How Beer Saved the World!

Did you know that beer was critical to the birth of civilization?

 That’s right – beer.

Scientists and historians line up to tell the amazing, untold story of how beer helped create math, poetry, pyramids, modern medicine, labor laws, and America.

If you think beer is just something cold and filling to drink during sporting matches or in the kind of bars that you probably shouldn’t order wine in, then, boy, are you ever in the dark. It turns out beer is responsible for, like, all the greatest things on earth.

Learn more about what beer did for you!


via Slate

Is the United States sliding toward theocracy? That’s what Republican presidential candidates have told us for more than a year. Radical Islam, they’ve argued, is on the verge of taking over our country through Sharia law. But this weekend, at an Iowa forum sparsely covered by the press, the candidates made clear that they don’t mind theocracy—in fact, they’d like to impose it—as long as it’s Christian.

You can find video of Saturday’s “Thanksgiving Family Forum” on the Web sites of two organizations that sponsored it: CitizenLink and the Family Leader. Here are highlights of the candidates’ remarks.

1. Religious Americans must fight back against nonbelievers. 

To quote Herman Cain: 

What we are seeing is a wider gap between people of faith and people of nonfaith. … Those of us that are people of faith and strong faith have allowed the nonfaith element to intimidate us into not fighting back. I believe we’ve been too passive. We have maybe pushed back, but as people of faith, we have not fought back.

2. The religious values we must fight for are Judeo-Christian. 
Rick Perry warned:

Somebody’s values are going to decide what the Congress votes on or what the president of the United States is going to deal with. And the question is: Whose values? And let me tell you, it needs to be our values—values and virtues that this country was based upon in Judeo-Christian founding fathers.

3. Our laws and our national identity are Judeo-Christian. 
Michele Bachmann explained:

American exceptionalism is grounded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, which is really based upon the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments were the foundation for our law. That’s what Blackstone said—the English jurist—and our founders looked to Blackstone for the foundation of our law. That’s our law.

4. No religion but Christianity will suffice. Perry declared, “In every person’s heart, in every person’s soul, there is a hole that can only be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.”

5. God created our government. 
Bachmann told the audience:

I have a biblical worldview. And I think, going back to the Declaration of Independence, the fact that it’s God who created us—if He created us, He created government. And the government is on His shoulders, as the book of Isaiah says.

6. U.S. law should follow God’s law. 
As Rick Santorum put it:

Unlike Islam, where the higher law and the civil law are the same, in our case, we have civil laws. But our civil laws have to comport with the higher law. … As long as abortion is legal—at least according to the Supreme Court—legal in this country, we will never have rest, because that law does not comport with God’s law.

7. Anything that’s immoral by religious standards should be outlawed. 
Santorum again:

God gave us rights, but He also gave us laws upon which to exercise those rights, and that’s what you ought to do. And, by the way, the law should comport—the laws of this country should comport with that moral vision. Why? Because the law is a teacher. If something is illegal in this country because it is immoral and it is wrong and it is harmful to society, saying that it is illegal and putting a law in place teaches. It’s not just—laws cannot be neutral. There is no neutral, Ron. There is only moral and immoral. And the law has to reflect what is right and good and just for our society.

8. The federal government should impose this morality on the states. 
Santorum once more:

The idea that the only things that the states are prevented from doing are only things specifically established in the Constitution is wrong. Our country is based on a moral enterprise. Gay marriage is wrong. As Abraham Lincoln said, the states do not have the right to do wrong. … As a president, I will get involved, because the states do not have the right to undermine the basic, fundamental values that hold this country together.

9. Congress should erase the judiciary’s power to review moral laws. 
Newt Gingrich suggested:

I am intrigued with something which Robby George at Princeton has come up with, which is an interpretation of the 14th Amendment, in which it says that Congress shall define personhood. That’s very clearly in the 14th Amendment. And part of what I would like to explore is whether or not you could get the Congress to pass a law which simply says: Personhood begins at conception. And therefore—and you could, in the same law, block the court and just say, ‘This will not be subject to review,’ which we have precedent for. You would therefore not have to have a constitutional amendment, because the Congress would have exercised its authority under the 14th Amendment to define life, and to therefore undo all of Roe vs. Wade, for the entire country, in one legislative action.

