Black Hole

Describing the general election as a “black hole”, Brendan O’Neill has it about right:

There’s nothing normal about this election. It’s time someone pointed out the strangeness of it, the spirit-crushing smallness of it. In essence, the sort of stuff that used to be the concern of local elections — red-tape issues, careers guidance for teens, providing certain services to rural communities — has somehow become the meat of the general election, that once-every-five-years affair at which we once got to choose between traditionalism or semi-socialism; between those who thought power should rest with the upper or capitalist classes and those who thought it should be somewhere nearer the people; between people and institutions that had different visions for how the economy — the very engine of the nation — should be organised; who had different ideas, different values.

And now? David Cameron excitably promises to provide superfast broadband to rural communities. Okay. Get on with it. That’s not a political issue, far less a General Election one — it’s a practical task. Ed Miliband actually made headlines with his promise that Labour will provide ‘face-to-face careers guidance for all 16-year-olds’. What? Various politicos are trying to cajole us into voting by reminding us that Nelson Mandela spent 20 miserable years on Robben Island for the right to vote. Yes, but he did so to secure the right of black people to determine their destinies, to take control of their lives, not so that they could say Yay or Nay to giving spotty youths a 20-minute chat about whether they should go into nursing or retail.

The suffocating smallness of the election is summed up in the parties’ attitudes to economic matters. Labour’s slogan is ‘Balancing the books’. Seriously. It promises there will be ‘no extra borrowing’ under a Labour government. So there will still be borrowing, just not extra borrowing! And that’s it. This from a party whose 1918 manifesto called for the ‘immediate nationalisation’ of the railways, mines and electrical power, the ‘democratic control of industry’, and ‘employment for all’. From calling for ‘the common ownership of the means of production’ to promising to ‘balance the books’ in less than a century. For its part, the Tories, once the party of business and the free market, promise to create a surplus by 2018 so that Britain can ‘start to pay down its debts’.

What we have here, on that most immediate of political issues: the economy, is not a choice between clashing visions of power, of control, of growth and development, but rather between two slightly different bank managers….

I think the idea is to keep the campaign low key, with nothing happening, so voters will switch off. But Nigel Farage and UKIP seem to be gaining traction:

Latest polling data has shown that UKIP leader Nigel Farage is nine points ahead in the constituency of Thanet South with less than two weeks to go until polling day.
The numbers put Farage on 39 per cent, nine points clear of his nearest rival, Conservative Craig Mackinlay and way ahead of Labour’s Will Scobie who is on 26 per cent.

Speaking to Breitbart London Farage said he was “excited and confident, but certainly not complacent” and will keep working hard in the constituency.

And even thought the South East was where the Liberal Democrats retained their only MEP last May, their candidate in this constituency is looking at losing his deposit.

The voting intention of constituents was collected by Survation on Wednesday 22nd April and is the latest available.

“In the last 72 hours we’ve become very excited about how we are doing in some of our target seats. We’re nicking a bit of vote from everybody. We’ve clearly hurt Labour more than we’ve hurt anybody else,” he told the Telegraph.

“And this whole narrative here – Ukip’s fading away, it’s not doing any good, it ain’t going to take any seats; actually we take the very opposite view.

“The thing that really strikes me about these figures is the number of non-voters, the people who did not engage in 2010, who have said they are going to vote Ukip. I think that is really exciting.”

And that despite the hatchet job by Evan Davis (Ssee James Delingpole: 10 reasons why Evan Davis’s BBC interview with Nigel Farage was the worst thing ever):

About Frank Davis

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32 Responses to Black Hole

  1. roobeedoo2 says:

    Evans above! What a shambles of an interviewer. The only thing Brillo about him was his hairstyle 😉

  2. Reinhold says:

    The interviewer behaves like an exorcist.

  3. If anybody wants to tell the Surgeon General and his SG reports to go fuck themselves heres the link

    Down at the bottom a survey and in it you can comment…………….

  4. Smoking Scot says:

    Completely O/T

    Here’s me being terribly helpful toward the antis who keep an eye on your blog.

