For The Love Of Alcohol (edited)

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“Alcoholic beverages were a by-product of civilization, not central to it. Even the website of the German Brewers’ Federation takes the line that beer was likely an offshoot of bread making by the first farmers.” ~Andrew Curry

For more than 9,000 years humans have maintained a long-term relationship with alcohol. More than just a mind altering substance, alcohol has fueled the development of arts, language, and religion. “Our ape ancestors started eating fermented fruits on the forest floor, and that made all the difference, we were pre-adapted for consuming alcohol,” says Nathaniel Dominy, a biological anthropologist at Dartmouth College. This “drunken monkey” hypothesis suggests that monkeys who could get to the fermenting fruit at the bottom of the forest floor faster had higher chances of survival and copulation rates. Fermenting fruit has more sugar calories making it a high calorie food source and, one that would have served our active primate ancestors well. The ethanol properties, although low in concentration, would have had antimicrobial properties to help fight diseases as well. There is very little scientific evidence of animals in the wide ever getting enough alcohol from fermented fruit to exhibit “drunken behavior.” It would be more along the lines of a “satisfied glow.”

Evidence suggests that a critical gene mutation that occurred in our last common ancestor of African apes, dated at about 10 million years ago, made it possible for humans to digest ethanol at a rate of 40 times higher than before. This gene, ADH4, created an enzyme that made it possible for our bodies to break down alcohol faster and enjoy more of the overripe bounty on the forest floor, without suffering ill effects. “You could say, we came out of the trees to get a beer.”

Homo Sapien Turns Homo Imbibens

After our discovery of the pleasant side effects to fermenting fruit, it’s highly probable that we then made the transition from nomadic life to a more settled existence. You could say we “settled down to start farming for booze,” and food. Thus, Homo sapien turns Homo imbibens. The discovery that wild grasses could be turned in to ripple pushed humans fast to plant and breed high yielding barley, wheat, and other grains we know today. This places us at about 9,000 years ago when the transition from wondering nomad to agricultural based farming was established. At an ancient site known as Göbekli Tepe located in southeastern Turkey, T-shape pillars dated to around 11,600 years ago were discovered. This site showed evidence of hunter-gatherers congregating to the location for religious ceremonies and were driven to settle down in order to worship more regularly. Large barrels that could hold 40 gallons of liquid were discovered with trace evidence they were used for fermenting wild grasses. Evidence of oxalate residue, a crusty whitish chemical left behind when water and grain mix, was discovered in the tubs. In addition, one vessel contained the shoulder bone of a wild ass, just the right size and shape for stirring a foaming liquid. Some of the oldest firm evidence of alcohol fermentation took place by 7000 B.C. at a site called Jiahu, China. Evidence found at this sight suggest that a cocktail made out of rice, hawthorn berries, honey, and wild grapes was produced for imbibing. It is the earliest evidence for a beer, wine, and mead concoction all in one. But it turns out that even the nomads of Central Asia made up for their lack of fermented fruits and grains by fermenting horse milk. The result is koumiss, a tangy drink with the alcohol content of a weak beer.

The historical roots for imbibing alcohol remained the same for our more modern ancestors as well. People drank alcohol for the same reasons primates ate fermenting fruit. It was good for them. Yeasts produce ethanol, a chemical used in fighting biological warfare. Ethanol is toxic to other substances like microbes that compete with them for sugar inside the fruit. The antimicrobial effects benefits the drinker. This helps explain why people in antiquity drank alcoholic beverages in mass quantity. It was safer and more beneficial than drinking the water. In addition to these medicinal properties the kinds of beer produced in antiquity were not pasteurized, filtered, or hopped out. This resulted in a drink that was fortified with B vitamins, folic acid, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin and in the Near East beer was a sort of enriched liquid bread.

