Yusuke Takakura

Hat tip to Walt for this:

TOKYO: A Japanese university has stopped hiring professors and teachers who light up, officials said on Tuesday (Apr 23), as the nation steps up an anti-smoking campaign ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

Nagasaki University spokesman Yusuke Takakura told AFP they have “stopped hiring any teaching staff who smoke”, although applicants who promise to kick the habit before taking up their post could still be offered employment.

The university will also ban smoking entirely on campus from August, opening a clinic for those who cannot give up, said Takakura.

“We have reached a conclusion that smokers are not fit for the education sector,” the spokesman said, adding that the university had sought legal advice and does not believe the policy contravenes discrimination laws.

Local media said it was the first state-run university to introduce such a condition of employment and the move comes after Tokyo’s city government passed strict new anti-smoking rules last year ahead of the 2020 Summer Games.

It could just as well have read:

A Japanese university has stopped hiring professors and teachers who play chess, officials said on Tuesday (Apr 23), as the nation steps up an anti-chess campaign ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

“We have reached a conclusion that chess players are not fit for the education sector,” the spokesman said, adding that the university had sought legal advice and does not believe the policy contravenes discrimination laws.

I guess it means that pipe-smoking Albert Einstein would never have got a job at the University of Nagasaki.

This is another example of top down control. This isn’t something that’s bubbled up from the staff and students in the university. It’s coming from government. Smoking bans never arise from the bottom up: they always come from the top down. They’re always the work of nameless, faceless bureaucrats who can sign away people’s freedoms with the stroke of a pen, and think nothing of it, because none of them are ever held to account. It’s bad news these days if the Olympic Games or the World Cup get held in your country: it provides another excuse for nameless, faceless bureaucrats to ban smoking.

There’s a global revolt under way against unaccountable top down control. There’s a growing revolt in Europe against the unaccountable top down control of the European Union: people want to run their own lives, and not be run by distant faceless bureaucrats. And the populist Donald Trump’s war with the entrenched and unaccountable US Deep State is part of the same revolt.

“We have reached a conclusion that smokers are not fit for the education sector,”

Who are this “we” for whom Yusuke Takakura is the spokesman? What are their names? What do they look like? Where do they live? Is that him at right?

Clearly Yusuke Takakura is one of these people. He must know the names of some of them. He ought to be interrogated to reveal their names and addresses. They must be held to account. Tobacco Control must be destroyed.

I almost visited Nagasaki in 2005. I was in Fukuoka on the southernmost island of Japan for a few days. And I thought I might take a train to visit Nagasaki, or a boat to visit Hiroshima. Instead I spent most of my time in the Tsukushi Torn Mouth Rash Shop, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes and flirting with Fukuoka girls.

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A Few Things I Noticed Yesterday

A promising headline in ZeroHedge:

Government’s Counterproductive War Against Smoking

was actually a complaint about the war on vaping.

In other news:

Theresa May is facing an unprecedented push to remove her as Tory leader, with a petition by local party chairmen having triggered an extraordinary general meeting for a vote of no confidence.

I can’t say I’m surprised. She’s probably now the most unpopular leader the Conservatives have ever had. No wonder they’re desperately trying to get shot of her.

This is why a lot of people don’t believe the Notre Dame fire was an accident, even if it actually was one:

The bombings in Sri Lanka have once again put a spotlight on the rising tide of violence against Christians all over the world.  According to Open Doors USA, an average of 105 churches and/or Christian buildings are burned or attacked every month.  That is more than three per day, and almost all of those attacks get ignored by the mainstream media in the western world.  In addition, an average of 345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons every single month.

Persecution only makes people stronger. Christianity will be strengthened by these attacks.

The same goes for smokers. The more we’re attacked, the stronger we will get.

And of course:

The Ebola Outbreak In Congo Is Close To Becoming A Global Emergency

Something that seems to have been under-reported:

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian with no political experience other than playing the role of president in a TV series, has won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, with near-complete counting showing he has won over 70% of the vote.

On the brighter side, I rediscovered Dean Martin yesterday, in what seems to have been a legendary interview. He strolls into the Johnny Carson show holding a martini and a cigarette in one hand. That was how he did most of his shows.

It wouldn’t be allowed today.

I remember seeing him 50 or 60 years ago on TV and in movies. He always seemed to be a bit tipsy. I only realised last night that it was actually just an act.

I guess I’m a bit slow.

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Yet Another New Wave

Ideas come in waves. And they sweep the world.

