The Life Of The Party

Hat tip Smoking Lamp for what looks like good news:

VIENNA, Dec 11 (Reuters) – While much of the West has barred smoking in restaurants and bars, Austria’s planned ban has gone up in smoke.

The small, affluent country is famed for its Alpine scenery and its capital, Vienna, is regularly rated as the world’s best city to live in. But many visitors are surprised to find that nights out often feature the acrid smell of decades past.

Austria passed a law banning smoking in bars and restaurants as of May 2018. But that will now be overturned under a deal between the conservative People’s Party (OVP) led by Sebastian Kurz and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) reached during their ongoing negotiations on a governing coalition, according to a person familiar with their discussions.

“The current rules will remain in place,” the person said, confirming reports by local media. Smoking is banned in general in the restaurant industry but various exceptions are allowed.

Scrapping the impending ban was an idea championed by FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache, 48, who has repeatedly tried, in vain, to quit smoking. Kurz, who is just 31, has never acquired the habit and even shuns coffee, a rare abstinence in a country with a celebrated cafe culture.

I say that it only looks like good news because this seems to be the word of “a person familiar with the discussions.” What if they’re making it all up? What if they’ve actually agreed to implement the most draconian ban they possibly can, in order to make Strache finally stop smoking.

And this Kurz sounds like he’s a bit of a Trump, if he doesn’t smoke or drink coffee. Odds on he doesn’t drink alcohol either? But, again like Trump, Kurz doesn’t seem to want to make other people conform to his own habits (or lack of habits).

Why doesn’t Trump smoke or drink (not even coffee)? To the best of my knowledge, he had an older brother who drank himself to death:

In a major speech today, President Trump declared the opioid crisis in America a public health emergency. By designating it a federal “emergency,” Trump could freed up considerable resources to help people and communities fight addiction; it is a powerful official acknowledgement of an epidemic that killed more than 59,000 people last year.

But the issue of addiction is also a deeply personal one for Trump. His older brother Freddy suffered from alcoholism, and died in 1981 at the young age of 43.

The president spoke about his brother’s struggles with addiction during today’s speech, and it’s not the first time he’s shared his brother’s story publicly. Trump has said in the past that Freddy’s death had a “tremendous impact” on him. Perhaps most notably, he does not drink alcohol, do drugs, or smoke cigarettes, avoiding these vices because of his brother’s alcoholism.

“He had a profound impact on my life, because you never know where you’re going to end up,” Trump said. “I’ve known so many people that were so strong and so powerful [yet] they were unable to stop drinking.”

“[Fred] was a great guy, a handsome person. He was the life of the party. He was a fantastic guy, but he got stuck on alcohol,” Trump said of his brother.

“And it had a profound impact and ultimately [he] became an alcoholic and died of alcoholism. He would tell me, ‘Don’t drink ever.’ He understood the problem that he had and that it was a very hard problem.”

To the best of my knowledge, Freddy also advised Donald not to smoke. Maybe he even threw in coffee for good measure.

Now years later, Trump’s views about his brother—and his addiction—have softened. “He would have been an amazing peacemaker if he didn’t have the problem, because everybody loved him,” Trump said. “He’s like the opposite of me.”

I guess that here Donald Trump is saying that he knows that a lot of people absolutely detest him.

I’ve known one or two people who were the life of the party. They’re very rare. Things just relax and start to happen the minute they walk in. I don’t know how they do it.

But I guess that if you’re the life of the party that way, you’ll be in demand everywhere. You’ll be invited to lots and lots of parties. And at those parties you’ll spend your whole time with a cigarette in one hand, and a glass of champagne in the other. Hour after hour after hour. So maybe you’d end up drinking much more, and smoking much more, than more or less anyone else ever does, because they only ever go to one party at a time. You spend your whole time in a permanent alcoholic haze, perhaps alleviated by periodic strong coffees to help you concentrate. And maybe if you’re drinking all the time, you start to need to drink all the time, and things just don’t seem quite right if you haven’t got a cigarette in one hand, and a glass of champagne in the other.

One person I knew, who I thought was the life of the party, was the celebrity chef Keith Floyd. He opened a little bistro in Bristol back in about 1968. It was a tiny little place, with an assortment of different tables and chairs crammed into it. And it was always full. And it was always a party. Food would arrive periodically from the tiny little kitchen at the back. But nobody cared. I think everyone came because they knew that it would always be a great party. And Keith Floyd himself would periodically wander in with a glass of wine, to talk to the people sitting and eating. He’d cook with a glass of wine beside him.

