, the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Gilligan's Island, Twilight Zone, and an assortment of free movies.
The Roku has over 1,000 channels available. Yesterday, I downloaded four Catholic channels: EWTN, Catholic TV, Catholic Life TV, and St. Anthony's Catholic TV. I'm really looking forward to checking out what the non-EWTN stations offer, especially St. Anthony's, since, if I understand the catalogue correctly, only I and 38 other people subscribe. I'm curious to know what kind of production power goes into a 39-person audience.
It kinda makes me think I could launch a TDE channel, though, of course, I have no idea what all would be involved.
A few other channels that have me intrigued: Lecture Kings, MIT, and Rutgers University. It appears I'll be able to watch a variety of university lectures on my television set, "on demand."
Catholic Men's Quarterly, a one-of-a-kind general interest men's magazine written by Catholic men for Catholic men. Makes a great Father's Day gift.
"The Daily Eudemon is the sort of thing
that Chesterton or Mencken would be doing, if they were
alive today. It's what, in saner times, was called journalism.
In the writing and in the reading, it's exactly the sort
of leisure we should want at the basis of culture."Mike
Aquilina, Author of The Fathers of the Church
and TV Talk Show Host.
Catholicism-urbane, witty, engaged-is alive and well!
If you can read, you should be reading The Daily Eudemon!"David
Scott, author of A Revolution of Love: The Meaning
of Mother Teresa
you like your blogs pithy, nimble, pointed, high-spirited,
and waggish, then bookmmark Eric Scheske's The Daily
Eudemon. Ooops! You want prolixity, density, meandering,
dull, and sober? Then run (do not walk!) to the blogs
of the major news outlets. They have just what you want.
Honestly they do." John
Peterson, Editor, G.K. Chesterton: Collected Works,
Volumes 12 and 13.
Scheske's web site is full of information and insight.
Always worth a read."James
V. Schall, Author of Another Sort of Learning.