What I Meant To Say

In a Zoom online meeting today, Simon Clark asked me whether my recent spell in hospital had changed my attitude to smoking. Unfortunately, due to some unknown technical problem, nobody could hear my reply.

What I meant to say was that during my 2 weeks in hospital, I hardly ever wanted a cigarette. The idea barely crossed my mind at all. So I didn’t suffer at all. But as soon as I was home again, I lit up and carried on smoking like I’d never stopped. And I’ve been smoking roll-ups for nearly 50 years.

What does that mean? What it seems to mean is that I’m not so much addicted to tobacco as habituated  to tobacco. It’s a habit of mine, and one among many habits, which also include drinking tea all day. It’s part of the rhythm of my day. In hospital all my habits were suspended.

Also, like Barry, I have no health issues with tobacco. I was in hospital because (I think) I got a mild version of the coronavirus that had just started to go round. Smoking was no part of my reason for being in hospital.

Anyway, now that I’m back home, I smoke just as much as I ever did. And I intend to carry on smoking, I have no wish whatever to quit, And I have no belief in its imagined dangers.

It was nice to see Juliette Tworsey at the meeting. I met her in a pub garden outside Swindon over 10 years ago, with the members of her band, Firebug. So nice to encounter her in person again.

Next time I hope there are no technical problems.

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Democrat Self-Destruction

As best I understand confused US politics right now, the Democrats are busy destroying themselves as they become more and more radical, and pursue madcap schemes like  de-funding the police.

How many Americans are likely to support that? Hardly any.

So I expect that Trump will be re-elected with an increased majority in November, and Republicans will tighten their hold on the House and Senate.

What else can possibly happen?

And with copycat protests and riots in Britain and Europe being fomented by the Left, much the same thing will happen there too.

The Left are their own worst enemies.

All of which is pretty much what what Steve Turley has to say:

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Untrue Normality

Guardian:

The government is reportedly ready to let pub beer gardens in England reopen from 22 June as part of plans drawn up by a group of ministers, dubbed the “Save Summer Six”, who are looking at ways to restart the hospitality industry earlier than initially planned.

The proposals, first reported in the Financial Times, would allow some of the 27,000 pubs that have outdoor space to serve customers for the first time in three months.

Martin, the chairman of JD Wetherspoon, said: “Few pubs will be able to make a profit using outdoor space only but partial reopening will provide a psychological boost to a beleaguered industry.

“It will signal the intent of the government to make progress towards normality, which will be welcome.”

It won’t be true normality.

True normality ended on 1 July 2007.

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Two Kinds of Climate Alarmism

It seems that the global reduction in economic activity over the past few months due to Covid=19 has had little or no effect on atmospheric CO2 levels.

Jo Nova:

Humans do Ultimate Paris Lockdown, CO2 hits record high anyway

The new figures from the Mauna Loa Observatory show humans are irrelevant

Despite the Ultra-Revolutionary-Carbon-Reduction-Program far beyond anything the UN has every dreamed of,  Global CO2 hit 417ppm. This is a record high since humans discovered test tubes but the 300 millionth time since life on Earth evolved.

I don’t know why people are worried about global warming anyway. The atmospheric temperature is only predicted to rise by one or two degrees over a century or so. Does that mater?

What seems to me far more worrying is the prospect of global cooling. During the last ice age (which only ended 12,000 years ago) atmospheric temperature was 10ºC lower than today. And today we’re living in an interglacial period, previous ones of which have only ever lasted about 12,000 years. So we’re overdue for the start of a renewed ice age, which is likely to be very sudden (over a decade or so). Why aren’t people more worried about that?

Yesterday I wrote:

It’s kind of weird that some people will get exercised about relatively harmless things like smoking and drinking, but aren’t much bothered about far more dangerous activities (like swimming and hang gliding).

I feel exactly the same about global warming. Why the alarm about a bit of warming, when cooling is a far greater threat?

It is perhaps because people tend to see the Earth’s climate as being a constant, and regard any change in temperature – upwards or downwards – as equally alarming, particularly if projected far into the future.

And yet the Earth’s atmospheric temperature is always changing. It’s always either rising or falling. It does this every day, every year, and every millennium.

In many ways I’m unsurprised that there are lots of people like Greta Thunberg who are alarmed at the current warming. But why aren’t there equal numbers of people just as alarmed about the prospect of global cooling?

Maybe it’ll change if we start to see atmospheric temperature falling over a decade or two? Perhaps we can only ever worry about one thing at a time? So we’ll always be worried about either warming or cooling, rather than both?

