Words

A year or two back, I found out that sunlight exerts a small force on everything it strikes. It’s called radiation pressure. I built it into my orbital simulation model, and using asteroids that weighed one kilogram and were 200 km in diameter, found that the sunlight blew them all out of the solar system at very high speeds. Sunlight does the same thing with very small particles of dust: it blows them out of the solar system. Perhaps that’s why the night skies are clear, and we can see the stars.

There are a lot of these small forces around. Wind and rain and snow exert small forces. So do tides and currents and waves.

And so do words.

And words are formed of tiny waves in the air, much like waves on the sea.

And some words exert more force than other words. Shouted words. Strong words. Curse words. There’s a saying that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But it isn’t really true: a well-aimed word can be as effective as a cannon ball at stopping people in their tracks.

And all spoken and written words exert a slight force on those who hear them. And the force they exert is always pushing them in one direction or other. Read something that’s pro-Donald, and the words push you in one direction. Read something anti-Donald, and they push you in the opposite direction. Same if you read anti-EU stuff, and pro-EU stuff.

And if you live in an anti-Donald environment – for example, you read the New York Times and watch CNN -, the words will be pushing you strongly in one direction. And if you listen online to Michael Savage or Alex Jones, the words will be pushing you strongly in the opposite direction. You can almost feel the pressure on your skin.

And if the word-wind blows strongly enough in one direction for long enough, it can blow entire populations in one direction or other. And the antismoking word-wind has been blowing – at first very gently, and now very strongly – for 70 years or more. And it’s moved everybody, just as surely as waves pounding on a pebble beach gradually reduce it to sand.

I first came across the antismoking wind in Reader’s Digest. They used to have regular articles, back in the early 1960s, highlighting the dangers of smoking. They weren’t scaremongering, but they were gently suggesting that smoking might be harmful, and “cutting down” on smoking from 30 a day to 20 a day was probably a good idea. There were never any articles about the pleasures of smoking. And so the wind was blowing in one direction. And it had already been blowing in that direction for twenty years or more. And for the next 50 years the wind only got stronger and stronger. Now we have cigarette packs which shout “Smoking Kills” in large bold black letters on a white background. It’s almost become a storm wind.

And so now we have entire populations – and their governments – that are running before the wind, like sailing ships in a storm. Some of them, like me, have taken down their sails, and lowered kedge anchors into the sea to slow their motion. But many remain under full sail, and run before the wind faster and faster.

But the storm may be abating slightly. Or changing direction. Because there are more and more counter-winds blowing. There are more and more articles and videos which either blow across the prevailing antismoking wind, or counter to it. Because in the internet era, with lots of people talking, it’s no longer possible to control the message, the overall direction of the wind.  And so in the USA there’s the curious situation that the mainstream media are blowing hard in one anti-Donald direction, while large parts of the online internet media are blowing in the opposite pro-Donald direction. If you have a TV set, you get the mainstream wind, and if you have a computer, you’ll be able to catch the counter-wind.

And these winds and counter-winds collide and form spinning vortices, much like hurricanes. And so right now in the USA there’s a swirling, spinning hurricane of words blowing, some in one direction, some in the other.

It’s not really that much different in Europe. There are strong, gusting winds blowing there too. The pro-EU wind and the anti-EU wind circle around each other in a growing storm.

The whole world is getting stormier.

And if the wind keeps rising, the words will start to be exchanged for cannon balls. It won’t just be loud, angry, curse words that people will be firing at each other, but bullets and bombs and missiles. And that’s already started in some places. In many previously placid Islamic countries, it is the mosques and madrassas – the places of words – where fundamentalists are first radicalised and energised, and sent out to bomb and kill and maim. Some sort of religious war – a war of words – seems to have broken out. And it only ever seems to be getting deeper.

For the past 10 years I’ve been fighting against the antismoking wind. Because that’s been the strongest wind blowing in my life. It has scattered all my friends. It has shattered entire communities, and set up little whirling tornadoes of smokers and antismokers (with non-smokers in the placid eye of the storm).

But I’m beginning to think that these relatively light antismoking winds (and they’re still just words, after all) are going to be overtaken by far stronger winds, blowing in different directions. National winds. Religious winds. Scientific winds. Blowing us helplessly every which way.

The future looks very stormy.

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About Frank Davis

smoker
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14 Responses to Words

  1. C.F. Apollyon says:

    Is a hurricane our best model here for “storms” or “a storm?” Because some of the we here in the now probably do not remember that we had no idea what hurricanes were until recently thanks to the advent of weather radar and later weather satellites. But here in the now, these particular types of storms, we know what they are, and for a particular storm, and we can generally tell if will come ashore, and when and where they will come ashore.

    So…the question now becomes “mandatory” or “voluntary” types of evacuation orders. And there are always holdouts who refuse to leave.

    I recall the Mount St. Helens story, where there was an old man who refused to leave, and he is now “buried in the rubble of the aftermath.” The message that I get from that…is…
    “Listen to us, or die.”
    or perhaps even…
    “Listen to us, or suffer the consequences.”

