The Party’s Over

I’ve never been on a cruise ship. But to the best of my knowledge life on one of them is more or less one non-stop party, from dawn to dusk.

But it seems that now the party’s over.

Cruise Lines to End Smoking on Balconies

Cabin balconies are now off limits to smokers on two more cruise lines.

Last week, Carnival Cruise Line announced a change in its smoking policies, banning cruisers from lighting up on its balconies (a ban on smoking in the cabin was already in effect) beginning Oct. 9, 2014.

On Wednesday, Norwegian Cruise Line followed suit, prohibiting smoking on stateroom balconies beginning Nov. 1, “As the health and well-being of our guests and crew is of the utmost importance,” it said in an email announcement. Norwegian also prohibits smoking in ship cabins.

“The cruise industry is following what hotel industry is already doing,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of CruiseCritic.com. “They are limiting smoking, not banning it outright.”

Nonsmoking areas have been growing in the past five years aboard ships, although most lines still offer public areas outdoors or in casinos to smoke.

So you can’t smoke in your cabin. And you can’t smoke on your cabin balcony either. And you almost certainly can’t smoke anywhere inside the ship (except the casino).

Why should a smoker like me ever want to take a cruise on one of these ships? The way I read it, the cruise companies are telling 20% of their customers that they’re no longer welcome.

Why? Surely a ship at sea is one place in the world where national or state smoking bans don’t apply. Why are the cruise companies unilaterally imposing their own bans? Have they become their customers’ moral guardians?

Perhaps they have. But if they’re going to ban smoking, why not ban drinking and gambling and dancing as well? After all, if smoking can be banned on some pretext or other, so can anything else.

And perhaps that’s exactly what they intend to do, and drive all their customers away.

I expect to see cruise companies going bust just like pubcos.

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Madness

That’s what this seems like to me.

Proposed EU sanctions threaten to shut Russia out of the world financial system.

They just seem to want to dominate and humiliate and provoke Russia. Do they want to start a war or something?

It may of course all just be empty threats, because it’s likely to rebound on Europe.

Stalled recovery leaves Europe defenceless against economic shock from Russia.

It’s already started.

Russian Boomerang Hits UK, Oligarchs Shift Assets From London

As Ukraine implodes again.

Ukraine’s Government Collapses, PM Yatsenyuk Resigns

I don’t have a high opinion of most European (or British) politicians at the best of times, but this particular story illustrated just how petty and small-minded some (all?) of them are:

MH17: Dutch mayor says Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter should be deported

During an interview with a radio station on Wednesday morning, Pieter Broertjes, the mayor of Hilversum, northern Holland, said Maria Putin, Vladimir Putin’s daughter, should be removed from the country.

The 29-year-old daughter of Vladmir Putin is said to live in the western village of Voorschoten with her Dutch boyfriend.

FFS, it’s obviously not her fault the plane was shot down!

He later apologised. But that he ever made the suggestion raises troubling questions.

Perhaps it’s the influence of the rapidly approaching 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1, now only 11 days away. For as events unfold, I’m wondering if these madmen are working to the exact same timetable.

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The Expansionist European Union

I don’t usually agree with Peter Hitchens, but I did with this piece in the Mail:

One thing we should have learned in the past 100 years is  that war is hell. We might also have noticed that, once begun, war is hard  to stop and often takes shocking turns.

So those who began the current war in Ukraine – the direct cause of the frightful murder of so many innocents on Flight MH17 on Thursday – really have no excuse.

There is no doubt about who they were. In any war, the aggressor is the one who makes the first move into neutral or disputed territory.

And that aggressor was the European Union, which rivals China as the world’s most expansionist power, swallowing countries the way performing seals swallow fish (16 gulped down since 1995).

Ignoring repeated and increasingly urgent warnings from Moscow, the EU – backed by the USA – sought to bring Ukraine into its orbit. It did so through violence and illegality, an armed mob and the overthrow of an elected president.

That’s pretty much how I see it. The EU has expanded eastwards into collision with Russia. And this shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet in the unseemly rush to pin the blame for MH17 entirely on Putin and Russia.

