Writing To Protest

Today I finally got around to writing to my Conservative MP to protest about prison smoking bans:

Dear X,

I hope you enjoyed your summer recess in some country far from Britain.

I am writing to protest on behalf of Britain’s prison population, who are now being subjected to absolutely unnecessarily draconian smoking bans. Since some 80% of prisoners smoke, it is entirely unsurprising that they are rioting.

One day it will be seen for what it is: an act of madness – and unnecessary cruelty – on the part of the British government. Does anyone – apart from zealots like Deborah Arnott in ASH, and our Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies – really believe that secondhand smoke poses any threat whatsoever to anyone? It is most distressing to see what amounts to an eugenic social programme (masquerading as “Public Health”) being undertaken in Britain to stamp out smoking, even in prisons and hospitals. One might have understood it a century or so ago, when eugenics was all the rage, but not now when we have seen the consequences of such eugenic programmes.

Last month your former PM and party leader, David Cameron, was photographed smoking (and drinking) in public. Last week I gather he even told assembled Conservative MPs that he had taken up smoking again. Clearly he doesn’t believe that he’s killing people with his tobacco smoke, or giving them cancer with his wine. Does he believe that prisoners are any different? Perhaps this is a faint indication that attitudes to smoking are beginning to change within government, and common sense is beginning to prevail again.

Best wishes,

Y

I’d delayed writing because parliament was in recess until last week, and the impetus to write had almost slipped away. I only got a little new impetus, oddly enough, from listening to Ted Nugent on Infowars.com, telling people to “raise hell” (although not about smoking bans). We British are far too polite to do that, and so my letter is probably far too restrained.

But it at least pressed most of the buttons I wanted to press. It “protested” at the “madness” of an “eugenic programme” to stamp out smoking, even in prisons and hospitals. And it pointed out the erstwhile party leader and PM David Cameron had, at the same time, rather ostentatiously taken up smoking again.

What I missed out writing was that Cameron was maybe doing a bit of a Nigel Farage. Nor did I link smoking bans to a wider cultural war on more or less everything faintly traditional. I had also been toying with the idea of saying that, since the smoking ban of 1 July 2007, Britain had itself become a sort of open prison, and signing myself as “Prisoner Y”.

The letter will probably do no good. My MP was anyway one of those who voted against the 2007 smoking ban, so he probably feels much the same as I do about prison smoking bans. But maybe he could use my letter as evidence of a lack of public support for this measure.

I was also sent an email containing a photo of the main town, Belle Vue, on the island of Jost Van Dyke. Foxy’s Tamarind Bar was there. Here’s a satellite photo pre-Irma:

And here’s the recent aerial photo I was sent by JVD Humanitarian Aid:

A scene of complete devastation.

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The Decline of Democracy

Something I noticed a couple of days back. AP:

State and federal environmental regulators have issued a blanket waiver for Florida electricity companies to violate clean air and water standards for the next two weeks.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the decision in a letter issued Monday as Hurricane Irma blew through the state. The agency said the so-called No Action Assurance granted through Sept. 26 will provide Florida utility generators needed flexibility to maintain and restore electricity supplies.

The assurance letter will allow utilities to operate outside restrictions mandated by their permits, including potentially using dirtier fuels, running for longer hours or electively bypassing pollution-control equipment.

The Associated Press reported last week that air pollution levels spiked in the Houston area after a similar enforcement waiver was granted to petrochemical facilities ahead of Hurricane Harvey.

If they can issue blanket waivers for electricity companies to violate clean air standards, why not issue blanket waivers for bars and restaurants to do the same with smoking bans? Perhaps this is the way smoking bans will end: blanket waivers issued during emergencies.

Another thing I read, that set me thinking:

In every case, a democracy will deteriorate as the result of the electorate accepting the loss of freedom in trade for largesse from their government. This process may be fascism, socialism, communism, or a basket of “isms,” but tyranny is the inevitable endgame of democracy. Like the destruction of a sandcastle by the incoming tide, it requires time to transpire, but in time, the democracy, like the sandcastle, will be washed away in its entirety.