Big ideas are like tsunamis. Little ideas are like ripples on a placid millpond. And like those ripples they spread in ever-widening circles, criss-crossing each other.

In the past, ideas travelled very slowly from one place to another. But these days they travel very quickly. News now travels around the world in minutes, when it once took months or years or centuries.

And we’re all caught up in these waves that sweep the world.

The great religions of the world are long, slow waves. Fashions and fads are ephemeral, short, fast waves. They all come, and they all go.

The 1960s was also a wave that swept the world. It was a wave in which I was myself caught up, and tossed around. It was, I think, a musical wave. It was a wave of new music and new sounds. It was a wave of electric music.

The idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer is also a wave that has swept the world. It’s an idea that gathered momentum in the early years of the 20th century, and became a tidal wave sweeping the world by the end of the century.

The idea that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming is another wave that is currently sweeping the world. This wave only started gathering momentum in the 1970s.

These waves always meet with resistance, just like ocean waves sooner or later meet the shore.

I tend to resist all these waves. Raised as a Roman Catholic, I resisted Roman Catholicism. Caught up in the 1960s, I resisted that too. And now I resist both the idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer and the idea that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming. Both of them seem to me to be religious dogmas against which dissent is impermissible, and therefore against which dissent is imperative.

The British Empire was another wave in which I was briefly caught up. I was born a few years before its demise, which I date to the 1950s.

Ideas possess great power, just like music possesses great power. Victor Hugo:

Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Victor Hugo also wrote:

One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.

Was he right in either assertion? I’m not sure he was. Because it is actually possible to resist ideas. I’ve been doing it all my life. It isn’t actually necessary to believe everything you’re told. We aren’t all just leaves blowing in the wind. We can to some extent sail into the wind, not just simple run before it.

And what is an idea “whose time has come”? Is there some sort of historical inevitability to everything that happens? Was it historically inevitable that World War 1 would break out on 28 July 1914? Was it historically inevitable that the Titanic would strike an iceberg on the night of the 14th of April 1912? Was it historically inevitable that JFK would be assassinated on the 22nd of November 1963? And so on. The answer, surely, is that all these events could have been averted.

There I go again: contesting an idea.

The idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer is actually a very strange idea. It’s like believing that spoons and forks cause tooth decay. They’re superficially attractive ideas, because smoke enters lungs, and forks enter mouths, and are therefore possible causes of lung cancer and tooth decay. And in fact it’s far more plausible that spoons and forks cause tooth decay than it is that smoking causes lung cancer, because the repeated impact of the metallic tines of forks on teeth can readily be understood to make small holes – cavities – in them. It’s not so obvious to see how warm and gentle tobacco smoke (and only tobacco smoke) can result in the development of lung cancer 30 or 40 years later. In fact it’s rather hard to see how anything can cause anything else to happen 30 or 40 years later.

The idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer is actually a piece of magical thinking. And magical thinking is thinking in which the thread of reasoning is incomplete, and some sort of leap of faith must be made to get past the missing link. And in the case of smoking and lung cancer the leap of faith is to believe that, somehow or other, nobody knows how, the smoke is absorbed into the lung, and resides there quietly for 40 years before finally triggering cells to start multiplying rapidly as cancer tumours.

By contrast, there’s nothing magical about the idea that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming. It’s a well-understood physical phenomenon that carbon dioxide absorbs long wave radiation from the surface of the Earth. Fill up the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, and the atmosphere will get warmer. There’s no magic to it. What isn’t clear is how trace amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can cause large increases in air temperature. If there’s a missing link in the reasoning of the alarmist climate scientists it is in this: they don’t plausibly explain how this can happen. Or, to put it another way, it is perfectly true that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming, but it is not at all obvious that Carbon Dioxide Causes Catastrophic Global Warming.

The idea that Carbon Dioxide Causes Catastrophic Global Warming is one that has met with powerful resistance. Lots of people don’t believe it. But the idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer seems to have met with remarkably little resistance. Everybody believes it. And yet the idea that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming is a rational, scientific idea, and the idea that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer is not. But perhaps this explains the resistance and the lack of: Rational scientific ideas can be met with rational, scientific counter-arguments, but irrational magical thinking cannot. The belief that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer is not the product of cool, rational enquiry, but instead the product of a noisy and repetitive propaganda campaign. The antismokers have simply shouted down the smokers. It’s perhaps not so much that everybody believes that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, but rather that nobody dares to contest the doctrine, because nobody knows how to contest non-rational ideas of this kind.

