Posts Tagged ‘Coffee’

Coffee, the modern world and me

July 24, 2021

The following is from an article called “The plants that change our consciousness” by Sophia McBain in the New Statesman.

It is no coincidence that caffeine and the minute-hand on clocks arrived at around the same historical moment, the acclaimed food and nature writer Michael Pollan argues in his latest book, This is Your Mind on Plants

Both spread across Europe as laborers began leaving the fields, where work is organised around the sun, for the factories, where shift-workers could no longer adhere to their natural patterns of sleep and wakefulness.

Would capitalism even have been possible without caffeine?  The introduction of caffeine to Europe in the early 17th century coincided with the waning of the mystical medieval mindset and the rise of the cool-headed rationalism of the Enlightenment.

Before the arrival of tea and coffee, alcohol was the safest thing to drink – or at least, safer than most water – so perhaps it is little wonder that the permanently sozzled intellectuals of the Middle Ages were prone to magical thinking.  In contrast, caffeine can intensify “spotlight consciousness,” which illuminates a single point of attention, enhancing our reasoning skills.

Voltaire had such faith in coffee’s power to sharpen his mind that he is said to have drunk up to 72 cups a day.  Balzac sometimes dispensed with drinking coffee altogether and instead ate the grounds for a more powerful hit.

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The passing scene – August 4, 2015

August 4, 2015

These are links to interesting articles I came across yesterday and today.  I may add links during the day.   The comment thread is available for general and off-topic comments.

If This Is Munich, We Must Be Germany by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

In the Iran nuclear negotiations, it has been the United States that has done all the demanding and Iran that has done all the appeasing.

A Company Copes With Backlash Against the Raise that Roared by Patricia Cohen for the New York Times.

239 Years Ago, Adam Smith Predicted Fury of Seattle Business at CEO Who Pays Workers Well by Jon Schwartz for The Intercept.

Dan Price, the CEO of a small credit card processing firm called Gravity Payments, announced that he will raise the minimum  salary of his firm to $70,000 a year over a period of three years while reducing his own compensation.

Many of his peers and business customers are infuriated, illustrating what Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations in 1776:Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform, combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate.  To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action …”

Coffee in crisis: The bitter end for our favorite drink? by David Robson for the BBC.

The world’s coffee crop is threatened by drought, flooding and plagues of pests, caused by climate change, and by the vulnerability of the Arabica variety of coffee to disease and to changes in climate.

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I would like to believe coffee is good for me

March 4, 2015

health-benefits-of-coffeeSource: Sky Dancing

As an addicted coffee drinker, I am pleased to think that coffee in the amounts I drink is good for me.  Of course addiction is bad even if the addictive substance is harmless.  If I were the survivor of a wilderness airplane crash, I probably would be unable to function because I need a certain amount of caffeine each day to be able to function.

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Could my coffee addiction be good for me?

October 18, 2014
caffeinechart

Double click to enlarge.

I started drinking coffee as a college student and, ever since then, I have been heavily addicted to caffeine.

I would stay up late at night studying and working on the college newspaper, but, being young and foolish, I took pride in being caffeinated and being able to go without sleep.

During my 40 years working on newspapers, I drank coffee throughout the day to stay alert.   After a couple of hours at my desk, I began to get sleepy and sluggish if I couldn’t get a cup of coffee out of the vending machine.  Having drunk all that coffee, I didn’t feel sleepy in the morning, and often stayed up until nearly midnight or beyond midnight.  And then, of course, I needed more coffee in the morning to become fully alert.

My nightmare of being shipwrecked or surviving an airplane crash in wilderness is that I would not be able to function without a cup of coffee.

When I retired, one of my goals was to kick the caffeine habit.  I cut back to one cup of coffee a day, but, without that one cup, I couldn’t function in the morning.  Now I drink two or three cups a day.

The other day I read an article about a study by a team at the Harvard School of Public Health that concluded that coffee is good for you, and that habitual coffee drinkers are a little bit more mentally alert than they would be otherwise.  Furthermore there are genetic differences among people in their need and tolerance for coffee, and most people drink the amount of coffee that is good for them.

Can this be right?  Can something to which you are addicted be good for you?

LINK

 Drinking Coffee, For Your Health by Andrew Gambone for The Atlantic.

