10 Years After

I must say that I was rather surprised that, when asked yesterday what they thought the world’s most pressing problem was, over 60% of respondents cited smoking bans.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, because I write a blog in which I keep banging on about smoking bans year after year, and I should expect to have attracted a fairly like-minded readership over the nearly 10 years that I’ve been writing it.

But all the same, I expected smoking bans to be the choice of a small minority of respondents, given all the other problems the world has got. And particularly at a time when the most urgent and pressing problem here in the UK is Brexit. So I expected to see Brexit top the poll. And if not Brexit, something arguably just as serious – such as immigration, militant Islam, or Ebola.

I also thought that one or two people might have chosen Donald Trump as the world’s biggest problem, given that so many people seem to be completely obsessed with him, and filled with hatred for the poor man.

I also thought that someone might have voted for global warming/climate change, given that so many people seem convinced that it’s the greatest threat facing humanity right now. But no, nobody seems much bothered about that either.

I also thought that someone might drop in a comment asking: “Frank, do you really think that smoking bans are the world’s most pressing problem? Because nobody I know thinks they are.”

That someone would have been a non-smoker, Because for most non-smokers, naturally enough, smoking bans simply don’t figure at all in their lists of the world’s most pressing and urgent concerns. And if they heard anyone cite smoking bans as any sort of cause for concern, they’d be completely disbelieving. Which is why I thought one of them might leave a comment to that effect. Maybe, because none have, quite a few non-smokers realise that these smoking bans are cause for concern? Perhaps they’ve seen the smokers outside the pubs, in all weathers, year after year. Or outside the hospital gates.

And indeed here in Herefordshire, England, nobody seems to think that the UK smoking ban is a problem. Not even the smokers. And I’ve been talking to them on and off for years, in one pub garden or other, when I find myself drawn into conversation with complete strangers. I’ve heard them talking about Brexit quite often. I’ve even seen them engage in shouting matches about it. But smoking bans, never. They don’t talk about it. It’s an unmentionable subject, even if it’s the only reason why they’re all sat outside with their beers and the cigarettes, talking about something else. To raise the matter is like drawing attention to the decomposing corpse sat at an adjoining table, head slumped onto the table, one skeletal hand still grasping the handle of a beer glass, the other holding a half-opened pack of Marlboro. You’re not supposed to mention it. You’re supposed to behave as if it isn’t there.

For me the UK smoking ban is the single most pressing problem in the world, because for the past 10 years I’ve felt like I’ve  been lying on the ground with someone standing on my chest, or maybe just standing on my foot. Smoking bans exert constant pressure on smokers. And since smoking bans are always multiplying and intensifying, the pressure exerted by them gets more and more intense. And to this there must also be added the pressure exerted by the hyper-taxation of tobacco. And also the insulting messages and pictures which cover all tobacco products these days. And the peer pressure from friends and family and colleagues at work. And the constant media demonisation of tobacco.

It doesn’t really surprise me at all if smokers eventually succumb to this pressure, surrender, and quit smoking. It requires a stoical determination to carry on smoking in the face of this unrelenting storm of abuse. And sometimes it must simply become impossible to go on. Whenever I see anyone light up a cigarette or pipe or cigar, I feel an instant rush of admiration for them, that over 10 years after the smoking was banned in public places, they still persist in their folly.

It’s also why I was filled with delight when I learned yesterday, via Smoking Lamp that:

A new survey has revealed that 34% of Spaniards smoke cigarettes every day, compared to 32.8% when the anti-tobacco law was introduced.

How wonderful!

Health Minister María Luisa Carcedo and Azucena Martí, the government delegate for the National Plan on Drugs … were unable to explain the rise in smokers.

How wonderful that these two fuckwits can’t understand it.

There are a lot of dogged, stoical smokers in Spain, who are carrying on smoking just like their less numerous British cousins.

There are lots of dogged, stoical smokers in France as well. Almost as many as in Spain.

