One thing about the English is that they have a way of constantly being underestimated. Even the way they talk, with that singsongy accent of theirs that makes them seem so quaint. I used to wonder if the En­glish really talked that way or if they just put that accent on to make themselves seem smarter than everybody else. Something about their overenunciation makes even the dumbest Englishman seem smarter than, say, a ­Harvard-educated American. (Have you noticed, by the way, how some Ivy Leaguers take on the faintest lilt of an English accent?) But I have come to believe that the English really do talk like that. How else do you explain their achievements? Shakespeare? A onetime global empire? Their ability to win World War II (granted, America helped - a lot)? Still, when people think of fierce warriors, they think of the Vikings or of ­barbarians. Big guys. Marauding types. Their imaginations don't turn to, well, the English.

Clearly, then, the English are smarter than Americans. And one thing they figured out is that hanging out playing electric guitar is more healthful than going to the gym.

This can be viewed as nothing but good news, especially coming on the heels of the reports from a few years ago that the French, too, are healthier than Americans. Somehow, all that wine drinking works more wonders for a body than all of that American dieting.

The inescapable conclusion, then, is that hanging out and drinking is healthier than diet and exercise.

If more proof of this obvious truth is required, another scientific report provides it in the conclusion that cancer prevention is found in beer.

"Oregon State University researchers said a key ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer and enlargement," reads an Associated Press article. "The scientists report hops has a compound that inhibits ­cancer development."