Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Annual March PETA Article

Well, it's actually a bit earlier this year, but only because of that pesky 29th day. The Mail has woken up to the hideous scandal of those pet-hating vegans, People for the Euthanising of Tame Animals.
PETA 'killed more than 95 per cent of adoptable dogs and cats in its care last year' shocking new report says

In 2011, government report obtained by nonprofit organization claims 1,911 animals killed

Only 34 adopted in same time span
Yes. As sadly relayed here in 2009, 2010, and 2011. They're not averse to glorying in human deaths either.

Someone - anyone - please tell me why this gruesome bunch of arseholes are so well regarded by the right-on sleb community.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Government Lobbying Government

With all this wrangling over the Health Bill, you could be forgiven for thinking the NHS is short of a bob or two. Not that you'd notice in some areas.


The above hoarding would appear to have been commissioned by NHS Smokefree South West and the order placed with this company, who don't look like they're averse to issuing the odd eye-watering invoice.

On top of the design fees, as far as I can ascertain, this space would cost around £200 per week and, of course, we don't know how many of them there are dotted around, or for how long. Add on printing costs and beer money for the bill posters and we're talking a pretty penny being spent from your taxes, I reckon.

All this, remember, purely and simply to lobby the government on a public consultation which has yet to be published!

Back in August 2010, Eric Pickles had this to say on such activity.
Government agencies and councils in England that spend public money on lobbying ministers face a crackdown.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said it was wrong that taxpayers' money was being spent on political lobbying.
He was quite right, especially when he referred to it as "the wasteful practice of government lobbying government", which this most definitely is.

Not 'cracking down' very hard, are you Eric? They're taking the right royal piss out of you.


Release The Psychos!

Anti-smoking campaigns and laws have turned smokers into a despised underclass, a study by a Department of Health adviser warned yesterday.

It said smokers have come to be seen as disgusting and dirty and are increasingly becoming regarded as outcasts.

The vilification is also stoking up prejudice against the poor because those who are already on low incomes or at a disadvantage are most likely to be smokers, the report by Professor Hilary Graham found.
Which is then followed under the line (click 'worst rated' and display all) by a stream of bile from our society's rancid underbelly of meddlesome, finger-wagging prigs.

Thereby illustrating that there are still vast swathes of the population not sophisticated enough to realise when they're being manipulated, and so daft that they'll post comments which conclusively prove the study which they are attempting to ridicule.

Kudos to the Mail for harvesting such a rich seam of catalogue entries.

H/T Dave A


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Gove And School Absence - More Merging Of Party Ideologies

Now, I quite like Michael Gove, he seems to be a Tory not afraid of getting his hands dirty. This monstering of Harriet Harman on Newsnight was particularly delightful, for example.

However, his stance on 'authorised absence' from schools during term time is - to be brutally honest - utter crap.

It's taken me a while to get all frothy over this, except on Twitter, but it's so wrong-headed that it's an impossibility to ignore.

Playing to the Mail gallery, he cites truancy rates and - absurdly - prison and young offender stats. Err, is there anything less likely to increase truancy/absence than state banning of something parents feel is perfectly manageable? The kids will just mysteriously become 'ill'.

As for the the likelihood of kids being taken on holiday contributing to the prison population, we're into the strange realm of government statistical analysis being twisted to suit policy. Yes, I'm sure there is a correlation between high rates of truancy and future offending. How much of that is down to the annual family holiday as opposed to persistent non-attendance though is, I expect, negligible. Gove is pulling the old political trick of comparing apples with oranges.

He seems to be wandering firmly into Guardian territory, as referred to here last March.

Once again, we see two supposedly diverse political viewpoints coming together to view state education as some utopian ideal which can't ever be replaced. Even for a couple of weeks.

Schools have a total of 38 weeks with our children, much of which is taken up by execrably useless subjects such as PSHE and nagging about lifestyle choices, sex education, and bloody environmentalism. This is without mentioning mufti days at the behest of professional charity fund-raisers, childhood damaging health and safety hysteria, politically-correct nonsense, and other fripperies that have no place whatsoever being taught by the government.

I'd fully expect a socialist - wedded to the idea that the state is all-knowing with regards teaching kids, and that the parent shouldn't be allowed to interfere - to advance such a policy. But this is a Tory.

It's yet another example of a creep to the left from Cameron's drones. Whether he realises it or not, Gove is advocating the state to be the sole arbiter of children's education; that they are the only ones who are able to supply it; that parents are universally incompetent; and that kids are incapable of 'catching up' like adults are expected to after taking the EU mandated 5.6 weeks paid holiday time (which I'd personally much prefer his government devote its time investigating).

It's nonsense, of course. Firstly, state education simply isn't that good. There is ample leeway for catching up, simply for the fact that so much time is wasted on pet government idiocy which has no place in schools at all, as I've said before.
As I see it, they would learn almost as much with me on the flight to and from a week's holiday than they get from 5 days at school. Make the state school system better - or even fit for purpose if they're feeling saucy - and parents might consider it unmissable. Or, alternatively, give us the £3,780 per annum this 'service' costs; allow us to spend it with the school which competes and therefore educates most effectively; and watch how more valued the 190 school days become to parents.
You'd have thought a Tory would try to sort that out first, before pretending that the quality of 5% of a yearly education - which is taken up by at least 10% irrelevance - is indispensable.

That's the theoretical problems covered, so let's talk about the practicalities and unavoidable unintended consequences.

What is Gove planning to do when 'sickness' absences rise dramatically, which is the only fully predictable outcome, especially since mobile phones now mean a parent can call a child in sick from bloody Goa if they choose?

Monitoring of movement? Mandatory child check ups to prove the sickness has occurred? Home visits by state inspectors to ensure the family hasn't done a moonlight flit? Investigations into where calls are made from? You know, the sort of thing Conservatives used to accused Labour of.


Or, how about if this has nothing but a negative impact which he can't tackle even by illiberal means such as those above? What then? Well, the only other option is regulation to stop holiday companies from charging extra for school holiday times or, more likely for a Tory-led government, forcing them to charge more for trips taken during term time.

For a Tory to point to problems caused by the simple economic principle of supply and demand is pretty self-defeating, and for him to suggest installing illiberal legislation as a result just compounds it.

The end result of Gove's posturing as to the indispensability of state education - and the subtle assertion that parents are incapable of even a modicum of offering the same themselves - can be seen in Sweden, where the condemnation of parents who don't view state provision as perfect is so far advanced that families who home school are fleeing the country.
As the government intensifies its persecution of homeschoolers in Sweden, the president of the Swedish Association for Home Education (ROHUS) has finally been forced into exile with his family in neighboring Finland. The battle for human rights and homeschooling in the Scandinavian kingdom, however, is far from over.

The Swedish Parliament passed a draconian law in 2010 purporting to ban homeschooling, all school curriculums except the Swedish government’s, and all alternative education nationwide. Despite a global outcry, the prohibition went into effect last year. Dozens of families were left wondering what fate might await them. But so far, the official persecution campaign has backfired in a stunning way.
When you boil it all down, this is the end destination for Gove's policy. The state's inalienable right to educating kids over and above any ability of parents to decide marginal benefits/drawbacks of missing out on a week or two - or even more if they see fit - for themselves.

If he wants to tackle truancy, tackle truancy - not authorised absence which has little to do with it. If he wants parents to have more respect for state education (just like the left), then stop schools from filling the curriculum with state-mandated garbage which parents don't respect. It's arguable that government interference into how schools operate - and the pet projects they are obliged to teach - is far, far more damaging to the education of our kids than being taken on holiday for two weeks a year.

