Review: Alcohol

Alcohol: destroyer of nations, builder of empires, etc. Or, as Beck says, in the song 'Alcohol': "Alcohol, please give me some."

I like a drink. Sometimes I like a drink so much that I have several (to any adulterers out there: this is a good argument to use when you're trying to persuade your wife not to leave you). Sometimes I have so many drinks that I end up having really stupid discussions about what stuff means, or chatting to the inevitable girls congregating inevitably in the inevitable girls' loos, or kissing someone and then spending the rest of the night giving him advice about his love life, or crying on a street corner as Camden crack addicts tactfully ask me for money, or sometimes all four in the same night, which is the height of depravity. "Alcohol, please take it away from me," as Beck did not sing, but should have.

There's an optimum level of drunkenness, where you feel at one with the world and like everything is probably going to turn out for the best, and you look around the table at your friends and think, "What lovely friends I have. And I bet everyone in the pub is admiring my hair." Sadly, by the time you realise you're at this stage, you've already moved past it by drinking another couple of glasses of wine or whatever you drink (don't want to offend any manly men by suggesting they might drink wine in public). If you were the Buddha, you'd be able to avoid this kind of slippage by being constantly aware of the present moment, but you also would be in the forest and probably you wouldn't be much of a drinker, being the Buddha and all.

Other people seem to enjoy being ragingly drunk. It's a license to sing in the street, flirt with good-looking people and shoplift mints from a 7-11 before trying to set fire to them with a lighter. I'm very rarely extremely drunk, partly because I don't approve of drunken vomiting and see it as a sign of weakness of character, although I'm often slightly drunk, because I don't approve of reality and see moderate drinking as a sign of strength of character.

Alcohol: Your life would be both much, much better and much, much worse without it. 6 out of 10.


Review: The internet

Many of us worship at the altar of the internet, but we're not quite sure why. Does it save time? No. Any chance benefit to academics and schoolchildren who can now access information from the comfort of their desktops, rather than traipsing around libraries getting cancer of the brain from all the unread literature, has been entirely swallowed up by the minutes and hours, amounting to days and years, wasted by feckless online layabouts in googling people they knew 10 years ago, looking up the history of toast on Wikipedia, and crafting beautiful towering monuments to their own egos on MySpace. "I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by blogging..." as Allen Ginsberg kind of almost wrote. Millions of hypochondriacs who would otherwise have been content leafing through medical journals now have, at the touch of a few buttons, access to a whole world of anxiety, sleeplessness and ill-defined symptoms - did you know that a slight headache can be a symptom of AIDS? Did you want to know? Well, you do now, and never again will you be able to get a good night's sleep. Millions of bright, talented people spend their lives surfing the web into the small hours - time in which they could have been writing books, recording albums or touring experimental dance performances around the Netherlands.

Long after humanity has died out from bird flu, meteor strikes, catastrophic climate change or boredom, an alien race will accidentally stumble across the remnants of cyberspace, kept alive by one ancient server buried in the Nevada desert, and add a new entry to their Encyclopedia of Intelligent Life: Humanity, Earth - Deeply trivial. Mating rituals included shaving off all body hair and making yelping noises on camera. Very knowledgeable about haircuts.

The internet: Good for acquiring useless information, but otherwise pretty rubbish. 3 out of 10.