Interesting, thoughtful stories



Well damn. This gave me an early morning cry. Wow.


I read it and felt… gutted.
Ye gods.

What people do to each other, the cruelties (performative or otherwise), the dogmatic deliberate violence, makes me fear for the future of our species and our planet.

It makes me appreciate (and celebrate) good choices, human kindnesses wherever they can be found, and compassion great and small. Each seems all the more miraculous given that humans can also choose to act in a negative way.


When my grandfather went to enlist during WW2 they asked him what he wanted to do. He said “Kill Germans. I hate Germans.” So they very sensibly put him in an anti-submarine balloon over the Gulf of Mexico where he saw exactly zero action. Because people who want to kill and who hate like that should not be given the tools of war. Soldiers should be reluctant.

[I have no idea what his beef was, and he was otherwise a very nice old man when I knew him.]


FTA, this memorial to the dead young wimmin:

Sitting on a memorial bench near what is now Heath Middle School, Hadley Ellegood, 40, who still lives in Paducah and works in real estate, takes solace in knowing that her sister and the other victims are remembered in a place so calming and peaceful.

“This feels like a safe place,” she said.

What world may be in store for us when students might seek refuge from an active shooter in the memorial or monument erected to honor those who died at a a school shooting?

Ok ok I think I better get on with the chores today, working outside, sweating copiously in the crazy Texas heat.


Tell me I am not simply projecting… this is the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Dealey Plaza, in Dallas, Texas:


After the fact. Of course.


I had one of the shooting victims interviewed in that article when they became a college student. It was incredible to me how normal the kid was, considering. But they went on to dedicate their life to trying to stop that stuff from happening again.



As others here have pointed out, it’s the bullies, not the bullied, who go on to cause the problems.


I don’t know why they seem surprised. They nail it right in the article:

Since the fall of 2020, Jack Daniel’s, Old Forester, Maker’s Mark, Kentucky Owl, Bulleit, and more have lost some of their top talent.

Another way to phrase that:

Since the fall of 2020, massive corporations Brown-Forman, Brown-Forman, Beam Suntory, Stoli Group, Diageo, and more have lost some of their top talent.

Jeff Arnett, formerly of Jack Daniel’s spells it out:

at the end of the day you were an employee of Brown-Forman and that came with certain limitations and frustrations, corporate politics and things,” Arnett says.

Yep, working for big corporations sucks. Opening your own distillery is a dream, in many ways.

This one is a bit interesting, though:

The recent trend of resignations was preceded, seven years ago, by the departure of Woodford Reserve rising star Marianne Eaves (then Marianne Barnes) to join craft startup Castle & Key, which she subsequently left four years later.

Barnes/Eaves was a rock star in the distilling world when she left Woodford, and Kentucky was practically breathless, following her every move and utterance. Newspapers, not just trade papers, wrote lengthy pieces about her, touting her as “Kentucky Bourbon’s First Female Master Distiller.” (Originally it was “First Female Master Distiller,” but then it turned out that there were a few, pre-Prohibition, and one or two in recent years outside of Kentucky, so it was trimmed back to “Kentucky Bourbon’s First.”). That she was young, blonde-haired, and pretty helped out. There wasn’t a similar level of hype around Victoria Eady Butler, the first Black woman Master Blender, and we don’t hear much about Nathan “Nearest” Green, the slave who taught Jack Daniel to make whiskey

Barnes, though, could do nothing but “disappoint.” She was placed on such a high pedestal, with such unachievable expectations, that it wouldn’t have mattered if her first few batches were the Elixir of the Gods, it would never be as good as the hype suggested. She made very good bourbon. But in the atmosphere created around the opening of Castle & Key (a specialized garden to produce aromatics on-site, a beautiful restoration of the Old Taylor Distillery for Castle & Key, etc) it became cool to disparage Castle & Key, early on. “Yeah, it’s fine, but it’s not as good as it could be” was a common comment at tastings. She eventually left, and joined a circus. Well, helps run one, with her husband. This makes a funny kind of progression, though: she left Brown-Forman, a known hellhole, to renovate the abandoned Old Taylor Distillery, which was a literal snakepit before they began renovations, and then ran off to join the circus.