Why should this be so? Well, as I commented some years ago,

The concept of government is that the people grant to a small group of individuals the ability to establish and maintain controls over them. The inherent flaw in such a concept is that any government will invariably and continually expand upon its controls, resulting in the ever-diminishing freedom of those who granted them the power.

Why should any government continually expand upon its controls? I know that this is happening right now more or less everywhere in the Western world, but is it inevitable? What’s the underlying logic?

Looking at government from the point of view of Idle Theory, in a busy, hardworking society there will be a lot of busy, hardworking people, and only a few idle people. The busy, hardworking people won’t have enough time to think about matters of state – keeping the society in a good state of repair, defending it from enemies. But idle people can think about stuff like that, and make suggestions and proposals for projects (e.g. building city walls) that would benefit everybody in the city. It is these idle people who are society’s natural legislators. These are often – but not always – rich people.

In the least idle societies, the task of government may fall to a single individual: a king. But as a society becomes more idle, thanks to technological innovations (e.g. roads), more people can become involved in government, and governing will be done by families, oligarchies, republics, and democracies, in which more and more people have a say. As social idleness increases, government expands.

But if social idleness decreases, the opposite must happen. If a society becomes impoverished by famine or drought or plague or war, and people have to work harder, there will be fewer idle people. In these circumstances, government contracts and becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, perhaps finally in the hands of a dictator or emperor, who is pretty much a king.

Something like this happened with ancient Rome, which seems to have prospered enough under its Etruscan kings (for example, Tarquinius Superbus) for the city of Rome to overthrow them circa 500 BC and introduce a republican form of government, with a Senate and two Consuls. Rome must have been idle enough to have 300 or so idle people in its early Senate. By about 50 BC, it had expanded to 900 people. And during the preceding 450 years Rome had expanded to include the whole of Italy, Spain, Gaul, Greece, and north Africa. Perhaps by this time, for one reason or other, Roman idleness was decreasing, and more and more power was being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people – like Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus. Finally, after a series of civil wars, all power was concentrated back in the hands of a single individual, Augustus Caesar.

So maybe Roman idleness first rose, and then fell. And its form of government reflected this, starting out as monarchy, becoming a republic, and then returning to what was effectively a monarchy again.  And the series of civil wars in Rome towards the end of the Republic suggest that Roman idleness was falling, and in the process people were being pushed out of government circles, and were fighting to stay in. These civil wars were also themselves a cause of loss of idleness: wars are times when people become busier.

Why might the idleness of the Roman Republic have fallen? It may have been that, as its government expanded, it also became increasingly ineffective and corrupt. It may have become ineffective because it had become too large and bureaucratic and unwieldy. It maybe took ages to decide on anything, and when it did, it probably decided to do things that benefited some people, but not others. And maybe it made lots of stupid rules and regulations (how about a ban on smoky oil lamps in taverns?) which increasingly hampered rather than helped people in their everyday lives.

The same process can be seen at work today throughout the Western world. The EU is a government superstructure that sits on top of a layer of national governments, which in turn sit on a layer of local or regional governments, in a sort of giant governmental wedding cake. The EU is terminally indecisive about everything. And it makes lots of hampering rules and regulations (e.g. smoking bans). EU politicians (and also many national politicians) live in a bubble, detached from the populations they are supposed to represent. It’s also corrupt: you can get very rich in the EU, and get a substantial pension, and even immunity from prosecution.

It’s no different in the USA, where Donald Trump – an elected modern consul – is trying to “drain the swamp” in the Senate and House and the equally corrupt and bloated US government. In both Europe and America, government is conducted more and more by an oligarchy of rich people, doing deals among themselves. Donald Trump is probably just as much an oligarch as Julius Caesar once was, and like him is also a populist. He wants to shrink the government, and that would remove influence from a lot of people who are currently very influential. US politics has become highly polarised between pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions. The possibility of civil war is being openly discussed. Meanwhile natural disasters – like two back-to-back hurricanes – have just reduced US idleness: a lot of people now have to work a lot harder to survive than they did a month or so back.

