Sunday, March 04, 2007

Alcohol Anthropologics

Still reading Kate Fox's Watching the English. Right now I'm finishing the part on drinking and rules of drunkenness. It says this:

In some societies (such as the UK, the US, Australia and parts of Scandinavia), drinking is associated with aggression, violence and anti-social behaviour, while in others (such as Latin/Mediterranean cultures) drinking behaviour is largely peaceful and harmonious. This variation cannot be attributed to different levels of consumption or genetic differences, but is clearly related to different cultural beliefs about alcohol, different expectations regarding the effects of alcohol and different social norms regarding drunken comportment. [...] The experiments show that when people think they are drinking alcohol, they behave according to their cultural beliefs about the behavioural effects of alcohol. The English believe that alcohol is a disinhibitor, and specifically that it makes people amorous or aggressive, so when they are given what they think are alcoholic drinks - but are in fact non-alcoholic 'placebos' - they shed their inhibitions: they become flirtatious, and males (young males in particular) often become aggressive.

This is a very interesting insight, both about the different cultural expectations concerning drunkenness and also about the effect of placebo drinks. From my limited knowledge it seems plausible.
So, I'd say in Austria the general expectation concerning the effect of alcohol is to be more outgoing (and louder), more talkative and - especially among the younger people - to make more of a fool of yourself, which is what I also observe at parties.
Basically, this means the way you think about the effects of alcohol influences your actual behaviour when drunk majorly. Isn't that interesting? You can't blame the alcohol any longer, because it's not in the alcohol, it's in your head. Boy, this opens up so many wonderful opportunities to look into people's minds.

This knowledge is also quite abusable, I think, since you could give people placebo drinks in order to make them behave in a certain way, without them being able to blame it on the alcohol in the end.

I can only repeat what an awesome book this is.


Here is some info on the next Pixar film. It sounds exciting. I admit I'm a sucker for moving and interacting gadgets (like that mini-sequence of a Win and a Mac computer getting close to each other). There's something intriguing about the idea of "cold" machines with human emotions, if it's not overdone and the specific characteristics of the machines are retained (this doesn't include cars walking on two wheels).


And lastly, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sleep. Because how you spend those 4-12 hours has major consequences on how you spend the rest of the day.


The whole family went to the Energiesparmesse in Wels today. It was mostly about stuff that I didn't have much of a clue about anyway, so I was basically walking through the dark all the time, not knowing what the thing in front of me was actually used for. But I made good use of my time there by taking lots of photos for textures and references.
Seriously, if you need textures, go there; there's wood, stone, grass, marble, clay and loads of other stuff that I partly don't even know what it is (because it's stuff that is hidden somewhere in the building of your house behind all the stone and tapestries). I was overwhelmed by the thousands of different textures.

At the entrance. Ah, Wels. Lots of good memories from the two medieval fairs that we visited there years ago.
(photo courtesy of Christine)

Right after the entrance. Too many people. I do prefer medieval fairs, not just because there aren't by far as many people there.

There was a small section in one of the halls on gardening. I liked that, since it emphasized the decorative aspect (unlike most of the stuff there, which was more about the vital aspects of house building). I also liked the fences.

I'm still not quite sure what it is. A fountain? A bird pond? Some capitalists mad fancy?
Who'd put that into his yard?
(photo courtesy of Christine)

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