Tag Archives: Chicago

Friday Linkage 9/13/2019

On Friday the 13th I want to “pour one out” for a site that has gone dark.  Think Progress and its companion site Climate Progress were linked to frequently from my blog.  The reporting was always well done and backed up by copious well documented sources.  Editorial factionalism and a bitter unionization battle probably contributed to the demise of the site.  The same problems have plagued other “new media” operations as well over the years, but this is a lost nonetheless.

On to the links…

25 Books That Teach Kids To Care About The Environment—The children, they are the future right?  Well, we should be helping them to understand just how amazing, precious, and threatened this planet of our is in the modern age.

There’s a $218 Billion Design Problem Sitting in Your Fridge Right Now—You want to know the real reason why this will not change?  It’s the same reason that I cannot get parts for an appliance that is just a few years old or why a small part for a car costs hundreds of dollars.  The manufacturers of these products want to sell you a new product.

Why Industry is Going Green on the Quiet—This is a sign of the polarized times that we live in.  If a company can produce the same product using less destructive methods why does it need to be kept secret?  Probably because a reactionary slice of the population will react like their hair is on fire at the mere mention of environmental concern.

A Decade of Renewable Energy Investment, Led by Solar, Tops USD 2.5 Trillion—This gives you an idea about the potential scale of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables.  If you want to create jobs in the United States you would support renewables at every juncture.  Imagine trillions of dollars more being spent to deploy solar and wind across the United States.

30 Million Acres of Public Land in Alaska at Risk of Being Developed or Transferred—Your public lands are being sold off by the most corrupt and criminal presidential administration in the history of the United States.

Trump Campaign is Cashing in on the Alabama ‘Sharpie’ Controversy he Keeps Complaining About—Every time I think we have reached the height of Trump’s unique combination of stupidity and hubris I am surprised by a new event.  Remember, Trump totally did not change that map.  Trump totally does not know who drew the limp circle showing Alabama in Hurricane Dorian’s path.  However, you can totally “own the libs” by giving his slush fund…er, campaign $15 for a freaking Sharpie.  Get some Trump branded straws to complete you MAGA look for fall.

Department of Justice to investigate BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen—Remember, the right wing is all about states’ rights as long as those states’ rights are about unlimited access to firearms, restricting access to health care, gutting social programs, and in general making the world safe for rich people.  God forbid a state, which has the precedent to set its own emissions standards, would contradict the federal government.

Hydrogen Could Replace Coke In Steelmaking & Lower Carbon Emissions Dramatically—Steel production, like concrete, is a carbon nightmare.  However, steel is essential to modern civilization so any decrease in its carbon intensity is a win for the planet.

Pulling CO2 Out of the Air and Using it Could be a Trillion-Dollar Business—It is doubtful with Moscow Mitch in power that we will ever see a price put on carbon emissions in the United States.  However, what if we could create a market that placed a value on carbon dioxide.

Renewable Energy At Risk In Rural Electric Cooperative Tax Snafu—The Republican tax debacle of 2017 is the gift that keeps on giving.  So to speak.  This piece of garbage legislation that was rushed through because no one actually wanted the details to be public is creating messes just about everywhere.  Wasn’t this the signature legislative accomplishment of so-called policy wonk Paul Ryan’s speakership?

How Much Photovoltaics (PV) Would be Needed to Power the World Sustainably?—I like the thought exercise, but this is not about a single technology.  Freedom from fossil fuels will come as a result of deploying a portfolio of renewable energy technologies combined with greater efficiency.  It is not rocket science.

50 Years Ago a Nuclear Bomb was Detonated under the Western Slope to Release Natural Gas. Here’s how Poorly it Went.—This was someone’s bright idea.  Heck, it was probably the idea of a group of fairly smart people.

It’s Time We Treat Some Forests Like Crops—Let’s just make sure that we do not treat trees like corn or soybeans.  Those crops have been a disaster for Americans.

Invasion of the ‘Frankenbees’: The Danger of Building a Better Bee—What could possible go wrong?  It’s not like scientists have been wrong about making drastic changes to our environment before.

