Vive La Différence!

When, just 3 weeks ago, I suggested doing our own survey of smokers, I had in mind a British survey (if only because most of my readers are Brits). But pretty rapidly it emerged that a number of Americans were interested as well, as well as a Canadian (Quebec), and a Spaniard. And a couple of people who lived in Greece. And a German (possibly two now). And then a Dutchman as well.

Almost all these require translations to be done of the v12 questionnaire. On the Social Impact Survey blog, this problem of translation has been approached in a rather ad hoc manner, with various fragments of Greek lying side by side, muddled together with French and German and Spanish ones.

Today I realised – with the peculiarly powerful sort of realisation that comes with the third mug of tea in the morning – that we couldn’t go on like this, and we really needed to separate out all the translations from each other, and have a German section, a French section, a Spanish section, and a Greek section, and (when it’s available) a Dutch section. Because it was all getting too unwieldy the way it was.

So today I’ve been doing that. I’ve been Mr Organisation Man today.

Half way through it all, I realised – perhaps with the fourth mug of tea (I wake up very slowly, and some days not at all) – that all these various languages happened to be European languages. And so I got hold of a map of Europe, and have been inking it in as a Progress Chart. I was rather pleased with the result.

And as I was doing it all, it struck me that the unwieldy, inefficient, all-muddling-along-together approach we’d been taking up to now was exactly like the European Union, where borders are erased, and everyone is supposed to be a European, with nobody different from anyone else, and one-size-fits-all rules and regulations for everyone handed down by tyrants that nobody elected, and who don’t even pay taxes.

What was far more practical, however, was to have the French in one place, the English in another place, the Germans in another place, and so on, exactly like with the translation problem I was looking at earlier today. Any attempt to create a unified Europe, consisting of ‘Europeans’ is pure idealism. It’s unwieldy and it’s unworkable. If Europe consists of a number of nation states, with the French in one place, and the English in another place, etc,  it’s probably because it works best that way, and any attempt to ‘improve’ it is bound to fail.

And it’s always these attempts to ‘improve’ things that cause such grief (smoking bans being a prime example). And sometimes even trigger off wars.

Over time, Europe may evolve gradually into a single political entity, as people speak a language which is an amalgam of European languages – a bit English, a bit German, a bit French (in this respect the French word for blogger – blogueur – seems a wonderful recent example) -, and eat each other’s foods, and drive each other’s cars, and marry each other, and so on. English is anyway already an amalgam of Saxon (German), Viking (Danish/Norwegian), French, and Latin.

But such a transition can’t be planned, or made to happen. It’ll happen in its own good time, or it won’t happen at all. Meanwhile, Vive La Différence!

And anyway, the little international survey that I’m helping to organise (in my disorganised way) is becoming a wonderful example of spontaneous, grassroot, Pan-European (and in fact transAtlantic) co-operation among a bunch of people who just happen to be smokers, and who also happen to face the same existential threat as pretty much every smoker anywhere in the world these days. It’s something that has just happened. It wasn’t something that was planned. And it’s all being run on a shoestring.

Which is why, looking at the map above today, with all the blank areas in it, I wondered if pretty soon some Italians would show up asking to join in too, and some Portuguese, and some Croatians, and Poles and Hungarians and so on. Yesterday, I noticed that I’d had 60 hits from Norway – and that’s about 10 times the number I usually get from there. And it’s not just Europe. Smoking bans have been multiplying throughout North Africa and the Middle East, as I was writing last year. What do we do when Tunisians and Egyptians start wanting to join in? Or Japanese and Thais and Brazilians and Indians?

Because, as I see it, they’re quite likely to want to.

And then I’ll have make a bigger map, obviously. And it’ll take a lot longer to ink in.

About Frank Davis

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Vive La Différence!

  1. waltc says:

    I would guess that if Tunisians and Norwegians are reading your blog, it means they have a working knowledge of English and could do their own translations? After all, the prose on the survey is pretty simple, consisting mostly of nouns (eg, restaurants– the one word I know how to say in Russian, tho not in cyrillic) and basic phrases (how much? how often?) found in any paperback Berlitz.