Anyway anti-Greta Naomi Seibt seems to spend her time debunking global warming rather than highlighting the prospect of global cooling. She never mentions it at all. She thinks that there’s no reason for alarm about anything. If Greta Thunberg is an alarmist, Naomi Seibt is an anti-alarmist: there’s nothing to be worried about.

But what would happen if in a few years time Canada and Europe and Russia found themselves covered in snow sheets that never melt? What would be the effect on the global economy, and on global politics? Has nobody written a book that explores this possibility? Perhaps I should explore it myself, given that I’ve been thinking about it for the past 2 years, using my own simulation model.

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Is It Admirable to have Never Drunk or Smoked?

Lepercolonist reports that Joe Biden (2017)

Never touched beer, alcohol, cigarettes, or pot

Is this admirable?

I don’t think so.

It means that Joe Biden has no experience of them. Do we ever admire ignorant and inexperienced people? Would you climb into a car with someone who can’t drive? Or into a plane with someone who can’t fly? Joe Biden is just parading his ignorance.

Everything is dangerous:

Pilot killed as motorised paraglider crashes into Inverclyde hillside

and

Man Drowns Swimming at Rockaway Beach: NYPD

My view is that the more experience that people have of these dangerous activities, the more valuable their judgment is likely to be. If I ever joined an army, I’d want it to include veterans of many battles who could share their knowledge and experience. When I learned to swim, it was with experienced swimmers who could rescue me if I got into difficulty.

Let’s concede (purely for the sake of argument) that beer, alcohol, cigarettes, and pot can kill. But if they do, it’s very slowly. Nobody dies  in seconds after drinking a beer, but they can (and do) die in seconds drowning or crashing or catching a bullet. So the latter are far more dangerous than the former.

Someone like Joe Biden isn’t an asset: he’s a liability. I wouldn’t trust his judgment on such matters.

I want people to be as experienced in everything as they can be, not as inexperienced. It takes a thief to catch a thief. Ignorant and inexperienced people are going to make mistakes until they’ve gained enough experience to stop doing to. It’s true of absolutely everything: We learn from our mistakes.

The same goes for the non-smoking, non-drinking Donald Trump. It’s one thing that I don’t like about him. It’s one thing that I don’t trust his judgment about. I wish he had a cigar in his mouth all the time: I’d trust him a lot more.

It’s kind of weird that some people will get exercised about relatively harmless things like smoking and drinking, but aren’t much bothered about far more dangerous activities. Maybe that’s why many people have strong reservations about people like Trump: there are important things missing from them. There are things they’ve never done, and so know next to nothing about.

Anyway it looks like the two principal candidates in the Presidential election in November will both be ignorant and inexperienced people like this.

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Planned and Unplanned

Mail:

SpaceX launches another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit — including one with an inbuilt ‘sun visor’ to make the constellation less visible from Earth

Total number of Starlink satellites now in orbit has now reached 482

SpaceX has permission from the FCC to create a constellation of 12,000 craft

System is designed to beam down cheap and easy to access internet to all

VisorSat is latest experiment to reduce Starlink’s brightness and make the constellation less visible from Earth

12,000 seems lke one heck of a lot of satellites. What’s to stop there being `120,000 or 1,200,000? No wonder astronomers are complaining:

Starlink received criticism from astronomers for tainting the natural view of the night sky as the satellites are highly reflective.

We could end up with the stars having vanished into a glowing sky.

1980s Donald Trump interview:

He was being asked even back then if he was going to run for President.

Only America seems to produce these larger-than-life personalities.

I’ve never really understood why so many Americans love him, and why so many hate him. Personally it’s not so much that I like Donald Trump so much that I simply can’t stand Hillary Clinton. And I can’t stand Hillary Clinton for the same reason I can’t stand Michael Bloomberg and many others: they introduce smoking bans.

For many people tobacco is simply a carcinogenic poison, but for me it’s a symbol of freedom: the freedom of people to do what they like. And the War on Tobacco is a war on freedom by people who hate freedom. Any ban on anything brings a reduction in freedom. And the political Left  hates freedom, because it wants a planned society, and a planned society is one devoid of freedom.

The political divide across the world is the same everywhere: it’s one between the lovers of freedom and the advocates of planned, regulated constraint. It’s a spectrum on which the Left occupies one end, and the Right the other, and each becomes more or less extreme in tandem with the other, sometimes overlapping. The Cold War was a rivalry between the planned, regulated Soviet Union and the (relatively) unplanned and unregulated USA. And the rivalry continues, even if Left and Right have become indistinguishable from each other.

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Trump at St John’s Church

What’s happening?

This is a disturbing image:

President Trump holding a bible in front of a burned-out Washington church.

