Domestic vs. Imported Whines
By R. D. Flavin

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.  And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
John 2:1-4.

Bottle label of Richards Wild Irish Rose Wine, poster for the cancelled Red Sonja film, and bunches of wine grapes.

     In the Book of Genesis (Heb. Bereishit), G*d instructed Noah to build an ark, commanding, “...You shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.  And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.  Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive.  Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them."  And, as the story goes, G*d caused it to rain for forty days and nights, flooding the Earth and killing all life not aboard Noah's ark.  After it stopped raining, the water receded and dry land once more appeared, Noah planted a vineyard, tended to the grapes, and when they were ripe, made some wine and got stinking drunk.  Then, in a mythopoetic WTF-dude moment, the way old guy got naked...  One of Noah's sons happened by, saw his drunk and naked dad and covered him up with a blanket.  Or, at least, that's one version of the myth—some say the son seized the moment and castrated Noah according to a weird Eastern Mediterranean tradition,as the Greeks had similar tales of usurpation combined with testicular emasculation (Graves & Patai 1963, p. 5; 1966, pp. 121-122; Bergsma & Hahn 2005).  In the common (read: scrubbed and edited) version, Noah woke up naked under a blanket and rather than admit his own indiscretion and error, viciously lashed out and cursed the son who'd covered him up, arguing that no child should see a parent naked.  Yeah, almost all life gets killed by G*d because of bad behavior, the so-called hero gets shit-faced at his earliest opportunity, and when he's helped out by a son chooses to curse him rather than offer thanks.  Primal stuff, great reading, but wrong...  The Jewish people hold to stories of imposed guilt, a habit the Catholics adopted, both belief systems have wine to whine about and they're not alone.  We all complain and it's a toss-up who has better whines.

     Some whines are more palatable than others.  In American politics, Democratic whines tend to the sweet and fruity boxed varieties, while Republican whines are usually dry, tart, and sold in gallons or barrels.  Both parties take turns adding to the punch-bowl and there are some potent whines currently being shared.  [Note: An origin of the Tea-Bagging Party?]  It seems like just a few yesterdays ago we were all busy complaining about the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy, and the merits of healthcare reform, but now our taste in whines have changed.

     Arizona's passage of S.B. 1070, a new immigration law, has taken center-stage on Whining With The Stars, as celebrities are pledging to boycott appearances in the state à la Ray Charles refusing to perform in Georgia while it supported segregation.  Pres. Obama has referred to the law as “misguided,” perhaps a milquetoast criticism, and several cities on both the Left and Right coasts have passed (or are attempting to pass) referendums calling out the offensive nature of Arizona's “tough love” immigration law.  Why this sudden national interest in illegal Mexican immigration?  Yeah, follow the money...

     Is it because America has recently lost some estimated 8.4 to 15 million jobs due to bad banking and foolish Wall Street investments? That could be a legitimate whine and reason, but approximately how many of those millions would accept the menial jobs which Mexicans have become synonymous with (i.e. field-work, domestic help, and lawn-care)?  Not many, that would be my guess.  Is it because after 9/11 we have to have more secure borders to guard against terrorist attacks?  Well, the Al-Qaeda hijackers came in through Canada, which has a much more massive border than Mexico, and I'm not hearing any debate about profiling Canadians.  It's got to be the so-called “War on Drugs” and all the drugs that are coming into America.  And, so it goes, with the drugs comes the violence, corruption, and crime.  Yeah, someone should do something about all of that.  Oh, wait!  That's right, the Mexican government asked us for help years ago, we promised them lots of money and ...we haven't paid up!  Mexican police, politicians, soldiers, and all the families standing against the violence, corruption, and crime are still losing their lives because America has not kept her word.

The "Deepwater Horizon" oil rig before it burned, after it burned and sank into the Gulf, and Swamp Thing by Bernie Wrightson.

     The April 21, 2010 fire and explosion aboard the semi-submersible oil drilling rig nicknamed the “Deepwater Horizon,” which killed 11 workers and injured 7, continues to leak oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  Some have called it “Obama’s Katrina,” alleging slow government response, though clearly there’s enough blame to go around and much to whine about.  Actually, folks will be whining about this ecological disaster for many years to come.  And, of course, it’s a good thing that plants and animals can’t whine!

     With tea-bags firmly stuffed in his mouth, Kentucky senate candidate Dr. Rand Paul has weaseled that “sometimes accidents happen” concerning the oil spill disaster.  He believes, among a plethora of other ridiculous ideas, that our government shouldn’t be too hard on the companies responsible.  Right (wing)!  He whines about not getting energy deregulation, wants a lowering of environmental standards, and apparently would be open to more coal mining accidents.  I’m sure his future book-sales and associated (non-)reality television show will be great.

