slices of life from the west coast


I started reading this article to read about drunk monkeys and I ended up coming across much more interesting stuff:

  • One would expect that native American alcoholics are pushed by their genes, but how much of their drinking is attributable to cultural degradation (defeat is particularly hard on the males of the defeated culture; world-wide, there are three times as many male alcoholics in subjugated or formerly subjugated societies)

  • One of the scientists involved in the study describing some research he planned to do:

    Ervin dreamed of stocking the southern tip with monkeys and doing a massive Calhoun experiment : fencing them off in a confined area and providing them with unlimited food until, as with Calhoun's rats, every space was filled and they became a city and began to rape and murder each other and the mothers to commit infanticide, eating their babies. Ervin could play Animal Farm games-- control them with electronics and gadgets, make the weakest one the only one who could open the food, and watch how he became the leader, make the alpha male a criminal outlaw omega.

    Surprisingly he manages to somewhat justify this:

    To which Ervin, in one of our discussions on the island, had already countered : "Even if my motives were purely selfish-- intellectual curiosity, ambition, to be the one who discovers the genetic basis of alcoholism-- this research would still benefit the human race. Alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.. One in eight children has an alcoholic parent. The annual cost of the disease is a hundred and thirty billion dollars-- twice the cost of the Gulf War-- mainly due to absenteeism, but also because it causes chronic heart and liver disease and several kinds of brain rot and takes up half the nation's hospital beds, the health costs are staggering.

  • "If you take any maximum-security prison, the diagnosis is uniformly alcoholism," he continued. "The majority of murders, rapes, and property crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol. The question is, is drinking simply a common practice of the criminal subculture, does it contribute to the crime, or is it just contributory to their getting caught?"

For another take on drinking, not really alcoholism though, here's an interesting read. And with that I'm off to the bar.


I've wasted far too much time playing this game this afternoon. If anyone could figure it out and post a correct sequence in the comments it would be very much appreciated. I heard the highest score was 20000, at which point all the items have the max level, but the closest I've gotten is around 10000.


update: Feeling sick and tired, birthday celebrations may be put off until February 2005.

This Saturday is my 24th birthday and to honour it my friends and I are planning on visiting many fine drinking establishments in the Waterloo area. The current plan is to meet at Jane Bond at around 8 or 8:30 and then make our way up King, stopping anywhere and everywhere, with a final destination of Bomber or possibly Phil's.

If you're going to be in Waterloo on Saturday come along it'll be fun...


So I follow this link off of boing boing. It promises conspiracy theories, which are always good for a laugh. Little did I know what I was getting into.

Skepticism about Bigfoot's existence was in short supply at this conference. Speakers took it as a given that America's version of the abominable snowman does exist, though they differed on what exactly the creature might be.

At first I'm a bit disappointed I mean seriously how many different Bigfoot theories can there be. Before reading this I thought of myself as imaginative and I could only think of two; it exists, or it's an elaborate hoax. These people though apparently take acid before they think up their Bigfoot theories.

Longtime UFO researcher Stan Gordon, who led off after PBS Director Eric Altman's opening remarks, seemed to straddle both camps. Gordon noted that in the 1970s, western Pennsylvania was plagued with weird creature reports, including sightings of Bigfoots near UFOs.
He then told a rambling tale about three men who spotted a white Bigfoot and were later harassed by someone who claimed to be an FBI agent.

I admit Bigfoot as a an alien was one obvious one that I missed. I don't accept any blame for missing the next one.

Johnson claimed that in quantum physics, electrons do not obey the classical laws of physics. They can, for example, move through barriers, he said. When Bigfoot is in this quantum state, Johnson opined, the creature has no mass or weight and is "just a wave." Bigfoot's quantum nature, Johnson told attendees, may explain the lack of clear photos of the beast. "He probably communicates with cameras," Johnson said. "He knows when they are around. He won't let you take a picture."

Then we have the final one that I have a suspicion is really just a rip off of a Simpson's episode, or Harry and the Henderson's, more than a conspiracy theory.

Coy's speech was long, disjointed and rambling, but the gist was that her grandfather found an injured young Bigfoot fifty-six years ago, set its broken leg and gave it living space in a barn. Later, the creature's parents came and took it away. Intrigued, Coy's grandfather began leaving out food for the Bigfoot family. "Eventually," she said, "a relationship developed."

via (side bar of) the venerable boing boing

Last Thursday I went to see Silent Film Sountrack, The Vermicious Knid, and The Sourkeys put on an amazing show at Starlight. Hopefully I'll get to see at least one of these three bands again before I leave Waterloo. Show was really cheap, although my purchase of two albums really cancelled out the effect of the $8 ticket. Anyways I urge you all to check out some of the acts playing locally. Finally with Starlight we have a venue that's worthy of a two-university town. Too bad I'm leaving now...

The rest of the weekend was uneventful and involved watching movies, tv, and finishing up Blindness.

Today I accepted an offer for a summer internship at in Seattle. I start work in early May and will be around until the end of August. I guess that's the big news for this post, though most of you that read this probably already knew it. If anyone's going to be around Seattle this summer drop me an email..


In honour of recent job related news, which I'll go into once it's on paper, I found a collection of fake cover letters up on metafilter.

My first encounter with Neopost came two years ago, while I was on the Internet looking for alternatives to the traditional postal system, ( which had previously caused the death of my entire family. ) [...] I have begun to construct my own post office in the basement of my house. Your company has provided me with the finest in mail-room furniture and high volume sorting and folding machines. The newest addition is, of course, a 30kg digital scale, for weighing mail and determining the rate. It's interfaced with the mail machine, and I have named it Susan because that was my youngest daughter's name.



A couple weeks ago I wanted a cup of tea before bed but then once I went to brew it I realized the caffeine would keep me up. Luckily some previous tenant had left some herbal tea behind. And so a habit was born.

I quickly burned through the old tea stash and picked up a cammomile/green tea blend at the grocery store when I was there last week. Now I routinely drink two large cups a night. I feel like I'm addicted but as far as I can tell there's nothing in the tea that would be bad so I keep drinking. Although there is the fear that the herbal tea companies are the new tobacco and secretly slip me low doses of morphine in my tea.

Herbal tea: so good I can't believe it's not addictive.


My 24th birthday is approaching and I know many of you are no doubt already going into a panick over what you should get me. Here's the first in a series of hints.

In particular I'm fond of uprisings, conveniently available for purchase here, but I'd enjoy anything.