Sort that out first, Gove, and you might be onto something.


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Stealing Freedoms

I think you'll enjoy this two and a half minute video from Learn Liberty, pointing out how states have appropriated private property rights at the expense of every citizen.


There's quite a debate to be had under the line at YouTube too, if you're into that sort of thing.

Of course, their next trick is to steal your right to packaging of your choice, rather than theirs. Do sign up and object here.


Link Tank 25/02

You should have seen the ones that got away!

Health and lifestyle campaigns miss the target

Have anti-smokers gone too far (and is Canada really a socialist country?)

Shut up and be offended

"The promoters of the global warming hysteria never really recovered from Climategate"

Analysing the Lancet's alcohol deaths statistics

"No-one seemed to be as frightened as they are now"

Top surfer Kelly Slater asks why recreational marijuana use is banned in sport

Australia again - businesses banning tattoos to "keep out riff-raff"

Japanese engineers plan a space elevator which isn't 'simply a dream'

Porn addiction clinic opens in Utah - what a surprise!

Decision-making bees

(and bonus animal story)

Mathematical genius parrot


Friday, 24 February 2012

Top-down, Or Not Top-down, That Is The Question

Cameron was in majestic flow yesterday, wasn't he? (emphases mine)
I say that core belief – in social responsibility, not state control – is something we’re never going to change.

Why?

Because if you look at the scale of the challenges we face…

….from youth unemployment to family breakdown to drug and alcohol addiction…

does anyone think we can turn these things around just by government changing laws or passing down edicts from above?

Of course not.

We’ve tried the top-down approach to running a country and we’ve seen it fail.
Very good, Dave. You've assuaged a few of your donors, now have a biscuit while I remind you of what your Department of Health is doing.
David Cameron has signalled his appetite for reform, including the possibility of minimum [alcohol] pricing as already being taken forward in Scotland, and tougher rules on promotion and marketing.
Sorry, my mistake, that was you.

OK, how about this?
The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Andrew Lansley): The Government will publish a consultation on the packaging of tobacco products in spring 2012.

In March 2011 the Government published “Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England” which set out how our comprehensive, evidence-based programme of tobacco control will be delivered within the context of the new public health system over the next five years.

The tobacco control plan included a commitment to explore options to reduce the promotional impact of tobacco packaging and to publish a consultation paper.
Are these not examples of a "top-down approach to running a country", Dave? You know, the approach you admit is a failure?

And wasn't it you who said that the potentially business-crippling living wage was "an idea whose time has come"? Funny you didn't mention that to your Business in the Community audience, eh?

Chuka Umunna calls Cameron "totally confused and inconsistent". For once, I'd agree.

Let's chip in anecdotally with an interesting conversation I had, an hour after Cameron delivered his guff, at Sainsbury's in Puddlecoteville.
DP: Hi, can I have some Swan filter tips and a multi-pack of Rizla green papers, please? (for the Cuban Golden Virginia in my cupboard)
Cue lots of searching around as stock was all over the shop ... literally. I spied Winston Blues at the top left of a section of their gantry, so - although I wouldn't normally - asked for some. After all, it won't be long until I'm not even allowed to see them.
DP: Up a bit. Left a bit. No, you've gone too far, they're just to the right of the Pall Malls. No, not those, Winstons. Yes, that's them. Sorry to give you the runaround.

Shop Assistant: Oh, things are all over the place at the moment, we're having to move all the stock out and it's confusing.

DP: Because you have to get the shutters up soon?

SA: Yes, on March 20th. It's going to be an absolute nightmare! Costing a fortune too, according to my Manager.

DP: Well, they say it's going to be much easier for you, apparently.

SA: Yeah? {with fiery eyes} They should come and spend a couple of hours behind here, then!
I briefly considered saying "wait till they get the plain packs in", but I thought it best to leave her to experience that particular delight for herself further down the line.

Now, guess which party vehemently opposed this madness in opposition - on the basis of it being harmful and costly to business, without there being any evidentiary benefit - but allowed it to go unchallenged once in office, when they could have easily quashed it and been, you know, pro-business, and against 'top-down' edicts which Cameron yesterday said don't work. I'll give you a clue, it's run by someone called David Cameron.

Is he just marking time until the book deal, or does he really not know whether he's coming or going?


Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Elephant At The Drive-Through

Oh, that? We don't like to talk about that

I'm extremely worried about those Aussies, as they're beginning to lose the plot.
FAST food giant Hungry Jack's has banned its drive-through customers from smoking while ordering.

A company spokesman said the ban had been recently introduced nationally to protect its window staff from passive smoking.
Hey guys, do you not think there might be something a trifle more worrying (clue above)?
Laws in Queensland include smoking bans for indoor and outdoor public places, as well as tough restrictions on retail advertising, display and promotion of tobacco products.

Public Health Association national president Mike Daube commended Hungry Jack's for introducing the new policy.

"Many of the staff serving at drive-through outlets will be young people who are at special risk," Professor Daube said.
But immune, it would appear, from the gallons of exhaust fumes - vastly larger by volume than a few wisps of smoke - being pumped out day in, day out, by every customer, smoker or not.
"It makes sense to ensure that non-smokers are protected from passive smoking wherever possible.

"The last thing a young staff member needs at the drive-through counter is to have smoke blown in their faces - that can be both unpleasant and harmful."
Oh, I dunno. I reckon the very last thing a staff member needs is a collection of gases which can kill within minutes in an enclosed space ... and that ain't the tobacco smoke, fool. But that's not what these anti-smoking hysterics truly believe.

They're getting more insane by the day, how long before they're claiming to be Napoleon?

H/T My Aussie informer


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Lost Ethos Of 'Live And Let Live'

It's not often you find common sense in the pages of CiF, but here's some.
I think the whole weight-centred approach to health is extremely unhelpful. It stigmatises people who don't fit into the "acceptable" range, regardless of whether these people are healthy or not. To hold weight loss up as the path to health can be dangerous.

Instead of demonising people for being fat we should start focussing instead on health. [...] We may see a reduction in obesity rates, we may not – but isn't it the obesity-related illnesses we really want to reduce, rather than simply berating people because their bodies don't fit in with guidelines, which are currently in doubt?

We cannot continue to take a one-size-fits-all approach to health. The idea that we simply cut consumption by X number of calories isn't leading to the expected benefits. Could it be possible that we don't know precisely what causes the body to lose weight and maintain that loss?
Well, quite.

But, of course, Graun commenters - being the credulous souls that they are - have no doubt whatsoever. They're all smugly confident that something they read - somewhere they can't quite remember just now, but it was an 'expert' wot wrote it - makes them an unimpeachable source of knowledge in nutrition and exercise.

You see, for those who truly believe in one-size-fits-all, top-down state diktats based on homogeneity of humanity and ecological level epidemiology, we're all the same. Metabolism is constant, individuals are not diverse as in other pet statist areas, and those who are fat have quite obviously brought it on themselves.

The condescending bile rains in on the author who, for some reason, was tempted to write at CiF, probably on the basis that she was talking to 'thinkers'. Well, that's the way they like to view themselves anyway. The truth, as evidenced by this stuff - and believe me, I was rather surprised at the pitiless attitude exhibited by people who, on any other thread, would be bleeding their hearts all over their keyboards - is that they're just as devoid of thinking as the Mail commenters they despise.

