Stealing Our Freedom

A little Idle Theory:

The One Good of Idle Theory is idle time, or free time. Freedom is free time, and it’s measured in hours. It’s what most working people experience at weekends. And a weekend is an extended Sunday sabbath day. It’s a day of religious observance that has expanded into a fuzzy period of not so much going to church, but instead sitting and watching TV.

In fact most working people have quite a lot of idle time during their working week. They’ll typically work about 8 hours a day, and then have 8 hours of free time in the evenings, and finally 8 hours of sleep.  So the whole 7 day week looks a bit like this:

Each of the 7 days of the week is broken into three 8-hour periods of time. And so a typical working week has 40 hours of work (black), 72 hours of idle time (white), and 56 hours of sleep (grey).

Sleep is something that everyone seems to have to do. It’s pretty much a fixture. In one sense, sleep is idle time: you’re not doing anything. But in another sense, sleep is work, because it’s something that has to be done, even though you’re not actually doing anything when you sleep. Sleep is compulsory inactivity.

So the waking week has 7 days of 16 hours each, totalling 112 hours. And during this period 72 hours are are spent idle. So working people are 72/112 or 64% idle.

I’m different. Now that I’m past the age of 65, and (semi-)retired, I’m 100% idle. Writing this blog isn’t work. Nobody pays me to write it.

Children under the age of 18 are also 100% idle. They may be going to school during the same hours that their parents are working, but they’re not working to produce anything like their parents are. The only people working in schools are the teachers who are trying to hammer a little knowledge into the schoolkids’ heads. They’re being paid, and the schoolkids aren’t.

And so, using the same colour-coding as above, a 70 year working lifetime looks a bit like this:

From age 0 – 18, children are 100% idle, and during their adult working lives they’re 64% idle, and after retirement at age 65 they’re 100% idle. And over their whole lifetime they’re 76% idle.

These are all very rough outline numbers. Everybody’s life is different. Some people work a lot more than 8 hours a day, and some people a lot less. Some people start their working lives earlier than at age 18, some later. Some people retire at age 60 or earlier, and some never retire at all.

In the past, it was very different. In Britain during the industrial revolution, factory workers sometimes worked 12 – 14 hours a day, and went home to simply fall asleep exhausted. And many of them were children much younger than 18.

In antiquity, slaves were kept busy working for their entire waking lives. They were 0% idle. In Athens there were 13 slaves for every free man. And so the idleness of Athenian society was about 7%.

If we live much idler lives these days, it’s almost entirely thanks to science and technology. We don’t need slaves because we have machines to do most of our work for us. For example, I’ve got a washing machine in which I wash my clothes. Outside my flat, I’ve got a car that I drive to supermarkets to go shopping. I’m writing this blog post using another machine.  I used once to have a TV set. None of these machines existed 100 years ago. Social idleness in advanced civilisation has risen from 7% to 76% over the past 2300 years. Economic growth is above all growth in social idleness.

Rich people are idle people. Someone who makes a fortune frees themselves of the necessity of doing any work. Donald Trump is a very rich man. He made his money by making and selling something: buildings. He’s not working as President of the United States because he needs the money. In fact he’s waived the salary that comes with the job. He’s doing the job because he wants to do it in his idle time, much like I write my blog because that’s what I want to do in my idle time.

And that’s the great thing about idle time. You can do whatever you want in it.

And one thing that people do in their idle time is make things that enable idle time to be passed more pleasantly. They make chess sets to play chess games. They make footballs to play football. They make movies for people to watch. Or music for people to listen to. Or write works of fiction for people to read, Or beer for people to drink. Or cigarettes for people to smoke. And they sell these various products to people who want them. If all our science and technology has liberated us from most of the work we used to have to do, we can then use the same science and technology to invent amusements and pastimes in which to happily fritter away our idle hours.

…unless we are banned from smoking. Or banned from drinking. Or banned from reading books. Or banned from listening to music.

