1) Beer labels in motion. Thanks to all who sent links to this delightful Tumblr site, which includes animations of a number of favorite beer labels, like the one above for the also-delightful Little Sumpin' from Lagunitas. Inexplicably, I once saw a lone bottle of Little Sumpin' on sale in Beijing. I could not imagine that it had had a wholesome journey there, so I passed it by.
2) India 'Session' Ales. This is a brewing style I hadn't known about, and that sounds promising. Today's hop-conscious craft brewing world is overall a big step forward in realizing the full potential of human excellence. But often extra hops, which up to a point I am looking for, come in combination with extra-high alcohol levels, which I can do without. CraftBeer.com reports on ISAs that supposedly convey the taste of our beloved hop-blessed IPA family without all the extra ABV percentage. I look forward to checking them out.
3) Think before you drink. A sad story from Spain, where a speed-drinking contest among beer enthusiasts crowns a winner only to see him keel over and die. Who could have imagined that drinking the equivalent of 18 bottles of beer within 20 minutes might be risky in any way? Still, condolences.
4) Baltika Brew. Now I know that Baltika is a big European brewing combine, founded in St. Petersburg and since 2008 mainly owned by Carlsberg of Denmark.
But I didn't know that yesterday, when I was trudging along Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg and, just in time, caught a glimpse down a side street of this welcome sign. For the next hour, my wife and I imagined that we had stumbled across the local equivalent of Great Leap brewery in Beijing, or the Boxing Cat brewpub in Shanghai, or Hangar 24 in Redlands: that is, a great new independent craft brewery that burnishes an already appealing town. The dusky ambience, the prominently displayed brewing kegs, and above all the (good) beers tapped straight from the kegs nursed us along in this quaint brew-pub fantasy.
And even now that I know that Baltika is part of a giant operation, I don't care. Check it out when you're in the vicinity.
5) Why we love financiers, chapter 4,275. An interesting though heart-rending report from MSN Money explains why big banks' stockpiling of aluminum supplies, in hopes of creating artificial shortages and ramping up the price, has caused major problems for brewers around the world. Read and weep -- including the detail that packaging accounts for nearly a quarter of the cost of a normal six-pack.
6) Why we love America, chapter four million. Certifying the current era's role as the Golden Age of Beer, a reader shows the beers he tried on a recent visit to Montana. Perhaps with dangers like those in item #3 in mind, he clarifies, "not all at the same time."
7) Sharknado-themed. Because I can't resist:
From afar, and in specific from inside the half-lit beerhall beneath that Baltika sign off Nevsky Prospekt, cheers! Amid our other woes give thanks for a still-improving, increasingly worldwide, golden age of beer.
James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne.
It’s a paradox: Shouldn’t the most accomplished be well equipped to make choices that maximize life satisfaction?
There are three things, once one’s basic needs are satisfied, that academic literature points to as the ingredients for happiness: having meaningful social relationships, being good at whatever it is one spends one’s days doing, and having the freedom to make life decisions independently.
But research into happiness has also yielded something a little less obvious: Being better educated, richer, or more accomplished doesn’t do much to predict whether someone will be happy. In fact, it might mean someone is less likely to be satisfied with life.
That second finding is the puzzle that Raj Raghunathan, a professor of marketing at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, tries to make sense of in his recent book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?Raghunathan’s writing does fall under the category of self-help (with all of the pep talks and progress worksheets that that entails), but his commitment to scientific research serves as ballast for the genre’s more glib tendencies.
For some, abandoning expensive urban centers would be a huge financial relief.
Neal Gabler has been a formative writer for me: His Winchell: Gossip, Power, and the Culture of Celebrity was one of the books that led me to think about leaving scholarship behind and write nonfiction instead, and Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination was the first book I reviewed as a freelance writer. To me, he exemplifies the best mix of intensive archival research and narrative kick.
So reading his recent essay, "The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans," was a gut punch: First, I learned about a role model of mine whose talent, in my opinion, should preclude him from financial woes. And, then, I was socked by narcissistic outrage: I, too, struggle with money! I, too, am a failing middle-class American! I, too, am a writer of nonfiction who should be better compensated!
Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I’m one of them.
Since 2013,the Federal Reserve Board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.
The team, which had 5,000-to-1 odds of winning the English Premier League, has pulled off the biggest upset in sports history.
Much to everyone’s disbelief, the Leicester City soccer club was crowned the champion of the English Premier League Monday.
The team’s chances last summer were small, to say the least. Back then, William Hill, a British betting group, put the odds of the Foxes of Leicester City, a fledgling team based two hours north of London, of winning at 5,000-to-1. Essentially, the team had a .0002 percent chance of being the best team in the league of 20. Except for the 25 people who bet a combined total of just $243 on the team through William Hill, no one expected this from Leicester City.
Here’s some perspective: William Hill once put the odds of Elvis being found alive and well at 2,000-to-1 and an acknowledgment by the U.S. government that the first moon landing was faked at 500-to-1.
Three Atlantic staffers discuss “Home,” the second episode of the sixth season.
Every week for the sixth season of Game of Thrones, Christopher Orr, Spencer Kornhaber, and Lenika Cruz will be discussing new episodes of the HBO drama. Because no screeners are being made available to critics in advance this year, we'll be posting our thoughts in installments.
The U.S. president talks through his hardest decisions about America’s role in the world.
Friday, August 30, 2013, the day the feckless Barack Obama brought to a premature end America’s reign as the world’s sole indispensable superpower—or, alternatively, the day the sagacious Barack Obama peered into the Middle Eastern abyss and stepped back from the consuming void—began with a thundering speech given on Obama’s behalf by his secretary of state, John Kerry, in Washington, D.C. The subject of Kerry’s uncharacteristically Churchillian remarks, delivered in the Treaty Room at the State Department, was the gassing of civilians by the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.
The newly discovered worlds are now the most promising targets in the search for life among the stars—and the race to take a closer look at them has begun.
The robot telescope settles on its target, a star that sits closer than all but a tiny fraction of the tens of billions of stellar systems that make up the Milky Way. Its mirror grabs light for 55 seconds, again and again. The robot telescope—called TRAPPIST—will observe the star for 245 hours across sixty-two nights, making 12,295 measurements. Eleven times, it will see the star dim, ever so slightly. This dip in luminosity, called a transit, has a straightforward astronomical explanation: It’s a planet passing in front of the star, blocking just a bit of its light. In this case, the transits tell us that 3 planets orbit the star.
“So what?” you might think.
Astronomers have been spotting planets around distant stars for years now, using the transit method, among others. Not a month goes by without a headline, touting the discovery of new “exoplanets.” But these planets are different, and not only because they’re near. Like the Earth these planets could potentially permit liquid water to persist on their surfaces—which is thought to be a key pre-condition for the emergence of life. Today, when their discovery is published in Nature, they will instantly become the most promising planets yet found in the search for life among the stars.
The Shiite cleric and his supporters are likely to say he never went anywhere in the first place.
The man who went from being described as a “pest” to “the most dangerous man in Iraq” is back—though Moqtada al-Sadr and his supporters are likely to say he never went anywhere in the first place. The Shiite cleric’s supporters stormed Baghdad’s supposedly secure Green Zone on Saturday and took over Parliament, demanding improved public services and an end to corruption. They left Sunday, on Sadr’s orders, after ISIS attacked an Iraqi city. Their departure avoided further destabilizing the predominantly Shia government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, but the protests not only raised questions about whether the government can stand, it also showed that Iraq’s turmoil has sources beyond Sunni-Shia sectarian divisions.