No Pictures Posing With Hats

No pictures posing with hats???

Whatever next?

It’s a new hieroglyphic language: crossed red circles around depictions of prohibited acts. One day the 10 Commandments will be translated into it.

Or maybe the 10 Commandments will be replaced by a new set of commandments, the first of which will be No Smoking (inexplicably missing from the original 10. Didn’t people know that smoking was the very worst thing  they could do?)

No Murder should be quite easy. I’ve sketched out a prototype, which should be fairly obvious to anyone.

No Theft could be done in a similar way.

Similarly No Adultery.

No False Gods might be trickier.

So might Bear No False Witness.

Approved or required behaviours would be in green circles.

Thoughts would be in bubbles.

Well, something along those lines.

It obviously needs more work.

But in principle it would be a new international language, easily understandable by anyone living anywhere., much like road signs are

No Pictures Posing With Hats woudd be a tall order though. No Hats would be easy enough. No Pictures (photos) would also be easy. But No Pictures Posing With Hats?

Does that mean it’s OK to wear a hat, but not OK to pose wearing a hat? How do you tell if people are posing?





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Compulsory Masks

James Delingpole:

Never mind Brexit. The bitter enmity we saw recently between Leavers and Remainers will be as nothing to the mutual distrust, loathing and contempt we’re going to experience in Britain over the next weeks and months as a consequence of Boris Johnson’s new compulsory masks policy.

Masks are dehumanising, they impede communication, they’re unpleasant and restrictive to wear, they aid and abet criminals, and — unless they’re medical-grade, which most aren’t — and there is no proof, as of yet, that they significantly prevent the spread of Chinese coronavirus, or even prevent spread at all. To make them compulsory, without offering a scientific justification is the biggest assault by government on civil liberty in centuries.

Is the Covid-19 pandemic ever going to end?

Probably not. It’s been going six months now, and has plenty of life left in it.

It can be used as an excuse for more and more restrictions.

Is it a pandemic at all?

Mortality isn’t high. The threat is exaggerated. Just like the threats of environmental tobacco smoke and global warming are both exaggerated. That’s the way it’s done: find some minor threat, and blow it up out of all proportion.

It’s what Piers Corbyn thinks too:


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Shock TV Health Risk

Health scientists :

Adults could minimise their exposure to health risks associated with watching TV if they limit viewing time to two hours a day, new research suggests.

Researchers found the lowest overall health risks from diseases including cancers and cardiovascular disease are associated with viewing TV for two hours or fewer each day.

I wonder if there’s an increased health risk from watching particular sorts of TV – like old black-and-white movies?

If there’s a health risk in watching TV, there’s probably one in reading books too.

In fact there’s probably a health risk in generally having your eyes open, looking at stuff,

Perhaps we should all be wearing eye patches. much like face masks.

How do they discover these health threats? It’s probably all done with statistics, like everything else. They find a correlation between the numbers of people with heart disease and the number watching TV, and deduce that one must be causing the other. Although which causes which must be open to question.

Anyway, fortunately I don’t have a TV.

But one simple health measure would be to have TV sets turn themselves off two hours after being turned on. This might mean that the screen goes blank midway through watching a movie or quiz show, but health is the only thing that really matters, as everybody knows. I expect the government will introduce this measure soon.

Which reminds me: how do people manage to stay at least one or two metres apart in order to keep them from getting Covid-19? The obvious way would be for them to wear clothes with two metre long poles sticking out in all directions, a bit like a hedgehog, to prevent them getting too close to anyone else. Though the poles would obviously need to have rubber tips to prevent them injuring other people, poking their eyes out. I expect the government is working on this too.

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When Trust Has Gone

Headline 1:

Covid vaccine: A QUARTER of Brits could refuse to take coronavirus jab as docs warn of ‘selfish’ delay to lockdown end

Headline 2:

‘People think Covid-19 is political scheme or conspiracy theory’

Is anyone surprised?

Is anyone surprised if people don’t take Covid-19 seriously?

We live in a world of vastly exaggerated “threats”. Not least of these is the vastly exaggerated threat from environmental tobacco smoke, which has been used to expel millions of smokers from the bars and restaurants and cafes they once inhabited. The lesson people have learned from this is that medical authorities will tell lies in order to produce social change. They know they’re being lied to. And that’s why their trust has evaporated.

Cry wolf enough times, and people will stop believing you.

And that’s what’s happened.

It’s the same with global warming. That’s another exaggerated threat, this time from carbon dioxide.

Peter Hitchens:

In the name of Covid, the State has already thrust itself into every corner of our existence.