Such bans remove freedom. They don’t add to it: they subtract from it. They hedge it around with restrictions.

Tobacco Control is a thief. It is stealing our freedom. It is attempting to enslave us.

And that’s why Tobacco Control must be destroyed.

Tomorrow I’ll continue looking at Tobacco Control’s smoking bans, but from a slightly different perspective, to show another way in which smoking bans subtract from freedom, rather than add to it.

Speaking of bloggers, Bucko the Moose has just started writing his blog again. I’ll add him to my blog roll. The more the merrier.



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Mathematical Warfare

Dick Puddlecote wrote yesterday:

I’ve long believed that e-cigs carry the potential to expose the lies and hypocrisy of tobacco control..

Well, he might be right. I’ve always thought that the rapidity with which TC deemed e-cigs to be just as bad as cigarettes, if not a lot worse, showed that they could produce convenient “research” findings more or less to order, at very short notice. It took about a half century before cigarettes were deemed to be health hazards: e-cigarettes were deemed hazardous almost as soon as they appeared.

E-cigarettes are a much better product than Big Pharma’s own NRT patches and gums, because users can enjoy them much like they enjoy cigarettes: they’re cigarettes in which the smoke has been replaced by vapour. If the pharma product was a bicycle, the e-cigarette is a motorbike: faster, louder, and sexier. And furthermore the e-cigarette motorbikes are rapidly-evolving into new shapes and sizes and  technologies.

TC tried to stamp out smoking, but in doing so they only succeeded in triggering the invention of multiple new ways of smoking. And some of the newly invented e-cigarettes produce far more “smoke” than any cigarette ever did. Instead of being “smoke-free”, the future looks set to be smokier than ever.

For myself, while I’m delighted at the appearance of hordes of e-cigarettes, and hope that they continue to evolve, I continue to prefer old-fashioned cigarettes – although I can imagine that it’s possible that e-cigarettes could evolve to become feather-light products with a completely invisible ‘smoke’ that is warmer and richer than any tobacco smoke ever was. It just hasn’t happened yet.

And also I no longer believe that cigarettes and pipes and cigars are anywhere near as dangerous as TC claims them to be. I think that the real objection of the antismokers to smoking was aesthetic: they didn’t like the look of it. Either that, or their objection to smoking is moral in nature: they didn’t think people should smoke because smoking was unnecessary, and indicated a certain kind of moral laxity and lack of self-restraint. But these aesthetic and moral objections have both been cloaked in a garment of medical objections: Smoking kills. Antismokers don’t like smoking, and think it’s immoral, but their aesthetic and moral arguments are very weak, so they employ a much more powerful medical argument instead.

But how strong are their medical arguments? It may be true that any number of senior doctors in the medical profession are fully convinced of the dangers of smoking, but to point this out is to make an empty appeal to authority. Such appeals to authority are also being made about Global Warming, when it’s said that 97% of climate scientists are convinced that climate change is being caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide. Why should we believe these climate scientists? Why should we believe doctors? Why should we believe someone just because they claim to possess expertise? Never mind your expertise: show me the evidence!

The odd thing about both the tobacco scare and the the global warming scare is that the underlying arguments they both put forward are mathematical in nature. The climate scientists constructed elaborate mathematical models of the atmosphere, and used them to predict global warming. And the doctors – Richard Doll and Ernst Wynder – produced statistical arguments to prove that smoking caused lung cancer.

How was it that they both succeeded in convincing so many people that they were right? The answer is very simple: nobody can do any mathematics, and so nobody can counter mathematical arguments. People gaze at the numbers and graphs, and their eyes just glaze over, and they surrender. The appearance of mathematical arguments has been a bit like the appearance of tanks on the battlefields of WW1: they just rolled right over the enemy trenches, and the enemy couldn’t stop them with rifles or machine-guns or hand grenades. It’s the same with mathematical arguments: nobody has any answer to them, and so they win.