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Other Views

Stuff I’ve been reading.

Simon Clark:

I’m not sure why I get so annoyed. There is just something about some vaping activists that leaves me cold. ‬

‪For example, the cult-like insistence that if only smokers had access to e-cigarettes or weren’t ‘misled about vaping’ all smokers would switch and millions of lives would be saved.‬

‪There are times when some vaping activists sound more like evangelical preachers exhorting smokers to abandon their unhealthy ways and live a new life free from the dangers of tobacco.‬

‪Behind this lies the apparent belief that smokers smoke only for the nicotine and if smokers can only be persuaded to switch to a safer delivery device one billion lives will be saved and they will be so much happier.‬

‪In some cases, perhaps, but this belief (and I use the word advisedly) ignores the fact that many smokers enjoy smoking – the ritual, the taste, the inhalation and exhalation of smoke, the warmth of the burning tobacco etc.

Well, yes.

Not least, cigarettes are as light as feathers, while vapes are laden with batteries. And cigarettes – like candles – are living things, with a metabolism and a lifetime – while vapes are machines , and as different from cigarettes as cars are from horses.

Smoking is completely different from vaping, which is reductionist in nature: it delivers nicotine. But smoke isn’t just vapourised nicotine: it’s something multifarious and deeply symbolic. Smoke has multiple dimensions.

There’s never going to be a “smoke-free” world. Smoke is as much part of the natural world as water.

Legiron:

Scary news. The Flu Manchu scare is wearing off. People are ignoring lockdown. It has nothing to do with Dominic Cummings, we are just getting pissed off with it all. It’s failing as it was always going to.

Yes, that’s true too. Scares always wear off. That’s why they keep on inventing new ones.

What happens when people don’t believe them in the first place? Because that’s where we’re going: A world where nobody believes anybody about anything. A world where there are no authorities, and there are no experts, because the authorities and the experts told far too many lies for anyone to believe them any more.

Chris Sorochin:

New York’s reputation as a place where “anything goes” reaches back to colonial times. In contrast to staid, Calvinist Boston, New York’s pragmatic Dutch origins as a trading center (rather than a putative haven for those fleeing religious repression to impose their own theocracy) meant a much more secular and tolerant atmosphere.

So it was a particularly bitter pill to swallow when New York mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled plans for a ban on smoking in all public places. Prior to Bloomberg’s reign, smoking bans had largely been associated with places like granola-crunch California (mocked by New Yorkers for its obsessive healthist culture, among other things) and true-to-its-Puritan-roots Massachusetts. The first place I ever visited where one couldn’t smoke in a bar was, appropriately, Salem, a little northeast of Boston and famous for its 1692 witch hunt…

We’re still living in a theocracy. The War on Smoking is as much religious persecution as witch hunting ever was. The new god is Health, and it’s as oppressively demanding as Jupiter or Athena or Cybele ever were.

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Distinct Voices

Continuing with the media:

Sir David Attenborough has said the coronavirus pandemic has swept the problem of climate change from the front pages.

The broadcaster and naturalist, who celebrated his 94th birthday in May, said the outbreak has made the issue feel as if it is in “the distant future”.

“… we have to make sure that this issue, which was coming to the boil with the next COP meeting in Glasgow, has suddenly been swept off the front pages. And we’ve got to get it back there.”

All these things only have any currency if they’re being pushed in the media. Would anyone have any interest in climate change/Global Warming if this wasn’t happening? After all, it only amounts at present to a 1ºC rise in air temperature, if that. If it looks like a problem in the distant future, it’s because it actually is a problem in the distant future.

The same is true with the War on Tobacco, which has been running for far longer than the Global Warming scare, thanks to organisations like ASH which keep on pushing them.

The natural tendency must be for all these scares to gradually lose their force over time. And maybc that’s what happens anyway. People know that they’re supposed to be worried about Climate Change and Smoking, but quietly ceased to care about either. They have their own priorities, even if they play lip service to the reigning scares promoted by the media.

In fact even the new coronavirus looks like it’s really just another media-driven scare story too. It’s treated like it’s the Black Death, but it’s not. It’s actually a fairly mild infection. Its current primacy is probably more a reflection of the need for new scares to replace tired old scares which nobody is  scared of any more. And that’s because nobody trusts the mainstream media any more. Everything has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Everyone wonders who they can trust. And increasingly they trust a few individuals who have gained a track record of getting things half right.

We know what we’re supposed to think, but nevertheless we don’t think it.

Sir David Attenborough has probably been one of the most trusted voices in Britain for the past 50 years. But how long will such trust last when he’s started openly advocating pushing climate change back onto the front pages? Clearly he has his own agenda. And now he’s even quite open about it. Perhaps he thinks that, at the age of 94, his reputation still largely intact, he no longer needs to seem impartial?