But Hitchens  also has a relevant and thought-provoking article about WW1 in the American Spectator, which begins:

To say that that the First World War was the greatest cataclysm in human history since the fall of the Roman Empire is to put it mildly. The war destroyed so many good things and killed so many good people that civilization has not recovered and probably never will…

The loss cannot be measured in cash because it was paid in the more elusive coin of faith, morals, trust, hope, and civility. The war is the reason why Europe is no longer a Christian continent, because too many churches supported it…

No single event has done more to advance the power of the state and of state socialism. Britain barely had a state before 1914. By 1918 it was one of the most tightly governed and bureaucratized patches of soil in the world. The Russian revolution would never have happened had there been no war in 1914. The great Christian and conservative empires of the world would probably all still exist. War also brought about the sexual, social, and cultural revolutions that are still convulsing what used to be Christendom.

I can well see what he means. If Europe hadn’t torn itself apart 100 years ago, the old order might well have survived more or less intact. There’d still be a British Empire, and a Tsar of Russia. And the USA would never have been required to take over the leadership of the Western world from stricken Europe.

Hitchens blames Germany for starting WW1:

Germany started the war because she wanted and hoped to gain enormous prizes through a swift victory, first over France and then over Russia. She encouraged Austria to be inflexible toward Serbia in the hope that this would happen, and the plan worked. It was not the first time that a country had carefully fostered a pretext for war, and it will certainly not be the last…

What the Kaiser really desired all along was a diminished and weakened Russia, a clear road to Turkey and the Middle East, the great wheat fields and coal mines of Ukraine, and the oil fields of Baku…

Germany in 1914 hardly cared about Britain at all, and quite reasonably could not understand why London entered the war. It was more or less incomprehensible. To this day it is hard to see any British interest that was served, and dozens that were damaged…

What saved France in 1914 was the simple fact that it is virtually impossible to win a quick war on two fronts. The diversion of important units to the east, to fight a Russian advance, prevented a German triumph.

Hitchens wonders whether it would have been better if Germany had scored a quick victory over France. It would have saved 4 years of futile slaughter, and “preserved European Christendom, culture, and civilization.”

The war was re-fought in 1939 largely because the 1918 outcome was not a true reflection of the real balance of forces…

When the USSR agreed to allow Germany a war on one front, German victory in the West was more or less assured, and if Britain would not make peace, she could be left for later…

People have come to associate Germany’s drive eastward with Hitler and Nazi fanaticism because it was spectacularly demonstrated and defeated in the Nazi era. But it was not Hitler’s idea. Like many—but not all—of his policies, it was standard German establishment thinking. It has its origins among enlightened democrats.

Which brings matters back up to date, and the EU’s expansion into Ukraine.

To adapt and reverse Clausewitz: The European Union is the continuation of Germany by other means.

Well, that’s certainly an interesting way of seeing matters. I suppose my question would be: Why did Germany (and now the EU) feel it necessary to expand into Ukraine and even to the Caspian Sea? Why can’t nations and empires stick to their own patches?

The answer may simply be that empires are always either expanding or contracting, in a ceaseless ebb and flow. And if the EU wasn’t expanding, it would now be contracting, and losing its eastern territories to Russia or some other empire.

And war never ends.

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Never Really Dead

I agree with Brendan O’Neill. Calling it the “nanny state” implies that it’s essentially caring and well-meaning, in ways that nannies are supposed to be. “Bully state” is nearer the mark, because bullies aren’t in the least bit caring or well-meaning.

It’s such a forgiving term for the problem that we face today. 

It gives the impression that the problem today is that we are surrounded by bossy Mary Poppins figures pointing a stern finger at us for being naughty. It implies that the problem with the modern state is that it’s a bit patronising and whiny, always ready to snatch our cigarettes or booze from us or stop us from having a party. 

And that is a serious underestimation of what is going on.

What we have in the 21st century is not just an irritating, killjoy nanny state, but an utterly out-of-control bureaucratic imperative, an unhinged interventionist dynamic that has lost any sense of what areas of life it is appropriate for the authorities to intervene in and what areas of life the authorities should leave well alone.

We live under governments that relentlessly interfere in family life, in home life, in private life; governments which think nothing of telling parents how to raise their kids, or telling adults how to have sex, or setting out to reshape the masses’ behaviour and even our minds.

We live under a state that seems to think that individuals should have no internal moral life of their own. That isn’t quaint or eccentric or nannyish. We need to face up to the fact that the modern state has more in common with the Inquisition than it does with Mary Poppins.