Smoking in France was so much of an issue scientists have even invented a name for it: the French paradox. The paradox consists how the French seem to smoke so many cigarettes but don’t appear to be affected by their adverse effects at the same rate as their European counterparts.

There are two ways of looking at this paradox: either the French cancer care system is vastly superior to those in neighbouring countries, or scientists have fallen victim to the stereotype that France is still the tobacco haven it was back in the 1960s…

Its annual health report shows that the number of people lighting up regularly is no greater than the 2013 WHO official European average of 28%…

Given the stats, why then do French people seem to smoke conspicuously more than the British, or Americans? Tourists visiting France frequently cite smoking as the first culture shock they experience when they set foot on French soil, or perhaps simply when they step on a discarded cigarette butt.

A survey by travel website Tripadvisor revealed that users found that France was by far the “smokiest” country in the world.

My experience of the UK smoking ban has been, as I say, like having someone standing on my foot for 10 years. And I dare say that 34% of Spaniards, and 28% of French, feel pretty much the exact same way.

Which may explain in part why France has just experienced a sudden volcanic political explosion. Beneath the surface, a lot of pressure has built up. In France they’ve had a draconian smoking ban for slightly longer than Britain: theirs dates from 1 February 2007

Smoking and vaping are banned in all indoor public places (government buildings, offices, public transport, universities, museums, restaurants, cafés, nightclubs, etc.). Cafés and shops selling tobacco-related products are submitted to the same regulations. No exceptions exist for special smoking rooms fulfilling strict conditions. Additionally, some outdoor public places also ban smoking and vaping (railway stations).

Perhaps it just takes a while for the pressure to build up to breaking point. Perhaps it takes 10 years, or 20 years, of slowly mounting pressure before there’s an explosion. The explosion doesn’t come immediately: it comes 10 years after. Or 11.8 years, to be exact. And if Spain hasn’t erupted yet, it’s because they’re only 7 years into their smoking ban: 2 January 2011. Spain is likely to explode in 2022.

And, by this analysis, Britain is due to explode in April 2019. And in fact, recent political developments very strongly suggest that Britain actually will explode around about then. Although it will be Brexit (or the lack of it) which will be the nominal cause of the explosion, much like fuel tax hikes were the nominal cause of the French eruption.

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What is the World’s Most Serious and Pressing Problem?

A couple of things caught my eye this morning. The first was a headline in the Sun:

Theresa May scraps Brexit vote and vows to beg EU for a new deal – but they’ve already said they WON’T renegotiate

But the second was a remark by one-time Conservative leader William Hague that a second referendum on Brexit would be:

“the most divisive and bitter political conflict in this country in a hundred years.”

I’m not sure it would be. If asked to vote again, I’d just vote the same way I did last time, because I haven’t changed my mind.

But I doubt if I’m going to be asked, for that very reason. So instead, tasked with steering Britain out of the EU, what Theresa May has done has been to simply drive Brexit into the wall. The whole thing has become such a complete and utter shambles that it simply isn’t going to happen. And that’s exactly what the European political class wanted.

But is Brexit “the most divisive and bitter political conflict in a hundred years”? I suppose some people would say it is.

But I can’t say that I wake up every day thinking about Brexit and the EU. I only get interested and engaged in these matters from time to time. For essentially Brexit is of concern primarily for people in Britain, and secondarily for people in Europe. Nobody else is much interested in it.

How about something more global in scope as a cause for concern, like the one highlighted in the Guardian of 6 Dec 2018?

Compared to the threat of climate change, Brexit is a distraction

With Guardian readers writing that

Our national government is focusing on Brexit, which is merely a distraction in the face of what is the greatest threat our species has ever faced.


Climate change is the greatest issue the world is facing and readers can’t have the message highlighted enough.

Well, I can’t say that I wake up every morning thinking about global warming.

How about Donald Trump?

Donald Trump is ‘greatest threat to international security’, says former MI6 head

And clearly there are a lot of people who still can’t accept that Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to become President of the United States. It seems to be the only thing that some of them think about.

