Thursday, 18 December 2008
SCREWING AROUND ON-LINE
Would you rather be doing this (i.e. being on the internet) or having
According to a newly released research study which I saw
in today's New York Daily News, a lot of people would just as soon stay
right in front of their computer. Take a look (and don't you love the
Intel Corp. survey: Nearly 1/2 of all women and
1/3 of men prefer the Internet to sex
Tuesday, December 16th 2008, 8:30
Yes, you read that
headline right. No, it's not a gimmick.
48 percent of women and 30 percent of men prefer
the Internet to sex, according to a new study by Intel Corp.
The study asked more than 2,000 adults what they
would rather give up for a period of two weeks, the Internet or sex.
Turns out, a lot of them would rather give up
sex. (This begs the question: where can we find out what they're surfing
the Web for?!)
The survey also found:
58 percent of adults would give up watching TV
for two weeks rather than have to give up Internet access for only one
65 percent of adults said they cannot live
without Internet access
39 percent said they couldn't live
without cable TV and 20 percent couldn't live without dining
Only 10 percent said they couldn't live
without a gym membership.
I can't say I'm surprised by these data -- despite the fact that,
speaking personally, I don't feel the same way.
Simply stated, if my wife beckons while I'm blogging, you
can bet that I'm going to immediatel......er, sorry, have to end this right
LEAVE CAROLINE KENNEDY ALONE!!
That title is what I would expect to hear from Ms. Kennedy's (actually Ms.
Schlossberg's) husband, or her children, or some
of her numerous relatives. Fair enough.
But from a NEWS REPORTER?????
Here are the particulars from Kyle Drennan, writing for www.newsbusters.org:
CBSs Chen: Leave Caroline Kennedy Alone,
On Thursdays CBS Early Show, co-host
Julie Chen came to the defense of would-be New York Senator Caroline Kennedy,
who has faced criticism for her lack of experience: "This is so unfair.
I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson
decides and that's it. Leave her alone, everyone." That comment
followed a report by correspondent Meg Oliver, in which Kennedy avoided tough
questions from the press: "She quickly got a taste of the pressure that comes
with seeking a high-profile political office...questions mostly went
Chen was not so quick to defend Sarah Palin from
critics during the campaign. When Tina Fey began impersonating Palin on Saturday
Night Live in September, Chen remarked: "Tina Fey
has just so much material to work with, this is like, probably a dream come true
for her." Earlier in September, Chen wondered
about Palins foreign policy experience: "The education of Sarah Palin. The
Alaska governor has her first meetings with world leaders as they gather at the
U.N. How will she do?"
Here is the full transcript of the
JULIE CHEN: Well, it is official, Caroline
Kennedy wants to succeed Hillary Clinton in the Senate. She launched her quest
yesterday with a highly anticipated visit to upstate New York. CBS News
correspondent Meg Oliver reports.
MEG OLIVER: Kennedy's non-campaign campaigning
included three upstate New York stops in Syracuse.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Welcome to
OLIVER: Rochester and Buffalo.
CAROLINE KENNEDY: How are you doing?
OLIVER: And she finally said it in public. She
would like to succeed Hillary Clinton as the junior Senator from New
CAROLINE KENNEDY: Well, I just wanted to say
that, as some of you may have heard, I've told Governor Paterson that I'd be
honored to be considered for the position of United States Senator.
OLIVER: But she quickly got a taste of the
pressure that comes with seeking a high-profile political office.
KENNEDY: The Governor has laid out a process and
I am proud to be in that process.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What can you say to New
Yorkers that says that you're qualified?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: Are you ready for this, Mrs.
Kennedy? You're not going to answer questions at all?
OLIVER: So while the goal was to seek support
from local elected officials and political leaders-
BYRON BROWN [BUFFALO MAYOR]: I look forward to
us continuing our dialogue.
KENNEDY: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN C: No, you speak
KENNEDY: No, I want to answer
OLIVER: But questions mostly went unanswered.
MAN C: What makes you think you can represent
KENNEDY: Well, as I -- first of all, this was a
great visit and I've already learned a lot and I would want to come
MAN C: What did you learn?
KENNEDY: -were I lucky enough to be chosen, but
it is a process.
