Category: Drinking

My Foray into Yerba Mate

A different kind of BYCU today. The brew? Yerba Mate.

It’s a South American thing, and I guess it’s pretty big. It’s just a tea-like batch of leaves (and small twigs) from the yerba mate plant that is found in South America. It has caffeine . . . less than coffee but more than tea . . . and various health benefits. It supposedly promotes focus, improves mood, and increases mental energy.

I first learned about it while listening to this episode of Huberman Lab, which contains all sorts of health/daily living tricks based on science (the guy seems to know what he’s talking about). He drinks a lot of Yerba Mate, so I tried it Wednesday.

Wow, I was blown away.

I sliced through a 22-hour fast like Hunter Biden dropping the n-word. It was no problem at all. No jitters, no bad mood.

I found myself content in every work setting, not getting anxious or distracted. Meeting with clients seemed pleasant (granted, none that day were unpleasant), the weekly Kiwanis meeting with downright enjoyable, phone interruptions didn’t send me reeling. I described it to my nephew as the “best sober buzz ever.”

Now, when I came home at 4:30 and ate for the first time that week, I then took a nap. And crashed hard. I could scarcely move when I woke up an hour later because no part of my body … Read the rest

Gardening Journals

The Great Potato Blight of 2021

photo of pile of potatoes
Photo by Marco Antonio Victorino on

It’s time to drink in celebration and despondency.

Those are the two primary reasons to drink, right? We drink after work, or after the workweek, to celebrate it. We pop champagne to celebrate a big life event. We say “This calls for a drink!” more often than we say, “Let’s go pray!”

And we drink when sad because we’re degenerates.

That, anyway, is my experience, which parallels GKC’s observations in “Omar and the Sacred Vine” in Heretics, where he cautions readers to drink in celebration (healthy drinking) but not for one’s health, to correct a problem, to address a poor disposition (unhealthy drinking).

I would drink in celebration tonight because, despite drinking over the past eight days and following a horrible diet, my weight this morning is a half-pound below pre-vacation weight. I have no idea how it happened, just as I have no idea how I can fast and diet to the point of shaking for eight days and add a pound.

So, it’s time to celebrate with a drink. And heck, based on that 8-day micro-experiment, maybe I’ll lose more weight.

But I’m also despondent. While on vacation, the Demon Blight came and took out my potato crop. It was a huge crop. I planned for a harvest of nearly 500 pounds. It’s gone now, except for a few … Read the rest

How Alcohol Fuels Civilization

Gonna pick me up a six-pack of art this evening

Marshall McLuhan made himself a household name, writing about media. Media are tools, things that extend ourselves: a hammer extends our fist, flashlights extend our eyes, etc.

I’m not sure he ever considered whether alcohol might be a medium. That’s the theory of a new book by Edward Slingerland (not Scissorhand), Drunk: How we sipped, danced, and stumbled our way to civilization.

The basic premise: Our prefrontal cortex does the reasoning, thinking, and analysis. It, in other words, is the boring part of the brain. When it swells, like it does when we’re concentrating on making a living, it stifles the creative and fun part of the brain. In order to increase creativity and fun, we need to shrink it. Alcohol is a tool that allows us to shrink it.

Slingerland, a philosopher at the University of British Columbia in Canada, has a novel thesis, arguing that by causing humans “to become, at least temporarily, more creative, cultural, and communal… intoxicants provided the spark that allowed us to form truly large-scale groups”. In short, without them, civilisation might not have been possible.

This may seem an audacious claim, but Slingerland draws on history, anthropology, cognitive science, social psychology, genetics and literature, including alcohol-fuelled classical poetry, for evidence. He is an entertaining writer, synthesising a wide array of studies to make a convincing case.


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Schlitz is a Business School Case Study

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I never knew what happened to Schlitz. When I was a little kid, I remember seeing Schlitz all over the place and thinking it was “the” beer. By the time I started drinking, it was one of those beers I’d drink because I could get a case for $5 (in the 1980s), putting it in the category of Buckhorn, Blatz, Red White and Blue, and Beer (the generic “brand”).

It isn’t just my murky childhood memory. Schlitz was the beer. In fact, for much of the twentieth century, it and Budweiser duked it out for top beer in the United States. But then Budweiser took over that top spot in the late 1950s with effective marketing, and Schlitz fell decidedly to number two.

