Prediction Replaces Reality

In February last year I was a bit shaken that, on the same day that asteroid 2012 DA14 passed about 30,000 km from the Earth, another rock slammed into Russia over Chelyabinsk. It got me wondering whether the two rocks were companions, and there were clouds of rocks through which the Earth periodically passed. I’ve spent much of the last year trying to connect DA14 with the Chelyabinsk meteor, and I’ve very nearly (but not actually) succeeded. And I’ve been wondering if there’s actually a considerable threat to the Earth from clouds of large rocks, with some landing on metropolitan regions.

But nobody is predicting any such event, so nobody is much bothered about it.

H/T MJM, it seems that a few other people are getting a bit concerned.

A press release from some former NASA astronauts on the current asteroid impact threat to earth, based on data on in-atmosphere detonations since 2001, gleaned from a nuclear weapon detonation detection system has yielded some startling numbers.

The threat is 3 to 10 times higher than previously predicted. The data will be presented at the Seattle Flight Museum, Tuesday April 22, at 6:00pm PDT.

Just last night, another fireball was seen over Russia, caught on a dashcamera

Now it becomes apparent why this press release is important.

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… three to ten times more, in fact. A new visualization of data from a nuclear weapons warning network, to be unveiled by B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu during the evening event at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, shows that “the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.”

Since 2001, 26 atomic-bomb-scale explosions have occurred in remote locations around the world, far from populated areas, made evident by a nuclear weapons test warning network. In a recent press release B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu states:

“This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare—but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck. The goal of the B612 Sentinel mission is to find and track asteroids decades before they hit Earth, allowing us to easily deflect them.”

And here, H/T Roobeedoo, is a video of the Russian fireball a few days back:

So bright a fireball that the night sky turned blue.

I think that there’s a much greater threat from these big rocks than there is from global warming or environmental tobacco smoke. Because at the present rate, sooner or later one of these things will come down over some city, and do enormous damage, and kill a lot of people.

And the science is all quite simple and straightforward. It’s simply the laws of motion and gravitation. And it requires the accurate measurement of the position and velocity of rocks in space.

Climate science isn’t simple and straightforward. There are all kinds of climatic processes – like clouds – which aren’t very well understood. And so the science is as much speculative in parts as it is solidly founded in other parts.

And tobacco ‘science’ isn’t science at all, because nothing is measured accurately, and the resulting fuzzy data is then tortured to reach predetermined conclusions.

Celestial mechanics is clean science. This other stuff is all dirty.

Which is also maybe why I like watching snooker (the Snooker World Championships started yesterday), and golf (The US Open was played at Augusta a week back) and even playing online golf (WGT golf is really very realistic, and also free). There’s a purity about both games. They’re both just spherical bodies in motion. They’re celestial mechanics brought down to earth. Golf is just a ball bouncing on the surface of the earth. And snooker is a ball rolling on the flat surface of a table. And the ball either drops into the hole, or it doesn’t, and there isn’t a Statistically Significant Relative Risk of the ball dropping in the hole that gets treated like it’s more important than the guy actually knocking the ball in the hole.

If the US Open golf tournament was run on epidemiological lines, there would masses of data collected on every golfer and all the courses, and it would all be run through a statistical mangle to show that most likely Tiger Woods or somebody would win it. And these predictions would then usurp the place of the actual tournament. Because now that – thanks to statistical science and computer models written by accredited golf scientists – Everybody Knew who was going to win, there was no longer any need for any real golfers to knock balls round an actual golf course. The prediction replaces the reality. People decide whether or not to go to the beach next Tuesday based on the weather forecast for that day, not the actual weather on that day. And once actual reality ceases to matter, and the models are the only things that count, there’s going to be a lot of money riding on those models, and a powerful incentive to ensure that they produce the ‘right’ answers (i.e. Tiger Woods to win, 9 under par).

In fact, Tiger Woods wasn’t playing at Augusta, so he didn’t win. And it was instead won by a guy who’d never had any golf lessons from accredited expert golf scientists, and with a distinctly unorthodox (and therefore incorrect) swing, but who could nevertheless drive the ball 100 yards further than anybody else. And drop it in the actual hole.

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Pushing At An Open Door

H/T Roobeedoo for this piece on Guido Fawkes:

Grassroots Tories Back Farage Over Plain Packs Plan

As polling of Conservative Grassroots tells their party to ditch plain packaging for cigarettes and Farage is making this an issue to smoke out Tories for UKIP:
“We are now on the verge of a Conservative-led government going for plain packaging on cigarettes. I can scarcely believable how stupid these people are. It’s been tried in Australia and it’s been manna from heaven for organised crime and for counterfeiters. It is a daft and stupid thing to do. Frankly, if you’re going to have plain packaging for cigarettes, why not on a bottle of Pernod, or a bottle of beer, or on a Krispy Kreme doughnut? Where does this end? I think the state is really far, far outreaching itself.”