     Accidents do happen—sometimes by an “act of nature” and other times due to human failure, carelessness, or other actionable reasons.  When it’s determined that an accident could have been avoided, we hold those responsible accountable.  Exxon is still paying off the 1989 Valdez clean-up (though their profits are larger than the budgets of some countries), and BP, the company who leased the oil drilling rig which blew up and owns the drilling rights, has offered to cover all the costs involved with the clean-up.  This should work out, as British Petroleum always keeps it word…

    Okay, this is getting sick.  No, BP does not always keep its word, and I invite any and all to investigate their safety records, fines, and controversial business dealings around the world.  My favorite BP whine goes back to the company’s initial founding in 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company after oil was discovered in Masjid-i-Sulaiman, Iran.  Much money was made, the company name was changed a few times over the years becoming British Petroleum in 1959, and even after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, there’s still a close relationship between BP and Iran.  According to a recent article in the Journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries (Saadata et al. 2004), a century of oil and natural gas drilling has left the Iranian town polluted and the result of the long-term breathing of natural gas fumes has had a very sad and peculiar effect upon the people—the citizens of Masjid-i-Sulaiman have the highest success rate when it comes to suicide by self-immolation of any place on the planet.  The BP oil spill is going to be with us for a very long time.

Amy Winehouse, Lassie and Timmy, and the cover of The Concert for Bangla Desh.

     Many connoisseurs of complaints prefer imported whines and claim a superiority of character.  A certain amount of truth is contained in such a statement, as some imported whines do indeed have an older and more established lineage, though as humans have spread out from their prehistoric and historic homelands across the globe, we've taken our needs to bitch and moan with us.  Whining is integral to human nature and may be found near any campfire, in any kitchen, fast-food joint, family diner, or fancy restaurant around the world.  Even with a profound sense of loyalty and patriotism for our country and her domestic whines, it's the most stubborn among us who wouldn't recognize that we are a people of differences and similarities with a need to appreciate and respond to the complaints of others.

     Lest we accept the doom of exclusion, we should be mindful that every foreign land is someone’s home and America is regarded as that country “over there.”  All sovereign nations (and silly anarcho-nihilists) cultivate their own whines and enjoy or abhor them befitting their kind.  To many older Americans the thought of Lassie rescuing young Timmy is a wonderful image of the possible bond between canine and human, though to some Asians (like China’s first astronaut) it’s a waste of meat and an example of an underaged, undisciplined, bourgeoisie Westerner.  Complaints the world over share the commonality of frustration, for example, when the drunk was asked if he had a drinking problem, he answered, “Yeah, I just ran out of booze.”  We all whine.

     For every Frenchman who criticizes that his wife is too fat, for every Italian woman who accuses her husband of being too chubby, for every German couple who denounce their children as obese, we must sympathize with the many who deplore the skinniness of their loved ones.  This, I believe, is why McDonald’s operates over 31,000 establishments in more than 119 countries on six continents and provides choices at all of their restaurants, though sadly, usually only “Would you like fries with that?”

     The health benefits of a daily glass or three of wine have been promoted of late, as has the positive effects of whining (Kowalski 2002).  It seems that moderate amounts of alcohol often counters many ailments which abstainers suffer from, and it also appears that regular complaining can assist in a balanced mental health.  While the recommended daily intake of alcohol doesn’t have to be wine, it could be in the form of beer or spirits, I’m unsure if watching Fox News or listening to talk-radio would have the same positive effects as actually complaining to a “real” person.  Perhaps such a study is currently underway.

     Our domestic whines are essential to our self-sufficiency and assist with our eponymy.  We choose our imported whines with causality as whimsical discretion.  Humanitarian causes célèbres, economic necessities (including wars and conflicts), and empathic social-political solidarity are just a few of the many reasons why some show deference to foreign complaints.  We don't have to, we just do, and it often ends up costing us lots of money.

Bergsma, John Sietze and Scott Walker Hahn.  2005.  "Noah's Nakedness and the Curse on Canaan (Genesis 9:20-27)."  Journal of Biblical
.  124, 1: 25-40.
Graves, Robert and Raphael Patai.  1963.  "Some Hebrew Myths and Legends."  Encounter.  114: 3-18.
Graves, Robert and Raphael Patai.  1966.  Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis.  Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Kowalski, R. M.  2002.  "Whining, griping, and complaining: Positivity in the negativity."  Journal of Clinical Psychology.  58, 9: 1023-1035.
Saadata, Mostafa and Aminolla Bahaoddinia, Hassan Mohabatkara, with Koorosh Noemanib.  2004.  "High incidence of suicide by burning in
  Masjid-i-Sulaiman (southwest of Iran), a polluted area with natural sour gas leakage."  Journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries.
  30, 8: 829-832.

Reaching for a cold beer,

Return to