That Fearful Demon Alcohol

This morning I went to buy some stuff downstairs. I came across some manchego, and decided it would be complemented very nicely by a cabernet from Washington State – a region I’ve heard much about but so far haven’t tasted.

Alas, the cashier pointed out that it wasn’t yet 11:00 (it was 10:30 or so) and he was therefore not permitted to sell me a bottle of wine on a Sunday morning. I asked if this regulation applied to the entire land of the free, or only in Chicago. It seems to be one of those quirky local rules I’ve learned it’s better not to ask too much about.

There’s a similar local law which makes sure that even after 11:00 on Sunday mornings “underage” adult cashiers are not permitted to touch a bottle of wine on the conveyor belt: they call for an older colleague to pick up the bottle, pass it over the scanner, and place it in the bag. That last step isn’t optional, either. I don’t need to carry my stuff very far and have on occasion successfully insisted on carrying a bottle without a paper bag, but it’s been a struggle so now I generally just let them have their way.

Drug regulation is hard to get right. It’s a confusing web of dilemmas and trade-offs. The Chicago pseudo-embargo on alcohol is obviously pointless (or is it? It’s hard to guess just what the inciters are trying to achieve), but at least it’s mildly amusing and doesn’t cause any harm aside from a bit of shopping inconvenience.

General Aviation

A comment posted on the AOPA’s web site made me think about changing priorities:

“General Aviation is in a graveyard spiral […] Fuel prices, aircraft, parts and maintenance costs, and, of course safety are all major factors. As is declining interest in flying. It’s no longer novel or new. On a recent trip, the school children were not interested in my airplane, or my KTM dirt bike. They were interested in my iPhone 5.

Younger school kids are likely more interested in a smart phone because it’s something they can relate to, something they can aspire to get their hands on at their age. That might explain it. But even amongst older people, I notice most are not really interested in airplanes. Planes are something you ride in to get from A to B, like buses. In much the same way, I think interest in cars is declining (at least interest in different brands and models of cars).

When air travelers feel uncomfortable…

…it’s not always due to the leg room or the obese passenger in the aisle seat (see “Arijit Vs. Delta”).

I have the greatest disdain for the security theatre at airports. Sadly, it’s taken to extremes at US airports. I’ve never understood why the majority of passengers not only endure the humiliation of being herded around like kindergarten children, but many become quite defensive when someone (not necessarily me) has a bit of harmless fun with checkpoint procedures or etiquette.


If your everyday life doesn’t provide you enough opportunities to experience passive-aggressive behaviour, covert aggression or emotional manipulation in general, consider getting married. Marriage seems to drive people to new heights in this area, both in dishing out and dealing with it. When you tire of the same-old, same-old manoeuvres, children can add some interesting new twists. And they don’t even need to be able to talk to play important roles.
I just can’t develop a taste for it. I can’t imagine anyone really likes those aspects of a formal relationship, but I suppose most people are able to end up labelling them a price worth paying.