OLIVER: Ultimately it's up to New York's
Governor to decide who will be appointed to the Senate seat. Meg Oliver, CBS
News, New York.
HARRY SMITH: And it may not be all that simple.
It's very interesting. There's a kind of a backlash that's starting to develop
for people saying, 'oh, so these seats just go to the elites?' So there's a
very interesting to and fro.
CHEN: This is so unfair. I mean, look, the
system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson decides and that's
it. Leave her alone, everyone
Are you kidding me?
According to her CBS News write-up, "Ms. Chen has been an anchor of The Early
Show, CBS News' weekday morning broadcast, since October 2002".
It leaves out the fact that The Early Show is a ratings
stinkbomb which doesn't come near Today or Good Morning America. In the 2007-2008 season so
far, Today averages 5,690,000 viewers, Good Morning America is at 4,760,000 and The
Early Show registers a puny 2,890,000.
Don't you find it surprising that Julie Chen would last so long
with such poor results? Don't you wonder why she would be
Well, the write-up also notes that "Chen lives in New York and Los Angeles with her
husband", but leaves out his name. Maybe the fact that her husband is Les
Moonves, the President and CEO of CBS Corporation, has something to do with
But, then again, why should it even be mentioned?
It's so unfair. I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up
and Hubby Moonves decides and that's it. Leave her alone,
THE STEALING OF NORM COLEMAN'S SENATE SEAT: UPDATE
As the challenged ballots continue to be counted, al franken continues to
gain votes. Norm Coleman's lead is down to about 40 now.
It will continue until franken gains the lead and then the election will
finally be over.
How is franken gaining when the erroneously rejected ballots in a virtually
even race should logically come out virtually even as well?
Why do YOU think?
Get ready for senator franken. Another one is being stolen. Right
in front of your eyes. On the 50 yard line. In the town
Enjoy the show.
UPDATE: I checked at 9PM and now Coleman's lead
is 5 votes. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is projecting that al franken
will win by 89 votes.
Presto change-o. Watch it happen
GAY, BUT NOT HAPPY
Why are gays - at least several gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender groups - so
unhappy with Barack Obama?
Their reasons are detailed in the following excerpts from an article
by Ben Smith and Nia-Malika Henderson of www.politco.com:
Gay leaders furious with Obama
Barack Obamas choice of a prominent evangelical
minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory
gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is
drawing fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that in the wake of a
gay marriage ban in California is looking for a
Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, opposes abortion
rights but has taken more liberal stances on the government role in fighting
poverty, and backed away from other evangelicals staunch support for economic
conservatism. But its his support for the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that
drew the most heated criticism from Democrats Wednesday.
Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to
deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT
Americans, the president of Human
Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote Obama Wednesday. [W]e feel a deep
level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda
is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination.
The rapid, angry reaction from a range of gay
activists comes as the gay rights movement looks for an opportunity to flex its
political muscle. Last summer gay groups complained, but were rebuffed by Obama,
when an ex-gay singer led Obamas rallies in South Carolina. And many were
shocked last month when voters approved the California ban.
There is a lot of energy and theres a lot of
anger and I think people are wanting to direct it somewhere, Solomonese told
The selection of Warren to preside at the
inauguration is not a surprise move, but it is a mirror image of President Bill Clintons early
struggles with issues of gay rights. Obama has worked, and at times succeeded,
to bridge the gap between Democrats and evangelical Christians, who form a solid
section of the Republican base.
Obama opposes same-sex marriage, but also opposed
the California constitutional amendment Warren backed. In selecting Warren, he
is choosing to reach out to conservatives on a hot-button social issue, at the
cost of antagonizing gay voters who overwhelmingly supported him.
Clinton, by contrast, drew early praise from gay
rights activists by pressing to allow openly gay soldiers to serve, only to
retreat into the dont ask, dont tell compromise that pleased few.
The reaction Wednesday in gay rights circles was
Its a huge mistake, said California gay rights
activist Rick Jacobs, who chairs the states Courage Campaign. Hes really the
wrong person to lead the president into office.