But after WW1, both sides started developing new and better tanks. And so WW2 was fought with new and better tanks. And so, if history is to repeat itself, Tobacco Control (and Climate Science) will only be defeated by bigger and better mathematical arguments.

I’ve already done this to some extent with Climate Science, by constructing a variety of different atmospheric atmospheric models. My current favourite one of these is my bouncing air bubble model of the Earth’s atmosphere, which even demonstrated Global Warming as the air bubbles boiled off into space.

But last night I began wondering if I could develop some mathematical arguments against Tobacco Control using Idle Theory. For Idle Theory is a highly mathematical idea, and one that could be adapted to consider Public Health concerns. So last night I started to think about smoking and drinking and obesity from the perspective of Idle Theory. I even got hold of a few numbers, and sketched out a few graphs. I began to piece together some new mathematical arguments that might be successfully employed in mathematical warfare. And I began to wonder whether Idle Theory might carry the potential to expose the lies and hypocrisy of Tobacco Control, in a completely new way.

I’m far from convinced, but it’s a new idea, a new approach – just like the Smoky Drinky Bar is a new idea, and a new approach.

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The More Voices The Louder

I’m always glad to welcome a new smoker’s blog, particularly one by someone who has been a regular commenter on my blog for many years: Nisakiman.

Such people are not competitors: they are companions or co-conspirators, and the more of them the better. Everyone has their own unique point of view. The more opinions the better. The more voices the louder.

Naturally I’ll be adding the new blog to my blog roll, and I look forward to visiting it regularly,

Nisakiman has also been a visitor to the Smoky Drinky Bar, here shown in action a week or so ago, courtesy of Emily (top left):

The Smoky Drinky Bar is only ever recorded on video by prior agreement with the participants, because not everybody wants their faces shown in public on YouTube.

It’s been going for over a month now, and during that time we’ve even had a couple of “parties” with everyone smoking and drinking and chatting just like in a real party, even though all the participants are in widely separated geographical locations. Emily lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Brigitte in Liverpool, England. John in Lancashire, England. And myself in Herefordshire, England. It’s rather amazing that we can all chat to each other as if we were in the same room. And also have people drop in and out just like in a real pub.

Over the past month I’ve had the novel experience (for me) of meeting new people and making new friends, more or less for the first time since I was exiled to the outdoors, and expelled from society, by the UK smoking ban of 1 July 2007 – the 10th anniversary of which fell on the day of one of our “parties”, during which I consumed an entire bottle of champagne to celebrate our “virtual overthrow” of the ban.

One result of spending several hours in the Smoky Drinky Bar almost every day for a month since its opening is that I’ve been spending every morning writing my blog, and very often every evening in the bar, leaving little or no time to do anything else. And so now I’ve reduced my visits to the bar, and at the moment I’m generally only going there on Friday and Saturday nights from about 7 pm UK time onwards, because the weekends are the time when most working people are free to visit (just like real pubs). But this does mean that during the week the bar is frequently empty, or almost empty (again just like real pubs). At the moment the bar has about 25 members, of which about 10 are “regulars” who drop in quite frequently. There have been about 25 additional people who have dropped in once or twice, perhaps just to see what this novel kind of bar was like. We may need to arrange times to meet up, and also arrange a few more “parties”.

I’m hoping that over time we can build up a clientele of smokers and vapers from all over the world, and in this manner begin to unite the world’s smokers. For the more that dispersed and isolated smokers can talk to each other, and be readily welcomed by each other, the stronger and more self-assured we will each get, and the more united we will all become. There are some 1,500 million smokers in the world, and if just 1.5 or 15 million could unite into a semi-coherent movement, we would become a very powerful political voice in the world to counter-act the satanic forces of Tobacco Control now rampaging loose everywhere.

In other news, Ella Whelan on Spiked lays into “the professional killjoys” in ASH over their silly, interfering complaints about smoking on Love Island:

What ASH and other anti-smoking charities want to do is pretend that no one smokes. Love Island was screened nightly at 9pm – after the watershed – and is quite obviously a show for adults. These cigarette censors can’t fathom the idea that some adults still smoke – and enjoy it. They despise the idea of ordinary people making decisions for themselves without being prodded and poked by public-health fanatics.

