Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, March 24, 2017

Three Things

1. To drink or not to drink? That is the question Stone's Full Circle Ale presents to me:

Stone Brewing is breaking new ground by becoming the first to try making beer using water that "comes from the toilet."
In lieu (hah!) of my occasional beer recommendation, I ask because all water is recycled, and this wouldn't be newsworthy but for two possibilities: (1) environmentalists are enamored of recycling regardless of whether it is actually wasteful (i.e., more expensive than other alternatives); or (2) the brewery, based in San Diego, which did not suffer from California's drought, could be celebrating the innovation accountable for this fact. Regardless, the new beer will afford a chance for some interesting conversations once it hits the fan -- I mean, the market.

So my question comes not from a place of squeamishness, but from moral opposition to environmentalism, which is not the same thing as the wise use of resources.

2. What am I doing right now? Well, my daughter has yet another ear infection. Her waking up caused my son to wake early, so guess where he is. Here's a hint: "HOw To Workk From Home Wth Yor Chil,d SittiNG ON Yoour/ Lappppppp." Luckily, about half of this was already done.

And yes, I'm quite "focsed." Thanks for asking.

3. The other day, I raised my voice at my daughter, whom I was having to correct for at least the third time. My son, who is three, but very protective of his older sister, darted into the kitchen almost instantly and told me to "Calm down."

Weekend Reading

"When you focus on the things you feel you did wrong, you begin to overlook the things you did right." -- Michael Hurd, in "Leave those Regrets at Home" at The Delaware Wave

"Alcoholism, while not a disease, is not a choice in the normal sense of the term." -- Michael Hurd, in "Addiction: How Much is Too Much?" at The Delaware Coast Press

"If his presidency accomplishes nothing more than exposing the media as the dishonest, immoral and largely unaccountable bunch of sycophants for the leftist-socialist cause that they are, Donald Trump will have done America a heroic service." -- Michael Hurd, in "Left's Efforts to Censor 'Fake News' Real Threat to Free Speech" at Newsmax

-- CAV


Dismuke said...

I'm sorry - but Hurd's article about addiction you linked to is simply bizarre.

Observe that the premise of this article is that alcoholism is an inability to know the boundaries of how many drinks one can consume before one's rational judgement is impaired. It is as if he thinks that the issue of alcoholism is a matter of dosage.

That is NOT alcoholism. Alcoholism is having the overwhelming and overpowering NEED to take that FIRST sip.

A person could have an inability to know his limit and drink to the point he passes out. But if he is aware that this is an issue and therefore only drinks on extremely rare occasions when his in a safe location where he will not harm himself or others one might call him many things but he is not an alcoholic. So long as he has no "need" driving him to take his first sip he is not addicted and he is not an alcoholic.

And notice how Hurd qualifies his skepticism of alcohol being a disease by qualifying it as a "medical disease." What about it being a psychological disease?

I am not personally qualified to speak as to the boundaries of what is and is not a disease. So I will just use some common sense. If my body is undergoing harmful consequences as a result of ingesting poison am I diseased? I don't know. But either way, I would still be sick.

And there is no doubt that there is a medical component to drug addiction - the proof of this is the often dangerous physical effects when one goes through withdrawal. How can there be any doubt that this physical component works hand in hand with the psychological component?

Addictions share one thing in common with habits - both involved automated subconscious thinking. Have you ever tried to break a bad habit? Have you noticed that it is not uncommon to have relapses and sometimes persistent relapses before you eventually become successful replacing the bad habit with a good habit? That is because your old automated thought patterns don't go away - they just become increasingly dormant through lack of use as they are replaced by newer and better thought patterns.

Why on earth would ANY sane person flirt with bringing bad habits (let alone addictions)that one has heroically struggled to make dormant back to the surface again?

Many years ago I was addicted to cigarettes. I broke that addiction. That addiction was fully broken when smoking was no longer part of my identity. Whether I can or can't safely have an occasional cigarette is not a question for me to even entertain let alone EXPERIMENT(!) with. I don't smoke - entertaining that question in the context of my life is a contradiction with who I am. THAT is the attitude and mindset Hurd ought to be preaching to recovered alcoholics.

