Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is as good a place as any to learn a hard truth.
This suburb of Minneapolis is largely indistinguishable from the other suburbs that border it ... except that Eden Prairie has an airport. Last weekend, that airport played host to an air show, which featured your typical air show goodies—World War II bombers, modern military jets, stunt pilots, etc. But the Eden Prairie Air Expo also had something very special ... the Eureka, one of only three passenger zeppelins operating in the entire world.
Which brings me to the hard truth. The Hindenburg disaster often gets saddled with the blame for ending the era of airships. Plenty of sci-fi stories have started with the premise, "What if the Hindenburg disaster never happened?" and ended up assuming that we'd all be flying around in totally awesome zeppelins instead of boring old airplanes.
Unfortunately, the real circumstances that led to the demise of the airship appear to be a bit more complicated. If there's one thing I learned from getting up close and personal with a zeppelin, it's this: There are some very good reasons why the airplane won the fight for humanity's hearts and ticket fees. Reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the Hindenburg.
I invite you to make the journey deep into the heart of Bavaria. Only 90km from Munich lies Abensberg in the Hallertau, the world's largest hop growing region. Abensberg is home to Kuchlbauer, a small brewery specializing in Hefeweizen style beers. This region is also home to the two oldest known licensed breweries in the world, Weihenstephan (1040) and Weltenburg (1050), and currently has about 600 operating breweries. Despite brewing traditions going back almost a thousand years, Hefeweizen is a fairly new phenomenon in beer. Traditionally, the malt in German beer is barley. The addition of wheat as a malted grain has become increasingly popular over the past sixty years. Kuchlabuer decided to specialize in Hefeweizen early in the twentieth century and has been operating a tour of its facility for about thirty years.
Remember Dr. Donald Douglas, the associate professor of Political Science at Long Beach City College who wrote an extraordinarily mean-spirited opinion piece about cancer victim Elizabeth Edwards? (Recap: Edwards believed in God but failed to mention Him in her last farewell, and is therefore a nihilist and so forth)
Well, my link to his grave-dancing has earned a spectacular response! After describing Boing Boing as 'vile left-wing demonology,' the thought evidently came to preoccupy him, as he has now posted an enormous image of Cthulhu's gigantic horror cock to his blog.
This is apparently to serve as a warning about progressives, but the wide stance adopted suddenly by his hitherto non-dildonic website only validates their supernatural powers. One can only hope his readers (weaned perhaps on the more normative smut creepily objectified as 'totty' on what Blogger lists as his other website) have insurance adequate to cover any non-Euclidean anal fistulae that his next product recommendation inflicts.
"A global online town hall hosted by Al Gore; Dean Kamen, Sally Ride and now Discovery Channel's MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage will explore attitudes among American youth toward math and science, and discuss how to inspire and motivate them so they will be successful in a competitive global marketplace."
Remember the contest from a while back, where the winner got to spend a month living in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry? Awesome as the idea is, I'll admit it kind of fell off my radar. Today, I discovered that the winner of that contest, Kate McGroarty, moved into the museum on October 20th and is down to her last few days.
They do seem to let her out occasionally—she's been to some grade schools and a Bulls game. Less appealingly, from my pov, she seems to spend a good chunk of her day in a giant, plexiglass cube. Like a gerbil. On the other hand, maybe that bit of surreality is worth it in order to fulfill the ultimate Midwestern childhood fantasy of having a sleepover in the U-Boat. The U-Boat, people.
Enjoy this all-access tour of the Museum of Science and Industry U-Boat, via flashlight. I know I did. It's not professional filming, but I think that's OK. It feels every bit as spooky and claustrophobic as I'd imagine being in the dark, alone, in the U-Boat ought to be. Plus, she got to out on top of it!