That ‘craft’ whiskey may not be very craft-y

I wasn’t surprised (but I was still annoyed) to learn that many so-called ‘craft’ or small-distillery whiskies and other spirits may be mass-produced in a single factory. Lawrenceburg, Indiana (not to be confused with bourbon-locale Lawrenceburg, Kentucky) is home to a massive brick complex that cranks out mega-industrial quantities of beverage-grade alcohol. The factory, once a Seagram distillery, has changed hands over the decades and was most recently acquired by food-ingredient corporation MGP. It is now a one-stop shop for marketers who want to bottle their own brands of spirits without having to distill the product themselves. MGP sells them

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Slip slidin’ away . . .

A few days ago I put up a video of a Boeing 737 being pushed around by the wind at an icy Siberian airfield.  In a comment to that post, Chuck Pergiel linked to this video of Russian Ilyushin Il-76 transports on an ice runway in the Antarctic.  The slipping and sliding starts at about the 5-minute mark.  (Apologies to Paul Simon for the title of the post!) It’s impressive to see a couple of hundred tons of fully-loaded aircraft sliding around like that!  It must have been an ‘interesting’ assignment for the flight crews involved.  I noted with interest

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Sheep to the slaughter?

Last week I put up a post titled ‘A Nation of Sheep – Belgium Edition‘.  I pointed out that writing messages in chalk on the sidewalk in support of those killed by terrorists would do absolutely nothing to stop further terrorist attacks. It seems to me we should call New York a city of sheep as well. New York City has seen a 20 percent increase in stabbings this year compared with last, and police say they don’t understand why it’s happening or what to do about it. While most of the attacks are part of domestic disputes in homes,

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Are all these drone near-misses accidental?

Back in 2014 I asked whether small drone aircraft were being contemplated as a terrorist weapon against commercial aviation.  I speculated that the growing number of near-misses between drones and airliners might be a deliberate tactic. That number has now become a torrent.  As far as I can tell, not a single day goes by without a potentially dangerous incident occurring somewhere in the world . . . usually more than one.  A simple Internet search turns up over half a million returns.  Here’s the latest report I’ve noticed, this one from Britain. A dangerous drone owner almost brought down

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ISIL plans terror attacks across Europe

It seems ISIL’s leaders have planned widespread terror attacks throughout Europe.  The Guardian reports: Nine days before the Paris attacks, Islamic State leaders gathered in the Syrian town of Tabqah to talk about what was coming next for the terror organisation … In what marked a critical phase in the group’s evolution, there was to be a new focus on exporting chaos to Europe, the assembled men were told. And up to 200 militants were in place across the continent ready to receive orders. . . . The move marked a decisive shift away from putting all the organisation’s efforts

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Easter in Dachau concentration camp, 1945

On this Easter Sunday, let us remember those who have longed to celebrate the feast, but been unable to do so due to wars, unrest and disruption of one kind or another.  Perhaps one of the most moving accounts of being able to celebrate the Resurrection, after years of being denied that right, comes from Dachau concentration camp in 1945.  Gleb Rahr, one of the prisoners, left this account. The news comes in: Hitler has committed suicide, the Russians have taken Berlin, and German troops have surrendered in the South and in the North. But the fighting still rages in

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Remembering the Easter Rising

One hundred years ago, during Easter Week of 1916, the so-called ‘Easter Rising‘ began.  It was an armed rebellion attempting to free Ireland from British rule. It was probably inevitable, given the tormented history of the English and Irish peoples stretching back over many centuries.  Nevertheless, it left a lasting bitterness, and led directly to the Irish War of Independence a few years later.  That, in turn, led to the partition of Ireland and gave rise to the Troubles in Northern Ireland in more recent years. Let’s remember all who died, on whatever side.  There were few men of genuine

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Of Land Rovers, dam walls and four wheel drive

This week, in an e-mail group to which I belong, there was an interesting discussion of this advertisement from Land Rover in England, dating back to 1995. That led (perhaps inevitably) to this episode of Top Gear. I’ve driven many thousands of miles in Land Rovers (the tough, rugged Series 1, 2, 2A and 3 models, not the upmarket Range Rover variants).  The short-wheel-base early models in particular were ubiquitous in Africa, much as Jeeps are in the USA. Those of you who remember the movie ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy‘ will recall (with a giggle, I’m sure) the Land

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An interesting aviation challenge

I was approached recently by an old acquaintance from central Africa.  He’s active in the missionary and disaster relief fields, and asked an interesting question:  “What aircraft would you recommend for a small, unsophisticated country’s air arm, to encompass the roles of initial and advanced pilot training, general observation duties including game management, transporting people and supplies to small, unprepared airstrips, and providing emergency assistance during disaster or relief situations?”  Money was specified as being tight, so that more sophisticated (and therefore more expensive) aircraft would be out of the question. I had an enjoyable few days thinking about the

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