Archive through November 19, 2000

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Nov 2000:Another hack job:Archive through November 19, 2000
By Tabreaux on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 01:40 pm: Edit

I'm ready to forget this thread even existed, so let's just move on. We're both intelligent people, and we don't have to agree or be angry about it.

By Tabreaux on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 10:32 am: Edit

If someone really wants to put in enough effort to call me at my place of work, they can find my telephone # using the WWW. My employer does not attempt to unlist my contact info, nor should they have to. I need my information to be available to those who seek me out for business purposes. However, I feel that for *you* dig up my info and post it on a recreational BB for the world to have at their fingertips, as an invitation to call me at my office at their leisure, for trivial matters, is inappropriate. Likewise, just because an author makes a publication, he doesn't necessarily want the world calling him on his direct office line. If only 5% of 2000 people on this BB decided to call him, that equates to 100 telephone calls. If the author wanted this, surely he'd have included his number in the publication himself and hired his own receptionist.

Whether you agree or disagree is irrelevent. YOu made your point, I made mine. I seems to me that you equate "available" with "appropriate". I simply disagree, and had you posted my number here, I'd have made my opinon equally clear. What difference is there between my informaion and someone else's? None.

I am wholly entitled to voice my opinion as if it were my information you were advertising on bulletin boards. I feel my view is one which is considerate of others, and I feel strongly enough about it to make a statement. Finally, as far as "breaking my finger", I'm not sure how take that, but I hope it is purely figurative.

By Artemis on Sunday, November 19, 2000 - 08:27 am: Edit

"I don't necessarily want someone who doesn't even know me to post my numbers on bulletin boards as an open invitation. Would you?"

No I wouldn't. That's why I've never made it available to anyone. You're ignoring my point, which is that people, including you, who want to be in the public eye, have no cause for complaint if the public seeks them out. As for the means by which they may be sought out, Arnold's employer made the information I posted here available to the public, I didn't. If he has a problem with that, he's free to take it up with them.

"For the record, you might have a better understanding of my opinion ..."

I understood you perfectly, I just don't agree with you. It's also arrogant to assume that because I don't agree with you, I don't understand you.

"If you ever had to deal with this, maybe you'd appreciate my position a little better."

What makes you think I *haven't* dealt with it? It's arrogant to assume you somehow have an appreciation of a situation you *assume* (wrongly, I might add) I have never been in or do not understand myself.

You've shown arrogance in assuming what I do or do not understand, what I have or have not dealt with. I could cast your position as lack of understanding, as you have tried to do to me, but appreciating your intelligence, I give you more credit than that, so what else can it be but arrogance? The thing I resent most of all is you casting my post of that Arnold info as a thoughtless act, when in fact, I gave it considerable thought, weighed carefully whether it was appropriate, and decided to go ahead. That was not because I wanted anyone to contact the man, it was because as I said, the information is available to everybody on the World Wide Web, which renders making it available here a non-issue.

I'm not wanting to feud with you here Ted, about this or any other issue, but I will not have you wagging your finger in my face about anything I choose to post here. You wag it; I'm going to break it off.

By Lordhobgoblin on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 11:48 pm: Edit


You can get in touch with Santa Claus and send him your demands at his web-site

Don't hold out to much hope of getting your back-pay though as his reply to me when I enquired about my back-pay was a fob-off about how it was nice to hear from me but that he was very tired and had to go off to get some sleep. Bastard.


By Chrysippvs on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 05:12 pm: Edit

....or Santa Claus makes no difference to me.

Does anyone have his info..he owes me some backpay....

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 04:58 pm: Edit

Arrogance has nothing to do with my consideration of others. Since you've inquired, Dr. Arnold is an academic researcher, as am I. I've twice contacted Dr. Arnold regarding an academic biochemical research matter, only loosely related to anything absinthe. Absinthe is a peripheral subject to his main body of work, which is posthumous diagnosis of V. Van Gogh. Whether you attempt to call Dr. Arnold or Santa Claus makes no difference to me.