They believe 'live and let live' is a shonky Paul McCartney hit from the 70s, rather than an ethos, and derive great enjoyment in pronouncing judgement on the lives of others. Only in this instance, mind, as they're privileged or assiduous enough to be fit and lean (and don't some of them crow about it).

Tomorrow, they'll be back pouring shame on the 'privileged' rich who they see as inflicting the same uncaring scorn on those who can't climb to the same level. In that case, you see, everyone isn't equal or homogenous anymore, and it's the Mail lot who are insensitive and arrogant.

But then, like the child seeing the Emperor, someone more understanding wanders in and breaks the spell.
This is just a prediction, but here goes...

Step 1 - An interesting, informed , balanced and thought provoking article

Step 2 - The tidal wage of ignorant, smug, abusive comments
about how easy it is to lose weight, how people only have themselves to blame, how people who are heavier than the government says they should be are disgusting and so on.

I struggle to understand why so many people seem to actively hate overweight people. Is it perhaps because 1) they are easy to identify visually, and 2) they are one of the last societal groups it is still OK to sneer at and feel superior?
Do you know what? I think he's onto something.

While Guardian readers like to portray themselves as more erudite and discerning than Mail readers, they are all occupying two sides of the same coin. Perfectly willing to peer into the lives of others; to condemn anything they personally disapprove of; and eager to shout it loudly.

It's a microcosm of the country, I'm afraid. So comfortable are our lives now that vast swathes of our population have very little to worry about except what other people are doing. Immune to the thought that they might be being manipulated by vested interests - which they are - the UK is a seething mass of people who seem incapable of realising that 'divide and conquer' has worked on them beautifully.

Individuals have always harboured pet hates, the difference between the past and now is that it is increasingly acceptable to exhibit them rather than employ tolerance ... a fast disappearing quality which used to be valued.

In the past, Mary Whitehouse had a following of a few thousand for her curtain-twitching ways. In the 21st century, her brand of interference in the lives of others is embraced by millions.

What a big fat shame.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

About That 'Patently False' Domino Theory

For anyone who missed yesterday's ASH garbage, here is a reminder.
[...] the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false.
Yes, I know it was a silly thing to say, but it looks even sillier today.
Parents should closely monitor the films their children watch, advise the researchers, while Hollywood should look at phasing out drinking scenes, just as it has for smoking.

[...]

Writing in the British Medical Journal Open, they suggested that Hollywood should place "similar emphasis" on vetting films for drinking scenes, as they already did for smoking scenes.
Easy hit? Of course. These comparisons with tobacco control are a daily occurrence, it's only the likes of Amanda Sandford and her desperately deluded colleagues who don't see them. They must all be related to Arsene Wenger, or something.

Except that 'patently false' is an absolute position to take, so a body which takes taxpayers' cash - hand over bloody fist, I might add - to deliver accurate information to legislators, should be far more careful with their assertions. The fact that they 'patently' don't means that parliament should attach no worth to their rent-seeking opinions at all. Yeah, much chance.

You see, the problem for ASH is that they simply can't trust fellow vested interest nutters to keep their gobs shut until the latest ridiculous anti-smoker scam is rubber-stamped by woefully credulous MPs.

Like the attendees of the first Global Alcohol Policy Conference in Bangkok last week, for example, who on Valentine's Day discussed ...
“Building Global NGO Capacity: What worked for Tobacco Control?"
... before the next day - with leading anti-smoker Gerard Hastings in attendance - debating how to go about banning alcohol advertising.
“Control marketing: lessons learn (sic) from tobacco control movement”
Nope. Not even a hint of a domino effect there, is there Amanda?

Good grief.


Monday, 20 February 2012

"Come Back Here, I'll Bite Your Legs Off!"

Over at VGIF, Snowdon has been describing ASH's reaction to a report he has written on plain packaging for the ASI.

For a fake charity so used to declaring that 'the debate is over' - even when it's not by any means - feeling compelled to answer a full house of well-constructed arguments, while having very little in their hand except a pair of twos, must be quite daunting. Which is probably why the response is laugh-out-loud inept.

After Snowdon describes, in five heavily-referenced pages, the fact that there is no plausible evidence to justify plain packaging, ASH responds.
Firstly, there is now a large body of evidence to show that plain packaging will be effective.
La, la, la, not listening, la, la, la.

And on the idea that counterfeiters will no doubt be very pleased to only have to fake one packet design rather than dozens, they fire back thus.
Secondly, there is no evidence that plain packaging will lead to an increase in tobacco smuggling.
Probably because it hasn't been tried before ... which is precisely the reason there isn't any evidence that it will work as intended. Oddly enough, one lack of evidence is enough to require urgent action according to ASH, the other is to be ignored. Hypocrisy doesn't get much more stark than that.

In fact - perhaps because presumably, as these things tend to work, she would have heard about the report over the weekend and been startled into hurriedly spewing something out - Amanda Sandford submits a performance not unlike that of the Black Knight in The Holy Grail. Having been savaged by Snowdon's critique, all Sandford can do is cry 'tis just a flesh wound' before bleeding, pathetically, a load of already debunked nonsense by return, and shouting "come back here, I'll bite your legs off" as Snowdon strolls off unperturbed into the distance.

But surely the the most hilarious part of her response was kept till last. A denouement so jaw-droppingly laughable that it wouldn't look out of place at The Comedy Store.
Thirdly, the “domino theory” i.e. that once a measure has been applied to tobacco it will be applied to other products is patently false. The same argument was used against the ban on tobacco advertising, but 9 years after the tobacco ban in the UK, alcohol advertising is still permitted with no sign of it being prohibited.
"No sign of it being prohibited"? Has she just returned from Panama after faking her own death in a canoe, or something? Thereby missing articles in obscure organs such as, err, the BBC?
There should be a ban on all alcohol advertising, including sports and music sponsorship, doctors say. The British Medical Association said the crackdown on marketing was needed, along with an end to cut-price deals, to stop rising rates of consumption.
Or, as discussed in low-profile venues such as the House of Commons by powerless non-entities like Howard Stoate MP?
The only sure way to tackle the problem is removing the alcohol industry's ability to target young people in that way. Banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship from events that are attended by children and young people, or watched by them on TV, is one way to enable young people to develop a healthier relationship with alcohol.
At the same debate, here's another small-time bit player, Stephen Hesford MP.
[...] the death rate from tobacco-related illness was 120,000 a year when the Government decided to take action to ban the advertising of tobacco products. The death rate from alcohol-related diseases is now about 40,000. Would the tipping point be 80,000 or 100,000? Is it only at that point that the Government would want to act? I would like to ask the House and the Minister to reflect, as we might prefer action sooner than that [...]
Did he just compare alcohol with tobacco there and suggest that - to use Sandford's terminology - "a measure [that] has been applied to tobacco" should "be applied to other products"? Yes, I think he did.

As did Sarah Wollaston MP in her ten minute rule bill of March last year proposing various bans and restrictions on alcohol advertising.
The industry will claim that these measures will kill off sport and culture, and that advertising is designed only to persuade people to switch brands. The same claim was made before the tobacco advertising ban.
But if Sandford really did miss all the above, there's always the chance of watching Panorama tonight where Gerard Hastings will talk about alcohol advertising and what he thinks should be done about it, as if we don't know.

