The slow death of freedom

I was listening to Peter Hitchens talking about the death of freedom in Britain, starting with conscription in WW1 and continuing with the post-WW2 Labour governments’ various utopian legislative programs.

One thing missing from his list of lost freedoms was the only lost freedom which had a profound personal impact on me: the 2007 smoking ban in pubs and restaurants.

Clearly Hitchens didn’t mind the smoking ban – most likely because he probably doesn’t smoke, and may even have approved of the ban.

Yet he’s far from being alone in this: Nobody cares about the smoking ban. It’s people like me who still bang on about it that are the exceptions.

One person’s freedom is someone else’s constraint.

WW1 UK conscription only lasted from 1916 to 1020, and was a response to a national emergency. But the 2007 UK smoking ban was quite different: it was an attempt by government to change British culture. It was top-down control.

No doubt it helped that almost every other country in the world was also banning smoking.

But if smoking can be banned, then why not alcohol as well? And meat and sugar and anything else? All on the grounds of “health”

The current Covid-19 lockdowns and mask mandates are an extension of restrictions which began with the smoking ban (or perhaps with bike helmets and compulsory seat belts in cars?). Are they ever going to be lifted?

Given the experience of recent history, most likely not. We have entered an era of mounting state tyranny.

Why not a renewal of conscription? Britain has already had two periods of this. All it needs is another national emergency. And these are regular events. In 2015 Prince Harry called for the re-introduction of conscription. Other advocates of  conscription include the actor Michael Caine. In an era of mounting state tyranny, the return of conscription would seem to be a virtual certainty.

But I’m not at all sure that governments can change society through legislation. Societies are shaped by many more influences than legislation alone. It is possible for societies to distrust governments. Trust is not a constant.

But these days, as Hitchens points out, political parties have become indistinguishable from each other. Labour and Tory are both the same. There is no real opposition. Only a few outsiders like Nigel Farage provide dissenting voices.

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Bullying Bastards

Bullying bastards

Hospitality bosses reacted with fury today after five councils in England banned smoking outside pubs, cafes and restaurants with others considering joining them as the Government tries to make the UK smoke free by 2030.

Newcastle City Council, Manchester City Council, Durham County Council, Northumberland County Council and North Tyneside Council have all banned smoking on the pavements where outdoor hospitality venues have tables.

And Oxfordshire County Council is set to follow suit under plans for the first smoke-free county, with employers expected to asked to enforce smoke-free spaces outside shops, offices and factories to help staff kick their

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There are a lot of things I don’t believe.

I don’t believe that smoking causes lung cancer. I grew up in the 1950s in a world where everyone smoked. My father smoked. My grandfather smoked. My mother occasionally smoked. None of them died of lung cancer. The first person I knew who died of lung cancer didn’t smoke.

The association of lung cancer with smoking is purely statistical. The incidence of lung cancer started increasing at the same time that cigarettes started becoming popular in the early 20th century. Ergo the one caused the other. This became an unquestionable medical certainty in about 1950, and the basis for gradually multiplying smoking restrictions ever since. Yet there’s never been an explanation for exactly how smoking causes lung cancer. Instead smoking – and not just smoking cigarettes – is now said to cause nearly every malady in the sun. Smoking has been thoroughly demonised.

I also don’t believe that human-emitted carbon dioxide causes global warming. Volcanoes produce far more carbon dioxide than humans. And in my own dynamic heat flow models of the Earth, it wasn’t carbon dioxide that caused a cycle of ice ages and interglacials. It was a minor contributor.

And I don’t believe that Covid-19 is causing a plague worse than bubonic plague, requiring lockdowns everywhere.

What seems to be happening is that all these things – carbon dioxide, Covid-19, and tobacco – are being used to try to control human behaviour. We’re living in a medical tyranny in which self-styled experts dictate our behaviour. How long can this go on? It’s a new religion. A new blind faith in experts. And I’ve never been a believer. I’ve never trusted experts, I’ve always tried to do my own thinking, not let somebody else do it for me. It’s why I build my own heat flow models and my own orbital simulation models.

I’m an unbeliever in a world of believers.

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A Failing Prohibition

I often wonder whether top-down state-sponsored prohibition like the current smoking ban can ever succeed in the long term.

One simple fact is that after 14 years of the prohibition in the UK, I’m still smoking. I’m never going to give up smoking. To do so would be to surrender to the bullies in Public Health. So even if I come to hate smoking, I’m not going to stop. I’ve dug in my heels.