The EU is another idea that has developed into something of a tidal wave that has swept the whole of Europe. And this also is meeting mounting resistance. In fact, the wave of populism sweeping Europe is itself yet another New Wave.

There is perhaps a Buddhist or Taoist attitude that can be taken to all these waves – which might be to recognise that these waves are just waves of sound and light. They are all phantoms. They are all illusions. And they carry no real force at all.

After all, back in 1964, did the Kinks’ You Really Got Me have any real force to it?



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The Dream of Eden

Yesterday I ordered a book that I read many years ago, but now think I need to read again: The Pursuit of the Millennium by Norman Cohn, first published in about 1975. Cohn once summarized his work by explaining that it was all about the same phenomenon:

“the urge to purify the world through the annihilation of some category of human beings imagined as agents of corruption and incarnations of evil.”

A century or so ago these “agents of corruption” were identified as Jews: now they are identified as smokers. No doubt in another century or so, some other unfortunates will be fingered.

Also yesterday I came across a YouTube video of a speech by the former US Leftist activist, David Horowitz, 8 minutes into which he said:

“The whole agenda of the Left is to return us to Eden.”

He explained that the biblical Garden of Eden was a place where Adam and Eve didn’t have to work, and where there was no pain, and they lived forever – until they were expelled from Eden.

I’m inclined to think these days that Eden was a real place. When the ice sheets retreated at the end of the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago, they left bare ground that was soon colonized by plants, which in time became orchards dripping with fruit of every kind. And it was into this world that Adam And Eve arrived, and where they came to a stop. Why travel any further?

It would not have been the case that they did not need to do any work at all. For picking fruit from trees entails doing physical work, and eating it entails doing more work. But no doubt Adam and Eve would have enjoyed a very idle life, at least until a few competitors – serpents perhaps? – also arrived in the garden.

Such a garden would not have lasted very long. The orchards would have gradually become groves of cypresses or oaks. And Adam and Eve would have had to move on, and have had to work harder to survive, but would have retained the memory of the magical garden they had once inhabited, and would have longed to return to Eden.

And their descendants share that longing to return to Eden. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is just the latest:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez couldn’t distance herself fast enough last week from a promise on her website that the Green New Deal would take care of people who are “unwilling to work.” First her team falsely claimed it was doctored by the GOP, then said it was part of a draft version that was mistakenly released.

But advocates for the ambitious program, known as universal basic income (UBI), say paying everyone isn’t a typo or a bug — it’s the whole point. Their vision of a country that takes care of everyone’s basic needs is gaining traction from socialist gatherings in Brooklyn to the Silicon Valley tech futurist set.

Certainly David Horowitz would have recognised it as being “the whole point”. Why did David Horowitz stop thinking that way? Why did he spend the rest of his life campaigning against the Left to which he had once belonged?

I was never quite so idealistic. The way I saw the world through Idle Theory was that human life  (and in fact all life) existed on a scale of idleness ranging from complete 0% busyness to perfect 100% idleness:

The Garden of Eden was a place where, for a while, Adam and Eve enjoyed something like a 91% idle life, and when they were expelled from the garden they returned to something like an 8% idle life. Adam and Eve got lucky for a while: their descendants were never quite so lucky again.

But the development of human civilisation since the time of Adam and Eve has been one the development of work-reducing technologies of numerous kinds. Roads are one example of this sort of technology: roads allowed people to move around more quickly, and transport materials more rapidly. When the Roman Empire covered much of Europe with a network of roads, it would have served to increase the idleness of Europeans. It would have made life easier for everybody.

But it’s very difficult to make life easier. For every invention that makes life easier in one way or other, there are probably a hundred that make life harder. It’s very easy to make life harder, very difficult to make it easier. It’s easy to break things like Ming vases; hard to make them. And it takes many lifetimes to perfect new technologies, and just one to forget them.

And perfect 100% idleness is something that can only be approached. It can never be actually attained. And if idleness is not increasing, it’s almost certainly decreasing. Most likely, after the Romans had built all their work-reducing roads and aqueducts and bridges, they gradually fell into disrepair, and life got harder for everyone again.

And there are no short cuts to increasing idleness. There are no political quick fixes. All that political revolutions ever do is to redistribute idleness. They cannot increase it. In fact, they invariably decrease it. The Great Leap Forward always becomes a Great Leap Backwards. And the more that the revolutionaries make plans for how people are to live in their utopia, the less free and the less idle those people become. A planned life is a prison life.