But, again, I can’t say that I wake up every morning worrying about Donald Trump.

So what do I wake up thinking about every day?

The smoking ban. That is the single most divisive and bitter event in the entire 70+ years of my life. It shattered the culture in which I lived. It shattered all the friendships I once had. After the smoking ban I became an exile in my own country. I became an outsider.

Brexit didn’t do that. Global warming didn’t do that. Donald Trump didn’t do that. Only the UK smoking ban of 1 July 2007 had that effect on me. And since the entire world has been buried in recent years under a deluge of smoking bans, there’ll be the same shattered cultures, and broken friendships and exile and exclusion everywhere else in the world.

Brexit is a serious matter, but it’s really only a serious matter for Britain and Europe. Global warming may be a serious matter for the entire world, but it isn’t a problem right now, because the sea levels haven’t been rising.  And if Domald Trump is a problem for some people right now, he’s not going to be one for very much longer, because he’s already half way through his term in office.

But smoking bans are having serious social and economic impacts, right now, all over the world. I think that they have opened up deep divisions in societies everywhere, and these divisions are going to grow deeper. I think they’re going to be seen one day to have been catastrophic political mistakes.

But what do you think?

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Nigel Farage Has Quit UKIP

Nigel Farage quit UKIP last week.

Nigel Farage has quit UKIP, saying the party’s leader Gerard Batten seems to be obsessed with Islam and ex-English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.

Speaking on LBC radio, the former leader of the Eurosceptic party said he made the decision with a “heavy heart”.

But he said he did not “recognise” the party any more and it was turning a blind eye to extremist politics.

Mr Batten survived a vote of no confidence on Monday, after he appointed Mr Robinson as an adviser.

He’s probably the only politician I’d actually like to vote for, if I ever got a chance. It would not be because he’s anti-EU: it would be because he’s the only politician in Britain who has very publicly stuck up for smokers. He did so at Stony Stratford. I went there just once. He went there several times.

Can anyone “recognise” any party any more? I used to vote Lib-Dem, but I ceased to recognise the party after 95% of its MPs voted for the smoking ban. But I don’t really recognise the Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn either. Nor the Conservative party of Theresa May. Perhaps it’s only natural that political parties will always gradually metamorphose into something different from what they started life as. If nothing else, new members arrive with new ideas, and old members depart with old ideas. Change is inevitable.

The same thing happens in the USA. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are the same parties they were 50 years ago.

Political parties, like other social institutions, are made up of people, and people are always changing, so the institutions are changing as well. I dare say that the British Medical Association today is a very different thing than it was 50 years ago: it now seems to be full of mad doctors who believe that smoking causes all diseases, and if not smoking, then drinking. In time, these mad doctors will be replaced with a new tranche of equally mad doctors.

Same applies to religions, universities, cities. Is San Francisco today the same sort of place it was 50 years ago? Is London? Is Paris? Everything changes, but keeps the same name.

And a week after leaving UKIP, Nigel Farage is starting a new political party.

Nigel Farage has confirmed he is planning to launch a new political force to save Brexit, vowing he “won’t lie down” as the political establishment tries to overturn the referendum result.

The Brexit pioneer, who resigned from UKIP last week, told the Sunday Telegraph: “I sense within me I have not fought my biggest battle yet — that is how it feels. Whether it is happenstance, serendipity, destiny.

“I am not going to lie down and watch it go down the plug hole. I couldn’t do that. And I won’t do that. If there are European Parliament elections I am standing and I am thinking about vehicles do to that,” he added.

…I have always said that if the ball gets dropped on Brexit I will have no choice but to “pick it up. It increasingly looks like that is the case.”

He seems to think that the ball is going to be dropped. And that’s what I think too.

The latest idea seems to be to just cancel Brexit.

UK can cancel Brexit by unilaterally revoking Article 50, European Court of Justice rules

The UK has the legal power to stop Brexit by unilaterally revoking Article 50, the EU’s top court has ruled.