See also Smoking May Protect Lungs From Cancer:

Every year, thousands of medical doctors and other members of the “Anti-Smoking Inquisition” spend billions of dollars perpetuating what has unquestionably become the most misleading though successful social engineering scam in history. With the encouragement of most western governments, these Orwellian lobbyists pursue smokers with a fanatical zeal that completely overshadows the ridiculous American alcohol prohibition debacle, which started in 1919 and lasted until 1933.

Nowadays we look back on American prohibition with justifiable astonishment. Is it really true that an entire nation allowed itself to be denied a beer or scotch by a tiny group of tambourine-bashing fanatics? Sadly, yes it is, despite a total lack of evidence that alcohol causes any harm to humans, unless consumed in truly astronomical quantities.

Although there is no direct link between alcohol and tobacco, the history of American prohibition is important, because it helps us understand how a tiny number of zealots managed to control the behavior and lives of tens of millions of people. Nowadays exactly the same thing is happening to smokers at the hands of government zealots and ignorant medical practitioners….

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Laughing As They Die

This stuck in mind: the story about the kids who laughed and jeered while a disabled man drowned.

In a news story that sounds like something from Mad Max, a group of Florida teenagers who filmed themselves laughing and cracking jokes while a disabled man drowned, and then left the scene without telling anybody, will face criminal charges after all…

The callous crime, which is vaguely reminiscent of the infamous Kitty Genovese slaying in New York City, is indicative of a trend that has been bothering older Americans since the first signs began emerging in the early 90s. The contemporary breakdown in communal responsibility, fostered by smartphones and digitization of daily life, where violent videos inure children to death and violence. The boys can be heard in the video discussing Dunn’s impending death. One of the boys teased another about being scared to see a dead body, the boy replies “I ain’t scared to see no dead person.”…

“He started to struggle and scream for help and they just laughed,” Martinez said. “They didn’t call the police. They just laughed the whole time. He was just screaming … for someone to help him.” The teenagers didn’t stop joking about Dunn when he failed to surface in the water.

I think it stuck in mind because the way those kids treated the drowning disabled man reminded me of the way smokers are being treated: smokers have been evicted from society (tossed in the pond), and left to drown, while everyone ignores them, and just watches it happen, unmoved. In fact, they even laugh at them. It’s another contemporary breakdown in communal responsibility.

My attitude to the antismokers in Tobacco Control is that they’re worse than those Florida kids, because they’ve tossed hundreds of millions of people in the pond, and left them to drown. And probably those kids didn’t actually toss the disabled man in the pond. And although the smokers aren’t actually drowning, they’ve been “exiled to the outdoors”, and thereby placed in a danger – and in a danger far greater than any danger posed by their innocuous smoke.

The story raised a few other questions. How did the disabled man get to be floating in the middle of a pond in the first place? How deep was the pond? And could the kids swim? If you see someone drowning in a pond, should you always jump in and try to save them, even if you can’t swim? Might there be some element missing from this story – like, for example, that the drowning man was the kids’ hated math teacher?

Somehow or other this story got linked to the interview by Sam Harris of Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist and blogger. They were discussing Donald Trump from opposing points of view. Sam Harris thought that Trump was a “con man” and worse, while Adams thought he was a “Master Persuader.” Their two-hour conversation seemed remarkable to me in that neither man ever lost his cool (at least not during the first hour, which is all I’ve heard so far). The context was that Sam Harris wanted to hear someone defend the Trump that he personally thought indefensible, and Scott Adams had been drawn to his attention as a notable admirer of Trump: they were enemies meeting during a temporary ceasefire. They didn’t know each other.

Sam Harris took a high moral view of Trump. He saw him as con man, a braggart, a sleaze. He regarded him as a deeply immoral man – in fact the empty husk of a man. Scott Adams, by contrast, didn’t seem to see Trump in any moral terms at all. He judged Trump for how effective he was.