For the record, you might have a better understanding of my opinion if I point out that I wouldn't want to field numerous random calls on my office phone from whomever is looking for information on absinthe (or anything other trivial information for that matter). Like many persons, I don't think I should have to be forced to actively shield my office contact info to avoid this. My contact numbers and other information are listed, and are even available via the web, however, I don't necessarily want someone who doesn't even know me to post my numbers on bulletin boards as an open invitation. Would you? Just the NY Times article brought an onslaught of info seekers who emailed me, called me at home, and called me at my office. If you ever had to deal with this, maybe you'd appreciate my position a little better.

I have contact info for other well-known authors on absinthe and other subjects, and even of some members of this BB, but I don't post it on BBs as an invitation for the masses out of respect for these persons and the nuisance it might cause them. If they wanted that, they'd have done it themselves. That's where our opinions differ. I am entitled to express mine, and it has nothing to do with being arrogant. To the contrary, it has everything to do with being considerate and respectful of others. I would extend the very same consideration and respect to you or anyone, regardless of who they are.

By Artemis on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 04:15 pm: Edit

And to go further, Ted. You yourself have contacted Arnold. You've said so here. The rest of us are not good enough to do so, is that it? He's too busy for us, but not too busy for you?
I've readily admitted my own arrogance this very night. Your turn?

By Artemis on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 04:11 pm: Edit

And by the way, your contact info IS openly posted to a bulletin board - THIS one. And I can assure you, I'm every bit as busy as Arnold is. I don't see what that has to do with anything. If you don't want attention from absinthusiasts, I would say you shouldn't go publishing articles about absinthe in Scientific American under your real name, or providing other than a bogus profile for yourself in the Sepulchritude Forum.

By Artemis on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 04:05 pm: Edit

It's on the Internet for anyone who wants it by typing "Arnold" and "Wilfred" into AltaVista. If he didn't want it there, it was up to him to protect it. It's not like I stole it out of his safe or anything, Ted.

By Tabreaux on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 04:01 pm: Edit

Dr. Arnold is a busy professor, and I don't think he'd be volunteering his contact info to spend his time fielding questions from internet users. If someone digs I sure they could probably find my contact info, but I wouldn't want it openly posted to bulletin boards.

By Artemis on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 03:21 pm: Edit

To flesh out what I previously wrote about Dr. Arnold ("teaches at a school in Kansas"), I submit the following. I found it on the Internet and make no claim about the accuracy of any of it:

Wilfred N. Arnold. Professor. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. University of Kansas Medical Center. 913-588-7056.

By Artemis on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 03:16 pm: Edit

There can be found the article on creativity and madness. It's apparent to me now I found it while searching for Arnold's article, because it was also published in Scientific American. The link above is not where I originally found it, but it has the added virtue of some music by Queen. The article starts with the intriguing phrase: "Men have called me mad," wrote Edgar Allan Poe, "but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence ..."

By Wormwood on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 07:36 am: Edit

I read the article, in it he proposes the amount
of yellow Van Goch used in his paintings near the
end of his life could have been due to a rare eye
desease which can be induced by the constant
injestion of huge quantities of thujone. This
condition causes blurred vision and everything to
look yellow.

This theory has been disproved Van Goch would have
had to have drank something like 135 bottles of
absinthe a day to aquire this condition and a like
amount to continue the effect.

By Midas on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 04:45 am: Edit

Deal struck.

By Artemis on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 01:56 am: Edit

"The article Artemis mentioned was called 'Vincent Van Gogh and the Thujone Connection'"

The article I specifically mentioned was the other one, from Scientific American, but I did make reference to Van Gogh, because I was also aware of the "Thujone Connection" article and of Dr. Arnold's overall theme. Midas, there is yet another article out there on the web (not by Arnold) regarding creativity and madness, which is in the same vein. The whole thing is there. If you don't find it first, I'll publish an URL here when I get around to it.

