Saturday 30 April 2011

Don't Come Back, Jamie

Daily Mail January 2010:

A spokesman for Jamie Oliver, who has championed improved nutrition in schools, said: "He doesn't like the whole kind of food police, we must ban everything, point of view"
Daily Mail April 2011:

Victory for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution as schools chief goes on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to agree to chocolate milk ban

The British TV personality appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night with L.A. schools superintendent John Deasy to announce plans to ban flavoured milk from schools' menus.
Good grief.

Link Tank 30/04

Love, honour and cherish this little lot.

What if Kate had dumped Wills at the altar? Operation Pumpkin, that's what

Tobacco controller worried that e-cigs are derailing her industry's righteous crusade

Bumper cars banned from bumping at Butlins

The snobbery of Will’n’Kate haters

Turkey bans the number 31, amongst other things

Are fatty foods and church the new tobacco?

Yearning for the good old days of 2011

The last typewriter factory in the world shuts its doors

Murders: God v Satan

A guide to modern pub etiquette

Tesco demonstrates how private sector beats public

Leprous armadillos

How many can you get? 27 hit songs as understood by a 5 year old

Friday 29 April 2011

Proud To Be A Brit

I'll hold my hands up here to being rather anti-parochial at times. There isn't much which impresses me about the modern UK. If there was an island somewhere on which I could hole up and fire a big gun at those who wish to dictate their mores on me, 99% of the time I'd be there, no question.

Today, though, was one of those days when I was truly proud to be British.

I'm no royalist, but what a bloody show, eh? Go on, rest of the world, beat THAT if you dare. To be fair, I was pretty ambivalent about the whole thing before this week, but the incessant bleating from insufferable lefties on the airwaves fair forced me to watch. Just nip in and out of the coverage, I thought. But no, it just sucked you in from start to finish.

Yes, there were crashingly grating twee families from the home counties camping out, but they compensated by glugging Lambrini and vodka red bulls from about 8 this morning. Don Shenker was probably having palpitations, poor love.

The £30m price tag? Pah! Peanuts. This was top drawer theatre which has probably paid for itself already. Listen, I have mentioned before that my company has suffered to the tune of around £3k - and the country, in the region of £6bn according to the CBI - but that's coming back in many ways.

We talk here about the ignorance to personal enjoyment employed by many in the gloom business, and this is no exception. Counting costs without accepting the relevance of pleasurable value applies equally in this case.

Patrick Basham, writing in the Guardian, reckons we should have sold the rights to the highest bidder, but for once I kinda disagree with him. Unlike the Olympics, the Royal Wedding, IMHO, will be a net gain for the country in mostly intangible ways.

Tourism? No doubt. Today told the world that the streets are empty (and red), everything is clean, and our people quite scrumptious. Nonsense, yes. They'll come over in their droves, though, more fool them. But the cash, eh?

We've seen royal occasions in European countries. Quite rubbish by comparison, no contest in fact. This is what we Brits do best, there really is no credible rival. Massive buildings crafted from stone sourced by ancient artisans from the best that Britain has to offer; pomp derived from a history which Americans can only dream about; music to die for; history; tradition; and men with great big furry hats.

What's more, the flags. Everywhere. We've had this deep shame about our national identity foisted upon us by progressive idiots for years, but here was a nation quite unashamed of displaying the union flag in all corners of the country. Even the celts got involved, with proud parties being held in Wales, Nothern Ireland, and yes, even in Jockland.

Rack up that fun factor, calculator fans, I think you'll find the country made a profit today. My local fish and chip shop, run by a Pole, was watching what I presume is Polish TV. They were wall to wall with the wedding, as was probably just about every other national network worldwide. Britain the centre of the globe, and for reasons that your average knee-jerk republican scouser will never understand.

Politicians? Well, they got a cameo, I suppose it's a downside of everything these days, but they were relegated to also-rans. A brief shot of Cameron, Miliband etc wandering into the Abbey and then nothing. How bloody refreshing was that? No chance to hijack anything for their myopic self-interest. Just be there, or be forever condemned as a bit of a dick. Sit down, shut up, be part of the scenery. That's it. If only they were compelled to act the same in perpetuity. That was worth the (free) entry money on its own.

WW2 planes flying past, snogs on the balcony, happiness just about everywhere, and even a retro Aston Martin. What's not to like?