The ruling matches legal advice given to the court last week by its advocate general, who said as a sovereign country Britain could reverse its decision even at this late stage.

The legal decision is significant because means Britain could prevent a no-deal Brexit from happening if it wanted, even if Theresa May’s deal is voted down by MPs next week.

In their judgment released on Monday morning the panel of judges said it would be “inconsistent with the EU treaties’ purpose of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe to force the withdrawal of a member state” against its wishes.

I have no idea what Parliament will decide, but I’m pretty sure that we won’t get the Brexit we voted for.

But I’ve begun to think that in the longer term it’s not going to matter whether Brexit does or doesn’t happen right now, because I think the EU is going to disintegrate anyway, and there’s going to be Brexit whether anyone wants want it or not. And there’ll also be Grexit and Frexit and Spexit and about 25 other exits.

The EU is a political project. And that project – as the European Court has just pointed out – is that of “ever closer union” between the peoples of Europe, just when the peoples of Europe have begun to demand autonomy and independence from the EU. The Eurocrats in the EU are now increasingly fighting to simply hold the EU together, and prevent any of its increasingly fractious members from leaving. The centrifugal forces inside Europe are beginning to exceed the gravitational forces holding it together, and Europe is likely (in fact, certain) to fly apart. It won’t be the first European empire to have disintegrated. It probably won’t be the last either. The more that “ever closer union” is imposed on the peoples of Europe, the harder they’ll all fight for their independence.

The only thing that can possibly save it is for the goal of  “ever closer union” to be abandoned, and for sovereignty to be restored to the members states, with the EU reversing back to becoming the EEC once again, with trade agreements between sovereign states which have their own borders, their own governments, their own courts, and their own currencies. But the European imperialists in Brussels are far too ambitious for that.


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Mad Social Engineering Projects

After the French government cancelled the fuel price hikes, why are the Yellow Vests still rioting? They don’t seem to know themselves:

The founder of the “yellow vest” revolt said it had become a dangerous “dog without a leash” prey to extremists and anarchists, and urged moderate protesters to open dialogue with the French government.

Jacline Mouraud, a 51-year old composer and hypnotherapist from Brittany, is credited with sparking the movement after six million people viewed her Facebook diatribe against environmental duties on petrol and diesel last month.

“What are you doing with the money apart from buying new dishes at the Élysée Palace and building yourself swimming pools?” she asked President Emmanuel Macron in her viral video.

But she said the movement had now been hijacked by an increasingly violent fringe of “extremists and anarchists”.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Ms Mouraud, said: “This movement has broken free of everyone, you can’t reason with people any more. Some don’t even remember what demands we made at the start.

It looks like it runs deeper than just fuel price hikes. That was just the tip of the iceberg. What other resentments lay hidden out of sight?

I found myself wondering this morning, not for the first time, whether the Yellow Vests also had yellow fingernails, from all the Gitaines and Gauloises they smoked. Once you ban smoking more or less everywhere, you create a brand new class of excluded people. And they’ll be angry at what’s been done to them.

I should know. I’m one of them. And I’m very, very angry at what has been done to smokers.

So I think that it’s very likely – in fact almost a certainty – that angry French smokers now make up part of the yellow vest movement. And if they hate Macron, it’ll be because Macron is an antismoker who wants to make the French stop smoking.

And if French drinkers and tubbies are being subjected to the same sort of bullying Public Health campaigns as they are in Britain, they also may have joined the insurrection.

The whole of Europe is at present being subjected to a monumental social engineering project. It’s an experiment of a scale that would make revolutionaries from a former era blanch. If Lenin could witness it, he’d shake his head and say, “They’re attempting the impossible!”  And Mao would say the same.

The European Union is itself one vast political engineering project. Its aim is to transform Europe from a collection of sovereign states into a single superstate or empire, by slowly and gradually and relentlessly centralising all power in Brussels. It’s completely and utterly mad of course, but the European political class are utterly mad, and so will continue with their mad project.