By Artemis on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 - 01:51 am: Edit

"Insulting the guy who made that possible doesn't make my job any easier, you know?"

I apologize to you and to him. The perceived tone of your response kind of frosted me; I was probably overly sensitive to it.

"But thanks for the plug!"

And that's all I was trying to do, drape another laurel on your formidable brow. Which is why I got testy when you responded by playing a semantic game (or so I thought). I had no idea you knew the guy or that he was now in our camp, so to speak. Again, I apologize if I offended.

By Midas on Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 05:47 am: Edit

With regards to Wilfred Arnold's article, I found a site last night that lists two. The article Artemis mentioned was called 'Vincent Van Gogh and the Thujone Connection', and was apparrently written for the American Medical Association, with the reference # 260 (20) 3042-3044 (no idea what this means. I assume 3022-3044 are the page no's.).
The other one is specifically on absinthe, and is attributed to Scientific American Magazine (June): 112-117.
FWIW, the web site is:

By Don_walsh on Monday, November 13, 2000 - 11:48 pm: Edit

Jeez, Artemis. The guy is now an ally. I blame GB for the poor content of the old page; when the owner of the page (a chemical education type) was apprised of the errors he was happy to let me correct them. No need to ream him out now for a page that is long gone. The corrected page is still up and will stay up. Insulting the guy who made that possible doesn't make my job any easier, you know?

But thanks for the plug!

By Grimbergen on Monday, November 13, 2000 - 11:58 am: Edit

Here is the Oxford page:


By Artemis on Monday, November 13, 2000 - 11:43 am: Edit

"It was and is Oxford University's Chemistry department,"

I chose the past tense because the page may have disappeared for all I know, not because it might have changed ownership.

"and it wasn't a hack job, the author was sincere"

Hacking is as hacking does. A sincere hack is still a hack. The average dumbass writing for the AP is probably sincere, too. It doesn't make him any less a hack. You may cut him some slack because he shares your profession. I don't.

By Don_walsh on Monday, November 13, 2000 - 08:33 am: Edit

Dear Artemis

It was and is Oxford University's Chemistry Department, and it wasn't a hack job, the author was sincere, but misled by his sources, including Green Bohemia, who had him put not one but two hyperlinks to their website on the page. This was pre-La Fee; they were flogging Hills.

I just helped a fellow chemist out by providing him with further information. So he let me rework the page. There are no hyperlinks to anyone's commercial site, several other products are mentioned (like Mari Mayans) and in general it is a much more balanced presentation. I have received maybe half a dozen emails from people thanking me for my trouble.

By Don_walsh on Monday, November 13, 2000 - 08:27 am: Edit

The past tense of 'hang' is 'hanged'. 'Hung' has different connotations, as in the early scene in Blazing Saddles, q.v.

"Bart, I thought you wuz hung!"
"And so I am!"

By Treeman5 on Monday, November 13, 2000 - 07:13 am: Edit


Now if you hung yourself that would be an insult too us all...Now give yourself a big pat on the back for a marvelous job already..Geez modesty..
You know deep inside your thinking "President Don Walsh", well maybe not but credit where credit is due..I have a question, for you vet's(of the absinthe community) is it unnatural for a person to drink half a bottle at one sitting, "IF" they have been dry for say 2 weeks(ran out)..I just have these flashes of that old "Reefer Madness" flic in my head, but you know what I'm glad I found this delightful beverage and all of you folks..You all have kept me informed and abreast( huh huh he said breast) of all the new developements Thanks everyone. Especially Commander in Chief Don. lol
Take it Easy


By Artemis on Monday, November 13, 2000 - 02:17 am: Edit

For what it's worth, Arnold's article appeared in the June 1989 issue of Scientific American. Also, for those who aren't familiar with the controversy, Arnold apparently wasn't so much interested in absinthe per se, as in "diagnosing" Van Gogh's "condition".

Don also did a good job of revising a hack job on a chemistry web site (was it Oxford, Don?) that had to do with thujone, absinthe, etc. They actually published his article in place of the nonsense which was there previously.

