All you need to know at Christmas – and more. If you want to get plastered as quickly as possible – because, you know, you have to spend time with your family – here’s a tip:

Rate of absorption of alcohol depends on several factors. It is quickest, for example, when alcohol is drunk on an empty stomach and the concentration of alcohol is 20-30%. Thus, sherry, with an alcohol concentration of about 20% increases the levels of alcohol in blood more rapidly than beer (3-8%), while spirits (40%) delay gastric emptying and inhibit absorption. Drinks aerated with carbon dioxide—for example, whisky and soda, and champagne—get into the system quicker.

I always try to get as numb as possible at this time of year. It makes the hell pass more quickly.

African-Americans And Clinton’s Obama Drug Smear


A reader writes:

The second generation story emerging from yesterday’s Billy Shaheen story is that African Americans are up in arms over the insinuation that Obama will be asked if he was a drug dealer.  On African American radio stations, callers were correctly observing that not even the most in-your-face reporters asked Al Gore or George W Bush if he actually sold drugs as opposed to using them.  Why is a black candidate who admitted to youthful drug use expected to answer such questions?  I truly think Hillary needs to fire Shaheen to repair the potential rift, and not just make him apologize, which is what they’ve done.  This story really could cause the first serious black flight from Hillary.

That hadn’t occurred to me, but it makes a great deal of sense. For Clinton to be targeting a black man for confessed past drug-use, while white politicians who dissemble (ahem) get a free pass, could be terrible for the Clinton black vote. Hence her sudden apology.

(Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty.)

Clinton Campagn Attacks Obama On Drugs

The hints were there already, but now a Clinton surrogate is flaying Obama for his refreshing candor about past drug-use. Again: this is the politics of fear. Check out the classic Clinton defensive crouch with respect to the GOP:

"The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight … and one of the things they’re certainly going to jump on is his drug use," said Shaheen, the husband of former N.H. governor Jeanne Shaheen, who is planning to run for the Senate next year. Billy Shaheen contrasted Obama’s openness about his past drug use — which Obama mentioned again at a recent campaign appearance in New Hampshire — with the approach taken by George W. Bush in 1999 and 2000, when he ruled out questions about his behavior when he was "young and irresponsible."

So a Clintonite is urging that Obama follow W’s example. Somehow, I don’t think this is going to help. But it’s a sign of how worried they are that their coronation has turned into something a little more complicated.

The Origins Of E

A reader writes:

As opposed to popular myth, Merck’s development of MDMA was intended to provide a new way to induce blood clotting, not to ‘suppress appetite’ as commonly believed:

The company [Merck] did develop the drug in 1912, but the appetite suppressant story is an urban myth, passed on from source to source through "uncritical copy-paste procedures". Instead, documents from the time show that ecstasy emerged during the company’s efforts to develop a potentially life-saving medicine that would help blood to clot.

The best available blood clot medicine at the time, hydrastinin, was patented by Merck’s local rival Bayer. Merck chemists believed that a similar compound called methylhydrastinin would be equally effective and set about trying to make it from scratch in a way not covered by the Bayer patent. Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, was first produced during these experiments, but attracted little attention. Merck’s recent search found just a passing reference to the drug: in a patent the company filed in 1912 to protect its new blood clot agent, which had been tested on patients in a Berlin hospital. Patent 274350 did not refer to MDMA by name, but described its properties among a list of other new intermediates: "colourless oil, boiling point 155C at 20mm pressure, its salt forms white crystals".

You live and learn.