Listening to the podcast, it seemed to me that Sam Harris’ Trump was an imaginary man, a sort of monstrous caricature of a man, to whom the real Donald Trump bore little or no relation. One of Trump’s innumerable crimes, in Sam Harris’ view, was that he was cosying up to a Vladimir Putin who was well known to be an utter monster. Well, Putin may well be a monster. All sorts of stories get told about him. But all sorts of stories get told about Trump. All sorts of stories get told about everybody. And I’m someone who tends not to believe these sort of stories. I tend to judge people by what I know about them, not by what other people claim to know about them. And I’ve not seen Trump do anything really horrible yet. Nor Putin either. So it seemed to me that Sam Harris was probably someone who believed everything he was told. He probably believes in global warming, because he believes whatever any experts tell him. He’s probably an antismoker too.

And although he didn’t come over as much of a Hillary Clinton supporter, his high moral tone reminded me of her and her “deplorables”. Trump was one of those deplorables. And Sam Harris deplored him too. He probably wouldn’t have minded if she’d been elected president.

I take the opposite view. I think Hillary Clinton is utterly despicable. Far more so than Donald Trump. Why? Because she’s a virulent antismoker, just like Michael Bloomberg and countless other Abhorrent Toads. And these people, in my view, have thrown smokers into an outdoor pond, and are standing around watching them slowly dying, and laughing at them as they die. They think very highly of themselves, but I think they should face criminal charges for what they have done.

P.S. I’ve been listening to the second half of the discussion, and Sam Harris (around the 1 hour 30 minute mark) more or less said that you have to believe the climate scientists when they tell you that anthropogenic global warming poses a global threat, just like you have to believe 97% of oncologists when they tell you that smoking causes lung cancer. The guy does indeed believe everything the experts tell him.

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I was thinking yesterday that antismoking zealots have profound contempt for smokers. It takes a most profound contempt for smokers to expel them all from their clubs and bars and cafes. And then, having expelled them from those places, to go on to expel them from even more places yet. Smoking bans are expressions of contempt for smokers.

The antismokers really do regard smokers as vermin. They absolutely hate them.

Some smokers internalise this contempt, and hate themselves. But I don’t internalise the contempt: I  hate the antismokers back with an equal and opposite contempt.

But I was also thinking yesterday that the war on smokers was a class war.  The UK smoking ban was first called for in 2004 by Sir Charles George, who was the then director of both the BMA and the BHF. This man was part of the British aristocracy. That’s what having “Sir” in front of your name means. And he was calling for a war to be launched upon the British working class, in which most of Britain’s smokers are found. So in the UK the war on smokers is a class war by the British upper classes on the British lower classes.

This also reminded me that Britain has historically been rather famous for its class system – although in my experience as an Englishman, I’ve seen very little of it. And I probably never saw very much of it because I grew up during the last years of the British Empire, during which time a great many of Britain’s upper classes lost their colonial fortunes, and could no longer maintain their large country houses, and had to sell them off. The British aristocracy was decimated. And these days you hardly ever see Lord and Lady This, or Lord and Lady That, making headlines in the newspapers. Post-imperial Britain has been a far more egalitarian society than imperial Britain ever was.

And I thought that Britain’s class system was mostly likely the expression of contempt: the British upper classes had contempt for the British lower classes, and vice versa. And the upper classes had contempt for the lower classes because they regarded themselves as better than them in every possible way. They saw themselves as superior beings. And furthermore, being more or less Masters of the Universe as overseers of the sprawling British empire, they saw themselves as being superior to absolutely everyone in the world. So their contempt for everybody was accordingly even greater than it would otherwise have been. And this was probably why Britain’s class system was so famous worldwide: the contempt for those at the bottom by those at the top was never so great anywhere else. The contempt – and the accompanying class system – only began to vanish when the British upper classes ceased to be Masters of the Universe, and could no longer look down on everyone else, because they were now re-joining them as equals.

