Things I Don’t Believe In

I’m ignoring the news. It’s all too awful. I don’t want to know. I don’t believe most of it anyway.

Instead I’ve started listing a few Things I Don’t Believe In.

Global Warming was top of the list. I don’t believe in global warming. Or at least not catastrophic global warming. In fact I think it’s a good thing if it’s happening at all, and we could do with more of it. Why? Because our current 12,000 year long interglacial period, during which human civilisation has arisen, is likely to end fairly soon. and a new ice age start, and so a few degrees of CO2-driven global warming may well prevent it or delay it.

But I’m not much worried about ice ages either. I doubt one’s going to start next week.

Why do some people worry about these things, while I don’t?

I guess that some people are natural alarmists. I used to be one too, back in my 20s. I worried about all sorts of things. And then I gradually stopped worrying. Now I hardly worry about anything.

I don’t worry about global warming. I don’t worry about the vastly exaggerated threat of Covid-19. I don’t worry about the even more vastly exaggerated threats of smoking and drinking and diet. And I don’t trust experts, whether climate or health or anything else. I don’t think that any of the experts know much about anything. All the experts ever do is to try to get people to worry about stuff, and give them money to find new things to worry about..

I don’t worry about racism. Is anyone a racist? I’ve never met one. Is anyone a white supremacist? I’ve never met one.

I don’t care about “transgender” issues. I’ve never met a transgender person. I doubt I ever will. I’m not sure they even exist. A bit like unicorns.

I think that my long, slow 50-year transition from being (slightly) left-wing to right-wing has maybe been a move from worrying to not worrying. Lefties are worriers. They want to change the world because they’re worried about it. And if they’re really worried, they’ll even want a revolution. But the Right doesn’t worry, and so sees no need for change, and certainly not for revolution. Why fix what ain’t broke?

And because the Left is always worried, they’re also thinking a lot, and writing books. And because the Right isn’t worried about anything much, they don’t think much, and they don’t write books.

The Left dreams of a bright future – Progress -, and the Right dreams of the past. That’s certainly how I feel. Britain was a kinder, more tolerant place before the 2007 smoking ban. It wasn’t full of people worrying about health and global warming. It was a simpler place where milk bottles were made of real glass with silver tops that could be opened with the press of a finger. And there was no internet. And TVs had three channels which were selected with a dial, just like radios. And it was even simpler when there were none of them, and people read newspapers that needed two long arms to hold them open, and which were disposed of by burning them in the coal fires found in every room. And cars were started with crank handles. And there were no motorways with multiple speeding lanes, but instead narrow roads that wound left and right and up and down, and on which people rode bicycles, or sometimes horses. And schools taught Latin, and the children chanted Amo, Amas, Amat, Amamus, Amatis, Amant, And they ate Wagon Wheels and Smarties.

These days milk bottles are cardboard geometry puzzles, and the simplest way to open them is with a screwdriver and a hammer. It sprays milk everywhere, but it at least opens a hole. And they’re full not of milk, but skimmed milk or semi-skimmed milk or even more exotic flavoured variants.

I dream of the past. It was a better world, a simpler world. The future just looks like a slowly accelerating descent into hell. It’s no Progress at all.

About Frank Davis

smoker
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29 Responses to Things I Don’t Believe In

  1. Bill says:

    Beautiful Frank simply beautiful.

  2. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Excellent piece Frank. As someone close to you in age i am very nostalgic for what you describe particularly the learning of Latin. Also it was a wonderful liberating experience going to the pub prior to 2007. I think we were all much happier.

  3. Dr. Sok says:

    Superb

  4. Shep says:

    ‘Nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters to me, anyway the wind blows……. Gong’ 👍🎶

  5. Lepercolonist says:

    Excellent article, Frank.

  6. Joe L. says:

    Wonderful essay, Frank. Normally, I I tend to agree with everything you write. This time I agree with everything except for two points:

    I’ve never met a transgender person. I doubt I ever will. I’m not sure they even exist.