It has come between husbands and wives at the ends of their lives. It has forbidden the old to embrace their grandchildren.

It has denied us funerals and weddings, locked the churches, silenced the ancient monastic music of cathedral choirs and prevented the free worship of God for the first time in 800 years, and banned us (unless we are Left-wing) from holding or attending public meetings.

It has ordered us to stay at home, scolded or fined us for sunbathing, going on country rambles or even entering our front gardens.

It didn’t start with Covid. It started long before that. It was the smokers who were the first to experience the lying and the bullying, thrusting itself into every corner of their existence, coming between husbands and wives, banning them from meeting in pubs and restaurants, scolding and fining them.

Now they find that nobody believes what they say about anything.

Peter Hitchens doesn’t smoke, so for him it all started with Covid. But for smokers it’s all been going on for a long. long time.

From the comments:

London suburbs are apparently full of garages/ garden rooms converted to pubs where people can drink/ smoke/not socially distance as they choose.

I can believe this. They’re people who don’t believe what they’re told about tobacco and alcohol and fast food and Covid-19 and global warming and all the rest of it. Why the hell should they believe?

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The Killjoys Delighted

Tom Utley:

Which brings me back to this Wednesday afternoon, when I walked the dog down the hill — and saw, to my delight, that our local had reopened at last.

Inside, there were four staff members but not a single customer (although I later found a handful smoking in the garden when I, too, slipped out for a cigarette). At least this meant I wouldn’t have to wait for my drink. Or so I thought.

I sanitised my hands by the door, as instructed, and went up to the bar where I asked Maddie for my pint.

Good to see someone identify themselves as a smoker. It would have been easy to miss out that small detail.

I haven’t been outside my flat for months. So I have no experience of visiting pubs in the wake of Covid-19. Does one really have to “sanitise one’s hands”?

There is no annoyance in life, however, that politicians can’t strive to make worse. Sure enough, a cross-party group of anti-smoking fanatics at Westminster is hatching a conspiracy to make visiting the pub even less appealing to regulars than it is today, with all those inflated prices and new restrictions.

So far, so good. But then:

Yes, I know smoking is terribly bad for me (whatever protection it may offer from Covid-19). I know, too, some people loathe it, and I’m always careful to show them consideration, particularly when they’re eating. Meanwhile, I applaud the one million who are said to have given up since the lockdown began. All I can say is that they’re much stronger willed than I.

Alas, this is the usual surrender.

It’s a surrender I’ll never make. I don’t believe that smoking is  “terribly bad for me.” And I don’t “applaud the one million who are said to have given up since the lockdown began.” Also I don’t think they’re “much stronger willed than I.” Given the current exclusion and demonisation of smokers, it seems to me that these days you have to be strong-willed to carry on smoking, not to stop smoking.

The simple truth is that the prohibitionists don’t just want to stop people smoking outside pubs: they want to close down pubs as well. They hate alcohol just as much as they hate tobacco. They hate food as well. They hate everything that is enjoyable. They’re killjoys. That’s all there is to it.

I don’t believe anything they say about tobacco or alcohol or food, however much it’s dressed up in statistical arguments.

Anyway it looks like Covid-19 will be used to kill off another 20% of Britain’s pubs. The killjoys will be delighted.

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Cowed and Frit


I read yesterday somewhere:

Face coverings will be compulsory in England’s shops, Matt Hancock announces

James Delingpole responds:

It’s so obvious why forcing us to wear masks is a bad thing that I really shouldn’t need to spell it out. But here, for the thickos at the back, are a few hints.

First, it’s an almost entirely pointless gesture. As wind turbines are to climate change, so face masks are to coronavirus: they’re ugly and intrusive; they’re a very public display of obeisance to what is essentially a religious rather than a scientific belief system; they do nothing to cure the problem they’re supposed to be curing…

Not only will masks almost certainly not work, but even if they did, why now? The peak of the virus has long since passed. We are now in summer, when flu-like viruses are naturally killed off anyway.

It’s hard to imagine what kind of situation might have justified this draconian imposition by Boris. A sudden, massive resurgence of infections leading to many more deaths and an almost overwhelmed hospital system, perhaps. But since this hasn’t happened, not even remotely, Boris’s mask gesture looks like not merely shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, but welding it shut, burning down the stable and then shooting the horse on capturing it so that it doesn’t bolt again.

Clearly, then, the reasons for introducing this mask ruling have nothing to do with sound science. Rather, this is a political gesture borne of the Boris administration’s desperation to get Britain up and running again after months of lockdown indolence. So successful has UK government propaganda been in persuading the population that Covid 19 is almost unprecedentedly dangerous that a  cowed and frit populace are now proving extremely reluctant to leave their homes.