OK, they banned beer at the reception which leaves Mike Tindall in a bit of a cleft stick, but mere trifles, surely.

Max Farquar points out that everyone will have their own lasting memory of the day, his is admirable, sort of. Personally, I'm a romantic who was mighty impressed with William telling Kate "you're beautiful" as she rocked up at the altar.

Get in, sunshine. You both did the nation proud today.

On Such A Day

"Now all that snogging is over, time for a crafty relaxer"

H/T Fellow robber, David G

Thursday 28 April 2011

The Toxic Dollar

It was just a little comment over at Leg Iron's place, that's all. To which someone replied with a suggestion.

Now THERE is an excellent idea!

Someone make up a rubber stamp that says "Smoker's Money" so one can rubber stamp all the bills. Get enough of it in circulation and it will make the point loud and clear.
Forget toxic debt. In light of the new thirdhand smoke scare, meet the new toxic dollar.

As the person who e-mailed me** this picture says:

It's going to make me giggle uncontrollably to think some frail anti will someday have their hands on my bills, treating it like some teen wrote 666 and put it in the collection plate.

Now I just have to figure out how to open the stamper to refill the ink.
Did a lot of them, then? Glorious.

** An ex-smoker, BTW.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Junk Scientists Found!

Just a quickie because I hadn't intended to make a big thing of this, being execrable bollocks such as it is. But seeing as it reared its nonsensical head during conversations in that real life thing, as well as being e-mailed to me by a couple of readers ... and has now popped up in the comments to one of Anna Raccoon's articles today, perhaps an explanation is required.

It's regarding this, based on testimony from experts at San Diego State University.

A single butt with just a tiny amount of tobacco left in it was enough to turn one litre of water toxic and kill 50 per cent of species swimming in it, it was claimed.
Followed by blah, blah, blah, 'Leachates', blah, blah, blah, 'toxicity', blah, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The study appears in that font of impartial wisdom, The Tobacco Control Journal. But in case that doesn't set the alarms off on your bullshit-o-meter, perhaps this - ahem - coincidence from June last year will (emphases mine).

TRDRP Call for Applications

Request for Proposals for TRDRP Initiative on Thirdhand Smoke and Cigarette Butts

The Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) announces a Request for Proposals (RFP) to undertake studies on Thirdhand Smoke and Cigarette Butt Waste, under a new initiative.

Approximately $3.75 million is expected to be available for this RFP.
California's Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program appear to have just enriched San Diego State University quite handsomely for producing exactly what was required of them.

They're not alone, either. All of a sudden, 2011 has thrown up a whole host of studies all on the subject of cigarette butts.

Last year - under the headline "Junk Scientists Wanted" - VGIF reported on TRDRP's clarion call for junk scientists of every stripe to step up to the plate and claim some free cash.

Looks like they found them with no trouble whatsoever.

Dick Out And About: Orphans Of Liberty

In an excellent piece, The Nameless Libertarian recently talked of the concept of a Libertarian Union to draw together the many diverse strands of liberty conscious thought. It's definitely an idea worth thinking about but, in the meantime, you may have seen that a blog has been set up to do much the same with independent, freedom-loving writers.

My first article for the nascent Orphans of Liberty has just been published, so why not pop over there and have a butcher's. And while you're there, bookmark it, add it to your RSS, jot down the URL on the back of a fag packet, or whatever else you do with your regular reads, as the content promises to be appealing and very regularly updated.

On a personal note, God speed OOL and all who sail in, or alongside, her.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

You Live And Learn, Eh?

Wikipedia can be very interesting at times (click to enlarge alert). Banned video games ...

... in Australia fair ...

... and in that terrifyingly censorial hotspot, the People's Republic of China.

Funny old world, innit?

H/T Reddit Lib

Reflections On A 'Non-Country'

Steve Shark shared some reminiscences - and more recent observations - on the alleged non-country that is Belgium on Saturday. It's definitely worth a read if you haven't already, and being fresh back from there myself, I'd like to chip in with some thoughts of my own.

Let's start with the obvious.

I was amazed to discover that you could smoke inside, which endeared the Belgians to me even more, as they didn’t seem to have decided that smoking was a worse sin than public puppy buggering.