    There’s a vacancy for a CEO of ASH in Wales. You can work from 28 to 37.5 hours a week. It’s not especially demanding, with their description giving one a clue:

    The role of the Chief Executive is principally strategic in nature,
    the ASH Wales team is small in number and the post holder will have to
    engage in operational duties ranging from administration to participation in
    community events such as the Royal Welsh Show.

    (Essentially you’ll be a figurehead trying to outwit “opposition and threats”).

    And you’ll get paid up 45,000 quid a year (with all expenses for travel and accommodation paid, plus the chance to join in all those Tobacco Control meetings they have in exciting places like… London).

    Here’s the job description:

    Click to access ash_wales_chief_executive_officer_jd_2015.pdf

    And here’s what the Taxpayers Alliance thinks of it:

    Just imagine being the front guy/gal in the photo shoot when the new CEO

    And your first strategy initiative could be “voluntary” no smoking parks, sea shores, city centers, forestry commission land – and so on.

  5. North Carolina Senate Passed Bill Nullifying EPA Regulations on Wood-burning Stoves

    The North Carolina senate passes bill blocking EPA regulations. By Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.

  6. jltrader says:
    Mr Farage said he has cut his working day to 14 hours and may give up smoking. He was pictured smoking an e-cigarette yesterday.
    Certain things can make people become more at risk of developing back pain, including smoking.
    The increase in risk may be because smoking has caused tissue damage in the back or because smokers tend to have unhealthier lifestyles than those who don’t smoke.
    Source: NHS
    Quitting smoking because of back pain ?

  7. Edgar says:

    Yes, the coverage of the election run-up is anodyne to the point of insipidity but the election itself is probably one of the most important in recent history. The prospect of a Labour government propped up by Scottish Nationalists, the probable annihilation of the LibDems, a few more, at least, UKIP members, maybe even ‘the Referendum’ eventually… the House will never be the same again. Perhaps, the fact that so much is at stake is the very reason that the policy focus seems to be on trivia. We, the voters, simply can not be trusted to contribute to important matters.

  8. jltrader says:

    I think linking smoking to back pain in the case of a plane crash victim is as ridiculous as it can get. The ‘maybe I’ll quit smoking, but just to be on the safe side I’m vaping for now’ situation reflects poorly on Farage.

  9. Ed says:

    It stems from a study which the mail online subsequently reported on. NHS choices go over the study here, but a quick read shows how farcical it is;

    • Rose says:

      I thought it was particularly creative when I read about it last year.

      Smoking linked to increased risk of chronic back pain
      4 November 2014

      “People who smoke are much more likely to develop chronic back pain than those who do not smoke. These are the findings of a new study by researchers from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

      “This is not the first study to link smoking to chronic pain. But according to the research team, led by Bogdan Petre of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, it is the first study to suggest that smoking interferes with a brain circuit associated with pain, making smokers more prone to chronic back pain.”

  10. jaxthefirst says:

    It would be very disappointing if Farage gave up smoking now. I’d have thought that he was smart enough to realise that smoking is one of his party’s main USP’s – none of the other parties are touching it with a bargepole because they’re scared (or they just don’t care because most of them don’t smoke) and I think that there is a large, but silent, number of people who will be voting for him for precisely this reason. Maybe he doesn’t realise this, but I’m surprised if so, because in many ways he seems to be such a canny politician.

    If he gives up then he won’t be able to help himself but to become an anti – it inevitably happens to virtually all ex-smokers, including those who switch to vaping instead, and despite any protestations they make beforehand about “not becoming one of those dreadful Reformed Smokers” – and much of his attraction to many of his prospective voters will fly out the window. I’m already having my doubts, and I was dead set on voting UKIP, but now ….

    Looking at it from a very mercenary standpoint, he’d have done better to have kept smoking until at least May 7th – it’s only a couple of weeks, after all – after which time he would have reaped the benefit of all the smoker-votes and could then do as he pleased.