But the EU project isn’t the only social engineering project. There are lots of others. The peoples of Europe are also to stop using coal and oil and nuclear power, and to use wind and solar power instead. Yes, really. That’s what Macron’s fuel price hikes were all about. He believes in Global Warming. And belief in Global Warming is one symptom of the madness that currently afflicts the European political class.

And, as already mentioned, the peoples of Europe are also to stop smoking, stop drinking, and slim down. And probably stop eating meat too.

Did I mention that Christianity is to be replaced by Islam? And that millions of Muslims are to be shipped into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Angela Merkel personally invited them!

What’s being attempted is a complete transformation of society in ways that Lenin and Mao and Castro (and perhaps even Pol Pot) never even began to contemplate. They have set out to create a New Man – Homo Europus – in a new society.

It won’t work, of course. It was utterly mad of anyone to even begin to imagine that any of it could ever possibly work. But then, these people are mad.

Perhaps the only surprise about the French Yellow Vest insurrection is that it took so long to erupt. And that it isn’t happening everywhere else in Europe.

And in fact it’s already well advanced elsewhere in Europe. Brexit is Britain’s attempt to break out of the mad EU political experiment. And it seems to me that these “populist” movements in Europe are just going to get stronger and stronger, and the situation become more and more explosive. Because absolutely everyone in Europe is being trodden on in one way or other, and perhaps also in multiple ways (just imagine if you’re a fat, boozy, Christian smoker who owns a 4×4).

Fat, boozy, Christian smokers?

And when it all finally explodes, it may well become as uncontrollable as the French Yellow Vests seem to have become.

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A Deepening Moral Vacuum

Hat tip to Smokingscot for this story:

Algonquin students vent over permanent smoking ban

Students’ association says majority opposes blanket ban on tobacco, pot smoking

Some students at Algonquin College’s Ottawa campus are fuming over the possibility of a permanent, blanket ban on smoking at the school.

The college announced an interim policy in early October forbidding smoking anywhere on its Ottawa, Perth and Pembroke campuses, effective until Jan. 1, 2019.

The stopgap measure was in response to the Ontario government’s decision that cannabis smoking will be allowed wherever tobacco smoking is permitted, an announcement that left institutions scrambling to align their policies with the province’s pot laws.

Algonquin is currently consulting students about making the smoking ban permanent, and will hold a forum on Friday to give them a chance to vent.

Ban unfair, students’ association says

Matthew Regnier, a director with the Algonquin Students’ Association, said based on unscientific surveys, even though most students don’t smoke, the majority believes those who do should have someplace to puff on campus, whether they’re smoking a cigarette or a joint.

Regnier said forcing smokers off the sprawling campus in the few minutes they have between classes is unfair.

“Most students feel that a smoking ban on campus does not align with the college’s values,” he said.

Under an alternative policy suggested by the students’ association, students would be allowed to smoke in designated areas on campus, away from entrances and highly travelled pathways.

We’re all adults’

That would suit Serafina Zirbser, 23, who was flouting the interim ban near the college’s student centre Thursday.

“We’re all adults. If we don’t want to be around people who are smoking, then we can just walk away,” she said.

“We’re already super stressed, and then you’re taking away something that helps with stress? It’s going to cause a lot of problems.”

Emily Godin, who said she used to smoke but quit, wondered why the college is considering banning marijuana smoking on campus when it allows the consumption of alcohol.

“We have a bar here too,” observed Godin, 19. “Why are you allowing us to get drunk on campus, but you’re limiting us getting high?”

Support for ban

Despite the students’ association’s claim, it’s not difficult to find students who are in favour of the blanket ban.

“There’s a time and a place for smoking, and it’s not during post-secondary education,” said Kayleigh Siermachesky, a student in the college’s diagnostic medical imaging program, who said she’s seen the negative health effects of smoking first-hand.

Friday’s smoke-free campus forum takes place at 2 p.m. in the Ottawa campus’s Indigenous Centre.