Today’s Special: Grilled Salmon Laced With Plastic—Our love affair with plastic and our inability to deal with its waste is a great, unregulated public health experiment.

The Definitive Superfood Ranking—Can we just stop with the superfood nonsense?  Seriously, you can eat all the kale you want and you will still not be healthy.

Chicago’s New Tool Library Is Awesome, Exactly What It Sounds Like—I own a lot of tools—some bought and some acquired through family—but a lot of my tools just sit for extended periods of time.  This is true even though I use my tools a lot to build furniture and fix things.  For the average user my guess is that tools get used a couple of times at most.

mountainFLOW Launches Plant-Based Ski Wax—I want some.

Friday Linkage 2/24/2017

November 9th was a day of some serious despair, but I see a lot of potential in the awakening of a progressive spirit and an exposure of the right wing’s anti-people agenda.  Yes, it will be a lot of work to make any kind of meaningful change given the dynamics of elections in the U.S.  Yes, Donald Trump is a dumpster fire in human form that happens to inhabit the Oval Office.  However, there has been a spark that has ignited a liberal fire like no other time in recent memory.

On to the links…

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Lowest Since 1994—A lot of this decline has to do with the replacement of coal with natural gas in the electrical generation sector and a recession that dampened demand across a whole host of industries.  Nonetheless, the data is compelling:

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The Future of Solar Power Technology is Bright—No matter what the political environment looks like in the future, the potential of solar is very real.

Record Wind & Solar Keep The Lights On In NSW As Coal & Gas Went Missing—Renewable energy can make the grid more reliable.  This should put the argument about intermittency to bed.

Wind Technician Jobs Growing, in Iowa and Nationally—The sooner that everyone realizes that there are more people working in renewable energy jobs, like wind turbine technicians, the sooner that we can get past the narrative of coal jobs being the only energy jobs that matter.

Drilling Experts Explain why Trump Can’t Bring Back Oilfield Jobs—The jobs will not be coming back because like coal before it automation and market changes are driving the need for actual human labor down.

University of Iowa Announces it will be Coal-Free by 2025—Each power generating facility or consumer that goes coal-free is another brick in the wall in eliminating coal from our energy infrastructure.  Yes, it will take a long time.  Yes, it is inevitable if we keep up the pressure.

Petcoke Piles Gone, but Another Dangerous Pollutant Discovered in the Air—If you think that there is no place for the EPA it is likely that you do not live in a community affected by this kind of pollution.  Low income communities are at the mercy of polluters because they do not have the political clout of the Koch brothers.

Which Ski Run Is Better for the Planet?—Ski hills go out of business.  What comes after is hard to imagine as you spend your days sliding.  However, the way we develop ski runs can make a major difference for the next stage of the land’s lifecycle.

Almost Every Packaged Food Comes from These Two Companies—The merger between Kraft Heinz and Unilever may have died, but this should give you some sense as to how consolidated the center aisles of the grocery store have become.

Olive Oil Shortage Looms as Prices and Demand Rise—Climate change has come for our coffee, chocolate, and hops.  Now olive oil is the crosshairs.  When will the larger populace realize that the impacts of climate change is here.

Fifth of World’s Food Lost to Over-Eating and Waste—Food insecurity is not a question of production it is a question of distribution, availability, and affordability.  It is a god damned shame that we live in a world where a significant portion of the world’s population is overweight while a similarly large portion of the world’s population is food insecure.

Revolution Brewing Fist City Chicago Pale Ale

Revolution Brewing is my favorite Chicago brewery—that disaster with the hibiscus ale being excluded—now has new to me—it was available this spring in cans—called Fist City Chicago Pale Ale:

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Described as “a supremely drinkable brew for those who love hops” and I would argue that it is the ideal craft beer replacement for schwag macro lagers that populate dive bars. Yes, I am looking at you Old Style. While I respect the adherence to the Old Style cult that has gripped Chicago since the mid-1980s, which is about the same time the rest of America gave up on the brand, it is time to stake your taste buds to something a little better and a little more local. Firing down pint after pint of super hoppy pale ales does not appeal to everyone, but Fist City could easily slot in as the “go to” replacement for forgettable canned lagers that come in thirty packs. Life is too short to drink beer based on its per can price.