    I know one person who became “transgender”. I haven’t spoken with this person in years, mostly because we weren’t extremely close to begin with, and also because I moved more than halfway across the country. He (He is a male genetically, and was for 99.9% of the time we were aquaintances, and I cannot logically convince myself to think of him otherwise) made this decision ten or so years ago, before it was “trendy;” before politicians were pandering to the “transgender” voting block (a whopping < 1% of Americans). He grew up in an unfortunate environment, with a "macho" stepfather, and as such had significant mental health issues. I believe becoming "transgender" was subconsciously the biggest "fuck you" he believed he could deliver in return. If so, it's quite an unfortunate outcome.

    Why do some people worry about these things, while I don’t?

    I guess that some people are natural alarmists. I used to be one too, back in my 20s. I worried about all sorts of things. And then I gradually stopped worrying. Now I hardly worry about anything.

    I can’t stop worrying. Maybe it’s because I have a “Type-A” personality? Maybe it’s because I’m a few decades younger than you and feel like I haven’t yet seen my “best years,” and I now fear I never will? For thirteen years I have been shunned by society for enjoying tobacco, and for the past eleven months I have been legally prohibited to merely walk inside a building that isn’t my home because I refuse to wear a scientifically-evidenced worthless piece of cloth over my face? I’m worried about my future and the future of my friends (I don’t have many of them left, due to smoking bans/Antismoking propaganda) and family, especially my young niece and nephew. The future looks to be increasingly authoritarian, and I can’t help but worry about it–constantly.

  7. Vlad says:

    Hey Frank, it’s strange you saying that there’s no progress while writing this post on a computer, publishing it on the Internet and having it read and commented on by people all over the world. Some things were better in the past, some not, just light one up and try to relax. :)

    • Frank Davis says:

      Back then I had no wish to write a blog. I started writing it in response to the UK public smoking ban of 2007. But for that I would have just published the rather abstract Idle Theory.

  8. RdM says:

    These days milk bottles are cardboard geometry puzzles, and the simplest way to open them is with a screwdriver and a hammer.

    Oh come on. You peel the wings apart at the indicated narrow end. At least in the ones here.
    I only buy milk once or twice a year on a whim, and it has to be the full cream unhomongenised.
    But I buy cream once or twice a week, for coffee (& even tea!) and deserts, soups, potatoes…

    Years ago a friend used to get raw milk from an organic dairy farm, I tried some – interesting.
    Far higher fat content, rich taste. And a different way of going off over a week, becoming ripe.

    Still not that keen on milk. Love all sorts of cheeses as well as cream though! ;=})

    Cheers !!

  9. RdM says:

    I forgot full cream natural unflavoured yoghurt, infrequently.

    I recently read this from the library, owning Cod and not having seen Salt.
    (the 10,00 year history rather than the other cover & edition food fracas)

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/03/milk-10000-year-history-mark-kurlansky-review

    People developed a taste for butter, yoghurt and cheese before milk itself. The Romans viewed “excessive milk drinking as evidence of barbarism” and Julius Caesar was appalled at how much was consumed in Britain.

    Some people gave negative reviews! tldr?
    I slightly agree, but it was still interesting.
    But if owned, I could refer to the recipes.
    https://books.google.co.nz/books/about/Milk.html?id=IWidDwAAQBAJ

    Vegans may have already averted their eyes;~ my apologies! ;-)

    • Rose says:

      How very interesting, I drink whole milk in my coffee, eat butter on everything including ginger cake and vegetables and use cream in cooking, on cereal and puddings.

      Probably why when I tripped myself up on a cloche wire a few years ago and landed full weight on my wrist nothing broke.

      • RdM says:

        Rose, I forgot about butter, taken so much for granted!
        Yes, lashing of it over spuds, some in cooked vegetables, spread on bread.
        Cake is a bit of a rarity;- perhaps I’ll eventually get on to baking.

        I suspect more calcium for bone strength, it that is what you allude to, from cheese and milk more than butter and cream, though. Thanks!