Last night I watched a discussion between pro-Trump Alex Jones and pro-Trump Steve Pieczenik. Alex Jones believes that Trump is becoming isolated by the anti-Trump “Deep State”, and surrounded and betrayed by anti-Trump advisors, possibly in preparation for a coup to overthrow him.  Steve Pieczenik doesn’t believe a word of it. He’s much more interested in the hurricanes (he lives in Florida). Their disagreement starts 10 minutes into the video below:

I’m more inclined to agree with Pieczenik than Jones. But what do I know?

Anyway, I hope I’ve set out an outline of the logic that may underlie the growth and decline of democracies, rather than just pointing to historical precedent.

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Tornado Winds

Foxy’s Tamarind Bar on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands was part of the inspiration for the Smoky Drinky Bar. It set up a webcam back in June, and you could watch a live feed. It became my Caribbean bar. Last night I learned from its website that it had gone.

Reports from JVD are scant, but the word is that the physical building that was Foxy’s is gone — taken by Hurricane Irma, along with about most all of the buildings.

No surprise, really. It wasn’t any sort of substantial structure at all.

Most of the columns holding up the roof were branches of trees. And maybe the palm trees growing up through its roof added a bit of lateral stability. Maybe that central pyramidal tiled roof needed a bit more support. I don’t know why it was needed.

The entire structure looked like a UK smoking shelter, open on all sides. When I started watching its live webcam feed, it was to see whether anyone was smoking. I only ever saw one person smoking at the bar, and it looked like he was trying to keep his cigarette out of sight. But there were ashtrays on the tables. And I didn’t see any No Smoking signs.

The only substantial thing about the building was its floor platform, which looked like it was built of concrete on stone walls. When the 200 mph hurricane winds in the eye wall of Irma came through, they probably blew the roof straight into the sea a few yards to the south. And the accompanying 12 foot storm surge would have taken away whatever was left.

It seemed to me quite likely that, when Foxy and his staff got back after Irma had passed over, they’d have found a bare concrete platform, with just a few stumps of trees and branches sticking out of it. Everything else – bar, tables, stools, bottles, glasses – would be gone.

But maybe not. They had several days notice of the arrival of Irma, during which time business would have fallen off to round about zero, given that most of its customers seem to have arrived on boats, and most of those boats had probably fled to safety. So Foxy and his staff would have had several days to remove all the tables and stools and bottles and glasses.

And put them where? Inside the floor platform, under the concrete floor. The storm surge would probably have filled the interior, soaking everything. But bottles of whisky and cans of beer, and glasses and ashtrays, would have survived being soaked. They’re being soaked all the time, after all.

Perhaps that was always the business strategy: Build a flimsy structure on a solid base, and let it blow away, and then replace it quickly with another flimsy structure.

So it was a happy thought, that Foxy’s might have already re-opened, as an open air bar, complete with tables and chairs and glasses and beer and whisky. Maybe there’d even be an open air barbecue. Everything sold cash only, at high prices, because they didn’t know when the next alcohol shipment would arrive.

But there’d probably be no customers. Because most of their customers boats had been sunk or damaged. And since most of them were motorboats (click to enlarge right), fuel was probably unobtainable for those that remained. The only boats that can get around the British Virgin Islands right now are probably sailing boats.

And the tourists won’t be back any time soon. Who wants to visit an island denuded of trees? How long does it take palm trees to grow?

Common palm tree generally takes 4-6 years to grow from seed to its highest.

So it’ll probably take 4-6 years before the tourists are around in any numbers. And even if they survived Irma, most bars will have a fraction of the number of customers they used to have. So there’ll soon be a fraction of the number of bars.

There’ll probably be an exodus from these hurricane-damaged islands. Many people will move to other islands. Or leave the islands forever.

Jost Van Dyke is quite a large island, about 6 km by 2.5 km, but it only has about 300 inhabitants. And many of them were probably sustained by the tourist trade that has now vanished. So if Foxy’s Tamarind Bar has already re-opened, it’ll probably close again soon.

And the only people who’ll be happy about that will be the filth in Tobacco Control and Alcohol Control, who hate all these bars anyway, and would like to see them all close. James Repace said that it needed “tornado winds” to make rooms safe from secondhand smoke. Well, lots of bars in the Caribbean just got hurricane winds that didn’t just empty them of secondhand smoke, but completely blew them away.