Moreover, it's not just alcohol we're talking here. The bloated ranks of tax-funded public health advocates are falling over themselves to gain publicity (and thereby justify their salaries) by declaring their particular area to be 'the new tobacco'.
Obesity expert wants fatty foods tax in Wales

[Dr Haboubi said] "Why don't we put tax on unhealthy food? Like the way we do on cigarettes and alcohol."
And one from earlier this month.
Sugar 'is toxic and must be regulated just like cigarettes', claim scientists
If that's not evidence of a 'domino effect', perhaps Amanda got confused between dominoes and pontefract cakes.

She's not on very solid ground with this claim, either.
Tobacco is a uniquely dangerous consumer product which is why there is a WHO health treaty (the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) to regulate tobacco use.
Yes Amanda, but we do already have a 'Framework for alcohol policy in the WHO region' which is much the same thing (plus, incidentally, also contains talk of banning advertising), and there are indeed moves afoot to install a full Framework Convention for alcohol. Can you guess where they got the idea from, Amanda?
Spurred by the creation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, there have been increasing calls for the adoption of a similar agreement for alcohol, usually termed a “Framework Convention on Alcohol Control” (FCAC).
That's a hell of a lot of dominoes, I'd say.

ASH's problem, I fear, is that they're already fully set up with their paltry evidence, and being comprehensively shot down so near to the launch of the consultation leaves them no time to fabricate anything new. As such, we're going to hear much more of this discredited guff in coming weeks unless they can think up even dafter barrel-scraping logic.

Should be fun.

Conservative Home has more on this, where you can comment.

Please do go and sign up against extremism here.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Food Snobbery: California Playing Catch Up To UK's Lead

If there is one set of bansturbators who can claim to emulate anti-smokers in terms of hysteria, it can only be the food police. Let's have a peek at what is happening in California, shall we?
The food truck nation is fretting over AB 1678, a bill introduced into the California State Legislature on Tuesday a.k.a. Valentine's Day. But this was no love letter for fans of mobile food. The bill seeks to ban mobile food and beverage vending within 1,500 feet of elementary and secondary schools from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. when schools are in session.

A statement ... reads in part: "Mobile food vending poses a threat to student safety as well as student nutrition. Mobile vending near school campuses incentivizes students to leave school grounds, which increases students' exposure to off-campus hazards such as heavily trafficked streets."
As the article describes, this is what it means for people in the State Capital, Sacramento.


Unless they burrow themselves away from populated areas (i.e. where there are shops, people and, err, schools), they can't operate. It's a cleverly couched ban as even observing the rules would mean such a loss of business that they would become non-viable.

For once, though, we can't laugh at California here, since we are already subject to the same stupid nonsense. I wrote about one such case in 2009, and there are plenty others easily discoverable on Google. California, the spiritual home of health twattery, is actually lagging behind our supposedly free nation.

And what for? The cult of Jamie Oliver and his junk food myth in schools and beyond. Or, as it should be properly termed ... Hoxton-esque snobbery.

A Big Mac contains less than 500 calories, not much more than a tuna sandwich but with less fat content, while the chips contain more vitamin C than apples, pound for pound. The drink? Well, one is 87% water and the rest sugar, and approved. Orange juice.

Caviar and anchovies are hugely salty, but if a top end restaurant opened up near a school, can you imagine their being banned as 'junk'? Course not, despite the rules being quite clear on what is, and is not, junk food based on fat, sugar and salt content.

OK, I know what you're thinking. Kids won't eat such stuff so it's not a threat. You'd be right, but if we are going to have arbitrary rules, let's place them on the food rather than who buys it. Otherwise we'll have something like ... oh yeah, that snobbery I mentioned.

And that's all this is.

Obesity? Do me a favour. Government, as always, dismisses human diversity without a care in the world, despite their spreadsheets and models missing something very important. Individuality and, well, nature.
And this is the most fascinating thing: if Nyström's small group are representative, then it would seem that our bodies are more adaptable than we give them credit for. In other words, metabolism may play a much more important role in the problem of obesity than many people think. Indeed, Nyström claims that for some people, eating 10% more will lead to their metabolism increasing at the same level. The extra energy will be burned off as body heat during sleep.
Not convinced? Well, even if so, let's just remember - for a goddamn minute - why this obesity thing is apparently so important. It's the risk of death, remember.

Jamie - bless his arrogant money-grubbing heart - keeps talking about kids dying younger than their parents. Why does anyone buy this shit when it is patently false, and backed up by life expectancy statistics from every state agency in the developed world?

The difference between a few calories and fat here and there at school lunchtime means what, exactly? Well, nothing really. BMI is such a coarse method of measurement that the entire complement of six nations players would be termed obese, whereas someone unfit and lightweight like me passes with flying colours no matter how many kebab shops I have on speed dial.

And even if one subscribes to the ever-increasing waistlines theory (which hasn't been true for a few years), obesity itself isn't the problem. The small marginal increase in potential problems as a result of obesity is. And when the numbers are crunched, normal, overweight or mildly obese people have almost imperceptible differences in mortality - in fact, life expectancy for those overweight is slightly longer than those classed as 'normal'.

It is solely down to a finger-wagging attitude of what some people want others to eat. You've all met one of these ghastly idiots who swear about how appalling McD's is but consider a Starbucks Dolphin-Friendly Tuna Melt the height of taste (at 93 calories more than a Big Mac). In California, their 'big I am' attitude is now hell bent on destroying businesses based solely on their own spiteful prejudice.

The problem in the UK is that we have MPs in thrall to middle class health bigots who look down their noses at the food choices of others. If they were only able to step back from their circle-jerking bubble for a moment, slap themselves around the head and realise that they are here to serve the public rather than dictate. Oh yeah, and actually look at evidence which isn't fed to them by those with an agenda and/or a salary dependent on it, we might see some sensible government.

If any are reading, I suggest they purchase this book, as reviewed by Snowdon last year. They might actually learn something, while also bringing some relief from their wasteful, pointless, economically-damaging, and often counter-productive hectoring.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Thoughts While Idle

Having just undergone very minor surgery - not remotely tobacco, alcohol, salt, fatty food, sugar, processed meat or cholesterol-related, disappointingly for doomsayers - I've been watching a lot of TV. And of all the things I've watched, the most gruesomely interesting scene was during Saul David's last episode of Bullets, Boots and Bandages where he gives an account of the amputation of Lord Uxbridge's leg at the Battle of Waterloo. It's not for the squeamish as he re-enacts it with a cow's leg from 18:50 on at this link.

For those don't want to (or can't) watch, it was shot to pieces by a cannon ball necessitating amputation without any anaesthetic. Uxbridge was reported to have "borne the operation well", with barely a word said.

It just struck me as incredible that British resolve has descended from such immense bravery into a nation where we're now scared of even something which might be 'potentially offensive'.

That's all.

But I suppose this is a good excuse as any to give Steve Hughes's ridicule of the easily-offended another airing.




Link Tank 18/02

In your own time.

Hawaii amends ban to allow indoor smoking again

Forget minimum pricing as a tool for tackling binge-drinking

Why does the progressive mantra fly out the window when talking about sin taxes?

Politician who wants to deny privacy is flooded with minutiae from Canadians

Six things you should never say to your mother-in-law

Fast food in North Korea quite good, apparently

The strange case of the 'Piggyback Bandit'

Ontario teachers' union calls for ban on school Wi-Fi

Why drinkers don't like organic wine

The imperilled future for chocolate

Drunken fruit flies


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

All Hail The Lunchbox Police

Forget Cameron's dunderheaded grandstanding over alcohol for a minute, as this struck a nerve at Puddlecote Towers today.
[Dr David Regis, of the Schools Health Education Unit said,] "Schools are serving better school dinners and they are also taking more of an interest in the contents of pupils' lunchboxes."
He says this as if it is a good thing.

