## Tuesday, July 24, 2012

### Czechia wins the European alcohol contest

The London Olympic Games only start on Friday but Reuters has already handed out the most important medals:
Spirited Traveler: The party doesn't stop in Prague
Czechia has Europe's largest amount of alcohol drunk by an average person, 16.6 liters per capita and per year, the World Health Organization proudly reported. When I try to think about it, it's somewhat sick especially if the average includes children (I am not sure whether it does).

Yes, it is true that while I was in Massachusetts, it was normal to go to a law school canteen and expect folks to buy no beer for lunch. The beer is a healthy multi-compound for many reasons. But what my compatriots are doing may be too much of a good thing.

I think that my personal average consumption doesn't go too much above 0.5 liters of beer a day. Sometimes I add a wine or a rum but it's rare and sometimes I miss my daily beer. That's 180 liters of beer per year. Let's say it's the equivalent of 200 liters per beer when the other beverages are included. Multiply it by 4%, the alcohol content (because I usually don't drink the strongest beers), and you get only 8 liters per year.

Now, if the average person has 16.6 liters and if there are inevitably many people who don't drink (or who almost don't drink), the people who do drink must have quite some consumption! ;-)

Needless to say, my hometown is the global epicenter of this activity. A century ago, we would already have four major breweries in town, with complicated names describing the form of ownership. Their products would soon or later become known as Urquell, Gambrinus, Světovar, and Prior, respectively. Prior stopped production already during the first capitalist republic.

An instruction manual from around 1900 explained how to efficiently drink Pilsner Urquell.

But as I told you in April, it's not just beer that heavily flows out of Pilsen. It's also stronger beverages such as Fernet and the Domestic Rum that another factory in Pilsen, also a kilometer from my home, is famous for. You can't be surprised that with this inflow of $$CH_3 CH_2 OH$$ into our bodies, we're sometimes doing silly things – although arguably less silly things than the members of the nations with a strict discipline.

For example, artist David Černý – the author of Entropa, a swimming dead Saddam, and dozens of other similar fancy works – has constructed his least controversial piece of art yet. It is a mascot of the London Olympic Games, a groaning double decker who is doing push-ups. ;-)

The sculpture is already a great attraction at the Czech house.

I do think that alcohol is killing neural cells. But it may sometimes help to make you smarter by natural selection – because the least viable neural cells may be the first ones to go. :-) But alcohol also makes one friendlier and his or her view of the world smoother, more fuzzy, and therefore emphasizing the big-picture patterns.

#### 6 comments:

1. For the Canadian provinces there seems to be a positive correlation between alcohol consumption and both the average age and sex ratio of the province. That is, the places where young men go to work have the highest consumption. Not really suprising. Does Czechia have a male dominated young population relative to the rest of Europe?

Are the young men moving there for work or in the hopes of meeting Denise Milani's sister?

2. Wow, respect ! Ireland shouldn't be too far behind so watch it !

3. Many, many years ago, as I watched a friend empty the contents of a large salt shaker into a pitcher of beer we were sharing, he told me that he had been to the doctor recently. The doctor had told him that he'd have to stop drinking, or he'd die. He said, "You mean I can't even have a beer once in a while?" The doctor said, "Oh, no, I don't mean that. You can have a beer once in a while. How often is once in a while?" My friend, putting on a meek tone, replied, "About a six-pack a day?"

4. Alcohol does kill brain cells, Lubos, and consuming way too much alcohol
on a daily basis, as Smoking Frog's friend does, will eventually lead
to hepatic encephalopathy, secondary to liver failure. Hepatic
encephalopathy is irreversible and it's only a matter of time before
it'll kill you. And because people with this disease develop a psychotic
form of dementia, which is nearly impossible to control and treat, it's
a most terrible way to die, at least for the people around you.

And needless to say, Smoking Frog, your friend who drinks a six-pack
a day would be wise to take his doctor's advice and stop drinking. But
before he goes cold turkey on the sauce, his doctor should prescribe him
a daily, and fairly high, dose of ativan for a week or so to suppress
withdrawal symptoms, i.e. delirium tremens (also called DTs). And if
oral ativan doesn't suppress the DTs, he needs to check into a hospital
and be put on IV ativan, pronto. Uncontrolled DT's quite often leads to
uncontrolled seizures, which are life threatening. This is why most
patients with uncontrolled DTs are shipped to an ICU and put on a
ventilator for airway protection.

Take home message, as Gordon would probably agree, alcohol withdrawal is something that you should never take lightly.

5. I'm not normally against Czechs, but this David Czerny idiot needs to be pushed under a bus, preferably his own. Having just gone to see Prometheus the movie, its clear that the modern intellectual zeitgeist has reached past the bottom of the barrel and broken through into a negative value. Something must be done. For a start, honest Czechs should rise up and hang Czerny from his balcony as a warning to others.

6. It's hard to define someone who is more conservative than me but if one sees one such as you, James, he knows that it's the real deal. ;-)