If anything it’s really a technological, eugenicist state, engaged in a vast social engineering project. The goal is to create an ideal human type, that is smoke-free, alcohol-free, slim, fit, vegetarian, sustainable, low-carbon, environmentally-friendly, etc. This will be ‘progress’. And that means denormalising and demonising and excluding smokers and drinkers and tubbies and meat-eaters and anyone else who’s non-ideal in any way whatsoever.

It’s essentially a new variant of Nazism. It’s just (at the moment, anyway) a soft Nazism without selections and gas chambers, that uses rules and regulations and media campaigns to cajole and bully and shame everyone into conformity. But it could at any moment metamorphose into fully-fledged, genocidal Nazism because it’s underlying logic is essentially genocidal: it’s trying, after all, to get rid of undesirable traits. And when cajoling and bullying don’t work, mass murder will be the only remaining option.

It’s also a soft Nazism because it’s not overtly racist or homophobic. But this is just a temporary historical expedient, and when its true genocidal character finally emerges, gays and lesbians and Jews and blacks won’t be spared either.

Nobody should be too surprised at the re-emergence of Nazism and eugenics. It was all the rage barely a century ago, not just in Germany but also Britain and America. It was how most educated, progressive people thought. People like George Bernard Shaw. And it never really went away. It was never really dead. It just renamed itself Public Health or Lifestyle Medicine, and slowly floated back up again, like a blind and bloated corpse ascending from the depths of a lake, its distended right arm raised in rigid salute.



The new Nudge Industry, which makes the so-called “nanny state” look almost harmless in comparison, wants to use subtle, hidden “nudges” to help us all become better, slimmer, healthier, happier citizens. 

The use of such underhand nudging to remould the populace is built on the idea that people are so “systematically irrational” – in the words of a report produced by the Nudge Unit in Downing Street – that we must be guided like children towards better ways of living.



And how does the Nudge Unit propose to do that? Through becoming our “surrogate willpower”. One of its reports actually uses that phrase: surrogate willpower. I think we should all take a moment to think about what this terrifying phrase means. The suggestion is that people are so foolish, so fickle, so “systematically irrational”, that officialdom must become our minds; it must think and make decisions on our behalf; it must become our will.

It’s the Triumph of the Will all over again. Or rather the triumph of their will over everybody else’s will.

And what’s truly shocking (for me) about this new Nazism is that its ideology seems to have permeated the whole of British society (and more or less every other society as well) without anyone really noticing. So now we have a Eton-educated Conservative Prime Minister who has set up a ‘Nudge Unit’ whose goal is to cajole and bully everyone into conformity with some ideal. Clearly here is a man who has no regard whatsoever for freedom or democracy or conscience or any other traditional British values.

What we’re really witnessing is the unravelling of the Enlightenment itself. The Enlightenment was based on the idea that individuals should be free to carve out their own moral and spiritual path in life without being hectored, harried or “corrected” by their rulers.

Nevertheless Cameron is now busy lecturing the Russians, upon whom he wants to impose the collective will of the EU and US:

David Cameron last night warned Vladimir Putin his billionaire ‘cronies’ will have their assets frozen in London unless he co-operates with the probe into Flight MH17.

The Prime Minister vented his fury at Russia’s obstruction in a 30-minute phone call – the first direct contact between the leaders since the jet was shot down with the loss of 298 lives.

Not that Putin is any better.

MOSCOW, July 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Speaker of the Moscow city legislature says Russia’s federal anti-tobacco law is too harsh.

“The law’s goal is not to catch and punish smokers but to demonstrate that smoking is a bad habit,” Vladimir Platonov of the Moscow City Duma told a news conference on Monday.

No, Mr Platonov, you’ve got it back to front. The law’s goal is not to demonstrate that smoking is a bad habit (laws seldom ‘demonstrate’ anything); the law’s goal is to demonise and exclude and punish smokers. And you have rather a lot of them in Russia, I believe.

 

P.S. Sometime over the next 8 – 10 hours, Blog Stats (currently 999,589 hits) shown in the right margin, will likely record this blog’s millionth hit. I’ll award a maracanã (which means green bird in Tupi–Guarani) to the first commenter to witness it.

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The Antismoking Epidemic

Antismokers often speak of smoking as an “epidemic”. But it seems to me that if we have an epidemic at all, it’s an epidemic of antismoking.

antismoking_prevalenceI’ve drawn up an outline graph (right) showing estimated UK smoking and antismoking prevalence over the past 100 years. In 1948, the London Hospitals study had 98% smoking prevalence, and the 1950 British Doctors study had 87% smoking prevalence. So I’ve set prevalence at a conservative 80% in 1945, which has since gradually decayed to the current 20% prevalence. And I’ve guessed that in 1900, smoking prevalence was about what it is now – 20% – and that this doubled in WW1, fell back between the wars, and then rose to 80% in WW2. I’m supposing that smoking prevalence was driven by WW1 stress on military personnel, and that in WW2 by stress on blitzed civilians as well.