    I wouldn’t, in fact, be surprised to discover that he had already given up and switched to pretend cigarettes. When I watched that abysmal interview with Evan Davies, I thought he was looking suspiciously fat around the face and neck (why do ex-smokers always develop that jowly look before the weight goes on anywhere else?) and I wondered then whether he’d quit. Maybe it was just a bad camera angle, but it seems I might have been right. What a shame.

    • Rose says:

      If he gives up then he won’t be able to help himself but to become an anti – it inevitably happens to virtually all ex-smokers

      That’s what worries me, but worse still he won’t be able to think round corners any more, he’ll lose that sharpness of thought and breadth of vision that is essential to sorting out the country.
      I’ve seen it before when my brilliant and kindly doctor turned into an impatient and uncaring shrew.

      There is so much more to smoking than nicotine.

      Here are the best explanations I have come across.

      Your Brain Boots Up Like a Computer

      “As we yawn and open our eyes in the morning, the brain stem sends little puffs of nitric oxide to another part of the brain, the thalamus, which then directs it elsewhere.

      Like a computer booting up its operating system before running more complicated programs, the nitric oxide triggers certain functions that set the stage for more complex brain operations, according to a new study.

      In these first moments of the day, sensory information floods the system—the bright sunlight coming through the curtains, the time on the screeching alarm clock—and all of it needs to be processed and organized, so the brain can understand its surroundings and begin to perform more complex tasks.

      “The thinking part of the brain is applying a sort of stencil to the information coming in and what the nitric oxide is doing is allowing more refinement of that stencil,” says Dwayne Godwin, an associate professor at Wake Forest University and lead author of the study, which was funded by the National Eye Institute.

      The little two-atom molecule, it seems, is partly responsible for our ability to perceive whatever it is we’re sensing.”

      “This study shows a unique role for nitric oxide. It may help us to someday understand what goes wrong in diseases that affect cognitive processing, such as attention deficit disorder or schizophrenia, and it adds to our fundamental understanding of how we perceive the world around us,” Godwin said.”

      Nitric Oxide Can Alter Brain Function

      “Research from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester shows that nitric oxide (NO) can change the computational ability of the brain. This finding has implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and our understanding of brain function more generally.

      The research is led by Professor Ian Forsythe and is reported in the journal Neuron on 26th November.

      Professor Forsythe, of the MRC Toxicology Unit, explains: “It is well known that nerve cells communicate via the synapse the site at which chemical messengers (neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine or glutamate) are packaged and then released under tight control to influence their neighbours.

      “Nitric oxide is a chemical messenger which cannot be stored and can rapidly diffuse across cell membranes to act at remote sites (in contrast to conventional neurotransmitters which cannot pass across cell membranes).”

      “Surprisingly, the whole population of neurons were affected, even those neurons which had no active synaptic inputs, so indicating that nitric oxide is a ‘volume transmitter’ passing information between cells without the need for a synapse. Such a function is ideal for tuning neuronal populations to global activity.”

      Carbon Monoxide Gas Is Used by Brain Cells As a Neurotransmitter
      January 26, 1993

      “THE simple gas carbon monoxide is used by nerve cells to signal each other, researchers have found in a discovery that could open the way to a new understanding of how the brain operates.

      The discovery follows a finding that another simple gas, nitric oxide, can also signal nerve cells. Together the two gases break all the old rules on how neurotransmitters work”
      Neurobiologists have been finding neurotransmitters since the 1920’s and thought they had the rules for nerve signaling in hand. Each substance was thought to be stable and specific. One nerve cell would release the transmitter and it would fit into the next cell like a key in a lock.

      But gases are volatile and nonspecific, and they diffuse into any nearby cells. Transmitters were also thought to be stored in small pouches in cells that made them and released when necessary. But gases are not stored and are made only when needed. Clinical Implications

      “It’s a whole brand new signaling mechanism,” said Dr. Charles Stevens, a neurobiologist who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institutes investigator at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

      “So far, he added, he is finding evidence that carbon monoxide might be used to cement memories in the hippocampus of the brain and that established memories might be erased when carbon monoxide is absent.”
      http: //

      And you can’t get any of that from an e-cig.