But that was all before he became a celebrity chef. And when he did, he carried on cooking, party-style, with a glass of wine beside him. And so he was someone who spent hours and hours drinking (and smoking) every day. I don’t know that he was an alcoholic, but I’m guessing from the following passage that he was:

I met him only once, when I was presenting a series called the Food Quiz for Radio 4. We had him booked for an afternoon session and were told in no uncertain terms by Clarissa Dickson Wright, a regular panellist, that getting him after lunch was a very bad idea. “Take it from me,” she said. “I’m a recovering alcoholic and I know.”

My mother had a terror of alcohol, and she dreaded that I would, when I grew up, follow in what seemed to be a long family tradition of drinking oneself to death. The way she talked about alcohol, it was that once you taken one swig of the stuff out of a bottle, you’d be a slave to it for the rest of your rather short life. It was perhaps for my father to teach her (and me, and my brother) that it was possible to drink moderately.

And I’ve always drank moderately. I’ve never (or hardly ever) spent all day and all night in a drunken haze. These days I only drink at the very end of the day, to send myself to sleep. For me, alcohol is almost medicinal. There is a precise amount of whisky that is needed to bring on the wings of sleep.

So my guess is that Freddy Trump, like Keith Floyd, was one of those people who was the life of the party, and that both of them paid the price that such people very often end up paying, much like sailors often end up drowning, or soldiers end up shot: it’s one of  the attendant perils of such trades.

And one other person who I suspect was also the life of the party was Jesus of Nazareth. For what else was the Last Supper but a dinner party? And it seems to have been just one of many such feasts and parties. And what an amazing party trick, to be able to turn water into wine. Or multiply loaves and fishes. And bring the dead to life – for when Jesus walked in, everything came to life. And he was in constant demand everywhere, of course. And many of his pithy remarks, and his humorous banter, were remembered and recorded.

The pinch-faced killjoys got him in the end, of course. All the Deborah Arnotts of Jerusalem showed up to condemn him. And they really crucified him. It’s one of the attendant perils of his trade too.

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The Disgusting, Illiberal, Interfering, Busybody, Antismoking Habit

A few days ago I came across an article by Rob Lyons on Spiked – Advocacy research: what a filthy habit -, the last paragraph of which declared:

Anti-smoking is hypochondria-by-proxy, an obsessive compulsive disorder whose sufferers demand that the normal pastimes of others leave them under attack. Contrary to what Winickoff says, it is anti-smoking campaigners and our health guardians who need help – to quit their disgusting, illiberal, interfering, busybody habit once and for all.

I entirely agreed with this, except that the sort of “help” that I think our “health guardians” need is actually a long term in prison, or on Desolation Island.

But if I agreed with the last paragraph, I didn’t agree at all with the first paragraph, which began:

First we were told – quite reasonably – that smoking was bad for us. It increases the risk of a variety of diseases, particularly lung cancer and respiratory illnesses, as well as making heart disease and stroke more likely. No one who smokes regularly can be unaware that there is a fair chance that their habit will shorten their life, even if the immediate prospect of a stimulating drag is more enticing than a few extra years of old age. We’ve all got to die of something, at some point; it’s up to us to make a calculation about whether that nicotine hit is worth it.

More controversial was the suggestion that breathing other people’s smoke might be dangerous, too. Okay, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if those nights of old spent steeped in a nicotine-tinged fug in the Dog and Duck didn’t exactly do one’s lungs the world of good. The smell certainly lingered on your clothes. Even then, anyone who remembers boozers in the past, or the top-deck of the bus on a winter’s evening, will know that the modern, well-ventilated, pre-smoking ban pub was a much less smoky environment. By rather dubiously extrapolating from some small personal risks, based on smoking studies that probably bear little relevance to twenty-first century Western workplaces, official estimates concluded that about 1,000 people per year die from ‘secondhand’ smoke in the UK. In July 2007, a ban on smoking in public places came into force in England. The tobacco lovers were turfed out on to the street.

Yet even the junk science of secondhand smoke seems like the stuff of Nobel Prizes next to the new kid on the block: ‘third-hand smoke’.

What was “reasonable” about being told that smoking is bad for us?

After all, if antismoking is a “disgusting, illiberal, interfering, busybody, obsessive-compulsive disorder”, at what point in time was it ever “reasonable”?