The beer is really drinkable at 5.5% ABV and “just” 40 IBU. Yep, it’s about a percentage point higher in alcohol content than a basic macro lager but it is not a beer that is going to put you on your ass after drinking three of them.

Somehow the brewers managed to squeeze in every hop beginning with a C: Centennial, Citra, Chinook, Cascade and Crystal. Too bad there is not a Chicago hop variety. This leads to a somewhat muddied hop profile where none of the characteristics of any variety stands out. It’s not bad, per se, but it leaves the drinker looking for a particular flavor or aroma wanting something different. Call me a hop head or a beer snob. I like to taste and smell individual and unique hop notes. Yeah, I sound like one of those ass clowns in “Sideways” talking about notes of oak and udon.

Back to the matter at hand. If you need a six pack or thirty pack to take to your next event and want something that can please a lot of people without being boring—yes I am looking at the guy who always beings a twelve pack of Blue Moon to a party—give Fist City a shot:

Purchase 3 Mug Rating

See what others are saying about Revolution Brewing Fist City at Beeradvocate.

Revolution Brewing Rosa Hibiscus Ale

Sometimes you are figuring out what beers to get in the seemingly never ending selection of craft beer when a different can from a generally trusted brewer catches your eye. That is how I ended up with a six pack of Revolution Brewing’s Rosa Hibiscus Ale:

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The color should have been a warning. No beer has that electric red color unless something is deeply wrong with its construction. Instead of listening to my own internal warning system I jumped in palate first and was rewarded with an assault. Geez, how do I describe the flavor sensation? Awful and artificial? Like someone took a pale ale and poured the dregs of a Boone’s Farm vat into the fermentation vessel hoping that some unknown black magic would produce something drinkable? I will just leave the description as nearly undrinkable. It took an entire can of Anti-Hero IPA to expunge the memory from my tongue.

Seriously, is this the craft equivalent of one of those Barf-a-ritas that are stacked to the ceiling every summer as an alternative to something that tastes good? You have been warned:

Zero Mug Purchase

See what others are saying about Revolution Brewing Rosa Hibiscus Ale at Beeradvocate.

Revolution Brewing Bottom Up Wit

Wit or white ale are the gateway drug into the craft beer addiction. You wake up one morning from a Natty Light hangover, realize that you graduated from college almost a year ago, and decide that on your next night out you will not be that guy crushing light lagers.

At the bar you are offered a plethora of choices—unless it is one of those bars with two taps reserved for Budweiser and Busch Light, which are always classy establishments where no one ever gets stabbed with an improvised edged weapon—that almost causes paralysis by analysis. Do I want a European pilsner? Or is an IPA a better choice? A Russian imperial stout sounds like a lineup of ex-Soviet hockey players, but is it right for me just a few days removed from wondering which beer came in 30 packs for less than $20?

You look around and notice a lot of people have tall glasses of a hazy, golden beer with an orange. How bad can it be if it has an orange in it? What is that beer that every girl in a sundress and flower crown is drinking on the patio? It’s Blue Moon. What’s a Blue Moon? A Belgian style white ale.

Here is the deal. There is a reason that Coors made Blue Moon its entry into the faux craft movement…people want different that is not too different. You cannot expect people to go from drinking beer measured in twelve pack increments to throwing back IPAs with IBU ratings in the seventies. They are going to run back to the beer cooler for something familiar and never come back. You need a gateway drug. Belgian style white beers are that gateway drug.

Revolution Brewing understands this and brews Bottom Up Wit:

Revolution Bottom Up Wit

How is Revolution Brewing’s wit different than Blue Moon or Shock Top? Not so much. These are easy drinking beers. How easy? At 5.0% ABV and 14 IBU it compares favorably, statistically speaking, to a Bud Light at an estimated 4.1% ABV and 8-10 IBU. With a little coriander and orange peel there is a lot more going on in terms of flavor, so you feel like you are drinking something that is more artisanal or original than a light lager.