In response, it decided it would become the most profitable beer in the U.S. and started to slash production costs (now called the “Schlitz Mistake”). When drinkers noticed and its sales plummeted, it responded with an awful marketing campaign that seemed to threaten viewers (now laughingly called the “drink Schlitz or I’ll kill you” campaign).

It’s all laid out in this article that I stumbled across last night.Read the rest

How to be a Holy Drunk

A few notes on Sebastian Flyte

The early pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited describe the drunken antics of students Lord Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder (the narrator). Ryder makes the later observation that he “got drunk often, but through an excess of high spirits, in the love of the moment, and the wish to prolong and enhance it; Sebastian drank to escape.”

This difference is the same difference G.K. Chesterton touched on in his early book Heretics: “If a man drinks wine in order to obtain pleasure, he is trying to obtain something exceptional, something he does not expect every hour of the day, something which, unless he is a little insane, he will not try to get every hour of the day.”… Read the rest

Sobriety is a Sin?

The Friday “Drinking Matters” Column (BYCU)

wine glass with red wine
Photo by Posawee Suwannaphati on

Sunday marks the Feast Day of Thomas Aquinas. Well, not really. It was his Feast Day until 1969, when “they” moved it to January 28th (apparently, so it wouldn’t fall during Lent).

In his Summa Theologica, he wrote that “if a man were knowingly to abstain from wine to the extent of molesting nature grievously, he would not be free from sin.”

Many years ago, when I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, this passage prompted an email-chain discussion about whether Aquinas thought teetotalling is a sin. At least one of the participants said that wasn’t Aquinas’ position. Aquinas’ position is that every extreme that gives rise to sin must have a countervailing sin on the other extreme. So, for instance, cowardice is a sin, but so is reckless disregard for one’s safety. In this case, Aquinas pointed out that drunkenness is a sin, so there must be a sin on the other extreme, and that’s all he was saying. He wasn’t articulating what, exactly, that sin consists of, other than, if you abstain to the extent of molesting your nature, you’re in sin.

That makes sense to me.

Though it should be noted that tetotalling is a sin. Abstaining is not a sin, but teetotalling is. The difference is, tetotalling is refusal to drink alcohol on grounds that it’s … Read the rest

Backward Shi*t*s

Omar and the (Not So) Sacred Vine

Stories like this one are even more alarming when you remember that Iran was pretty westernized in the 1970s.

Iranian judicial authorities have demanded the execution of a 73-year-old retired pilot who was arrested for consuming alcohol.

The state-run Asr-e Iran website reported on February 21 that the representative of the prosecutor’s office in the 9th branch of Tehra’s criminal court, requested the death sentence for a 73-year-old man for “drinking alcohol”.

The man, who is said to have a military doctorate and is a retired pilot, has been arrested in northern Tehran on charges of drunk driving.

The representative of the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, has claimed that he had been arrested three times before for drinking alcohol and that he had been punished.

Based on the Islamic Penal Code a defendant can face the death penalty after being arrested and punished three times for alcohol consumption. The initial punishment for drinking is usually flogging.… Read the rest

Drinking with the Homeless

I guess I’ll put this in the One Thing I Didn’t Really Care if I Ever Knew File: San Francisco has a Craft Beer Week. That’s right, and today is the kick-off. It then runs through next Sunday.

It sounds great.

Oh wait, Newsom still has California locked down. According to the COVID-19 Reopening Tracker at the LA Times, 53 (out of 58) counties are “widespread” risk, which means “most nonessential indoor business operations are closed.”

That, of course, can’t be. California has been very proactive with its aggressive top-down dictates, so it can’t be having a COVID problem.

But hey, who needs bars to enjoy craft beers? I’m sure San Francisco’s homeless population will enjoy themselves, proving you don’t need a building to have fun. Just look at all the fun San Fran is having:

Here in San Francisco, “kick the bums out” increasingly applies to city officials. District attorney Chesa Boudin, who has promoted a philosophy of restorative justice that has led to greater danger in every neighborhood, is on course to be expelled. After a New Year’s Eve disaster in which a career criminal, high on meth, killed two women while driving a stolen car, Richie Greenberg, a political commentator and 2018 candidate for San Francisco mayor, distributed a petition requesting Boudin’s immediate resignation. In just two weeks, it hit the 15,000 signatures necessary to proceed with a full recall.

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