The Bullet and the Foot, Nov 26, 2009

Quote of the Day
No children without sex - no drunkenness without beer.
-Ancient Sumerian Proverb
What I'm Thankful for
I think at times it's all too easy to be thankful for those you love, and thankful you were born in wherever you live. And thankful for all the things around you that are bloody well obvious.

For me, I am thankful for all of that. I love my family. I love America, the country that I had the great fortune to have been born in. And I am grateful for cell phones, and cars, and wine, and loose women, and song.

But I'm even more grateful for what made all of that possible. Yes, folks, I'm talking about (literally) the bread and butter of western civilization: Steak and Beer. I will argue that Steak and Beer is what separates us from the cave man. It's what caused cities to form, and gave us our grasp of science, and mathematics, and time. Without either of them we'd still be living in the stone age.

"Ok, Sean, you've gone Dennis Leary." Is probably the first thing on your mind. But you'd be wrong. It's deeper than that. Steak is the product of domesticated cattle. At some point in our not so distant history, one of our ancestors had the bright idea "why the hell am I chasing these big dumb animals?" They found a pretty large and stupid and tasty animal. And they figured out how to make it stick around, and breed on them. And from that moment on, Man had access to not only a steady supply of meat, he (and she) had access to milk, and leather, and all of the zillion and 9 uses for a cattle carcass. Even better, while the cattle was alive, you could yoke it and use it to perform useful work. Pulling timber. Tilling the Earth. Moving things that a human alone couldn't move before.

But why was sticking to one spot necessary? Before we had the bright idea with Cattle, our ancestors had an even bigger epiphany. About 9000 BCE, someone figured out how to grow wheat. Gather up the seeds, and plant them, and then basically keep the birds out until it has a chance to grow. With the development of cereal crops, humans for the first time had food in abundance. So much food, they had to figure out how to store the stuff.

So we started making clay pots. And, not being exactly tupperware, water and a fungus we all call yeast got into the ground up grain. The first beer was brewed.

Later we figured out that the same basic ingredients could be baked into the greatest food since sliced bread: namely bread. And with domestic cattle, you had milk, from which you get butter.

But before bread and butter, there was beer and steak.

I'm really thankful for beer and steak. With beer and steak you had the problem of running up a bar tab. From which we literally get mathematics and writing. No, I'm not kidding. Beer was first developed around 6000 BCE. Written human history starts between 5000 BCE and 4000 BCE. And the first forms of writing were accounting. Picts and glyphs of commodities that were traded. A head of cattle was one symbol. A bushel of wheat was another. Granted, it got more complicated as time went on, but all things start simple.

So crack into a cold one, and dive into your feast of abundance, and remember what made it all possible.

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