At the end of the day white ales or wits are fairly boring. Maybe it is a style of beer that someone will do something original with and blow people away, but until then I will stand by my assertion that brewers keep this style in their quiver to have something almost anyone can drink when visiting a taproom:

Purchased One Mug Rating

Here is what other people are saying about Revolution Brewing Bottom Up Wit @ Beeradvocate

Revolution Brewing A Little Crazy Ale

What is an American Pale Ale? Better yet, what is a Belgian American Pale Ale? When will this insanity stop? We should just start calling beers with crazy varietal names by something completely arbitrary so that it no one is any more confused by sign posts like pale ale or porter or stout or pumpkin peach ale.

Revolution Brewing brews a so-called Belgian American Pale Ale called A Little Crazy Ale:

A Little Crazy Ale

This beer will surprise you at a somewhat boozy 6.8% ABV. Even more surprising is that it drinks a lot more balanced than its middling 35 IBU would lead you to believe. Dry hopped with Citra and Cascade hops there is the presence of hop resins and aromas that do not contribute to the bitterness and help in balancing out the beer’s alcohol.

A Little Crazy is definitely “malt forward,” which accounts for the Belgian in its name. The brewery says that it is golden in color, but I would aim for a little darker hue like copper or amber when describing this particular brew. It is also carbonated a little lighter than more common American Pale Ales, which again I think contributes to its Belgian character. There is definitely some old world influence on this hybrid.

Be careful with this beer because it can sneak up on you. After a few you realize that this is not a session ale and you will find yourself wishing you had ordered a water that last round to clear your head a little bit. Grab a six pack and enjoy on a cool summer evening by the fire:

Purchase 3 Mug Rating

See what others are saying about Revolution Brewing A Little Crazy at Beeradvocate.

Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero IPA

Revolution Brewing should be familiar to anyone who saw the movie Drinking Buddies with Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick. The movie was an unfortunate mumblecore mess for a lot of reasons, most notably that it did not really have an overarching story, but how would the beer taste coming from such a brewery.

Chicago is interesting compared to some of the other big cities in the region because it got a somewhat late start in the whole craft beer scene. Goose Island was a long time player, but it was about the only game in town until recently with the opening of Revolution Brewing and some others like Pipeworks Brewing Company. I guess people really did like throwing down cans of Old Style. Why, dear god, why?

On a recent trip to the Field Museum with my daughter I was able to make a side trip and pick up several six-packs of different beers from Revolution Brewing. First up is Anti-Hero IPA:

Revolution AntiHero

The beer is pretty balanced coming in at 6.5% ABV and 70 IBU. There is no single noticeable or overpowering hop notes, so this is not a beer that tries to grab you by the scruff of your neck and stick your nose in a bouquet of citrus. Smell the grapefruit, hipsters! I digress.

It’s an enjoyable beer, but it is not a memorable beer. It is my contention that to truly be a memorable IPA anyone you have to do something out of the ordinary. It says something about the evolution of beer in the U.S. when a slightly boozy and bitter IPA is nothing to write home to mom about. Then again, it’s not that you have to do something good to be memorable. Sometimes you just have to be colorful.

On the other hand this would be a beer that would be happy to have as your “go to” local six pack. Maybe this is the future of craft beer where regional brewers produce good beers for a limited geographical range and knock out some seasonal or special brews to coincide with local flavors or events.

In the end, it’s a beer you can be confident ordering in place of a freakin’ Old Style while you wait for the Cubs game to start:

Two Mug Purchase

See what others are saying about Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero IPA at Beeradvocate.

Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale

Getting ready to be gone nearly every weekend for the next month, including nine days in Colorado, means that I am not tapping a keg for the better part of a month. To get my beer fix I have been trolling the beer cooler at the liquor store looking for something new.

Amazingly, the shelves are full of new beers from new breweries all of the time. Some of them are good and, of course, some of them are not quite up to snuff. It’s easy to pass over beers from breweries that have been on the shelf for a while. This is the way it is with me and Goose Island.