    • Frank Davis says:

      After his efforts at Stony Stratford, I’d be astonished if he stopped smoking and became an anti.

      But there are rumours that he’s not been very well in recent months. His back pain dates from his crash, and may have been getting worse. He stopped drinking for Jan or Feb, on impulse. He’s complained of overwork. And given that he’s the leader of UKIP with all that that entails, it’s not really very surprising.

      • jaxthefirst says:

        One would hope that would be the case, Frank, but where giving up smoking is concerned, old loyalties are often one of the first casualties. Think, for example, of all those friends of yours whom you’ve often quoted as banning you from smoking in their houses the moment they themselves give up, and I’m sure you’re not the only one on here to experience this rude about-face by people who once probably prided themselves on being “good friends” (and probably – incorrectly – still do). Giving up smoking has elements of a religious conversion about it – something which has been alluded to on here many times; and, as with all religious conversions, part of the “sacrifice” one has to make is to eschew all one’s previously-held beliefs and views and embrace the new ones wholeheartedly. And it’s a well-known fact that converts are often the most fervently zealous members of any religion, far more so than those born and raised within it.

        And of course, there’s the mental “thing,” too, ably explained here by Rose. So far, Farage has played a blinding game despite all the slurs and bias and nasty insinuations that the existing powers-that-be and the media have tried to throw at him, and I can’t help but feel that this is in no small part due to the fact that, with a smoker’s devastating combination of intuition and breadth of vision, not only was he able to grasp absolutely what was really behind each and every insult – but he was also able to react in exactly the right way to frustrate those who were trying to goad him, and at the same time say precisely what his supporters (and potential supporters) wanted to hear. In short, he understood the nature of the “game” (unlike his opponents, whose challenges have consistently been largely repetitive and pretty unimaginative – as befit challenges from non-smokers’ imaginations) and was able to come out smelling of roses every time. In many ways, his decision to change his stance of “unabashed and unrepentant smoker” at a time when he stands to gain so many votes from smokers just by virtue of this fact indicates a lack of mental acuity and political awareness, which in turn hints at the fact that, perhaps, he has already given up – the loss of mental sharpness and vision is, in my experience, as rapid and drastic as is the increase in body fat associated with quitting tobacco.

        His decision to be photographed vaping instead of smoking is also a bit of a giveaway. It’s almost as if he (as one of the “newly-converted” – to continue the religious analogy) has already lost his awareness of the mindset of his smoker-voters and thinks that by puffing on a pretend cigarette, they’ll remain convinced that he’s still “on their side.” If he was still smoking he’d be aware that, as far as real smokers are concerned, vapers are as bad (if not, sometimes, worse) than total nicotine abstainers. He might as well have purchased an ASH-produced tee-shirt with a slogan on it saying: “Hey! Now I hate smokers, too. Just like the rest of them!”

        Just surmising, of course, but it will be interesting to monitor his behaviour over the next couple of weeks to see if he shows any more inclinations towards “toeing the line” in any way; if he starts couching his arguments in the same meaningless, convoluted rhetoric and obvious untruths employed by all the other politicians, in a vain attempt to try and portray himself and his party as the one which is good for everyone in the whole country (impossible for any party to actually achieve, and one of the things which most annoys me about all of them), rather than adopting his usual straightforward manner and his unabashed support for British people and the British way of life, first and foremost, then that’ll be another sign that he’s a lost cause. A space worth watching closely over the next couple of weeks, methinks.