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Crony Capitalism

Hurricane Irma seems to have blown everything else out of the news. And one thing that it blew away was the move that Donald Trump made late last week. Unable to get the Republican-controlled House and Senate to enact the agenda on which he was elected, Trump has turned to… the Democrats. And did a deal with them instead. Rush Limbaugh:

I can’t tell you the number of people asking, “When did Trump become a Democrat overnight? What just happened here? Trump’s talking a…” I was faced with a monumental task last night of trying to explain this to them…

…he’s had nothing but trouble from his own party. He’s had nothing but obstruction, nothing but disrespect, nothing but a bunch of lying. On Obamacare repeal and replace, on tax reform, on whatever it is, the Republican leadership in the House and Senate has told Trump to go to (Raspberry!), and they haven’t done (Raspberry!) for him.

Looks like a very smart move to me. He can’t do deals with the people he’s supposed to be able to do deals with, so he does a deal with somebody else instead. Why not?

I wonder if this has got anything to do with the turnabout on Antifa by the Democrat leadership, which they started condemning last week for the first time ever. And I wonder what the Democrat grass roots think of the Democrat leadership, cosying up to a Donald Trump who they’ve been comparing to Hitler? Is the liberal media going to follow suit? Trump seems to have wrong-footed everybody with this move. And he’s done it under cover of Irma, knowing that the media are fixated on that.

The Telegraph has a video of what looks like it might be part of Richard Branson’s mansion on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, which Irma passed directly over as a category 5 hurricane last week. It looked like all the windows blew out. Those windows probably all had storm shutters on them, and they didn’t hold. But the building is still standing, with the roof still on it.

Other pictures from the British Virgin Islands showed scenes of similar devastation (click to zoom in):

All the leaves and branches have been stripped from the trees. Part of one building has lost its roof, and had its windows blown out, and maybe even had brick walls blown down. But the other part seems intact. The building in the background seems to be intact. The car looks like it’s as good as new, and probably wasn’t parked there during the storm. In the distance there appear to be large intact buildings, and even radio/electricity pylons. In the foreground there seem to be a few pieces of corrugated iron that could be recycled.

“This is very serious. Parts of the island are still inaccessible, people are unaccounted for and can’t be searched for until roads are clear. In some places, there are just no more roads.

“Most of the island and all of the other islands are without communication – comms blackout.”

They’re all going to have to work very hard to get back to their former idyllic island existence.

I was chatting on Skype with Legiron last night. I was also recording it, and hope to post up an edited video later this week. One thing that set me thinking was when he said that he thought that maybe pharma companies didn’t want to cure people with their drugs, because healthy people don’t need drugs. If they cured them, they’d stop buying their product. So they sell them stuff that doesn’t work – e.g. NRT products that don’t work.

Is that a viable economic model: keeping people sick so they carry on buying your medicine? Wouldn’t that be like arranging for the British Virgin Islands to periodically be demolished by hurricanes so that you can keep selling the islanders new bricks and glass and roof tiles to replace the broken ones? Or maybe selling them low quality bricks and tiles which need to be replaced after a few months? That’s a bit like those (possibly mythical) firefighters that start fires so that the need for a firefighting service can demonstrated once again?

Right now bricks and glass and roof tiles are for the Virgin Islands what paracetamol and penicillin are for sick people: they’re both forms of remedial medication. And right now the Virgin Islands are in much greater need of roof tiles than paracetamol. But would clay roof tile manufacturers try to sell them tiles that didn’t work too well, and got blown off by Category 1 storms instead of Category 5 storms like Irma, just so that they could keep selling them lots of tiles every year?

Wouldn’t competitors start making high quality tiles that didn’t blow off so easily? The only way to stop that happening would be to arrange a monopoly so as to prevent competitors selling a better product. Maybe that’s what crony capitalism is all about: organising monopolies so that you can sell people expensive, low quality products that don’t work.

Maybe the “swamp” that Donald Trump is trying to drain is actually a monopoly organised by crony capitalists to sell Americans expensive, low quality products of every kind. And the job of Congress and Senate is to make competition illegal (e.g. by banning smoking so that they can sell people NRT products that don’t work).