Can you imagine if he had a man of God doing the
invocation who had deliberately said that Jews are not going to be saved and
therefore should be excluded from whats going on in America? People would be up
in arms, he said.
The editor of the Washington Blade, Kevin Naff, called the choice
Obamas first big mistake.
His presence on the inauguration stand is a slap
in the faces of the millions of GLBT voters who so enthusiastically supported
him, Naff wrote, referring to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.
This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated. We have just endured
eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality from a president
beholden to bigoted conservative
Christians. The election was supposed to have ended that era. It appears
Warrens spokeswoman did not respond to a message
seeking comment, but he has tried to blend personal tolerance with doctrinal
disapproval of homosexuality.
I have many gay friends, Ive eaten dinner in gay
homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church, he said in a
recent interview with BeliefNet.
In the same interview, he compared the
redefiniton of a marrige to include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and
Unlike the free ride most mainstream media are working so hard to give Saint
Barack, people with specific agendas are not about to sit by quietly when he
acts against their interests. And the GLBT groups, which keep
deluding themselves into thinking that Democrat = friend, are finding out
again that it does not.
Was Rick Warren a good choice, given the obvious
problem he presents for a core Democratic constituency? No he
is impossible to believe that Mr. Obama didn't know as much
when Mr. Warren was picked.
So now this becomes an issue of intestinal
fortitude: will Barack Obama stick with
his selection even when pressured not to do so.
Let's see if he has any.
ROD BLAGOJEVICH (??? - IL)
So I watched part of the Today
show this morning. And somewhere within the smiley-face happy-time routine between Matt Lauer and Meredith
Viera, there was a feature story on Illinois Governor rod blagojevich.
I didn't check exactly, but I believe it ran about 3-4 minutes.
Now; guess how many times the fact that "blago" is a Democrat was
Did you get it? Wait, I'll give you a hint: it was the same
number of times viewers were reminded of his ties to Barack Obama and Rahm
Emanuel and Richard Daley. If you didn't know the answer before, I'll bet
you know it now.
Fact: when it is a Republican scandal, these people never miss a
chance to mention party affiliation; to reinforce the image of Republicans that they want you to walk
away with. Did you ever have to wonder which party Karl Rove, or Larry
Craig, or Mark Foley, or "duke" cunningham belonged to? But when it is rod
blagojerkevich, or eliot spitzer, or charles rangel, or william jefferson, etc.
etc. etc......better try the fine print. If it's there at all, that is
where it will be.
With this in mind, here is L. Brent Bozell's latest column. It is
about blagojerkevich -- and his connection to Barack Obama, which mainstream
media are desparately trying to eradicate any way they can. See if you
think he nailed it:
By L. Brent Bozell III
CNSNews.com | Thursday,
December 18, 2008
In October 2006 the national media projected Rep. Mark
Foleys online sex chats with House pages into a disaster that would swallow the
Grand Old Party whole. CBS, for example, proclaimed it the congressional
equivalent of Katrina.
In 2008, when federal investigators found
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich trying to put Barack Obamas Senate seat on the
auction block, these same news gatherers found a storm, to be sure, but a
storm they suggested would in short order be pushed out to
With the governor caught on tape unloading
obscenity after obscenity about how he expected to reap a financial bonanza for
handing out his gubernatorial perks, this story was so undeniably big, even the
Obamaphile press couldnt ignore it. So instead these reporters tried to
downplay its impact on the president-elect and the Democrats.
First, as with other Democratic scandals (Spitzer, Jefferson,
McGreevey, et cetera), anchors and editors again purposely dropped the D out
of the equation, laboring not to tell viewers or readers that the offenders were
In a Republican scandal, the offending politician is
usually described as a Republican in the very first sentence, and deservedly so.
In a Democrat scandal, the party identification of the perpetrator can arrive in
paragraph eight. Or not at all.
declared that a Blagojevich resignation or impeachment could arrive any day and
suggested the story could soon be finished. (When Republicans are in the
crosshairs, reporters announce this story isnt going away any time
Reporters insisted the Blagojevich story might end soon
with the governors removal, even before Team Obama fully explained its contacts
with the governors office on the Senate-seat matter. They wanted Blagojevich
removed from the Democratic elite before he infected the partys anti-corruption
claims like an Ebola virus.
