Alcohol II

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Me in Cologne, Germany.  That's not Mountain Dew.
Me in Cologne, Germany. That's not Mountain Dew.

What got me thinking about writing the previous article, “Alcohol”, was a book in mygarrison’s library called, What I Eat.   It’s a well done book that looks at what 80 people from around the world consume on an average day.  Each person has a photo spread of them with their average day’s food in front of them.  I noticed that several men drank a considerable amount of alcohol.  One Inuit drinks 8, 12 oz. cans of beer a day and 2 pots of coffee.  Another guy in his late 40s and in extremely good condition, drinks 4-6 cans of Coors Lite a night.  Still another man, a sheep herder in Spain, drinks on average 5 cans of beer and two glasses of wine each day.  The Inuit runs a jackhammer 12 hours a day, the Coors drinker owns his own carpentry company, and the herder walks through the fields all day, drinking beer the whole time; he brings 3 cans with him.

Not one of these “heavy” drinkers was even close to overweight.  In fact, all the the people that looked obese in the book drank little or no alcohol.  I know, anecdotal.  But I just can’t get the picture of the obese fellow who drinks 4 cans of diet Pepsi a day, out of my mind.


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Obligatory Disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor.  I’m not telling you that should got get smashed every day on mouthwash and Sterno.  Or any other intoxicant.  My writing is a record of my experiences and research done by professional scientists.  Oh, and Frederick the Great said beer is awesome.

Few things are so demonized and yet so commonly utilized as alcohol.  Whenever I speak of the evils of drug use, the defenders of pot-heading inevitably bring up booze.  To them, if I admire the powers of aspirin, I must also snort lines of cocaine from my coffee table.  Both are drugs after all.

As a police officer, I did quite often deal with drunk people.  But more often the problems came form people who weren’t drunk at all.  They were jerks, evil, or having really bad days.  Sometimes they just happened to be driving too fast.

I drink.  Beer, mostly, and sometimes wine.  I went through a time when I enjoyed Vodka and orange juice, but found that to be too much sugar.  So I went back to beer and wine.  Heineken is my beer of choice, though I live in Germany, so I have many options.  When I began writing my book a couple of years back, I noticed how much easier the writing process was when I had a glass of wine or a beer going.  It seemed to grease the wheels.  Now, I love writing.  I don’t know why, but when my fingers begin skipping across the keyboard it seems to light up portions of my brain that aren’t otherwise active.  I feel happier when writing then when I’m not.  I also feel happier when I’m drinking than when I’m not.  I’m only slightly ashamed to admit this.  The older I get, the less ashamed of it I get.

All my family are or were drinkers, but none of them were alcoholics.  A few years back, it occurred to me that the advanced countries of the world drink alcohol, and the least developed do not.  It is not a matter of technology as the Sumerians were making beer thousands of years ago.  As a matter of fact, its seems that throughout history alcohol had a central role in the most advanced countries.  Rome and Greece, wine was consumed with almost every meal.  I mentioned the Sumerians.  David, in the Old Testament, thanks God for wine “that makes me happy.”  Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine.

I began doing some research.  Guess what.  Alcohol is good for you.  I know I’ll irritate the people that want to find the Grand Unified Theorum of Life, the ones that want a clear system for Good and Evil, for health and vigor.  All drugs =all bad is a myth.  Remember, I’m mostly anti-drug.  Pot is bad.  Injecting heroin in bad, though of course opiates are a miracle in the medical world.  All drugs probably have a positive role in the proper context.  Caffeine has been studied intensely by the military and its positive effects are undeniable.

But alcohol has a bad rap, not in the least because of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD).  I’m against drunk driving of course.  But I’m also against talking on cell phones while driving and some studies show this is worse than driving drunk.  Yet almost everyday I see people talking on cell phones while driving.  MAAD’s campaign against alcohol spilled from its original intent.  Most people now think that booze is an evil that we accept in a free society.  I disagree.  From what I’ve seen and experienced, I believe alcohol is good for its own sake.  Yes, a person can drink too much, just as they can eat too much, exercise too much, and surf the internet too much.

I readily admit that my admiration for alcohol is likely do to my personality type.  American writers were and are notorious drinkers.  Hemingway, Poe, Faulkner, Fitzgerald among others.  Few can match their ingenuity or productivity.

Other poetic geniuses ruthlessly defended alcohol:

WB Yeats: ” The problem with some people is that when they’re not drunk, they’re sober.”

WC Fields:  ” A woman drove me to drink and I never had the courtesy to thank her.”

The list goes on.  While it’s easy and politically correct to note that many historical figures drank too much or were labeled alcoholics, it does cause one to question what the term alcoholic actually means.  From Churchill, to Alexander the Great to the Roman genius, Sulla, the charge of alcoholism  abounds.  Yet so does their greatness.

Interestingly, alcohol consumption correlates highly with IQ:  The more you drink, the higher is your IQ, even adjusting for social factors.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the increased life span of drinkers.   

“In a study of more than 80,000 American women, those who drank moderately had only half the heart attack risk of those who did not drink at all, even if they were slim, did not smoke and exercised daily. Moderate drinking was about as good for the heart as an hour of exercise a day. Not drinking at all was as bad for the heart as morbid obesity.”

“The science supporting the protective role of alcohol is indisputable; no one questions it any more,” said Dr. Curtis Ellison, a professor of medicine and public health at the Boston University School of Medicine. “There have been hundreds of studies, all consistent.”

Doctors who participated in the Framingham Study, an early study of diet and heart disease, were ordered to hide their findings of the healthy effects of drinking.  The findings were too counter-intuitive.

There is a limit to how much one can drink and gain any benefits from it. Eating 8 pounds of broccoli a day is probably bad for us, too.  I wouldn’t try it.

My father always drank beer.  Pretty much every day.  He drank Schlitz and Pabst Blue Ribbon, 16 oz cans.  He got up for work everyday, and on weekends was always doing something physical, and he drank lots of beer.  He still does, as he approaches 70.

Frankly, all the negative talk about alcohol annoys me.  I drink beer every night, I’m 40 years old, and I crush almost all of the 25 year olds in my army unit in almost all the physical activities.  A few mornings ago, I was told last minute that I’d be taking part in a 3 kilometer timed run.  I lined up surrounded by people younger than me.  I crossed the finish line first after passing several flabby youngsters on the way.  They should drink more beer and less soda.

To me, drinking beer is part of being a man.  But being a man is a lost art isn’t it?  Men aren’t really allowed to have much fun anymore.  We’re supposed to be more like women.  Watching sports on TV is considered decadent but who can miss an episode of Jersey Shore or Real Housewives?  I think we’re supposed to shave our chests, too.  Beards, a manly trait throughout history, are far too manly in today’s world.  Men are supposed to pay as much attention to their looks and dress as women, now, and many men drink mixed drinks when they should be drinking beer.

We all have our vices.  Mine just happens to be good for me.

Awesome beer quotes–I’ll have another…

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  • “A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t even have the decency to thank her.”-W.C. Fields
  • “No soldier can fight unless he is properly fed on beef and beer.”-John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough
  • “Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.”-Dave Barry
  • “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”-Benjamin Franklin
  • “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”-Abraham Lincoln
  • “I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.-Homer Simpson
  • “”I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”-Frank Sinatra
  • “I decided to stop drinking with creeps. I decided to drink only with friends. I’ve lost 30 pounds.”-Ernest Hemingway
  • “A quart of ale is a dish for a king.”-William Shakespeare
  • “Make sure that the beer – four pints a week – goes to the troops under fire before any of the parties in the rear get a drop.”-Winston Churchill to his Secretary of War, 1944