New Zealand’s greatest one hit wonder you never heard of:... | 02/10/2015
New Zealand’s greatest one hit wonder you never heard of: The Patea Maori Club with “Poi E” from 1984.
A sentiment we can all relate to. | 02/03/2015
A sentiment we can all relate to.
The professional's guide to hangover mitigation | 12/27/2014
You’re a professional: you successfully completed school, you have gainful employment, a retirement account, you know not to browse gentleman's special interest literature unless in private mode.
Whatever your background dear drinker, the thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a hangover cure. Scientists don’t even accurately know what exactly causes a hangover yet. But it is possible to mitigate a hangover, and an ounce of prevention is worth a metric shit-ton of cure. You probably already know one of the primary causes of hangovers is dehydration, in particular dehydration of your brain. Headaches result from dehydration, “because the body’s organs try to make up for their own water loss by stealing water from the brain, causing the brain to decrease in size and pull on the membranes that connect the brain to the skull, resulting in pain."
It follows that drinking water is the first step towards mitigating your pain. Ideally you should enjoy one drink of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume, but this is hardly enjoyable, let alone practical. Chug a pitcher of water straight after you finish that pitcher of beer? I don’t think so. Some people will try to cram in all their water-drinking just before they go to bed, but again, if you’ve managed to defeat a couple of bottles of muscular Rioja in an evening, trying to diligently pound 1.5 liters of water when all you want to do is collapse like the Iraqi army is an unrealistic ask for all but the most self-disciplined drinkers. This strategy is most practical when you’re imbibing cocktails or hard spirits, because the volume of liquid consumed tends to be so much lower.
Photo: Greg Nairn
In my experience drinking one glass of water for every two glasses of alcohol is a good compromise. It’s not so much water as to make you feel like a bloated whale, but it will counteract a substantial amount of alcohol’s dehydrating effects. Then if you can manage to drain a big glass or two of water before bed, so much the better. Drinking water works best when you combine this strategy with food consumption.
It is of course possible to eat a salad while you’re drinking, assuming you are a particularly self-disciplined drinker who is more concerned with the destination than the journey. To such vodka-drinking, salad eating people, I say to you: why not just invest in an alcohol vaporizer and remove 100% of the pleasure from eating and drinking? No, when you’re drinking, the correct food to consume is salty, fatty, carb-laden protein of the forms so helpfully offered in the modern bar environment. Fries, meat, cheese and bread; these are the things that will most effectively slow down the rate of alcohol absorption in your stomach - not to mention taste a lot better than skinny ever feels. Plant-based foods have their place, and that place is while you’re getting in good enough shape to properly abuse yourself when drinking.
So, you’re enjoying some quality beverages, you’re pacing yourself with a water in between every second drink, and you’re sensibly lining your stomach with the sort of food all nutritionists caution you to avoid at all costs. You’re mitigating your hangover on multiple fronts, but there’s still a couple more strategies that can help ensure the next morning sees you bounce out of bed ready to join the army.
Romance. There’s no science to back this one up, but I swear that the times I’ve been drinking and sealed the deal before crashing out I’ve never felt as hungover as I deserved to the next day.
A headache is surely something that it’s much, much better to treat preemptively rather than after the fact. So don’t pop a couple of painkillers after you wake up the next day - scarf them while you’re brushing your teeth before bed for a headache preempted. Popping painkillers after you wake up when there’s a meat grinder already stuck in the middle of your frontal lobes is a rookie mistake. Be careful however, of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, "as is found in Tylenol. Acetaminophen is by far the most common cause of liver failure in the United States, and combined with alcohol it can be deadly. One or two pills are usually safe, depending on the amount of alcohol in your system. Aspirin can be helpful before sleep and upon rising with plenty of water, but only in moderation. Aspirin, a blood thinner like alcohol, spares your liver but increases the risk of bleeding in your stomach and gastrointestinal tract. If your body is sensitive to aspirin, it will hate it while drunk."
TL;DR painkillers used before bed are good, but will end up making your liver fail, and/or stomach bleed if you’re drinking several nights a week.
I’m skeptical of any multivitamin cures. There’s no published evidence they work, they’re expensive, and of the ones I’ve tried I found it difficult to distinguish between their effects and a placebo effect.
There’s one other thing that will go a long way to mitigating your hangover though: sleep. Sleep allows your body to repair itself, and pouring alcohol - poison - into your body, damages it. If you can combine a solid 8-10 hours of sleep with these strategies, you’ll be amazed at how good you can feel after a fulsome session of liver abuse.
What have I missed?
A six minute time-lapse video of six months aboard the... | 12/23/2014
A six minute time-lapse video of six months aboard the International Space Station. Full screen viewing material.
