Heaven And Hell

Some things stick in memory. Things that people said which were manifestly absurd. Or which I thought were manifestly absurd.

Like the time, many years ago, when my vegetarian landlady remarked that tigers wouldn’t eat meat “if they knew better.”

For, since tigers are predators that survive by killing and eating other animals, my landlady’s reformed tigers would all die of starvation, shortly after getting to “know better.” Or did she imagine that they would all start eating fruit and nuts and grass and leaves? I doubt they’d be able to manage. Their teeth are ill-adapted to grinding up vegetation. Their teeth are adapted to cut and slice slabs of meat.

I occasionally get into these sorts of discussions with vegetarians. I think they become vegetarians because Meat Is Murder, and killing things is wrong. But if Meat Is Murder, isn’t killing and eating plants just as much murder as well? In fact, isn’t it far worse? All the animals we cook and eat are usually dead by the time we cook them and eat them, and so won’t suffer, but most of the vegetables we eat are alive when we start cooking them. A potato, for example, is something which, if put in the ground, will sprout leaves, and grow into a potato plant. Keep potatoes long enough, and they’ll start sprouting leaves. They’re embryonic plants.  So they’re very far from dead. And yet we cheerfully chop them and boil them. If they could, they’d be screaming while we did it. And probably the only reason they don’t scream is because they haven’t got lungs. Or a central nervous system. So vegetarians think it’s not okay to chop up and cook and eat dead living things that have central nervous systems (and lungs), but okay to eat living things that don’t. It’s the same sort of debate that surrounds abortion: some people see it as murder, and some don’t.

Another passing remark made to me by another woman friend, in respect of the world in general, was that “This could be heaven.” By which I took her to mean that, with a good will and little effort, this world in which we live could become heaven. My landlady had merely wanted to reform a few tigers, but this other friend wanted to reform the entire world.

And I immediately disagreed. For I don’t think this world can be made into a heaven any more than I think tigers can be reformed and made to stop eating meat. Because for me, heaven is above all a condition of perfect idleness. And in Idle Theory perfect idleness is unattainable. Our world will only become a heaven when we no longer need to work to stay alive. And that will never happen. Or if it ever does happen, it will be many thousands or millions of years from now. i.e. never.

Idle Theory is a vision of an imperfect world that can never be perfected, but might just possibly be improved – made more idle – very, very slightly from one century or one millennium to the next.

For the underlying vision of human life (and all life) in Idle Theory is that living things must work to stay alive. They have to work to acquire the energy that they expend. Humans have to work on farms to grow the food they need to survive. And animals have to work to get vegetation (or other animals) to eat. And plants need to grow leaves to capture the energy of sunlight. Ours is a very busy world. The best that any living thing can do is contrive to minimise the work they must do. But however much they manage to minimise it, there will always be some irreducible minimum of work. Perfect idleness is an unattainable ideal.

But even though it’s unattainable, that doesn’t deter some people from trying to attain it. The world is full of idealists trying to create an ideal, perfect world. They seem to think, like my friend, that it would actually be quite easy. And some of them seem to think that all you have to do is to ban all the imperfect things in the world to reveal its underlying perfection. All you have to do is wipe off the grime, and the pristine beauty beneath will be revealed. And much of the grime consists of smoke: the smoke of factories and chimneys and cars and trucks and cigarettes and pipes and cigars. Wipe it all away, and voilà, and you’ve taken a simple step towards creating an ideal world. All you need do is ban everything else that’s unsightly and dirty. Like alcohol. And meat (as discussed earlier). And industry of any sort. And carbon dioxide. And racism and sexism and homophobia. And unacceptable language. And so on, and on, and on. You have a vision of an ideal world, and you gradually construct it by removing everything non-ideal from it.

And each step you take along the way is Progress. And you call yourself a Progressive. And you surround yourself with your equally progressive friends, as you set out to construct a smoke-free heaven.

They’ll never succeed. They never can succeed. The only thing that they succeed in doing, in their attempts to build Heaven on Earth, is to construct Hell on Earth. For it’s much easier to construct a hell than it is to construct a heaven. And if, in Idle Theory, heaven is a condition of perfect idleness, hell is a condition of complete busyness, and is the threshold of death. Hell is perpetual toil.