My first response: Good to see some resistance to a smoking ban for a change.

My second response: Since this is a response to “Ontario government’s decision that cannabis smoking will be allowed wherever tobacco smoking is permitted”, I’m guessing that the college authorities really want to stop pot smoking rather than tobacco smoking. And what we’re seeing here is a development in the cultural war between the two – one in which the pot smokers have been making steady advances for the past 50 years while tobacco smokers have been in retreat.

Back in the 1960s, when pot smoking prevalence among students leaped. tobacco was perfectly legal to smoke more or less everywhere (except, by convention, in church), and pot was perfectly illegal to smoke absolutely everywhere. Now we seem to be rapidly approaching something like a complete reversal of how life was then, as pot becomes more and more legal, and tobacco less and less.

And as a child of the 1960s, I’ve smoked my fair share of pot. And in the 1990s I was even involved in a bit of campaigning on its behalf. I’m all for its legalisation. However, over the past 15 – 20 years I’ve swung from defending pot to defending tobacco. I’ve completely lost interest in pot. I can’t remember the last time I smoked any, but it must have been well over 10 years ago, and I remember that I coughed a lot. I’ve rather lost interest in getting stoned. I prefer being sober (or is it “straight”?)

And now that I no longer believe that tobacco causes lung cancer (or anything else), I think that pot is a far more dangerous drug than tobacco, because it really is strongly psychotropic. I wouldn’t really want to learn that my bus driver or train driver or  airline pilot was stoned out of his skull at the controls. Same if he’d just sunk a bottle of whisky, because alcohol is strongly psychotropic as well. But tobacco isn’t psychotropic at all: its effects are very subtle. So I wouldn’t be bothered if the driver or pilot was smoking a cigarette.

All that aside, I was interested in the moral arguments mounted by the students against the smoking ban, which were:

It’s “unfair.”

It “does not align with the college’s values.”

“We’re all adults.”

What is “unfair”? Please define “fairness.” And do colleges really have “values”? Are some colleges’ values different from other colleges’ values? Are the colleges’ values written in stone somewhere like the Ten Commandments or the Code of Hammurabi? And what exactly does “adult” mean? How do you tell if someone is or isn’t an “adult”?

It reminds me of the same sort of fatuous assertions made by European politicians (like Emmanuel Macron) about “European values.” What are these values? Where are they listed? Where did they come from?

Or, worse still, Google’s risible injunction: “Don’t Be Evil.” What is “evil”? What is “good”? How do we tell good from evil? Please explain in 3 Easy Steps.

We’re living in a moral vacuum these days. We don’t really know what’s right and what’s wrong. And this is one reason why something like “Health” has become a modern idol. For if we don’t know what’s right and wrong, what’s good and evil, we can surely at least agree that at very least Health is a primary value of some sort.

If the medical profession has taken command of values, with the new primacy of Health, it seems to me that it’s because the churches which were the old guardians of morality have fallen into decay. So the doctors have stepped in to replace them. That’s also one reason why Islam is resurgent. The moral vacuum sucks in replacement values from everywhere and anywhere.

I wish the Algonquin students well. They’re in the heart of a moral maelstrom.

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What Matters and What Doesn’t

Paul Craig Roberts is a bit of a jeremiah:

…the American population is so divided and mutually hostile that there is no restraint by “the American people” on government and the elite oligarchs that rule.

When I first read this, I immediately thought how Americans were either pro-Trump or anti-Trump. But I then thought how they were either pro-smoking or anti-smoking. And also were either global warming alarmists or global warming sceptics.

All at each other’s throats.

In the United States today, and throughout “Western Brainwashed Civilization,” only a handful of people exist who are capable of differentiating the real from the created reality in which all explanations are controlled and kept as far away from the truth as possible.

Everything that every Western government and “news” organization says is a lie to control the explanations that we are fed in order to keep us locked in The Matrix.

