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Posts Tagged ‘Beer

“Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems”*…

 

Beer

 

Of all the substances people intoxicate themselves with, alcohol is the least restricted and causes the most harm. Many illegal drugs are more dangerous to those who use them, but are relatively hard to obtain, which limits their impact. In contrast, alcohol is omnipresent, so far more people suffer from its adverse effects. In 2010 a group of drug experts scored the total harm in Britain caused by 20 common intoxicants and concluded that alcohol inflicted the greatest cost, mostly because of the damage it does to non-consumers such as the victims of drunk drivers…

No Western country has banned alcohol since America repealed Prohibition in 1933. It is popular and easy to produce. Making it illegal enriches criminals and starts turf wars. In recent years governments have begun legalising other drugs. Instead, to limit the harm caused by alcohol, states have tried to dissuade people from drinking, using taxes, awareness campaigns and limits on where, when and to whom booze is sold.

The alcohol industry has pitched itself as part of the solution. In Britain more than 100 producers and retailers have signed a “responsibility deal” and promised to “help people to drink within guidelines”, mostly by buying ads promoting moderation. However, if these campaigns were effective, they would ruin their sponsors’ finances. According to researchers from the Institute of Alcohol Studies, a think-tank, and the University of Sheffield, some two-fifths of alcohol consumed in Britain is in excess of the recommended weekly maximum of 14 units (about one glass of wine per day). Industry executives say they want the public to “drink less, but drink better”, meaning fewer, fancier tipples. But people would need to pay 22-98% more per drink to make up for the revenue loss that such a steep drop in consumption would cause.

Health officials have taken note of such arithmetic. Some now wonder if Big Booze is sincere in its efforts to discourage boozing. In 2018 America’s National Institutes of Health stopped a $100m study of moderate drinking, which was partly funded by alcohol firms, because its design was biased in their products’ favour. And this year the World Health Organisation and England’s public-health authority banned their staff from working with the industry…

alcohol

Governments are growing more suspicious of Big Booze: “Alcohol firms promote moderate drinking, but it would ruin them.”

See also “How much beer does your state drink? In the thirstiest, about 40 gallons a year per person,” source of the image at top.

* Homer Simpson

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As we muse on moderation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1944 that Harvey, a play by Mary Chase, opened on Broadway.  It ran for 1,775 performances and won the (1945) Pulitzer prize for Drama.  The story of a care-free dipsomaniac named Elwood P. Dowd, whose best friend was a “pooka” (an imaginary rabbit named Harvey), it was directed by Antoinette Perry– the actress, director, and co-founder of the American Theater Wing, for whom the Tony Awards are named.  It’s been regularly revived on-stage, and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film that starred Jimmy Stewart as Elwood.

220px-Harvey-FE-1953 source

 

Written by LW

November 1, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Tossing away a piece of paper is clearly taboo”*…

 

paper

 

Today, in an age of computers, smartphones and e-books, you could be forgiven for predicting the demise of this ancient wonder material. But though there has been a small decline in the demand for so-called “graphic paper”, like newspapers and books, the paper industry is booming.

The world currently uses around 400 million tonnes of paper per year. And from money to cardboard boxes, to receipts, coffee cups, stick-on notes, baking paper, egg cartons, birthday cards, straws, wrapping paper, and, of course, papier-mâché, it’s hard to imagine modern life without it. We might be edging towards a cashless society, but the paperless society, as the American librarian Jesse Shera famously put it, “is about as plausible as the paperless bathroom”.

In fact, demand for paper is growing all over the world, and as we turn our backs on single-use plastic, paper is one of the main contenders to take its place. The last few years has seen numerous retailers announce that they are switching to paper bags, while paper-based chocolate wrappers, ready-meal trays and water bottles have also started to emerge.

In Canada, the government recently approved a ban on certain plastic items, while the EU has pledged to eradicate some of the most notorious by 2021. Some Indian states have gone further, ditching single-use plastic altogether. Many businesses have already announced that they will be replacing throw-away plastic items with paper versions.

But how sustainable is paper really? And what can be done to reduce its environmental impact?…

[Consider, among other factors, like deforestation…]

Almost every phase of paper manufacturing involves water. Scaled up to the magnitude of the industry today, a vast amount is required. To make just a single A4 sheet, you need between two and 13 litres. In China, which remains one of the leading players in the paper trade, the industry sucked up 3.35 billion tonnes (roughly three trillion litres) in 2014 – enough for about 37 billion baths.

After the pulping and bleaching is over, paper mills end up with water containing a cocktail of organic compounds, alkalis and bleach, which must be treated so that it can be disposed of safely. This can be a huge technical challenge, and some paper mills simply discharge the effluent straight into the local water supply, where it’s acutely toxic to fish and other wildlife  – even at concentrations of just 2%

For better and/or worse: “How paper is making a comeback.”

* Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

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As we muse on materials, we might recall that it was on this date in 1814 that London suffered “The Great Beer Flood Disaster” when the metal bands on an immense vat at Meux’s Horse Shoe Brewery snapped, releasing a tidal wave of 3,555 barrels of Porter (571 tons– more than 1 million pints), which swept away the brewery walls, flooded nearby basements, and collapsed several adjacent tenements. While there were reports of over twenty fatalities resulting from poisoning by the porter fumes or alcohol coma, it appears that the death toll was 8, and those from the destruction caused by the huge wave of beer in the structures surrounding the brewery.