John Hall, the founder of Goose Island, is a Hawkeye having graduated from the same MBA program as me, but his career path was decidedly different. During b-school we made a trip to Chicago to visit the brewery and have a reception at the brewpub in Lincoln Park. I remember being amazed at some of the beers being made under the Vintage Ales appellation. Matilda, in particular, was a revelation in that a beer with low bitterness and fairly high alcohol could be so drinkable. For a short time I was a big evangelist of Goose Island, but lost some of my fervor as so many new breweries have come on line.

To rectify the situation I picked up a package of 312 Urban Pale Ale:

Urban Pale Ale

This is a well-crafted and balanced pale ale that comes in on the lighter side of things. Of low bitterness (30 IBU), especially for a pale ale in America, and middling alcohol (5.4% ABV) there is not a thing out of place when you drink this beer. It is akin to a “house beer” that is always on tap and always in demand, but not something that people think of when considering a signature beer of the brewery.

Craft beer is odd that way anymore. Gallons of ink and thousands of hours are spent extolling the virtues of increasingly esoteric styles of beer—including by me on this very blog—but the vast majority of craft beer consumed in America is of a very narrow range. It’s not the Pareto principle per se, but I imagine that 20% or less of the labels account for 80% or more of the craft beer sales in America. Think about what you saw people quaffing over the holiday weekend? I remember seeing a lot of Samuel Adams Boston Lager and New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale. This was in Minneapolis where great local beers are available widely.

Nonetheless, we should not discount the appeal of a well-crafted and balanced beer that you can purchase without fear of offending anyone’s tastes. Try that with a sour beer sometime. Overall, well played Goose Island:

Two Mug Purchase

Friday Linkage 10/18/2013

I am sorry that this is going to be a somewhat brief set of links, but I am in Florida on vacation and do not have access to computing resources.  This is not the fault of Florida, although I do love to blame the state for many things, but rather a conscious choice to keep the evils of work related email from ruining my time off.

On to the links…

Florida Panther Bolts from Holding Box into the Wild—Everything in Florida is not bad.  Here is a great picture of a panther, rescued as a kitten, being released into the wild:

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Photo is from the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Hawaiian Monk Seal’s Extraordinary Life Illustrates Conservation Challenges—Kamilo, a 6-month old Hawaiian monk seal, has already had a pretty eventful life.  Recently, the monk seal was relocated to Nihau after playfully nipping some swimmers off the shores of the Big Island.  These critically endangered marine mammals face so many challenges.

The Ambitious Restoration of an Undammed Western River—The slow restoration of the Elwha River in Washington is an amazing story of our capacity to right environmental wrongs.  The story is not complete and the restoration of the watershed has a long way to go, but the seeds are present.

The Secret to Resiliency: Neighbors—When facing a system that degrades into chaos, resiliency is going to be critical.  Too often, however, the systems we design to face chaos are engineered around a single point of failure—the individual.  If you rely on a single person—yourself—to maintain survival you are invariably going to fail.

SolarCity Expects to Install 80% More System in 2014 versus 2013—SolarCity released guidance for FY14 that showed it expects a pretty sporty increase in the number of systems it install in terms of year-over-year change.  This is wicked good because it is putting PV systems on roofs in a visible way that speeds adoption by other interested parties.

Putting Robots to Work in Solar Energy—Every day brings a story about how technology is bringing down the balance of system costs that have remained stubbornly high while panel costs have shrunk dramatically.  For large installations the answer might be robot labor to take care of the tedious tasks.

Norway’s Massive Government Pension Fund might be Invested in Renewables—If you want to talk about a game changer, look no further than Norway’s oil wealth fund or Government Pension Fund.   Currently, it stands at approximately $790B and it might be investing in renewables.  That much money being pumped into the sector would move the needle.

After Sparking Outrage In Detroit, Koch Brothers’ Tar Sands Waste Now Piling Up In Chicago—It looks like the Koch Brothers or their related companies are looking to move the mess of petcoke from the shores of Detroit to Chicago.  Apparently, property along the Calumet River may become home to this nasty crap.