In fact, everyone seemed to be smoking everywhere we went, with non-smokers seemingly happy to co-exist with smokers and unafraid of the mythical consequences of second hand smoke.
This is, indeed, very true. As things presently stand, those frequenting bars in Belgium have largely escaped the EU-led brainwashing tactics surrounding tobacco consumption in public places. Quite the paradox considering a majority of anti-smoking pressure emanates from their capital city. But then, it's not an isolated case, as I'll expand on later.

My hotel this weekend, for example - in a small town in the Flemish province of Antwerp - still has an indoor bar carrying a sign pointing left for 'rokers' (smokers) and right for 'niet rokers' (I think you can guess that). Of course, this weekend has been roasting so it wasn't used until later at night, but those enjoying the much populated terrace (covered with a low sun-cum-rain protective awning) were as disinterested in smoker segregation as the rest of the place.

As the night grew chilly, many decamped inside to chat in the gutteral Flemish cross between Dutch and German (once described to me by someone there as talking whilst puking), but still no-one turned a hair. I'm minded of the line in War of the Worlds where the artilleryman spoke of the naive nature of gunners lined up against the martians. "They haven't seen the heat ray yet". For most of Belgium has still to experience the full force of pitiless, bludgeoning, ideological smoker hatred which is on its way.

Choice won't stand a chance once the anti-tobacco denormalising steamroller batters its way into every little Belgian town, backed by pharma money and the overwhelming power of a corrupt European superstate.

It will be a shame to see it happen since the parts I have visited are still a friendly and generally unencumbered corner of the world. On Saturday night, the only disruption to the happy chatter of those present was the appearance of a fire engine on a routine call at a bus stop a hundred yards up the road. You could be forgiven for thinking that a serial killer was on the loose, such was the furrow-browed concern. I worry for their trusting nature.

Steve has a feeling that Belgians won't take it lying down, mind.

Alas, it now appears that a mere 3 years later the anti-smoking police have finally triumphed in Belgium, but not without a certain amount of resistance, I’m happy to say:

More than 800 Belgian bar owners and their supporters demonstrated Saturday against a decision to widen a smoking ban in public spaces to cover all cafes and the kingdom’s nine casinos from July 1.
I knew the Belgians were great people!
Well, it's interesting he should say that, because their attitude to health and safety is still gloriously relaxed.

When in Brussels two years ago - in the shadow of the EU building no less - I remember being forced into the road to avoid unattended roadworks which obstructed the pavement. Unlike in the UK, they didn't close the road off, or construct risk-free walkways which cut down on road space and treated pedestrians as unthinking morons. Instead, there was nothing but a fence to stop you falling down the hole. How you got past it was your own problem.

It hasn't changed either. Walking through the small town I was staying in the other day, we encountered an electrical box with (insulated) wires coming out of it which was obviously a work in progress. All that was evident to stop anyone frazzling themselves by stupidly playing around with it (with wire cutters, presumably) was a yellow sign telling you to leave it alone. They took it as read that that would be enough.

Similarly, the venue I had travelled to visit had installed a stepped walkway from an upper deck to the floor below, complete with just one wooden handrail. There were slower ways down for anyone who felt it wasn't their thing, but it was - for shame - an Englishman I encountered who railed about its potential danger and who talked about how the owners "would be sued to fuck" if someone fell over.

It's not for nothing that EU regulations are termed 'English law' by those working for other nations in the EU establishment. We have a government who cannot resist implementing every directive with an additional flourish. As such, it would seem that we're increasingly conditioned to accept that the state should be our mother, father, and wet nurse combined.

There's one other area where Belgians may well find state intrusion hard to take, and that's the beer. They're very proud of their brewing, so they are. They even boast a large selection of postcards boasting their, err, large selection of world-renowned beers. Here's one Mrs P - a committed postcard collector - picked up in Bruges.

You see, all these are what Don Shenker may term 'dangerous'. They start at around 5% ABV and move up from there. Yet Belgium isn't by any means known for its falling down drunkenness.

Only a theory, I know, but perhaps counter-intuitive common sense tells us that a strong beer gives the buzz one drinks alcohol for, thereby not requiring the necking of copious quantities of it. The direction our puritan UK-based overlords appear to be going is the stark opposite, punishing the strength of beer to solve the (exaggerated) problem of over-indulgence. As previously attempted by Sweden, where hysterical restriction of alcohol led to comprehensively disastrous results. You'd think that supposedly clever politicians would read up on such things, wouldn't you?

