Though there were moments during our vacation when we were tempted to chuck it all and reboot our lives as laborers on the Soo Locks, we finally managed to make it back to world headquarters yesterday. It might take us a day or two to shake off the mental dust, but Microkhan should be back in full effect shortly. Thanks for your forbearance, which shall be rewarded with a summer chock full of the most incredible polymathism imaginable.
We’re gonna start by directing your attention to one of the most esoteric corners of medalophilia—the collection of British temperance medals, which were used to reward the raj’s soldier’s for abstaining from the drink. There’s an entire book dedicated to such baubles, from which Mr. Mustache’s photo is taken. The author breaks down the history like so:
In the British Army in the 1800s drunkenness among the soldiers was a constant problem, particularly in India where there was little attempt to provide alternate amusements and recreation for the troops. Several of the more enlightened officers established Temperance Societies in their Regiments to encourage sober habits, but it was not until 1862 that the Army in India organised the “Soldiers’ Total Abstinence Association”. The men were encouraged to sign a pledge to abstain entirely from alcohol. Similar organisations were formed for the Royal Navy in 1868, and for soldiers in Britain and Colonies outside of India in 1893. All of these organisations issued medals for varying lengths of time that a man had retained the pledge, from 6 months to 20 years, as well as additional medals for anyone who had rendered a special service in the cause of temperance.
We find this interesting because, at least from a purely logical perspective, medals strike us as a poor inducement. They had little or no monetary value when they were awarded—in fact, it appears that recipients were charged a small fee to obtain the decorations. Yet medals tap into a very basic psychological drive—the human need to engage in games. And how can one tell if the game is being won if there isn’t some sort of tangible evidence of success?
Our odds of having earned one of these medals would have been positively nil, of course. We believe we came close to setting a record of Huma-Lupa-Licious consumption during our Great Lakes adventure.