By Don_walsh on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 10:18 pm: Edit

If nominated (for LFV spokesperson) I will not run; if elected I will not serve. And if it comes down to a Florida recount, I will hang myself in the nearest toilet.

By Bluedog1 on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 01:26 pm: Edit

Nicely done, Don. Thanks for all of us.

By _blackjack_ on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 12:19 pm: Edit


You mentioned tumeric in your list of potentially toxic dyestuffs that may have been used in cheap absinthe way back when. Is tumeric toxic? Maybe we should ban vindaloo!

By Treeman5 on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 09:47 am: Edit

Brilliantly stated Don, Bravo! I hope Mr Pasick has a hard time sitting down after you tore him a new A-Hole...I second the motion that Don should be the defender of all that is just and good in this forum..I now pass this on to the floor, or should I say pass out on the floor..

By Midas on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 08:07 am: Edit

Thanks Artemis. I did a search and couldn't locate it anywhere either. Oh well, no bother.
And Don, let us know if you get a reply. I think you can now be crowned the official spokesperson of LFV under the Absinthe Drinkers and Distillers Anti-Defamation Act of Nov. 2000 ; )

By Artemis on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 05:55 am: Edit

Artemis, do you know if there's an online version of the article?

At the present moment, I can't say. When I searched online for it (last spring) I couldn't find it anywhere. Scientific American has a website, but the article was not available there. I seem to remember they would supply you with any article, but you had to pay for it. I was unable to find it at my local library, but that was a very small town library. The article was published in the 80s, I believe. It has been heavily quoted and excerpted in other documents, which are the basis for my (limited) knowledge of it.

By Don_walsh on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 02:24 am: Edit

Marc, Conrad named his book aptly. The line between myth and gossamer thin. Like the wings of a green fairy. History over the long haul is institutionalized myth. Even over the short haul, the truth can be just as elusive in modern times as it was in RASHOMON. Historians labor in an ocean of hubris. As the reporter told Jimmy Stewart in MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALENCE: "When the story becomes myth...print the myth."

By Don_walsh on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 02:19 am: Edit

Marc, I share many of your views on this. The hard one, as you have said before, is reconciling the overwheening expectations of those seeking a major psychotropic experience, with...a nice pleasant (if culture steeped) aperitif.

As you have said yourself: those seeking a mind bender will be disappointed. It is at best a mind tweak. A nice tweak, with vivid dreaming.

thegreenimp and Midas, thanks, I waited till being offered the fasci three times, and then like Julius, had no choice. I only hope I don't end up being disemboweled on march 15.

By Marc on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 02:02 am: Edit

I don't mind the fact that absinthe is misunderstood. For me, it adds to its allure.
I prefer that it is illegal in the States.
It keeps it out of the hands of the yuppie scum who'd turn it into the next Jagermeister. I like
the romanticism involved in drinking something that is taboo. I think the demand for authentic absinthe is a result of it's illegality. Pastis
is legal and nobody that I know drinks it. Whereas
if I mention absinthe to someone, they're dying to try it. I know many people who drink absinthe, not because they love it's taste, but because it's contraband. They are not drinking a liquor,
they are drinking a myth.

By Thegreenimp on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 12:36 am: Edit

Well said Don,
I find it interesting that after all the years gone by, that Absinthe was freely available in Spain and other places, there were no horror stories such as the ones used to ban Absinthe by the Swiss and French......all in all it seems in retrospect that it boils down to much ado about nothing. As quoted, no one has Green Fairies flying out their's just a pleasant drink.....It is such a crime that I can not go to my favorite place to have a drink, and not be able to order a glass of Absinthe, I see much worse being consumed and abused, by comparison.....Frustrated after coming home from seeing some freinds play and not being able to enjoy my favorite drink......may the responsible parties roast in Hell........Regards....Jay

By Midas on Sunday, November 12, 2000 - 12:22 am: Edit

Bravo, Don.

