The January 10 & 17, 2011 issue of Newsweek shared some statistics (garnered from America's Health Rankings) that put my hectic life on hold and led me to ponder the cause, ruminate on the reason, and consider the source.
The stats were on binge drinking, defined as men pouring five or more drinks down the hatch in a single sitting (or, for women, four or more drinks...how sexist). The title of the bar graph was "Binge Drinking Prevalence, 2010," and listed state names and a percentage.
What the award-winning team of journalists at Newsweek failed to inform this reader on was what the farnsworth the percentages actually meant. For instance, Minnesota, which came in third (c'mon, Sven, you're not trying hard enough!), was listed at 20%. Does that mean that 20% of Minnesotan drinkers are binge drinkers? Or does it signify that Minnesotan drinkers binge it up 20% of the time? Or...could it possibly be true that one in every five residents of the Land of 10,000 Entitlement Programs is a binge drinker?
Whatever the significance of the percentages, what caused my pause to reflect were the names of the top four binge-drinking states: Wisconsin (23.2%), North Dakota (21.5%), Minnesota (20%), and Iowa (19.4%). If we could get South Dakotans educated enough to know how to open a brew, the Upper Midwest would have a solid lock on the top 10% in the nation!
The burning question is, does living here in the tundra drive a person to drink, or does a propensity to over-imbibe coincide with the lack of good judgment it takes to put down roots (in the 5 weeks of the year when the ground is thawed enough to do so) here in The Nation's Icebox?