After years and years of reading bits of Alexis de Tocqueville‘s Democracy in America, and reading about both parts of his project, I’m finally nearing completion of volume 1 (3/4 down, 1/4 to go). I’m reading the George Lawrence translation of the twelfth edition, published in 1965.
My reading has been conducted with three things in mind: Read more…
I read this piece—“Why are Some Academics So Unprofessional?”—in the Chronicle of Higher Education with great interest.
My interest stems from an opposite concern: the unprofessionalism of some students. My interest arose during a period when I advised pre-health professional and medical students. Altogether I spent nearly five years, between two positions, advising those classes of students. The topic mattered to students and educators because of the premium placed on professionalism in the health professions overall.
On the article, nearly every piece of remedial advice in it could apply to students in all fields, as well as academics across the board: Read more…
I just read this passage in the NYT obituary for Hilary Putnam:
“In the world of contemporary philosophers, Professor Putnam was known for the breadth of his thinking, the vividness of his provocative arguments, and his penchant for self-questioning and willingness to change his mind.”
A willingness to change one’s mind.
Apart from its actual truth in relation to Putnam’s character, I admire this trait above all others.
I’m continually surprised and appalled at how soon we grow rigid—at how the changing of one’s mind is perceived as weakness. It’s ridiculous to expect ourselves to be totally consistent in a complex world where evidence emerges piecemeal to our minds and senses. What makes more sense is this: we should be utterly perplexed at how some of our positions on issues have remained unchanged after five, ten, twenty, or thirty years of exposure to new people, new discoveries, changed environments, day-to-day news, and our own growth as thinkers.
What are the barriers to changing one’s mind? Read more…
I brewed a Belgian golden ale just before Christmas and bottled it two weeks ago. Tonight I’m sampling it, and here are my first tasting notes:
Nose: Strong with Belgian yeast, reminding me of Unibroue’s Maudite or La Fin Du Monde
Appearance: Golden orange and moderately clear.
Head: Rich white, holding nicely—which is surprising to me for having only been in the bottle for two weeks.
Mouthfeel: Full with a mild alcoholic bite.
Flavor: Front end–A very pleasant mellow malty sweetness and mild spiciness, with floral notes; Finish—faintly mineral and subtly tart. I know I used hops in the brew, but I can’t detect them now.
After taste: Slightly tart mixed with stone fruit (peach, maybe?)
If you’re wondering how my notes compare to a standard, here are the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Guide notes on Belgian Golden Ales (style 18D).
Verdict: I’m really pleased. This is really drinkable—and dangerous for a session given that it’s 8.13% ABV.* The BJCP lists commercial examples (in relation to those I’ve actually sampled) as Duvel, Delirium Tremens, Piraat, North Coast Pranqster. I’d put mine, surprisingly, up against any of those.
*This is the best ABV I’ve achieved since moving to Chicago, mostly because I watched my fermentation temperature really closely (which I haven’t always done in the winter). I also kept the newly bottled beer in a warm place, which likely contributed to the excellent carbonation and head.