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October 07, 2021

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IIRC, George Bernard Shaq also hated Shakespeare in some ways, but nobody except Shaw would put him in a category with either Tolstoy or Shakespeare.


Political stuff--This guy says the 14th Amendment already makes the debt ceiling unconstitutional and Biden can just end this and all future charades by pointing this out. I'm not a lawyer, but it sounded plausible.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/07/opinion/biden-debt-ceiling.html

On my usual topic, Biden is proving to be just another President who can't seem to help himself helping the Saudis kill civilians in Yemen. I might look for a link later, but some Democrats in Congress are fighting back. (Probably a few Republicans too--this is one of the few issues where a few Republicans are actually on the right side.)

The politicians are in a quandary. They're legally required to spend money that they can't legally borrow.

The politicians are in a quandary. They're legally required to spend money that they can't legally borrow.

The Constitution (14th Amendment, Section 4) says:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.
So, the Federal government is required to pay its bills. And the debt limit law is, clearly, unconstitutional. Problem solved.

Who says you have to be a lawyer to understand the Constitution?

Considering the nonsense that the Supremely Deplorable Five pulled to prevent Obama from making recess appointments, I wouldn't be too sure that they won't pull something out of their collective a55 that makes the "14th Amendment" plan unworkable.

Just look what John "Lawless" Roberts did to nullify a clause of the 15th Amendment that was inconvenient to RWNJ causes in Shelby County.

Really, those who write Constitutional clauses need to include an "enforcement" provision, such as "those who question the US debt get their tongue cut out".

I am in no way an expert on Shakespeare but the claim that all his characters speak the same way and texts thus become interchangable seems rather ridiculous to me.
The play I know best, Henry V., has e.g. disctinct mannerisms that easily allow to say who's talking. And Hal himself changes his diction based on circumstances depending on the person he's talking with and the situation.

Prince Mish I Can is trying to beef with a dead man and he’s mad when his rivals posse represents? I bet that if MC Bard were still alive, he’d fire back with an epic diss track of his own. It’s just so hard to come up with banger beats to groove behind a five beat bar line.

I gotta say, though, that Kierkegaard runs rings around them both from the underground. He’s got bunches of releases with unique voices released under different artist names like he’s MF Doom.

After a verbal disassembling he leaves them all with fear and trembling.

Big Think is a time sink...

It puts me in mind of my college class in Comparative Literature. One item we got to read was Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The instructor got a bit miffed when I remarked that Joyce's problem was that he couldn't handle the English language.

He set me to read Ulysses, apparently thinking it would open my eyes to Joyce's merits. It was far worse. But I slogged thru 150 pages of it, so he had to admit I'd given it a fair chance.

Here's a bit of good news:
Anger grows in U.S. Customs and Border Protection as vaccine mandate looms

That's one way to weed out people who probably shouldn't have been in CBP in the first place. Without waiting for the high covid-related death rate to weed them out. And the rate is exceptionally:

At least 47 CBP employees have died of covid-19 as of Tuesday, according to the agency, including one Border Patrol agent last month who was days from retirement. More than 11,400 have been infected with the deadly pathogen, about 19 percent of the workforce.

I don't deal much in aesthetic judgments when I'm teaching literature. I talk about choices and effects and purposes and strategies, and leave liking or disliking the experience to the reader.

On the other hand, I have very little patience with readers complaining that the creator of a particular piece should have done it some other way that reader prefers. We're here to understand and appreaciate what this piece is doing, not why you like what another piece does more.

We can get to that comparison eventually, but you have to do the work of connecting with and understanding this piece first.

On the other hand, I have very little patience with readers complaining that the creator of a particular piece should have done it some other way that reader prefers.

Hey, I do that with my own sorry efforts all the time. ;-)

When reading Ulysses, you really have to apply a mental Irish accent to the words.

When the words are incoherent, no accent will redeem them.

"What's a quark?" the early readers of Ulysses might have asked.

Now we know. Sort of.

--TP

I suppose they might, but "Three quarks for muster Mark!" appears in Finnegans Wake

“Fidelity, Information, and Quantum Entanglement in James Joyce’s Ulysses“ by Tony P.