How do you “differentiate between the real and the created reality”? That sounds like a pretty tall order. It’s not straightforward. Some people believe that smoking kills, and some people don’t. Some people believe that carbon dioxide is causing catastrophic global warming, and some people don’t. They inhabit separate realities. It’s not immediately obvious which realities are real, and which ones are “created realities” or inventions.

But Roberts isn’t talking about Trump or smoking or global warming.

The ability to control people’s understandings is so extraordinary that, despite massive evidence to the contrary, Americans believe that Oswald, acting alone, was the best shot in human history and using magic bullets killed President John F. Kennedy; that a handful of Saudi Arabians who demonstratively could not fly airplanes outwitted the American national security state and brought down 3 World Trade Center skyscrapers and part of the Pentagon; that Saddam Hussein had and was going to use on the US “weapons of mass destruction;”…..

Does it really matter who killed Kennedy? Does it really matter who brought down the WTC?

I’ve taken a lot of interest in the JFK assassination. Rather less in 9/11. And in both cases I’ve mostly been of the conventional belief that Oswald was the lone gunman who killed JFK, and it was a handful of hijackers that brought down the WTC.

And there were some perfectly rational reasons underlying both beliefs. In the case of the WTC, the buildings were present in Flight Simulator 2, and they lay not far off the flight path of one of New York’s airports. And it wasn’t too difficult to fly a plane into the WTC. I nearly did it myself quite frequently (which is why I thought that the idea had come from someone who’d been playing Flight Simulator 2 which had wireframe buildings like shown at right ). What’s difficult in Flight Simulator 2 isn’t flying around in the sky, but taking off and landing – with landing being the hardest thing of all.

But that was my experience of playing Flight Simulator 2 quite often back in about 1995. I thought that it was perfectly possible for a bunch of people to fly jets into the WTC, after hijacking them in the air after the difficult bit (taking off) had been done. There might be other questions surrounding 9/11, but for me there wasn’t any question about whether the hijackers could have done it. I thought they could have easily done it.

As for JFK, I also had a rational reason for believing Oswald did it. And this was that it seemed to me that any gunman would want to fire in the direction that JFK’s car was moving, either from behind or in front. Having a shooter off at one side meant that he’d have to be traversing his gun to keep JFK in his sights. And I didn’t think that could be an easy thing to do, because guns are quite heavy things, particularly rifles.

In this respect my only experience of guns was with air rifles. My grandfather had one, and it was pretty heavy and unwieldy. I had my own one later, which was lighter, but still quite heavy. And whenever you see people firing rifles they’re almost always aiming them at fixed targets. Because it’s much harder to hit moving targets than fixed ones.

So I thought that Oswald most likely did it, because he was directly behind the motorcade, and shooting down into it (view right), and it would have taken only a slight adjustment in aim to fire off 3 shots in quick succession (although I have zero experience of firing bolt action rifles with telescopic sights).

Furthermore, I couldn’t see that there was any obvious place that a shooter could have been positioned directly in front of the motorcade. that wouldn’t require firing through the car’s windscreen.

And that’s why for a long time I thought Oswald did it – until I discovered the storm drain on Elm Street, which was in front of the motorcade, but not shooting through a car windscreen, and much nearer.

My point is that people can have perfectly rational reasons for believing that Oswald killed JFK and that a handful of hijackers flew planes into the WTC. And there’s no reason to suppose that some people have “the ability to control people’s understandings.” I  think my reasons for believing the official accounts were that they seemed perfectly plausible, given my limited personal experience of planes and guns. It’s not really that there’s a Matrix that people need to take Red Pills to escape. It’s just that there are different explanations for the same event, and some people find some accounts more plausible than others.

It’s the same with smoking. Some people (most people) believe that smoking causes lung cancer. And some people don’t.

Or global warming. Some people believe that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing global warming. And some people don’t.