It was probably the same in ancient Rome, at the height of the Roman empire, when Julius Caesar was a politician of the Populares (people’s) party, and was fighting with politicians in the Optimates party. What does “optimate” mean? It means “best”. For the Optimates were the Roman upper classes, and they probably regarded themselves as much the very best people as the British upper classes ever did at the height of the British empire. And they probably treated everyone else with complete and perfect contempt.

Class systems emerge, it would seem, whenever great power and wealth become concentrated anywhere. And today most of the power and wealth in the world is concentrated in the USA, and to a lesser extent in Europe. And so it’s in the USA and Europe that a new class system has emerged. In Europe the new aristocracy has its headquarters in Brussels, and it regards its empire as consisting of the whole of Europe. And, as ever, the aristocrats in the EU have the most complete and perfect contempt for their European subject peoples.

It’s no different in the USA. Hillary Clinton is a member of the US aristocracy. She’s very rich, and very powerful. And she was the aristocrats’ presidential candidate last year. And she fully expected to win the presidency. She thought it was going to be a shoo-in. It was even widely touted as an upcoming “coronation.”

And just like aristocrats everywhere, Hillary Clinton has profound contempt for the US lower orders. She even has her own special name for them: the “deplorables.” And she even declared that there was an entire “basket” of these deplorables, by which she meant that there were all sorts of different kinds of deplorable people. And one of the kinds of people she deplored, of course, were smokers (currently, it’s more or less de rigueur for aristocrats everywhere to deplore smoking and smokers). And Donald Trump, the rough-spoken presidential candidate who actually did win, was another kind of deplorable, even if he was very rich. It was completely unthinkable to the US aristocracy to even imagine that a deplorable like Donald Trump could ever become President. And, now that he has, they can’t stop showering him with the contempt they have for him. They think that the presidency rightfully belongs to them – to the “best” people.

There are lots of examples of the way that these new aristocrats treat people with contempt. In Europe, the decision of the EU aristocracy to import millions of people from Africa and the Middle East displays the most perfect contempt with which they regard their own people’s cultures and traditions. In the USA, the neocon quest for global military supremacy displays the most perfect contempt for anyone (Russians in particular) who would dare thwart their ambitions. And this boundless contempt is also expressed to everyone by habitual lying. For to lie to people is to express contempt for them. And so they lie about smoking. And they lie about global warming. They lie about everything, all the time. And they lie because they think that the contemptible deplorables don’t need to be told the truth, even about matters that intimately concern them. And another feature of this contempt is that the aristocracy will not listen to anyone whom they hold in contempt: they will listen to nobody’s advice but their own. And this guarantees that they will do more and more foolish things.

But if these new aristocrats hold everyone else in perfect contempt, it also follows that they are increasingly being regarded with equal and opposite contempt by more and more of the people whom they claim to represent (but whom they actually order around as if they were their servants).

It can’t last. When the American colonists revolted against British rule in 1776, it was a revolt which was almost certainly exacerbated by the perfect contempt with which the British crown and aristocracy had been treating them. And when the French revolution broke out a few decades later, it was probably exacerbated by the perfect contempt with which the French king and his attendant aristocracy were treating the French people. For contempt breeds counter-contempt, as night follows day.

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Toad Island

H/T Rose for the news that the Abhorrent Toad has been complaining about smoking on the reality TV show Love Island.

In its letter to Ofcom, seen by the Observer, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said: “I consider it reasonable to require programme-makers to have very strong justifications for showing smoking in a programme likely to be seen by young people, particularly if it depicts smoking by glamorous and attractive characters or people. I have seen no such justification in this case.”

An ITV spokesman responded: “The islanders are only shown smoking if this happens at the same time as they are having conversations we believe to be editorially important to the narrative of the show.” ITV insists that the contestants’ cigarettes are contained in plain white packs so that the show will not be seen to be promoting one brand. The Ofcom Code prohibits product placement of cigarettes or other tobacco products.