Pro Bono, thanks for the correction. Having read neither Ulysses nor Finnegan's Wake, I should have checked first.

nous, I'm obviously not qualified to write that, either as literary scholar or as particle physicist. No, the books I'll try to write when I retire are:
My World-View, in Jokes; and
The Grand Unified Theory of Luck.

--TP

How much does would not speaking English as his native language affect Tolstoy's appreciation of Shakespeare?

Plus, the more general version of that question.

Plus, does it matter more with drama/poetry than with novels and the like?

“You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.”

https://shakespeareandbeyond.folger.edu/2016/09/16/shakespeare-klingon-star-trek/#:~:text=The%20Klingon%20Hamlet%20was%20inspired,is%20itself%20a%20phrase%20from

Gotta love this one:

Jan 6 defendant seeks mercy, asks to be spared from jail ... arguing COVID-19 is rampant in jail and could threaten her safety

Then... her defense acknowledges defendant "...has not helped her chances of fighting the virus by remaining unvaccinated"

Hoisted, as it were, on her own petard.

I found Ulysses kind of impenetrable, but Dubliners is just freaking beautiful writing.

I think the deal with Joyce is to think of all of his writing as music.

If you haven't done so, listen to a reading of Ulysses. I recommend the RTE version

https://www.rte.ie/culture/2020/0610/1146705-listen-ulysses-james-joyce-podcast/

lj, I managed the first half hour. The word that springs to mind is: incoherent. Guess I'm just not cut out for Joyce.

Joyce is an Irish Modernist. The incoherence you are reacting to is his rejection of what he thinks is a too curated coherence in most prose narratives. To match speeds with his writing you really need to take on the burden of looking for the points of convergence and the buried threads that can pull things together as a reader, rather than relying on the writer to do that for you. And, having done that, you also need to then make friends with the ambiguities and ambivalences that result from a lack of strong authorial direction.

Without the time, attention, or inclination to do these things, you are going to have a hard time with Joyce.

I think this is what russell is pointing to when he says that Joyce is music. Specifically, it's like one of the more "difficult" types of music that requires active listening and that challenges the listener.

byomtov, I'll give it a shot:

As far as I know, Tolstoy was fluent in English (as well as German and French). So while he wasn't a native speaker, I think the language barrier was low, or rather not much higher than that facing midern native speakers of English who also struggle mightily with Shakespeare's English.

Regarding your two other questions, this is of course very complex, but here are two thoughts: I think poetry is the hardest to comprehend for non-native speakers. With drama and prose it really depends on how it's written, e.g. in drama the more poetic stuff and in prose the more experimental/stream of consciousness stuff is harder than the more 'realist' or minimalist style.

PS: I think it's not entirely far fetched to say that the people who have the deepest understanding of a literary text are translators, as their level of analysis is deeper than that of most readers.

And on some level the work of understanding is always a work of translation, even when working in a common language and from a common cultural heritage.

I love 'em both, and have always been startled by Tolstoy's hatred of Shakespeare. I believe it's in Robert Jourdain's Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy, that it is observed that even though African master drummers find Western classical music cloying owing to too much harmony, whereas Western composers find African music dreary owing to not enough harmony, that both can recognize greatness -- that is, your typical master drummer will indeed recognize that Mozart is a better composer than Salieri -- and vice versa. But as noted above, perhaps the additional separation of semantics from syntax in writing makes such judgment more difficult.

My own feeling about Tolstoy's dislike comes down to a suspicion, a la Berlin's as mentioned in the article, that it was because of Tolstoy's fundamentally idealistic worldview whereas Shakespeare in the end seems pragmatic in a certain way. To quote the end of an old Ursula leGuin book , "There are many ways to the city." Tolstoy seems to have only seen one road, Shakespeare a multitude --and he probably would have liked to take some odd and meandering path just for the fun of it.

And I meant to add -- and that Tolstoy suspected that if they were contemporaries or the order of their births was reversed, that Shakespeare might have made fun of his over-seriousness.

Here's a recording of Tolstoy reading in French, English, Russian, and German.