Whatever the exact shape of the smoking prevalence graph, it seems clear that there was very steep spike in smoking between 1915 and 1945.

The UK antismoking prevalence graph is very different. There seems to have been relatively little up until the London Hospitals study and the the British Doctors study around 1950. Antismoking sentiment thereafter keeps on gradually rising. Circa 1990 tobacco advertising was banned, and in 2007 indoor smoking was banned in public places, and the antismoking epidemic was in full flood.

My question is: why is it that antismoking prevalence has peaked 70 years after peak smoking prevalence? For if there ever was a “smoking epidemic”, it reached its peak 70 or more years ago.

My proposed explanation for this is that the Doll/Wynder/Godber/Brundtland class of antismokers were born during the 1915-1945 smoking “epidemic”, and it was the formative experience of their lives, and made them committed antismokers. They all worked assiduously for the rest of their lives to advance the antismoking cause, and they were all successful relatively late in their lives associating smoking with lung cancer (Richard Doll b. 1912, Ernst Wynder b. 1922), magnifying the dangers of passive smoking (George Godber b. 1908), and introducing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (Gro Harlem Brundtland b. 1939).

They also succeeded in spawning a second generation of antismokers, largely by exaggerating the dangers of smoking. The new post-war generation of antismokers had not experienced peak smoking prevalence, but they had been subjected to decades of antismoking propaganda from the first-generation antismokers, which they had completely absorbed.

Most of the first generation of antismokers are now dead. And so the original driving forces are now gone. But the antismoking epidemic they started has now reached levels undreamt by Richard Doll or Ernst Wynder (both of whom disassociated themselves from the passive smoking scare). It has become a predatory, socially divisive, and economically destructive monster. If it is not suppressed soon, it will suppress all human life and civilisation.

And the current antismoking epidemic is therefore likely to prove to be a formative experience for a nascent new generation of anti-antismokers. Many of the readers of this blog will fall into that category. And if history repeats itself, they will spend the next 50 years tirelessly working to undo all the work done by Doll, Wynder, Godber, and Brundtland (as well as Glantz, Banzhaf, Repace, et al). These antismokers will all have been thoroughly discredited and demonised by about 2050, and we (those of us who are still alive) will witness the Final Solution to the Antismoker Problem.

Unless of course anti-antismoking itself becomes as predatory and destructive as antismoking hysteria has now become.

 

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Graveyard Admission Criteria

I came across Audrey Silk asking a question on Facebook:

audreysilk-q

Well, I’ve been compiling stories like this on the Smokers’ Graveyard (as Harley points out in the comments under Audrey’s question). But to get into the Smokers’ Graveyard you really need to be dead. And the stabbing story above didn’t end up with someone dead.

Also Audrey seems to want to restrict the stories to assaults on smokers for smoking. And I don’t restrict my reports to just that. For example, the first entry in it is for Lawrence Walker, who committed suicide a few months after the UK smoking ban came into effect. I have several suicides, and I think they deserve to be in there, because someone’s wound up dead.

I also have (or hope I have) a number of OAP deaths caused by smoking bans. There were quite a few cases of OAPs in homes who went outside in freezing weather for a smoke, and froze to death after being locked out.

I’ve also got that young woman who went out to smoke on a balcony in New York, which collapsed and killed her. And several smokers who have fallen off roofs or fire escapes. All deaths that probably wouldn’t have happened but for smoking bans that have driven smokers into exposed positions.

I’m currently mulling over whether to include Eric Garner, throttled to death by police.

Cops accused Garner of selling “loosies” — single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps.

The 43-year-old dad, whose rap sheet lists 31 arrests beginning when he was 16, had three full packs of cigarettes and one open pack of untaxed smokes when cops moved in, police said.

I guess my slight reservation is that he was selling cigarettes rather than smoking them. Maybe that shouldn’t matter.

The aim of the Smokers’ Graveyard, in my opinion, is to point out that for all the imaginary deaths that are supposed to be prevented by smoking bans, there are also a number very real deaths that are caused by them. And I think one real death outweighs ten thousand imaginary deaths.