Marco Rubio Channels The Conservative id on Cuba | 12/21/2014
Republican senator and 2016 Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio of Florida, son of Cuban immigrants, is not down with Obama moving to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba:
Photo: Gage Skidmore
“… [G]iving the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars isn’t just bad for the oppressed Cuban people, or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama’s new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people.”
Rubio makes the case in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal that the Castro regime is a terrible, brutal, oppressive one - and he’s right. Few would argue that. He goes on to point out “it has been the policy and law of the U.S. to make clear that re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba is possible—but only once the Cuban government stops jailing political opponents, protects free speech, and allows independent political parties to be formed and to participate in free and fair elections.”
For Rubio, this is the only correct response from America to a brutal and oppressive regime. So for Obama to open the door to normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba means, “the regime in Cuba won’t have to change.”
America’s embargo of Cuba has been in place for over 50 years, restricting basically all American imports and exports to the country, with the stated goal of removing the Castro regime, or at the very least, forcing it to cease its human rights abuses and adopt modern democratic capitalist norms.
This has manifestly not happened.
Photo: Alfredo Miguel Romero
In fact, if anything it has strengthened the Castro regime’s grip on power, and served as justification for the regime to crack down on civil rights touted as necessary to “protect a country at war.”
America’s embargo has made life demonstrably worse for Cuba’s everyday citizens for more than five decades though, while doing precisely zero to affect the behavior of the Castro regime in the ways America says it wants. In fact, sanctions have been admitted to have a mixed record at best, even by the Government Accountability Office. Albert Einstein famously said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I don’t think Senator Rubio is insane exactly, but he is certainly not demonstrating insightful thinking on this issue.
It seems Senator Rubio’s primary motivator is good old conservative punishment/revenge, owing to his parents having fled Cuba to seek better economic fortunes in the US. Daniel Larison writing in The American Conservative makes a convincing case that Rubio is talking nonsense because he just hates diplomacy, while his silence on the numerous other odious regimes America maintains normal diplomatic relations with speaks volumes to his hypocrisy on Cuba. These include the world’s worst human rights abusers: Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Burma, Chad, China, Laos, and Libya.
Engaging with countries you disagree with is not a reward for good behavior - unless you are a six year old; it’s the bare minimum required for any adult. Those hawks who make the case for treating other countries as if they were errant children are the ones most in need of growing up. It’s a lot harder to change others’ behavior when you have no engagement with them (and setting an example yourself is extremely powerful, particularly on things like oh, I don’t know - torture…).
As Moises Naim notes in The Atlantic, “in the long run, it will be hard for the Castro regime to maintain a tightly controlled political system if it allows more freedom of communication, travel, commerce, and investment. It’s easier to keep a lid on politics when a country is closed, hungry, and isolated than when it’s more open to the world.”
Punchy old school beats & epic 80s fashion | 09/21/2014
Punchy old school beats & epic 80s fashion
I see that you are not too keen on suburban living. What are your thoughts on rural life? | 08/15/2014
I much prefer rural life to suburban life. Rural life nourishes the soul; suburban life grinds it into a finely textured powder. I am extremely grateful to be the recipient of a rural upbringing, so I am probably biased (although I also spent eight years in the suburbs too). As an adult, and as highly unoriginal a sentiment as it is, if I had my druthers, I would very much prefer to have one place in a very remote rural area surrounded by trees and hills and water, and one place in the very middle of a very busy city.
Dreams are free y'know.
On America’s broken prison system: John Oliver is... | 07/22/2014
On America’s broken prison system: John Oliver is hilariously skewering some truly worthy subjects in a way that makes you feel genuinely uncomfortable about what you’re laughing at.
If We Can Make Daylight Savings Work, Why Not a 4-day 40 Hour Work Week? | 07/02/2014
Permanent three day weekends. Imagine it. Every week you get to look forward to a holiday weekend.
It’s not like you can do anything with the “spare” time outside of work you have Monday to Friday at the moment anyway - and in today’s economy, how many people actually work a straight up 40 hour week, rather than 50, 60 or more hours?
Working 8-6 Monday to Thursday would mean everyone would have more time to travel. More time to exercise. More time with family. You’d be more motivated to work during the week because you’d be more relaxed. Splitting up your week so that you only spend one day more at work than at leisure would instantly create the better work life balance that literally everyone in the modern world says they want, but so vanishingly few of us actually say we have.
Obviously this would be difficult to achieve. People working in service industries would have to renegotiate how overtime works. It would require a fundamental retooling of the global financial system. But surely it’s worth us undertaking some significant cost benefit analysis and publicly debating?
New York City in the 1920s - “Speedy” (1928) | 07/02/2014
New York City in the 1920s - “Speedy” (1928)