His pronunciation of English consonants is very good: the vowels sound as if he speaks French better.

I think this is what russell is pointing to when he says that Joyce is music.

No, that's not really it - what I was getting at is that Joyce's words sound beautiful when spoken, even if the literal sense of them is overly dense or obscure.

Here's Joyce reading from Finnegan.

I'm not sure there's a narrative there. What I get from it is that he's playing with the sound of the words. And, also their sense - allusions and connotations are packed in there like sardines, and the man cannot seem to resist a pun, the more obscure the better - but it's pleasurable to just listen to the sound of it, without giving any attention whatsoever to what it means.

Joyce is obviously working with ideas and meanings - with remarkable density and erudition - but I also think he just loves the sound and texture of words. He's playing with that as much as he is with narrative or character or other aspects of what would normally be novelistic craft.

He's Irish.

It's worth noting in this context that Joyce was a very good singer - he probably could have been a professional vocalist.

In any case, the sheer density of meaning in his stuff is, for me, kind of overwhelming. He goes in 100 different directions at once.

But his stuff sounds beautiful when read.

To match speeds with his writing you really need to take on the burden of looking for the points of convergence and the buried threads that can pull things together as a reader, rather than relying on the writer to do that for you.

To my mind, for something to be great literature, a "work for the ages," it has to be accessible. Works which aren't may appeal to English professors, perhaps for their complexity. But they don't last.

Shakespeare, for example, is accessible. Sure, you can get more from his stuff if you dig in and learn more. But you can go to one of his plays** and enjoy it. Which is why his stuff still gets produced.

For an analogy, consider 19th century English playwrights. Which of those who were considered to be writing great literature at the time ever get produced today? About the only stuff from that time still which gets widely produced is Gilbert & Sullivan -- which definitely wasn't considered great literature at the time. (But then neither was Shakespeare.) Because G&S is accessible, while the others aren't.

Joyce, IMHO, simply isn't accessible.

** reading is harder, mostly due to spelling changes.

"Shakespeare, for example, is accessible. Sure, you can get more from his stuff if you dig in and learn more. But you can go to one of his plays** and enjoy it. Which is why his stuff still gets produced.

For an analogy, consider 19th century English playwrights. Which of those who were considered to be writing great literature at the time ever get produced today?"

There was (reportedly) a LONG period in the 18th-19th Century in which Shakespeare was consigned to obscurity, before coming roaring back into fashion.

JS Bach also, too.

So those now-forgotten 19th Century authors? Like Mao said about the influence of the French Revolution "it's too early to tell".

it has to be accessible.

Don't listen to any Penderecki, Ligeti, and Messiaen...

But since this is an open thread, my own hobby horse.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/oct/09/tory-mp-says-using-term-white-privilege-should-be-reported-as-extremism

A Conservative MP has said anyone using the term “white privilege” should be reported to the government’s counter-terror programme, and that teachers who criticise the Conservative party should be sacked.

To my mind, for something to be great literature, a "work for the ages," it has to be accessible. Works which aren't may appeal to English professors, perhaps for their complexity. But they don't last.
[...]
Joyce, IMHO, simply isn't accessible.

Well Ulysses has comfortably more than 100,000 ratings on Goodreads, and an average rating of 3.74, with 84% liking it. That puts it ahead of Tristram Shandy, Gravity's Rainbow, and Cryptonomicon for readership as a big and difficult book, but behind Mrs. Dalloway, War and Peace, and The Brothers Karamazov.

Seems to me like it is pretty well established as a "work of the ages" (I mean, it's on the St. John's College reading list, and they are one of the two Great Books schools in the US - St. Thomas Aquinas college chooses Dubliners and The Dead in place of it for their Joyce, but what do a bunch of Jesuits know....)

And if you really want to grouse about inaccessibility, then you always have Finnegan's Wake to go to, thought the Joyceheads I know insist that Ulysses is just a gateway drug for Wake. I'll have to take their word for it.