But anyway smoking is one of life’s pleasures. Who wants to give up one of life’s pleasures?

Furthermore, I no longer believe anything that Public Health says about anything. Covid-19 scaremongering is a good example. It’s been a complete loss of faith. Am I unusual? I don’t think I am, except in being vocal about it.

Smoking is never going to be eradicated. The rise of vaping is an interesting example; it’s smoking without tobacco smoke. It looks just like smoking. And that’s why Public Health wants to eradicate vaping as well.

The truth is that Public Health is entirely concerned with appearances.

Public Health obviously wants to ban alcohol as well. They’re prohibitionists who want to prohibit things. They have no positive vision of adding anything to the world. They just want to subtract things. They don’t want a fuller life: they want a diminished life, a minimal life. They want a prison world.

I think that if they’d been successful at prohibiting smoking they would have started prohibiting alcohol as well. And then they’d have moved on to prohibit sugar and meat and fast food. But they didn’t succeed.

I don’t think they can ever succeed.

I think they’ll just fade away.

And then after a while they’ll be back again, trying to prohibit something else.

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Via Appia

Ignoring the news, which is always awful, I’ve been watching a video of a placid cycle ride along the Via Appia in Italy.

The road is surprisingly narrow. It’s not much wider than an English country lane. Roman legionaries marching along it would have only been three or four abreast.

In the video there are very few cars on the road, with people walking or cycling along it in bright sunshine. There are a few horses as well.

Along the sides there are numerous tombs and ruins. Much of the road is still made up of the original irregular basalt rocks from which it was constructed circa 300 BC.

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Civil War in France?

French Civil War Over Islamism?

I was a bit shocked to read that French generals are warning of civil war if Islamism in France isn’t countered. But perhaps after the 2015 Bataclan massacre something like it was always looming.

Unthinkable? Maybe not. A lot of French people are thinking it.

But a civil war between the indigenous people of France and Islamists would surely spread rapidly to almost every other country in Europe. Most of them have the same problem. They are libertarian countries with illiberal Islamic minorities.

Is it even a civil war? It’s a war that has already raged between Europe civilisation and Islam for 1200 years, fought across Spain and France and Palestine. It’s just been in abeyance in recent years, while Europe was a global superpower. But now resurgent Islam poses the same threat again. It’s a cultural head-on collision. Co-existence is impossible.

The re-ignition of this long war will likely result in an Islamic holocaust in Europe, with mosques being demolished and Muslims expelled. It’s a war that will extend into the Middle East as it’s carried to the heart of Islam.

What else can happen?

Perhaps the French generals are scaremongering.

If they’re right, we’ll all start smoking again, and that’ll be the end of the antismoking bullies.

Piano music

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Once again I’ve had great difficulty trying to post anything on WordPress. I don’t get offered the option to add a new post. It’s only by clicking on more or less everything I can that I eventually get offered this option. And by then I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say.

A lot of people are complaining about Covid lockdowns. They’re not used to it.

But smokers have been facing lockdowns for years. Smoking bans are smoker lockdowns. Smokers are used to it. They’re a small excluded minority, and nobody pays any attention to them.

But now everybody is being locked down. The minority has become a majority, And it can’t be ignored.

And perhaps now a few more people will realise what a monster Public Health has become, and that it’s full of bullies who have no compunction about demonising entire classes of people, all in the name of “Health”. Nothing is more important than “Health”. It’s a new idol.

But humans are always gambling with their health. They’re always taking risks. There’s be no progress but for all the risks people have taken to learn to fly, to sail across oceans, to build trains and cars. A lot of people have died doing those things.

A risk-free life is no life at all.

Health isn’t the only thing that matters. There are plenty of other things that matter. Truth. Reason. Honesty. Compassion. Humour. The list is endless. And they will re-assert themselves one day, and we’ll be freed from the tyranny of Health.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that medics become obsessed with health. It’s what they deal with all the time. Like mathematicians deal in numbers, and soldiers deal in weapons. They need to learn to step back from it, and gain a wider perspective.

Health is becoming a dirty word. Public Health even dirtier.

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Losing My Thread

Smokers never seem to get angry about smoking bans. But maybe that’s because they’ve been under attack all their lives. They’re used to it.

On Forest’s Zoom meeting recently Jacob Grier said it went back to the 1940s and 50s, But it goes back further than that. It goes back to Hitler in the 1930s, and to King James circa 1600. There have been antismokers for as long as there’s been smoking.

And smokers don’t fight back. They just roll with the punches. With each new prohibition they just move another few yards down the street.