So I’ve never been one of these utopian socialists dreaming of a return to Eden. Maybe one day it will happen, but I can’t see it happening any time soon, because ours remains as much a toiling world as it has always been. And the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezes of the world are a menace. The only thing they can possibly bring is disaster.

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The Disease of Antismoking

About 6½ minutes into her interview of Dmitry Kosyrev, Emily Wieja asked him if he thought that scaremongering about tobacco was a Western idea. And Dmitry agreed that this “ugly example” was “a Western disease.”

He’s quite right, of course. Antismoking is a Western disease. It’s a Western epidemic disease. In fact it’s now a pandemic. And it’s a pandemic disease that is spread by doctors.

Over my lifetime I’ve witnessed this disease gradually taking hold of society, little by little. As I have remarked many times, the first antismoker I ever encountered was Dr W, in whose household I lived for several months in 1965. But within a year I had come across a case of a fellow university student who was a vocal antismoker. And of course around that time the medical profession, and most notably the US Surgeon General, were incessantly warning about smoking and lung cancer. There was a steady drumbeat of warnings. And smokers that I knew were cutting down or giving up smoking, one by one. My own brother was one of these.

Back in the 1960s, when I started smoking, smokers were already in gradual slow retreat before the medical onslaught against smoking. It was quite common for smokers to tell their friends that they were “cutting down”, or for them to politely refuse a cigarette by saying “Thank you, but I’m trying hard to cut back on smoking.” Everyone was terrified of getting lung cancer. Who wouldn’t be? And it was a frequent occurrence to hear people proudly announce that they’d finally “kicked the habit” (although very often you’d find them back smoking a few weeks later). And also, back in the 1960s and 70s and 80s, nobody was in the least bit bothered by other people’s smoke. This new phase of the disease (akin to the appearance of buboes in the armpits) came later.

The disease of antismoking spread slowly through British society. It didn’t come in a rush, overnight, like pot smoking. It spread very gradually. And the usual symptoms were firstly an expressed wish to stop smoking, followed by several (usually failed) attempts to “cut down” or “quit”. Eventually the attempts to quit would be successful, and smokers would become ex-smokers. But they were usually tolerant ex-smokers who did not object to anyone else smoking. It was only later, when the disease of antismoking had taken a deeper hold that people started worrying about other people’s smoke, and banning smoking everywhere.

The disease of antismoking is driven by fear. It’s a fear that was inculcated into the population by a slow, steady drip of antismoking propaganda. Even though they were perfectly healthy, smokers started worrying about their health.

And the anxieties would gnaw away at them slowly, like cancer. The disease of antismoking is a slowly growing fear, firstly of lung cancer, and then of cancer in general, and finally of all disease. And this mounting terror is itself a kind of cancer, a kind of disease. Antismokers are people who have become paralysed with fear. And this terror gradually extends to smokers on the other side of a pub or restaurant, and then to smokers who live in the same apartment block or street. It is also a form of demonic possession.

If this slowly-mounting anxiety, this gradually-growing terror, did not afflict me, it was because Dr W inadvertently inoculated me against it. For when Dr W stood shouting at the top of his voice in the hallway of his house against the “filthy, filthy, filthy” habit of smoking, he taught me that his intense dislike of tobacco did not grow out of sober and rational medical considerations, but originated in moral and aesthetic judgments. After all, if he’d been worried about health, he would have called it a “poisonous, dangerous, destructive” habit. And he would have gently explained the dangers to the son he was shouting at. A “filthy” habit is a “dirty” habit, like reading “dirty” books or looking at “dirty” pictures. And, recognising that this very senior doctor’s (he appeared on TV to speak for the BMA) objections to smoking were moral rather than medical, at the age of 17 I realised that the doctor-driven campaign against smoking was a moral crusade rather than a medical crusade. It was exactly the same sort of moral crusade as those conducted against alcohol or drugs or pornography or prostitution. And that was when my fear of tobacco left me. But for Dr W, I would probably now be as frightened of tobacco as anyone else. And I should count him a benefactor.

The disease of antismoking is a disabling disease. It stops people being able to smoke. It stops people from being able to enjoy life. For, quite aside from his intense hatred of smoking, Dr W was also unable to laugh or smile. He was a profoundly afflicted man. His was a terminal condition of the antismoking disease

Antismoking ought to be recognised as a real disease, and as a transmissible disease. It’s various symptoms ought to be described. And treatments or therapies ought to be devised. What begins as a slight anxiety gradually develops, over many years, into a full-blown phobia in which tobacco smoke is imagined to be more and more dangerous, and capable of going through walls and along telephone cables. It’s a form of madness.