Dammit.

novakant,

As far as I know, Tolstoy was fluent in English (as well as German and French). So while he wasn't a native speaker, I think the language barrier was low, or rather not much higher than that facing midern native speakers of English who also struggle mightily with Shakespeare's English.

Thanks. Still, I think there is a fundamental difference between a language one is fluent in and a language one grew up speaking, and hearing spoken by others.

I speak a bit of French - very far from fluently - but believe, perhaps egotistically, that I could become fluent if I lived for a time in a French-speaking society. However fluent I became I doubt I would have the gut-level understanding of the language that a native speaker has.

I am very interested in this, and appreciate the insights you and others have. English is not, strictly speaking, my native tongue, though I began when I was three, pointing at things and asking my mother, as I recall, "Was ist das auf Englisch?".

My point being that German, when I understand it, resonates more strongly for me than French ever can, even though, at this point, I am far more comfortable with the latter than the former. (And it is important not to ignore Yiddish, which complicates matters in all sorts of ways.)

in the previous open thread, nous posted about this article
https://calmatters.org/education/higher-education/2021/10/uc-workforce-lecturers/

and this one is linked to that
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/oct/09/cambridge-colleges-accused-exploiting-gig-economy-tutors

Another supervisor said the need to gain teaching experience by delivering undergraduate supervisions had become a “vicious cycle” in the early stages of academic careers, since spending time teaching makes it hard to find time for research. “I wonder whether it’s worth staying in academia to get treated institutionally so badly,” he said.

This is the disconnect that the marketing types who run things exploit. Academics with security of employment are hired because the university believes that their research will burnish institutional prestige and create a powerful impression of the university as an elite institution worth a higher price tag. But they only need so many of those positions to give that impression, and the people who do that work are often given contractual means to opt out of teaching undergrads.

But undergrads need to be taught, so the university tries hard to gigify the teaching pool enough to cover all the classes, then uses the money they save to back capital projects that further develop the image of an elite institution (new, impressive buildings like rec centers and stadia, housing with nicer amenities, etc.).

Then when the college ratings and admissions go up, they vote themselves raised for a job well done and think no more about the actual quality of the undergraduate education or the ways in which the gig economy harms both temporary instructors and students alike, both of whom benefit from continuity.

The gig economy is great. IF you happen to be in a profession where you can make at least an upper middle class income doing it. See not only hot-shot programmers but, for example, lawyers.

However for most workers, it is far worse economically that a steady job. And that outweighs whatever flexibility benefits they might see from it.

@nous -- have you ever read The Fall of the University? Grim yet entertaining reading about the slow evolution of universities from teaching and research centers only into places that first and foremost provide administrators a good living and a lot of power. Having worked for a while at Stanford, I was . . . amused . . . to see just how often it came up as an example in the book.

JakeB - I have not, but I have read a few reviews of it at academic news venues.

Stanford is one of the big drivers, being one of the pacesetting elite institutions.

The UC serves that purpose for the public R1s.

the gig economy would be great if it was going on in the context of something like a UBI and something approaching universal health insurance.

we don't have either.

it's not a bad way to go if you've not yet arrived at middle age, have no significant health issues, have no dependents, and have a lifestyle that allows you to weather the vagaries of work coming and going. it can be great as a side hustle, or if what you happen to do is in great demand but not in great supply.

but a lot of folks - maybe most folks - who work gig work live somewhat precarious lives. money-wise, anyway. and precarious money-wise tends to bleed into other areas of life.

To my mind, for something to be great literature, a "work for the ages," it has to be accessible. Works which aren't may appeal to English professors, perhaps for their complexity. But they don't last.

there is always work that is not widely accessible, but which breaks new ground, and which ends up influencing work that is accessible to a wider audience.

in general, you don't get the latter without the former. it's how art and culture advance.

there is always work that is not widely accessible, but which breaks new ground, and which ends up influencing work that is accessible to a wider audience.

I would argue that it is entirely possible for something to be a seminal work, without being itself great literature.

I would argue that it is entirely possible for something to be a seminal work, without being itself great literature.

Genre starters probably often qualify.
(Genre both in the broad sense of e.g. 'epic', 'novel', 'play' but also theme within one of those).