A child's lunchbox has always been a place solely reserved for the parent and their kid, somewhere loving notes used to be left without fear of prying eyes. Has it really come to this? The state insisting on intruding on something as trivial and private as what the Mum hands to her little ones in the morning?

Well, of course. There's even a special 'police' unit assigned to the case.
"The packed lunch and tuck-shop police have been in action."
Now, it's obviously a metaphorical use of the term police, right? One hopes so, anyway. But how can one be sure when this sort of thing is happening, right now, over the pond (emphases mine).
A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl's turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.
Government regulations on lunchbox contents, enforced by state 'agents'? Isn't this a bit, I dunno, fascist? Or at the very least interfering outrageously in the parents' rights over their own child? Oh billy-o, yes.

What's worse is that they don't even know their own regulations.
"With a turkey sandwich, that covers your protein, your grain, and if it had cheese on it, that's the dairy," said Jani Kozlowski, the fiscal and statutory policy manager for the division. "It sounds like the lunch itself would've met all of the standard." The lunch has to include a fruit or vegetable, but not both, she said.
So, to compound the fact that they have the gall to inspect lunchboxes at all - something Dr Regis thinks is fine and dandy over here too - the ineptitude of the public sector ensures that it's not even done properly, which is probably why all lunchboxes were deemed unsatisfactory by the idiot 'agent'.
It is unclear whether the school was allowed to charge for the cafeteria lunches they gave to every preschooler in the class that day.
When you have some jumped up moron trumpeting the success of lunchbox police, along with a blithe ignorance of how special a place the inside of a kids' private space is, our government has surely lost all sense of proportion.

How stratospherically arrogant is it that any state claims to know what is best for each individual child - based on arbitrary and homogenous population-level criteria - over and above parents who are intimately involved with them, and have knowledge that detached computer-designed spreadsheets and algorithms will never have a hope of matching.

Dr Regis is a disgusting fool, as are irresponsibly pompous politicians who believe such appalling intrusion is acceptable.

Cameron swanning around, furrow-browed, interfering in the choices of adults is just the tip of a very rancid state-funded iceberg. They really do believe that the state owns you now. Mind, body, soul, and from cradle to grave.

May God rot them, every one.


Step Away From The Sandcastle!

Child abusers, pictured yesterday

Having met a few health-terrified parents in my time, I sometimes wonder how pitifully boring their kids' lives must be. Here's a brand new health scare - from the US EPA, no less - which could well wreck many a child's summer holiday.
People take certain precautions when they go to the beach. They apply sunscreen to avoid sunburn and stay away from big waves if they are not strong swimmers. But they do not usually worry about getting sick from digging or playing in the sand.

Unfortunately, beach sand could harbor even more harmful bacteria than nearby bathing waters. EPA researchers and their counterparts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Johns Hopkins University observed a positive relationship between sand exposure and gastrointestinal (GI) illnesses as a function of fecal microbial pollution in beach sand.
And where did this 'fecal' pollution come from?
[...] the researchers analyzed 144 wet sand samples collected from Fairhope Municipal Park Beach in Fairhope, AL, and Goddard Memorial State Park Beach in Warwick, RI. Both beaches are located less than 2 miles from a publicly owned waste treatment-works outfall.
Yeah, that might have had something to do with it, not that you'd notice from the bald headline which, let's face it, is about the point at which most people make up their minds about this kind of report.
Digging in beach sand linked to increased risk of gastrointestinal illness
Once the Chinese whispers begin in earnest - especially if the Mail get wind of this - it could be the end of days on the beach for Johnny and Jemima Precious. Well, not without latex gloves and a face mask, anyway.

Can't be too careful, eh?


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

It's Not About The Children, Either

All joy must be eradicated, sorry

Having sold a pup to the Aussie government to get plain packaging driven through - leaving Gillard's gullibles with the small matter of a massive legal fight in the process - tobacco controllers are now twiddling their thumbs and pondering what tomfoolery to waste taxpayers' money on next.

They've toyed with smoker licensing/rationing, but maybe that's a bit further down the line. No, it seems there's something more imminent in their drive for an entirely joyless society.
THE Federal Government could be about to stub out cheap cigarettes for jet-setting smokers.

The duty-free allowance for cigarettes and tobacco for international travellers arriving in Australia is facing the axe, Channel 7 reported last night.

The tax break is worth an estimated $270 million and the tax collected would help raise money for the fragile Budget.

Under existing rules inbound travellers aged over 18 are allowed to bring into Australia 250 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco products tax-free.
Now, all those who seem to have been sucked into this "plain packs is for the children" or "I'll just buy a cigarette case" mentality might care to employ a bit of forethought.

As our esteemed mascot never tires of emphasising, these people are never satisfied. There is always the next campaign, the 'next logical step' to pursue, if only for the fact that they don't get paid if they can't think of something - anything - to justify their increasingly wasteful funding.

They'll probably make some feeble attempt to claim this move is protecting children, but considering sales are restricted to over 18s on production of a boarding card backed by state-issued documents, it will be laugh out loud absurd.

You see, it's not about health, and it's never been about the children either. Anti-smokers like to offer a friendly face to those who enjoy tobacco. They're not attacking smokers, you understand - you're still free to make that choice, cross their hearts, hope to die and all that - merely smoking and those evil tobacco companies.

It's far from the truth though. Consider a similar recommendation from our own friendly neighbourhood Janus-faces, ASH, to the treasury prior to the last budget.
Reduce the Minimum Indicative Limits for cross border shopping within Europe to the same level as in Finland, i.e 200 cigarettes and 250g of [hand rolling tobacco];
These are, plainly, direct attacks on not only smokers, but also the enjoyable travel experiences of smokers.

Note, too, that ASH are merely asking for the 'limits' to be reduced to the same paltry level that Aussie anti-smokers want eradicated for duty free, mostly because they can't do much else due to EU free movement of goods regulations. They won't be remotely satisfied with that, of course. Sooner or later they'll call for a zero 'limit', or perhaps even con some woeful UK Minister to challenge the EU like the Scottish dullard is doing over Minimum Alcohol Pricing.

And - as anyone vaguely sentient should surely have understood by now - there isn't some big full stop at the end of these tobacco control initiatives, rather a partially open door with "others, push here" plastered on the front.

We know from the pleading of groups all scrambling to be considered to be tackling 'the new smoking', that a ban on duty free tobacco won't be the last we hear of the matter.

I'm sure I don't need to draw you a Glenfiddich bottle or Toblerone-shaped picture, do I?

H/T The Aussie Informer


Monday, 13 February 2012

A Policy The SNP Should Follow ...

... As brilliantly put by a commenter at this Scotsman article on how one of Scotland's major export industries is getting rather shirty at the prospect of their trade being compromised at the altar of self-righteous lunacy.
Publius
Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM

"Alcohol consumption has little to do with price, but everything to do with fashion and culture. If the SNP really wants to cut alcohol abuse, it should make alcohol unfashionable. It could start by banning the sale and consumption in all public buildings (including Holyrood). SNP ministers should refuse to attend conferences or public events at which alcohol is served. Once the government has led others will follow."
Indeed.

In fact, why not go further and shun alcohol entirely if you're so serious about penalising every Scot in pursuit of that ego-boosting pat on the back from the health lobby, eh Nicola?

