My Fellow Inebriates,

A lot of child abuse goes on at my house, by which I mean I suffer a lot of abuse at the hands of children. I feel compelled to clarify this just in case some well-meaning Canadian Conservative (is there such a thing?) googles the term and arrives here—which is plausible, given that someone googled “omg is a shit” this morning and ended up here of all places.

I bet a lot of people are googling terms like “child abuse” and “child pornography” today because of the online surveillance bill Conservative Vic Toews is getting ready to shove down Canadians’ throats (or up their asses, if you prefer it more pornographically). Toews believes that failing to adopt legislation that provides police and intelligence agencies with access to citizens’ telecommunications and subscriber data, “will in fact allow child pornographers and organized crime to flourish.”

The legislation doesn’t personally freak me out. Everything at LBHQ is pretty much PG-rated, my parents lack the energy to do anything dangerous let alone criminal, and we are solidly opposed to child abuse (although curiously silent on bear abuse). But I hate to think that you or I, innocently googling for legislative news this morning and entering the term “child pornography,” could end up on somebody’s watch list.

Says Toews, “the focus here is the protection of children,” yet the bill refers to children in title only; they are not mentioned within the text, suggesting that the topic is a red herring—a hot-button topic that will wedge open the doors to our private lives.

Stephen Harper with a cute red herring

It’s not the first time the Conservative (or the Liberal) government has tried to pass a bill like this. Under the proposed legislation, telecommunications and internet providers could be forced to provide police and intelligence agencies with subscriber data, back-door communications access, and information on private transactions—all without a warrant. Telcom providers would have 18 months to build spy capabilities into telecommunications products enabling authorities to track people any time, without demonstrating the need to. Even more disturbing, Toews defended the bill by saying its critics could “stand with the child pornographers.” Is there no middle ground?

If this were just about me, my family and our boring private lives, I wouldn’t care. But I do care that the government is using an emotional issue in an if-you’re-not-for-us-you’re-against-us bid to gain control of private information that it could not justify otherwise. Similar to the security crackdowns that occurred in the US after 9/11, the bill is an opportunistic and fear-mongering grab for control.


Looking for the hair of the dog? Try MAUDITE

My Fellow Inebriates,

The kids are fascinated by bottlecaps and were on the verge of fighting over the lone one they found on the counter this morning, which came off a bottle of MAUDITE, a Quebeçois offering from Unibroue, makers of TROIS PISTOLES. Four-year-old Miss V was so heartbroken when Miss P seized it that she said very earnestly to our parents:

“I just wish you guys could have a beer.”

My kind of kid! I certainly was wishing for a beer at that matutinal moment, hurting as I was from a Friday night of drunken revelry that began with MAUDITE, progressed through a very nice bottle of Spanish wine, and culminated with BOWMORE 12 and a small amount of vomiting.

My parents don’t often cut loose, but the stars lined up for me last night. They’d been stressed out all week by work, transportation, medical and dental issues, and then my newest friend Robert showed up bearing booze.

Catching the aroma

Lest you think our family unwholesome I should mention the kids were safely tucked into bed before the wine was finished and the whiskey came out. No one blacked out except me, and Robert stayed the night in our guest room instead of mowing down pedestrians or planting his car in a ditch.

Going from grain to grape to grain is risky business, or so they say. But who are “they” and do they know what they’re talking about?

Not Robert or my dad, but having more fun than both

Thank goodness for ibuprofen or I wouldn’t have managed to research the topic. Ninety-five percent of what I found on mixing grain-based and grape-based alcohol was purely anecdotal, but at last I found an interesting study in which three Melbourne lads (presumably of similar build) volunteered to get drunk at a bar.

Prior to heading out, each had his blood sampled for C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation, the partial culprit in a hangover. Then:

  • Ben drank white wine all evening.
  • Justin confined himself to beer.
  • Brad drank both white wine and beer.

The next morning all had blood tests again.

The verdict?

Only Ben, who drank white wine exclusively, showed evidence of a bad-ass hangover, with a CRP jump from 1.5 to 1.9. The other two guys’ CRP levels actually went down (from 0.4 to 0.3 for Justin and 1.2 to 1.1 for Brad).

Dr. Jeffrey Wiese

This seems to dispel the theory that mixing drinks leads to worse hangovers. Dr. Jeffrey Wiese of Tulane University, who analyzed the blood-test results, agreed, adding that if mixing drinks leads to hangovers it’s because when people do so they tend to drink more alcohol in total. Congeners—impurities found in darker drinks such as rum and red wine—are the more probable culprits. If Justin and Brad had enjoyed dark drinks all evening, they probably would have needed ibuprofen the next day.

If they’d been drinking MAUDITE instead of Foster’s Lager (the way I picture it), their CRP levels might well have increased as their wine-drinking buddy’s did. MAUDITE is a deep and hazy coppery brown with a liquorstorebear-colored, persistent head. Its aroma is ripe, floral and orchard-like. On the tongue fruitiness emerges with complexity—a touch of spice, a suggestion of grassland and some background coriander perhaps. It’s dry and complicated—hard to put your paw on which flavors are which as they merge in splendid balance.

MAUDITE has an extraordinary mouthfeel and a mellow smoothness that effectively conveys its 8% alcohol to your liver without seeming very boozy. It’s a real creeper that way and could land you on your ass if you drink several without checking the label.

I wonder what Dr. Jeffrey Wiese would think of MAUDITE. The winner of 21 international medals, MAUDITE is bottle-fermented, and its higher alcohol content acts as a natural preservative, so I wouldn’t implicate it as a big hangover beer because it seems less likely to be the toxic soup of congeners that so many cheap beers are.

My parents should take little Miss V’s suggestion and crack a MAUDITE right now. We all have wretched hangovers to address, and this wonderfully complex brew would probably solve the mutual problem. And then Miss V would have her very own bottlecap.

I love the kids but they have no idea how loud their voices are today. Still, they wouldn’t judge us for embracing the hair of the dog.

But my parents are boring, my mum especially so. (She didn’t even like MAUDITE! What a philistine.)