Of apples, cider, and high spirits

When I first came to the United States in the mid-1990’s, I was puzzled to find that what Americans called “apple cider” had nothing to do with what I knew by that name.  It was non-alcoholic apple juice, nothing more.  The mismatch between product and name continued to puzzle me, until I read this article. Today, the United Kingdom and United States are the biggest producers of cider in the world. Yet, at some point in the last few hundred years, the words “apple cider” have evolved to mean different things in these two nations. In the American state of New Hampshire, the

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A marketing stroke of genius

I wasn’t in the USA at the time that Softsoap was developed, so I didn’t know its commercial and industrial background.  A recent article was very informative. SoftSoap … was essentially the first mass-produced liquid hand soap ever sold to the public, all packaged in a convenient bottle featuring a pump. Of course, a key problem with this idea is that, while it was revolutionary in some ways, no part of it was original enough to patent. From his previous experience having bigger companies copy his ideas not long after he made them successful and then taking over the market, Taylor knew that if

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The Great Knaresborough Bed Race of 2019

The annual Great Knaresborough Bed Race was held a few weeks ago in England.  As usual, a lot of fun was had by all. The event was born out of the enthusiasm of the newly-formedKnaresborough Round Table in 1966, an organisation looking for a major charity fund-raising push. They came up with the idea of a time-trial in which teams would follow a pre-determined course pushing beds around the town. It could have been a chariot race, a tug-o-war, a raft race on the river, a soap box derby or any of a hundred other ideas. But they plumped for a bed race,

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Destroying an Iraqi nuclear reactor, 38 years ago

On June 7, 1981, Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad.  It was known as Operation Opera (also called Operation Babylon in some circles).  It put an end to Saddam Hussein’s hopes of developing his own nuclear weapons. 38 years later, the pilots who undertook that mission have been reminiscing about it. Thirty-eight years after Operation Opera — the Israeli air attack that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak — surviving pilots gathered to mark the event, noting “one of the greatest ironies in history”: that the attack was enabled by the Islamic Revolution in Iran. When Israel discovered

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Not your mother’s milk

I was surprised to read about an English vodka that’s made from milk. Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka is adored for its milk, floral, sweet and dry flavor notes. This Vodka is carefully distilled at Black Cow distillery, England. [A reviewer noted:]  Not a big vodka fan, but this one is special. Extremely smooth and the texture is creamy. Great in Vodka Tonic and definitely a shine bright in martini even as replacement in some Gin cocktails. I suppose it’s not too far-fetched, when you consider that you can make alcohol from almost anything!  Milk has been used in traditional alcoholic drinks

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Ebola: the latest developments

I’ve warned often enough about the dangers of the Ebola outbreak in the Congo.  Aesop, over at Raconteur Report, has done the same.  I don’t see any point in doing so again – if people haven’t listened before, they won’t listen now.  Instead, I’ll just point out that events are proceeding almost exactly as Aesop and I have predicted they would.  Click each headline below for more information. 1.  Ebola reaches Uganda Uganda announced two more cases of Ebola on Wednesday – a grandmother and a three-year-old boy, confirming that a deadly outbreak has spread for the first time beyond the Democratic Republic of

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“Forget Bribery. The Real Scam Is Pretending That Degrees Have Value.”

That’s the title of an article in Bloomberg by Elaine Ou.  She makes some good points. … none of the parents involved in the recent college admissions bribery scandal tried to get their kids into Caltech or MIT, the sort of universities where students are generally expected to acquire skills relevant to a productive career. As it turns out, parents pay obscene sums to marshal their offspring into elite schools not for the sake of education, but to secure their offspring’s socioeconomic status. Successful parents in the upper middle class can leave money to their children, but that doesn’t guarantee entrée into the social elite. The more

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A sad, lonely end for a very dangerous man

I’m not sure how many of my readers are familiar with the story of Thomas Silverstein.  He was convicted of multiple murders while behind bars, and as a result spent the last 35 years of his life in almost continuous solitary confinement.  He died in hospital in Colorado last month. Silverstein was profiled in Pete Earley’s 1992 book “The Hot House:  Life Inside Leavenworth Prison“.  He became something of a celebrity as a result . . . largely to those who had little or no idea just how very dangerous this man was, and how utterly evil his actions were. (By the

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