Make a bold statement by implementing an alcohol free policy for all SNP elected representatives, local and national, publicly and privately. Let's see you courageously leading by example. I'm sure the lobby fodder queueing up to back this proposed infantilisation of the Scottish public will welcome the opportunity if it is presented, as would all scattered ScotNat councillors.

Remember, "there's no such thing as a safe level of alcohol consumption", according to 'experts'.

Or are you quite comfortable pronouncing from your ivory tower, safe in the knowledge that the extra costs inflicted on unfortunate Scottish proles will never affect even the heaviest drinker in your Holyrood bubble?

William Wallace would be so proud.


Sunday, 12 February 2012

Public Choice vs Government Health Drive In The US

How delightful. US fast food chain Jack in the Box look to be tempting Michelle Obama's righteous anti-fatty food crusaders into a bit of a row.


There's an accompanying website and everything, along with a hefty 'up yours' of a milkshake, as breathlessly described by the Mail.
The marriage of salty, high-fat, high-cholesterol bacon with a super-sweet, high-fat, high-calorie milkshake is already being hailed as one of the most decadent items on already-unhealthy fast food menus.

The new milkshake comes in 16 in 24-ounce sizes. The large shake has 1,081 calories, 37 grams of saturated fat and 108 grams of sugar.

Reactions to the new treat have ranged from exultation to utter disgust
Good God! The sky is falling, so it is.

Ah, but they're already ahead of you Yanks, you see.
“A high school student just shared with me this week a website they were told to go on in their health class to calculate their overall health based on input regarding their diet and exercise. The USDA’s site is called “Supertracker.” The name says it all. Once registered, you are asked to enter all the foods you ate on a typical day. You are then asked to input all the activity you did that day. Each of these screens come with drop down menus with several hundred food and activity options. This is not a superficial, gimmicky, analysis program. Someone has put a lot of time and effort into creating it.

Once you have entered all that information, SuperTracker provides you a health report detailing how many of your daily calories came from fats and what kind of fats, what your sodium intake is, and how much you need to increase your activity levels.

Even IF the government doesn’t use this data to track students individually, they are amassing a lot of conglomerated data on the average teen lifestyle which will just be too tempting to ignore."
Woe betide anyone who dares to log their love of repeated bacon consumption with Michelle's food monitors. I mean, don't Jack in the Box realise that this isn't a laughing matter. Bacon isn't fit for human consumption, let alone marriage!

And that's all before we consider the subtle message in the ad which plays, mischievously, on parental fears about homosexuality or mixed racial matrimony.

Sales, however, are apparently sky high.
Demand was so monstrous, stores already began to run out of the special bacon-flavored syrup after only a few days.

The company says supplies are 'limited as limited can be.'
That just won't do. We can't have the public making their own free choices, now can we?

I admire the chain's cojones, but reckon this will be a campaign that is - as we speak - being written up as a future example of why the industry as a whole requires anti-consumer regulation. Probably couched as the killing of kids, or some such, with that transatlantic Oliver berk somewhere in the background.

One to watch, methinks.

H/T The ever-vigilant CA jewel robber, David G


Friday, 10 February 2012

History Repeating Itself?

Does this look familiar to you?
An American-Indian tribe in South Dakota has sued some of the world's biggest beer firms over severe alcohol-related issues in the community.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe are asking for $500m (£316m) for healthcare, social services and child rehabilitation.
Well, it should do as it's exactly how the long road to tobacco prohibition started.

1954 saw the first litigation in America claiming tobacco companies to be liable for the effects of consumption. It failed, as many would in the following decades. The regular defence was that smoking is a personal choice and the harms are well known.

More recently, though, some cases have been more successful by advocating that the industry were aware that their products were addictive. And of course, once a substance is classified as addictive, personal choice can be discarded as a defence. The consumer doesn't choose to consume ... they are forced into it.

This appears to be the gist of the claim here. That booze was being sold near to vulnerable people, and therefore there was pressure to buy which caused alcohol-related illnesses. The ability of the individual to resist what they know to be harmful is dismissed.

I don't expect this case will be successful, but I wouldn't bet on there being a future alcohol Master Settlement Agreement on the distant horizon. And once that comes in, all hell will break loose for the drinks industry - they will be paying for their opponents to produce acres of junk science to prove alcohol causes every ailment from incontinence to ingrowing toenails, accompanied by recommendations for legislation which would regulate ethanol on the same severity as sulphuric acid.

The lawsuit, filed in the district court of Nebraska, targets Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, SAB Miller, Molson Coors Brewing Company, MillerCoors LLC, and Pabst Brewing Company.
Interestingly, most of those companies have seen this all before. They were closed down between 1919 and 1933 under America's period of prohibition. They must be thinking "here we go again".

The difference is that, this time, the anti-booze puritans have a ready-made litigious template as to how to topple a large and popular - albeit potentially unhealthy - industry. It will just take a decade or two to fully implement, that's all.

This is tobacco control's miserable legacy to the world. A future where humans are reduced to incompetent, unthinking lobby fodder, and where enjoyable products are incrementally denormalised and banned due to the self-righteous crusades of a few miserable obsessives.


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Our Boy Done Good!

Yesterday I pondered if Sarah 'one trick pony' Wollaston was going to present her cherry-picked figures to the House.

Well, there was certainly an echo of her Politics Home piece, in the form of the gem we keep hearing, ad nauseam, from anti-alcohol campaigners.
[...] the Sheffield study showed that minimum pricing at 50p per unit would only add an extra £12 a year to the cost for moderate drinkers.
This being one tiny number in a table on page 140 of this 570 page report (the actual figure is £11.81).

Though she was hampered, for at least a while, by a certain (teetotal) esteemed blog mascot of ours. Here are a few highlights.
As a libertarian and a believer in individual freedoms, I had hoped that the country had escaped from the nanny-state health police with the end of the previous Labour Government but, sadly, I was clearly naive in that thought.

[...]

The very principle of minimum pricing goes against all my Conservative instincts and beliefs—the free market and freedom of choice.
(NB, this is in opposition to a fellow Tory!)
Minimum pricing treats all drinkers the same, and penalises—financially and practically—the overwhelming majority of adults, all those people who drink alcohol responsibly and in a socially acceptable way, causing harm neither to themselves nor to others.

[...]

... people should be free to spend their own money as they so wish, without having to obtain the permission of my hon. Friend before they decide how to live their life, in particular if no one else is affected; it is their responsibility.

[...]

The Institute for Fiscal Studies produced a report on minimum pricing that found that poorer households, compared with richer households, on average pay less for a unit of off-sale alcohol. ... As a result, a minimum price of 40p or 45p per unit would have a larger impact on poorer households and virtually no impact on richer ones.

[...]

I worry where this will stop. Will my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes return to the House in a few months’ time and urge us to ban the advertising of cream cakes, pizzas, chocolate, fish and chips or curry, because they are all bad for us if eaten to excess? This is a slippery slope, and certainly not one that I am prepared to support.
Bravo! That dig must have been memorable too, considering this Twitter exchange between the two last night.


Our boy also made a very sage prediction.
I will not give way, because plenty of other people want to speak and time is pressing. I will happily debate with him [Lib Dem John Pugh] in the Tea Room or at some other point, although I am the only one arguing from this perspective, I suspect.
Bang on! If you read the whole debate, it was one pompous arse after another rising to honk like seals at the prospect of inflicting extra cost on every low-paid adult who enjoys alcohol, while increasing - according to the same page of the same Sheffield report Wollaston refers to - income to the off-trade by around £225m.