Gus Van Horn said...


As you note, "That is because your old automated thought patterns don't go away - they just become increasingly dormant through lack of use as they are replaced by newer and better thought patterns." I have seen Hurd make similar arguments to this column before, and I think he is of the mind that it would be okay to attempt moderate consumption some time after breaking those bad habits.

That said, I think you have a good point that, especially after the hell of alcoholism, that that would probably be a hard sell to most recovered alcoholics.


Dismuke said...

But substance addition is much more complicated and pernicious than a mere bad habit. There is a chemical addition in addition to the mental element involved.

There perhaps are instances of recovered alcoholics who can experiment and "allow moderation to guide" them. But I submit that they are rare enough that I regard the article as reckless and question why Hurd would even think of dispensing such advise to a general audience of newspaper readers.

Based on how my particular brain functions and things I have read, I have reason to suspect that if I were to ever try cocaine I would enjoy it immensely. And while cocaine is extremely addictive, there are individuals who have experimented with it and were able to walk away from it. Perhaps if I were to try it just once I would get to enjoy the "benefit" from that enjoyment and then responsibly walk away and avoid the potential hazards.

Can you imagine a professional psychologist suggesting one-on-one, let alone through a newspaper column, that I "experiment" and see? That is playing with fire. And so is suggesting that a former alcoholic engage in similar experimentation with alcohol.

Hurd admits that such experimentation has risks but states that he does not argue with former alcoholics' motives "if they have objectively defensible reasons to suggest that life might be more enjoyable with a drink every so often..."

Huh? Isn't questioning a client's motives what a psychologist is supposed to do - especially in the context of something associated with their history of self-destructive behavior? And I cannot even CONCEIVE of what sort of "enjoyment" would constitute an objectively defensible reason in the context of a former alcoholic for having a drink ever again, let alone every so often.

If the alleged "enjoyment" is, indeed, consistent with the pursuit of rational values and is objectively defensible, then in this great big world of ours there are going to be countless non-risky alternatives besides alcohol through which such enjoyment can be pursued and realized.

If a former alcoholic feels that only alcohol can provide him with such enjoyment - then I submit that such a person is not a former alcoholic at all. I would suggest that he is a recovering alcoholic experiencing a weak moment of temptation and is seeking an external sanction to go back to his old ways.

Apparently, so long as such an alcoholic is able to utter a plausible sounding rationalization, Hurd is willing to provide that external sanction by not arguing with the alcoholic's motives and, instead, provide him with tips on how to responsibly "experiment."

Anyhow, I see stuff online all the time that I think is absurd or bizarre and don't bother to spend the time commenting on it. But in this case, Hurd is using his professional status to dispense practical advise to a general audience that I consider to be downright dangerous and irresponsible - and, unfortunately, there is no comment section on the article page itself. Maybe one can argue that it is a former alcoholic's responsibility to question and see through what Hurd is saying - and that, of course is true. By say that to a person on the highway in a car near the drunk driver who didn't see through it.

Gus Van Horn said...


First, sorry to take so long to get to this. It was quite a busy weekend for me. Second, I'll apologize now for the very brief and probably inadequate reply you're about to receive.

My general impression of Hurd's discussions of former alcoholics is that he is swimming against a deterministic tide that regards the condition as overriding free will to the point that it would be impossible for a former alcoholic to attempt to drink in moderation ever again, under any circumstance. I think he's right about that aspect of it, but (and I am neither a psychologist nor a physician) might be overlooking a possible physical dependence on alcohol which would make a drinking habit harder to break than other bad habits for many of the reasons you cite. (And this on top of the fact, which he admits, that alcohol can impair judgement. In other words, he can be absolutely right to dispute the idea that alcoholism does not negate free will, but wrong to write about that fact in such terms.

That said, I am aware that Hurd does not take comments on his blog, but I have noticed over the years that he frequently mentions letter-writers. I would be interested in hearing what he says about the issues you raise, and so encourage you to write him.