The ancient Sumerians over 4,000 years ago had a simple recipe for producing a micro batch of brew that incorporated toasted barley cookies, crushed barley malt, milled emmer, an ancient grain, and three quarts of water. Allowed to “rise” for about 24 hours what you end up with is an ancient Sumerian grain alcohol that was safer to drink than water. It’s provocative to ponder the possibility that ancient language may have developed out of a need to transcribe and preserve this recipe for future generations. Eventually ancient Egyptians progressed away from home brewing towards large scale mass production. These denizens of industry and knowledge maintained industrial scale breweries that were used to supply their slave labor force, which built their monuments, temples, and pyramids with this life sustaining form of liquid bread. Even ancient Babylonian sources from 500 B.C. reflected dozens of types of recorded beers; red beer, pale beer, and dark beer.

Adelheid Otto, an archaeologist from Munich thinks the nutrients that fermenting added to early grain made Mesopotamian civilization viable, providing basic vitamins missing from what was otherwise a depressingly bad diet. “They had bread and barley porridge, plus maybe some meat at feasts.” Other than that nutrition was very bad. But as soon as you have beer, you have everything you need to develop really well. “I’m convinced this is why the first high cultures arose in the Near East,” says Otto.

Homo Imbibens Re-tells An All Too Familiar Faustian Theme And Explains The Roots Of Our Drunken History

Human beings never seem to know when to stop. We always go too far, at least that was Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s prime thesis in his stage play “Faust.” The ancient Romans proved this with their mass over-consumption of wine before battle. This suggests that ancient humans felt is necessary that one must get “properly deluded” before picking up a weapon and charging off to war. At a site called Corent, located in central France, archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of a major Celtic ceremonial center and regional capital dated to the first and second century B.C. At around 140 B.C. Corent inhabitants developed a ferocious taste for expensive Roman wine. From the unearthed remains at this site it has been determined the population at this time in history drank 28,000 bottles of expensive Italian red a year. The cites estimated population, 10,000 people. At this period in time, “…wine was primarily drunk by elites,” says Matthieu Poux, a Franco-Swiss archaeologist. “We have to assume lots more beer and mead was drunk by commoners.” That’s a lot of alcohol!

The spiritual and intellectual connections between humans and alcohol can be re-told by the ancient Greeks. In a symposium fueled by wine it was believed, “The first bowl of wine is for health, the second for pleasure, and the third for sleep. When this bowl is drunk up, the wise guests go home.” The comic poet Eubulus warned people during the fourth century B.C. about the down fall of over consumption. “The fourth bowl is ours no longer, but belongs to violence; the fifth to uproar; the sixth to drunken revel; the seventh to black eyes. The eighth is the policeman’s; the ninth belongs to biliousness; and the tenth to madness and the hurling of furniture.”

“Millions of years ago, when food was harder to come by, the attraction to ethanol and the brain chemistry that lit up to reward the discovery of fermented fruit may have been a critical survival advantage for our primate ancestors. Today those genetic and neurochemical traits may be at the root of compulsive drinking,” says Robert Dudley.

So what does this have to do with global climate change, the melting of Antarctica, Trump as president, and the deforestation of the rain forest? “Hmmmmmm.” Maybe we’re all just over performers?

To read more about the our historical roots with ethanol check out the February 2017 edition of National Geographic “Saving Our Oceans,” The Birth of Booze, page 30.

When Society Fails (edited)

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“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

They call me crazy, but I think THEY are the crazy ones. Maybe it’s because I have social issues. People are offended when they see women dressed in revealing styles. In their disdain, they may turn their noses up and look the other way. Does she have a social right to dress that way? Why shouldn’t she? If you send a famished person to a smorgasbord with voluptuous dishes and tell the starving person not to touch or eat any of the forbidden dishes, you just might be in trouble. Then again, he may just get-up and walk away from the dinner and go else where. In any case you run the risk of receiving a possible “hit” on your voluptuous dishes. Society, supposedly, has left you with legal remedies. You can press charges against the “famished” person for touching the voluptuous smorgasbord, all supposedly in a system free of prejudicial and social biases.

In this social system, men are offended that repetitive male rapist’s are punished with chemical or surgical castration. They think it cruel and unusual punishment. But who is the real “threat” of this social situation? And what is a legal system, that is already overloaded with inmates, suppose to do?