However, because the disease of antismoking seems to principally affect doctors, and has become endemic in the medical profession, it must be for people outside the medical profession to recognise it as a disease, and campaign for its eradication.

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Emily Wieja Interviews Dmitry Kosyrev

Today I have another one of Emily Wieja’s interviews. These are remarkable because Emily thinks up all the questions, asks them, records them and their answers, edits them, and publishes them. She performs, in effect, all the tasks needed to run an entire television station –  producer, editor, interviewer, cameraman, and tealady – in succession, one after the other. And this little half hour interview was recorded by her in Boston, Massachusetts, last Sunday, and published by her the following Wednesday, just 3 days later, which is remarkable given that Emily also has a day job to hold down.

And the person being interviewed by her today is the Russian author, orientalist, and board member of the All Russia Movement of Smokers’ Rights, Dmitry Kosyrev, speaking from his home in Moscow. As such his is a voice from outside the Anglosphere, and outside Western Europe. And his has been a different experience from that of most Western smokers, because the Soviet Union did not experience the ugly Western war on smoking until after the end of the Cold War. Antismoking zealots only arrived in Moscow at the about the same time as McDonalds cheeseburgers. And Russians have responded to them in much the same way as they responded to previous unwelcome invaders from the west, like Hitler and Napoleon: they have mounted a concerted resistance.

I’m hoping that there will be more interviews of Dmitry Kosyrev, because as a well-travelled orientalist (and sinologist) he most likely has experience not just of Russia. but also of China and South-East Asia, and may be able to shed a little light on the global war on smoking as it has impacted those countries. In fact, he may also know one or two people from those countries who can speak about their experience to people living inside the bubble of the Western society.

I might add that Dmitry is a fairly regular commenter on my blog (e.g. most recently here and here), and also writes his own Russian blog, which Google translate does quite a good job turning into mangled English.

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The Death and Resurrection of Notre Dame

I’ve not commented on the Notre Dame fire because I’ve been waiting to find out how bad the damage would turn out to be. Some of the early reports spoke of its “complete destruction”, as if all that would be left in the end would be a heap of smouldering rubble. But watching the videos of the fire consuming the cathedral roof, I rather doubted that the fire would also consume the the stone walls and towers. I thought the final outcome would see an empty stone shell, rather like Glastonbury Abbey or Tintern Abbey in England.

And it seems that it’s turned out much better than that. For it appears that the fire raging on the roof never got inside the nave below, nor the twin towers above. Or if it did get inside them, the 400 firefighters on the scene were able to drive it back out again in a heroic 10-hour firefight.

More or less everything apart from the roof was saved. The cathedral has had a haircut, and lost the 800 year old forest of timber on its roof. What seems to have saved the interior was the stone vaults beneath the timber roof. For these vaults largely remained intact (as the photo below, taken during the fire, shows), and protected the church beneath, as they were no doubt intended to do.

And, even better, several French billionaires have already pledged $1 billion for its repair.

In fact, it seems to me that, with a canvas awning in place of its roof, it could “business as usual” in two or three days.

We are witnessing the death and resurrection of Notre Dame. And, remarkably, we’ve been witnessing it during Holy Week, in which the death and resurrection of Christ are remembered.

And maybe we are witnessing the death and resurrection not just of a a church, but of Christianity itself. For there have been a wave of recent attacks against churches in France.

Anger as France sees 10 Catholic churches attacked in ONE week

And a lot of people believe that the Notre Dame fire was just another one of these attacks.

Perhaps it was, but if so it has backfired badly. For perhaps now people will notice the tremendous attack that Christianity (and the entirety of Western culture) is under, and at last come to their assistance.

The Notre Dame will soon be getting a new roof. It won’t be a forest of oak timbers. It’ll be a fireproof 21st century roof, made of steel or even titanium. And it will perhaps be as daring a piece of architecture as any of the rest of the the cathedral. And it could perhaps do what the original builders may have wanted to do, which was to extend the stained glass windows right up into the roof. Why not give it a stained glass roof? This was always a building that provided an internal experience. It was a building for people to be inside, not view from outside. These cathedrals were theatres. They were the theatres and cinemas of the 12th century. The Latin mass was as scripted as any play. And it told a story.

The Notre Dame fire is a deeply symbolic event. It remains to be seen, in future months and years, just how symbolic it will prove to be.

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