By Don_walsh on Saturday, November 11, 2000 - 11:31 pm: Edit

The gauntlet is taken up on all our behalfs. I just emailed the following to the author of that drivel:

Dear sir

In re your article on absinthe, I would like to make a few points in defense of this liqueur.

First of all absinthe is not banned in most countries. It is banned in most European countries. It is not banned in the EU members Spain, Portugal, or the United Kingdom.

It is banned in the United States as a food additive only. It is not classified as a controlled substance. It is not a hallucinatory substance.

The UC Berkeley study you quote establishes only that thujone, a minor component of absinthe, is potentially hazardous to epileptics -- but epileptics ought to not be drinking at all, because of alcohol interaction with the barbiturates they take for the condition. The same study also establishes that thujone is readily metabolized and that the effect on the GABA system is highly transitory.

The same study also points out that insofar as modern absinthes are concerned, the ethanol toxicity is of much more concern than the thujone. So unless you are proposing Prohibition's return, what is the point of demonizing thujone and absinthe?

Thujone is also a major constituent of the essential oils of several common culinary herbs and spices, including sage, and tarragon. FDA makes no issue of these, only of A.absinthium (wormwood) which contains thujone. Thujone is also a major component of Vicks Vaporub and Absorbine Jr. Yes, the stuff Mommy rubbed on your chest and under your nose, and on your aching muscles.

Thujone is a common fixative in perfumery.

It is a monoterpene closely related to menthol, eucalyptol, camphor, a-pinene, bornyl acetate, pulegone, etc. Any of these sound familiar?

Modern absinthes run from 45% to 72% alcohol. Your characterization of them as all at the higher end is erroneous.

As to Dr.Arnold's estimate of 260 mg/Kg in old absinthes, I am at a loss to understand how he arrived at this figure. I believe the number rests on a couple of bad assumptions about the thujone content of wormwood, and the efficiency of alcohol maceration in extraction, and about how much is transferred during subsequent distillation. My associate T.A.Breaux, who is in touch with Dr.Arnold, owns several bottles of antique premium absinthe and has tested them by dual FID GC-MS. I can assure you that Dr Arnold's number is way off.

By the way wormwood is also used to flavor Vermouths, and the word Vermouth is a corruption of Wormwood. Isn't that of note?

Now let me address the circumstances of the banning of absinthe in the early 20th century.

Absinthe, which started as a patent medicine in Switzerland in the late 1700s, never became popular -- until the blight hit the vineyards of Europe in the mid 1800s. Wine became scarce and expensive. Wine loving Europeans needed a cheap and available substitute to be their daily tiffle. Absinthe fit the bill. It became so popular that the cocktail hour was known as L'heure Verte -- The Green Hour.

The last several decades of the 19th century were a time of great alcoholic excess, known in hindsight as The Great Binge. Alcoholism as a social evil spawned the religiously based temperance and prohibition movements. In Europe the 'Blue Cross' focused on Absinthe and demonized it, just as Carrie Nation and her followers demonized Rum and Whiskey in the USA.

Now things get interesting.

After 5-6 decades the winemakers were ready to resume mass production of wine. They wanted their customers back, and their customers were mostly drinking Absinthe. So the vintners climbed into bed with the prohibitionists, and coopted the yellow press, and suborned the lawmakers. 'Absinthism' was invented, but its symptoms are suspiciously similar to alcoholism...various causes celebre were trumpeted, including a pair of juicy murder cases improperly blamed on absinthe. Money changed hands, you can count on it. Voila, the governments of Belgium and France and Switzerland banned not only absinthe, but all herbal liqueurs. This indicates quite clearly that the real purpose was not public health but protection of the vested interests of the vintners.

I put it to you that absinthe was and is nothing more than a modest pleasant aperitif.

I suggest to you that, if some 19th century absinthes had toxic effects, that the likely agents of toxicity were heavy metal compounds used in cheaper brands as coloring or clouding agents, and some poorly chosen dyestuffs. None of the premium brands used these shortcuts, nor do any modern absinthes. I am talking about copper sulphate and acetoarsenate, antimony trichloride, tumeric, Aniline Green, and worse. The rapid and acute neurotoxicity of such compounds is horribly higher than the mild and transient effects of low levels of thujone.

