Devion's Views #257

VICES AND VIRTUES (posted Sept. 8, 2022)

"I drink to make other people more interesting." - Ernest Hemingway

When you read the name Hemingway - Think a great read, 'The Sun Also Rises', 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', 'The Old Man and the Sea'.

American novelist, short-story writer, journalist (including at the Toronto Star) who, in 1954, won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Like much of humanity, Ernie was afflicted by stress, anxiety and pain, which addicted him to booze.

But, this great 20th century writer was hardly alone in his craving for the 'demon sauce' to provide him (if only temporary) relief.

For example, a recently published report about alcohol consumption, reveals that British Columbians downed more booze during the pandemic than in the past two decades.

So, what's the big deal? Everybody must understand by now, that when times are tough we frail humans seek relief from whatever's available; like alcohol, pot, etc..

Yes, but this big reveal is staggering (pun intended).

Residents of 'Lotusland', aged 15 years and older, consumed the equivalent of 9.32 litres of pure alcohol between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

Oh dear, that's a lot of hooch!

Another way of putting it - 'we' drank the equivalent of 547 cans/bottles of 5% beer or 104 bottles of 12% wine - in twelve months.

Hmm, Oh my, Umm, well then, that really does seem like a lot when expressed that way.

Yep, it really, really, really is...a lot!

And especially when you take into consideration another just-released report by three scientists at the University of Victoria's Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research, WARNING of the risks associated with consuming as few as...three drinks...per week.

Hold on, that has to be a mistake, only three drinks, per week?

They must be kidding, right?

Nope, and sorry, but it wasn't a misprint, scientists don't kid.

Sadly, for 'us' frail vice-ridden addictable creatures, their report clearly and without equivocation recommends that somehow/sometime 'we' have to stop downing 104 bottles of wine or 547 cans/bottles of beer (per year) and reduce our consumption to an eye-dropper, miserly, meagre three drinks per week...or face the consequences.

And, frankly speaking, the chances of that happening anytime soon are less than winning next week's Lotto Max.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I almost forgot to explain the word 'Lotusland' - Lotusland refers to Homer's Odyssey, in which the hero, Odysseus, visits a land whose inhabitants are befuddled by a narcotic lotus. The term was coined by the late Vancouver Sun writer, Allan Fotheringham, aka "Dr. Foth". 

You might think that nobody pays attention to scientific reports anyway, so who cares, right?

There are some who do and can use the information to their advantage like...the BCGEU, the largest union in BC representing 33,000 provincial government workers. Some of their members are actually paid by government (us taxpayers) to read scientific reports like the aforementioned, and they certainly took notice of this one.

In their dispute with the employer, they targeted BC Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale and distribution centres as their #1 strike target. This strategic move quickly choked off the supply of booze and pot at retail outlets, which panicked the thirsty taxpayers into a buying frenzy that soon emptied shelves; reminiscent of the great toilet paper stampede.

We humans really are strange creatures.

Like magic, in two short weeks the government's resolve collapsed like a house of cards.

But you folks out there in the 'Rest of Canada' not even dare to consider tut-tut-tutting 'BC-Boozers', because there's another report which makes all who live in 'Beaverland' equally culpable.

Here's the top ten countries ranked by the number of times "respondents" from each country said they got drunk...last year:

1. Australia: 26.7

2. Denmark: 23.8

3. Finland: 23.8

4. United States: 23.1

5. United Kingdom: 22.5

6. Canada: 22

7. Ireland: 20

8. France: 17.5

9. Sweden: 16

10. Netherlands: 15.7

Scientists believe these numbers are understated especially for the younger demographic.

NB: Results from Russia, China and North Korea remain a state secret.

Boozers from all over the Great White North can now try to stand at attention and holler (hopefully without slurring) and proudly proclaim, "We're #6, We're #6.

                                              TWO ELDERLY POLITICIANS WALK INTO A BAR...

Bartender asks the one wearing a bow tie, "What's your pleasure sir?"

Response, "Young man a double Johnnie Walker Scotch will suffice to temporarily tame my affliction, which I refer to as 'The Black Dog'. In serving my country to the best of my abilities, this particular libation has served to calm my nerves, especially in times of great stress." 

Bartender looks at the one with the longish red tie and orange complexion "And you sir?"

Response, "I don't drink coffee, tea, alcohol or smoke. Make mine a Diet Coke. Having no afflictions, my goal has always been to serve myself to the best of my great abilities. I crave only money and power."

These words come from the mouth of a U.S. Commander-in-Chief, who faked an injury on five separate occasions to avoid military service while bragging to his lawyer "You think I'm stupid, I wasn't going to Vietnam."

Which one would you wish to lead your country in a time of conflict...the boozer or the cowardly teetotaler?

Trump famously said, "I'm the smartest man in the world."

Churchill famously said, "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me."

And the insufferably smug Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery famously said to Churchill, "I neither smoke nor drink, and I am 100 percent fit." Churchill replied, "I drink and smoke, and I am 200 percent fit."

Churchill died at age 90, a couple of years after Montgomery.

                                   NOW FOR SOME OTHER STUFF YOU MAY OR MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT

For the past two decades North American newsrooms have been mercilessly gutted on the alter of 'the bottom line.'

As local newsrooms and local news coverage shrivel up, to what extent does democracy shrink with it?

According to a recent AP survey, one of the most talked-about applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in local newsrooms, where staffing shortages are pushing editors to consider machines that can churn out stories.

The AI machines wouldn't be tasked with hard-hitting journalism, but with 'plug-and-chug' stories where numbers can be dropped into a template. Think minor-league sports games or company earnings reports.

But news outlets are also looking into AI for some more complex tasks that might be susceptible to bias and require a human touch, including comment moderation and story recommendations.

Isn't there enough bullshit floating around without the need for this...or is it too late?

And while we're on the subject of news...

Picked up the morning paper last week to find an insert advising subscribers of an increase in home delivery cost, effective October 1st. The note included a surprise "A reminder that your subscription cost is now tax deductible."

Is Monsieur Ronald the only print subscriber of two daily newspapers unaware of this tax deduction? Why has it not been widely publicized by government? Or is it just more bullshit to distract from another unwanted increase when inflation is already running amuck?

Just asking.

As the shadows grow longer, stay safe. It's going to be an interesting Fall.

Ron Devion, No Guts, No Glory