Small Beer

I'm told I should stop drinking spirits in pubs, because (a) it's expensive, (b) they get me rather drunk, and (c) they're full of calories. So I should drunk beer or wine instead.

Pub wine is (a) expensive and (b) vinegar. Beer divides into an incomprehensible array of subtypes, according to whether it's light or dark, made with barley, wheat, rye or corn, fermented with wild or cultivated yeast, flavoured with hops or fruit, bubbled through with nitrogen or not, filtered or pasteurised or not, and a load of other considerations.

There's the overlapping categories of bitter, mild, stout, barleywine, saison, lambic and many more. There's also "Real Ales", which are unfiltered, unpasteurised, and the consistency of porridge.

However, half the beer in the world is larger, which combines the colour of cat urine with the social sophistication of cat urine and the flavour of cat urine.

So, last night I was persuaded to try a pint of Kronenberg beer. It was a bit like drinking pulverised stale bread. I managed half a glass. The handsome barman advised me against trying the Fosters beer, on account of it being exactly the same, only weaker.

So I tried Guinness with blackcurrant. I was surprised at it being quite pleasant, but after the first third of a glass it became the liquid equivalent of trying to eat six dry crackers in a row.

There is a theory that, if you don't want to drink too much in a pub, you should order something you don't like much. But there is another theory that the whole point of going into a public house is to drink too much, enjoy it, and tell the barman how handsome he is. Which I think I'll go back to doing.

Or try cider.

My telephone is my alarm clock. It wakes me up whenever someone needs my help in something computer related.

Today my morning call was from Stephen P, whose graduation film project was six hours from the final deadline, and had gone pear shaped.

The sound was all wrong, and the editing needed to be redone, and half the audio files wouldn't read, and he hadn't slept for two days, and his computer was a load of rubbish.

Between us we got it done ten minutes before the deadline. I think the university should pay me a retainer for the students I help pass courses.

C's going back to college - studying to be a holiday rep/tour guide. On the one hand, it's a great idea because he'll get to see all the wild and exotic places he loves. On the other, he'll have to drag around a coachload of boozy morons to do it.

No, I'm pleased for him.

In the evening there was a debate on the causes - and possible solutions - to climate change. There were four speakers, who laid out their positions.

Speaker 1: The apparently insane and destructive actions of governments and corporations makes sense if you understand the market system. Remove the market and you remove the actions.

Speaker 2: Ordinary people are to blame for being greedy. There needs to be a global change in the way people think, a rejection of consumerism and an embrace of dignified poverty.

Speaker 3: Environmentally aware people need to get involved in party politics, to pressure governments to rein in the corporations that control them.

Speaker 4: You can't trust any politician. The human race must return to living off the land in small villages.

There followed a somewhat unenlightening debate between various camps with half-formed ideas.

Someone said the solution was to drop out of all political activity, because all politics is corrupt. Another came out with the old chestnut about human nature being unchangably greedy - except when it wasn't. And there was much talk about somehow creating a spiritual awakening (whatever that means) in the human race.

My own small contribution ran like this:
You want to persuade humanity to wear a hairshirt to protect its future. There are roughly 6.6 billion humans on the planet, and lets say half of these are in such poverty that they can't make sacrifices.

Now lets say you conduct the most massively successful publicity campaign the world has ever seen, and persuade 10% of the target audience to reduce their carbon footprint by 10% each.

In this utopian scenario you've persuaded 33 million people to make fairly small sacrifices in their lives. Congratulations, you've reduced the global footprint by 1%. To make a difference you might need 80%.

There was also the small unmentioned issue that a group of 40ish had shrunk to around 20 because of internal power struggles, and these were the people trying to save the planet by telling poor people to make themselves poorer.

I had a long discussion with Speaker 4 afterwards. He said mankind needs to return to natural practices - mud huts are more natural than houses, eating apples is more natural than eating apple pies, and hand pulled ploughs are more natural than horse drawn ones. Though ploughs are unnatural anyway.

I spent 20 minutes trying to get him to define "natural" in this context. He couldn't. I suggested this might mean his ideas were flawed. He didn't see why.

Why are most good people mad?


  1. Oh three things...

    A friend once chided me because I told him that I didn't like the beer being served at a kegger. "This shit's for getting drunk." Well... if that's the point then drink away.

    When I was at school in the Philippines, I ran into an Australian and we went out to the bars. Trying to find something to talk about, I told him a story that involved me getting Fosters. His face told me that he wasn't impressed. Turns out that hardly anyone in Australia drink that beer. It's for export. Well, now I know.

    What kind of degree do you get for for tour guide? Parks and Recreation?

    I don't see how regressing civilization to the point of living in villages (I already live in one) is helpful. Finding ways to solve global climate change and progressing civilization is far more preferable and provides a goal to aspire to. I've lived without indoor plumbing once. I'm not doing it again for the sake of this planet.

  2. Fosters

    There's a beer called "Stella Artois", brewed in Belgium mainly for export. It's marketed in the UK as "Reassuringly Expensive", i.e high quality.

    But in Belgium it's viewed as cheap and tasteless junk.

    What kind of degree do you get for for tour guide?

    I'm not sure. Probably something like "Travel and Hospitality".

    I don't see how regressing civilization to the point of living in villages (I already live in one) is helpful.

    I absolutely agree. Unfortunately, the majority of people in environmentalist organisations are upper middle class liberals with a somewhat...romantic notion of rustic simplicity.

    They like the idea of living "close to nature", so long as they're properly innoculated against disease and don't have do do any work.

  3. SOmeone once told me Vodka is the booze for slimmers, less calories than anything else. Try drinking loads of voddy!

  4. So great reading you again, dear Captain! You cannot imagine how much I've missed you!
    After some serious hardware troubles, I'm back again, I guess...
    That debate must have been really something... Things people say in front of the cameras... I some times wish we could go on watching them from the moment on they leave the stage and go back to their routines... «Let's all become troglodytic again, and the whole world will be a new paradise!» Please!
    Thank you so very much for your supportive comments when I was away! They did help me a lot! I think I should tell you this...
    Best wishes! :-)

  5. You cannot imagine how much I've missed you!

    Aww, shucks!

    That debate must have been really something...

    As well as chatting with speaker 4 after the debate, I also spoke with speaker 2. She works with drug addicts professionally, and believes humanity is addicted to industrial energy in exactly the same way as a heroin overuser can't stop injecting heroin.

    So her solution is to put the whole world into a drug rehab clinic.

    I said to her that she probably treated maybe 5% of all drug addicts in this one town, and might cure 5% of them. With such a low success rate in a town of fifty thousand, how could she expect to treat six and a half billion people?

    She replied that it was "merely" a problems of not enough therapists.

    A nice lady, and a fundamentally good person, but very very silly. Just like most of the others at the debate.

  6. Thank you so much for the details, Captain!
    I don't really know about the UK, but around here I've been noticing that those who intervene have noideas, and those who have them, don't... Strange, odd society this is...
    Best wishes! :-)

  7. half the beer in the world is larger, which combines the colour of cat urine with the social sophistication of cat urine and the flavour of cat urine.

    *coughs and falls over*