I found this interesting in several ways.

In the first place, although UKIP wants a relaxation of the smoking ban, and Nigel Farage projects a beer-and-cigarette  image, he actually seldom says anything about the smoking ban. So it’s a bit unusual to find him actually addressing the issue, although I’m sure he’s aware that it’s UKIP’s main attraction for some people (like me).

But he seems to be doing so in order to attract Tory grassroots. Are grassroot Tories really up in arms about plain packaging? And if they’re up in arms about that, might they not feel the same about the smoking ban? I’m puzzled.

In fact, I’m always puzzled at how the smoking ban is a non-issue in UK politics. Particularly when I think that it’s about the only issue that really matters.

But then that’s perhaps because all three of the main UK  political parties are agreed that the smoking ban has been a Great Success. And so are the media. And only their voices get heard, of course. Perhaps in large part because Britain’s 10+ million smokers are non-persons who are automatically ignored.

But I think there’s simmering anger over the smoking ban (and all its associated bans, of which plain packaging is just one), and that there’s a lot of political mileage to be made by articulating that anger. I think any political party that does this will attract votes from smokers like me. So why doesn’t UKIP push harder at this open door, and present themselves more aggressively as the party of the old, traditional, friendly, convivial pubs with their tight-knit local communities?

Particularly since (H/T Harley) there’s no real justification for smoking bans anyway.

In a stunning admission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed to House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that the agency neither possesses, nor can produce, all of the scientific data used to justify the rules and regulations they have imposed on Americans via the Clean Air Act. In short, science has been trumped by the radical environmentalist agenda.

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Bastards Fall Out With Bastards

I must say that I was rather pleased that the WHO plans to class e-cigarettes as tobacco products. Because clearly they’re no more tobacco products than pharma companies’ nicotine-containing NRT products (which presumably aren’t going to be also classed as tobacco products). E-cigarettes simply look like cigarettes. And with that, it becomes crystal clear (if it wasn’t crystal clear already) that this has nothing to do with health. They claim to want to get people to quit smoking, but when a product comes along that seems to be very successful at doing that, by providing a cigarette without any smoke, they promptly restrict that too.

But it gets worse better. Over on Dick Puddlecote:

Further to my piece on Monday about the World Health Organisation’s plan to class e-cigs as tobacco products – and consequently subject to crippling taxes, display bans, graphic warnings etc – former ASH supremo Clive Bates has obtained a leaked copy of the minutes which reveal it, and written a comprehensive article on how criminally misguided this approach is.

It emerges that not only tobacco growers are being shut out of the WHO’s consultations, but so also are journalists, and even Interpol. 

And this is even better news, in my view. They’re making enemies of not only smokers and the tobacco industry, but now also the media and the police. I’m hoping that they’ll soon exclude everyone else as well. The more enemies they make for themselves, the better.

Dick Puddlecote also highly recommends Clive Bates’ take-down of the WHO. And there’s even more good news there, because Clive Bates is a former ASH director, and so this is a prominent antismoker doing battle with other prominent antismokers, along the lines of Dr Michael Siegel. What better sight is there to see than the artillery of the enemy bombarding their own trenches?

Might it be worth considering whether Tobacco Control is beginning to disintegrate, as various inherent centrifugal forces pull it apart? For I suppose that, for some of these people, it really was all about health, and they’re appalled that e-cigarettes are are being suppressed. But for other people, it was always about appearances, and anything that looked like a cigarette was as bad as a cigarette. And for other people it was really all about money, and preserving the pharma companies’ NRT monopoly. And for other people it was all about control – the operational word in Tobacco Control. And for other people – the Nazis – it was a piece of eugenic social engineering. They all seem to have managed to bury their differences for the past 50 years, but it seems that is no longer possible. And they’re very capable of doing serious damage to each other, because they know where all the bodies are buried, or – to continue with the analogy of enemy artillery bombarding their own front lines – where the bodies very soon will be buried.

I’m not going to be cheering for any of them. Because I think they’re all bastards, every single one of them. They are, after all, antismokers of one complexion or other, and functionally indistinguishable. And so I’ll be as equally delighted if Michael Siegel manages to land a nuclear bomb on Stanton Glantz as I’ll be glad to see Stanton Glantz land a cruise missile on Michael Siegel. Ideally, they’ll do both of them at the same time, and we’ll be rid of two bastards with one missile.

And I suppose that it’s inevitable that bastards fall out with bastards, because, well,…  that’s what bastards do. Vile people are going to be equally vile to each other as they are vile to everyone else. Just like mafia gangs slaughtering each other, as they fight bloody turf wars in a prohibition era.