I do some supervising of Cambridge University maths, in my specialist area. The pay rate is set to provide some welcome extra income for postgraduate students who need little preparation, having quite recently taken roughly the same course. Anyone who's trying to do it for a living should reconsider their choices.

I didn’t think Cryptonomicon was that difficult, and I loved it, but Ulysses looked like a book only an academic could love. Of course one could broaden that to people who like complex works for whatever reason. The writing itself is apparently the appeal and not the story.

Speaking of which, the fourth and final volume of Terrra Ignota or whatever it is called is about to come out. I read Too Like the Lightning and found it pretentious and dull. I think of this as a genre— not science fiction, but novels where the reader isn’t supposed to care about the characters but is supposed to admire the complexity.

I didn’t think Cryptonomicon was that difficult, and I loved it, but Ulysses looked like a book only an academic could love. Of course one could broaden that to people who like complex works for whatever reason. The writing itself is apparently the appeal and not the story.

I checked Cryptonomicon on Goodreads not so much because it was difficult reading, but because I was curious how the number of reviews and the distribution of the ratings would compare to Ulysses. It's a long work that is also high-concept, and playing with the disconnect between narrative and plot, and the author/narrator plays a big role in the narrative. I thought it was interesting that Cryptonomicon had a third the ratings/readers that Ulysses had, which seemed valuable for evaluating wj's assessment of Ulysses as a sort of niche novel. It has *a lot* of readers - ten times more on Goodreads that does Finnegan's Wake which is the really challenging read.

Just a little ad hoc digital humanities reception studies, with a side order of lazy quant.

And, yes, more than just academics like complex works. A lot of them land in book clubs or reading groups for the community aspect. It could have been me, had events not aligned just so to give me a path to grad school.

I did not finish Too Like the Lightning. I understood what it was doing, but was not in the mood for it, having read many of the same works that inspired it. So I skipped out on it and read Jemisin's The Obelisk Gate and Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit instead.

a thread of dense difficult books and nobody's mentioned Pynchon?

lemme fix that: Pynchon.

"Gravity's Rainbow" was on the reading list for Contemporary Lit class I signed up for fall semester my senior year. Over the summer prior I was knocking out books from the list to get a head's start. It took my over two weeks, reading 2-4 hours a day, to get through it.

"Gravity's Rainbow" was on the reading list for Contemporary Lit class I signed up for fall semester my senior year. Over the summer prior I was knocking out books from the list to get a head's start. It took my over two weeks, reading 2-4 hours a day, to get through it.

Gravity's Rainbow was on my MA exam list (along with, IIRC, War and Peace, and The Naked and the Dead, and Cryptonomicon -- good thing I had knocked out W&P in a seminar the year before). Even with that sense of motivation and purpose, it was a long haul.

None of those were half the challenge, though, that one faces with trying to get through Deleuze and Guattari for my New Media, Cybernetics, and Systems Theory reading list.

Not an experience for anyone's bucket list.

Some stories are just so amusing. And so utterly typical.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/11/us/politics/trump-gifts.html

The Saudi royal family showered Donald J. Trump and his entourage on his first trip abroad as president with dozens of presents, including three robes made with white tiger and cheetah fur, and a dagger with a handle that appeared to be ivory.
...
The furs, from an oil-rich family worth billions of dollars, were fake.

“Wildlife inspectors and special agents determined the linings of the robes were dyed to mimic tiger and cheetah patterns and were not comprised of protected species”

Guess the Saudis were well aware of what an utterly clueless wannabe they were dealing with.

For an analogy, consider 19th century English playwrights. Which of those who were considered to be writing great literature at the time ever get produced today?

Wilde ?
Shaw ?

Though Wilde shared your opinion...

There are three rules for writing plays. The first rule is not to write like Henry Arthur Jones; the second and third rules are the same.

I think there is a fundamental difference between a language one is fluent in and a language one grew up speaking, and hearing spoken by others.

Sure, no question. But it seems that the language education of the Russian upper class was quite special - take for instance Nabokov. Or they are just exceptions to the rule.