        I do even wonder whether Farage’s political opponents are aware that his smoking was the key to his success, not just in gaining smoker votes, but also in enabling him to have the edge, mentally, on them – because I do think that the majority of non-smokers are at least subconsciously aware that smokers tend to be mentally sharper than they are, and that’s one of the things that makes them hate smokers so much – and that in fact it is his doctor/physio/osteopath (or whoever) who is the one who’s been “got at” to convince him to pack up smoking over and above all else, in order to diminish his unflappable, mentally-dextrous ability to maintain his position and his ongoing success with the electorate, and thus to reduce the threat which he and his party have, so far, posed to their existing, cosy ménage à trois. They’ve done it before in respect of people who were much less of a threat to the status quo (Cameron, Clegg etc), so I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t do it again, particularly in view of the fact that UKIP poses the biggest challenge they’ve had since the turn of the last century to their unassailable shared grip on power.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Think, for example, of all those friends of yours whom you’ve often quoted as banning you from smoking in their houses the moment they themselves give up,

          That’s not quite how it was. Most of the home-smoking-banners were more-or-less never-smokers rather than ex-smokers. I can think of very few ex-smokers who became smoke-banning anti-smokers. It was more that when there were fewer and fewer smokers, never-smokers (who had never much liked smoking) started becoming vocal. The very first home smoking ban I encountered was from a life-long never-smoker (who suffered from considerable back pain, oddly enough).

          It was more that the never-smokers began to feel that Our Time Has Come, once there were relatively few smokers around. And many of these were the wives of smokers or ex-smokers. In my family, my father stopped smoking when he was about 60 or 65, but never became an anti-smoker. It was my occasional-smoking mother who became a bit of an anti-smoker. Equally my ex-smoking brother never became a born-again anti-smoker.

          But that’s just my experience. Someone like Michael Bloomberg clearly is an ex-smoker who became a virulent antismoker.

  11. Rose says:

    I haven’t looked up nitric oxide to see whats new for quite a while, which was remiss of me.

    Study shows blood cells need nitric oxide to deliver oxygen
    13 April 2015

    “New findings on how red blood cells deliver oxygen from the lungs to tissue in may mean it is time to rewrite the text books on how the respiratory cycle works.”

    “Study reveals molecular basis of blood flow control in the respiratory cycle

    For some time doctors have known there is an imbalance between the amount of oxygen transported in the blood and the amount that is delivered to tissues – but not why.

    Prof. Stamler says their study shows they have discovered the molecular basis of what controls blood flow in the respiratory cycle. The team believes nitric oxide is the key to oxygen delivery – and without it the respiratory cycle cannot run. Prof. Stamler explains:

    “It’s in the hemoglobin protein itself, which has the ability to deliver the nitric oxide together with oxygen.”

    Nitric oxide yields of cigarettes

    Results for cigarettes sampled in 1996

    Click to access 96yieldno.pdf

    “Low nitric oxide levels in red blood cells make blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, particularly dangerous. Laboratory research has shown that the red blood cells in individuals with these conditions do not trigger the hypoxic vasodilation required for blood flow autoregulation to work well.

    In addition, blood transfusions, which have recently been shown to be deficient in nitric oxide, are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, including heart attacks. The effects of blood transfusions are suspiciously similar to effects seen in the mice, Stamler said. They both lack nitric oxide.

    “It’s not enough to increase to oxygen content of blood by transfusion; if the nitric oxide mechanism is shot, oxygen cannot make it to its destination,” he said. “We know that blood in a blood bank is deficient in nitric oxide, so infusing that blood may cause plugging of blood vessels in tissues, making things worse. Essentially, blood flow cannot autoregulate (increase) without nitric oxide. In terms of developing future therapies, the goal must be restoring red blood cell function, complete with nitric oxide delivery capability. As for the nation’s blood supply, the blood should be replenished with nitric oxide.”
    http: //

    So what was all that about “Dirty blood” eh?

  12. Rose says:

    Jax, the phenomenon of the rabid ex-smoker is something that has intrigued me for a long time, looking again at nitric oxide research, there might be a clue from the early days that was found out only by accident.

    I’ve only just found this –

    What happens when mice are unable to make nitric oxide at all.

    Scientists Discover a Genetic Basis for Aggressive Behavior in Male Mice
    November 22, 1995

    “Johns Hopkins University scientists have discovered a genetic basis for violent and excessive sexual behavior in male mice.

    They found that male mice lacking one particular gene are unusually violent, attacking each other relentlessly and sometimes fatally. Equally surprising, the male mice without that gene display a dramatic sexual persistence toward females, refusing to back down even when rejected by females not receptive to mating.