And in all these cases there’ll be a consensus view, or an authoritative opinion. And it shouldn’t be too surprising if most people, in all these various matters, adopt the authoritative consensus opinion. They’ll believe the doctors about smoking, the IPCC climate scientists about global warming, the 9/11 Commission about the WTC, and the Warren Commission about JFK. And it’s not a crazy or stupid thing to do, to place one’s trust in authorities, or in the consensus. The only thing that’s crazy is to unquestioningly believe authorities and experts. Because they aren’t always right, just like they aren’t always wrong. The real Red Pill is thinking for yourself.

And JFK and 9/11 are also, it seems to me, events that don’t really matter, because they’re shocking events in the past, the consequences of which were played out in the immediate years afterwards. However the smoking dispute and the global warming dispute are ones whose consequences will be discovered in the future, in a world in which smoking may be made illegal, and carbon dioxide designated a banned substance. We can’t do anything to undo either 9/11 or the JFK assassination. But we can do something to avert future ubiquitous and draconian tobacco and carbon dioxide bans.

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The Rise of the Populists

There’s some sort of Brexit debate going on in Parliament. I don’t know what the outcome of it will be, but I’m convinced that it won’t result in Brexit. And it won’t result in Brexit because the British political class wants to remain in the EU. They just need to find a way of remaining in the EU in a manner that looks like Brexit.

But I don’t really think that, in the longer term, it really matters what British MPs do or do not vote for, because the entire EU “project” is on the rocks. The EU grew too big, too fast. And it became too centralised, and too remote from ordinary people. And the European political class has developed a set of values and beliefs and aspirations which are very different from those of the people they govern.

This mismatch has been most glaringly apparent in France over the past few days. Emmanuel Macron is a climate alarmist who wishes to reduce France’s dependence on oil and nuclear power, but the French people share neither his alarm nor his wish. He’s now cancelled the fuel price hikes, but the mismatch between president and people remains. He doesn’t think the same way that they do.

And much the same is true all over Europe, including the UK. An arrogant, detached, conceited political class is filled with contempt for the people they govern. They think they know better than they do what’s good for them.

And that’s why there are growing populist movements and parties springing up all over Europe. And I expect that, over the next few years, these populist parties are going to sweep away the old European political order of the past 50 years. And they’ll most likely disband the EU, and return sovereignty to European states, along with their own currencies and laws and assemblies. If the EU remains at all, it will be one which has reversed back to being something like the EEC: a collection of sovereign states. It’ll maybe be called the EA: The European Association.

And so, even if MPs vote this week to remain in the EU (while calling it Brexit), they’ll soon find that the EU has ceased to exist, and they’ll have a self-governing Britain whether they like it or not.

And sometime during this process of reversal, the smoking bans that have been enacted all over Europe will also be reversed. Because smoking bans have never been popular measures: they’ve been the work of arrogant, detached, conceited bureaucrats and zealots, who think they know what’s good for everyone else.

Smoking bans are, in many ways, the hallmark of globalism. They have been enacted globally, by a global elite political class. And the defeat of globalism must therefore also bring with it the demise of globalist smoking bans, and globalist institutions like the UN and the WHO and the like. We don’t need all these arrogant busybodies. We don’t need any of them at all.

What’s interesting about the current situation is that we currently have a populist US president. He’s regarded as an aberration, but I think that he is simply the first of many, who will appear all over the world.

I’m no great fan of Bruce Springsteen (or of any other musician’s political beliefs), but recent remarks by him seemed sober and realistic:

Bruce Springsteen believes that President Donald Trump will win a second term in the White House.

‘I don’t see anyone out there at the moment… the man who can beat Trump, or the woman who can beat Trump,’ the rocker told The Sunday Times Magazine.

Springsteen, who is a long-standing Democrat himself, said the political party doesn’t ‘have an obvious, effective presidential candidate’ who can ‘speak the same language’ as Trump.

I think Springsteen is right. There’s nobody out there who can match Trump. The only real question is: who will replace Trump once he’s gone? Who is the next populist politician who will speak up for the American people?

In the meantime, over the next few years, Trump will probably be supporting and promoting populists all over Europe. And he will be a very powerful ally of theirs.

It could be an interesting few years.

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