Where on Earth are Labour on this? Where is the outrage? Well, actually, there was one who was clever enough to have worked it out.
Eric Joyce (Falkirk, Labour): It is all very well for those who are not affected by it, but essentially [minimum pricing] is aimed at the least well-off, who may continue to spend the same amount on alcohol, or more, because it will be more expensive for them, and spend less elsewhere.
And in quickly spotting Caroline Lucas's clever sleight of hand, he had this to say.
The hon. Lady has switched from white cider to wine, the implication being that people who drink moderately drink wine. In fact, she is arguing that less well-off people should pay more and middle-class people should pay the same. That identifies that the problem is only with less well-off people.
Yup.

Of course, other Labour contributions were sadly ignorant of their voters' interests. Diane Abbott - despite facts showing otherwise - claimed alcohol consumption is on the up, while Valerie Vaz would have had Alcohol Concern doing backflips with this supreme example of self-righteous paternalism.
There should be a change in licensing hours and pubs should shut at 10pm again.
Crikey! How does that grab you, CAMRA? You really are backing the wrong horses, you know.


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Did Sarah Wollaston Lie To The House Today?

Resident Tory cuckoo, Sarah Wollaston - a one trick pony alcohol prohibitionist - was in Westminster today to push the cause of minimum alcohol pricing amongst other dictatorial junk.

Did she lie? Well, we won't know for sure until the transcript is available, but unless she is incredibly stupid and being manipulated by others who are very happy to do so, she did in her article at Politics Home this morning.

Wade through it to find your personal favourite Alcohol Concern-founded sleight of hand stat, but her financial reasoning is extremely easy to debunk. Incontrovertibly.
The fact is that when alcohol is too cheap, more people die or wreak havoc on those around them and the rest of society picks up the tab.

This was as true for gin pricing in Hogarth’s Britain as it is with pocket money alcohol today at around 17p per unit.
She is very much against this, natch, and wants to match or beat the Scottish, as she tweeted earlier today.


She then goes on to say that this is nothing to be worried about. Oh no, this will cost responsible drinkers the square root of peanuts, so it will.
[...] even if the minimum unit price was set at 50p, would only increase the bill for moderate drinkers by £12 per year.
OK, we have the figures as stated by Wollaston, let's now do the maths.

I can't find the product which sells at 17p per unit, but then Wollaston is pretty vague about it too. So let's go for the cheapest supermarket product at mysupermarket.co.uk, Tesco's Value range ant's piss lager, currently selling at 70p for four 440ml cans (at a mind-bending 2% ABV).

This works out at 3.52 units, at an individual price of 19.88p per unit. Sticking rigidly to the government's absurdly low weekly limits - surely the epitome of a 'moderate' drinker - would see an intake of 21 units.

Currently, that would cost a low income family (after all, who else would drink the stuff) £4.17. Under Wollaston's plan, it would be £10.50. Now, last time I looked there were 52 weeks in the year, which would mean an increase - just for one adult member of the family - of £329.16!

Hey! I'm using Sarah's chosen examples, remember. No cherry-picking here.

Not convinced? How about something more realistic, then? Tesco also do a 4% own brand at £5.94 for twelve 500ml cans. This is 24 units, only a tad over the strict individual limits, and would result in a yearly addition to a single man's domestic shopping bill of £6.06 per week, or £315.12 per year.

So, two adults, drinking within government guidelines, would be penalised to the tune of £500-£600 by Wollaston's personal crusade. Far in excess of any annual increase in energy bills advanced by even the most pessimistic of sources in recent months.

Of course, there is one way that Wollaston's figures could add up. That being if she wasn't comparing like with like at all. Even remotely.

The only explanation is that she is using an example of the stuff poor people drink to come up with the 'shocking' 17p per unit, while reverting to what people actually drink - if they have the money - for the nice, calm, £12 increase in annual cost. In which case, there isn't much of a problem to begin with.

Unless her definition of 'moderate' really is less than one unit per week, or half a pint of Carlsberg ... between a married couple!

A Tory MP lying to parliament - or at the very least being a sad sock puppet - and severely punishing lower paid 'hard-working families' should have lefties occupying Twitter for quite some time. But then, they quite like the idea of the control minimum alcohol pricing gives them if they get back into power, so they won't.

If you're a man/woman on modest means - even if adhering obediently to the state's arbitrary guidelines on alcohol - you're in for a financial punishment no matter the colour of the governing party's literature.


Monday, 6 February 2012

Going Sour On The Kids

Boy, did Cardiff University dentists pick the wrong day for their particular brand of miserabilism.

Their smoke-hating counterparts were monopolising the internet, TV, and radio today by spouting one myth and manipulated half-truth after another under the guise of making life more pleasant for children. In the cause of age equality, though, the dentists decided to launch a campaign to make kids' lives that little bit duller, too.
A NEW generation of super-sour sweets, masquerading as brain tissue, human blood and even toxic waste has prompted concerns for children’s teeth.

Using novelty packaging, including tiny toilets and babies’ bottles, the sweets contain high levels of sugar and acids and are available at pocket money prices
Nice pinching of Alcohol Concern's cute little soundbite, but it doesn't really work when it comes to children's products. You see, they're at 'pocket money prices' because - and I hope this doesn't come as too much of a heart-stopper for them - they are products which are bought with, err, pocket money.
Many of these sweets, which are imported from China and Thailand, also encourage children to come back for more. Candy spray sweets can contain up to 150 doses, while other packaging comes with a replaceable lid, allowing children to return to their sweets time and again.
What their origin has to do with anything is hard to fathom, apart from the obvious reach for an arrogant xenophobic dog whistle. I'm pretty sure there are bodies in this country - which we pay for through our taxes, willingly or not - specifically designed to cope with such issues ... the Food Standards Agency and Trading Standards come immediately to mind.

The number of 'doses' is a pointless factoid too, there is only so much sugar and other ingredients in it. If there are 150 doses, each will deliver 1/150th of the total content, no?

Still, they must have some compelling evidenced to go to press release with this, let's hear them out.
The Cardiff University School of Dentistry is hoping to set up a postgraduate project to research the sweet phenomenon and study their exact impact on children’s teeth.
Oh, I see. There isn't any yet. But they hope there will be some soon (translation: 'can we have some money please?').
It follows a short piece of research into children’s attitudes towards these new sweets, which showed they were attracted to the garish packaging and the distinctive sweet-sour taste.
Kids have been attracted to garish packaging and sweet-sour tastes since time immemorial. Someone researched this? With public money?

Still plenty more to cut, Dave.
The Cardiff-based school children, all aged nine and 10, were all aware where they could buy these sweets, often in shops near their schools, and of the prices – they range from 25p to £1.
Kids know that they can buy sweets in sweet shops, and are aware of the prices of things they like to buy? Gosh! Someone alert the Nobel Prize Committee to this ground-breaking study!
But when asked whether there were any health issues associated with eating such sweets, the children gave vague answers, such as “they make you sick” or “bad for your teeth”.

One young boy told the researchers: “They say: ‘You should not have that because it’s either too dear or it will rot your teeth.’ I’m like, I’m going to lose half of these anyway so, like, rock on.”
Well, you can't fault his logic, can you?
Maria Morgan, a lecturer in dental public health, said: “There are a couple of issues about these sweets; they are very sweet and contain acids as well, but they are also being eaten by children under the radar – many adults and parents aren’t aware of these sweets, which are being sold at pocket-money prices."
Many adults and parents haven't a clue who Labrinth is, either. This is because certain products are aimed at adults, and others at children. You know, it's the same principle by which women buy things with hearts and flowers on, while men will happily buy something promoted by a pneumatic blonde with a milky smooth cleavage. What was this study called? "A qualitative analysis of the bleeding obvious", by any chance?

