The Secret World

New Skype chat, this time with Brigitte, who’s German and lives near Liverpool:

She talks a bit about post-war Germany. And post-smoking-ban Liverpool. And then about Romano Grieshaber, who ran a German cancer research institute.

Grieshaber had been gagged from speaking out while he was still in employment. But once he retired, he became highly vocal – about how bar workers in smoky bars got less cancer than most people, while kitchen workers got more. He even has his own blog, and I’ve written about him on several occasions: 1, 2, 3, 4. But the most remarkable thing that Brigitte had to say was that in the UK some people were gagged for life from speaking about their work.

I found that very disturbing.

When I was working as a computer programmer in the 1980s and 1990s I was required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement with several of the jobs I did. And it wasn’t as if I ever did any secret, military-type work. Most of the time I was just working on the firmware inside keyboards that translates key presses into messages to send to the attached computer, and respond to commands sent from the computer (e.g. Turn on the Caps Lock led).

I didn’t like signing these NDAs, but I needed the money, and I couldn’t imagine a circumstance where I would want to talk about some computer program that I’d long since forgotten everything about – certainly given that I can forget such things in days or weeks.

But all this gagging now seems to me to be part and parcel of a Political Correctness which is forever trying to ban free speech in one way or other, and prevent people using words like “nigger” and “queer” and so on, and of course stop them smoking cigarettes anywhere. It’s a world of multiplying bans. A world from which all freedoms are under attack. And in which everything is becoming secret, undercover, shadowy.

I can see a day coming when you’l have to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement if you want to buy a plate of steak and chips in a restaurant, or take a holiday in Barbados. And the effect of signing the NDA will be to prevent you from telling anyone what the steak or the holiday was like. You would be gagged from complaining if the steak was half-cooked, or the holiday hotel room had no bathroom. You would be silenced. And that’s what the point of NDAs is: to silence people.

It reminds me of the James Bond Secret Services that seem to be multiplying everywhere, in which everything is either Most Secret or Top Secret, and everyone who is a Secret Agent or spy is sworn to complete secrecy. And as these agencies expand, and their habitual secrecy extends outside them, their secret world eats the free world around them, the world they were supposed to protect.

I think we may need legislation that nullifies all Non-Disclosure Agreements (including all those signed in the so-called Secret Services), and requires that future NDAs only be signed if they are first ratified by some authority that agrees that the matter merits secrecy. That is to say that NDAs should be very, very difficult to impose on anyone.

For the world that I want is one in which people have the maximum amount of freedom to say and do what they like. But the world that our enemies in Tobacco Control and elsewhere seem to want is one in which people have the minimum amount of freedom to say and do what they like. And they are always working to take freedoms away, usually in the thinnest of salami slices.

The world they seem to want is a planned world, and a predictable world. And I increasingly think that all planning entails the negation of freedom, particularly when the planning entails making plans about what people will say or do. It seems perfectly okay for people to plan all sorts of things – for example when they design houses or roads or ships or computer programmes. But it seems completely NOT okay to make plans for how people should live inside those houses, or walk along those roads, or steer those ships. For the houses and roads and ships provide them with freedom. And any restraint on people always removes freedom.

I don’t mind if houses and roads and ships and computer programmes are planned, constrained, and predictable. But I don’t want people to be planned, constrained, and predictable as well. For I think that the whole point of having planned, constrained, and predictable houses and roads and ships is to allow people to be as free, spontaneous, and unpredictable as possible.

About Frank Davis

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17 Responses to The Secret World

  1. garyk30 says:

    All of the PC planning has lead to a loss of politeness, good manners, and civility.

    But then, PC anger provides a great excuse for ignoring politeness and civility and an excuse for acting without restraint or thoughtful actions.

    Being in the throes of PC anger means never having to express regret or request permission to impose on others.

  2. DP says:

    Dear Mr Davis

    Already happened with reviews on TripAdvisor – one hotel reputedly ‘fined’ guests £100 for a bad review in 2014:

    More legislation is a bad idea and isn’t a solution to anything.

    Perhaps the biggest secret of all is that government now exists solely to farm its livestock: us.


    • smokingscot says:

      Had to smirk at this couple of chancers who thought they’d be able to screw an out of court settlement by claiming the hotel food made them ill.

      Hotel did nothing of the sort; they did the research, proved they’re lying lowlifes and is counter suing them – for £170 grand! (heh, heh).

      (Though she obviously smokes, possibly an efag, this is one case where I hope the hotel sticks to its guns and nails them).

      Same as this arse who felt right sorry for himself, so had a fag in the loo of an aircraft, then chucked the STILL LIT dub end in the waste paper bin. Seemingly not once, but twice during the flight.

      He’s been sentenced to about a decade in clink. They claim he’s a chain-smoker and he’s pictured with a fag in mouth. This is one where the no-smoking in jails does teach social turds to not endanger others.

      • Joe L. says:

        Regarding the latter story, obviously the guy is an idiot for putting a lit cigarette into a waste paper bin, and belongs in jail for his stupidity and recklessness.

        However, this would have never been an issue if smoking was never banned on aircrafts and proper ashtrays were still provided.

        Sadly, though, the actions of this one moron helps strengthen the antismokers’ claim that smokers are ‘selfish’ and ‘addicts.’

        • nisakiman says:

          The stupidest thing about that story is that there would have been an ashtray in the loo anyway, so no need to put it in the paper towel bin.