Unfortunately, though, time and time again we see our state interfering and creating chaos out of order. Belgium is one of those quiet places where much of the hysterical righteous crusade has yet to take root, but they'll be beaten into line at some point, and their lives will cease to be their own in incremental steps. How they react to such 'interventions' - to employ a public health euphemism - will be very interesting.

I hope, like Steve, that they kick and scream about anything forced upon them against their easy-going will. And I hope they fight hard. You know, like our country did in the not so distant past.

Would that UK citizens were still as capable of recognising threats to freedom as many of our European counterparts. Instead of looking over the channel and admiring their spunk, it would be nice if we could find similar spirit in our own hyper-cosseted ranks.

Wouldn't it be embarrassing if a 'non-country' managed to put up more resistance against restrictions on their freedoms than one which used to take pride in being Europe's prime defender of liberty.

Monday 25 April 2011

Mockney Rot

Just a quick thought, this, which occurred to me while driving a sleeping Puddlecote family around Belgium at the weekend. I knew there was something nagging at me last week.

11m Britons can expect to live to 100, say government statisticians

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions suggest one in four under-16s will live to see their 100th birthday
Which backs up previous claims.

More than half of babies now born in the UK and other wealthy nations will live to 100 years, researchers say.

The study, published in The Lancet journal, also says the extra years are spent with less serious disability.
In light of this, could someone please tell us why government ever thought it a good idea to dictate school food policy on the say-so of an innumerate and egotistical fantasist?

‘We, the adults of the last four generations, have blessed our children with the destiny of a shorter lifespan than their own parents. Your child will live a life 10 years younger than you because of the landscape of food that we’ve built around them’, said Jamie [Oliver].
If Oliver has been challenged on this discrepancy anywhere, I haven't noticed it. Lucky for him, really, since being shown up as a liar or a fool isn't as advantageous to book sales as terrorising parents and dullard MPs, now is it?

Friday 22 April 2011

A Creation Now More Important Than The Creator

Aah, Good Friday. A day to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, marked by just over two billion people around the world. Roughly a third of the global population.

So what do Google choose for their front page today?

That's right. Earth Day, a lefty exercise in self-flagellation concocted in the dying years of hippies and free love, and increasingly celebrated by a few religion-hating members of the new church of Gaia.

What was it the second commandment said about having 'no other gods than me', again? If the tablets were right, Google, you're hellbound.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Heard The One About The Easter Bunny, Obesity And Death?

From Medical News.

"Excess chocolate has been linked to dental caries and obesity, and obesity has been linked to a significantly higher risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gall bladder disease, liver disease, and heart disease and stroke, and to a small increased risk of cancer."

The Easter Bunny's role is to sell chocolate to children and, according to the World Health Organization, such advertising contributes to children being overweight and obese and is an important area for preventive action, [Australian public health specialist] Dr [Nathan] Grills said.

"Given the Easter Bunny's potential for good, it could become a public health pin-up bunny, supporting campaigns that encourage children to eat the recommended daily five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit," Dr Grills said.

"Chocolate egg hunts could become brussels sprout hunts! After all, the Easter Bunny itself would advocate for this change, given that bunnies do not digest chocolate particularly well."
Now, before anyone goes all Daily Mail on us, I was selective with the quotations there as the article makes it clear that this was just a public health industry in-joke. Har-di-bloody har, Nathan. Doing the circuit with Lembit soon, are you?

It's not a first for Dr Grills, though, since he was the author of a report condemning Santa as a health pariah in 2009, as highlighted at the time by VGIF.

What a jolly life these public health guys lead, eh? So awash are they with funding, that there's plenty of time available to file droll reports and produce press releases detailing their frivolous japes.

Except they're not really that funny, are they?

Oh, don't get me wrong. In an ideal world we would put Nathan's head under our arm, give him a playful noogie and amicably call him a fun-loving prankster. But public health obsessives destroyed that world a long time ago.

By way of entirely-unrelated example, back in 1995 one of us on an all-male beano to the Canaries was asked at the airport check-in if he had packed his case himself, to which he replied to much (partially inebriated) laughter "no, a kind middle-eastern gentleman did it for me". The Monarch airlines staff member just gave him a wry grin. Do the same now and he'd most likely be arrested.

It's not funny anymore once the threat is serious, is it?