And do leave off with the 'pocket money prices', for Gawd's sake. It makes you look daft, woman.
Mrs Morgan, who also monitors the Welsh Government’s Designed to Smile programme to improve children’s dental health, said: “One of the most unexpected things we found was their concept of a ‘treat’. In my day, a treat was something you had once a week.
Aah, that explains it. You're old and were subject to living a childhood during post war rationing. Oh hold on, just seen your profile. You were either woefully under-privileged to be treated so sparsely (this is Wales we're talking about, I suppose), or you've just thrown that in to fit your case. Having said that, you've certainly made up for it in the intervening years, eh?
She added: “I believe that food should be enjoyable and there can be an element of having a treat in your diet but we need to be aware of these novelty sweets, which are available at pocket-money prices.”
Yes, because ... oh I give up.

Good grief.


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Tobacco Control More Extreme Than Fundamental Islam

I've said before that you're going to hear some incredibly desperate justification for plain packaging in the coming months. In this 54 second campaign video, for example, is an absolute pearler from Australian Head woe-warbler, Simon Chapman.

Apparently, it's perfectly reasonable to stop an industry from using their historical trademarks ... because Islamic countries prohibit alcohol.


There's only one problem with his reasoning though, and it's a big one.

You see, if you've visited such a country - as I have - you'll have noticed that they certainly do sell drinks industry products, just without alcohol in them. Non alcoholic beers (NAB) are thriving in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries - as well as wines specially developed for the market conditions - many of which are made by recognisable western brands.


As such, there is no bar to these companies, there is an available market and their trademarks are perfectly welcome. Why, then, would they even dream of taking Islamic governments to court?

But since Chapman brought it up, it does illustrate something rather interesting. Since even administrations which abhor alcohol are accepting of the trademarks and branding used by manufacturers of a substance they despise - both culturally and theologically - it makes them more tolerant than tobacco controllers who seem unable to do the same.

Thanks for illustrating your extremism so eloquently, Simon.

If you haven't already, please do go and register your objection to extremists.


Link Tank 04/02

Unusual week, that.

Should we regulate sugar like alcohol and tobacco?

News used to be important; now it’s just well-dressed entertainment

Local, schmocal – eat what you like, author says

What kind of people have we become?

Indianapolis rushes in a smoking ban in advance of the Superbowl

Fast food chains prosper while retailers are under pressure

Massage's mystery mechanism unmasked

Australia bans theatre poster because 26 year old actress looks too young

Boston bans sales of single cigars costing less than $2.50

A gorilla playing a recorder


Thursday, 2 February 2012

100 Seconds Of Nannyism

Reason have just announced their Nanny of the Month top three for January.

Bloomberg, booze, e-cigs, and porn - how could I not feature it? It's like a mini midweek video link tank.




Cheap At Half The Price

Via Gawain, we find that the EU have been 'nudging' the European media with the EU Health Prize for Journalists.

The aim being ...
... about getting journalists around the EU to write articles for their respective outlets that promote the EU line.
The EU Health Prize for Journalists is awarded to stimulate high-quality journalism that raises awareness of issues related to healthcare and patients' rights. The Prize is part of the "Europe for patients" campaign, highlighting 12 health policy initiatives. All these are bound by a common goal: better healthcare for all in Europe.
Or as John Dalli puts it "to stimulate high-quality journalism, with particular focus on the European Dimension" So successful is it that 358 hacks from the 27 submitted almost 500 articles. Given the prizes amount to 13,000 EUR that is bloody good value for money at 26 EUR per published article.
Indeed it is.

As you might expect, there was a special category set aside for articles which address smoking. Or rather, the stopping of it. The short list is here, and the prize winner concerned a day in the life of a Polish dentist.

Isn't it nice to see another way that your taxes are used to denormalise you, eh? This time by effectively buying column inches on your behalf. Oh yeah, and did I mention that John Dalli, who initiates all this stuff as the relevant Commissioner - and like all of the anti-smoking organisations he bows to - is entirely unelected?

Or, as Gawain points out.
Look, if the BMJ or some other Health publication wants to run a Journalism prize across Europe, not problem at all. But it is wrong for such an award to be sponsored by the EU, with taxpayers money.
Quite.


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Protecting Anti-Social Behaviour

Teresa May's 'community trigger' has been bothering me for the past couple of days.
The government is promising to set up five pilot schemes this summer, which will force the authorities to act if people in five separate households complain about a neighbour causing problems, such as noise or threatening behaviour.
Simply put, it seems that the Police are being absolved of the responsibility to investigate after receiving just the one complaint.

Rather different, then, to areas where activities which are wholesome, enjoyable, or life-enhancing seem to require only one complaint to have non anti-social activity stopped, such as expressions of affection.
The message on the bulletin board headed ‘Speaking to Customers’ said: “Please can drivers be aware that some of our customers may take offence at having terms such as ‘love’, ‘darling’ and ‘babe’ directed towards them.

“This can be seen by some as being a sexist comment, as a recent complaint has highlighted.”
It was also a lone complainant who had the Police scrambling to arrest an entertainer singing 1970s chart hit Kung Fu Fighting.
The incident had involved a 32-year-old man who apparently took offence as he walked past the bar during Mr Ledger's performance.

Hampshire Police said Mr Ledger was questioned on suspicion of causing harassment, alarm or distress, but released because there was not enough evidence to prove a criminal offence had been committed.
A single anonymous sad sack who enforced the removal of a lollipop man's Christmas tinsel.
Pupils at Berrywood Primary School in Hedge End, near Southampton, sobbed when the decoration was taken off Kevin Simpson's placard after council officials banned it.

An anonymous passer-by had complained the decoration might obscure the sign.
Just one complaint was enough to ban a children's trampoline from a shared garden.
A spokesman for London and Quadrant, the housing association, said that it had contacted Mr Nice about his trampoline after receiving a complaint from one of his neighbours, but denied that risk of burglary was a factor.

"The trampoline is in a communal area on our land and our only concern was that when it is left unattended other children could use it and may hurt themselves," he said.
And just one person was required to object to Mothers looking after each other's children for the practice to be deemed unlawful.
Two working mothers have been banned from looking after each other's toddlers because they are not registered childminders.

The close friends' private arrangement had let them both return to part-time jobs at the same company.

However, a whistleblower reported them to the education watchdog Ofsted and it found their informal deal broke the law.
Now, these are merely articles I have written about on this blog in the past or - in the bus company case - tweeted recently. I'm sure you could find hundreds of other examples yourself without too much searching.

So what we can take from the situation is that if you are a law-abiding citizen, just one complaint is fine for there to be an investigation and censure. The complainant is even allowed to have their identity protected.

If, however, you are an irritating little scrote, it will take five complainants, from five different - identifiable - addresses, before the Police will be required, under Teresa May's shiny new initiative, to lift a finger of help.

I'd be more impressed if May had instructed public bodies to abide by a trigger of five complaints against ordinary people going about their daily lives in a decent manner (which is arguably another form of anti-social behaviour anyway), while instructing the Police to go after anti-social or criminal behaviour the very first time it is flagged up.

But then, when did politicians ever recognise what is truly important to the public? They've spent the past 20 or 30 years trying their hardest not to listen to us, after all.

Or is it just that law-abiding folk are far easier to bully than anti-social neds and their hulking pit bull, Satan?