Was even the scientific research underpinning the current war on smoking reasonable? No, it wasn’t. The Doll and Hill London Hospitals Study of 1950 looked at 649 male lung cancer patients, and 649 male non-lung-cancer patients. Of the lung cancer patients, 647 were smokers, and 2 were non-smokers. And of the non-lung-cancer patients, 622 were also smokers, and 27 were non-smokers. So 99.7% of lung cancer patients were smokers, but 95.8% of non-lung-cancer patients were also smokers. In short, pretty much all the patients in the hospital were smokers. And this shouldn’t be very surprising in an era when pretty well everybody smoked: when the British Doctors Study began shortly afterwards, it was found that 87% of the Doctors who responded were smokers. In what sense does a difference of about 4% in the numbers of smokers in the two groups prove that smoking was the cause of their lung cancer? It proves nothing at all. It’s only if the numbers of non-smokers are counted, and the numbers of smokers disregarded, that any marked difference between the two groups emerges. For there were only 2 non-smokers in one group, and 27 in the other. Or there were 13.5 times as many non-smokers among the non-lung-cancer patients than among the lung cancer patients, and so non-smokers could be regarded as 13.5 times less likely to get lung cancer than smokers, and conversely smokers 13.5 times more likely. But in this bit of mathematical juggling, the sample has been reduced from a total of 1298 patients to just 29. And these 29 patients were then presented as evidence that smoking causes lung cancer. Was that a reasonable deduction? No, it wasn’t. And it was a conclusion strongly contested by statisticians like Sir Ronald Fisher at the time. And yet the London Hospitals Study was instrumental in launching the war on smoking and smokers that has been continuing and mounting ever since.

The war on smoking that began in earnest in 1950 was never in the least bit rational or scientific or reasonable at all, and antismokers have always been disgusting, illiberal, interfering, obsessive-compulsive busybodies. And they have always been, all the way back to King James I “Counterblaste to Tobacco“, which begins:

That the manifolde abuses of this vile custome of Tobacco taking, may the better be espied, it is fit, that first you enter into consideration both of the first originall thereof, and likewise of the reasons of the first entry thereof into this Countrey.

Here James sets out his conclusion from the very outset, that smoking is a “vile custome” with “manifold abuses”. He has made up his mind already.

And this is how all antismokers always approach the matter. They all start out hating tobacco and smoking, and then look around for justifications for their prejudice.  The disgusting, illiberal, interfering, busybody, obsessive-compulsive disorder didn’t start with third-hand smoke in 1980. It started with James I in 1604. And it undoubtedly pre-dated even him.

There is nothing in the least bit “reasonable” about antismoking. I was personally made aware of this through my very first encounter with an antismoker in the person of Dr W, shouting at the top of his voice against the “filthy, filthy, filthy” habit that his 16-year-old eldest son had just taken up. Dr W hated smoking with an intense passion. The first time I encountered him was in 1965, shouting at his son. And the last time I ever saw him was on TV in about 1995, speaking on behalf of the BMA about some medical concern, and dressed in an immaculate suit. Over the intervening 30 years, Dr W had risen to the top of the medical profession, and was now presenting himself as a balanced, reasonable, knowledgeable expert. But I knew that he was no such thing at all. He was, in my view, a man with deep psychological problems, not least of which was an inability to smile or laugh, or in fact enjoy doing anything at all.

Dr W died in 2000, at the age of 79 (the same age my smoking, drinking father died), so he never lived to see the 2007 UK smoking ban that he had undoubtedly worked assiduously to promote, and which shattered the pubs that he himself never ever visited.

Back in 1965, I dismissed Dr W as being a lone, harmless nutter. But I now realise that he was very far from being alone, and was in fact one of a veritable army of nutters who included Richard Doll, George Godber, and now Deborah Arnott and Linda Bauld and Sally Davies and countless other zealots. And it’s not just that they that they’ve firstly extended their poisonous strictures from first-hand smoking to second-hand and third-hand smoking: they’ve also extended it from cigarettes to pipes and cigars and all tobacco products. And they’ve even gone further than that, to condemn anything that even looks like smoking – i.e. vaping -. And now, not content with that, they’ve set their sights on alcohol, sugar, fat, salt, meat, all of which we are now being told are poisonous and carcinogenic as tobacco.

These people are poisoning the whole world. And the way they are poisoning it is to make everything look like poison: tobacco, alcohol, meat, fat, etc. Even the global warming scare can be seen as a variant on the same theme: carbon dioxide is poison.

All their doctrines must be completely rejected, lock, stock, and barrel. And they should be rejected because of the enormous damage they are doing, as they kill people, shatter communities, bankrupt pubs and cafes, set friends against each other.

These people present themselves as benefactors, saving countless numbers of lives. In fact, they not only are saving no lives at all, but are filled with such murderous hatred that they are very likely to end up murdering millions of people.

Tobacco Control is no friend of humanity: it is its enemy. And it must be destroyed. It must be completely destroyed. And the entirety of the Public Health industry, at present busily discovering new poisons everywhere, must be demolished along with it. And Science and the medical profession and the universities must be radically reformed. For they have all been corrupted in some degree or other.

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Bye Bye Johnny

Commenter Igrowmyown drew attention yesterday to the death aged 74 of French rock star Johnny Hallyday, wondering at the lack of any mention of his lifetime smoking habit.

I can’t say that I was ever a fan of his. He was a bit too over the top for me, and almost a parody of a rock’n’roller, rather like Abba or a few other European bands, and perhaps even Elvis himself in his last years.

Investigating further, I discovered that a million people had come out to bid farewell to him on the streets of Paris.

The centre of Paris ground to a halt as the wave of national grief that had overwhelmed the country following the death of the singer, known as the French Elvis, on Wednesday morning finally broke.

In scenes resonant of the mass mourning in Britain following the death of Princess Diana, police said a million fans had lined the route of the funeral procession, which was accompanied by Hallyday’s band playing live, as it made its way from the Arc de Triomphe along the Champs-Élysées to Place de la Concorde and on to the church of La Madeleine.

Even President Emmanuel Macron had attended, and given an address.

I wondered what Macron had said. Had he given a talk on the tremendous perils of smoking, that could carry off a young stripling like Hallyday at the age of only 74? Had he used the occasion to encourage the French people to give up smoking, and particularly their terrible Gitanes and Gauloises? Had numerous French doctors and surgeons arrived carrying black lungs (quite possibly including Hallyday’s) to show the world? Wouldn’t it be a golden opportunity to ram home the antismoking message to the French people? Yet it seems that Macron did no such thing.

A visibly emotional Emmanuel Macron, a Hallyday fan who had called for a “people’s tribute” to the singer, told the crowds: “You are here for him, for Johnny Hallyday. After 60 years of career, 1,000 songs, 50 albums … you are still there, still there, always there. I know you’re waiting for him to jump out from somewhere, he’s on a bike, he comes towards you and starts the first song and you start singing with him.”

As the crowd cheered, whistled and shouted “Johnny, Johnny”, he continued: “Yes, this December Saturday is sad, but you have to be here for Johnny because from the beginning Johnny was there for you. In moments of your life one of his songs translated something you had in your heart … an indefinable humanity that made us feel less alone. That’s how Johnny came into our lives … he became a necessary presence, a friend, a brother.”

A million people had come to say goodbye to a bad example: an inveterate smoker of filterless Gitanes. Never mind the “indefinable humanity”: think of those lungs.

Friends, family and fans knew Hallyday, an inveterate smoker of filterless Gitanes, had been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year. 

Fans must have been disappointed not to have been lectured on Hallyday’s premature death. No doubt those of them who have yet to give up smoking will have chosen to do so now. And as they talked sadly among themselves, they would have remembered him only for the innumerable cigarettes he had smoked throughout his life.

“I saw him once on the Rue de Clichy, sitting on a motorbike.”


“Of course.”

No doubt they compared him with other notorious bad examples in French public life, like Serge Gainsbourg:

Or Alain Delon:

Or Jean-Paul Sartre:

Or Jean-Paul Belmondo:

Or Yves Montand:

And any number of other wasted lives, tragically cut short by the single greatest cause of preventable death globally. Think how much longer Hallyday might have lived but for his terrible addiction. He might even have got to the age of 85, and become senile!

Because health, measured by longevity, is the only thing that really matters in life. You do know that, don’t you? Obviously Johnny Hallyday didn’t.


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Growth, Climax, Decay, Collapse

I was thinking this morning about the various new political organisations that have appeared over the past 70 years or so (i.e. over my lifetime). The UN, the EU, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, and the like come to mind.

They all seem to start out as small, fairly benign organisations, which attract support and money. But as they grow in influence they all seem to gradually be infiltrated by zealots of one sort or other, and become oppressive and tyrannical. And I wondered why that was.

My particular bête noire, of course, is Tobacco Control, which is (to the extent that it is a single entity at all) a subdivision of the WHO, which is in its turn a subdivision of the UN, much like the International Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. So it seems that small organisations grow into large organisations, and spawn new organisations, all the time attracting more and more money and power and influence.

And none of these organisations ever seem to be particularly democratic, or even at all democratic. They are closed societies or clubs. Membership is often by invitation only. And that means that any activist who can get into them can fairly rapidly exert considerable influence within them, and attract like-minded people into them as well, swelling their ranks with “true believers”.

And so if the WHO seems now to be infested with antismoking zealots (and the IPCC with global warming zealots), it’s probably because a few antismokers (e.g. the Dr W I knew many years ago) somehow entered their ranks, and worked assiduously within them, and attracted/hired like-minded zealots, and fired non-believers/sceptics, and eventually established complete hegemony within them, and then went on to use the power and influence and money at their disposal to press for more and more draconian smoking bans.

The same thing probably happened with climate science, which was something of a quiet backwater of science a few decades ago, but which is now populated by global warming activists bent on removing Carbon from the periodic table.

And if one looks back through history, someone like Lenin started out as a political radical in Zurich, and the people he gathered around him were to become the most influential people in the Soviet Union. The same applied with Hitler in the fledgling NSDAP in Germany. If you knew Hitler, and had bought him a cream cake in a Vienna coffee bar, you might easily rise to be a major figure in the Nazi party.

Oddly enough, the same process applies to May Pang – who I was writing about yesterday – who rose within the Apple Records company that grew up around the Beatles, and did so because she would work every hour of the day within it, and gradually became indispensable, even though she wasn’t a musician or artist. The Beatles, of course, were not a political party or pressure group, but they had enormous cultural influence, and their every word was at one time analysed as if it was Mosaic law written on tablets of stone.

It seems that, depending on the influence these various organisations exert, they attract followers and emulators (Suddenly everyone wants to be in a rock’n’roll band). But as they expand and multiply, rivalries emerge within them, and competitors and enemies appear around them, and an inevitable process of decay and collapse (or of parody, like Spinal Tap) follows. They’re like thunderstorms that build and grow, and then rain down lightning and hail on everyone, before dispersing.

The Communist party of the Soviet Union, and the Nazi Party in Germany, and the Beatles as well, may now be past history. But Tobacco Control is at the zenith of its power and influence. In this respect the sexual harassment lawsuit(s) being brought against Stanton Glantz, whose Wikipedia entry describes him as the “Ralph Nader of the anti-tobacco movement,” must surely signal that this movement is now well advanced into a period of terminal decline and disintegration. For Tobacco Control has made a lot of enemies for itself (i.e. about 1.5 billion smokers around the world). And it is noteworthy that the lawsuit(s) against Glantz are being brought by other antismokers, within the ranks of Tobacco Control, indicating rampant internal division.

Almost all the organisations that I mentioned at the outset – the UN, the EU, Greenpeace, etc – seem to be experiencing the same sort of problems. They’re all losing popularity, much like the Beatles. And while at one time everyone wanted to join them or emulate them, more and more people now want to escape their overbearing strictures. They’ve all grown to become a bit too big for their boots.

Looking further back in history, the rise of empires like the Portuguese or Spanish or British empires saw similar expansions, heydays, followed by decline, and disintegration.

Where did they all come from? How did they arise? One might say that the Portuguese empire arose out of the maritime innovation of the ocean-going caravel, armed with cannon. Once this technological innovation had been perfected, the Portuguese, followed by the Spanish and British and Dutch, were able to sail all around the world, and carve out empires. And it was the innovation of the radio, the vinyl record, and perhaps also the electric guitar, that enabled the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and countless other bands to carve out global global musical empires for themselves.

It seems to be technological innovation that drives political and cultural innovation. The caravels allowed the Portuguese to sail all around the world, and the electric guitar and radio and vinyl record allowed the Beatles to invade (and capture) America. But in each case, internal rivalries, and external competitors, fairly rapidly toppled these new empires.

And technological innovation is proceeding these days at what seems an ever-accelerating rate. Over my lifetime I’ve witnessed (and partaken in) the computing revolution that produced home computers, mobile phones, and the internet. And the internet is driving further political and cultural innovation in its turn. Donald Trump seems to have been a much smarter internet user (via Twitter) than Hillary Clinton, and saw possibilities in it that she and her advisors did not.

And if technological innovation drives political and cultural innovation, then we should expect to see more and more political and cultural innovation. We seem, for example, to be witnessing the decline of the established mainstream media that was built upon the printing press, telegraph, radio, and television in favour of individuals like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and Alex Jones. The Smoky Drinky Bar is another small cultural (and political) innovation: people all over the world can meet up and smoke and drink together, despite Tobacco Control having banned them from real pubs and cafes all over the world.

We live in terror these days of a globalised New World Order which will be as tyrannical as anything in Orwell’s 1984. But given the pace of technological innovation, it’s actually much more likely that we’ll see all sorts of cultural and political innovations as surprising as the Portuguese empire or the Beatles or Donald Trump. And nobody will see any of them coming.

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A Day In The Life

For the past few days I’ve been fascinated by the story of May Pang.

I’d never heard of her before.

She was, in brief, John Lennon’s girlfriend in 1973 during his “Lost Weekend” away from Yoko Ono. She went on to subsequently marry Tony Visconti, David Bowie’s producer.

But what fascinated me wasn’t all the stories about the Beatles and the rock music industry that she had to tell. What fascinated me was how it all got started, back in 1970.

May Pang was aged 18 back then, and living with her Chinese mother in Brooklyn or the Bronx, NYC. Her mother, who’d lived through the Japanese invasion of China, and the rise of Mao, ran a Chinese laundry. She was just out a convent school in New York, where she’d been sent, not because she was Catholic, but because it was one of the best schools. And now she was looking for her first job.