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A Question of Medical Ethics

I’ve been thinking today about something Rose mentioned in a couple of comments:

I dislocated my knee slightly in a motorcycle accident, when we crashed I flew off the back and landed on my knees.
My doctor, who had recently given up smoking, refused to even look at it as it was my fault for riding two up on the back of a single seater motorbike.

She said he’d been a very good family doctor for many years.

Then the ashtray disappeared from his desk and his character changed completely.

So Rose had a slightly dislocated knee for 15 years! Is it just me, but isn’t that outrageous? In my view, it’s the job of the medical profession to treat equally whoever appears before them. Perhaps the best example of this is to be found in wartime, when doctors treat both their own injured soldiers and injured enemy soldiers, disregarding whose side they happened to be on. It was probably a matter of honour to act in this manner.

The problem in wartime seems to be that when doctors are overwhelmed by numerous casualties, they’re often forced to treat those that they think they can save.

But to turn away someone purely because a doctor thinks that they’re to blame for their condition strikes me as being completely unethical.

Of course, it’s happening more and more  with smokers these days. But if it can happen with motorbike passengers as well, then maybe it’s happening in all sorts of other ways.

Tried to commit suicide, did you? Well, don’t expect me to stitch up your slashed wrists, sonny. Got yourself a dose of AIDS? You have only yourself to blame, of course. Very nearly drowned swimming off some beach, eh? Well, what did you expect would happen when you got out of your depth. Got buried under rubble in an earthquake, I gather? Well, Pompeii was a rather silly place to visit, wasn’t it? In this manner one can imagine a doctor refusing treatment to almost everyone who appears before him.

And maybe that’s exactly what eventually happens in socialised medicine like the NHS. The doctors will get paid anyway through taxation. So why should they bother  to treat anyone? By contrast, with private medicine, each patient is a customer, and no business likes to turn away customers. Unless, of course, the customers have no money.

Or perhaps it’s what happens when preventative medicine is introduced. However, does preventative medicine preclude treatment of maladies that weren’t prevented? If it does, we should close down all our hospitals, because we’re supposed to be preventing anyone from ever having to enter one of them. After all, if you don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t eat sugar or salt or meat, and exercise regularly, everyone knows you’ll never get ill with anything.

I think doctors who pick and choose who they feel deserves treatment should be expelled from the medical profession. After all if primum non nocere (first do no harm) applies, then refusing treatment entails doing harm.  

What do you think?




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Catching up with TV

Another gorgeous sunny day, which found me once again in a pub garden, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

But this time, while sitting at a table, I managed to do myself an injury. I think it must be the first time I’ve ever done myself an injury while sat at a table with a beer and a cigarette. Perhaps there’s something in all those health warnings after all?

The injury was in fact the aggravation of a very old injury. Fifty years ago, while being pursued in the course of some game, I hurled myself out of a school window, and fell  10 feet in darkness, badly twisting my right knee. It never really fully recovered. I think there must a missing cruciate ligament in it, or something. And ever since, I have to take care to not put the knee out of joint. But it periodically happens, and I  limp around until it clunks back into place. And today it happened again, sitting at a wooden table in a pub garden, and I’ve no idea how. But with luck, it’ll be back in working order in a day or two.

This has fortunately coincided with getting my bi-annual dose of television, so I’ve spent much of the evening sat watching the box with my leg up on a small table.

And it’s been rather interesting. I haven’t seen any antismoking messages at all. But I’ve seen quite a lot of smoking, in news clips and documentaries. And I couldn’t help but think that the smoking was a bit overdone in the documentaries, with the complete process of inhaling and exhaling lovingly recorded, as if to say, “Look kids, this is how it’s done.”

The other people smoking were Russian (or ethnic Russian) soldiers who had just captured some place in Ukraine. Perhaps it was supposed to show that they were The Bad Guys. What it actually showed the kids was that super-fit soldiers smoke cigarettes on active service without apparent ill-effect, and also without being court-martialed and shot.

I had expected the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis (which is really horribly serious right now) to be accompanied by jingoistic anti-Russian propaganda. But there was none of that at all. Instead, the coverage seemed scrupulously neutral, with Ukrainians and Russians being allowed to disagree with each other on air, while the UK news anchors sat on the fence. The only person who pinned all the blame firmly on Russia was Foreign Secretary William Hague. But after he’d said his bit, it was promptly openly questioned how much he really knew about what was going on.

I get the impression that all concerned – Europe, America, and perhaps even Ukraine and Russia – are trying to downplay and defuse the situation. But unfortunately the situation is now so far gone it’s rather hard to see how it can possibly be defused. Because if civil war has quite broken out today, it may very well have broken out by this time tomorrow.