Third, they labored
mightily to separate Team Obama from the Blagojevich camp. Take CBS, and
reporter Chip Reid, who cited local CBS reporter Mike Flannery as an expert, and
never mind if local bloggers call him Chicagos version of Chris
Flannery insisted one could only call Obama and
Blagojevich the most distant allies, and Reid insisted Flannery told him
Obama has often gone out of his way to avoid any close association with the
ethically challenged governor. But that's not stopping the Republican National
Committee from trying to tie the two men together.
Reid read a
line from RNC chairman Mike Duncan, then insisted Despite the occasional photo
together, though, linking them could be a tough sell.
Reids report cracking open this supposed chasm didnt include
uncomfortable facts that Obamas supporters would rather not see circulated.
Obama not only supported Blagojevich for governor in 2002 when he was still a
state senator, he took credit for advising him to victory. He went on television
saying electing his friend Hot Rod was a priority. He endorsed him for
re-election in 2006 at the beginning of 2005.
Reid also dragged in a right-leaning Chicago Tribune columnist to make
a case for Obamas distance: John Kass says Mr. Obama has worked hard to
position himself above the machine culture of Chicago politics. He quoted Kass
saying: I don't think he gets tainted by what happened today.
heres what Kass proclaimed in a column a few days later: The national media
outlets were desperate to portray him as someone about to transcend our
politics. But in Chicago he was just a smooth guy on the way up, looking the
The Blagojevich Senate-for-sale scandal
demonstrates how feverishly the media continue to portray Obama not as a Chicago
machine manipulator, but as the black inheritor of the Abraham Lincoln legacy.
Obamas been energetically linked to Lincoln far more than to any Chicago
politician whos currently living and serving in office.
chose for himself a political career in the grubby precincts of the south side
of Chicago, not some log cabin outside Springfield, but reporters seem more
interested in building a grand and historic legend of a new kind of politics,
not a real-life politicians colossal ambitions to be president before he turned
Anyone in politics knows it would be
extremely normal, acceptable, and even necessary for the governor and the
president-elect (or their aides) to have a chat about who would fill this Senate
seat. But the media have invested so much TV time and barrels of ink in putting
the most idealistic sheen they can on Obamas New Politics that to find him
anywhere within miles of corruption is too much for them to bear.
Does that say it all? I think so too.
But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them
GUEST COMMENTARY: RON RADOSH ON "BUSH AND THE JEWS"
Here, without commentary (it doesn't need any) is Ron Radosh's column on
President Bush and Jews:
December 17th, 2008 10:55 am
On Monday night, my wife and I attended President
George W. Bushs annual Chanukah party at the White House. Although other
Presidents have held menorah lighting ceremonies, President Bush and his wife
were the first to hold a party to celebrate the occasion. And it was quite
a party-600 people replete with traditional Chanukah fare including potato
latkes and jelly donuts and music to fit the occasion. The President said in the
statement he released, This year, as Jewish families light the menorah, the
flame reminds us that light triumphs over darkness, faith conquers despair, and
the desire for freedom burns inside every man, woman and child. The
President ended his statement by saying that the forces of intolerance may seek
to suppress the menorah, but they can never extinguish its light.
When President Bush spoke before Israels Knesset
on May 15, 2008- the day of the 60th Anniversary of Israels creation
as a Jewish State-he gave an inspirational speech reflecting on what Israel
meant to him, and what its existence means to the United States as a nation. One
can say that it was certainly the most pro-Israel speech ever given by an
Bush noted that the fight against terror and
extremism was not just a clash of arms, but a clash of visions, a great
ideological struggle. And he explained how Israel was a necessary ally in that
fight, and why the United States could not capitulate to the demands of
terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. And, perhaps most important of all,
he told the Israelis: America stands with you in firmly opposing Irans nuclear
weapons ambitions. Israel, he assured them, can always count on the United
States of America to be at your side.