Cowed and frit is exactly how they want us.

Even the police don’t like it:

Major police federations have slammed the assumption that officers will be on the frontline enforcing mask-wearing inside of shops and supermarkets, calling it “impossible”, “unrealistic”, and “absurd”.

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Suppressed Anger

On the Forest webinar yesterday somebody made the point that with the current UK lockdown everybody is now experiencing what smokers have been experiencing for the past 13 years: all pubs and restaurants and cafes have been closed to them.

But is everyone’s experience the same? In my own brief contribution to the webinar I simply said that I used to always meet up with people in pubs and restaurants, and with the smoking ban I was expelled from society: all my acquaintances vanished on day one, and pretty much all my long term friends over the subsequent decade.

But I don’t think it was quite so drastic for most people, whose social lives were not as entirely dependent on pubs and restaurants as mine. They probably had social lives at home and at work as well.

Everyone’s experience is different.

I also said I was angry. It’s anger that makes me bang on about the smoking ban.

But I didn’t get the impression that the participants in the webinar were particularly angry. They seemed more stoically philosophical than anything. The smoking ban was something to be endured like the weather: it was a fact of life and there was nothing that could be done about it.

The only person that I know to still be openly angry about the smoking ban is Chris Snowdon. He’s said so several times. The last occasion was in a podcast conversation with James Delingpole (who seemed completely indifferent to the ban). So that’s something that Chris and I share, even if we disagree about much else (e.g. he thinks smoking causes lung cancer, and I don’t).

Another person who might be angry about smoking bans is Joe Jackson, who has been fleeing from them for years, first from New York City, then from London. But I can’t remember him actually expressing any anger in his thoughtful writings on the matter.

Perhaps it’s just the British Stiff Upper Lip: you endure without complaint as the bombs rain down upon you.The worse things get, the less you say about it.

And perhaps that’s for the best. Anger is an ugly emotion. And smokers are good-natured people. And tobacco is a calming, soothing drug. Better slow to anger than quick.

Yet if smoking bans aren’t a hot political issue, here’s the explanation for it: smokers don’t get angry. People will get angry about more or less anything else, but when it comes to smoking bans they fall silent.

And if the antismokers never let up in their drive to rid the world of tobacco, it’s because nobody gets angry at what they’re doing. And this encourages them to keep pushing further and further. Their latest outrageous demand is that smoking be banned not just inside pubs, but outside them as well, simply to spare children the sight of smokers puffing away. All pretence at concern about “Public Health” has vanished. And it was never about public health in the first place anyway. And everybody knows that the war on smoking was never about public health. It’s a moral war, just like the war on alcohol and fast food which are also pursued by prohibitionists who want to control and restrict everyone else.

The lockdown is another piece of prohibitionism, of course. Covid-19 is not much worse than any influenza epidemic. But nevertheless “Public Health” is invoked to impose absurd and unnecessary restrictions on everybody.

The simple truth, most likely, is that all smokers everywhere are angry about the bans that have been imposed on them. It’s simply that they don’t express that anger. They keep it locked in. But that means that one day they’re likely to boil over. They’re going to explode. And they’re going to erupt all over the world, simultaneously.

The underclass is no longer blacks and women and gays: the new underclass is smokers and drinkers and fat people. They’re all victims of “Public Health.” One day they’re going to have had enough. And it’s all going to blow.

When it will happen, I don’t know. I may never live to see it.

But it’s coming.




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Why There’s Not Going To Be A Civil War

I was disturbed to hear from Steve Turley a couple of days ago that “American exurbs are preparing for civil war.” And he wasn’t the only person foreseeing civil war. So were Michael Savage and Alex Jones, and no doubt plenty of other people as well. All in the wake of riots and looting in multiple American cities, and a surge in gun sales.

But I bet there isn’t going to be a civil war.

Of course I’m not an American, and my perspective is from the other side of the Atlantic ocean, but I simply don’t see that America has become sufficiently polarised into two rival camps for there to be a civil war.

In the civil war of 1861-65 America had become divided into two camps – the Federal Unionist states and the Confederate southern states – each with their own president (Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis). There was a distinct geographical divide between the two camps.

The same is not true today. The United States of America has not recently divided into two geographically separate camps. Nor is it showing any signs of doing so any time soon.

Nor is there any distinct reason why it should divide, unlike in 1861 when there was a clear difference between Southern states which supported slavery, and Northern states which opposed it.