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Anything But Cheeseburgers

Slightly light-headed after sitting out  in the sun, with beer and cigarettes, all afternoon.

And the thought that the very worst way to make something happen is to enforce it by law. Because this means that people didn’t really want to do it. There’s no need to enforce by law what people want to do anyway.

And if what is enforced by law is something that nobody really wanted, the law will require continual enforcement. And the moment it ceases to be enforced, it will decay.

But I think that Tobacco Control believe that getting their smoking bans into law afforded them a strength and security they otherwise would not have had. I think they believe that, after people have got used to the law, and smoking has been “denormalised”, nobody will dream of lighting up in a pub or cafe again.

But the way I saw it today, their resort to the law – the most powerful weapon available to them – has actually made it absolutely inevitable that the bans will be revoked.

After all, imagine if people were compelled by law to live on a diet of cheeseburgers and french fries. People who didn’t much like cheeseburgers would soon come to loathe them. And even people who loved cheeseburgers and french fries would probably resent being forced to eat what they had hitherto eaten anyway out of free choice. All concerned would soon be wanting want anything but cheeseburgers. The law would thereby create an aversion to cheeseburgers.

And the same goes for smoking bans. To be compelled by law to not smoke is to ensure that quitting smoking will cease to be a freely-made choice, and that smoking bans will become more and more deeply resented, even by people who initially welcomed them.

If they’d really wanted to turn people off smoking, they should have made it illegal to not smoke. They should have made it compulsory for every pub-goer who bought a beer to smoke a cigarette or two with it, with hefty fines attached to non-compliance. That would have killed off the pleasure instantly. For what had been done out of choice would now be being done from necessity. And every cigarette smoked would be proof of abject subservience to state control. And the rebels would be the people who refused to smoke, and paid the consequent fines, and even went to prison for it.

If you want to create a vegetarian culture, then make meat-eating compulsory. And if you want a society of environmentalists, then fill the air with inescapable choking smoke.

And maybe that’s why we have a culture that is antismoking, vegetarian, and green. It’s because when smoking was ubiquitous, it was inescapable, and therefore mandatory, and something to revolt against. And when every single school meal consisted of cheeseburgers and french fries, it was revolutionary to want salads and fruits and nuts. And when every town had some factory chimney belching black smoke, the free spirit longed for fresh air and green leaves and mountain streams.

But now that carbon dioxide has been made more or less illegal, and smoking has been banned everywhere, then the natural rebel wants to smoke cigarettes all the time, and fill the skies with clouds of beautiful  black smoke, and chew bloody lumps of meat with bared teeth.

Whoever makes the laws is onto a sure-fire loser. When you’ve enacted your dreams in law, you haven’t won: you’ve lost. And you have most completely and totally and irrevocably lost.

Whatever your deepest hopes and dreams might be, if offered the chance to make them into binding law, refuse it!

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A Changing Political Landscape

I’m away from home this week, so posting might be a bit light. But I noticed that support for UKIP is surging:

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has hit a record high ComRes poll rating, as the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties both drop points. UKIP is now polling at 20 percent, while Britain’s traditional third party, the Liberal Democrats, have sunk to just 7.
The Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror poll shows Labour (35 percent) increasing its lead to six points over the Conservative Party (29 percent), with the libertarian, small-government UKIP hot on the heels of Cameron’s party following the resignation of cabinet minister Maria Miller last week.
The poll results also reflect the two debate victories that UKIP leader Nigel Farage clocked up against Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg over the past few weeks. Despite some negative press since then, UKIP continues to rise, while the three mainstream parties are either losing voters, or stagnating.
Labour’s new six point lead is not a reflection on the party’s increasing popularity either. The poll shows Labour has not lost, nor picked up any voters since the March survey. Instead, Ed Miliband’s party is benefitting from a Conservative Party in disarray. With just 40 days until the European Parliamentary elections, the poll is being viewed as highly significant.

Maybe it’s because people are sick of the political class:

The British Establishment that has been replaced by the modern political class is wrought with catastrophic imperfections, but it was at least a structure that held honour, duty, patriotism and stewardship at its heart. The political class value none of these tenets, but instead represent a self-serving cancer that, in the space of a mere few decades, has rendered a great nation bankrupt and deeply divided. Our democracy has been steered into the doldrums of homogeneity and stasis.
And yet, the system that ruled Britain for a few decades, and was so incisively exposed by Oborne just six years ago, now seems to be crumbling as swiftly as it arrived.

With luck, we’re witnessing a collapse of support for all the mainstream parties, and the emergence of a new political landscape. For if UKIP have 20% support, and other non-mainstream garner an additional 9%, then something approaching one third of the electorate have deserted the mainstream parties.

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