    I’m more and more convinced that by the time this is done, we’ll be able to get some academics (sociologists) to take note of it. Meanwhile, I hope your tobacco plants are growing at the same rate as those little grass roots you planted here. We’re becoming a large meadow now, ain’t we.

    • Frank Davis says:

      We’re becoming a large meadow now, ain’t we.

      I hope so, Walt.

      I haven’t had any Tunisian hits that I’ve noticed, but I was genuinely surprised by the Norwegian hitcount.

      Never mind Tunisia, in Egypt – in Luxor, to be exact – 20 years ago, as I was strolling down a street someone tried out a whole string of languages on me. First English, then German, then French, and then a few other languages as well. Some people have a great facility for different languages, and slip easily from one to another. I know quite well that there are plenty of people in Tunisia (or anywhere else) for whom English is a second language. Or a 12th one.

  2. smokervoter says:

    Frank, I’ve got a burning question. Does WordPress breakout your US traffic into individual states? If so, what kind of traffic do you get from California? How many hits a day?

    • Frank Davis says:

      No it doesn’t break it out into different states. It’s just “USA”.

      I get about 100 hits a day from the USA. 200 on a good day.

      I know what you’re going to do. Your going to divide 100 by 50 to get 2. Is it worth it? Probably not. But, on the upside, you could help educate a few of us European meatheads a bit, if such a thing is possible.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        I kinda link you a lot Frank!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Whats the best advertisement,word of mouth. Once it gets out that shs is all junk science and you link it and hammer it home,word of mouth takes over… leads to all kinds of things. People looking at diferent links to find truth and piece of mind. But it does more,it drives people to hate the nazis as we do. Keep driving the message and linking it so the word spreads more and more!

        ViVa La freedom!

  3. lecroixkwdjer says:

    Who is the Spaniard?

    • lecroixkwdjer says:

      Just asking, rather curious. :)

      • Frank Davis says:

        I don’t know. I think he lives in Seville. Or maybe Valladolid. Or Vigo.

        • lecroixkwdjer says:

          Would you consider posting your blog statistics, just once, so readers can “see” each other by country, people per country, hits per country or whatever you deem interesting? Just numbers, no names or anything, of course. Those stats are a survey as well and I am very much curious about European distribution and also America and Oceania.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I’ve occasionally thought of doing this. And if today’s hitcount passes 1000, as it looks like it might do, I may well do so.

  4. Rose says:

    I’ve just looking at a news feed

    Study: Smoker’s lung better than none, Missouri 14:32 Wed, 30 May 2012
    Lung transplant from smoker better than staying on waiting list 16:46 Tue, 29 May 2012
    Smoker’s lung better than no new lung at all 16:40 Tue, 29 May 2012
    Study: Donated lung from smoker better than nothing Fox Business 12:49 Tue, 29 May 2012
    Smoker’s lung better than nothing Xtra 03:16 Tue, 29 May 2012

    Getting a smoker’s lung is better than none: Study The Straits Times 03:11 Tue, 29 May 2012
    Study: Getting a smoker’s lung is better than none Washington Examiner 18:15 Mon, 28 May 2012
    Smokers Make OK Lung Donors Medical News Today 20:09 Wed, 30 May 2012
    Smokers’ lungs should be used for transplants… really? 07:46 Wed, 30 May 2012

    Transplanting Smokers’ Lungs Is Better Than No Transplant At All Medical News Today 01:02 Wed, 30 May 2012
    Smokers’ lungs buy time for transplant patients South China Morning Post 22:12 Tue, 29 May 2012 [Source requires subscription]
    Use of Smokers’ Lungs for Transplant Has Pros, Cons 20:35 Tue, 29 May 2012

    Study supports inclusion of smokers in lung transplant donor pool 12:16 Tue, 29 May 2012
    Policy of including smokers in donor pool improves survival rates for patients… ecancer 01:11 Tue, 29 May 2012
    Smokers’ lungs better than no transplant: study The West Australian 00:56 Tue, 29 May 2012

    Smokers Lungs Offer Survival Advantage 00:13 Tue, 29 May 2012
    Policy of including smokers in donor pool improves survival rates for patients… Medical Xpress 23:40 Mon, 28 May 2012
    SMOKING & LUNGS Transplant options Survival using organs from smokers 23:37 Mon, 28 May 2012
    Some lungs are better than none: Study says donated lungs even from… The Washington Post 19:07 Mon, 28 May 2012

    Surrounded as they are by links to ban, tax, bully, exile, throw outside, shun, avoid, embarrass, die, don’t treat, smokers are scary dangerous and contagious, these news articles seem quite incongruous and they are in no way grateful, but indeed rather grudging.