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem

For what it’s worth (not much), from everything I’ve read so far, it seems most likely that MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian insurgents. After all, they’d already managed to shoot down several Ukrainian warplanes.

But if planes were being shot down by the rebels in eastern Ukraine, why was MH17 routed straight over it? Don’t airlines avoid war zones?

The Telegraph’s live updates yesterday reported that several airlines had re-routed flights away from the war zone, some of them months ago.

10.16 The press conference in Malaysia earlier today saw a series of questions about whether Malaysia Airlines should have used that route.
Airlines including Qantas Airways and Air Berlin altered their flight paths months ago to avoid Ukrainian air space after fighting flared up in the region, raising questions about why others did not do the same.
International civil aviation regulators had imposed no restrictions on crossing the area.
But the fact that a handful of companies decided to circumnavigate the disputed territory underlined inconsistencies in airlines’ approach to passenger safety.
These airlines changed course months ago:
- Qantas
- Air Berlin
- Asiana Airlines
- Korean Air Lines
- Cathay Pacific
- China Airlines

Why didn’t other airlines re-route? Perhaps it was because it was believed that the insurgents were only armed with shoulder-launched missiles that couldn’t reach airliners at 33,000 feet.

11:23 …Oleg Tsarev, one of the leaders of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, said the rebels did not shoot the plane down. “We don’t have weapons that can take down a plane from that altitude,” he told TIME, minutes after news of the crash broke.

But only three weeks ago they had plenty of those weapons. At the end of June, the Russian state media had congratulated the rebels on their latest military acquisition – a set of Russian-made BUK missile launchers seized from a Ukrainian air force base. “The Donetsk resistance fighters have captured an anti-aircraft military station,” declared the Kremlin’s main television network Vesti, which has been cheering on the rebel fighters since the war in eastern Ukraine began this spring. “The skies above Donetsk will now be protected by the BUK surface-to-air missile complex,” said the headline on the channel’s website.

James Delingpole has the same story. So it seems that for the past 3 weeks, Ukrainian insurgents have had the capacity to bring down aircraft from high altitudes. This was an accident waiting to happen.

So why didn’t it happen earlier? The answer, according to Zerohedge, seems to be that earlier MH17 flights were routed south of the war zone.

mh17-flights

 

So MH17 flights passed over the Sea of Azov until 17 July – when the flight passed right over the war zone, and got shot down.

Was the pilot off course? He should have been under Ukrainian air traffic control. And to the best of my knowledge air traffic control tells pilots what bearings and altitudes to fly. I’ve read (can’t remember where) that the MH17 pilot was not happy with his flight path. What was said between the pilot and Ukrainian air traffic control?

We may never know:

Earlier, when we commented in the abnormality in the flight path of flight MH-17 we said that “perhaps before coming to “certain” conclusion about the involvement of this rebel or that, the key questions one should ask before casting blame, is why did the pilot divert from his usual flight plan, why did he fly above restricted airspace, and just what, if any instructions, did Kiev air control give the pilot in the minutes before the tragic explosion?”

The simple answer would have come if Ukraine had merely released the Air Traffic Control recording from the tower and flight MH 17, something Malaysia did in the aftermath of the disappearance of flight MH 370, which at last check has still not been uncovered.

It now appears that answer will not be forthcoming because as the BBC reports “Ukraine’s SBU security service has confiscated recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air traffic control officers and the crew of the doomed airliner, a source in Kiev has told Interfax news agency.”

The flight’s black boxes would probably also have recorded the conversation. So who’s got them?

Pro-Russian separatists in the region said on Thursday they had found one black box when the Malaysian airliner came down between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the neighbouring region of Donetsk.

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency had claimed the first black box has been sent to Moscow for analysis, the BBC reported. The news agency now reports a second black box has been recovered at the crash site.

One thing is for sure: if MH17 hadn’t been flying over eastern Ukraine, it wouldn’t have been shot down, regardless of who was doing the shooting.

zeppelin-attack-jul18Apart from that, everything’s on track to be a repeat of 1914. As others seem to notice:

19:50 Former Kremlin adviser Alexander Nekrassov, in an opinon piece for CNN, says the downing of the plane felt to some like a “Franz Ferdinand moment,” referring to the eve of the First World War

 

P.S. Pilots’ group president says MH17 shot down after attempt to avoid storms

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