And I conclude that old world 19th century lies ought not to be perpetuated into the 21st century.


Don Walsh
Managing Director
Jade Liqueurs Co.,Ltd.

By Malhomme on Saturday, November 11, 2000 - 08:30 pm: Edit

Sensational jouralism is the friend of bad science.

By Chrysippvs on Saturday, November 11, 2000 - 11:02 am: Edit

"I love this article. As long as absinthe is demonized, absinthe drinkers will be rebels, madmen, freaks and outlaws. That's alright with me. Viva the green revolution!"

These type of articles are horrid for that reason, the more absinthe is singled out like this and made out to be another hip drug, the faster the DEA puts it on the list.

By Midas on Saturday, November 11, 2000 - 07:26 am: Edit

Artemis, do you know if there's an online version of the article?

By Artemis on Saturday, November 11, 2000 - 06:37 am: Edit

"heard of this Dr. Wilfred Arnold?"

Everybody who has followed this forum for as long as I have has heard of Wilfred Arnold. He authored an article in Scientific American which is the basis for most peoples' "knowledge" about absinthe. If you try to argue intelligently against morons in the beer newsgroups about absinthe, the "educated" ones in the crowd will trot out Dr. Arnold's article. Ted Breaux has spoken to Arnold personally, I believe. He teaches at a school in Kansas. He is completely legitimate and definitely no quack, although many of us here have some problems with some of his conclusions.

By Marc on Saturday, November 11, 2000 - 03:02 am: Edit

I love this article. As long as absinthe is demonized, absinthe drinkers will be rebels, madmen, freaks and outlaws. That's alright with me. Viva the green revolution!

By Perruche_verte on Saturday, November 11, 2000 - 02:42 am: Edit

OK, part of that was weak. I don't have to try every banned substance on earth to know that they have their dangers, so I shouldn't knock Arnold for never having tried absinthe, as he admits in the Fox article. But the testimony of "experts" like him is what keeps absinthe underground.

I second the motion that Don blows these fools out of the water.

By Perruche_verte on Saturday, November 11, 2000 - 02:27 am: Edit

This article is a mass media presentation/exploitation of the Berkeley study discussed on this forum not so long ago. That is bad. The Berkeley study was bad enough, but this is worse. The image seems to be one of absinthe as crystal meth.

I wish I knew more about Arnold. I'd like to research him and see if he's known for anything more than making unfounded statements about the content and effects of an alcoholic drink he's never tried. Surely he knows that acetaminophen and ethanol are "toxic" in sufficient quantities; what's his hangup with wormwood?

By Midas on Friday, November 10, 2000 - 11:19 pm: Edit

I've retyped this post four times, and I think the best way to describe my feelings towards this article can't be written, as it would involve a photo of myself holding aloft a certain digit of my right hand.
I'd love to know where he got his statistics from, paticularly re: the thujone content of old absinthes. And as for the experiment cited, it sounds farcical even to me. Has anyone here ever seen a mouse experiencing 'episodes of brilliance'? Or heard of this Dr. Wilfred Arnold? And as for poor Maureen, maybe she'd better stick to Dr Pepper, or maybe she'd find that a little too controlling as well.
Don, do us all a favour and release the hounds. The big ones.

By Anatomist1 on Friday, November 10, 2000 - 09:08 pm: Edit

Another grand irony of that article is the ad for "safe non-prescription" Tylenol plastered up the right side of the page. I used to work in medical records... can anyone say 'Renal Insufficiency'?


By Anatomist1 on Friday, November 10, 2000 - 08:56 pm: Edit

I nominate Don as the one who emails the author and tears him a new asshole...


By Grimbergen on Friday, November 10, 2000 - 11:18 am: Edit

Don't know if this has been discussed here before, if not check it out.


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