Monday, November 29, 2010

Other ways of knowing...

The whole science is not the only way of knowing gambit is something that has bugged me for ages. I've even had it pulled on me before, it seems to be related to the ye olde science doesn't know everything and it's all just a theory gambits that are often used in an attempt to knock science. I find it pleasing therefore to see that a few deconstruction of it have started appearing in the blogosphere.

The best one so far I found is by Russel Blackford at metamagician. The core of the argument is that it is a straw man. There are a variety of tools that people use. Specialized tasks require specialized tools. This is what scientists have, an assortment of methods that are used to figure out what is going in the world around us. Then again, it is also what historians have, a different set of tools, but a set of tools none the less, which are designed for figuring out something about the world.

So there is no problem when science readily admits that its not the only way of knowing things. Pretty much any scientist will admit this, it's only people who are trying to discredit science (usually when a study comes out that completely debunks whatever it is they are doing) who raise this objection. Science is one of the ways of knowing things which falls under the heading of rational discourse. Historians have valid ways of finding out things about history after all. The point that most who advance this argument miss though, is that Just because there is more than one way of knowing things, does not mean that all potential ways of knowing things are. Knowledge gained by revelation is not knowledge. There is nothing to back it up. Whereas the historian will be able to point to the structure of their body of knowledge, demonstrate how their view was arrived at and provide evidence. The can only say "God says so". Halfway between the two (or probably, mostly towards the divine revelation side of the equation) is homeopathy, which can only point to a completely implausible (i.e not rational) and discredited body of work to justify their supposed knowledge.

This definitely goes in the category of responses that I have to remember.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stoke, the new beer in town.

I was initially wondering how I was going to make this not sound like a press release. Now, I figure that should be easy, given that the only background info this beer that I can find is an "article" on the stuff website. A quick peruse of the first paragraphs tells me that particular article is going to be a waste of time. Which is pity, because the beer most certainly isn't. Or at least, the one that I have tried isn't. Ever noticed how reviewers tend to go on about Reinheitsgebot, as if anyone who actually cares about beer isn't painfully aware of them (admittedly, probably because reviewers and marketers tend to go on about them). Pretty much all decent brewers I imagine, are paying some degree of attention to them, it's not really a point of difference anymore. It's a baseline, but it's still possible to make a crap beer with them, the skill of the brewer and the actual recipe are more important.

And the McCashin family, who are brew Stoke, appear to know their stuff. As everyone will soon be well aware (due to reviewers and marketers going on about it), they are the ones who created Macs beer, before selling it to Lion Breweries were it went seriously downhill - even though it got a little better in recent years with the introduction of Brewjolauis and Hop Rocker. The weekend past, I had the opportunity of trying the Stoke Gold. Well worth it people. A dollar or two more expensive than Macs and worth every penny. A good solid body to the flavor. Which admittedly doesn't tell you much. This isn't a review though, it's a recommendation. As in, go and try some. Next payday I'll be popping down to the Kingsland Liquor Center to grab myself a six pack of the Stoke Amber.

I have to admit to becoming ever more satisfied with the state of beer in NZ. The big boys can put out a decent drop when they try i.e. Macs Hop Rocker - even though most of the rest of the Macs range is worth steering well clear of. More to the point, we're getting some decent smaller breweries that are putting out good beer that isn't to hard to find. The Tuatara brewery has been putting out some fine brews, particularly the IPA and the Helles Lager. I just hope they concentrate on promoting the fine beers they currently brew rather than continually bring new ones out. And if the other Stoke beers are as good as Gold, this coming summer should be a fine one.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

mmmmm bacon.....

I am beginning to suspect that it is significantly easier to write about things that annoy me. If I had to guess I'd say this would be because I care. Obviously, if I didn't care, I wouldn't be annoyed by them. There are however, things that I care about that I don't get particularly annoyed by. Again, guessing here, but I'm thinking that it's because no one is trashing those things at the moment. So I figured I should try putting something up once a week about things that I like. Where to start then? I figure I'll start with my 3 descriptors. One piece each week on each of them. One on a piece of science, one on some form of baking/cooking and one on some form of alcohol.

The first piece we have on rotation then is cooking. Or maybe it's more preserving. In particular, bacon. There's a chap called Nigel down in the Hawkes Bay somewhere. I go through phases of reading his blog curious kai, but I've just added it to my rss feeds so I'll be a little more regular in catching them. The method for making bacon works spectacularly. I changed it slightly when doing mine, unrolling a piece of rolled pork loin I got from the Westmere Butchery (pretty much Auckland's best butchery as far as I'm concerned). The couple of time's I've used the maple syrup recipe,
1/2 cup of salt
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of brown sugar
mix them all, rub them into the pork and let it sit for a week or so, turning it over every couple of days, taking it out of the resulting liquid, letting it sit for a day then smoking it with apple wood chips on the barbecue. turns out rather spectacular it does. Mine is a tad salty (but still scrummy) I think, but that'll be because I've only been using a kilo of meat where Nigel's pieces of pork belly look significantly larger than that.

I'll admit, it's not actually cheaper than buying bacon. It is however, a lot more fun. And given that it takes a while and doesn't involve yeast or or random bacteria, it might be a good candidate to accompany the whole day activity that making cheese becomes. The point being, find yourself a spare day and try it. Having planned at least a week in advance.

Good things.

 Life is ticking along nicely. School is finished. I've got a little bit of interesting work on. A couple of job prospects in the offing. Even though today is a tad overcast, summer is coming. I have to say, the mind is wandering. Mostly towards Moehau. Only a couple of weeks now and  I'll have my first trip down to Moehau for the season. Being November and it being a mountain stream, it will probably still be a tad cold for a dip. I'm not entirely sure that will stop us though.

After which of course, I get let loose on the coal range and end up sending everyone to sleep with too much food.

Anticipation builds.