Finneran's Wake

Show Notes

Mark Schrad is a professor in the department of political science at Villanova University, over whose “Russian Area Studies” he presides as director. 

Professor Schrad is the author of three books: The Political Power of Bad Ideas; Vodka Politics; and, his latest work, Smashing the Liquor Machine (to which, if interested in their purchase, I’ll include links below). 

We sip our spirits, imbibe our beers, and become giddy over the prospect of tasting an evening’s dram of liquor, without ever really thinking about the history hidden behind these potent drinks. We look forward, with unsuppressable glee, to the decanting, the toasting, the clinking, and, more than anything else, the delicious imbibing to which these merry libations call us. 

And yet, at the bottom of your shot of vodka, your glass of gin, your cup of rum, your drop of whiskey, there mingles among the dregs a sordid tale. It’s a tale of state control; extortionate taxes; the intoxication of the citizenry; the raising of revenue by immoral means; the introduction of addictive beverages to colonized peoples abroad; the response of humane “progressives”; the push toward Prohibition; and the many setbacks encountered along the way. 

From this episode, you’ll learn…

A bit about modern, domestic politics from a university professor in the Keystone state; the results of the 2022 midterm elections; the ongoing War between Russia and Ukraine; the role that alcohol played throughout history in raising revenue for the state; the meaning of “alco-imperialism”; the difference between fermented and distilled beverages; how alcohol affected indigenous peoples; why we should re-acquaint ourselves with typewriters; and much more! 

Time Stamps
0:00 Introduction 
1:21 Analysis of midterm election results in Pennsylvania 
9:32 Fetterman’s Unusual Campaign and Triumph
11:40 Will Pennsylvania fix its electoral process? 
14:56 General reflections on the (national) election results 
18:14 Update on the Ukraine-Russia War
23:49 Was Ukraine wise to continue the fight? 
26:38 Why Alcohol? 
36:27 Alcohol as a Revenue-Raiser
49:09 What is “Alco-Imperialism”? 
54:41 Fermentation v. Distillation
1:00:45 Who was the WORST offender in the West? 
1:09:40 Temperance and Prohibition
1:13:29 What does “Manhattan” mean? 
1:15:20 Typewriters: An archaic avocation
1:26:59 Conclusion 

Links to Professor Schrad’s books: 

Smashing the Liquor Machine -

Vodka Politics -

Bad Ideas -


Finneran’s Wake
Listen to this and all episodes on your favorite podcast streaming service: 

Please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me a message (to which, I assure you, I’ll promptly respond!) 
Twitter: @DanielEFinneran

Email me at 

What is Finneran's Wake?

Finneran’s Wake – where the ART OF CONVERSATION lives. Where no topic is untouchable, no idea inadmissible, and no one too heretical to be heard.

In this age of ineloquence, this dark decade of intolerance, we’ve all forgotten how to talk and, more importantly, how to listen. I hope, on this channel, to rehabilitate and refine these two neglected acts.

As the great French essayist Montaigne once said, “To my taste, the most fruitful and natural exercise of our minds is conversation. I find the practice of it the most delightful activity in our lives”.

I agree. And so, I welcome you to join me. Let us exercise our minds together. Let us practice this delightful activity as friends. Let us engage, now and forever, in the art of conversation.