Gingrich said the same strategy could secure the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and protects the right of states to disregard same-sex marriages performed in other states. In his words, “You could repass DOMA and make it not appealable to the court, period.”
10. Courts that get in the way should be abolished.
 Gingrich again:

The simplest first step which I would take is to propose—and I hope this will be a significant part of the campaign next year—I have proposed to abolish the court of Judge Biery in San Antonio, who on June 1 issued an order that said, not only could students not pray at their graduation, they couldn’t use the word benediction, the could not say the word prayer, they could not say the word God, they could not ask people to stand for a moment of silence, they couldn’t use the word invocation, and if he broke any of those, he would put their superintendent in jail. I regard that as such a ruthless anti-American statement that he should not be on the court, and I would move to literally abolish his court, so that he could go back to private practice, as a signal to the courts.

Biery’s order was an overreach. In fact, it was overturned two days later by an appeals court. But he’s only the first target of the anti-judicial purge. The next words after Gingrich’s threat came from Santorum, who said: “I agree with a lot of what has just been said here. I would go farther—one step farther, Newt. I would abolish the entire Ninth Circuit.”
11. The purge of judges should be based on public opinion. 

Gingrich once more:

Part of the purpose of singling out Judge Biery and eliminating his job is to communicate the standard that the two elected branches have the power and the authority to educate the judiciary when it deviates too far from the American people. And I think you would probably take that approach.

12. Freedom means obeying morality. Santorum concluded, “Our founders understood liberty is not what you want to do, but what you ought to do. That’s what liberty really is about.”
There was one voice of dissent among the candidates. Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas, argued that people should be allowed to make bad decisions, that freedom of choice in religious matters should extend to atheists, and that powers not reserved to the federal government should be left to the states. But in a field of candidates bent on legislating Christian morality and purging uncooperative judges, Paul stood alone. Protecting America is too important to let the Constitution get in the way.


Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. 

One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. 
These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. 

And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, 

I call upon you to resign immediately.


Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis

I am very salty.

I am very salty. You know, salt-of-the-Earth kind of person. And I can't help but to keep thinking of the Way the Universe works. You know, the Tao and all that. It also helps, of course, to have a good deal of common sense. I imagine how there may be other life on other planets as we steadily gain the opportunity to perceive it. I imagine what they will be like compared to humanity. And I find myself hoping that they really aren't like us at all.

Humanity. Human beings. Homo sapiens. We sure don't know a hell of a whole lot for being so damn sapient. I mean, about existence, about balance, about the cycles of things, and how to live a life in harmony and stasis in the environment around you. All you have to do is observe the modern media, politics, or visit to your local Mega Mart to realize that a great deal of humanity is completely ignorant.

Blatantly ignorant, what's more. Oh, that's not to say they're apathetic, however. They care about these things, but not enough to make a real change; not enough to change how they behave, live, think. Change is inconvenient. It interferes with their busy little personalities and business schedules. It interferes with their marriages and their television programs. But they care in a "oh, that's terrible but there's really nothing I can do about it," kind-of-way. Well keep using up all your planet's resources to live your expensive, important little lives. One day it will all just be burned up, consumed by the Sun: nothing more than vapor and plasma. 

But long before that happens, our gorgeous, special planet Earth will be a used-up, wasted little husk of post-humanity trash and carnage. And this--because of blatantly ignorant people like these and their addiction to the talking heads on television--will be our grand, human legacy to the Universe. There are nearly 7 BILLION people on the planet. I believe there was a phrase intended to convey the particular sentiment of this very statistic: It is called, "What The Fuck?"