Where America’s gourmet coffee comes from

October 29, 2013

coffee-infographic.inspiredacceptancejpg

Hat tip for this chart to Inspired Acceptance.

Monday morning energy equation

September 16, 2013

756_einsteinscoffee_colorTNB

Hat tip to Tiffany’s Non-Blog.

Links for your weekend browsing 6/7/13

June 7, 2013

Here are links to articles that I found interesting, and I think you might find interesting, too.

The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’ by Julian Assange.

The founder of Wikileaks reviewed The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt, executive chair of Google, and Jared Cohen, former aide to Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton and now head of Google Ideas.   He said Google epitomizes the death of personal privacy and the shift toward authoritarianism.

The section on “repressive autocracies” describes, disapprovingly, various repressive surveillance measures: legislation to insert back doors into software to enable spying on citizens, monitoring of social networks and the collection of intelligence on entire populations.  All of these are already in widespread use in the United States.  In fact, some of those measures — like the push to require every social-network profile to be linked to a real name — were spearheaded by Google itself.

Student Loans as Medieval Indentures

types of debt[1]

Click to enlarge.

Dave Dayen writing for Salon points out that U.S. student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion.  It has exceeded credit card debt for some time.  Unlike ordinary debt, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, and are virtually impossible to refinance.  Dayen said people now collecting Social Security are still paying on their student loans.  It is a terrible drag on the economy.   Indebtedness keeps young people from buying homes, buying automobiles, starting businesses or getting jobs based on what they love to do.  But the problem is not just the student loan system.  It is the lack of affordable education and the lack of decent jobs for people with high school educations.

Scam Alert! Press Sleeps Through Great Post Office Fire Sale.

The Postmaster General is selling off Postal Service property, much of it prime downtown real estate, at bargain prices.   It is a great deal for the buyers and a bad deal for the public.   Maybe this is why Congress has imposed unusual financial burdens on the Postal Service, such as funding retirement 75 years in advance, and refuses to allow the Postal Service to take normal business steps to stem its losses.

Why Does Eastman Chemical Fear for Its Reputation?

The Washington Spectator reports on how Eastman Chemical, a Kodak spinoff, paid scientists to write journal articles saying its baby-bottle plastic is safe.   There was a time, 30 or so years ago, when I would have presumed Kodak executives were above such conduct.  Maybe they were, then.

This Is Your Brain on Coffee.

Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times says academic research says that moderate amounts of coffee—four or five ordinary cups a day, or one Starbucks drink—are good for you.  I’m glad to think that, because I’ve never weaned myself from my coffee addiction.  I hope and presume that none of these studies was paid for by the coffee industry.

I depend on an addictive drug

September 24, 2012

Since my late teenage years, I’ve been addicted to a drug.  I had to take it several times a day during my working years in order to function normally, and even in retirement, I need to take it at least once a day.  I see that a blogger named Jennifer Abel has the same dependency.

I’m trying to kick a drug addiction.  The monkey on my back has sunk its sharp claws deep into me in a strangled mixed metaphor no self-respecting English-major professional like me would commit to print, were her judgment not clouded by the aforementioned addiction.  Really strong, choice Colombian product — it’s become a crutch rather than a pick-me-up but I’m determined to break that crutch and my dependence on caffeine and walk on my own two legs again, by Zod. I’m feeling okay.  Yeah, I think I can do this OH MY GOD THE HALLUCINATIONS ARE STARTING THERE’S BUGS CRAWLING EVERYWHERE … no, wait, that’s not a hallucination.  That’s just me living in The South nowadays.  Damned bugs.  Screw this; I’m making some coffee.

So here I am, hooked on a strong Columbian intoxicant and suffering actual medical withdrawal symptoms when I try not-using it.  Doesn’t matter how many hours of quality sleep I get of a night; I still won’t feel well-rested until I drink that first cup of coffee.  So much for use in moderation.  The government ought to ban this poison.  You know what would really help me improve my life via ending my coffee dependence?  An armed SWAT team working in conjunction with the DEA, breaking into my house, demolishing everything within it and hauling me off to spend several years in prison. … …

It’s a good thing I picked the right thing to be addicted to.   If I were addicted to something less socially acceptable, I might have done serious prison time in my life, especially if I had not been born white and middle-class.

Click on Save Me, Uncle Sam! I’ve Lost Control for Jennifer Abel’s post on her Ravings of a Feral Genius web log.