George W. Bushs commitment to Israel and his
solidarity with the worlds Jews led me to reflect on a great irony. Within the
United States, a high percentage of Jews, who are overwhelmingly Democrats, have
been opposed to the policies of the Bush administration and bear an animus to
When I returned home from the party, a friend had
e-mailed me two statements that address this issue. The first came from the head
of Americas Reform Jewish congregations, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffe, who delivered his
remarks as a sermon at the Union Board Services in Tampa, Florida on December
12th. Reform Jews are as a whole the most liberal politically
of all Jewish religious bodies in our country. On various issues, especially
social ones, they stand firmly opposed to the Republican Party political agenda.
Whether it is gay rights, stem cell research, the fight of a woman to have an
abortion if they choose, and questions pertaining to civil liberties in the
fight against terrorism, they stand on the liberal side.
Rabbi Yoffes remarks were largely a meditation on
our current crisis, and the hopes that American Jews shared for the success of
the coming Obama Presidency, and their desire for the new Presidents success in
his endeavors to serve our country. He was particularly concerned for the
creation of universal health care, and he urged President-elect Obama not to put
its attainment off because of the serious economic issues confronting
It was a surprise, therefore, to read these
words of Rabbi Yoffe:
And what of the State of Israel?
When we look at Israel today, we see a strong state with a reasonably
healthy economy. Much of the credit should go to President George W. Bush. He
supported Israels security needs, provided much-needed military aid, and
accepted no excuses for Palestinian terror. The President is under siege right
now, but we in the Jewish community must not forget that he has been a
good friend to the Jewish State and the Jewish people.(my
Reform Jews who often participated in the
veritable orgy of Bush hatred must have blanched as they heard these words, but
it would not have come as a surprise to those Jews who knew the
An op-ed by Noam
Neusner, a Jewish liaison for President Bush from 2002 to 2005, explained to his
readers how seriously George W. Bush was in his commitment. The Jews,
Neusner writes, really do matter to him. It is not simply a case of pandering
to a constituency, one he well knows does not support him politically. I
saw his eyes well up, Neusner writes, while watching the Holocaust-themed
movie Paper ClipsI know how moved he was by meeting with Soviet Jewish
refuseniks, Holocaust survivors and the parents of slain journalist Daniel
Pearl. Neusner attended one meeting the President had with Jews from around the
world, who now lived in America after years of torment in countries like Cuba,
Uganda, Zimbabwe and other bastions of anti-Semitism. As they told him how
only in this nation did they find the right to live as Jews, Bush walked out of
the meeting shaking his head, appalled by the special hatred tyrants have
reserved for the Jews.
Neusner understands well that since Bush is a
Southern evangelical Republican, it is virtually impossible for him to win over
the Jews, and that criticism of him for favoring policies most Jews disagree
with is fair enough. On foreign policy, some conservative Jews feel he did not
do enough to confront Iran- he should have taken military action to stop them
move to obtaining nuclear weapons- while others feel he was too
But on Israel, Neusner cannot countenance
that they see his leadership on Israel and anti-Semitism as both quaint and
one-dimensional. Some take it for granted. But they should not, he warns, be
so casual with a friend. In fact, Neusner argues that Bush was more Zionist
than many Israelis, more mindful of Jewish history than many Jewsand we
American Jews can be thankful at least for that.
A few years ago, I heard former Mayor Ed Koch
of New York accept an award at a dinner honoring Jewish leaders in Washington,
DC. President Bush was present, and Koch saluted him, telling his largely
liberal audience that in his eyes- and Ed Koch is anything but a conservative-
that George W. Bush was as a President the best friend that Israel ever had and
the President most sympathetic to Jewish concerns.
Perhaps, like Rabbi Yoffe, more Jews in America
will come to understand that.
HELEN JONES-KELLEY RESIGNS
Unless you live in Ohio, I'll bet you don't have a clue who this is. So
let me tell you:
Helen Jones-Kelley is the Director of Ohio's Department of Job and
Family Services. More exactly, she was the Director. She has
And why did she do so? Was it out of concern for her family, as she
claimed? Or is this what Ms. Jones-Kelley agreed to so that she would not
Read this blog from www.sweetness-light.com (complete with
its comments about her at the end) and then decide:.
From a heartbroken Associated Press:
Agency Director Resigns After Spying on Joe
the Plumber on State Computers
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Department of Job and Family Services Director
Helen Jones-Kelley quit after accusations arose that she improperly used state
computers to access personal information on "Joe the Plumber."