          Regardless of whether smoking is allowed in any other part of the airplane, lavatories must have self-contained, removable ashtrays located conspicuously on or near the entry side of each lavatory door…

          I find it hard to believe that anyone would be foolish enough to put a lit cigarette end in a paper towel bin. That’s just a whole new level of stupid. Even if smoking was still permitted on planes, it’s a whole new level of stupid.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I imagine something has probably been left out of this story.

          And it’s that the toilets may not have ashtrays, but they will have washbasins. The smoker probably doused the cigarettes with water from a washbasin tap, before depositing it in the paper towel bin. I’ve often done similar in circumstances where there’s no ashtray available.

        • Joe L. says:

          I imagine that we’ve all doused our cigarettes under a running tap on occasion, Frank, and as I’m sure you know, it doesn’t take very much running water to fully extinguish a cigarette. If I were to sneak a smoke in an airport lavatory, I would absolutely put it out under the tap. I don’t know who wouldn’t.

          I agree something seems to be missing from this story. The strangest thing about it is that the guy is accused of setting fire to the trash bin not once, but twice during the flight. I could believe that he wasn’t very careful the first time and set the bin on fire. That’s plausible. However, wouldn’t you think he would be far more careful the second time?

          Allow me to don my tinfoil hat and propose a conspiracy theory:

          The ex-soldier actually extinguished both of his cigarettes thoroughly. However, a spiteful antismoking passenger used the lavatory shortly after the first cigarette was smoked, smelled some lingering smoke in the air and was pissed off that someone had sneaked a cigarette on the plane. He peered into the waste paper bin and spotted the thoroughly extinguished wet cigarette but in the trash bin, and decided to set the bin on fire to frame the smoker. This antismoking passenger then kept an eye on the smoker and when he later used the lavatory again, the antismoker followed in afterwards, smelled more smoke, got more pissed off, and lit the trash bin on fire again.

          Sure, it may seem a bit far-fetched at first, but it sounds more plausible than the actual story to me, given the fact that this guy was supposedly responsible for setting two fires.

  3. Clicky says:

  4. Emily Wieja says:

    Very nice video, Brigitte was great. It was nice to put a face to the name. Brigitte- I never even thought about women getting their drinks spiked when they leave them to go outside and have a smoke! Luckily I don’t think I’ve heard of that happening here lately but I do notice that people cover their drinks with a coaster which is more a sign to the bartender that they will be back, and not an actual deterrent of course.

    Good for you for speaking up and getting kicked out of the pub for complaining about your drink being cleared! Bar staff seem to me now, after the smoking ban, much more likely to see their patrons as enemies they have to keep in line, than paying customers.

  5. beobrigitte says:

    I dear… I never knew I sounded that bad. I sure do look tired after being up most of the night before trying to sort the sound issue I had on that skype version and continuing rather early in the morning.
    I don’t know… years ago things like that didn’t seem to affect me…. Definitely increasing “beauty time”!! (Sorry, guys. It’s a girl thing.)
    I definitely also must reduce the mircophone volume and look closely at the video settings. With an upload speed of 75Mbps the video shouldn’t have stuttered.

    But all this gagging now seems to me to be part and parcel of a Political Correctness which is forever trying to ban free speech in one way or other, and prevent people using words like “nigger” and “queer” and so on
    I would never call a black person “Nigger” and a homosexual “queer” and I don’t know anybody who does. My parents taught me to treat people the way I wish to be treated. I know I’m not exactly young but surely manners still are taught by parents?

    and of course stop them smoking cigarettes anywhere. It’s a world of multiplying bans. A world from which all freedoms are under attack.
    We no longer are able to reserve the right to make our own choices as we are supposed to do as adults. Some very scared people don’t want us to. What ban is next?

    And in which everything is becoming secret, undercover, shadowy.
    People are beginning to get wary and interest in “conspiracy theories” is on the rise. There is some utter, utter nonsense out there but people believe it.
    Secrecy feeds distrust.
    Perhaps this is why the anti-smokers are in such a rush to get as many bans in as they can. They would have been far more successful without bans; the constant drizzle of “warnings” (it was a country of free speech, after all?) was beginning to show effect without upsetting and destroying the fabric of communities.

    Where distrust rules communities fall apart and small groups begin to fight one another.

    • Emily Wieja says:

      dear… I never knew I sounded that bad.

      I can assure you this is an almost-universal reaction after seeing yourself on video. You were great! You start to get over that feeling in time but honestly, I do still cringe to see and hear myself on video.

    • nisakiman says:

      dear… I never knew I sounded that bad.

      You sounded exactly as I remember you sounding last time, Brigitte. I particularly remember being fascinated by the combination of German and Scouser accents! :) A unique medley.

      That was a good quality video, Frank, and a good bit of editing, too, given that it’s all new stuff for you. I can see a good deal of professionalism creeping in as you become more familiar with the system. Well done.

  6. beobrigitte says:

    I heard this from my German friends:

    And here the BBC version:
    “Arsonist”, “Blaze”….

    And in which everything is becoming secret, undercover, shadowy.
    Perhaps ‘exaggeration’ and ‘paranoid’ could be added to this?
    Here another link:

  7. Smoking Lamp says:

    This is an important discussion! Thanks for holding it. The suppression of evidence discounting the risk second hand smoke must be uncovered. The tobacco control cult has been promoting its agenda to force prohibition of tobacco; they must be stopped.

  8. Rose says:

    Well,I liked the sound of your voice, Brigitte, strong and confident.

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