All the Hitlers and Lenins and Stalins and Maos and Pol Pots of the world were, I strongly suspect, idealistic progressives who were trying to build a socialist Heaven on Earth. And every single one of them only managed to create Hell on Earth.

And the same goes for the Barack Obamas and Hillary Clintons and Nancy Pelosis and Jeremy Corbyns and Deborah Arnotts and Stanton Glantzes and Simon Chapmans. They see themselves a constructing a new heaven. But all they’re actually creating is a new hell.

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About Frank Davis

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21 Responses to Heaven And Hell

  1. Justin says:

    Over here on the island of Bali (Indonesia) smoking is still allowed in 99 % of bars, pubs and restaurants. I’ve been living over here for the past 33 years, and lately I see a trend: many Australians visit Bali for the sole purpose of having a smoking holiday, going to Australian pubs in Bali and complaining about the Aussie Nanny state.

  2. roobeedoo2 says:

    ‘They see themselves a constructing a new heaven. But all they’re actually creating is a new hell.’

    And they’re so busy doing it ;)

  3. petesquiz says:

    Of course…that’s where the term ‘busybody’ comes from!

    The reason that they need to keep everybody busy trying to create a new utopia is because, if anyone had a moment to themselves to actually think about what was happening, it would become clear that all it was all pointless nonsense – as you so eloquently articulate above.

  4. Rose says:

    One thing that stuck in my memory is that years ago Dr Siegel told me that there was Vitamin K2 in tobacco, when I was researching nicotinic acid.
    On passing Holland and Barrett today, I thought I’d take a look at how much it cost.

    £23-99 for 50! and you have to take one pill to last the whole day, not a little bit on demand like we do.
    You know, sometimes tobacco taxes don’t seem so bad and it’s so much more fun than taking a tablet.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Never heard of it. Not the same as Niacin (Vitamin B3), I suppose.

      https://authoritynutrition.com/vitamin-k2/

      Most people have never heard of Vitamin K2.

      This vitamin is rare in the Western diet and hasn’t received much mainstream attention.

      However… this powerful nutrient plays an essential role in many aspects of health.

      In fact, vitamin K2 may just be the “missing link” between diet and several killer diseases.

      What is Vitamin K?

      Vitamin K was discovered in 1929 as an essential nutrient for blood coagulation (blood clotting).

      The initial discovery was reported in a German scientific journal, where it was called Koagulationsvitamin. That’s where the “K” comes from (1).

      It was also discovered by the legendary dentist Weston Price, who travelled the world in the early 20th century studying the relationship between diet and disease in different populations.

      He found that the non-industrial diets were high in some unidentified nutrient, which seemed to provide protection against tooth decay and chronic disease.

      He referred to this mystery nutrient as Activator X, but this is now believed to have been Vitamin K2.

      There are two main forms of Vitamin K… K1 (phylloquinone) is found in plant foods like leafy greens, whereas Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is found in animal foods and fermented foods (2).

      Vitamin K2 can be further divided into several different subtypes, but the most important ones are MK-4 and MK-7.

      Bottom Line: Vitamin K was initially discovered as a nutrient involved in blood clotting. There are two forms, K1 (plants) and K2 (animal foods).

      • Frank Davis says:

        If it’s a Koagulationsvitamin, perhaps that’s why some doctors say people must stop smoking prior to surgery? Or maybe not.

        http://www.asahq.org/lifeline/anesthesia%20topics/qa%20stop%20smoking

        Q: Before surgery, should I also quit smoking additional substances such as marijuana?
        A: It is critical that patients quit smoking all substances before surgery, including marijuana. They can have the same detrimental effects on surgery as nicotine. For example, they can make patients more or less susceptible to anesthetics. The carbon monoxide found in any kind of smoke affects blood pressure, making it more difficult for the blood to carry oxygen.

        • Rose says:

          I have seen carbon monoxide described more often as an anti inflammatory that we also make ourselves. When smoking, the carbon monoxide doesn’t come on it’s own it comes with nitric oxide a vasodilator that dellivers oxygen to the tissues.