Isn’t reality TV supposed to reflect reality? And isn’t it the reality that a lot of people like to smoke, particularly in those social contexts where boy meets girl?

And isn’t it that these reality TV shows aren’t scripted? The participants aren’t reading lines. The Toad’s complaint might have been justified if Love Island was a scripted situation comedy, because the producers would have been putting words into the actors’ mouths, and cigarettes into their hands, and so been “promoting” smoking. But the producers aren’t making the participants say anything or do anything. They make cigarettes available to the participants, but they don’t tell them to smoke them. If the Toad is going to complain to anybody, shouldn’t it be to Chloe Crowhurst, left, and Amber Davies, right?

And isn’t it telling that the participants seem to only ever say anything “editorially important” – i.e. interesting – when they’re smoking?

The Toad’s particular complaint had been about the tobacco packets that are shown:

Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) is questioning why the contestants’ cigarettes are contained in plain white packs which hide the highly visible – and distinctly unglamorous – graphic health warnings that carry pictures of diseased lungs and references to male impotence.

But doesn’t this reflect the reality that many smokers don’t like these ugly packets, and so put their cigarettes or tobacco in another container? I do that myself all the time, keeping my tobacco in a tin without any brand name or health warnings on it. And when Dick Puddlecote dropped into the Smoky Drinky Bar last week, he had his cigarette pack contained inside a (very nice) larger Marlboro pack, which seemed to even have a magnetic snap lock on its lid. There were no health warnings on the larger pack, of course. Will Tobacco Control next be demanding that health warnings be added to such packs, which are presumably not being manufactured by Philip Morris? Or being manufactured under licence from Philip Morris (If Philip Morris manufactured cars as well as tobacco, would their cars have to carry health warnings?)?

Isn’t the Smoky Drinky Bar a sort of reality TV show? Is the Toad going to show up there too, and demand that all the cigarette ads be stripped from its walls, along with the No Antismoking signs and the Deborah Arnott dartboard and the ashtray(s) on the tables?

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New Weapons for New Wars

In their own eyes, I’m sure that antismoking zealots think they’re doing good, and making the world a better place. They think the world would be a better place without tobacco. They think people would live longer and healthier lives without it. They probably also think that people would live longer and healthier lives without a long list of other things as well.

But how do they know what’s ‘good’ or what’s ‘better’? As far as I can see, all they have done is to equate goodness with longevity. For them, the best life is simply the longest life. And if tobacco or alcohol or sugar or salt or anything else they care to mention can be shown to reduce the longevity of human life in the slightest way, that is sufficient grounds for it to be banned outright or punitively taxed.

Nothing else matters. Longevity is the god they worship, and it’s an old and sick and ruined god, that’s only kept alive on a life support system. Nothing else matters: not truth or happiness or honour or compassion or friendship or community. Those things don’t matter at all. Longevity is the only thing that matters. And everything else must be sacrificed on the altar of the golden calf of longevity.

To me it seems morally vacuous. Too much is being sacrificed. Longevity is really only one good among many. There are lots and lots of good things. And maybe that’s why in antiquity there were lots and lots of gods, each of which was accorded their appropriate consideration. But in our monotheist era, there can only ever be one god. And right now that god is called Longevity, and it is everyone’s duty to live as long as they possibly can. Everything else can go to hell. And everything else has gone to hell.

We live in an age of moral confusion. Healthism is a product of that confusion. It’s a new religious cult, much like the cult of Isis or Attis or Cybele in antiquity, and its adherents are as fanatical as any of theirs.

Some people would say (and do say) that our moral confusion is the result of the decline of religion – specifically Christianity – in Western Society, and we have lost our way, and need to rediscover our Christian roots.

But was the Christian era really ever one of notable moral rectitude? Did men behave any better then than in any time before or after? And how does one measure moral rectitude? Were Buddhists any worse than Christians, or any better?