Shakespeare, for example, is accessible. Sure, you can get more from his stuff if you dig in and learn more. But you can go to one of his plays** and enjoy it.

I'm actually not sure e.g. Hamlet or The Tempest are particularly accessible or enjoyable for the uninitiated - they would be well within their rights to wonder what on earth that was all about.

I would also bear in mind that the Shakespeare we see on stage (not to speak about film) is almost always heavily edited. And productions in other languages, notably Germany where he's bigger than in the UK, are of course even less close to the original text.

...even less close to the original text.

For whatever reason, this brought to mind a performance of Shakespeare where the text is conveyed exclusively through interpretive dance.

For whatever reason, this brought to mind a performance of Shakespeare where the text is conveyed exclusively through interpretive dance.

One rainy afternoon when I was in graduate school, PBS ran a traditional Taming of the Shrew production, followed by the ballet of the same name, and then by Kiss Me, Kate.

Book burnings in Ontario.

"I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think we’ve discovered a school board even worse than the one in San Francisco. A school board for French-speaking Catholic schools in Ontario, Canada held a “flame purification” ceremony to get rid of books deemed offensive by Aboriginal knowledge keepers. If that sounds a lot like book burning that’s because it’s book burning:
...
Radio Canada reports the original plan was to burn some books at each school. The board also considered burning all 4,700 books it removed before deciding that might lead to some pushback from parents and teachers. So they settled for the one symbolic burning and making a video about it."

Ontario school board held 'flame purification' ceremony to remove books offensive to 'Aboriginal knowledge keepers'

Kiss Me, Kate

Ah, the number of times I've started a new project, or a new job, humming
"Another opening, another show..."

note to self: don't become an Aboriginal Canadian.

problem solved.

I think Canadians are lucky they don't burn everything down...

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/canadas-residential-schools-were-a-horror/

The result was a series of nutrition experiments conducted on nearly 1,000 children in six residential schools between 1948 and 1952. These included a double-blind, randomized experiment examining of the effects of nutrition supplements on children showing clinical signs of vitamin C deficiency, with half of the students receiving placebos and the other half receiving vitamin tablets; an examination of the impact of an experimental fortified flour mixture that included ground bonemeal, among other things, at St. Mary’s School in Kenora, Ontario; and an examination of the effects of both inadequate and adequate milk consumption on a population of children with clinical signs of riboflavin deficiency at the Alberni School in British Columbia.

None of these experiments did anything to address the underlying causes of malnutrition at the schools, which was simply that the food being provided to the students was insufficient in both quantity and quality. By Pett’s own calculations, after all, the per capita federal grant provided for food in most schools was often half that required to maintain a balanced diet. And the same was true for nearly every aspect of the residential school system, which, from its inception to the closure of the last school in 1997, was structurally underfunded. In comparison with provincially funded public and boarding schools, residential schools received sparse funding. In Manitoba, Indian Affairs paid $180 per year for students in residential school in 1938, while boarding schools like the Manitoba School for the Deaf and the Manitoba Home for Boys received $642 and $550 per annum, respectively, from the provincial government. American Indian boarding schools, by comparison, were funded at a per capita rate of $350.

Or the Comedy of Errors staging produced by the Flying Karamazov Brothers incorporating juggling and baton twirling and tightrope walking?

Speaking of accessible Shakespeare, I saw this some 20 years ago at the Edinburgh Festival - I thought it was hilarious but we probably had few pints beforehand ...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd4h16DWpdU

(The Complete Works of William Shakespeare - Abridged)

Ah, the number of times I've started a new project, or a new job, humming
"Another opening, another show..."

When I was a senior in high school we won the state marching band competition playing a medley of Broadway show tunes. We led off with Another Op'nin, Another Show. Good memories.

Shakespeare wrote his plays as popular entertainment, so they're accessible in that sense, but it's easy to miss the meaning.

Take a couple of oft-quoted lines from Hamlet:

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
'Protest' here means 'avow' not 'dissent'.
...Or to take arms against a sea of troubles...

Do what? This isn't supposed to be great poetry, Shakespeare uses the mixed metaphor to show that Hamlet is not in his right mind.

