Male fruit flies become barflies when rejected by females, choosing alcohol-spiked food more often than their successful brothers in a study that suggests it may be due to a brain chemical also found in humans. The spurned flies had lower levels of a molecule in their brains called neuropeptide F than the males who were allowed to mate, according to findings published today in the journal Science. Neuropeptide Y, the version found in humans, has been tied to addiction and mental illness, said Ulrike Heberlein, one of the researchers. The molecule may begin to explain how experience and environment shape human addictions, said Heberlein. About half of a person's risk of addiction is genetic, and environment is known to play a role. The experiment may help explain the biological triggers that affect certain behavior or cravings and could help research into treatments for addiction ...
Tag Archives | Alcohol
Now you might think that’s a crazy headline, but as Frank Bruni points out in the New York Times, “Congress last revised excise taxes on distilled spirits in 1991, [and] the real value of those taxes has declined more than 35 percent”! (Disinfonauts outside the US, let us know how alcohol is taxed in your country)
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… excise taxes on alcohol have gone down over the last few decades, when adjusted for inflation and measured in terms of the percentage they represent of the wholesale and retail price of a bottle or a can. The federal government and many states long ago set those levies in terms of a certain dollar amount per gallon — and then didn’t tweak them much as the cost of living went up.
Because Congress last revised excise taxes on distilled spirits in 1991, the real value of those taxes has declined more than 35 percent, said Alexander Wagenaar, a professor at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine who specializes in alcohol research.
So what do teens do to be different from their parents these days? Write code? From the New York Times:
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Every few years, parents find new reasons to worry about their teenagers. And while there is no question that some kids continue to experiment with sex and substance abuse, the latest data point to something perhaps more surprising: the current generation is, well, a bit boring when it comes to bad behavior.
By several noteworthy measures, today’s teenagers are growing increasingly conservative. While marijuana use has recently had an uptick, teenagers are smoking far less pot than their parents did at the same age. In 1980, about 60 percent of high-school seniors had tried marijuana and 9 percent smoked it daily. Among seniors today, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, which has tracked teenage risk behaviors since 1975, 45.5 percent have tried the drug and 6.6 percent are smoking it frequently.
Brian Palmer discovers that it’s an open and shut case, for Slate:
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A new study suggests that legalizing medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities. The authors noted that legalizing marijuana reduces alcohol consumption, and people are more wary of driving high than drunk. Which drug is actually more dangerous on the road?
Alcohol, and it’s not even close. It’s hard to directly compare alcohol and marijuana, because driving impairment depends on dosage and the two drugs tend to affect different skills. (Pot makes drivers worse at mindless tasks like staying in a lane, while alcohol undermines behaviors that require more attention like yielding to pedestrians or taking note of stop signs.) Nevertheless, Yale psychiatrist Richard Sewell reviewed the academic literature on driving while intoxicated in a 2009 article, and found that alcohol is significantly more dangerous. Real-world data from auto accidents indicate that a drunk driver is approximately 10 times more likely to cause a fatal accident than a stoned driver.
During Prohibition, crime syndicates were re-distilling industrial alcohol to supply their speakeasies. In an effort to “poison the well,” the federal government responded by requiring manufacturers to add new, deadly compounds to the industrial alcohol mix, leading to the deaths of thousands nationwide. In an article at Slate.com, Deborah Blum writes:
It was Christmas Eve 1926, the streets aglitter with snow and lights, when the man afraid of Santa Claus stumbled into the emergency room at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. He was flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he kept telling the nurses, was just behind him, wielding a baseball bat.
Before hospital staff realized how sick he was — the alcohol-induced hallucination was just a symptom — the man died. So did another holiday party-goer. And another. As dusk fell on Christmas, the hospital staff tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill by alcohol and eight dead from it.… Read the rest
A nonsensical waste of time? Goofy conceptual art? Or a magical cross-sensory experiment? A device that converts any word that you type into a cocktail, via Morskoiboy:
My piece has buttons working as pumps and has pipes instead of wires. It also has a display like any other electronic panel board, but as opposed to using liquid crystals as in electronic displays, my machine’s display functions via multicoloured syrups. My machine converts words into cocktails. And, yes, it does work. Now I can literally taste the flavor of my words.
Pressing the buttons on the keyboard injects the corresponding ingredients into the display, which tints different segments of the display and thus produces letters. You can try to imagine that each letter can have a taste (L-Lime, A-Apple), a color (R-Red, G-Green), or a name (K-Kahlua, J-Jagermeister).
Many people figure a few beers at a ballgame or a couple of glasses of wine with dinner won't put them over the legal limit for driving. But how alcohol affects people is highly individual, with a number of factors in the mix. Quick shots of liquor hit the bloodstream faster than slow sips of wine. Drinking on an empty stomach impairs reflexes more than consuming alcohol with food...
If you’re hankering for some moonshine, head on down to South Carolina, where it’s finally legal, reports Harriet McLeod for Reuters:
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Two entrepreneurs are taking advantage of new micro-distillery laws in South Carolina to make and sell traditional moonshine whiskey legally for the first time in the southern state.
The Dark Corner Distillery will open next month in Greenville, where engineer Joe Fenten, 27, and longtime home beer brewer Richard Wenger will produce and sell small batches of 100-proof moonshine from a custom-made copper still.
The distillery, housed in a 1925 building, will also include a tasting bar and a museum dedicated to the history of the Dark Corner, the local mountains that were once full of moonshiners, feud and mayhem, Fenten told Reuters.
The area was settled, along with the nearby Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, by Scots, Irish and Welsh who migrated down through the Appalachian mountain chain from Pennsylvania in the 1700s.
Scientists found pensioners aged 75 or over who like a daily pint or glass of wine are helping to stave off senility. Those who drink alcohol are 30 per cent less likely to develop dementia and 40 per cent less likely to suffer Alzheimer's than those who were teetotal, according to the research. A study of more than 3,200 German people aged 75 or over attending GPs, who were free of dementia, were studied and checked 18 months and three years later. Associations between alcohol consumption, type of alcohol – wine, beer, mixed alcohol beverages – and incident dementia were examined. "People should be aware that we are talking about mild/moderate consumption of alcohol," said Professor Siegfried Weyerer from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany.