Did Telephones Raise Longevity?

Longevity is everything, these days. The only point in life is to live as long as possible. Nothing else matters.

Oddly enough, the supremacy of longevity has come at a time when people have been starting to live longer anyway. That’s to say that people haven’t been living longer as a consequence of this new supremacy of longevity in medicine, but rather that the supremacy of longevity is a consequence of a surprising new longevity.

And maybe that’s quite easy to explain. As people live longer, more and more healthcare provisions go into hip replacements and heart surgery and old folks’ homes and nursing homes. An entire industry has grown up that just keeps people alive longer and longer. And in this new industry, longevity is everything. Nothing else matters. And the values of this burgeoning new industry seep into the entire medical profession, the entire public health profession, and from thence permeate all political and  cultural life.

And it’s a perfectly viable industry. A lot of these old people are quite wealthy and have good pensions, and they’re prepared to pay handsomely to stay alive. In addition, the state has stepped in to ensure that poorer people get something approximately equivalent too.

Smoking bans are another expression of this new supremacy of longevity. If people don’t smoke, they’ll live a few years longer. Same if they don’t drink. And do some exercise. And keep their weight down. And those few extra years or months are all that matters. And this new imperative is now spilling out of hospitals and care homes, first into the grounds around them, and then into adjacent streets, like a metastasising cancer.

But why are people living longer than they used to do? In the past when I’ve thought about it, I’ve assumed that it was largely because they were better fed and better housed. But thinking some more about it today, I’ve come up with a different explanation.

In my experience, most of the people I’ve known throughout my life  – regardless of whether they were fat or thin, smoked, drank, or slept around – were perfectly healthy people most of the time. They only ever wound up in hospitals as a result of accidents like car crashes or sporting injuries. That’s been true of me too. The only time I ended up in a hospital was when I came off a motorbike and slid along a London street, cracking my elbow in the process. The next time I was in hospital, about 30 years later, was when I was offered pioneering keyhole surgery for a mild hernia. I wasn’t sure I really needed it, but accepted the offer, and spent one night in hospital.

For most people, in my experience, pretty much all the health problems start late in life. In her sixties my otherwise healthy mother began to suffer from arthritis which slowly got worse. And around the age of 65, my father started to suffer from what used to be called maturity onset diabetes. But both continued to live active lives.

Their first hospital encounter came when my father fell in the garden and broke his hip, and had a hip replacement op, and took a while getting back on his feet again.

Their next hospital encounter came when my father had a stroke, which left him as vigorously strong as he’d always been, but unable to speak. He spent the next 18 months or so in nursing homes until he died aged 79.

Recently, in the light of revelations about Hillary Clinton, I’ve begun to wonder whether “stroke” wasn’t so much cause as effect. I wasn’t there that day, but my father had driven himself that morning to a hospital to start a course in radiotherapy for incipient bladder cancer, and then driven himself all the way back – a 40 mile round trip. That was probably a pretty exhausting experience. And so when he got home, and my mother called him to the dining room for lunch, this exhaustion (combined with an unsteadiness on his feet I’d previously noticed) may have been the reason why he lost his footing, and fell down, and banged his head against a wall or bookcase or door, and started the internal bleeding that was diagnosed as a stroke. i.e. the stroke quite likely was a consequence of taking a heavy fall, rather than the fall being the consequence of the stroke. Which is what happened with Hillary Clinton some years ago.

In the case of both my father’s falls, ambulances pretty soon arrived at their country home. And that was because my parents had a telephone. It was really modern communication systems – the telephone – that allowed my father to live an extra 14 years.

It was that, and not any advances in medicine, that prolonged his life. For there have been relatively few medical advances. There was no treatment for my mother’s arthritis. And no treatment (apart from dietary changes) for my father’s diabetes. And probably no effective treatment for his incipient bladder cancer. And no treatment for his stroke. The only really effective medical innovation was hip replacement.

And if lots of people have suddenly begun living quite a lot longer, it’s probably because when something happens to them, modern communications now allow them to get help quickly. But that help, when it quickly arrives, is really not much better than it was 100 years ago – because ageing, dementia, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, are not really much better understood than they were back then.

I think it’s interesting that in the case of both my parents, falling down and breaking something was actually the main threat to their lives. For about 10 years after my father’s second fall my mother fell and broke her hip as well, and I suspect it caused a slight stroke that left her a bit dotty for the rest of her life. It was also the main threat to the life of an old lady who once acted in loco parentis for me, and who fell out of bed one night, broke a leg, and died two days later.

The first telephones appeared in the UK in about 1880. Public telephone kiosks first seem to have started appearing on UK streets in 1920.  The first UK ambulance service started in 1890, most likely because hospitals had begun to be called by telephone, and told about accidents or injuries, and began to see a need for a rapid response. And if the NHS is now overloaded, it’s because over the subsequent century telephones gradually became ubiquitous, and everyone’s got one in their back pocket. Everyone lives longer, and everyone dies of diseases of old age, which hardly anyone used to die of. The epidemic of cancer in the UK, first noted around 1930, was quite likely one of these consequences of the new telephone-assisted longevity.


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Just One Cough

I’ve been thinking of watching the upcoming Clinton-Trump debate tomorrow night  online.

But I’ve decided against it because I’m not sure where to watch it, and it’s going to start at 2 am UK time. But also if I did watch, I’d only be watching to see whether Hillary a) shows up, b) remains standing throughout, c) doesn’t have a coughing fit, d) doesn’t have a head-nodding fit, e) doesn’t have any other outage. That’s really all I want to see.

And if she doesn’t do any of those, regardless of what gets said, I’ll call it a debate win for Hillary, because she’ll have shown that she really can do it, refuting the claims that have surrounded her over the past few weeks. But if there’s just one cough, she loses the debate, and most likely the election too.

So if I did watch the debate, I’d probably watch with the sound off anyway. And what’s the point of doing that?

So best leave it to other people to watch and report (if anyone else is going to watch), and leave a comment like “She sailed through without any problem”, or “She started coughing 10 minutes in, and then fell down, and Donald Trump went over and helped her back onto her feet.” Then I can read the verdict the next morning. There’ll be lots of YouTube videos of it all anyway.

A few years ago, I tried to discover more about how the singer Jeff Buckley had mysteriously died by drowning while swimming in a Mississippi tributary. I didn’t learn very much, and remained puzzled. But yesterday I found several new accounts of his death, including this one in Wikipedia:

On the evening of May 29, 1997, Buckley’s band flew to Memphis intending to join him in his studio there to work on the newly written material. The same evening, Buckley went swimming in Wolf River Harbor, a slack water channel of the Mississippi River, while wearing boots and all of his clothing and singing the chorus of the song “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. Buckley had gone swimming there several times before. A roadie in Buckley’s band, Keith Foti, remained onshore. After moving a radio and guitar out of reach of the wake from a passing tugboat, Foti looked up to see that Buckley had vanished. Despite a determined rescue effort that night, Buckley remained missing. On June 4, two locals spotted his body in the Wolf River near a riverboat, and he was brought to land.

In addition I read somewhere else that:

He was last seen floating on his back singing Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ before he disappeared.

And I finally realised what must have happened. Lying on his back in the water, singing (and with both ears underwater), Jeff Buckley simply didn’t hear the approaching tugboat. He had his mouth wide open as he sang. and the wake from the tugboat probably rolled right over him. And if he was inhaling between verses at the moment the water filled his open mouth, it would have been drawn into his lungs. With already reduced buoyancy from clothes and shoes, once underwater, he didn’t float back up. Without any air, and his lungs full of water, he was probably dead in seconds.

It all made perfect sense at last.

In retrospect, many of Jeff Buckley’s song lyrics seemed to prefigure his strange death, including Lover, You Should’ve Come Over below, which features “rain falling on funeral mourners”, “wake”, and “shoes filling up with water” in the first verses.

Aside from all that, it’s a great song that demonstrates his vocal range.

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Two Comments

A couple of comments got my attention. Comment by Rose:

Just found this again.

“…several years later he (Tony Blair) agonised about the smoking ban in public places and finally justified the move by suggesting:
“The public gave us permission to introduce the ban.”

The public did not.

“The survey was conducted by BMRB International using the BMRB Access Omnibus (telephone) survey between 20-22 January 2006. It involved 831 adults aged 16+ in England.”

Reported as –

ASH poll shows public support full smoking ban
31 January, 2006

“An opinion poll published by anti-smoking group ASH reveals that 70 per cent of the public support smoke-free legislation.
The poll asked 831 members of the public whether they supported a full ban rather than a partial ban based on food.”
“ASH director Deborah Arnott said: “The message to MPs could not be clearer. The public wants smoke-free legislation. They want it in England, just as they do in Scotland, Wales and in Northern Ireland.”

I knew that Blair said he’d “agonised” over the smoking ban. I also knew he’d said “The public gave us permission to introduce the ban.” But I didn’t know that the “permission” came in the form of an opinion poll of just 831 people.

It somehow goes to show how politicians, in the isolation of high office, get above themselves and make catastrophic choices that were easily avoidable. Like Angela Merkel’s personal decision to invite millions of Syrians to come and settle in Germany.

They then spend the rest of their lives trying to justify what they did.

Also a comment from Bandit1:

Bought my first vandalised (plain packaging) fags today. I didn’t know they were like that prior to purchase, because of course all tobacco products are shuttered from view in shops. Was quite an unwelcome surprise. Haven’t really studied the packs but a glance suggests the ‘warning’ messages on them have become yet more shrill and insistent. “QUIT NOW.”

Uh, yeah… fuck you.

The big price hike was something of a shock. The bizarre ‘packs must contain 20’ diktat explained most of it, but not all – the manufacturer/retailer had clearly taken the opportunity to increase the unit price too.

The last unwelcome surprise was seeing that the branding text on the cigarettes themselves had been Puritanised as well; plain black sans-serif.

Whereas the other aspects had annoyed / inconvenienced me, or depressed me in an abstracted way, this was chilling. It felt intensely personal, like a physical invasion of my personal space (I suspect that was the point?), and it felt vile. And it was a vivid, tangible reminder of how far the war on smokers had progressed, and a sign of what was still to come. Because more will come. These people will never stop, unless they’re stopped by force. My overriding thought, as I smoked that first vandalised cigarette, was how they would poison us without hesitation, just like people were poisoned during Prohibition.

I know that decency will prevail eventually, and all the destructive, Statist, anti-humanity measures will be swept away. But just how much damage will have been done by that point?

(similar comment from nisakiman)

“It felt intensely personal, like a physical invasion of my personal space.”  That reminds me of 1 July 2007, the day when the UK smoking ban came into effect. That also felt intensely personal. It resulted, later that day, in an explosion of rage in me. It’s a rage I still feel to this day, although I keep it bottled up now, because I don’t really want to die of apoplexy.

Perhaps the real purpose of the shutters is to prevent non-smokers seeing what they’re doing? In which case, the best thing to do will be to publicise them to the maximum. I’m planning to scan the first “plain” pack I buy, and publish it here, and get as many other people to reproduce it as possible. Non-smokers need to realise that if they can do this to tobacco, they can do it to anything. And since they’ve moved on to alcohol and sugar and fast food, it’s actually quite likely that they WILL start doing it to those products too.

Also I think that these images and messages say far more about the people who are creating them than they do about tobacco or smoking. They’re like deranged graffiti on a concrete underpass wall.

“QUIT NOW.” That’s like calling for someone to surrender. And I’m not ever going to surrender to these filthy people.

Tobacco Control must be destroyed.

Elsewhere, this Russian said pretty much exactly what I thought they were thinking.

Along similar lines, but another country:

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Winner and Losers

I’m probably going to be a bit obsessed with the US presidential election for the next month or so. It seems to me that it’s almost as important as the UK Brexit vote, perhaps even more so.

More and more people are suggesting that Hillary may not show up to the debate with Donald Trump on Monday (something I first suggested might happen on August 9). Infowars reports:

Now Infowars has received information from multiple high level sources detailing that if Hillary fails to show up at the first presidential debate, scheduled to be the biggest in history, the democrats will force her to drop out of the race.

The democrats also began holding special meetings to find a possible replacement as media outlets wondered if Clinton would be well enough to continue her campaign.

Infowars has also reported that even the Washington Post has suggested that Hillary might drop out of the debates, claiming that she needs to recuperate from her bout of pneumonia until the end of October. But they didn’t provide a link.

And if she actually does show up, what are the chances of her managing to remain standing for the whole 90 minutes? Near zero, I suspect.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh quotes from a Peggy Noonan piece:

Peggy Noonan has a column today, and I can back this up; I’ve run into the same thing, too. She says it is phenomenal the number of people she knows who are gonna vote for Trump who don’t want anybody to know it, establishment types, political types, people that travel in her universe, from the Hamptons, to Manhattan, to wherever. But even when she’s traveling around just asking people that are not in the establishment, like at county fair type stuff, says she loves talking to strangers, and she asks them.

She says there’s so many people who will tell her that they’re voting for Trump but they don’t want anybody to know because there has been such a negative onslaught against Trump that there’s a, “I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear people complaining. I don’t want people calling me stupid.” She says it’s an incredible number. So there is that effect going on with all of this, too. None of that for Hillary. There isn’t any closet Hillary vote out there.

Quoting Noonan:

“The most arresting sentence of the week came from a sophisticated Manhattan man friendly with all sides.” …  “I asked if he knows what he’ll do in November. ‘I know exactly,’ he said with some spirit. ‘I will be one of the 40 million who will deny, the day after the election, that they voted for him. But I will.'”

So even if opinion polls are currently showing Clinton with a narrow lead, it could be that people aren’t telling pollsters the truth. The same thing happened with Brexit. The Remain propaganda was so intense and so negative that people just kept their mouths shut, and then went and voted Leave.

Personally I think that Trump is going to win in November. And I’ve thought that more or less since I first learned he was running. And one of the main reasons why I thought he was going to win was because he presented himself as a winner from the outset (and everyone else in the race as losers). And people want to back winners rather than losers. Everyone likes seeing their horse win. It was great to see Brexit win back in June. And Hillary Clinton is looking more and more like a loser.

I just wish I’d put a bet on Donald Trump back in July last year. I could probably have got 100:1 odds. He was regarded as a complete joke, but not by me.

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Start Smoking Again


Leonard Cohen has started smoking again, just like he said he would, as he releases a new album – You Want It Darker – at the age of 82.

I can see it becoming a trend: starting smoking again. And just like there were all those people who told you that they’d quit smoking with a smug grin, there’ll be people – maybe the same people – who’ll tell you, “You know what? I’ve started smoking again!” with a sly grin. And if you ask them why (as if you’ll need to ask why), they’ll say something like, “Life’s too short, and smoking is one of life’s pleasures, so why deny myself that pleasure? And anyway I don’t believe experts like I once did any more.”

And then smoking prevalence, which had been slowly falling, will start rising again. For when one person starts smoking again, others will follow.

And the reason why this is likely to happen is because smoking is supposed to be a thing of the past, like climate stability and patriotism and self-governing nation states with their own flags and languages and money. And when people turn their backs on globalism and the EU and climate change and fat-shaming and political correctness, and want to go back to the way things used to be, they’re going to want to start smoking again, because smoking was an integral part of that lost world they now want to restore. And people are more and more turning their backs on it.

His voice just gets deeper and deeper.

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Systematic Lying

Dick Puddlecote has picked up on Michael Siegel:

Helena Miracle? Not So Much; New Study Casts Doubt on Conclusions of Anti-Smoking Groups

The authors summarize the study as follows:

“We examine the association between county-level smoking-related hospitalization rates and comprehensive smoking bans in 28 states from 2001 to 2008. Differences-in-differences analysis measures changes in hospitalization rates before versus after introducing bans in bars, restaurants, and workplaces, controlling for cigarette taxes, adjusting for local health and provider characteristics. Smoking bans were not associated with acute myocardial infarction or heart failure hospitalizations, but lowered pneumonia hospitalization rates for persons ages 60 to 74 years.”

DP continues:

Despite the incontrovertible fact that heart attack “miracles” are impossible and utter junk, these deliberately mendacious studies turn up in every juridiction where smoking bans have been enacted and each is exactly the same; they are all – without exception – an exercise in tobacco control lying.

On the same day, in response to a recent fall in smoking prevalence, Chris Snowdon points out:

Deborah Arnott of the anti-smoking quango Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) attributed the fall in smoking, in part, to the government’s ban on ‘glitzy tobacco packaging’. She means plain packaging. Ms Arnott has spent the last five years of her life furiously lobbying for this silly piece of virtue signalling so it is no surprise that it is at the forefront of her mind, but the smoking prevalence figures were collected in 2015, whereas plain packaging was only introduced in May 2016, and hardly anybody has seen a plain pack yet because retailers are still selling old stock.

Dick Puddlecote’s piece has the title “Liars Always Get Found Out In The End”, and Chris Snowdon’s the title “The Victory of Vaping.”

I’m not sure that the liars will have been truly “found out” until they stop telling lies. And there is no sign of them doing this.

I have long since come to the conclusion that absolutely everything Tobacco Control says (and has ever said) is a lie. Their modus operandi would seem to be: 1) decide what conclusions you want your “study” to reach (e.g. smoking/vaping causes bubonic plague), 2) produce the “scientific study” that draws these predetermined conclusions, 3) publicise it as widely as possible in the mainstream media, and then 4) lobby politicians to paint red crosses on the doors of smokers’ houses, and bury the smokers in mass graves.

Unfortunately much the same methodology applies to any other field (e.g. climate change/global warming).

It’s also true in MSM reporting of the US Presidential election, where last weekend Hillary Clinton criticised Donald Trump for using the word “bombing”, while using it herself, and so CNN simply edited the video footage of her to remove her own use of the word. The MSM reporting of her 9/11 fall was also edited to make it seem like she merely “stumbled” slightly.

The mainstream media would seem to be constantly lying about absolutely everything. And I’ve begun to think that this was always its purpose anyway.

Since there’s no possibility whatsoever of preventing steps 1) and 2), the only way that I can see of stopping all the lying is for the mainstream media to lose all credibility and go bankrupt. That way there would be next to no possibility of the “studies” being used to lobby politicians.

And as best I understand it, public trust in the MSM is plummeting, and TV audiences are dwindling, and newspaper readership falling, as more and more people get their news and information from elsewhere (e.g. the internet). We seem to be moving towards a world where newspaper and TV reporters are being replaced by ordinary people with mobile phones who happen to be on the spot , and who upload videos to YouTube or elsewhere, which then propagate across the internet (and go viral if they’re picked up by Matt Drudge and other news gatherers) without any MSM involvement (and therefore no editing) whatsoever. But that might be wishful thinking on my part.

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Unneeded Nostalgia


I miss those smoke-filled days with people behaving badly


Let’s all pat ourselves on the back and celebrate by going for a brisk walk. According to Public Health England, smoking is at the lowest level on record. In the bell-bottomed, kohl-eyed, curly-permed 1970s, more than 50 per cent of British men, and 40 per cent of women, smoked. Now only a grubby 16.9 per cent of us continue to let the side down.

This dramatic reduction is due to a combination of the smoking ban, health education, plain packaging and e-cigarettes, and it’s obviously an excellent thing.

I know it is. Of course it is. And yet. Though it’s many years since I smoked (bang on trend), I still sometimes feel a nostalgic pang as I watch a ghostly curl of smoke emerge from the end of someone else’s cigarette, or catch myself inhaling deeply if someone passes me in the street, burning fag in hand.

It’s not the nicotine one misses so much as the easy camaraderie and the instantly accessible badness. When I was a very young journalist working in a very large magazine company, you sort of had to smoke if you were to have any chance of knowing what was going on. The smoking room was where you met people on other titles, gossiped about who was about to be sacked and where there might be another, less filing-dependent job, along in a minute.

It was really, genuinely team building in a way that a country house brainstorming day (dress casual) could never hope to be. In my twenties, it was with endless cheap and nerve-jangling 2am espressos on the pavement outside Bar Italia in Soho that my brain was well and truly stormed.

And it’s not just the smoking. We live increasingly in a puritanical age of juice crawls, kale cleanses and cereal cafés. It’s as though everyone is ashamed of themselves. Only exhaustion from all that yoga and mindfulness can be keeping the all-pervading sense of guilt at bay…

…In a recent documentary, Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue, it wasn’t the clear-eyed, glossy-maned, clever young women of the fashion desk who captured the viewers’ hearts, so much as fashion director Lucinda Chambers, who’s been at the title for 36 years.

She said: “When I started at Vogue, you’d go in and there would be clouds of Gitanes smoke and people with their feet on the desks. It was a much more heightened place, people weren’t beavering away, getting on with it, behaving well. People behaved badly. There’d be lots of hangovers and parties and it was much more rackety.”

Doesn’t that sound delicious? A world where we were brave and confident enough to get messy, behave badly, full of the optimistic certainty that it would all work out just fine in the end. That’s truly something to feel nostalgic about.

No need to just be nostalgic about it. The need is to recover our world from the grasp of the puritans, and restore that happy, messy, optimistic world.

It would help if she stopped feeling guilty. What does she feel guilty about? Has she become a puritan too? Perhaps that’s the problem with the puritans: they all feel guilty about everything.

I don’t.

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