Anyway, the Great Resignation stuff in distilling is interesting to me, if unsurprising. Barnes is a great distiller, and I’m sorry she’s out of the production side of bourbon. I’m glad she’s still doing education stuff.

Castle & Key:


I’ve been noticing an increasing number of stories like this, as an effort to raise awareness and find new consumers:


These are great stories, and I’m really glad to see them. There are simialr networks for brewing. For example:

The absolute insanity surrounding Marianne Eaves’ (then Barnes) departure from Woodford and the beginnings of Castle & Key was a full 11. It was good in some ways, but it was a lot of unrealistic pressure. And, came at a time when there were other women trailblazers in the industry.

The industry is hard on women, and hard on people of color. Hollis Bulleit, scioness of the Bullet whiskey family, was fired from Diago-Bulleit, and says it was because she was on out lesbian. I don’t doubt it for a second, despite Diageo being a supposedly LGBTQ-friendly place to work (for the 14th year in a row, it received a perfect score from the Corporate Equality Index).


Episode 7 Ugh GIF by The Bachelor


Something, something, eye of a needle, camel, something


Ok, this is increasing my interest in groups that want to tax churches. The line between a charity and a political action or lobbying group has been blurred too often. I wish the tax revenue that could be generated through a stronger ban (as well as fines and penalties) was enough of an incentive to get changes passed by Congress.


Interesting, accessible take on the wild things happening to Western economies over the past several years.

The authorities are panicking. Corporate chieftains are demanding that their employees return to the way things were, in-person, in-office, full time. The federal government is hiring 87,000 new IRS employees to see about all that money out there. The Federal Reserve is trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube – the fastest pace of interest rate hikes in four decades and the concurrent unwind of their massive balance sheet. Everyone is scrambling to undo the post-pandemic jubilee. It was too much wealth in too many hands. Too much flexibility for too many people. Too many options. Too much economic liberation. “Companies can’t find workers!” the media screams but what they really mean is that companies can’t find workers who will accept the pay they are currently offering. This is a problem, we are told. After decades of stagnating wages, the bottom half of American workers finally found themselves in a position of bargaining power – and the whole system is now imploding because of it. Only took a year or so.

The War on Inflation™ is the new War on Drugs. In the 1980’s they were willing to sacrifice entire cities and communities to the War on Drugs. A million brothers and sons behind bars, a million children in fatherless homes in service to some nebulous goal of a drug-free society that’s never actually existed at any time in human history. We figured out how to ferment barley to get intoxicated more than 13,000 years ago, which predates the invention of the wheel for god’s sake. The War on Drugs had less of a chance of working than Prohibition did. We went ahead and destroyed countless lives with it anyway.

Now we have a new war.


On the topic of these wild things, there’s a paper that’s really changed my thinking. It’s paywalled, but s-c i cough h u -b

Thompson’s paper has a super explanation for why raising interest rates will do little against inflation.

He starts with the growth, in developed economies, of “stagnant services” (e.g. health care, education, restaurants, personal services) to over half the jobs. These are “stagnant” because (1) their prices cannot be raised, due to competition or public policy, (2) profit margins are slim, and (3) they are “hands on”, so no automation works. A feedback loop starts in the industries which do benefit from automation; high productivity has, over time, greatly reduced their need for labour. Stagnant services have picked up the employment slack since the 80’s, but these have little room for wage growth because of (1-3). Workers can move between jobs, but higher wages don’t happen because industrial jobs are more scarce, and service work is not as productive.

I’ll refer you to Thompson for the details (and feel quite free to skip the math in sections 6 and 7: he does a really good job, if you’ll take it from me). He shows that all of the usual reasons given for long-run low inflation (lower union membership, globalization, a slack labour market, monetary policy, etc.) do not reliably explain it. The increase in stagnant services turns out to be the best explanation for the low wage growth and, with that, low inflation of the last 40 years.

This also means that raising interest rates to fight inflation is an idea based on assumptions from a 1950’s to 1970’s economy that no longer exists. In turn, we are left to rely on spending and tax policy to fix our economic problems.

That fix, of course, needs politicians with talent and good will… leading to our next problem…

I found Thompson’s paper through a link in:


Very cool story. Thanks @milliefink