She’d gone one morning, with a girl friend of hers, to Manhattan to try to get a job at a bicycle shop. But the interview at the bicycle shop hadn’t gone too well, and she didn’t think she’d got the job. And so around noon she and her friend were wandering around Manhattan, and found themselves in a building where her friend noticed that Apple Records had an office (Apple Records being the company the Beatles had just set up).

So, on an impulse, Beatles fan May Pang decided to visit the Apple offices and see if she could get a job there instead. Her friend told her she was crazy, but she said there was nothing to lose in trying. And so she got in a lift, and rode up to whatever floor Apple’s offices were, walked in, and asked the receptionist there if there were any jobs available.

And the receptionist said there weren’t any job openings available that she knew of. But just then, as she was leaving, doors started opening, and lots of people started walking out of them. And the receptionist called out to one of them, asking if there were any jobs going. And one of them said that there might be one, and she should come back after lunch.

So May Pang hung around Manhattan, and came back later in the afternoon, had an interview (during which she said she could type, when actually she couldn’t), after which they told her to start on the next Monday.

And that was how she got started at Apple Records in Manhattan. All the rest was history. And a very interesting history. But somehow or other what fascinated me was that first day.

It probably helped that she was a very pretty girl. It probably also helped that she was most likely dressed in her very best clothes for the interview at the bicycle shop. And it probably also helped that she was very well-spoken: the nuns in the convent had insisted that she pronounce “aunt” as “aunt” and not as “ant”. So it was a very pretty, very well-dressed, very well-spoken girl who walked into Apple’s Manhattan offices that morning. Maybe she just blew them all away.

But there are lots of very pretty, well-dressed, well-spoken girls all over the world. May Pang must’ve had something extra on top of all that. And my guess was that the extra added ingredient that May Pang had was one hell of a lot of nerve. She was someone who could and would just walk in, uninvited and unexpected. And in every one thousand pretty, well-dressed, well-spoken girls there is probably only one very daring girl like that.

And thinking about it, my guess is that there wasn’t actually any job available at Apple Records that day: she simply created one for herself. For before she even got interviewed, the people at Apple actually knew a lot about her: they knew that she was very pretty, very well-dressed, and very well-spoken, and also, most importantly, that she had one hell of a lot of nerve.

The interview in the afternoon was just a formality. They probably didn’t give a damn whether she could type or not: they could have easily found out if they’d wanted to, simply by putting a typewriter in front of her. They knew that they needed people like her. Probably every company is always looking for people like her. Well, maybe the bicycle shop wasn’t. Maybe they were looking for someone who could ride bicycles.

The more I thought about it, the more I felt that that day in Manhattan could have, should have, been made into a movie. Just that day. There would have been no Beatles, no John Lennon, no Yoko Ono, no Tony Visconti. Just May Pang and her girl friend. It would start that morning with May Pang dressing, and her mother looking her over very closely before she left home, and telling her to stand more upright or not use so much lipstick. And there’d be the bicycle shop interview, where May Pang would claim to be able to ride one, and then demonstrate that actually she couldn’t. And then there’d be the ride up the lift to Apple’s offices, and the receptionist, and the one person (probably a man) to whom the receptionist spoke. And then there’d be the afternoon interview. And finally it would be May Pang arriving back home, and her mother telling her she was very late getting back, and asking if she got the job or not. And May Pang telling her that no she didn’t get the job,… but had got another job instead, working for the Beatles.

It would be an almost all-woman movie. There’d be May Pang’s Chinese mother. And May Pang. And the girl friend who accompanied her to Manhattan. And the receptionist. And the guy who comes out of the door. And maybe a few nuns and office secretaries. That’s four women, and one bit part for a man.

But there could be lots of delicious hints at the world she was about to enter. There’d be pictures of the Beatles and John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the Apple offices, of course. Maybe there’d even have been a big photo of John Lennon in the office foyer, gazing down on May Pang as she walked in. And maybe one or two famous rock stars could be glimpsed in the hallway of the building, or in the lift as she rode up. In fact, the four women and the man could all be played by major movie stars. And maybe all the people who came out of the doors in Apple’s offices would be movie stars too. Because that was the world that she entered, meeting Fred Astaire and James Cagney, and Dean Martin, and Peter Lawford.

There’d be no romance. No fast cars. No special effects. No UFOs. It wouldn’t be an expensive movie to shoot. It would just be a day in the life of a girl. Call it A Day In The Life?

There’s more about it all in the Boston Globe. But I came across the story first in a long YouTube interview of May Pang. She seems to have done lots of long interviews, but that was the first one I heard, and it started with her describing that day.

One thing I learned, listening to several of these interviews, was that John Lennon smoked Gauloises around that time. And May Pang hated the smell of them, and made him smoke them on the balcony outside the one-room flat they shared on East 52nd street, overlooking the East River.

And in one interview (the one linked to above) May Pang said that when he finally went back to Yoko Ono after 18 months, it was originally for him to try a hypnosis cure for smoking. He just never came back.

All of which said that anti-smoking was pretty well advanced in NYC by as early as 1974, in the chicest of chic circles. And John Lennon came over as a man who was passed from one woman to another, almost like a fashion item: it was Yoko Ono’s idea for him to have have an affair with May Pang after she’d been working a few years at Apple – something she didn’t want to do.

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Stanton Glantz Faces Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Hat tip Walt: It must be Christmas or something.

A former UC San Francisco doctoral researcher Wednesday filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by a prominent tobacco control activist and tenured UCSF professor Stanton Glantz that spanned nearly two years.

The lawsuit also alleges that Glantz retaliated against his former mentee, Eunice Neeley, after she complained about him to the university’s administration by removing Neeley’s name from a research paper.

Neeley accused Glantz of consistent inappropriate behavior that included staring at her body, making comments directed at Neeley referencing sex, making sexual remarks about other women to Neeley while at the workplace, and making racist remarks about Neeley, who is black.

The UCSF Board of Regents is named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court for allegedly failing to take action against Glantz after Neeley notified the university about the harassment.

A spokesperson for the university declined to comment about the allegations, citing UCSF policy that prohibits comment on “pending litigation or active investigations,” but said that an internal investigation is pending.

In March, Neeley requested a new mentor, but claims that the harassment continued. After UCSF notified Glantz of its investigation against him, Neeley alleges that her former advisor insisted on being named as an author of her work, and ultimately removed her name from a research paper that he took credit for.

Neeley claims that the university’s failure to protect her and other women from the ongoing harassment “forced out of her job” in June.

According to Neeley’s lawyer, Kelly Armstrong, Glantz is a current employee of UCSF. He rose to prominence for his research on the effects of secondhand smoke on the heart, and has authored numerous publications on secondhand smoke and tobacco control.

Neeley purports that Glantz used his tenure to intimidate his students from reporting his sexual harassment and emotional abuse. According to the lawsuit, Glantz was known to have told multiple students that as a tenured professor, “You can rape the vice chancellor’s daughter and still have a job.”

According to the lawsuit, Neeley was subjected to unwanted sexual advances during her first contact with Glantz, who interviewed her for a position with UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Research and Education in September 2015.

During the initial job interview, Neeley noticed that Glantz allegedly smiled while spending “several seconds leering at her chest” — a behavior that continued throughout Neely’s two-year employment at UCSF, according to the lawsuit…

Somehow, I’m not surprised. Tobacco Control is all about control, and it sounds like Stanton Glantz is as controlling and bullying and manipulative in his personal life as he is in his professional life.

And does UCSF’s vice chancellor have a daughter? And has she been raped? And has the perpetrator not yet been apprehended? If so, Glantz has to be a prime suspect.

It’s only been two months since Harvey Weinstein became the first high profile casualty of the current wave of sexual allegations. It sounds like that wave has become something of a tsunami, if it’s started to sweep through the professorial ranks in universities.

It also seems to suggest that there are large areas of public life where there are a lot of people who regard themselves as above the law. What’s surprising is the speed with which they are now falling from grace. Harvey Weinstein seems to have been dead and buried within days.

And there seems to be multiple knock-on effects developing as these people take a fall. The dismissal of NBC’s Matt Lauer seems to have sent shock waves through the organisation, and had staffers turning on new arrival Megyn Kelly when she attempted to profit from it.

I suppose another thing that’s interesting about this story is the amount of print that the SF Examiner devoted to it. They could have just had a one line story. Instead they’ve filled a page. Sounds like somebody wants this story to run. He couldn’t have enemies, could he?

It’s good that there are some other women who’ve apparently been subjected to similar unwanted attention from the fat slob. Maybe that’ll help the charges to stick.

Neeley claims that other female employees were also targeted by Glantz, and complained to Neeley that “the leering made them uncomfortable.”

The lawsuit alleges that the university was made aware of Glantz’s misconduct but failed to “take meaningful action to protect Neeley and other females from further sexual harassment.”

Armstrong said that Neeley wasn’t the only victim of Glantz’s misconduct.

“We believe there are multiple witnesses and victims to the sexual harassment by Glantz,” she said.

Armstrong said that Neeley suffered “significant emotional distress” due to her former advisor’s “egregious conduct.”

While declining to specify the damages that Neeley is seeking, Armstrong said the number is “significant.”

No worries. They can just stick another $2 on the price of tobacco in California.

