Tag: Alcohol

Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Alcohol

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

America has a long interesting history with alcohol that dates back to the Pilgrims running through what really started the American revolution to Prohibition. The Discovery Channel began a three part series, “How Booze Built America,” that examines the history of alcohol in the American culture. Mike Rowe, the series host, spoke on MSNBC’s The Cycle about the series and making history fun.

Did you know that the Puritans landed the Mayflower early on Plymouth Rock … because they ran out of beer? Or that Johnny Appleseed was actually creating farms to sell hard apple cider?

It was all the fault of demon rum.

Pique the Geek 20100411: Distillation (with Poll!)

Distillation is a general term for several different processes, all of them involving elevated temperature relative to the materials to be separated boiling points.  It is generally a separation process, but in some cases actually involved chemical reactions to create new materials during the process.

Distillation as we generally think of it is a method used to separate two or more liquids, but it is much more general than that.  It also is a term that is used, by extension, to take a large amount of information and extract the most pertinent parts of it into a concentrated form.  Indeed, distillation is often used to concentrate a minor component of a mixture to pure (or at least more concentrated) material.

Pique the Geek 20091108. Distillation, not Just for Beverages

Distillation is a technique of “squeezing” out the essence of a given material (or series of thoughts to one or a few abstractions) into a concentrated product.  The term is from the Latin, distillo, from the combining term de, meaning “down” and the noun stilla, a drop.  Thus, distilled water is literally a drop of water coming down something.  Taken to the extreme, distilled water literally means “a coming down drop of water that is water”.  That does not fit with the modern usage, but is illustrative.

Aristotle, with all of his faults, noted that seawater, boilt under cool sponges, would yield fresh water when the sponges were pressed.  Distillation was known in the ancient world, but not much used except for preparing “medical” remedies, most of them toxic, in a manner that I will describe to you later, in a more modern form.

Actually, the earth is a huge still, with the water cycle reproducing exactly, but on a massive scale, what goes on in an industrial or laboratory still.  Heating, evaporation, segregation of components, and condensation are all essential parts of distillation, and our planet does it well.  Without that process, the planet would not be recognizable.

Michael Phelps’ Missed Opportunity

Michael Phelps missed a stellar chance to be a real hero and move the country forward from our far too long-abiding Puritan legacy and rotting livers.  If Michael had had the guts to stand up for what’s right, for moving the planet forward, he would have been worth another 8 gold medals for a total of 16.

But no, he copped to the “prevailing” lack of wisdom.  He said he had been ‘wrong’ to smoke pot, that he’d made a ‘stupid,’ immature  mistake.  Oh Michael!  You could have said how much kinder pot is to the body than alcohol, what an immensely better high it is, with far fewer damaging effects, including healthier livers.  

But no.  The prevailing lack of wisdom prevailed.  You spoke the trite platitudes of established conformity.  Too bad.  Better luck next time.

Congratulations on your swimming accomplishments however.