CINCINNATI An Ohio agency director resigned
Wednesday in the wake of a finding that she improperly used state computers to
access personal information on the man who became known as "Joe the Plumber"
during the presidential campaign
Department of Job and Family
Services Director Helen Jones-Kelley said in a statement accompanying her
resignation that she wont allow her reputation to be disparaged and that she
is concerned for her familys safety.
"This decision comes after a time of pause, in
which I realize that I continue to be used as a political postscript,
providing a distraction from urgent state priorities," she said in her
Gov. Ted Strickland suspended Jones-Kelley for a
month without pay after the Ohio Inspector Generals office found in November
that she improperly used state computers to find personal information
on Samuel Wurzelbacher. The investigation also found that she conducted
improper political fundraising activity for now President-elect Barack
Investigators could not confirm that
Jones-Kelley accessed the records of Wurzelbacher with political gain in mind.
His report did indicate that she had used her personal Blackberry to
send the Obama fundraising requests though it was synched up to state
Two top-level members of Jones-Kelleys staff
also will be leaving the department, said agency spokeswoman Scarlett
Fred Williams, the departments assistant
director, will resign effective Jan. 31 and the agency is revoking Doug
Thompsons position as deputy director of child support effective Dec. 22, she
Both had been suspended from their positions
after being implicated in the computer records search.
Ohio lawmakers are expected to
pass a bill Thursday that requires state agencies to determine proper
circumstances for records to be checked and to authorize only specific
individuals to perform those checks.
Unsurprisingly, this AP report actually plays down
the extent to which Ms. Jones-Kelley suffered from Obama-mania.
Besides contributing the maximum amount to his
run, Ms. Jones-Kelley also sent the campaign a list of potential contributors,
before their visit to the area.
She also offered to host a party for the wondrous
Michelle. All via the states computers.
(Indeed, one wonders where she got the list of
And of course, on top of that, she had used the
state computers and employees to do opposition research on Mr. Wurzelbacher
for his crime of asking a question to the Anointed One.
Yet she was not fired. She has decided to resign.
To protect her reputation and family.
And probably to pave the way for an even higher
paying job in the Obama administration.
Mainstream media, of course, have never followed up on this scandal. If
that were done on behalf of John McCain, you'd have read countless articles
about how Republicans had people at the ready, to shut up anyone who criticized
him in any way they could, legal or otherwise.
But you didn't see that, did you? Instead, the perpetrator just resigns
out of concern for her family's safety. She's not a criminal,
she's a victim.
And the people who put her up to it? Home free.
It's good to have a D after your name....
ELECTROSHOCK SAUVIGNON & SHIRAZZZZZZZZZ
I grant you that China is hardly the place most people would associate with
But before you reject the possiblity out of hand (or out of Han, I
suppose), read the following article which comes to us from www.newscience.com:
How to make cheap wine taste like a
MOST people have got one lying
around somewhere: a bottle of cheap, nasty wine left over from a dinner party
just waiting to be offloaded on someone else - or quaffed late one night when
the good stuff has run out. But what if you could turn that bargain-basement
plonk into fine wine in minutes? In these straitened times it could be just the
thing a wine lover needs.
Traditionalists, of course, would
insist that nothing can replace genuine quality plus long, slow ageing in an oak
barrel and years of storage in cool, cobwebby cellars. But could there be a
Over the years, inventors have
come up with dozens of widgets that they claim can transform the undrinkable or
bring the finest wines to perfection without the long wait. Sadly, there's
little scientific evidence that most of them work (see "Faking it").
Looks like you're stuck with the plonk.
Or are you? Fortunately, there is
one technique that stands out from the rest. It is backed by a decade of
research, the results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal and the end
product has passed the ultimate test- blind tasting by a panel of wine experts.
No fewer than five wineries have now invested in the technology.
The secret this time is an
electric field. Pass an undrinkable, raw red wine between a set of high-voltage
electrodes and it becomes pleasantly quaffable. "Using an electric field to
accelerate ageing is a feasible way to shorten maturation times and improve the
quality of young wine," says Herv Alexandre, professor of oenology at the
University of Burgundy, close to some of France's finest vineyards.