  10. Александра Собина says:

    Thank you, Frank for such nostalgic memories. I don’t drink milk this days any more. Used to love it. I switched milk to red wine.

  11. Emily says:

    I’ve been avoiding the news, and pretty much avoiding talking to people except when necessary, for the past week or so. I’m too depressed about everything. It seems like there may be signs of things “opening up” slightly, as a reward or a pat on the head for the American people for putting up with the “election” of Biden. I don’t know, we’ll see.

    So far, everything seems worse. It seems like already there’s a new crackdown on anyone who supported Trump and who doesn’t support BLM, and who doesn’t believe in white privilege or the efficacy of masks. And I feel even less free to talk about anything openly with anyone. I feel really isolated, being home all the time and with nowhere to go except out for a walk.

  12. Fumo ergo sum says:

    “I can’t stop worrying. Maybe it’s because I have a “Type-A” personality? Maybe it’s because I’m a few decades younger than you and feel like I haven’t yet seen my “best years,” and I now fear I never will? For thirteen years I have been shunned by society for enjoying tobacco, and for the past eleven months I have been legally prohibited to merely walk inside a building that isn’t my home because I refuse to wear a scientifically-evidenced worthless piece of cloth over my face? I’m worried about my future and the future of my friends (I don’t have many of them left, due to smoking bans/Antismoking propaganda) and family, especially my young niece and nephew. The future looks to be increasingly authoritarian, and I can’t help but worry about it–constantly.”

    —> Joe L., I can definitely relate to that even though I think that the fear you and I share is a ‘reversed’ form of fear, that is, the fear of fear itself. Or worrying about worrisomeness itself. I definitely worry a lot about people worrying about the most futile things and imaginary threats, whether it be climate change, Covid-19 or tobacco smoke. Because indeed, it is this permanent state of fear that ultimately fuels the agenda of the managerial state and the new totalitarianism. And that is indeed something anyone ought to fear before everything else.

    I theoretically have at least about 40 more years to dwell on this planet. But I am also tremendously anxious and rather pessimistic about how the future will look like by then. Or even by 2030. Or 2025. Well, not that the actual present looks so bright either… I too saw my social life completely vanishing ten years ago, partly due to my removal to another town, and partly due to the smoking ban (2011). But it was definitely due to the smoking ban that I didn’t even bother about establishing a new social life there. I simply didn’t want to have to do anything at all with that gruesome social experiment, and up to now, I am still avoiding restaurants, cafes and all other alleged ‘public spaces’ as much as I can.

    Not that I particularly enjoy this situation, but after ten years of quasi-isolation I gradually “got along” with my status as a virtual outlaw. Because if you do not feel like you are still part of society, you will gradually lose your interest in society and its frenzies as well. That is at least what happened to me. About ten years ago I would still follow the news at least on a daily basis. Now I just read a newspaper every two or three weeks or so, just to know what kind of evil dictates are being thrown in my direction. At this present moment, I am much concerned whether or not the covid vaccine – the efficacy of which is highly disputed and the possible adverse effects completely unknown – may eventually become obligatory or not (whether through direct legislation or some kind of trapped ‘nudge’ strategy). They say that getting the covid vaccine will remain a voluntary option – no strings attached. But I do not trust them. Because “they” said, as late as 2010, that pubs and cafés would remain exempt from the smoking ban…

    For me personally any mandatory covid vaccine would be completely unacceptable and non-negotiable, and constitute sufficient ground to move to another freer country (if any such place still left on this planet?), to go living underground or even to become a monk and enter a monastery. So it is just in order to preempt any ‘nudge that went too far’ from our incumbent rulers that I still follow the news. For the rest I try to dissociate myself from society – especially from politics – as much as possible, trying to enjoy doing the things I love to do, like reading, writing and walking. And smoking of course.