Since this is an open thread, let me ask:
Am I the only one who thinks that "pumpkin spice" should be limited to pumpkins?

you are absolutely not the only one.

i got stuck with a bunch of pumpkin spice beers from our recent group beach trip. vomitous.

I know she wasn't the one who married Beckham, but other than that, not sure which one was Pumpkin Spice...

The one who got excluded. Supposed to have the best voice of the bunch. But not decorative. (Guess the promoters never heard of Mama Cass....)

If pumpkin spice were limited to pumpkins we’d lose a sizable and tasty chunk of Indian cuisine in the process.

i got stuck with a bunch of pumpkin spice beers from our recent group beach trip. vomitous.

I’ve had a total of one that I’ve liked. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

An "opportunity" identified in a meeting I was in today: Pumpkin Spice . . . hummus. The mind boggles.

I was going to mention "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)", but was beaten to it.

Now, it is *supposed* to only be seen live, but it *is* possible to snag a DVD of it. Hilarious, particularly at the end when they condense the "Complete Works" down to 15 seconds or so.

i got stuck with a bunch of pumpkin spice beers from our recent group beach trip. vomitous.

Could be worse. One of our large local breweries did a climate change beer.

The more utopian version of New Belgium's dystopian beer has to be Patagonia Provisions' Long Root IPA:

https://www.patagoniaprovisions.com/pages/why-beer

Which strikes me as being more Pale Ale than IPA, but is still a perfectly fine ale that aims at being part of a solution to sequester more carbon.

A brewery that, on a number of occasions, has had to sue some government entity when they want to introduce a new drink.

Flying Dog Brewery

I despise the spice* of pumpkin (another minor reason for why Indian food is not my favorite).

*should be 'taste' but that would ruin the pun

Could be worse. One of our large local breweries did a climate change beer.

Something not as bad as that, but still not very good, is Poor Richard's Spruce Ale from Yards as part of their Ales of the Revolution. Instead of hops, which Benjamin Franklin couldn’t readily get, it’s flavored with spruce sprigs.

https://yardsbrewing.com/products/poor-richards-spruce-ale

One is enough, just for the experience.

It's remarkable that the insurgents persisted in the face of such deprivation.

stores are stocked to the rafters around here with Yuengling's "Hershey's Chocolate Porter". the stacks are always perfectly arranged, with nary a six-pack missing. and i will help them stay that way.

The Swedes had the opposite problem once.
When they suffered from a blockade in 1563, no wine could be imported and thus no eucharist could be celebrated. The result was a heated and long debate, whether beer could serve as a substitute. Btw, the bishop of Uppsala was on the pro-beer side.

I'm with the bishop.

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sahti...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahti

Whether it's hops or juniper berries, the question remains: Why do people want to drink something that tastes bitter? I know tastes differ (how do people stand avacado?). But still, bitter???

Why do people want to drink something that tastes bitter?

Because some bitter foods are good for you?

Why Do We Like Bitter Foods?: There are receptors for bitter compounds all over your body.

Or it's a response to modern stress levels.

Why Do You Like Bitter Taste?

i'm OK with a moderate level of bitter, ex. a gin and tonic. but i definitely don't like it as much as some people do. no Salers and soda for me.

Hmmm...

"A study has found that people who like bitter foods and drinks are more likely to exhibit psychopathic, antisocial and sadistic personality traits.

Researchers working with the University of Innsbruck in Austria investigated 953 Americans’ taste preferences. The participants were asked questions about their partiality to sweet, sour, salty, and bitter food and beverages. They also had to answer four different personality surveys that assessed antisocial personality traits such as psychopathy, narcissism, aggression, and sadism.

And yes, you guessed it, the researchers say they found a relationship between an “increased enjoyment of bitter foods and heightened sadistic proclivities”."
Love gin and tonics? You might be a psychopath, research claims

And secondly, some academics have taken umbrage at media reports labelling gin and tonic drinkers as psychopaths because there’s no evidence that individual preferences (like tonic water) have a relationship with psychopathy. Rather, the research suggests that there is a slight positive relationship between psychopathy and a general penchant for bitter food and drinks.

the researchers say they found a relationship between an “increased enjoyment of bitter foods and heightened sadistic proclivities”

Hmmm. And here I would have assumed that was masochistic proclivities.