Isn’t the truth of the matter that humanity has been in a state of moral confusion since time immemorial? We have never known what was right and wrong. It’s just that periodically a Moses will descend from a mountain carrying tablets of stone on which the law is written, and bring a moment of moral clarity after which the confusion soon returns.

The trouble with all the great religions is that they are all of them based upon Mosaic figures of one sort or other, authorities who write authoritative books. But these Holy Books are all open to multiple different and conflicting interpretations. And from these rival interpretations there arise rival and conflicting sects. Christianity has been torn apart by rival sects, and so has Islam, and probably any and every other major religion as well.

But it has not been these rival sects that have done the real damage. What has happened is that an entire cosmos inhabited by gods and demons and angels and saints has been replaced by atoms in motion. The scientific world view has been chipping away at that cosmos, and replacing it with another one. The ancients may have looked up at the night sky and seen the outlines of the gods, but we only see planets and stars and galaxies. We inhabit an entirely new cosmos. We have said goodbye to the gods and demons, and to an entire moral universe. We have progressively stripped away the unnecessary and the inessential, and all we have been left with is atoms in motion. And this bleak new scientific cosmos is devoid of any morality. There is no up, and no down, but only relativity.

And the antismoking healthists are as thoroughly scientific in their outlook as our astronomers and physicists. They also strip away the inessential. And they have declared smoking to be unnecessary. You don’t need to smoke. You don’t need to drink. You don’t need sugar. You don’t need soda. And what you don’t need, you shouldn’t be allowed to have. And so they use the force of law to ban tobacco, alcohol, sugar, salt, and anything that is deemed unnecessary or superfluous. Soon they will be banning music, and dancing, and sex, and anything else we don’t need. We will end up with a society as bleak and cold as the universe of atoms in motion.

The antismoking healthists, in true scientific style, measure longevity with clocks. And for them the best life is the longest life.

But in Idle Theory, which is equally as ‘scientific’ in its outlook as modern healthism, a life is measured not only by its duration, but also by its idleness. And the best life is not the longest life, but the longest and idlest (or more exactly, longest times idlest). And idleness roughly corresponds with material wealth: the idle rich enjoy idler and better lives than the toiling poor. They very often live longer lives as well. (I read yesterday somewhere, maybe here or here, that the average age at death of Roman slaves was 17.5 years). Idle time is free time in which people can do whatever they like, and so if someone lives a 90% idle life of 70 years duration, they get to do as they like for 63 years in total. But if they live a 10% idle life of 90 years duration, they’ll only get to do as they like for 9 years in total. In Idle Theory, 63 years is better than 9 years. But according to healthist dogma, which doesn’t include any notion of idleness, 90 years is better than 70 years. So Idle Theory disagrees with Healthism about the best life. And it also includes a term that corresponds roughly to “quality of life”. After all, who wants to live a very long life being kept alive by a life support system? People justly ask: What sort of ‘life’ is that?

Furthermore, in their idle time, will not people want to do all sorts of things they enjoy doing? Like drinking and smoking and talking? Or eating or dancing or flirting? Or running or swimming or skiing? True, none of these things need to be done. But idle time is time in which nothing needs to be done, and so anything may be done.

Idle Theory perhaps provides a new weapon that might be used to to defeat the pernicious Healthist doctrine of the modern era, and to destroy Tobacco Control, which are currently doing so much harm. Idle Theory restores a moral dimension to the cosmos which went missing when the old Christian religious cosmos was dismantled, and everything unnecessary in it dispensed with. It breathes life into the atoms in motion. In Idle Theory heaven and hell re-appear, and so does God and the devil. But they have all been transmuted into new mathematical terms.

New wars need new weapons, and Idle Theory is a new weapon. And modern, scientific Healthism is going to have to be defeated by a modern, scientific antagonist in precisely the same way that modern scientific tanks are defeated by modern, scientific cruise missiles. Using Christian theology or Enlightenment philosophy against modern scientific Healthism is like sending infantry with spears, or cavalry on horseback, against trenches and machine-guns.

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