Thursday, June 18, 2009

Freedom, democracy, and Coke

One of my favorite and most memorable New Yorker reads is a book review of A History of the World in 6 Glasses. It's not just Coke that has caffeine and gets us to socialize, of course, and it's not just caffeine that does it. Ben Franklin famously said that wine is the proof of divine adoration, but I'd put in a vote for the coffee bean and tea leaf too.

Another favorite of mine is the one on Dogfish Brewing, a somewhat less philosophical read but at least as entertaining. It opens with a recounting of how all kinds of mammals seem to love alcohol, as evidenced by rampaging drunk (beer thieving) elephants. The quote at the very end by Patrick McGovern at Penn about alcohol's unique effects on mammalian brains, namely to stimulate at first, is particularly interesting.

Had we all remained hunter/gatherers and were there no Neolithic Revolution, no agriculture, and no brewing of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, would we ever have come up with as many great ideas? Or as many stupid ones?