I believe in social aid. Let me explain. Not that far from my house is a “red light district” where you can solicit city prostitutes. Do these women have a right to advertise there “goods” or “wares” in public fashion for retail purchase? Why shouldn’t they when a social system has failed them? When their families couldn’t provide them with more suitable alternatives? Social aid should be given to these women in the form of medical aid; check-ups, treatments to help reduce the spread of disease, as well as other forms of aid like work rehabilitation programs.

Some cities have “clean needle programs” that offer clean syringes to heroine addicts in an effort to reduce the spread of aids. In recent events, rural Indiana experienced such an outbreak of aids related cases due to the sharing of dirty syringes. The CDC in an effort to control the outbreak sent representatives to offer and help implement these programs. “Jesus loves you. Don’t you know?”

I’m against the unlawful unethical medical experimentations carried out by our military in an effort to garnish data on the side-effects of various drug and torture techniques as a way to establish policies and improve procedures for “treatment of foreign criminals.” I’m also against the medical communities use of mentally ill patients, low-income patients, and prison inmates as test subjects for their unlawful unethical medical experiments. They are blatant crimes against humanity and the whole reason we sought to create the United Nations and destroy Nazi Germany. Hitler, by the way, was posthumously diagnosed as a Narcissist. And it’s the whole reason why the Nobel Committee decided to discredit Egas Moniz founder of the frontal lobotomy and declared it the award that should have never been awarded!

Societies fail when the very men and women who risked their lives and have lost their limbs as well as a portion of their sanity to defend our borders are left on the streets, broken, dejected, and addicted. Who are we to judge these individuals for their lifestyles if the government can’t lend assistance? Alice Miller quote “Most people are born into a family. This family will mark them for life.” Societies today seem ill-equipped to offer these marginalized groups any better choices. In America, even our educational systems are far below par. It’s not only a jungle out there. There’s a war going on and it appears to be a psychic one.

“War diminishes, war debases all those who wage it.” ~Elie Wiesel

Right now I’m looking at one of my Christmas gifts. It’s the December/January 2017 issue of Nat Geo Wild. “The Secret Life of Predators.” In it there is an article entitled “Savage Kingdom; Think Game of Thrones is the final word on warring dynasties and violent conflict? The predators of Savuti make the tribes of Westeros look tame. Sound familiar? The tribes of the ruling American political machine make the African Savannah look tame. The U.S. Military and big Pharma versus the disadvantaged populace. A paragraph from Nat Geo reads:

“Establishing dominance in competition for resources – food, territory, even potential mates – can produce a pageantry of escalating threats by rivals eager to settle disputes or establish dominance.”

Am I building a mystery here? Are my neighbors nothing more than brutal savage beasts? Have I been obtuse in my rose colored garden of organic pesticide? Have I eaten too much of the pink colored berries again? You know the ones, those lotus berries that induce euphoria and a sense of well being? No. But I have been on electro-magnetic frequency waves and, believe it or not, they produce an opiate like effects just like those pink lotus colored berries.

“Well, I’ve walked these streets A virtual stage, it seemed to me Makeup on their faces Actors took their places next to me.” ~Natalie Merchant, Carnival

So how does one stay alive in jungles such as these? By developing or adapting strategies that deter or elude potential capture. In the animal kingdoms we see camouflage, the same masks worn by the psychopath. Or we see forms of an adaptation like that of secretions. Neurotoxin exuded from the skin that makes organisms a deadly lethal meal and various other ones as well. Again, all strategies of the psychopath. The rough-skin newt, featured in Nat Geo, secrets a form of this deadly toxin and has been seen crawling, unharmed from the mouths of dead frogs that had, just minutes before, swallowed them whole. It seems like the snake like behavior of the animal kingdom, with its deadly venom and stealthy bite holds the same type of success for an otherwise too human population. Humans know these adaptations in forms of destructive game play, war mongering and other forms of psychopathic games that can create some of the most successful moguls in history. But what happens when the animal kingdom meets religion, that is, meets a higher level of conscious awareness?

“Terrorism must be outlawed by all civilized nations – not explained or rationalized, but fought and eradicated. Nothing can, nothing will justify the murder of innocent people and helpless children.” ~Elie Wiesel