Have a drink on me

At this time of year, many people’s minds turn to festive cheer and often that means the imbibing of alcoholic beverages. Although I completely fail to understand the attraction among many young people [in the UK, at least] of binge drinking in dangerous quantities, I do like the odd glass myself. There is the question: what harm is there in this? …

People have been making and consuming alcoholic drinks for millennia, so we should have some idea of the health angle by now. I have seen occasional reports in the press that say there is a good correlation that shows people who drink moderately tend to live longer than those who abstain, while it is quite clear that excessive consumption is harmful. There have even been suggestions that specific components of red wine are good for your heart, which was music to my ears. This article talks about some of this research and I think gives a reasonable perspective.

But I have a theory, which I will need to explain with an analogy first of all. Imagine a herd of wildebeest roaming the grasslands in Africa. Suddenly, a lion appears out of nowhere and his mind is on lunch. The wildebeest scatter and flee, running for their lives. But the lion is hungry and focused and eventually catches his prey. Which wildebeest is the unfortunate victim? Clearly the weakest and slowest one, who could not quite get away. Now, back to alcohol. We are told that it kills brain cells and I can accept that. We are also told that we have far more brain cells that we can ever use. Which specific cells are killed by the booze? Obviously it must be the weak ones, just like the wildebeest. So, modest consumption of alcohol flushes out the weak brain cells leaving only the strong ones behind!

I am amused by an observation that I have made in my travels. In Europe, the law requires that the percentage alcohol content of a drink be clearly shown on the bottle/can, which is totally reasonable. In the US [well, in CA anyway], there does not seem to be a similar law, however there is a health message about the dangers of drinking, which, in itself, is fair enough. But how can you make an informed decision without the alcohol content information? They tell you it is going to kill you, but not how fast.

With that sobering thought, I would like to wish everyone a good holiday, with all pleasures taken in moderation, and I will be back early in 2011.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2010/12/23/have-a-drink-on-me/