    This makes me think of a line from the movie “Watchmen”…where Ozymandias(Adrian) tells Night Owl II(Dan)…
    “Statistically, one murder doesn’t equal a trend.”
    This statement is in regards to Rorschach’s theory that “The murder of The Comedian” is in and of itself, indicative of a strong possibility that the trend will continue. Or as Rorschach himself put it…”Someone is gunning for masks.”

    So back to words and their energy, and making note of your inclusion of “curse words” as some subset that somehow carry more weight than other words…
    Q: What word could possibly weigh more, or carry more weight, than the word…”weight.”
    A: Is the answer…”wait.”

    I do agree that words are made of energy. But I think it would be better to be inclusive of energies. Thought(s), intent, intentions, reason(s), purpose(s), will…all kinds of stuff there to think about. And not to be remiss on speech, as well as things like interpretation and interpolation. Fairness and honesty and their counterparts, timbre(s), accentuation(s), accent(s), knowledge(s), open-mindedness, closed-mindedness, and the reasons for those precepts and how they are viewed. Now work time and times in there, and suddenly, EVERYTHING is succinct. Which means we are at that “moment of truth” in the now, of “action and reaction.”

    So…the basis of teaching/learning.
    Learning how to learn.
    Learning how to teach.
    Pretty much, the same things at different times if you ask me.

    “You can’t pour water into a rock.”

    Sure ya can. You just may need a shitload of free time, and a metric fuckton of water.

    I dunno. Just thinking out loud. :-)

    Conversations via The Internet can be weird. Especially in text where they tend to be viewed as a ping-pong or tennis match, or maybe even total unrestricted warfare. There are those who “take advantage” of The Internet and it’s shortcomings. But even they have something to say. You just…might not like what it is. I personally have enough faith in The Universe, to think that some of the more “nefarious” types of activities that some may be attempting to explore and/or exploit are simply not possible. Or at least, not possible in the ways that it may appear that they are possible. Meaning, “yes…they are absolutely possible…but those pathways and avenues are only go so far before they become inaccessible and/or off-limits.”

    Why? I think that they will find that those pathways are reserved. “Already occupied”…even.

    But that’s just me. I see purpose and purposes in everything, and I think that The Universe is entirely too old and experienced to allow situations to develop that are outside of it’s own purpose and purposes. That may sound “a little too forgiving of The Universe and it’s methods” for most to tolerate or even entertain. But who doesn’t want forgiveness when they need it? I mean…we’re here. We got here somehow.
    /me shrugs

  2. Rose says:

    Beautiful imagery, Frank.

  3. beobrigitte says:

    I first came across the antismoking wind in Reader’s Digest. They used to have regular articles, back in the early 1960s, highlighting the dangers of smoking. They weren’t scaremongering, but they were gently suggesting that smoking might be harmful, and “cutting down” on smoking from 30 a day to 20 a day was probably a good idea. There were never any articles about the pleasures of smoking.
    That smoking could possibly be a pleasure even back then was not accepted. The fear mongering had already started with the anti-smokers screeching “ADDICTION”.
    I for sure miss the pleasure of a cigarette on long haul flights but I’m not breaking out in sweat or attack other people or am in a foul mood, hence I show none of the symptoms attributed to addiction.
    Smokers were led to accept that smoking is a ‘dirty’ habit – and when asked, a large number answers according to conditioning.

    And so the wind was blowing in one direction. And it had already been blowing in that direction for twenty years or more. And for the next 50 years the wind only got stronger and stronger. Now we have cigarette packs which shout “Smoking Kills” in large bold black letters on a white background. It’s almost become a storm wind.

    • Frank Davis says:

      In my personal experience, there simply weren’t any antismokers in 1960. Not that I was much interested back then. My father, who smoked, might have told me otherwise. The first antismoker I ever met was Dr W, in 1965, and he remains for me the archetypal antismoker. Since then, the numbers of antismokers has reached epidemic proportions.

  4. petesquiz says:

    I have to concur with Rose, your imagery is excellent.

    It leads me to wonder, though, whether you’ve detected Global Warming in the world of verbiage. You seem to be indicating that there has been a marked rise in the levels of ‘Hot Air’ over the past few years.

    • Frank Davis says:

      It leads me to wonder… whether you’ve detected Global Warming in the world of verbiage.

      That’s a very interesting question.

      I suppose that it actually has been getting rather heated. And it’s all entirely anthropogenic, of course. But hasn’t yet reached Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Hotheadness levels quite yet.

  5. Pingback: Missive From ‘Merica: Sum Weight ‘Ugo – Library of Libraries

  6. Clicky says:

  7. smokingscot says:

    O/T

    More on them thar witches, with good old Hilary egging them on!

    https://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/hillary-leads-the-new-demos-against-trump/

    26 March is the next “Witch-In”.

    • Rose says:

      The counter spell worked well though, the news media spent all their time on the envelope mix up at the Oscars rather than celebrity anti-Trump protests.

  8. Smoking Lamp says:

    Hopefully the wind shifts soon! The persecution f smokers is reaching new heights, Beyond that the hate speech associated with tobacco control and the antismokers is at an all time high (just read the comments on recent articles seeking outdoor smoking bans…

  9. Rhys says:

    And indoor ones. Health Canada is hoping to make smoking (and vaping) illegal in multi-unit dwellings starting next year.

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