Likewise, Nathan's 'comedy' just doesn't hit the mark for the simple reason that it's perfectly feasible that some health nutter will be advocating such a thing in the future ... without the tongue planted in his (or, more likely, her) cheek.

In fact, Nathan's Santa study had already been overtaken by events when he published it. Firstly, by the US Surgeon General himself in 2007 and subsequently by anti-obesity fruitloop MeMe Roth, whose description of Santa's portrayal on Coke packaging was "I see a warning label. Drink this, and look how your body will look."

Which would tend to explain why Nathan's jovial dig at the big guy didn't go down very well.

Around the world, Grills has been attacked as a mean-spirited Christmas killjoy. His e-mail inbox is filled with condemnations. He’s so besieged by angry calls that he won’t answer the telephone, so I couldn’t talk to him for an interview. We had to correspond via e-mail.
He has been very careful not to replicate that experience this time by making the satirical nature of his Easter Bunny piece absolutely crystal.

However, since we can be pretty certain that the same arguments will be advanced by the public health community in the future - this time with a perfectly straight face - it's just not funny, Nathan. Sorry.

Unless, of course, his idea of humour is informing a condemned man of his execution that very day, before admitting it was just a leg-pull ... it's next week really.


Wednesday 20 April 2011

A Bit Of A 'Do'

You may have noticed (or, more accurately, not have noticed) sparse content here of late. As previously mentioned, my fingers being immersed in many differing pies at year end is a bit of a handicap writing-wise. It's not going to get much better in the short term either as I'm popping over to Belgium for an event at the weekend, taking in this place on the way natch.

And with all those bank holidays stacking up in the next few days, I'll have my small business HR hat on tomorrow to get everyone paid in time for the additional one that Cameron kindly gave us to celebrate the royal wedding. This is the April 29th which is costing our modest business in the region of £3,000 in wages, which can't be covered by billing, since none of our vehicles will be running. Our employment contracts enable us to withhold a day's pay under the circumstances but we're not doing that, though I dare say that firms who do so will turn up in the press somewhere being dubbed as evil scrooges. The government's 30%-ish deductions month-in month-out, though, will continue to be unquestionably regarded as righteous.

Such is life. Sadly.

There's also a bit of a do going on at the Adam Smith Institute tomorrow evening if you are a blogger, which some people concede I may be, even if a trifle tabloid so they say. As such I will be trotting up there to be abused by Mark Wadsworth like last year.

In fact, here's a bit of trivia for you - I was initially pencilled in as a speaker at this year's event before an ASI staff change which led to their finally plumping for these lightweights.

Bloggers' Bash 2011: 'Blogging: Yesterday's news?'

Title: Blogging: Yesterday's news?
Speakers: Tim Montgomerie (ConHome), Douglas Carswell MP ( and Harry Cole (Guido Fawkes blogger)
Pah! What do they know about inadequacy, pimples, and spewing and ranting, eh?

Still, if you're going, perhaps I'll see you there. I shouldn't be hard to spot. Being a smoker, I'll be one of the few with two heads, surrounded by passers-by clutching their heart, while I laugh demonically and feast on a baby in a bun.

Why not come and say hello ... if you dare?

Secondhand Light

Energy saving bulbs emit cancer causing chemicals it was claimed last night as new fears were raised about their safety.

Scientists said they should not be left on for long periods of time or placed close to a person's head because they release poisonous materials.

While it is already known that harmful amounts of Mercury are released if one of the new 'green' bulbs is broken, the latest research shows other carcinogenic chemicals are emitted when they are switched on.

The German research shows that the chemicals are released as a form of steam.

The harmful substances include phenol - a poison injected by the Nazis to kill thousands of concentration camp victims during World War II - and the human toxins naphthalene and styrene.
I take it they'll be banned in pubs and clubs, then?

UPDATE: Thanks to Katabasis in the comments, the Telegraph also carries the story with some interesting quotes.

Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the Berlin's Alab Laboratory, said: “For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment.”

[Andreas Kirchner, of the Federation of German Engineers, said:] "They should not be used in unventilated areas and definitely not in the proximity of the head.”
Won't somebody please think of the bar staff!

Monday 18 April 2011

Home Smoking Bans - State Sponsored Theft

Considering the nasty, soiled and contaminated sandpit Australia has become of late, I suppose we're quite lucky here in the UK that it's so very far away from us.

