Friday, June 22, 2012

Earth, Sun, Planets, Moons

On this day in 1633, Galileo Galilei is found guilty of heresy for his view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe and would spend the rest of his life under house arrest.

File:Justus Sustermans - Portrait of Galileo Galilei, 1636.jpg,_1636.jpg

On this day in 1978, an American astronomer working at the U.S. Naval Observatory, discovers a new moon orbiting planet Pluto.

James Christy, while reexamining photographic plates marked poor quality because of an elongated image of Pluto, thought he saw something different. Using his previous experience of photographing double stars, Christy began to examine more of the defective plates and came upon the idea that what he was looking at was the slight image of yet another moon orbiting the planet.

Going back into the observatory archives of photographs, Christy finds more of these marked photos and noticed that the slight elongation appeared with regularity and corresponded to Pluto's rotation, making his theory of a new moon even more possible. The proof would come when Pluto and the possible moon would make a series of eclipses and transits that would occur twice in Pluto's 248 year orbit around the sun. Fortunately for Christy this would occur between 1985 and 1990.

In 1990 images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope showed Pluto and the moon resolved into separate disks proving Christy's theory.

1990 photograph of Pluto and Charon. Taken by the Hubble Telescope.

1994 image of Pluto and Charon (right) from ESA/Dornier FOC on the NASA Hubble

Back in 1978, Christy suggested the moon be named Charon after his wife Charlene's nickname, "Char".

Charon also happens to be the name of the ferryman of the dead of Greek mythology, who brings souls across the river Styx in the underworld ruled by the god Hades, whom the Romans identified with their god Pluto.

Unfortunately, the future was not so bright for the new moon of Pluto. Controversy began regarding Pluto's status as a planet and when the The Hayden Planetarium reopened after a renovation in 2000 it displayed a model of only eight planets. In 2006 Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet and Charon, a satellite of it.

The Historical Inebriant:  The Charon          


1 oz Vodka
1 oz Cherry Brandy
1 oz Orange Juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a glass.


June is LBGT Pride Month

As always, have a great and safe weekend, see you all on Monday!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

...but I'll know it when I see it, Miller v. California and Obscene Drinks

On this day in 1973, the Supreme Court handed down their decision in Miller v. California and established the Miller Test for obscenity in U.S. law.

Miller v. California brought the question before the court as to whether or not the sale and distribution of obscene material (i.e. hardcore pornography) was protected under the First Amendment's guarantee of Freedom of Speech. The court ruled that it was not, but acknowledged "the inherent dangers of undertaking to regulate any form of expression," and that "State statutes designed to regulate obscene materials must be carefully limited."

Leaving the regulation of obscenity to the individual states, the court issued the Miller Test as guidlines to use in what would be considered obscene or not in the eyes of the court, thus negating the phrase, "I can't tell you what obscenity is, but I know it when I see it."

Here is the 3 part Miller Test:

  1. whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
  2. whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law; 
  3. "whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

The controversy continues, as it has always done, with the works of Robert Mapplethorpe as a recent example. I do believe, that the days of banning books (think James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller) for obscenity reasons has passed. (Think 50 Shades of Grey)

While not recommending any single drink today, let's toast to the dirty, nearly obscene drinks.
Pick one that appeals to your prurient interests and (applying contemporary community standards of course) preferably one that "taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

The Historical Inebriant:  Dirty Drinks          

Truly Filthy Drink Names

13 Dirty Drink Recipes: Cocktail Names That Should Not Be Uttered at a Work Conference

David Vance has written a veritable compendium titled
"Cocktails and Shooters with Dirty Names"  you can preview it here

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Time of Troubles, The Black Hole of Calcutta, The Tall Black Russian and Summer begins

The Time of Troubles refers to an especially dark time in Russian history (1598-1513). It comprised the time of the famine (1601-1613) that killed two million people (roughly one third of the population), the death of several tsars and the ensuing power struggles and social unrest.

On this day in 1605, after serving only three months as tsar following the sudden death of his father, the then 16-year-old Feodor II of Russia is assassinated.

Groomed to take the throne from an early age, Feodor II received the finest education available and was initiated into all aspects of government, even sitting in regularly to council meetings. Possessing remarkable intelligence, Feodor II created a very accurate map of Russia, which is still preserved.


The Historical Inebriant: Tall Black Russian          


1 ½ oz Vodka
¾ oz Kahlua

To a tall glass with ice, add Vodka and Kahlua and stir. Top with Cola.


On this day in 1756, A British garrison is imprisoned in a small dungeon located at Fort William in Calcutta, India. It would later be known as the Black Hole of Calcutta.