How can anyone honestly believe that we can just zip around to the Mall and the Grocery Store when this is our present reality? Just use something and throw it away. Well, let me tell you how long it takes landfills to decompose. Some of it virtually never does. Let me also tell you how quickly they fill up. These giant lakes and oceans of trash can be seen from SPACE. And they grow like festering wounds, giant boils of human filth and refuse upon the face of our Mother Earth.

But I care. I really, REALLY genuinely care about these things. Because, in understand the Way, you must come to understand the How, the What, the When, and the Why. Well, in coming to understand these things, I have come to some pretty pathetic, embarrassing conclusions. And I find myself unable to do anything about all of this nonsense because of the strains and bonds that modern society has placed upon me. Needing cars and cellular phones and all other manner of our pretentious technology, that is "making a better world." All of these virtually pointless, precocious little things that one simply can't live without. Well guess what? Our world was just fine until humans somehow developed the clever idea that you could Boss People Around. Then, we decided that in order to Boss People Around, you had to really make them afraid of you for some reason. The Power of Deities. Satan and his fiery inferno called Hell. Death and disease and starvation. Infidels, heretics, and blasphemers. Losing all your hard-earned money. Secret agents. Nuclear warheads. Total economic collapse. Natural disasters and catastrophes. We also decided to sell them things, investing all our collective faith in the grand idea of monetary, arbitrary value. You need these things, you do! You simply couldn't bear to live without them. You surely couldn't survive without them, could you?

So when I am out working in my garden, riding my bicycle, swimming in the river, studying and wondering over Nature in her incredible majesty and infinite mystery, and busily trying to understand the Way Everything Works, I think about these people and it makes my Soul, my secret self, burn with anger. And (thanks to Yoda) we know what anger leads to: hate. And Hate leads to suffering.

But it's all so unfair! Why should I suffer this burden, when no one cares enough to do anything about it? HOW CAN THEY JUST SIT THERE AND NOT GIVE A DAMN?!

We are on a bullet train toward the brink of self-annihilation and people are too busy drinking double-tall, white mocha creme latte with little brown sprinkles and reading magazines to observe or care.

Self-important, bellicose, materialistic little bastards! I think that's what life on another planet would think of us when they got to know us even just a little bit.

And this is the grand legacy of our species. TA-DAAaaaAA!

I told you I was feeling rather salty.


In recent News...

via Los Angeles Times
by Christopher Knight

Let's take a look at the real Federal budget, shall we?

Are we safe yet?


Gaddafi, you have already lost, you just don't know it yet.



The Very Many Varieties of BEER!

Click on the image above to get the high-res version!



Today's Tip: GO check out Miss Manatee!

The Vinegar Tasters (嘗醋翁) [Lao Tzu, Buddha, and Confucius as the Three Sours]

(excerpt from, The Butterfly)
Nothing that gets posted matters anymore. There is so much information, none of it matters. Everyone knows that terrible things are happening in the world, so why read about it? "Because it's history!" Well guess what, someday I'll be dead and I won't remember human history and I don't care. I don't care to inundate my consciousness with tragedy and mania in the name of being "plugged in." And someday humans are gonna be extinct, and later the Earth is gonna get swallowed up by the Sun, and everything we've ever thought up or built or cried over or wasted our money on will all just be vapor and plasma.  
I'm info-tigued. TIRED OF INFORMATION! And so are you. What the fuck are you doing here anyway? Nobody reads this blog, don't you know that? 

and if you should wish to learn all there is to learn about the

Manatees: the mermaid's ambassadors

you may click on the picture or link above :)


 also worthy of mention due to potential hilarity are



winning at blogging.



by Rudyard Kipling

(written in 1910 for his 12-year-old son, John)

If you can keep your head when all about you

     Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
     But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
     Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating
     And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,

     If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
     And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
     Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
     And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools,

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

     And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
     And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
     To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And hold on when there is nothing in you
     Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with cowards and keep your virtue,

     Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
     If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
     With sixty seconds worth of distance run
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
     And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!



Probably one of the best works of children's fiction ever written.

I highly recommend you try it! Read it to your kids, even!