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Inaccurate Forecasts

Hurricane Irma must be the most closely tracked hurricane in history. There seem to be dozens of US TV stations following it minute by minute. It’s been called a “nuclear” storm by the governor of Florida. And the point where it’s been due to make landfall is being called “ground zero”. Literally millions of people have been fleeing northward from southern Florida.

But do the weather forecasters really know where it’s going? Two or three days ago lots of the forecasts had Irma tracking up the east side of Florida (orange line below). It was supposed to perform a sharp turn right. And as time wore on, the expected turn got sharper and sharper. Now they’ve got the expected path tracking up the west side of Florida (red dotted line). That’s a 180 km shift westward in about 3 days. And even to get to do that, Irma is still going to have to take a pretty sharp turn right.

To my untutored eye, extrapolating Irma’s path in the direction it has actually been going, it looks like it’s going to track way west  of Florida (yellow line), and could end up in Alabama. After all, a hurricane is a mass of air rolling across the surface of the Earth, not much different from a freewheeling truck.

Maybe I could use my orbital simulation model on it. Last night on the Smoky Drinky Bar, Brigitte was wondering if I could do that, and I was saying that I couldn’t. But in fact I can model the motion of a ball rolling over the surface of the Earth, in unimpeded motion. The thing that jumped the idea into focus this morning was when one of the breathless TV weather reporters spoke of a “closest approach” of Irma to Florida. That made Irma sound like one of my asteroids, which are usually making close approaches to the Earth.

I’m beginning to wonder whether the hurricane weather models they’re using are any better than their long-term climate models, which didn’t predict the past 18 – 20 year “pause” in global warming. And I’m wondering whether they’ve just evacuated millions of people from Florida when it wasn’t really necessary. And I’m wondering whether there’s going to be political storm breaking out when Irma misses Florida completely.

Which reminds me: did anyone predict that Hurricane Harvey would double back on its path, and so hang over Houston for much longer than it might ordinarily have done? I don’t remember anyone forecasting that.

I was writing a couple of days ago that these hurricanes made life a lot busier for everyone in their path, as they worked to clear up the mess and repair stuff after they’d passed by. It could well be that hurricane predictions are now also making life harder for anyone in their predicted paths. And that’s most likely going to be a lot more people than the number of people who are actually affected. From the Independent a day ago:

More than six million people – a quarter of the Florida’s population – have been ordered to evacuate.

That’s six million people who have been ordered to up sticks and move away for maybe two or three days, on the basis of a false prediction of Irma’s path. And for them that’ll be 10 million days lost, sitting wrapped in blankets on the floor of a community centre somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Hurricane Irma was reported to be at latitude 23.9º, longitude -81.3º at 2.00 am EDT today, and at latitude 24.1º, longitude -81.5º at 5.00 am EDT, moving pretty much along the direction of my guessed path. The eye is going to pass over Key West, about 50 km from the southern tip of Florida. And hurricane force winds will barely brush it, now that Irma has been reduced to a Category 3 hurricane.

Clearly it’s going to be very wet and windy over most of Florida, but was it really necessary to order the evacuation of 6 million people?

P.S. Two hours after I posted this, Irma turned north and moved up the west coast of Florida almost exactly as forecast in the map above. Shows what little I know about weather forecasting.

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Inverted Healthist Values

I was toying yesterday with the idea that the antis and the healthists had an inverted value system to mine.

My value system is pretty much the one that’s inherent in Idle Theory: You arrange your life to do as little as possible. You find the easiest ways to do things, and the shortest route between places. You maximise your idle time, and minimise your work time. You drive things like cars, because it’s quicker to go places that way. You call people by phone because it’s easier than going to see them.

I think the whole of Western Civilisation is built on a Least Action principle. Pretty much all our technology enables us to do stuff more quickly, using less energy. We get freed up by it to do what we want, rather than what we must. Economic progress means increased idleness, and increased freedom. When it all goes backwards – as when a hurricane comes through – we have to work harder, and we become less free.

But the antis and healthists don’t seem to share these values. If nothing else, you never hear them talking about freedom – about the real freedom of being able to do what you want, as opposed to the inverted freedom of being “smoke-free” or “fat-free” or “alcohol-free”.