No matter how impatient or
undiscriminating you may be, fresh wine is undrinkable and can have horrible
after-effects. Expect an upset stomach, a raging thirst and the world's nastiest
hangover. The youngest a wine can be drunk is six months. Most, especially reds,
take longer to achieve the required balance and complexity. The finest can take
20 years to reach their peak.
During ageing, wine becomes less
acid as the ethanol reacts with organic acids to produce a plethora of the
fragrant compounds known as esters. Unpleasant components precipitate out and
the wine becomes clearer and more stable. Red wines mellow as bitter,
mouth-puckering tannin molecules combine with each other and with pigment
molecules to form larger polymers, at the same time releasing their grip on
volatile molecules that contribute to the wine's aroma.
These reactions take time and need
a small but steady supply of oxygen. In barrel-aged wines, oxygen leaks through
the wood, while wine matured in steel tanks is often helped along by introducing
microscopic oxygen bubbles.
There are good commercial reasons
why winemakers would love get their hands on a speedier alternative, especially
in places like China where the industry is young and booming. It would allow
them to get their wines into the shops faster to meet ever-increasing demand,
and cut the cost of storage.
The food industry has experimented
with electric fields as an alternative to heat-treating since the 1980s, and 10
years ago Xin An Zeng, a chemist at the South China University of Technology in
Guangzhou, decided to see what he could do for wine. Early results were
promising enough for Zeng and his colleagues to develop a prototype plant in
which they could treat wine with fields of different strengths for different
periods of time.
They pumped the wine through a
pipe that ran between two titanium electrodes, fed with a mains-frequency
alternating supply boosted to a higher voltage. For the test wine, the team
selected a 3-month-old cabernet sauvignon from the Suntime Winery, China's largest
producer. Batches of wine spent 1, 3 or 8 minutes in various electric fields
(see diagram). The team then analysed
the treated wine for chemical changes that might alter its "mouth feel" and
quality, and passed it to a panel of 12 experienced wine tasters who assessed it
in a blind tasting (Innovative Food Science and Emerging
Technologies, vol 9, p 463).
The results were striking. With
the gentlest treatment, the harsh, astringent wine grew softer. Longer exposure
saw some of the hallmarks of ageing emerge- a more mature "nose", better balance
and greater complexity. The improvements reached their peak after 3minutes at
600 volts per centimetre: this left the wine well balanced and harmonious, with
a nose of an aged wine and, importantly, still recognisably a cabernet
Analysis revealed some significant
chemical changes. Most obviously, there was a marked increase in reactions
between alcohols and acids to produce esters. This led to a reduction in
concentrations of the long-chain alcohols known to be responsible for nasty
odours and a burning mouth feel, while the increase in the concentration of
esters boosted the aroma and the perception of fruitiness.
Two other good things happened: the breakdown of
proteins produced free amino acids that contribute to taste and there was a
noticeable reduction in the levels of aldehydes, which are responsible for "off"
flavours. You can have too much of a good thing, though. Upping the voltage and
applying it for longer brought new and unwanted changes, including the
generation of new undesirable aldehydes. Zap it too much and the result, the
panel found, was worse than the untreated original.
Although Zeng cannot yet explain how exposure to
an electric field alters the wine's chemistry, his results show that under the
right conditions the technique can accelerate some aspects of the ageing
process. "Not only can it shorten a wine's normal storage time, it can also
improve some lower-quality wine," he says. "It works just as well with other
grape varieties such as merlot and shiraz." Five Chinese wineries have begun
A quick blast with an
electric field can improve lower-quality wine and shorten storage time
Sadly for wine drinkers feeling the pinch, there's
no immediate prospect that you can try this for yourself. "I have thought of
designing a set of equipment for use at home," admits Zheng "...but not
Take THAT Baron Rothschild!!
I have this image of a wine commercial a few years down the
road. I see Chinese people toasting each other and singing:
Zap! a-dee doo dah
Zap! a-dee ay
My oh my, what a great cabernet,
Plenty of pinot, comin' my way,
from vines to your table, three minutes