The Brown Derby Cocktail

Recipe for a Brown Derby Cocktail

2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce honey syrup*

Combine ingredients with ice and shake. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
*To make honey syrup combine equal parts honey and water. Stir. You don’t need to heat it up unless the honey has crystallized.

Now there you have it. You’ve got a cocktail and I can pat myself on the back for inverting the all too common internet formula of endless paragraphs of nattering before posting the damn recipe. You got the recipe first and now here’s some brief chatter.

This cocktail sounds like an odd combination of ingredients but it works. The honey balances out the bitterness of the grapefruit juice and the bourbon broods over the face of the waters.

The cocktail’s origins are cloudy. A version of it appears as the “De Regueur” in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Some say that bartenders at the Vendome, a popular delicatessen on the Sunset Strip in the 1930s, did a slightly readjusted version of it that ended up being named for the Brown Derby restaurant.

Allow me to digress. If Steven Pinker tries to sell you on his hustle of how things are sooooo much better than they used to be just show him what happened to the Vendome:

The Brown Derby got minimaulled too:

At least we still have the cocktail.

Welcome to the Crappening

Still from Children of Men.

There’s no nice way to put it. Here in the U.S. we live in a failed state. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong but it looks like were in for chaos.

As Nassim Taleb suggested on the Twitters, “Do a total reset professionally, economically, personally. Treat this thing as if it were here to stay & make sure you can do with it. If it goes away, it will be a bonus but remember that the shadow of the following one will be progressively built into the system.” The fatal flaw of “crapitalism” is that these crisis are baked into the system and each one is worse than the last. Even if we skate past this one there’s another crisis coming.

On top of household level adjustments we need to work with our neighbors, friends, faith communities and associations to deal with this crisis. I have no patience for right wing leaders whose Ayn Randian, individualist ideology makes the ancient Romans seem compassionate. But neither do I have any faith in centrist, neo-liberal Democrats who were part of the failed response to this crisis and who are only too happy to push for austerity measures.

I feel especially bad for people who live in states that are opening prematurely and forcing people back into dangerous working conditions. The real strategy here is to kick people off unemployment benefits.

As a household we’re going to map out a plan that combines many of the skills we’ve profiled on this blog over the years with a more engaged community involvement. We’re baking a lot of bread and we plan on volunteering for Nithya Raman who is running for city council and offering a real alternative to the corrupt status quo. Until we see the numbers going down here in Los Angeles, we’re minimizing trips to grocery stores and eliminating non-essential activity. I want to see 14 consecutive days of declines in cases before changing our plans. We do this both for our own health and for the health of vulnerable people. We’re fortunate to not have to worry about housing or income right now. But the days of casually going out and doing stuff are over for now.

If, in the end, I’m being alarmist the worst that will happen is that we’ll be more engaged with our neighbors and know ten different ways to cook oatmeal.

Murder Hornets: It’s What’s for Dinner

I freak out when the media covers something that I have even a modest amount of specialized knowledge in. Why? Because the lamestream media almost always gets the story completely wrong. This leaves you to wonder what else the media is screwing up.

When people who know that I keep bees started texting me about the so-called “murder hornet” I smelled social media click bait trap. Even the allegedly reliable New York Times did a whole podcast on the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) that consisted of an interview with a single beekeeper and a lot of scary music. Did any of these journalists, including the New York Times bother to call up an entomologist who specialized in hornets? Not so much.

Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology had this to say,

The colony everyone is hyperventilating over was actually found on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, last September when it was destroyed and then a single, dead hornet was found in December in Blaine, Wash. There is no evidence that there are any more hornets in the vicinity of Vancouver or anywhere else on the West Coast.

So it’s not even recent news.

My inner Jungian doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that, during a pandemic that originated in Asia, we’d see a viral news story that contains the words “murder” and “Asian.” Could it be that the story of a scary, foreign insect acts as a way of deflecting, on a subconscious level, blame for our own stupidity in the face of a crisis we could well have been better prepared for? I also don’t think it’s any coincidence that the “Africanized” bee scare came around the same time as the infamous Willie Horton attack ad. I’m not asserting a simple causal relationship between insect scares and racialized politics, but let’s just say that our storytelling tends towards the monstrous (with race and class overtones) during times of crisis. The “murder” in the name isn’t even an accurate translation. The Japanese word actually means “yellow” reflecting the color of the insect.

Could the Asian giant hornet become a problem in North America? Yes. But there’s no evidence that it has yet. And, as this insect lives in forests, its habitat would be limited if it did. Giant Asian hornets don’t live in cities nor do they tolerate hot or cold weather.

If they do establish here, at least they are edible and, apparently, taste like French Fries according to entomologist Matan Shelomi. There’s pictures and harvesting directions to prove it if you follow the link. The murder hornet looks tasty when deep fried. But what doesn’t?

For more information see this fact sheet on the Asian giant hornet from Washington State University.

If you’d like to meme about “murder” hornets there’s a Facebook group for you.

There’s a term for when the media covers something that you have specialized knowledge in and the horror that ensues when you see how badly they get it wrong that I can’t recall and it’s bugging me (so to speak). This term/phrase is named after a best selling author who noted this phenomena–please leave a comment if you can help me remember!

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Mike Davis: Reopening the Economy Will Send Us to Hell

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Bianca about a very, very wide dress

I Cut My Hair With a Vacuum Cleaner

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This caused me physical harm