Take food, for example. Some of them advocate “low-calorie” foods. Supermarkets are full of the stuff. It’s supposed to be “healthier”. But the way I see it, if you eat low-fat, low-sugar, low-energy foods, you’re going to have to eat more of it, if you’re going to meet your daily energy requirements. To my way of thinking, what you need are high-energy foods, because they give you the biggest bang for your buck. And they’re essentially fast foods.   Ideally, food would consist of super-high-energy foods, that you’d take as tablets, no cooking involved, no plates or knives and forks.

I remember saying as much when I was about 5 years old. Because for me, aged 5, eating was a chore. I had better things to do with my model ships and dinosaurs than sit down at a table and spend half an hour eating. Clearly I had my value system in place long before I’d had the faintest inkling of Idle Theory.

I remember my father disagreeing with my food tablet idea. “Wouldn’t you miss having a nice plate of bacon and eggs and sausages and tomatoes and beans and fried bread?” he asked, conjuring up a delicious plate before my eyes. And, actually, I would have indeed missed those delights. And maybe I would have also missed the companionship of sitting around a table, talking to other people. I never talked to anybody when I was building my model boats and houses and dinosaurs.

Nevertheless, the entire thrust of Western Civilisation is towards work-minimisation with engines and cars and phones and computers. And one result of this is that people do a lot less work these days than they used to do. And they need correspondingly less food. But if they carry on having big breakfasts like the one my father conjured up for me, and big lunches, and big dinners, they’re eating more than they need, and they’ll end up storing the food energy as fat. And that’s one reason why we have the so-called “obesity epidemic” (which isn’t an epidemic, of course).

Back in my childhood when we had three substantial meals every day, we were living busy, active lives in rather cold houses. So we were burning a lot of energy, and we needed to replace it. Now that I need a lot less energy, I really only need about one square meal a day, rather than three.

This doesn’t bother me, because I still think that eating is a chore, just like I did when I was 5 years old. But my father liked eating. It was one of his favourite pastimes. He liked eating and drinking and smoking. And he liked talking as well. And that’s why he was always a rather fat man. He would have hated my one-meal-a-day lifestyle. And in fact, right to the end of his life, he insisted on having breakfast, lunch, and dinner – although never quite as substantial as those of 50 years earlier. And he didn’t eat “low-calorie” foods either. He always ate the real thing. He maintained his energy balance by getting lots of exercise, mostly by gardening and mowing the lawn.

And here’s where one kind of lifestyle emerges. In our Least Action civilisation, with less and less work being needed to be done, you can only justify eating a lot if you get a correspondingly greater amount of exercise. You have to go jogging, or to the gym, or do some gardening. My father’s (and mother’s) gym was their garden.

But there’s another, second way of carrying on eating lots of food, and that is to eat low-calorie foods. You spend just as long eating as you ever did, and you don’t do any exercise, but you always eat low-calorie, low-sugar, low-fat, low-energy food.

My own, third lifestyle is simple: eat less. And eat as quickly as possible. So I tend to eat high-energy, high-sugar, high-fat foods in small amounts. I never buy low-calorie anything. And it’s all fast food. It’s either food that is quick to prepare, and quick to eat. Or it’s fast food that I buy in supermarkets and can heat up in an oven. Or it’s hot fast food that I can buy in fast food outlets. My only objection to the last is that the portions they serve are all too large: a standard fish and chip dinner from the local fish and chip shop is usually about twice the amount that I want/need, and I usually end up eating half of it, and re-heating the rest the next day.

And also I smoke. And smoking is an appetite-suppressant. I think that there’s maybe a very simple reason why it’s an appetite suppressant, and that is that smoking is an activity which is almost indistinguishable from eating. You’re “eating” smoke. Or “drinking” smoke. And the smoke is hot just like hot food out of an oven. A cigarette is a little hot snack, which gives you the illusion of having eaten something, when in fact you’ve eaten nothing at all. The calorie content of tobacco smoke is zero (disregarding the temperature of the smoke). Smoking is an essential part of my lifestyle, because I can “snack” all day on cigarettes, and in that manner eat a lot less of my high calorie diet. Drinking tea is another essential part of my lifestyle, because the tea is another hot snack, and one that basically fills my stomach with hot very-slightly-sweetened water. Take away the tea and cigarette “snacks”, and I’d start to feel hungry.

The healthist antis are lifestyle police who are trying to impose their own particular preferred lifestyle on everybody else. And their lifestyle seems to be one that is high energy expenditure (lots of exercise), and so correspondingly high food consumption of “natural” foods rather than the processed foods found in supermarkets, or the fast foods from takeaway fish and chip shops. And of course no unnecessary appetite-suppressant smoking. I’m surprised they haven’t come out against appetite-suppressant tea and coffee, but they probably will sooner or later.

The healthist antis also look back nostalgically on wartime Britain, when everyone was all so wonderfully lean and fit, because they had to work hard on barely enough food to sustain them. In fact, the healthist antis seem to look back nostalgically on the Stone Age, when everyone was eating “natural” foods, and getting lots of exercise chasing “naturally-occurring” woolly mammoths.

What they really want is a society where everyone is kept busy, and the busier the better. They want to get people out of their labour-saving cars and onto labour-intensive bicycles and feet. They want to return to the past. And they want to reverse the entire thrust of the Least Action ethic of Western Civilisation.

And of course they want a society in which freedom is minimised rather than maximised, and in which people do as they are told by a managerial class, like so many conscripts in an army, or so many slaves on a plantation. And that’s why they want to dumb people down. And also why they keep changing the meanings of words, particularly ones that have anything to do with freedom (like “liberal” or “progressive”).

And that’s why they have an inverted set of values.

And that’s why they’re our enemies.

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Smoking Bans as Self-Inflicted Disasters

I was looking at some YouTube videos this morning of the scene in Saint Martin, which the eye of category 5 Hurricane Irma passed over a couple of days ago, trying to assess how much work was going to be needed to be done to recover from it. A couple of snapshots:

I’d half expected to see every building with its roof missing and its windows blown out. But, as far as I could see, most buildings had survived pretty much intact. It was just that, here and there, one or two – which looked like they were pretty flimsy to start with – had been demolished.

I also didn’t see telephone or power cables strewn over the streets. That suggested that they were mostly underground, and that the water and electricity and telephone supply network was intact.

Clearly there was a lot of work to be done clearing pieces of debris from the streets, and demolishing half-demolished buildings., and chopping up fallen trees. There was probably a strong demand for roof tiles and window glass, and they’d be almost unobtainable.

The impression I had was that life was going to be harder for everybody on the island. It would take longer to go from one place to another while some streets remained blocked with fallen trees, or closed due to dangerous structures. But a volunteer army could probably clear the streets in a few days, and demolish most unsafe buildings. There might be a market for newly-valuable roof tiles off demolished buildings, as everything was cannibalised and re-used as far as possible.

It looked to me like life might almost be back to normal in a couple of months, and much of what had been demolished would have been rebuilt after 6 months, once shipments of tiles and timber and glass (already on order) had arrived.

And when Irma arrives over eastern Florida tomorrow, with slightly lower wind speeds, it’ll probably do slightly less damage over a much larger area. Everyone in Florida will have to work harder, but not for quite as long as on Saint Martin.

But that’s just a guess. Recovery may take longer when homes have been flooded (which doesn’t seem to have happened in Saint Martin), and many possessions lost or rendered unusable.

Looked at using the same perspective, smoking bans are like natural disasters for smokers. Life gets harder for them. If once they could light up a cigarette more or less wherever they were, they now have to “step outside” for one, perhaps having to walk for 10 minutes to find somewhere.

And, much like in Saint Martin where many people are having to go without all sorts of things (just one coffee a day, courtesy of your next door neighbour, rather than the usual five?), smokers may be reduced to five cigarettes a day, rather than the 20 cigarettes a day they’d like.

And, just like roof tiles in Saint Martin, cigarettes are getting more and more expensive, which means more work must be done to buy a cigarette, as well as to smoke it.

And as smoking restrictions intensify, life only ever gets harder for smokers. There is no recovery.

The difference, of course, is that Hurricane Irma is a natural disaster which could not be prevented, while smoking bans are self-inflicted disasters.

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