    Within two months I will finally move out from my parents’ place where I actually still live. I rented a small flat in a small and remote village of about 1,000 inhabitants on the linguistic border between Flanders and Wallonia. Before I saw the real estate agency’s advertisement I never had heard about that village at all. Some friends and my parents in particular think that I am as mad as a hatter for going to live somewhere in ‘the middle of nowhere’, only surrounded by fields, forests and meadows, in a region with which I share no affective ties besides my work. Indeed, besides a pharmacy, a butcher’s and a small medieval church there is nothing to see or to do there. And that is exactly the reason why I am so glad that I will move there, because I do not want to ‘see, experience or do’ anything anywhere at all! The lesser places there are to visit, the lesser ugly ‘no smoking’ signs and other placards with petty regulations I have to encounter. And as of 2020, the lesser people queuing in lines in front of those places, carrying their muzzles and wearable flasks with hand sanitiser as if it were holy water.

    Ten or eleven years ago, when I was in my early twenties, it would be totally unimaginable to even think about wanting to live remotely on the countryside. Back then, I thought about living in a vibrant city like Antwerp, Leuven or Ghent – I always kept Brussels, a ‘hellhole’ indeed, in contempt… – where I could have easy access to libraries and numerous bookstores. Where I could comfortable lounge in a wine-and-cigar bar and/or spend an evening at the cinema, after which it would be only a ten minute stroll to enter my warm bed. Back then, I didn’t even think about buying a car because I thought that it would be something redundant to have. Nowadays I conceive of any (large) city as a hellhole, only to be visited when really needed, where only a toxic mixture of urban liberal progressivism, lofty moralism, imposed pseudo-multiculturalism and healthist narcissism thrives.

    Admittedly, it is all easy for me to say so. I actually already inclined toward quiet places even before the smoking ban went into force. In retrospect I really regret not having visited cafes and pubs more often before 2011 when this was still an option. For people whose very lives centred around these venues – like yours if I can correctly recall, Joe – the past decade or perhaps decades must have been a tremendously alienating experience. Yet again I think that taking an attitude of ‘worrying less’ – without ever forgetting let alone forgiving the injustice that has been done to us – is the only way of keeping one’s mental sanity and personal dignity. Especially now that Joe Cheatin’ Biden became your new Leviathan in charge, I would strongly recommend you to refrain following the news as much as possible. It will only make you feel more nauseated and contribute to your own detriment, I am afraid…

    • Emily says:

      I’m starting to come around to your point of view. I always considered moving out of the city unthinkable, but now – I can’t go see live music, or out to eat at restaurants (except very limited), can’t go to a bar, and can’t even go to the private club I joined for the express purpose of being able to smoke indoors, and socialize, somewhere that wasn’t home. So what’s the point? I’m starting to think about a move out to the middle of nowhere too. But first, I need to learn to drive a car, haha.

      • Fumo ergo sum says:

        Restaurants are also the only venues I still visit (before lockdown) to meet with the rare friends I still have, albeit just for a matter of practical reasons. I do not want to invite them at home in order to avoid the gaze of the eye of Moscow (may mother…:-)) and its meddlesomeness. But that will probably change as well once I moved in my own flat.

        I can already imagine that in a not so distant future, vaccine passports may be required to enter restaurant facilities and other venues where “normal social life” takes place. In that case, restaurants will be a thing of the past altogether for me as well.

        So indeed, what’s the point of being surrounded by hundreds of bars, restaurants, clubs, shops and theatres when there is actually none where you’d be (legally) welcome? The last time I moved out from my parents’ home was in 2013, when I moved back to Antwerp where I had already been living as a student from 2007 until 2011. I hoped to experience anew some of the great and enjoyable moments I had back then, but of course it didn’t materialise: my unconditional hatred towards the smoking ban made any re-integration within my former communities impossible. So instead of seeing the city as a place of great opportunities and discoveries, I gradually came to conceive of it as a place of great nuisance. As a place of noisy neighbours, smelly public litter bins, tremendous light pollution, and so on. In short, as a place where I did no longer belong…

        Having a car (and of course being able to drive one! :-)) definitely is an asset if you’d consider living in the middle of nowhere. But it certainly has its downsides as well. Owning and driving a car will definitely cost you some money, but personally I think that the cost is outweighed by the tremendous amount of freedom you have in return. Of driving wherever you like, without having to wear a stupid mask, and with or without cigarette at the wheel as you please… :-) Learning to drive a car goes actually much faster than you think. Perhaps you could consider learning to drive with a car equipped with automatic transmission? Which is definitely much easier than having to accelerate manually.