    So why are people still donating their lungs just to be grumbled over and insulted even after death?
    Smokers are just too nice by half, no wonder we are such a pushover.

  5. waltc says:

    Maybe those Norwegians have something to gripe about. Job discrimination encouraged by their health minister.

    • Fredrik Eich says:

      Walt, it was also intersting to read the link below the one you posted to about employers giving non-smokres extra days off work.
      That’s one I haven’t heard before.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Looks like our African tobacco growers and smokers have a friend and are fighting back!

    ‘Ignore anti-smoking campaign’
    THE International Tobacco Growers Association (ITGA) has called on Zambia to reject anti-tobacco campaigners’ calls to ban tobacco growing, as this would hurt Zambian farmers and families involved in its growing.

    The call comes three weeks after the Government, through Agriculture Minister Emmanuel Chenda, pledged support to the tobacco industry as it supports up to 450, 000 people in the country and contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product.

    Speaking yesterday at the African leg of tobacco growers’ meeting in Lusaka, ITGA chief executive officer Antonio Abrunhosa said most anti-tobacco campaigners had not been providing scientifically-backed arguments.

    He said until time comes when the campaigners would be able to scientifically prove their myths about tobacco, Zambia should not entertain their calls.

    The industry, which supports millions of farmers and other traders across the world, was under threat, he said.

    “Zambia is so dear to the international tobacco family and the ITGA would like to urge Zambia not to allow the detractors who want to destroy the lives of several families and yet not providing any scientific facts or even solutions.

    “Zambia has stood firm on its principle of supporting agriculture and we at ITGA are proud of Zambia because it has also voiced its stance internationally,” Mr Abrunhosa told the meeting.

    The meeting has brought together Africa’s top six tobacco growers which include Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

    It has been called to get further backing of its stance that tobacco should not be banned because of its economic value, a stance that the United States of America has also supported.

    Mr Abrunhosa, who is based in Portugal, complained that the World Health Organisation (WHO) was up to no good by seeking to remove tobacco from the world market through various efforts which include banning technical assistance to the farmers.

    Other calls that WHO has stood for are lobbying governments worldwide to issue a decree that would cut to half areas which farmers use to cultivate tobacco and to eliminate the minimum price controls.

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Rise in female and teenage smokers after five years of French smoking ban

    It’s international no-smoking day. Despite a ban on smoking in all public places in France including bars, restaurants and the workplace, about 30 per cent of French people continue to drag on a fag. Indeed, the number of female and teenage smokers has actually increased since 2007 when the ban was introduced.

    Llooks like the bounce back theory has kicked in the same as in IRELAND!

  8. Xhykuz says:

    Bigger map.
    Do no forget my Brazil,

  9. garyk30 says:

    World wide survey, guess that means we are part of a brazen and increasingly aggressive world wide conspiracy.

    Smoke them if you have them!!!!!! :)

    “Tobacco industry interference is the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day on 31 May 2012. The campaign focuses on the need to expose and challenge the tobacco industry’s brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to undermine global efforts to control smoking.”

  10. garyk30 says:

    “a brazen and increasingly aggressive world wide conspiracy”

    Sounds like a terrorist group!
    Wellll, I pray that we can strike terror into the hearts of the TC nannies.

    I like to think of us as being modern day ‘Resistance Fighters’.

    Perhaps, we should have a secret handshake so that we can recognize each other?