As a kid I found Bitter Lemon unbearably bitter. These days I find it too sweet.
I have read that taste perception in particular of bitter changes with age, so that could be a reason. Also, there is less quinine in it than it used to be. Don't know about the sugar content but I used to put 4 times as much sugar into the ersatz coffee I drank as a kid than I do today in similar hot drinks, so my sweet tolerance has obvioulsy changed too.

As for sadism or masochism, I have to admit to fantasies* in that direction but no inclination to act on those (unless a predilection for truly black humour counts).

*like asking the question whteher it would be preferable to disembowel Manchin to strangle McConnell with the entrails or the other way around.

like asking the question whether it would be preferable to disembowel Manchin to strangle McConnell with the entrails or the other way around.

Clearly vis versa. If an interruption occurs, you want to have the more critical action completed.

I don't think taste preferences are fixed. I think they develop and evolve over time, and I've heard* that part of that may be related to the foods one has access to early in life as well.

I used to love sweet and not tolerate bitter. I was the weird kid who would swallow any pill you gave me rather than be subjected to any horrid "flavored" liquid medicine. But as a good Colorado kid, I had no problem with spicy food from an early age.

But my sweet/bitter biases were not very nuanced. I loved grape jelly and hated marmalade. Why ruin perfectly good jelly?

In my 30s I stopped my love affair with sugar in an effort to duck the diabetes that dots both sides of the family tree. Reducing the sugar opened up space to appreciate other flavors, and suddenly sour and bitter started to develop new sub-categories of experience, some of which were interesting and complementary to other flavors I already liked.

And it helps that I also gained some financial stability during that time and could explore flavor more without the pressure of having to limit my selections to things I knew would be enjoyable from the start. I now have an appreciation for IIPA that I never had before, but only for a particular group of them.

One of my homebrewing friends claims to be the opposite of a super-smeller/taster. He loves the hoppiest possible beers because they at least give him a distinctive experience rather than shades of bland. He needs a big signal to get past all the white noise. He gets that signal from Lupulin, so he drinks the beers that advertise themselves with names like Palate Wrecker and Tongue Buckler.

Then there are those things that appear to be genetic reactions to flavors, like cilantro and mint. I love cilantro, but absent the right gene, I'm given to understand that it stops being fresh and pleasantly herbal and becomes a bitter, soapy experience.

*But don't expect me to chase that down as a source.

I love cilantro, but absent the right gene, I'm given to understand that it stops being fresh and pleasantly herbal and becomes a bitter, soapy experience.

I have to think it's recessive. My wife and I both love cilantro, but it tastes like soap to (at least) our older daughter.

the research suggests that there is a slight positive relationship between psychopathy and a general penchant for bitter food and drinks.

uh oh. how slight is 'slight'?

uh oh. how slight is 'slight'?

Let's just say that they now have SWAT teams hanging out by the arugula.

the researchers say they found a relationship between an “increased enjoyment of bitter foods and heightened sadistic proclivities”

You're saying it's not a coincidence that in the country of le vice anglais the usual bar order is "a pint of bitter"?

Mine's a Fernet Branca with a dash of quinine.

On the other hand, Okinawa is famed for a vegetable called goya or nigauri (bitter melon) and everyone I've met from there has been sweet and gentle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momordica_charantia

https://savvytokyo.com/japanese-superfoods-goya/

It is supposed to make them live longer, so maybe the sadism is expressed by having your offspring having to deal with you...

Or they are all yandere while very good at hiding it ;-)
And maybe non-fermented* vegetables don't count. A true sadist must be a carnivore since vegans are meek (Ha!) and plants either do not suffer or at least do not show it like animals do when they get slaughtered (cue Dr.Strangelove). A proper sadist begins his career with animals and then applies the lessons to humans.
What bitter meats are there? Apart from hákarl, I mean.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A1karl

*i.e. not turned into booze

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