It’s true that there are strong differences in opinion between Progressives who seek all sorts of social changes, and Conservatives who resist such change. But are any of these differences in opinion of sufficient intensity to warrant civil war? The same differences in opinion also exist in Europe and elsewhere in the world without civil war looming. Is anyone going to fight a civil war to prevent Climate Change? Is anyone going to fight a civil war to get rid of Donald Trump? Is anyone going to fight a civil war to ensure that Black Lives Matter?

The answer to these and similar questions is: No, they’re not. They’re not sufficiently pressing problems, urgently requiring solutions. Climate change is something that takes place over decades or centuries. Donald Trump can be ousted by voting against him. Black Lives already Matter far more than they did in 1861, even if not enough. There’s no need for a civil war to resolve these matters. So there won’t be a civil war.

In addition, unlike in 1861, the US Army is the most powerful army in the world, and would be able suppress a civil war in days or weeks, in the unlikely event of one breaking out.

Furthermore, in the internet era, unlike in 1861, it is becoming increasingly difficult for public opinion to be shaped by broadcast media (newspapers, radio, TV). There is instead a  growing plurality of opinion rather than an emerging singularity. This means that people are less likely to unite rather than more likely.

And there’s more. In 1861 Americans were shocked at the scale of the casualties caused by accurate rifles and machine guns. And the world was shocked by the scale of the casualties in WW1 and WW2. We now live in the era of Mutual Assured Destruction. Advances in weapons technology are increasingly making war unthinkable. So that’s a reason why we won’t be seeing a WW3 any time soon. No doubt there’ll be plenty of small wars and riots and looting, but  overall we’re living in a peaceful golden age.

Of course it may all change. But that’s how it is right now, and it’s hard to see how it can change.

An historian’s related question: Why Is There War?

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Two Good Things

Good to see Laurence Fox actually drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette.

Also good to hear a non-smoker who doesn’t like what’s being done to smokers.

The shameful history of the anti-smoking crusade

Jacob Grier doesn’t like cigarettes. He doesn’t smoke cigarettes. He advises people against smoking cigarettes. And yet he believes that adults should be allowed to smoke cigarettes without being harassed, demonised, over-taxed and thrown out of every building in America, including, in some cases, their own home. This view, which was once so uncontroversial as to go without saying, makes him virtually a libertarian provocateur today. In The Rediscovery of Tobacco, Grier explains how this cultural revolution happened.

It is unusual for governments in modern democracies deliberately to encourage intolerance and animosity towards a large group of fellow citizens, but that is effectively what happened when ‘denormalisation’ was embraced as a tobacco-control strategy. …

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Singer and Klein

A couple of things I came across today.

The late physicist Fred Singer on second-hand smoke:

According to David Biello and John Pavlus in Scientific American, Singer was best known for his denial of the health risks of passive smoking.[60] He was involved in 1994 as writer and reviewer of a report on the issue by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, where he was a senior fellow.[61] The report criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their 1993 study about the cancer risks of passive smoking, calling it “junk science”. Singer told CBC’s The Fifth Estate in 2006 that he stood by the position that the EPA had “cooked the data” to show that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer. CBC said that tobacco money had paid for Singer’s research and for his promotion of it, and that it was organized by APCO. Singer told CBC it made no difference where the money came from. “They don’t carry a note on a dollar bill saying ‘This comes from the tobacco industry,'” he said. “In any case I was not aware of it, and I didn’t ask APCO where they get their money. That’s not my business.”[13] In December 2010 he wrote in American Thinker that he is nonsmoker who finds second-hand smoke an unpleasant irritant that cannot be healthy; he also wrote that his father, a heavy smoker, died of emphysema when relatively young. According to Singer, he serves on the advisory board of an anti-smoking organization, and has never been paid by Philip Morris or the tobacco lobby.[62]

Also author Naomi Klein in conversation with Ed Miliband:

Naomi Klein 38:00 : “I often say that I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and it wasn’t that I didn’t know smoking was bad for me. I knew. I stopped smoking when my government basically turned me into a complete pariah by banning smoking in restaurants and bars, and I found myself in a very cold climate, shivering, outside, alone, miserably sucking on a cancer stick, and I just thought that it wasn’t a good look, and I eventually just gave it up.”
Ed Miliband: “Very sensible.”
Naomi Klein: “Sometimes we need the help of government regulations. I’m willing to admit that I’m weak in that way.”

She was not at all bothered at what her own government had done to her. And neither was former UK Labour leader Ed Miliband.

But I think this was a terrible thing to have done to people.

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