And now for some April Fool’s Day gags

Tuesday, 4 April, 2017

1 April, or April Fool’s Day, came and went pretty much unnoticed in my part of the world. For a second, I thought I was being gamed when it was announced the trains were running to schedule, but as it happens, they were.

The action last Saturday appeared to be elsewhere, and some of the world’s biggest brands were doing the heaviest lifting. Adweek put together a list of the best deceptions, which includes this all too plausible advert for Jameson Irish Whiskey.

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There are 3000 words for being drunk (but I can’t remember any)

Thursday, 9 February, 2017

The English language is said to be possessed of no fewer than three thousand words for being in a state of intoxication, or drunkeness, says British lexicographer and etymologist Susie Dent, writing for the BBC.

“Alcohol” itself is 800 years old, taken from the Spanish Arabic al-kuhul which meant “the kohl”, linking it with the same black eye cosmetic you’ll find on any modern make-up counter. The term was originally applied to powders or essences obtained by alchemists through the process of distillation. This included both unguents for the face as well as liquid spirits of the intoxicating kind.

What – I wonder – does that say about English speakers?

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Drinking alcohol, good for a buzz, but not for long

Thursday, 26 May, 2016

This probably comes as little surprise to anyone… alcohol consumption may lift our mood, but will only do so for a short time.

Study leader Dr. Ben Bamburg Geiger, from the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, found that while drinking alcohol makes us momentarily happy, it fails to offer long-term life satisfaction and well-being.

I’d say there are other ways of seeking contentment and fulfillment, thankfully, though I wouldn’t go cancelling after work drinks on Friday.

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There’s a neuroscience to the way we perceive the taste of wine

Monday, 22 February, 2016

What does neuroscience have to do with appreciating wine? Rather a lot as it happens, since it is our nervous systems that ultimately decide whether we like what were drinking or not.

We don’t just taste with our senses, we taste with our minds. And our minds are routinely affected by a host of influences of which, quite often, we are not even aware. Both our senses and our common sense can be led astray by any number of extraneous factors originating in what we know, or think we know, about the wine we are drinking. Figuring out how our minds work in such complex domains as the evaluation of wines – which are, among other things, economic goods – is the province of neuroeconomics.

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Beer as a spreadable food… is this the breakfast of champions?

Friday, 21 August, 2015

Beer as food spread? Sounds like tempting fate to me. I don’t know about anyone else, but I couldn’t imagine eating something I’m more accustomed to drinking. That’s obviously not a prospect that bothers some people though.

The oatmeal stout jelly is the most intimidating, with its dark brown color and heady smell. But it’s actually sweet, and a lot fruitier than you’d expect. The roasted, yeasty flavors you want from a stout are there, but it’s not like chomping into Marmite by any means. With sliced juicy figs and a cracker, it was delicious. On a tear of Brie, even better.

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Tastes mainly like food to me, beer that is

Monday, 29 June, 2015

Porter and stout ingredients, image by VinePair

With the variety of flavours that can be identified while drinking certain types of beers and ales, it could be argued that a fair amount of actual food is also being consumed.

For example, nuts, coffee, chocolate, and cherries, are but a few of the essences can that be discerned from some porter and stout beers. So, liquid lunch, or what?

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A hangover cure, made from the leaves of the Alexandrian laurel

Friday, 1 May, 2015

Being Friday and all…

According to the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, a collection of manuscripts, some of which are nearly two thousand years old, the people of ancient Greece and Rome strung together leaves of a shrub called Danae racemosa, or Alexandrian laurel, to make a hangover curing necklace.

There seems to be doubt as to whether these leaves were actually effective of themselves, but possibly they had some placebo like quality that helped.

The key ingredient listed to treat the hangover – the slow growing evergreen Danae racemosa – wasn’t exactly known for its medical properties. The plant was used in Greek and Roman times to crown distinguished athletes, orators and poets. Whether stringing its leaves and wearing the strand around the neck had any effect to relieve headaches in alcohol victims isn’t known.

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Whisky, a smooth spirit, or a combination of chemicals?

Friday, 10 April, 2015

I’ve never really taken to whisky, unless some sort of soft drink is added to it, something that totally defeats the purpose of consuming it in the first place though.

Maybe my reluctance to try it straight more often is down to the chemistry, or science, of its brewing process, and the spirit itself, and the feeling I’m drinking the results of some sort of chemistry experiment.

That said, there is a very definite chemistry to the making of whisky.

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A hangover cure, a pill to be taken with a pinch of salt?

Wednesday, 11 March, 2015

A British professor, David Nutt, has produced a pill is said to water down the effects of a heavy night of drinking, namely the morning after hangover. Now, wouldn’t that be something?

Nutt’s second drug is described as a “chaperone,” which can reduce the effects of alcohol on the body. If the pill is taken before drinking, it is impossible to become drunk “to the point of incapacitation,” i.e. drunk enough to think hassling the DJ to play “Single Ladies” for “all my girls” is a good idea.

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Champagne has external use as well it seems

Friday, 16 January, 2015

Did you end up with a magnum or three of champagne, as gifts perhaps, over the holiday break, but worst of luck, aren’t a fan of the bubbly brew? Not to worry, champagne seemingly has a number of other applications, such as a being a cooking aid, or helping to bring out the shine in freshly polished leather shoes…

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