          “Red blood cells pick up freshly inhaled oxygen from the lungs and carry it to cells in the tissues of the body, and bring back carbon dioxide – a waste product of metabolism – to be exhaled from the lungs.
          But because of what they have found, Prof. Stamler and colleagues argue that the respiratory cycle also involves a third gas – nitric oxide – that controls the release of oxygen from red blood cells into the tissues that need it.

          In their study they show that hemoglobin – the protein in red blood cells that picks up oxygen from the lungs – also needs to carry nitric oxide to enable blood vessels to open and supply the oxygen to tissues.”
          http: //www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/292292.php

          “Carbon monoxide causes vasorelaxation and is produced naturally as a result of the breakdown of haemoglobin. This can be seen in the healing process of a bruise, where various colour changes indicate the degradation of haemoglobin and release of carbon monoxide. The slow release of carbon monoxide reduces blood pressure for someone who has angina, for instance.”
          https://web.archive.org/web/20080522093831/http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/presspr/pressreleases/carbonmonoxideresearch.htm

          Remember that this branch of science is very new.

      • Rose says:

        Not the same at all, Frank, Niacin / Vitamin B3 comes from the burned nicotine.

        Last night I was I was looking for the antidepressant in tobacco, 2,3,6-trimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone, when I remembered what the Doctor has said about vitamin K2.

        Parkinson’s Inhibitor Fingered in Tobacco
        “They ground up tobacco leaves and tested representative samples in a test tube to see if they inhibited MAO. From the fraction containing the most potent MAO inhibitor, they isolated a chemical known as 2,3,6-trimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone.”
        “Napthoquinone had previously been found in tobacco smoke, but not linked to dopamine.”
        http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2000/04/parkinsons-inhibitor-fingered-tobacco

        I thought it would be handy if it was available as a vitamin, if ever I was forced to quit.

        I was going to ask Leggy for help, but I got so mixed up with my napthoquinones I gave up.

        Molecular insights into human monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibition by 1,4-naphthoquinone: evidences for menadione (vitamin K3) acting as a competitive and reversible inhibitor of MAO.
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22071524

        • Rose says:

          “Solanesol is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry as an intermediate for the synthesis of ubiquinone drugs, such as coenzyme Q10 and vitamin K2.”

          http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11101-015-9393-5#/page-1
          “Chemical synthesis of solanesol is difficult; therefore, solanesol is primarily extracted from solanaceous crops, particularly tobacco leaves.”

          Perhaps I should have asked what it does in Holland and Barrett.

          You have to admit this is all a long way from slapping on a nicotine patch or swallowing Champix.
          They are probably hoping for repeat sales.

        • Rose says:

          DISCUSSION

          “Tobacco contains high levels of vitamin K, and its use may have contributed directly to the failure of warfarin therapy to achieve therapeutic INR levels in this patient.”
          http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1345/aph.1D087?journalCode=aopd

          Just as Harley has told us.

          Why are people buying Vitamin K supplements?
          2013

          “Laura Jones, a global food science analyst at Mintel, says recent research has revealed Vitamin K2 has much broader health benefits than previously thought, and is increasingly being seen as a bone health ingredient.

          “Vitamin K1 has a relatively short half-life and is rapidly cleared from the blood and is cleared by the liver within eight hours. In comparison vitamin K2 has a longer half-life of up to 72 hours, meaning it remains biologically active in the body for longer.

          “Vitamin K2 is also absorbed better by the body, and is linked to cardiovascular health. It directs calcium to the bones, and prevents it from being deposited where it shouldn’t be, for example arteries and organs, where it can cause harm,” she says.

          The health claims for Vitamin K have had support from the European Food Safety Authority in recent years, with the body stating that “Vitamin K contributes to maintenance of normal bone,” and “Vitamin K contributes to normal blood coagulation”.
          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24049950

  5. Clicky says:

  6. prog says:

    I’ve been pondering why there are fewer successful communities than during pre moblie/www days. How was news and gossip disseminated around villages and localities?

    But, of course, in the ‘good old days’ the natural way largely depended on word of mouth, pubs clearly playing a crucial role. It just ‘was’, a grapevine that spread news round and about and extending into neighbouring villages. One wasn’t really aware of how important this was. One didn’t need to ever enter a pub to keep up to date, there was always someone who’d pass on the latest whatever. And not only pubs – churches, chapels youth clubs WI etc, which all seem to have declined. So, not only have many of the gossipers abandoned pubs, many pubs have disappeared or become sterile as a consequence, with former communities becoming seemingly pointless as well. Not helped by the fact that many have become dormitory villages.