One day there’ll be no smoking allowed anywhere.

And then?

Can anything really be prohibited by law? Cannabis was demonised and prohibited for a long time, but now it seems to gradually being legalised. Now it’s tobacco that’s being demonised and prohibited. The evil eye has switched from one thing to another.. It seems that something always has to be demonised and prohibited. 

Maybe it’s that when anything is persecuted enough, the persecution loses power, and the persecuted recover their strength.. The emperors Nero and Diocletian persecuted Christians, and then Christianity took over the Roman empire. Would that have happened without a period of intense persecution? Christianity is the religion of the persecuted: its founder was crucified.

Same with alcohol prohibition. That didn’t last long either.

No Smoking signs indicate persecution. There aren’t any No Blacks signs, or No Women signs these days…

I’ve lost my thread.

I’m having a lot of difficulty with WordPress these days. It used to be easy to post a new blog, but now it takes me ages – 10 or 15 minutes – to be able to just start or finish editing a new post. There’s a + option to start a new post, and that option no longer appears. I have to hunt for it.

I have less to say, and it’s harder to say it.

Lionel seems to have the same problem.

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I was listening to birdsong at 6 am this morning, and was struck by how much of it seemed to be made up of distinct sentences made up of distinct words or tweets. Are blackbirds saying things that we don’t understand? It seemed very likely.

It all kicks off at the crack of dawn, and lasts about quarter of an hour. The blackbirds move from one place to another. And this morning one of those places was right outside my window, and I was surprised just how loud it was.

It reminded me of Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi when the birds all sing, “Ding-dong-tock. Nag is dead,” after the mongoose kills the snake. It was one of the first books I read as a child, and remains a vivid memory. I remember being taught to read by my mother, and thinking that it was all just pointless gazing at sheets of paper, and I had better things to do. I changed my mind after reading my first story, and started reading avidly.

It was the same after my mother taught me to write. After that I started writing my own stories about cats and mice that lived around an old mill pond. I wrote whole books of stories, the main character of which was a cat called Twinkle, in my barely-legible handwriting.

After that I carried on writing all my life. I felt that writing helped me to slow down my thinking as I searched for the words to express myself. I filled reams of paper with words.

Writing a blog was a natural continuation of that.

But these days I seem to have less and less to say.

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Subglacial Megaliths

megalith2021I have in the past written about megalithic structures.

The idea I had was that, with the surfaces of the ice sheets uninhabitable, humans may have lived in warm caverns beneath the ice, building megalithic structures to hold up the ice..

Most megalithic structures are sited on high ground. so that water will drain away from them. Megaliths beneath melting ice would thus have been kept relatively dry.

The exposed overlying ice would have melted faster between megaliths, resulting in the formation of domes and barrel vaults, and ice capitals atop the megaliths which may well have resembled ionic and corinthian capitals. Greek and Roman architecture might well have origins in a deep subglacial past, recreated in a postglacial environment.

It would probably have been necessary to have raised floors above the streams of water on the ground surface.

Air temperatures in these subglacial chambers would have needed to be above freezing in order to melt the ice above. They may have been very warm.

If the ice was not deep, in daytime a pale blue light would have shone down through the ice.

With plentiful fresh water, mild temperatures, and light from above, the subglacial world would have been an ideal habitat for humans and other animals.

It’s  usually thought that it took a colossal effort by thousands of people to raise these megalithic structures. But in a glacial world it may have been quite easy to slide large rocks over ice that had become a skating rink, and also relatively easy to drop such rocks into position. The megaliths were not raised.: they were lowered. They were quarried from hills above the ice surface, slid across it, and dropped into place.

This could explain why there are thousands of megalithic structures in Britain. They were quite easy to make.

It would also mean that the megaliths were built during the ice age, over 13,000 years ago, not after it. They are generally dated much younger because surrounding soils have carbon deposits of such ages. But the megaliths of the ice age would have had no such soils until the ice age ended and plants and animals began growing around them.

The biggest problem for humans would have been to find food in this barren glacial world. But if fish spawned in the warm glacial rivers beneath the ice, migrating as they still do today, humans might have had abundant food, much of which they could keep deep frozen in the ice around them, and cooked in hot springs. In addition there would have been other cave inhabitants, like bats and birds, to supplement their diet. There may have been all sorts of animals that found refuge in the caves beneath the ice.

Given a largely featureless ice sheet, navigation across it would have relied upon the sky. Humans would have needed to look up to find out where they were, following the sun and stars.

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