  11. Messalina says:

    I like your version of the European Union, a natural, from the ground up, friendly and sociable version. I’d really love to meet all of you, all the regulars on this site. It would be so nice to get together and meet up at one of the more ‘smoker-friendly’ bars. But, failing that it’s nice to have an ‘online pub’!
    I used to be all for the European Union – free movement and all that. But I guess I always thought of the European Union more like what you’ve described, a coming together of people from all over Europe – and now the world. But since the smoking ban, I’ve been sceptical about the whole thing, it’s become a giant superstate of unelected officials dictating from above with one size fits all rules and regulations.
    Then there’s the FCTC – this One-World Government. Their agenda and their whole way of thinking is very similar to ‘Common Purpose’. I watched a couple of talks by Brian Gerrish about the manipulative techniques they use, their focus on ‘change’ which means before ‘change’ can happen, everything that’s currently in place needs to be torn down, and their use of Neuro-Linguistic programming. He made some comments about a lot of strange and disturbing public sculptures that have been going up everywhere: They’re not aesthetically pleasing and they’re not uplifting, in fact they’re rather depressing. Well, those public ‘works of art’ made me think of ‘plain packaging’ which also consists of disturbing images (of other peoples’ misfortunes – that is, unless they’re faked). David Hockney was spot on when he referred to plain packaging as ‘the uglification of Britain’. Well, I think plain packaging is a perfect example of Neuro Linguistic Programming.

    • Frank Davis says:

      They think top down. I think bottom up.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        I think cut their F$$$$$ing Throats……………put their heads on poles in front of parlimant!

    • jaxthefirst says:

      “But since the smoking ban, I’ve been sceptical about the whole thing”

      I suspect that you’re not alone there, Messalina. In fact, I think one of the greatest unforeseen consequences of the smoking ban is that by affecting people in such a direct and personal way (and not just smokers, either), it has opened many people’s eyes to a lot of the lies and manipulation and spin and hoodwinking that goes on today and has made them much more sceptical about a whole host of things – not just the EU.

      Only today on the radio some right-on research facility from Oxford Uni announced that the “safe limit” of alcohol units was not the 14/21 which had previously been bandied about by the medicos, but in fact was down to as low as just three glasses of wine a week. Not that that was surprising for any smoker – we’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt and we’ve been warning non-smoking drinkers for years that those limits would inevitably come down, and that they’d keep on falling (just watch this space).

      But what was really surprising was the reactions from the all of the callers that I heard. Although no equation was made to the anti-smoking movement’s early days (I guess those calls were probably screened out beforehand), there was nevertheless a huge number of people citing the general dodginess of studies like these, asking who had funded the research, pointing out the contradictory nature of health scares these days (one day something’s good for you, another day it’s bad for you), alluding to how “vested interests” played a major part in the results of so-called “independent” research – saying, in effect, that they were so heartily fed up with the endless array of finger-wagging people telling them how to live their lives, that they simply didn’t believe them any more and had ceased to take a blind bit of notice!

      Now, I know that I’m a bit hyper-sensitive when it comes to anything which smacks of the same tactics as used by Tobacco Control, but I can’t help but think that if the smoking ban hadn’t been imposed, or if it had been just a little less draconian and – well – less noticeable, really, then there’s a lot of people out there who even now wouldn’t have been brought face to face with the reality of where these “research has shown” type studies inevitably lead. And those people now wouldn’t be getting off their fat backsides to do their own investigations into the investigators.

      And people who are investigating scientific research because of the draconian smoking restrictions have probably discovered, too, that there’s a wealth of information out there about the EU as well …

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Anyway if ya wanna take a free shot at BLOOMING IDIOT fox has a poll out

    You Decide

    Published May 31, 2012

    New York City Mayor Bloomberg wants to institute a first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of super-sized sodas and other sugary drinks as part of his anti-obesity campaign. It follows his other campaigns that include a proposed ‘fat tax’ on soda, banning trans-fats and smoking.

    Thank you, we have already counted your vote.
    Not sure. There’s no arguing we’re getting fatter as a nation. 1.19% (404 votes)

    No. Educate, don’t legislate. The Nanny Mayor has gone too far! 94.85% (32,182 votes)

    Yes. Obesity leads to illness. Go, Nanny Mayor! 3.96% (1,345 votes)

    Read more:

  13. The Blocked Dwarf says:

    Uhm…I might be at fault here…in the last 12 months I’ve accessed your blog from Germany, Holland and Belgium…France probably too I’m afraid, as well as from deepest darkest Norfuck (truly a ‘furrin’ country and its questionable whether its even part of the UK let alone the EU!). BTW if you want German stuff translating for free then you can always email it to me -assuming its not the 500 page collected volume of Chairperson Arnott’s psychotic Rants.

No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.