But many of the new people don’t pretend to be impartial. What’s impartial about Alex Jones?

The odd thing about the new people is that many of them seem to have their own distinct voice. Alex Jones has his own distinct gruff voice. Michael Savage has a beautiful, melodic voice, almost like a musical instrument. Their voices have their own separate message.

One distinctive voice that I happen to like is that of Lionel Nation. I’m not sure if that’s his real name. But it’s a voice from New York City that seems to speak for New York City.

Who are these people, and where did they come from? They come out of nowhere. Why do thousands of people tune in to listen to them? Perhaps because they just want to hear distinctive new voices.

There are more and more of them, now that nobody listens to the mainstream media any more. There are thousands of them.

Once there were only one or two voices: now there are thousands, all competing with each other for authenticity. And that’s a new thing.

They’re all like pop singers on some new Hit Parade. Only they just talk rather than sing. All they need is a microphone and an internet connection. Their one shared ability is to be able to talk for hours. And they do it every day, some better than others.

And they make money out of it somehow, just like pop singers. Perhaps it’s dependent on how many listeners they manage to attract. I don’t know how it works.

But now YouTube are starting to censor some of them.  Some of their videos are deleted. And that’s probably why Joe Rogan is moving to some other platform: to escape censorship.

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Old Media and New Media

I’ve spent much of the last week or so watching Joe Rogan talking to Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson about the brief reglaciation of the Younger Dryas at the end of the last ice age.

It’s something I’m very interested in: I’ve spent the past 2 years building computer models of it.

These sorts of videos just have people talking for hours about stuff. You never saw anything like this on mainstream TV, where any discussion of anything would never last much longer than about 5 minutes.

Joe Rogan was in the news because he was moving his videos from YouTube to some other platform, and I wondered who he was. That’s how I ended up watching hours and hours of him talking to different people about all kinds of different things. And he was clearly somebody who could talk for hours this way.

But also I can listen for hours. And, given this, I found myself wondering whether people like Joe Rogan were now becoming far more influential than the standard 5-minute mainstream media. They’re the New Media, and they always seem to be fronted by charismatic individuals like Rogan. There are lots of them: Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and Michael Savage are prime examples. These days I spend most of my time listening to people like them.

Also in the news is a BBC Newsnight presenter called Emily Maitlis, who was being criticised for airing her own personal opinions about Boris Johnson. She’s from the Old Media, and such people aren’t supposed to have their own opinions about anything: they’re supposed to remain neutral. So Maitlis was being censured for doing what people like Joe Rogan did all the time: say what she herself thought. It’s not that the Old Media never produced any charismatic individuals: they did, but they were people (like Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman) who gradually emerged over time from being anonymous presenters to become distinct, recognisable personalities. Is Maitlis one of these? I didn’t think she was. I didn’t think anyone would tune in just to hear what Emily Maitlis thought. She was trying to do New Media in an Old Media contest: she was trying to be somebody she wasn’t. Or that’s my guess.

Anyway the New Media is presented by charismatic individuals, and the Old Media is presented by employees. That’s one difference. But another one is that there are lots of charismatic individuals on the internet, and they climb to the top in an evolutionary process: people either listen to them or they don’t. Joe Rogan has probably spent years building up a listener base of people who want to know what he thinks, and Emily Maitlis hasn’t.

And the highly personal and individual New Media seem to be winning out over the impersonal, corporate Old Media: people seem to want recognisable characters. And that’s why the Old Media are dying, with newspapers and TV channels losing their audiences.

And the result is that the New Media are increasingly shaping the public discourse. Or people like Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson who can get into the New Media (via people like Joe Rogan) now define the debate: they’re becoming the new mainstream media. There are hours and hours of them talking on video, and hardly any of the established conventional wisdom from universities. It’s all being turned upside down.

And yet Graham Hancock and Randall Carlson both presented themselves as being people whose views were being ignored or derided by established conventional wisdom. As I saw it, it was the other way round: they were ignoring established conventional wisdom, which was having an increasingly hard time getting heard.

Maybe that’s just how the conventional wisdom changes: interesting new opinions attract interested new listeners, and in time these become the conventional wisdom, at least until yet more interesting new opinions emerge.

The whole media environment is changing. I couldn’t see why Joe Rogan had become a major player, but he had. And the whole debate is changing.

Does anyone need to get published in a peer-reviewed magazine any more? If they want to get a hearing they could probably do no better if they could get themselves on Joe Rogan, and be seen by his millions of viewers.

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