250 Pasta Shapes You Should Know—Just 250?  I will get right on it:

Pasta Pasta

I might have to buy the poster from Pop Chart Labs.

Drought-Hardy Barley Could Save Your Beer—The world is heading toward a future that is hotter and drier, in general, which does not bode well for my beer habit.  Some scientists in Germany are trying to create drought tolerant barley that will allow future generations to enjoy some beer.

Drinking With Your Eyes: How Wine Labels Trick Us Into Buying—Damn marketers, make a label pretty and I want to buy it.  But what about those simple, artisan hipster labels?  Does that repulse me?

Cockroach Farms Multiplying in China—Why do I think that we are going to be reading stories in the not too distant future that talk about Chinese meat being raised on a diet of insect protein?  Granted, the story is about the use of cockroaches in the cosmetic industry and traditional Asian medicines.  I am just waiting for feed blocks to show up at a Smithfield plant comprised of compressed cockroach bodies.

Friday Linkage 10/12/2012

A good and productive week here at the house.  I installed a blower unit on my fireplace, put two batches of beer into carboys, and managed to stay out of trouble at work.  A roaring success.

On to the links…

Activist Tim DeChristopher Released—Tim DeChristopher, the activist who slowed down the leasing of public lands to fossil fuel companies, was released from prison following his sentencing for that very act.  In reality, he was imprisoned because he bid on the leases with no intention of paying and was unrepentant.  Normally, when a corporation cannot pay or chooses not to pay for the bid upon lease rights there is no criminal penalty.  I guess corporations are people too my friend.

Recessions Cannot Save Us from Climate Change—One of the surprising stories to come out of the Great Recession was that carbon emissions fell because people, in general, consumed less stuff.  Too bad that trend is over and carbon emissions are back on the way up.

Antarctic Sea Ice Loss Animated—In case you needed an animated example of why we are cooked.

How Wind Power Helps Lower Electricity Prices—This is not something that you are going to see Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan talk about on the stump when railing against wind power tax credits or brining up Solyndra for the millionth time.  Wind power is a good thing.  End of story.

The Future of Oil and Gas—If you have some time on a cold day, sit down and read this report cover to cover.  It is filled with useful insight into the future of the oil and gas industry as seen from one viewpoint.  I think it also illustrates the cracks and lever points for renewables to exploit going forward.

Chicago Pushes the Limits on Sustainable Streets—Streets are such a huge part of the built environment that reimagining what these landscapes can be is a critical component of creating a better urban environment.

Walking the High Line’s Incomplete Third Section—The High Line in New York City is one of those projects that just seems to get endless press.  I can see why, it’s just such a cool project.  Now every city is going to try and figure out what industrial relic they can turn into a bucolic attraction. Good luck.

Coyotes Next Door—Apparently, coyotes are the pioneer species of larger carnivores to move into human dominated environments.  I always found coyotes more annoying than anything when I lived in rural Minnesota.

Farming the Urban Sea—I just love how this article shows how much potential there is in revitalizing the ocean habitats near our urban centers and what benefits that we can accrue from that process.

If You Want to Feed the World, Stop the Land Grabs—Oxfam and other international agencies just seem like agents for Big Ag and Big Food.  The answers are always the same to the problem of feeding the people.  Just grow more export commodities and then use the money to feed the people.  Wait a second.  Why not use the land to grow food to feed the people and not lose anything in the conversion to hard currency?  Just saying.

Five Acre Farms in New York—I love the idea of a co-op forming to market local foods to a large urban area.  It seems to solve the major problem of local producers integrating into larger supply chains because they do not sell in the volume required to be a supplier.

Video Inside of a McDonald’s Beef Processing Plant—Sure, it’s a Canadian plant doing the process, but you get the idea about how the process works in turning ground beef into burgers for your dollar menu extravaganza.

Twelve Great Posters from When Turning Down the Thermostat was Patriotic—  Man, I love me some propaganda from World War II.  Nothing like being Chilly Willy for the troops: