Lucas Lascivious

Foe of moderation, champion of excess

Month: January, 2014

We Owe Civilization as We Know It to Beer

At some point, most of us have partaken in the frothy bit of delectation known as beer. Beer is not only the oldest fermented beverage in the world, but remains the most popular, and the third-most popular drink overall, behind only water and tea. Given its prevalence, the history of beer is usually disregarded in lieu of getting hammered, but beer is much more than just the frat bro drink of choice. In fact, we owe civilization as we know it to beer.

The notion sounds pretty ridiculous, but anthropologists now believe that beer is essentially for much of the human progress we’ve experienced over the past few thousands of years. We as humans in our current form have been around for about 100,000 years, but for 90,000 of those years, we basically did nothing. Cut to 9000 BC. Somewhere around that time, we shifted from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural one. Previously, anthropologists thought this agricultural revolution was due to a desire for grains used for food, but more recently have hypothesized it was more likely because of a desire for barley in order to produce beer. Basically, our ancestors were a bunch of drunks who were only motivated to cultivate crops in order to get their alcoholic fill.

Contextually, beer played an enormous role in society back then. Feasts were a societal staple that served as both celebrations and important gatherings in order to form political alliances. At these feasts, the presence of beer was fundamental, giving rise to the need for mass production. Out of this desideratum for mass-produced beer came a slew of new inventions, designed to make harvesting simpler and more capacious: irrigation, the plow, the wheel, sickles, baskets, mathematics, mortars, a system of writing etc. These beer-born inventions would later be used to build entire civilizations. Without beer, historical architectural icons like the Great Pyramids plausibly could never have been built. As an aside, the process of beer cultivation, fermentation, and production gave us other alcoholic goodies, like wine and liquor. More recently, beer has been attributed to everything from the creation of modern refrigeration and germ theory to the invention of the factory and abolition of child labour.

Perhaps even more important, beer eliminated the herd mentality that had previously been so ubiquitous, thus leading to a breakdown in rigid social structure, resulting in cultural enlightenment that gave way to a more synergistic and creative civilization. The ideas that grew from that newfound broad-mindedness are infinite.

With the Super Bowl coming up this Sunday, most of us will undoubtedly be consuming ungodly amounts of beer as we watch overpaid giants in Spandex headbutt each other. Now, in addition to toasting to the hopeful victory of the team of your choice, you can raise a toast to beer, for giving us the world as we know it.

[Source: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory / NY Times]

The Pros and Cons of Going on a First Date with Me

It’s no secret I’m absolutely not the dating type, meaning I’m not exactly thirsty for dates, but I do find them to be fun little jaunts and every so often do actually manage to get asked out on them. That being said, while I find myself to be completely charming and entertaining, it’s been my experience I have a tendency to either be really charming or completely off-putting, depending on one’s personality. To expedite things in the future, I figured I may as well just let guys know upfront what they can expect from me on a date in the way of cons and pros.

Con: I’m a grammar Nazi.
I’m not one of those obnoxious people who feels the need to perpetually correct peoples’ grammar (even I hate those types) and I’ve mostly learned to automatically correct poor grammar silently in my head, but certain things irk me to no end, so you may notice a physical tick if you, for example, use “was” instead of “were” or vice versa.

Pro: I’m a good conversationalist.
Even if it’s a subject I’m not particularly enriched in, I can almost always at least uphold a dialogue. If it happens to be a topic I’m completely obtuse in, fortunately, I’m also athirst when it comes to gaining knowledge and always apt to learn new things.

Con: Some people will innately find my veganism annoying.
I’ve never really gotten why some people are automatically annoyed by the fact I don’t consume meat or animal byproducts, but I’ve always been of the mentality they can go fuck themselves. If anything, it’s a con for me to be on a date with a person like that, because I’m inevitably going to have to hear the usual, “I can’t imagine not being able to eat bacon” line, followed by 10 minutes of questions about what I can and can’t eat, why I decided to go vegan, how I survive without cheese, etc., which I don’t mind answering, as long as you step down off of your high horse and drop the sarcastic, condescending tone.

Pro: I’m a cheap date.
In general, I can’t eat 99 percent of things on any given menu, in addition to being sort of freaked out by the notion that I can’t see my food being prepared, so I usually just end up getting something simple that falls within my dietary restrictions, like a salad or steamed vegetables. Elsewhere, I try to keep it classy on dates by only having two or three glasses of wine, which is going to be the most expensive part of my meal. Even so, tally it up and you’re still getting away with spending less than 30 bucks on me in most run-of-the-mill restaurants.

Con: I may get inappropriately tipsy.
While “inappropriately” is subjective, to me dates are supposed to be fun and booze makes me a more convivial person. Some people, however, have a progenitorial impulse to flash a disapproving glance if I supersede a second glass of chardonnay (yes, my wine of choice is that of suburban soccer moms everywhere). First of all, I’m not some amateur; I can hold my own. Secondly, you just got away with paying for a platter of steamed vegetables as a meal. You’re welcome.

Pro: I may get inappropriately tipsy.
Auspiciously, an exceeding number of dates I’ve been on have been with people who appreciate being able to have stimulating discourse over a few drinks. That ability extemporaneously garners you bonus points with me.

Con: I’ll probably put out on the first date.
It’s still shocking to me that people are so puritanical when it comes to sex on the first date. I know there’s the unwritten notion that if a guy buys you dinner, you’re obligated to at least give him a blowjob (realistically, it’s obviously not a requirement), but even as an aside, there are those who find any form of sex on a first date to be improper. To them I say, go somewhere else, because I am not even here for that bullshit. If you’re attractive and I had fun, I see absolutely nothing indelicate about mutual carnal gratification at the end of the evening.

Pro: I’ll probably put out on the first date.
It speaks for itself.

I’ve been called everything from blithe to gauche, but either way, at least now I can definitively say to every potential suitor: you’ve been forewarned.

The Case for Polyamory

Recently I found myself having a conversation with a friend, during which he revealed to me that he and his long-time partner had taken on a third person in their relationship about a year ago, but hadn’t told anyone because of fear it would diminish the legitimacy of their relationship in the minds of other people. Clearly he knows that’s not my mindset, which is why he felt comfortable confiding in me, but it did leave me baffled that anyone would feel the need to keep secret the details of their relationship from others out of fear of being persecuted.

Part of the taboo that surrounds polyamorous or non-monogamous relationships is a result of the avarice a majority of us have been heavily ingratiated with when it comes to what we think relationships should be. We’ve been taught that when we enter into a relationship, we automatically have a staked claim over our partner. This is why when a partner “cheats,” we feel emotional pain, because we’ve gone from recognizing ourselves as a singular entity to a pluralized unit. By adhering to such an impractical ideal, we’re depriving ourselves of innate biological fulfillment while subsequently abdicating our own sense of self. Most people desire monogamy because they view the concept as being synonymous with security.  That one person will be able to adequately fulfill your emotional and sexual needs and desires has become the romanticized model we’re taught to strive for, but is it really a rational ideology? From what we know in terms of biological factors and evolutionary psychology, the answer seems to be no.

The concept of non-monogamy isn’t particularly uncommon in the gay community or among men in general, as it’s always been the assumption that males are just inherently more sexually promiscuous beings than women, but there is new research that suggests it’s women in monogamous relationships who are more apt to tire of monogamy sooner. The idea that women are primarily interested in a relationship, and therefore monogamy, has historically acted as a means of social comfort in often intrinsically misogynistic cultures. While men were and are portrayed as ravenous sexual beasts, women were reduced to contented roles in society as a means of a sort of “social glue.” The pervasive belief was and still is that women seek out quality while men focus on quantity. Men often escape criticism for their carnality, the opposite of which holds true for women. Additionally, women have also been shown to be keener on sexual novelty and vicissitude than men, further imploding widespread female sexual stereotypes.

Monogamy as a concept is primarily seen as pertaining to sexuality because what we’ve attempted to do is turn a complex intellection into a simplistic and distorted philosophy. What all of this new research suggests, though, is that sexual monogamy is not what most of us congenitally want for ourselves, making our de rigueur approach to sex all the more perplexing. If we don’t want monogamy, why do we adhere to it?

I think what has to happen is expanded social consciousness about human relationships and sexuality as a whole. The irony within our society is that sex subconsciously plays an enormous role in our everyday lives, yet we continue to stifle ourselves. We’re no longer able to hide behind antiquated conventions, so why are we still participating in pleasure self-deprivation?

Buffer Zones are Not a First Amendment Infringement

Pious anti-abortion activists have long been legally allowed to camp out in front of health clinics that provide lawful abortions in an effort to dissuade those entering against terminating their pregnancies. In 2007, Massachusetts enacted a law that dictated a 35-foot “buffer zone” outside of abortion clinics, so as to curb harassment and the potential for violence, as in the case of anti-abortionist John Salvi, who in 1994 carried out shooting rampages at two Boston-area Planned Parenthood facilities. On Wednesday, though, the Supreme Court heard arguments from plaintiffs who argued that these buffer zones violated their First Amendment rights.

