Sunday, July 24, 2011

Russian Beer and Other Ephemera from the Farm

I have often wondered why, under the Russian Orthodox tradition, as I understand it (and if I understand it), beer is not prohibited on fast days. I chalked that one up in mirth as a nod to needing to allow folks to "maintenance" a little and not have DTs in liturgy on a Sunday morning in a nation of prolific spirits drinkers.

Whatever the reason, I also note that Russia has only just reclassified beer (and other beverages less than 10% ABV) as alcoholic beverages. This suggests there has been a strong social inclination in Russia to view beer as a quite ordinary beverage, like water, to be consumed regularly.

Well - in any case, one wonders what, in a truly organic North American Orthodoxy, would be appropriate selections of allowed and disallowed items during fasting periods.


Speaking of beer, I've been brewing my own. I have gone the novice/lazy man's route of buying malt extract. I am just not up to cracking my own grains and malting the stuff, for now. I've made some pretty tolerable batches from the Woodforde's Ale kits.

I am looking forward, after a two-year hiatus, to making a sizeable crush for wine this year.


It's been a terribly cool summer - but the broccoli has been prolific as a result. Early lettuce did quite well. Not much else to report on the gardening front.


We expect to be able to sell 5 lambs for slaughter this year, with one kept back for home consumption.


Our chicken flock has now increased to over 20 hens, and one unexpected rooster. No one in the family except me has the heart to cull the rooster, so I guess he's staying to crow and manage his large harem.


One of the many nice birthday presents of the year: the Wondermill Junior Deluxe hand-powered grain mill. Looking forward to the first batch of a batter-style Entire Wheat Bread with freshly milled flour this week.


We bit the bullet this year, after having some roof leaks, and spent money on re-roofing the house, which included new gutters. God-willing this particular essential maintenance item will last us for a long-long time to come.


The Congress is at an impasse, with no good choices before them, having been maneuvered into a corner. While I tend to think the Icelandic approach to the banks and financiers of the world might be a good thing, perhaps it's different when your country has the reigns of the global reserve currency, and could risk losing that privileged status through missteps. This next week will be interesting, as the foreign exchange and Asian markets are already opening.

Debt-based-indentured-servitude abounds in the world; few of us are immune (I'm certainly not).



Friday, July 01, 2011

Large Protests in Syria and Economic Woes May Hit Close to Home Come August

In Syria there are massive protests against the regime. Note that there has long been a wary alliance between Alawis and various non-Sunni groups, including Christians, which has allowed a stifled, yet pluralistic country. The large majority in Syria are Sunni.

How all of this will play out for Christians is hard to say.

In other news, something like $400+ billion in US Treasuries are set to mature in August alone - meaning that the Treasury has to issue new debt which is then sold to generate $$ to pay off the maturing debt and interest. Oh, add to that the current account payments (Medicare, Social Security, VA, Pensions, Military pay, Federal Pay, contract payments, etc., etc.). Oh, but we're right up on the debt ceiling already at ~$14.5 trillion. Treasury can't issue new debt without some headroom.

Did you see that New Jersey avoided the normal public funding process and instead ran to JPMorgan for a ~$2.5 billion loan to cover their budget gap (bridge financing - heh). And the State of Minnesota is going into the holiday with a budget crisis and looming government shutdown.

Some will say - so what? We look to the Lord! Indeed. But I think we are watching a societal change as fundamental as that which happened in the years from about 1910-1920. I think that power structures, governmental structures, and economic structures are all in line for massive changes, and a lot of this may be very unpleasant - leading to potential totalitarian regimes, possibly hard line fascism or other oppressive ideologies, and misery for many. Sometimes it seems the Church is asleep through all of this, conducting its insular meetings and conventions and writing contests without giving much thought to what's on. I will class myself here too. We have 44.7M people on foodstamps in this country, an unprecedented figure. We have millions in foreclosure or having been foreclosed out of houses. We have high jobless rates and inflation - higher than the "official" and manipulated stats. Are we looking to help any of these folks?

For my part, I am changing my practice to focus more on foreclosure relief work. As one blogger writes:

When you socialize the losses and privatize the gains for a powerful few, when you reward the perpetrators and punish the innocent and unsophisticated victims of fraud, when you idolize greed, selfishness and deception and vilify simple hard work and honest decency, how can one really expect a healthy, vibrant economy? You are birthing a monster.

Austerity will not improve this picture, and will inflict intense misery on the growing number of unfortunates. They know this, but they don't care. When the oppressed react, there will be calls to put them down, to subdue them, savagely. Provoke and react. Never waste a crisis, and if you need it, create one.

This is the road to hell.

The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustained recovery.

From Jesse's Café Américain