The British East India Company built Fort William to protect their business interests in the city of Calcutta.
However, in 1756, with the possibility of a conflict with with nearby French forces, the British built up the Fort Williams troop strength and defenses. Siraj ud-Daulah who ruled the sovereign province of Bengal, perceived the military buildup at the fort a threat to the independence of Bengal and ordered an immediate stop to the Fort's enhancement. The East India Company paid no heed and Siraj had his army surround and laid siege to the fort. 

The story goes that many of the soldiers at the fort managed to escape before the fort was overrun but after the fort was taken, 146 prisoners were held overnight in the small cramped dungeon (less than 20 sq ft), with limited air, no room to move and no water.  When released the next day, only 23 remained alive.  

The Black Hole of Calcutta


Welcome to the first day of summer!


As a side note, and I just found out about this, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, today was world orgasm day, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere it's December 21st.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

For the love of the game...

On this day in 1846, the first officially recorded, organized baseball match is played at Elysian Fields, New Jersey. The New York Base Ball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1.

The Historical Inebriant:  Bailey's Baseball Bash          


1 oz. Baileys Original Irish Cream (25 oz. per bottle)
1 oz. iced coffee
1 oz. white crème de cacao
1 pinch(es) salt

Shake and strain over ice.


Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese politician and Nobel laureate was born on this day in 1945.

A very Happy Birthday to her!

(see our April 13th post)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weep not for that man for he has said, "There is no God.''

On this day in 1178, Fratello Gervase, the chronicler of the Abbey of Canterbury wrote down the accounts from five of the abbey's monks who were out that evening and looking at the moon. Gervase chronicled, what is possibly the Giordano Bruno crater being formed.  His entry read:

"This year on the 18th of June, when the Moon, a slim crescent, first became visible, a marvelous phenomenon was seen by several men who were watching it. Suddenly, the upper horn of the crescent was split in two. From the mid point of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out over a considerable distance fire, hot coals and sparks. The body of the Moon which was below, writhed like a wounded snake. This happened a dozen times or more, and when the Moon returned to normal, the whole crescent took on a blackish appearance."

A large impact crater (measuring 22 km in diameter) Giordano Bruno is a large crater whose outer rim is especially bright, compared to its surroundings. What is very strange is, how it was named, considering the above paragraph.

Giordano Bruno(born 1548) was 15 years old when joined the ministry, but renounced his vows a year later since he believed in the Copernican model and proposed that the Sun was essentially a star, and that the universe contained an infinite number of worlds many that were populated by other intelligent beings.

 In 1592, he was imprisoned in Italy and asked him if he would recant.  When he refused, they ordered his execution.  His reply was  "Perhaps it is with more fear that you deliver my sentence than I receive it." 

He was then brought to the center of town, tied to a stake and on February 17, 1600, he was burned to death.

It has been suggested that Shelley had Bruno in mind when he wrote the following passage....

"'I was an infant when my mother went
To see an atheist burned. She took me there.
The dark-robed priests were met around the pile;
The multitude was gazing silently;
And as the culprit passed with dauntless mien,
Tempered disdain in his unaltering eye,
Mixed with a quiet smile, shone calmly forth;
The thirsty fire crept round his manly limbs;
His resolute eyes were scorched to blindness soon;
His death-pang rent my heart! the insensate mob
Uttered a cry of triumph, and I wept.
'Weep not, child!' cried my mother, 'for that man
Has said, There is no God.''" [Queen Mab, section VII, lines 1-13.]

The Historical Inebriant:  The Monk's Hood          


1/2 oz Amarula Cream
1/2 oz Frangelico
1/2 oz Kahlua

Serve in a chilled tall shot glass. Frangelico in first, then layer Amarula Cream then finally top it with Kahula.


On this day in 1429, the French forces under the leadership of Joan of Arc defeat the English army at the Battle of Patay, turning the tide of the Hundred Years' War.


"The Sorrows of Gin"
On this day in 1982, American author John Cheever dies at age 70 from cancer complications.

An interesting article on Cheever:

Drinking made simpler... A Summer drink generator!

A shout out to my brother for this one!  A great tool to keep your cocktail drink list simple and fresh from the folks at The New York Times!

Check it out, use it, let me know how it works for you!

Summer Drinks

If you’re hosting a cocktail party, don’t just use whatever spirits you have around the house. Instead, consider picking up a modifier like orange Curaçao, Bénédictine, maraschino or Campari; paired with a base spirit like rye whiskey, along with citrus, vermouth or a dash of bitters, you have a number of classic drinks at hand. To start mixing, select one of those modifiers at left in the cocktail generator below. If you click the randomize button, we’ll mix it for you. Then share your drink using the Twitter and Facebook links. — JIM MEEHAN