15 July 2008

The drunk will survive

Survival of the Sudsiest
George F. Will, The Washington Post, 10.07.2008.
Translated by Evgeny Gubnitsky , ИноСМИ.RuYou probably, like many other reasonable people, love the Investor's Business Daily newspaper because, with its inherent consistency and common sense, it supports the free market and other reasonable things.

If so, then you were probably shocked to come across an amazing statement that appeared recently on the front page of this publication. It was about the willingness of the Belgian company InBev (the second largest beer producer in the world) to pay $ 46.3 billion for a controlling stake in Anheuser-Busch (the third largest beer producer in the world); the article about this had the following statement: "The constant, albeit insignificant growth of the industry [of alcoholic beverages] has come as a surprise to those who are preparing for the turn of the economy "to the south", and expect the associated rejection of useless things, in particular, beer."

Useless to anyone?!

You try, announce something like this publicly, being in the stands of a sports stadium. Or on the beach on a hot day.

It would be more accurate to say otherwise: no beer – no civilization.

After all, civilization directly depends on urbanization, and urbanization directly depends on beer. It is unclear why this is so? Read the wonderful book by Steven Johnson, published in 2006 under the title "The Ghost Map: about the worst epidemic in the history of London and how it changed the face of science, cities and the whole modern world." This book is an excellent detective story with a scientific bias; it tells how the causes of one terrible explosion of the cholera epidemic were investigated and how the cause was found: it turned out to be a single well from which drinking water was taken for an entire block. These are the words Johnson begins his excursion into history, from reading which literally opens the eyes: "The search for a source of drinking water that is not subject to pollution began simultaneously with the appearance of the first civilizations. As soon as large settlements began to form, dysentery and other water-borne diseases immediately became the main deterrent to population growth. And almost always the solution to this problem was not water purification, but its replacement with alcoholic beverages."

One of the safest and at the same time drinkable liquids is alcohol, which is contained in beer (and later appeared in wine) and has bactericidal properties. Yes, alcohol consumption has its negative sides, but, as Johnson notes (in a somewhat frivolous manner), "dying from cirrhosis of the liver at forty is better than from dysentery at twenty." Alcohol is poisonous, addictive, but, nevertheless, alcoholic beverages, especially beer, have become a real engine of natural selection of the best representatives of the species Homo sapiens.

Johnson notes that, according to the observations of experts in history and genetics, urban settlements and alcoholic beverages appeared at about the same time, which caused the Darwinian "race for survival" among people who abandoned hunting and gathering in favor of urban life.

Avoiding dirty water, people drank large quantities of something else, for example, beer. However, for the assimilation of the beer consumed, the body requires certain properties inherent in the genes. Johnson calls these properties the ability to produce additional amounts of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase with increased alcohol consumption. Genes from the fourth chromosome of human DNA are responsible for this ability; these genes are distributed unevenly among people. Those who do not have these genes are now being talked about: "can't drink." Thus, many died at a young age from intoxication and from diseases associated with dirty water, and did not leave offspring.

Thus, urban residents began to become more and more predisposed to drinking beer, as the gene pool was replenished mainly by survivors. Johnson writes: "Most of the world's population currently consists of descendants of ancient beer drinkers; for the most part, we inherited alcohol tolerance from them."

Johnson suggests (and not unreasonably) that he has found an explanation for the fact that some groups of the world's population (American Indians, Australian Aborigines, etc.) suffer from alcoholism to a greater extent than everyone else. These people simply did not pass the harsh test of life in urban conditions. If this is the case, then the extraordinary spread of alcoholism among the Indians is not due to their humiliated and suffering life on reservations, or at least not only by it, but simply by the fact that their ancestors did not live in cities.

However, we will not stir up the anthill of passions around racism, national intolerance and other things, because this article is intended only to make a small amendment to the reasoning of the respected author of the Investor's Business Daily newspaper. Let's just say that we have good news: beer is a healthy food. In addition, it is not necessary to buy it from pale sick types who run health food stores, looking at you accusingly through rimless glasses, like Trotsky.

So, enough talk, summer is in full swing – who took it into their head to say that no one needs beer? Benjamin Franklin did not say for nothing: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." If you are a non–church person or prefer not to mix the temple of God with a pub, I will reformulate it for you: beer is proof that nature approves of our existence with you.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://www.vechnayamolodost.ru/15.07.2008

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