        I personally own a car with manual transmission. But this is simply due to the fact that an automatic transmission would have costed me an additional 600 Euros… that wasn’t worth the investment.

      • Joe L. says:

        Same here, Emily. I grew up an hour outside Chicago. I was a musician, and didn’t really fit in my small-ish community. So as soon as I graduated high school, I moved to “the city” because it was a melting pot where people from all walks of life could get along. I considered myself Liberal (classically Liberal, that is, and I don’t think I’ve changed, but the political affiliations have changed, so now I identify as libertarian (with a little ‘L’)).

        When I moved to the Seattle area a few years ago, I was worried that I was leaving a world-class city for a smaller, less urban area. But now I don’t know why; I had already become an outcast in Chicago after the smoking ban took effect in January, 2008. I was not able to enjoy Chicago for my last eight years there in the way I had for my first eight.

        Now, I feel like my only chance of reclaiming my freedom is to move even further away from urban areas, and pretty much isolate myself in a remote area. Twenty years ago I would have never considered thinking like this. And I don’t like having to think like this; it was all thrust upon me without my consent or even my vote. And that makes me angry. Now, it’s not just about finding a place to live where I can freely smoke, but moreso finding a place to live where I’m not required to wear a ridiculous piece of cloth over my face in order to simply venture out in public.

        I’m very sorry to hear you can’t even go to a private club you specifically joined in order to circumvent your local smoking ban. :-(

        P.S.: You’ll have no problem learning to drive a car. It’s not hard at all (automatic transmission, that is; a manual–like Fumo ergo sum has–has a bit of a steeper learning curve, bit still nothing horrible). But if you feel you need a confidence boost to get started, feel free to hit me up. :-)

        • Emily says:

          Thank you, Joe! One obstacle is that I’m not sure driving schools are operating right now, but I will check it out and see. I’m determined now.

    • Joe L. says:

      Joe L., I can definitely relate to that even though I think that the fear you and I share is a ‘reversed’ form of fear, that is, the fear of fear itself. Or worrying about worrisomeness itself.

      Personally, I’ve always been a worrier. However, twenty years ago I worried about material things like success and money. But that has shifted, and I agree with you. My fears of late are mainly rooted in how drastically society can be manipulated and turned against one another by engineered fears of “invisible enemies” like tobacco smoke, Climate Change and COVID-19.

  13. Clicky says:

  14. Clicky says:

  15. Rose says:

    Has anyone heard any more on this?

    ‘We feel betrayed’: Thousands of National Guard sent to sleep in car park after guarding Capitol
    22 January 2021
    The guardsmen were allowed back into the building after complaints from lawmakers forced President Biden to apologise”
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/22/feel-betrayed-thousands-national-guard-sent-sleep-car-park-guarding/

    ‘Packed us together like sardines’: Guard deployed to Capitol struggles to contain Covid
    https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/22/national-guard-coronavirus-461340

  16. Jim says:

    I must of a similar age to Frank as so much of that post resonated! Its why I feel so angry about what is being done to people, especially the young. All the things I’ve done and experienced in my youth will be denied to the young of today, and tomorrow. Partly because they will be banned activities, or that the economic disaster that is lockdown will destroy so much of the social fabric, or because of mass unemployment people wont be able to afford to do what they did. I can look back at trips all around the world, travelling to watch sports matches, at years of gig going, and pub attending, and long sociable meals out with friends, and late night house parties, all currently being denied to the young, and maybe forever in some cases. Its an absolute disgrace.

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