February 23, 2018

Because tipplers and java fiends need good news, too, a new study from the University of California, Irvine, has found that drinking alcohol and coffee increases your chance of living past 90 by a statistically significant amount. The university's 90+ Study has followed about 1,700 nonagenarians since 2003, and those "who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained." "Moderate" means two glasses of beer or wine and two cups of coffee, which decrease your chances of premature death by 18 percent (alcohol) and 10 percent (coffee).

"I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity," study lead researcher Dr. Claudia Kawas said at an American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Austin last weekend. But there's good news for more than just beverage aficionados in the study. "People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did," the study found, even if the difference was just 3 percent. People with a hobby were 21 percent less likely to die early, and — sorry — exercising 15-45 minutes a day also reduced premature death chances by 11 percent.

So, pick your poison — in this case, a moderate amount may extend your life. Peter Weber

October 9, 2014

Lots of cities and towns have their own Oktoberfest. The original and most famous is in Munich, but there are offshoots everywhere from Blumenau, Brazil, to Bangalore, India, and many points in between — lots of them in the U.S. The strangest Oktoberfest, though, may be the one in Taybeh, a village of about 1,500 in the Palestinian West Bank.

Taybeh, a Christian enclave in the predominantly Muslim occupied territories, is home to the only Palestinian brewery, the Taybeh Brewing Co. With the exception of this year — the event, scheduled for mid-September, was "postponed until further notice" due to all the deaths in Gaza from its recent war with Israel — Taybeh has held its own Oktoberfest every year since 2005, when David Khoury — the brother of brewery owner and master brewer Nadim Khoury — was elected mayor of the hillside town.

The celebration of fall and beer typically attracts a lot of people — about 16,000 in 2012 — but most of Taybeh's customers are Palestinian Muslims, says Khaled Diab at Britain's The Guardian. Islam forbids the drinking of alcohol, Diab explained, though there were "doubts, in the days before the religion had hardened into rigid orthodoxy, as to whether the Qur'an actually prohibits the consumption of alcohol or merely recommends moderation and/or abstinence." Regardless, he adds:

In the wider Arab and Muslim context, booze is widely available. Although alcohol is generally considered to be haraam (forbidden) in Islam, only the most conservative countries actually impose a legal ban on it. Egypt, for instance, has a booming local alcohol industry that has been growing for years.... Devout Muslims have every right to consider alcohol haraam and not part of Islam the religion. But they must also accept that alcohol has always been an integral and largely tolerated aspect of Islamic culture. [Guardian]

Hopefully, local and world events will let Taybeh raise its glasses in a hearty prost! next year. Peter Weber

September 26, 2014

Willkommen zum Oktoberfest! Starting today, Munich, Germany, is home to the biggest beer-drinking fair in the world. For 16 days, some 6 million people will eat Bavarian treats, go on rides, and buy souvenirs. But, mainly, they'll consume an astounding amount of beer served in cartoonishly large steins (that you are not allowed to take home with you, though you can purchase them.).

It is, without a doubt, a hot mess. But that doesn't mean you have to be! If you're heading to Oktoberfest and hoping to get the most out of it and possibly a few hazy memories, follow these five simple rules:

Don't be the sloppiest guy in the beer hall. You're a stein away from passing out, but until you get there you're like Godzilla in Tokyo without any sense of how loud, stinky, and destructive you are. Even the drunk people around you wish you'd just topple over already. So just stop.

(Gideon Mendel/Corbis)

Don't shoot the boot. Come on, you know exactly where that shoe has been — attached to your swollen, sweaty, beer-infused foot for the past 48 hours. And while you may think you look cool in this spontaneous one-up-manship, the grimace that scrunches your up face like Sloth from Goonies begs to differ.

(AP Photo/Camay Sungu)

Don't pee where you party. Here we are, just enjoying ourselves in the open air and then you go and relieve yourself just a few feet from our comfortable huddle. What gives, dude? While peeing outdoors at such a festival is probably unavoidable, do everyone a favor and go where no one can hear, see, or smell you. Or, better yet, find an actual bathroom.

(Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis)

Don't be a dead weight. What are we supposed to do with you now? Sure, passing out may have quieted the sloppy beast you were a stein ago, but now you're just a literal dead weight your buddies have to cart around all day. So, how about next time you slow it down a bit, eat a pretzel between beers 8 and 9, and maybe you'll remember at least a few hours of this day shared with your few-thousand closest friends.

(Michael S. Yamashita/Corbis)

Don't be the drunk loner. You're just never going to make your best impression drunk and alone. There's no one to check your weird, uninhibited behavior. Who's going to remind you to put a shirt on, tell you not to eat the hot dog off of the sodden floor, or that you're staring way too long at that pretty beer maid? Exactly. Now more than ever, you need help. So, whether you're half-awake or about to pass out, find a buddy or a group and stick with them.

(Michael S. Yamashita/Corbis)

Otherwise, be nice, let loose, don't embarrass yourself too much, and you might just have a fun, (somewhat) memorable Oktoberfest. Cheers! Lauren Hansen

September 4, 2014

When one cow escaped the slaughterhouse in Germany where it was being held, it had the right idea: It headed straight for Oktoberfest.

The 1,200-pound cow escaped from a slaughterhouse Tuesday when an employee accidentally left one of the gates open, and a high-speed chase followed. Along the way, the cow knocked out a woman who was jogging along the road before it ran toward Munich's Oktoberfest tents.

Oktoberfest is scheduled to start in two weeks, and workers were preparing the beer festival's tents when the cow headed their way. "The cow then tried to attack another person and was luckily blocked by a police vehicle, which eventually got damaged by the impact," police spokesperson Carsten Neubert told NBC News.

Sadly, the cow's journey ended there: Officers shot it with a rifle. Some German animal lovers built it a thoughtful memorial, though, calling the cow a symbol of freedom.

NBC News also notes that the slaughterhouse confirmed the late cow's meat "would be disposed of and would not end up on Oktoberfest's grills." Rest in peace, buddy — let's hope they serve beer in cow heaven. Meghan DeMaria

See More Speed Reads