    The gene that is missing in the specially bred mouse enables the brain to make the neurotransmitter nitric oxide, a substance that transmits impulses between cells in the brain and nervous system. Nitric oxide is the neurotransmitter found in a number of nerve pathways, or circuits, within brain regions that regulate emotional behavior. Disturbances in these brain cells may underlie the aggressive behavior of the mice.

    The highly aggressive behavior in mice whose brains cannot make nitric oxide appears to be the most pronounced change in aggression ever associated with a neurotransmitter, said Solomon Snyder, director of the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a co-investigator in the research.”

    ” Ted and Valina Dawson, a husband-wife team of Hopkins neuroscientists who were breeding the mice for the stroke research at the School of Medicine, first noticed the behavior.

    “When we started putting male mice together, we noted that they were fighting a lot, and when you put the male mice in for breeding, the females were screaming a lot,” Ted Dawson said.”

    No wonder ex-smokers get so irritable and bitter.

  13. harleyrider1978 says:


    Financial corruption and fraud at the World Bank and the IMF are normal business practices. Most people are kept in the dark because the establishment media refuses to report on endemic corruption and fraud at the international financial institution.

    While the U.S. press is apt to portray the IMF and World Bank as selfless Good Samaritans, the reality is that these 50 year-old institutions function more like global loan sharks.

    In addition to running debt scams and engaging in criminal fraud, the World Bank, the Federal Reserve and a tiny bankster elite are working to impose an authoritarian financial system over the entire planet.

    In 2009, then World Bank president Robert Zoellick admitted the existence of a plan to eliminate national sovereignty and impose a global government during a speech on the eve of the G20 summit.

    This clip recorded a while back shows how evil the money system is at the World Bank.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      The Greek government issued a decree that forces local governments to transfer all cash balances to the central bank, as debt to the International Monetary Fund and salaries are due.

      This is crazy.

      Greece should default before it creates its own civil war.

      You just can’t do this sort of thing to the people.

      We are heading into a situation of total economic insanity.

      Greece’s government issued a decree Monday requiring public bodies such as state-owned companies and public pension funds to transfer their cash reserves to the central bank as the country’s cash reserves continue to dry up.

      The decree, published in the government gazette late Monday, came as no surprise, the government having telegraphed the move last week. But it still represents evidence of an escalating cash squeeze amid renewed concerns of Greek default.

      In remarks to journalists last week, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas had warned that such a move was coming.

      From Bloomberg

      The decree to confiscate reserves held in commercial banks and transfer them to the Bank of Greece could raise as much as 2 billion euros ($2.15 billion), according to two people familiar with the decision. The money is needed to pay salaries and pensions at the end of the month, the people said.

      “It is a politically and institutionally unacceptable decision,” Giorgos Patoulis, mayor of the city of Marousi and president of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece, said in a statement on Monday.“No government to date has dared to touch the money of municipalities.”

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        QUOTE (ZeroHedge) All this means the banks can use YOUR money to pay their casino planned debt and you may NOT get your deposits back.

        Liabilities that the bank has by virtue of holding client assets Liabilities

        arising with an original maturity of less than 7 days owed by the banks to a

        credit institution or investment firm Liabilities arising from participation

        in designated settlement systems Liabilities owed to central

        counterparties recognized by the European Securities and Markets Authorities…

        on OTC derivatives, central counterparties and trade depositaries

        Liabilities owed to an employee or former employee in relation to salary or

        other remuneration, except variable remuneration Liabilities owed to an

        employee or former employee in relation to rights under a pension scheme,

        except rights to discretionary benefits Liabilities owed to creditors

        arising from the provision to the bank of goods or service (other than

        financial services) that are critical to the daily functioning of its


        JP MORGAN/CHASE Stops accepting CASH as payment for credit cards, mortgages; forbids customers from storing cash in Safety Deposit Boxes!

        USA On The Verge of Another Economic Upset Worse Than 2008 Bail Ins Coming to the United State

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