It seems like the invocation of the First Amendment has become a near-quotidian occurrence as of late, so let’s examine the actual text of the it:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The verbatim text only guarantees American citizens the right to peaceably assemble, not the right to expose people to hostile coercion, which in itself is illegal. Eleanor McCullen, the lead plaintiff in the case, points to the fact that she seeks to “counsel” those entering the abortion clinic, and while that may be the case for her individually, by and large, demonstrators generally avoid the “counseling” method in lieu of shout-shaming people into relenting.

The line between rabid intimidation and what’s considered legal assault is a fine one that is all-too-often crossed; all it takes to constitute assault is verbalized antagonism coupled with a perceived threat of physical harm, which can be as minute an action as a raised hand. Additionally, anti-abortion activists don’t have the right to obstruct women who may be going in for other services, such as a Pap smear or contraception. If anything, contentious protestors violate the legal rights of the people entering the clinic.

Moreover, the “counseling” anti-abortionists give only advocates not having an abortion. Are those people also willing to pay for all of the unwanted children they so staunchly defend or is their opposition to feticide limited solely to verbal protests? Because it’s a safe bet most of the women seeking an abortion have taken into account the fact they’re fiscally unable (not to mention emotionally so) to properly care for a child, meaning the burden of paying for the de trop children is going to fall on society. In theory, it’s nice for anti-abortionists to know they’ve “saved a life,” but realistically, most of them aren’t even informed as to when life, per scientific standards, actually begins, nor do they pragmatically consider the economic and social factors that come with sticking unwilling and unfit parents with an undesired child.

Dissolving buffer zones outside of women’s health clinics would also bring into question similar restrictions that have been placed around funerals, political conventions, etc. elsewhere in the country. Essentially, if you want to get rid of buffer zones around female reproductive clinics, you are in essence subsequently arguing in favor of the dissolution of all buffer zones, meaning if, for example, the Westboro Baptist Church wanted to protest the funeral of a soldier, they would no longer be legally required to demonstrate from a distance.

The First Amendment guarantees citizens the right to irenic gather, but this is not an absolute right, just as most of the other rights granted in the Constitution are not infinite. Therefore, limits can be set for protestors in the interest of civil obedience. The farcical notion that the First Amendment is boundless points to widespread incoherence when it comes to interpreting the Constitution as a whole. For a document so many people see as a dire American component, a majority don’t seem to know much about it.

Why Modern Populism is Advancing Purist Liberalism

As has held true throughout many historical eras of economic depression, the concept of populism–essentially, the belief that it’s “the people” (the 99 percent) versus “the elite” (the one percent)–has experienced a resurgence amongst the general population, given our current plight. It’s not hard to see why an ever-disseminating middle class would find the concept of populism attractive, given their one-percent counterparts continue to profit in record-breaking numbers, even during the worst of economic times.

Conservatives attempt to curb this influx by introducing catchy terms into the political vernacular like “wealth redistribution” and subsequently demonizing them as fervently as possible (along the lines of faux-“death panels” in opposition to the Affordable Care Act), in hopes that they’ll be able to disillusion the notoriously attention-deficit American population into adhering to their beliefs by blinding them with brash ostentation. It’s the political equivalent of an unmasked serial bank robber throwing glitter in the faces of witnesses and hoping they’ll forget he just committed a heist. The very rightists who allowed greed-soaked capitalists to almost single-handedly decimate the U.S. economy are now attempting to save face by preying on the ignorance of the general population.

To be clear, liberalism overall doesn’t advocate taking from the rich to give to the poor, as many conservatives would have you believe; rather, it promotes the idea that everyone should pay their fair share. GASP! A novel idea, I know. Mention the idea of a tax proration to a conservative, though, and suddenly even the poorest among them paying some of the highest tax percentage rates become advocates for the rich.

Convervatives’ attempts have been somewhat fruitful within their base, but as has been consistently proven, American moderates, the sheeples they may be, do wield some influence, which is why the fact that a lot of them have unwittingly subscribed to populist beliefs is noteworthy. They’ve finally come to the realization that it’s unfair for wealthier people to receive innumerable tax breaks and a lower rate of tax than them, all the while they’re reduced to living in relative squalor while the likes of Harold Simmons continues to raise his $9 billion net worth.

More and more, people are coming to refute the conservative ideology that the rich must be richer in order for us all to be better off. Even outside of basic human logic, mathematically and economically that doesn’t make sense. That shift in credence is representative of the fact that Americans are slowly but surely coming to realize that the conservative ideals that in large part led to economic collapse is not the archetype that is going to save us from it.