P.S. The story has made it to Buzzfeed. Included is a link to the lawsuit. It’s a rampant problem in the University of California:


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Green Tyranny

My copy of Rupert Darwall’s Green Tyranny (2017) arrived yesterday, and I’ve begun leafing through it. On the cover it says that it is “Exposing the totalitarian toots of the climate industrial complex”, but it might better have said “Exposing the Nazi roots of the Green movement.” For on page 2 it mentions

“the Nazi belief that industrialisation was causing a cancer epidemic.”

And on page 6 it has:

“The Nazis became the first political party in the world to promote wind energy”

And on page 8:

“Why solar? The sun had an important place in Nazi symbolism. The Green’s sunflower logo was designed by a former Nazi: Joseph Beuys.

And on page 30:

“Mankind’s subservience to the commands of nature provides the connecting thread between Nazism and modern-day environmentalism, and represents a radical rejection of the Enlightenment’s belief in progress”

Page 32:

“As an approximation, subtract Nazi race-hate, militarism, and desire for world conquest, then add global warming, and Nazi ideology ends up looking not dissimilar to today’s environmental movement”

Page 37:

“Nazi public health policies incorporated Liek’s view that cancer was a disease of civilisation – that is, caused by lifestyle choices and industrial pollution. Nazi slogans proclaimed. “Your body belongs to the nation”… As Hitler once put it, “Why nationalise industry when you can nationalise the people?” On another occasion, Hitler told an aide that “reforming the human lifestyle” was more important to him than politics.”

“Despite being a militant antismoker – Hitler once attributed giving up cigarettes to his being the salvation of the German people – the regime failed to stop the rise in German tobacco consumption.”

On page 40, however, Darwall reveals that he’s not in favour of smoking either. After connecting Silent Spring author Rachel Carson to  Wilhelm Hueper and Erwin Liek, he asks:

“Were Liek, Hueper, and Carson right? Omitted from Carson’s reservoir of carcinogens is the one that has killed far and away the largest number of people – the humble tobacco leaf… Carson’s war on industrial society was, like the Nazis’ before it, motivated by ideological zealotry, not by evidence.”

The book connects up all the Nazi dots: Wind power. Solar energy. Hatred of industry. Public Health. Lifestyle reform. Vegetarianism. Ubiquitous carcinogens in more or less everything. And of course antismoking. Darwall may as well have written (but did not): Modern environmentalism = Nazism. For, coming up on a century later, Nazism remains oddly modern, given that many of its tenets have been adopted into public consciousness, usually as unquestionable truths.

And not even Darwall can bring himself to call into question the Nazi antismoking doctrines which now prevail in Public Health throughout the world. And of course it is difficult to question it in a world in which we are constantly being told that Smoking kills:

Nazism is perhaps just a reflection or expression of a modern mood of deep anxiety – perhaps even panic – about the highly industrialised and monetised  human society that has emerged over the past few centuries. It’s a nostalgia for the lost stability of a simple and bucolic life rooted in a landscape of fields and trees and rivers. The Enlightenment dream of Progress is felt to have been a mirage. Life hadn’t got any better: it had got worse. We were all now facing imminent catastrophe, either by nuclear war or global warming or maybe just the ubiquitous carcinogens present in even the breath we exhale. Page 39, quoting Rachel Carson:

“The most determined effort should be made to eliminate these carcinogens that now contaminate our food, our water supplies, and our atmosphere, because these provide the most dangerous type of contact – minute exposures, repeated over and over through the years.”

This is the homeopathic notion that the more minute the exposures, and the longer they are repeated, the more dangerous they are. Fear of secondhand smoke is a modern homeopathic doctrine. Don’t worry about that gun in the gunman’s hand: worry about the cigarette in his mouth. And this is why the WHO’s priority is to stamp out smoking rather than Ebola or Zika or resurgent Black Plague.

The irrationality of this really grows out of our own inability to understand the world in which we live. We don’t understand industry. We don’t understand money. We don’t understand cancer. We don’t understand climate. We don’t even know what’s better and what’s worse. Our misunderstanding is our irrationality. And because we don’t understand much, we are largely irrational in more or less everything we do. And Nazism is the perfect expression of this kind of irrationality.

Some other fragments from the book caught my attention: On page 36, Hitler is quoted:

“What was once accident must become planned. We must do away with accident.”

For this another collision, between a free and spontaneous society and a planned and regimented one. For our modern Nazis in Public Health are busy planning what we will all eat and drink, and how much of it we will be allowed. We won’t be allowed to smoke anything, of course. And our cars will be replaced with electric ones, and the electricity will be generated by windmills. And in that planned world, all freedom will vanish completely.  It will be the most perfect green tyranny.


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