Thursday various

One rabbit, two rabbit, three rabbit, four…

I finished reading a couple of books today, both that art therapy textbook I’m helping develop at work and Joe Hill’s most recent novel, Horns. I liked both of them. I think the former, once it’s finalized with figures and an accompanying DVD, will be a valuable resource for any beginning art therapist. It’s also pretty accessible (albeit not immediately of interest) to anyone else. Horns, on the other hand, was entertaining but also kind of problematic — in different ways from Hill’s previous book, Heart-shaped Box, though I still think he hasn’t quite written a novel as good as his short stories. (I’ve also really liked his comic book work so far.) Maybe it’s that Horns spends so much of its time in dark and evil thoughts, in its characters worst impulses — that is, at least in part, what the book is about — makes it a lot less fun than it might otherwise be. But Hill has a knack for creating immediately interesting characters, with whom we empathize, and I can hardly fault him for writing a book that occasionally made me uncomfortable. It’s a little messy around the edges, maybe, even more so than Box, but Hill remains a writer to keep an eye on.

On the way home, I bought a copy of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at Penn Station. I have plenty of books already — hence my short-lived “no new books” policy — and a brand new e-book reader in the form of my iPad, but…well, I’ve heard good things. I’m not really far enough along in it to say whether I’m enjoying it or not, but I am intrigued.

And beyond that, it was just an average Wednesday. The most interesting thing that happened today was reading about the Centzon Totochtin, divine rabbits, and the Aztec gods of drunkenness. It’s for a book on excessive drinking, whose cover designs were circulated around the office this morning. I particularly liked this image somebody drew and put on their blog.

Me, I just put this here.

Monday various

The drunk button

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about This American Life‘s show about the alcohol consumption at Penn State. (“A football school with a drinking problem,” is how the oft-quoted quip goes. And as someone who worked on campus during many a football game weekend, I can tell you, it’s often not far from the truth.) One of the students interviewed on the show said, “If there were a drunk button, I’d buy one.”

Well maybe now there is:

An alcohol substitute that mimics its pleasant buzz without leading to drunkenness and hangovers is being developed by scientists.

The new substance could have the added bonus of being “switched off” instantaneously with a pill, to allow drinkers to drive home or return to work.

The synthetic alcohol, being developed from chemicals related to Valium, works like alcohol on nerves in the brain that provide a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation.

But unlike alcohol its does not affect other parts of the brain that control mood swings and lead to addiction. It is also much easier to flush out of the body.

Finally because it is much more focused in its effects, it can also be switched off with an antidote, leaving the drinker immediately sober.

As Chris McLaren points out, this leads to all sorts of other questions — not to mention science-fictional, world-changing extrapolations. How, just for starters, would it impact this kind of clever molecular mixology? But I think there’s definitely something to this. Personally, I don’t drink very much, or often, and the kind of excessive drinking that TAL made seem like the norm at Penn State is, to me at least, just staggering. (Honestly, three drinks and a slight buzz over the course of a long evening is as extreme as I ever get.) But if we can simulate the pleasures and benefits of social drinking, while at the same time eliminating all the dangers inherent in excessive alcohol consumption and public drunkenness, shouldn’t we maybe look into doing so?