    I think one thing is clear – whenever/wherever the neo-social engineers/planners prodnose things that have hitherto functioned perfectly well, it usually ends in a drab ‘greyness’.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I don’t think that mobile phones or internet had any impact on local communities. I’ve been using both for over 20 years, and don’t remember any impact at all in the first 10 years. The smoking ban, however, had a shattering impact. If the internet has become more important in the last 10 years, it’s probably because it’s the only community that’s left. But it certainly didn’t kill off pub communities. It was just that it was the only thing left standing.

      • prog says:

        What I meant was how did we manage to maintain a reasonably informed community during the age before mobiles and the internet? Usually by face to face interaction, much of it down the pub. And they, of course have declined largely due to the smoking ban, which means many people within so called communities have become strangers.

  7. smokingscot says:

    The world in which we live is ruthless and in truth we humans are – for the most part – pretty pathetic creatures physically.

    You mentioned tigers, though what you say applies to all the big cats. For the most part they prey on herbivores, though they’ll happily take a crocodile (I watch too much Nat Geo – and I see the same thing with Polar Bears).

    We kid ourselves that we’re safe and civilised, but that’s because our forefathers killed all the competition, then laid down concrete and bricks and things. Yet there’s fearsome resistance to the reintroduction of wolves, lynx and beavers in Scotland.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14463120.Sir_David_Attenborough_opposes_returning_wolves_to_the_wild___/

    I feel the best example we have in Europe is the area around Chernobyl – and sure enough the natural order is returning. First the little birds, then the Raptors, then the Boars, then the big herbivores, then the wolves.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/23/wildlife-returns-to-radioactive-wasteland-of-chernobyl/

    (even in the restricted area around Fukushima has seen a similar phenomenon).

    Nope there is no ideal world. We cannot have a population the size we have without ridding ourselves of threats. Some people can kid themselves that if we reduce the population to about 10% of what it is now, then all will be well. Yes for the wildlife, but we still prefer to live in our oasis of “permanent” structures.

    Uganda was a perfect example of exactly that when HIV hit the rural areas. At a certain point what was left in villages quit and the buildings slowly succumbed to nature.

    Being a vegan isn’t something to crow about as in “I’m better because I don’t cause the death of living things”. That’s only true of fruits and things that can be picked. And that only happens in certain seasons. In the UK a vegan’s just as much a part of the “problem” as the rest of us. Stacks of the nuts they consume have to be imported, along with chillies, sweet potato, tea and so on – and in winter it’s stuff that’s been stored in cooled warehouses, or more likely shipped great distances.

    Given that the calorific value of fruits and vegetables by weight is tiny when compared to other forms of nutrition, it would cause a huge increase in the number of ships on our seas and lorries on our roads if we all went vegan.

    Strip out the bumph and we still admire and even lust for the perfect physical specimen because, when the chips are down, we know we don’t need a fine intellect to go kill or trap supper. And we know full well that we want an intimidating presence to protect his family form predators – human or not. Nor do we want our offspring born to some half starved Twiggy thing.

    Thankfully that’ll never change.

  8. jaxthefirst says:

    Well, they do say that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” don’t they? Mind you, I think that the anti-smoking movement left its good intentions behind a long time ago. And all the copycat new prohibitionist movement never bothered with any in the first place. Why go through all the machinations of pretending to care about people when it’s much quicker to cut straight to the chase and start pointing fingers and saying how eeeeeviiiiiil your target group are? Perhaps that’s what that little saying actually means – not that things unintentionally go wrong when people have idealistic, happy-clappy visions, but that inevitably what starts out as a “good cause” always inevitably ends up going too far.

  9. waltc says:

    There’ll never be heaven on earth because, like the tigers, we’re all still animals. Trained and semi-domesticated apes. Robert Stone’s great line that “all history is a catalog of ape behavior.” That the utopian purifiers are simply gorillas in sheep’s clothing merely proves the point. They break spirits, and occasionally necks, to make their omelets.