(The U.S. had its own vat mishap in 1919, when a Boston molasses plant suffered similarly-burst bands, creating a heavy wave of molasses moving at a speed of an estimated 35 mph; it killed 21 and injured 150.)

Meux’s Horse Shoe Brewery

source

 

 

Written by LW

October 17, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Three chords and the truth – that’s what a country song is”*…

 

FreqPlot_beer_and_truck

I’ve started working on a textual analysis of popular country music.

More specifically, I scraped Ranker.com for a list of the top female and male country artists of the last 100 years and used my python wrapper for the Genius API to download the lyrics to each song by every artist on the list. After my script ran for about six hours I was left with the lyrics to 12,446 songs by 83 artists stored in a 105 MB JSON file. As a bit of an outsider to the world of country music, I was curious whether some of the preconceived notions I had about the genre were true.

Some pertinent questions:

Which artist mentions trucks in their songs most often?

Does an artist’s affinity for trucks predict any other features? Their gender for example? Or their favorite drink?

How has the genre’s vocabulary changed over time?

Of all the artists, whose language is most diverse? Whose is most repetitive?…

John W. Miller dives deeply into Country lyrics: “Trucks and Beer.”

* Willie Nelson

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As we parse the pain, we might recall that it was on this date in 1970 that Loretta Lynn’s epic “Coal Miner’s Daughter” hit #1 on the Billboard Country chart.  It mentions neither truck nor beer.

 

Written by LW

December 19, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Beer is made by men, wine by God”*…

 

On this day 500 years ago, an obscure Saxon monk launched a protest movement against the Catholic Church that would transform Europe. Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation changed not just the way Europeans lived, fought, worshipped, worked and created art but also how they ate and drank. For among the things it impacted was a drink beloved throughout the world and especially in Luther’s native Germany: beer…

How the protest that Luther launched 500 years ago revamped not only how Europe worshipped but also how it drank, as he and his followers promoted hops in beer as an act of rebellion against the Catholic Church: “The Other Reformation: How Martin Luther Changed Our Beer, Too.”

* Martin Luther

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As we tap the keg, we might recall that it was on this date in 1948 that the Ames Brothers recorded “More Beer,” released the following year as the b-side of “You, You, You Are The One” (and on the 10″ LP Hoop-De-Doo).

source

Written by LW

November 9, 2017 at 1:01 am

“In wine there is Wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria”*…

 

Alcohol has been a prime mover of human culture from the beginning, fueling the development of arts, language, and religion: “Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze.”

* Mark Twain

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As we meditate on mead, we might send analgesic birthday greetings to Felix Hoffmann; he was born on this date in 1868.  A chemist, he is best remembered for re-synthesizing diamorphine (independently from C.R. Alder Wright who synthesized it 23 years earlier), which was popularized under the Bayer trade name of “heroin.”  He is also credited with synthesizing aspirin (though whether he did this at his own initiative or under the instruction of Arthur Eichengrün is highly contested).

 source

 

Written by LW

January 21, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”*…

 

Drug companies have a problem: they are finding it ever harder to get painkillers through clinical trials. But this isn’t necessarily because the drugs are getting worse. An extensive analysis of trial data has found that responses to sham treatments have become stronger over time, making it harder to prove a drug’s advantage over placebo…

Bad, good, or simply confusing news? Decide for yourself at Nature.

* Salvador Dalí

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As we take the red pill, we might recall that it was on this date in 1814 that London suffered “The Great Beer Flood Disaster” when the metal bands on an immense vat at Meux’s Horse Shoe Brewery snapped, releasing a tidal wave of 3,555 barrels of Porter (571 tons– more than 1 million pints), which swept away the brewery walls, flooded nearby basements, and collapsed several adjacent tenements. While there were reports of over twenty fatalities resulting from poisoning by the porter fumes or alcohol coma, it appears that the death toll was 8, and those from the destruction caused by the huge wave of beer in the structures surrounding the brewery.

(The U.S. had its own vat mishap in 1919, when a Boston molasses plant suffered similarly-burst bands, creating a heavy wave of molasses moving at a speed of an estimated 35 mph; it killed 21 and injured 150.)

Meux’s Horse Shoe Brewery

source

Written by LW

October 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life”*…

 

People have found ways to live in the most inhospitable places on earth. Nearly immediately after finding a way to survive, they have found a way to get drunk.

Likely because of, rather than in spite of, the challenges of living in the far reaches of the world, establishing a communal space is a survival necessity. Be it at the base of an active volcano, inside a 6,000-year-old tree, or even on your way to Mount Everest, no matter how far off the grid you end up, you are likely to find a place for strong spirits and lively conversation…

From Antarctica (where the drinking is robust there’s talk of importing breathalyzers) to Pitcairn Island (one of the most remote inhabited locations on Earth; its closest neighbor being Tahiti, which is over 1,300 miles away; pictured above), ten of the most remote watering holes in the world: “The bars at the end of the world.”

* F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

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As we belly up, we might recall that it was on this date in 1978 that President Jimmy Carter, a teetotaler, signed the Cranston Act, which (when it took effect the following year) loosened restrictions and lowered taxes on home and small-scale brewing… thus igniting the explosion of craft beers in the U.S.

 source

 

Written by LW

October 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

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