    But busybodies also very perfectly illustrate the need to stay busy. Their lives would be empty and self-percieved as meaningless if they didn’t have a Cause.(What better reason to get up in the morning than to hustle to City Hall to testify for the need to ban smoking on the savannah? And to know –wonderful you–that you’re actively helping to make A Better World?)

    Otoh, I think that we all need a Reason. I believe a good carpenter would still want to–or even need to –build something–whether a house or a table–if he didn’t have to do so in order to earn a living. Idleness without purpose, I think, would be deadly. What’s the old saw? “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”? Which gets us back to the idle busy hands of TC.

    @Rose:
    i read somewhere recently that something in tobacco smoke can cause an overgrowth of red blood cells. What, if anything, do you know about that?

    • Rose says:

      Walt, I haven’t read anything about that, perhaps it’s about nicotine helping to grow new blood vessels after a wound.

      “Angiogenesis is the physiological process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels”

      Nicotine Accelerates Angiogenesis and Wound Healing in Genetically Diabetic Mice

      “From a historical point of view, leaves or extracts of tobacco plants have been used in the management of wound treatment by shamans and native healers. The French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot de Villemain, introduced the plant in Europe and wrote about the medicinal properties of tobacco in 1560. 35 He described tobacco as a panacea and successfully treated an acquaintance’s face wound with the plant. His name was later given to the tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum) and to the stimulating alkaloid, nicotine.

      Conversely, apart from these isolated reports and historical anecdotes, there has been a consensus in the medical and scientific community that tobacco use impairs wound healing. Indeed, a recently published clinical trial demonstrates that preoperative smoking intervention significantly reduces the occurrence of postoperative wound-related complications in smokers undergoing elective surgery.

      This study would appear to conflict with our observations”
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1850685/

      Of the Tabaco and of His Greate Vertues

      “THIS herb, which commonly is called tobacco, is an herb be of much antiquity, and known amongst the Indians, and in especially among them of the new Spain, and after that those countries were gotten by our Spaniards, being taught of the Indians, they did profit themselves of those things, in the Wounds which they received in their Wars, healing themselves therewith, to the great benefit of them”

      Having read all this previously, when I cut myself badly in the garden I used a green tobacco leaf to staunch the blood and reported it on Frank’s blog.

      Churchmouse replicated the experiment in 2012

      “Rose, I tried the remedy you cited for staunching the blood from a cut finger with a bit of green tobacco leaf.
      It worked wonders — immediately. Normally, I would have had to pause, lift my finger up and wrap it in a wet paper towel. Not this time. Right now, it looks like a paper cut.”
      https://cfrankdavis.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/hot-2/#comment-59982

      Bear in mind that that’s raw nicotine, topically applied.

      Nicotine burned in tobacco smoke becomes niacin, as shown in tobacco industry R&D documents from the 40’s.

      “Acute administration of immediate-release niacin may lower BP because of niacin’s acute vasodilatory effects.”
      https: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2705821/
      Which wouldn’t help at all under the circumstances.

    • nisakiman says:

      I can attest to that, Walt, as a carpenter myself. I love my work, and I revel in my ability to create things of both beauty and utility from basic raw materials. I love the challenge of going through the stages from conception to design to the finished article. There is a great deal of problem solving involved all the way through the process which makes every project interesting in it’s own right.

      I can’t imagine ever not wanting to continue doing what I do, regardless of any pecuniary aspect.

  10. RdM says:

    I hope you’ll forgive the slightly OT poetic thought, not quite the same take on it, but
    “along the way is Progress” reminded me of the second verse of Laurie Anderson’s song, The Dream Before, from her 1989 album Strange Angels… which I still have on LP… *

    She said: What is history?
    And he said: History is an angel
    Being blown backwards into the future
    He said: History is a pile of debris
    And the angel wants to go back and fix things
    To repair the things that have been broken
    But there is a storm blowing from Paradise
    And the storm keeps blowing the angel
    Backwards into the future
    And this storm, this storm
    Is called
    Progress

    * Of course, there’ll be a YT video, even if just for audio;- perhaps better quality anyway.
    The second verse, never mind Hansel & Gretel! ;=}) ~ Cheers, or not… the price of tabac in NZ!

    Aargh! :=}))

  11. Pingback: Apes and Ape-men | Frank Davis

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