The cigarette police are coming to get you - at home

Smokers. The unthinkable may become a disagreeable reality. Smoking may be banned in private homes and apartments.

Scoff if you like about improbability of home smoking bans. How they would not only be unfair but unenforceable. Dismiss the concept as ridiculous.

Huff and puff about civil liberties, individual freedom of choice and the home being the family castle. Thump the table about government interference and intervention. About the spidery intrusion of the nanny state. But ignore the looming reality at your peril. The smokers’ nagging fear, that their final bastion will be invaded by smoke police, is already here.
These comments are in response to ever more frequent references to smoking bans in homes. Scarily, the idea of legislating the behaviour of citizens in their private property no longer holds any fear for health lobbyists. Like the spoilt kid who is always given what he wants, the bansturbators feel no shame in loudly and publicly demanding the world on a stick.

“As people’s awareness and understanding of the harm of second hand tobacco smoke increases, expectation is growing that there be no smoke in shared places,” the [Cancer Council of South Australia's] Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson says.

“It’s entirely possible and even probable that people sharing apartment blocks will want those to be smoke-free too here in Australia.

“The fact remains that second hand smoke is harmful. The level of exposure can determine a person’s risk and you could imagine many would like to have the choice that their home be a safe haven – something that poses quite a challenge in a shared setting such as an apartment block.”
What we are now seeing is far in excess of the wettest dreams enjoyed by anti-smoking pioneers. Even superlatively obsessive 20th century smoke bigots like George Godber - architect of the passive smoking scam - at least showed respect for the concept of private property.

Godber recollected that he had said in 1962 to Keith Joseph, another of his Conservative ministers, that "we really have to do something about abolishing smoking" (having won the approval of the Health Minister Enoch Powell). Joseph looked quite shocked and said: "You really can't expect to abolish smoking." Godber replied: "No, but I want to see it reduced to an activity of consenting adults in private."
The most sinister part of these developments - as hinted at in the Aussie article - is how utterly defenceless we all are (not just smokers, either) in the face of such blatant and brutal health bullying. Yes, bullying, because there really is no other word for it.

If a burglar enters your home and nicks your TV, your wife's jewellery and rips out your copper pipes, the state will declare their determination to punish the theft under full weight of the law.

But when the health lobby comes to steal your privacy and right to quiet enjoyment of your own property, the government will be there ... keeping the getaway car's engine ticking over.

Friday 15 April 2011

Snookering E-Cig Opposition

In the wake of the recent government consultation on the future of e-cigs, I mentioned that their increasing public popularity was a major ally in the battle to ensure the devices remain legal.

Of course, celebrity endorsement - either officially, or by the famous simply being seen with one in public - is a potentially big driver of e-cig awareness to those who haven't yet heard of them. There are plenty of examples in Hollywood, and elsewhere, of the glitterati getting into vaping, but for your average Joe or Jane in the UK, this guy is far more relevant.

Adding to our many thousands of already satisfied customers, English professional snooker player Jimmy White (MBE) is now using a ‘Wicked 510 Titan E-NIC’.

Mr White is now a regular ‘Totally Wicked’ customer and happily uses his ‘E-NIC’ during snooker tournaments. He benefits from being able to use the product in non-smoking areas without breaking his concentration and helping him to stay ahead of his game.
Personally, I'd like to have seen The Whirlwind using a Tornado (like mine), but then headlines don't always dutifully write themselves like that, more's the pity.

Still, here's a down-to-earth hero of transport caff culture sidestepping the smoking ban and proving that e-cigs are not just toys for the mega-rich. As publicity goes, it's an e-cig industry dream.

White then and now - how things change, eh?

This is yet more evidence that the vaping genie is fast escaping the e-liquid bottle, and it's beginning to look, thankfully, as if only spitefully anger-inducing - and monumentally stupid - legislation will be able to cap it.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Prizes? Ooh, I Like Prizes

The ASI are running a competition, and there's a rarer-than-blue-peter-badge sparkly medal for the winner.

Suppose you decided that the word "libertarianism" doesn't work for the free market, classical liberal movement in this country. You like all the ideas and all, but the word is too unwieldy or has too many negative connotations to be useful to promoting those ideas. You want to rename libertarianism with an equally "big tent" word or term. So, what would you use instead?
After today, one term could be OMG-ism, every-man-jack-of-us-tarred-with-a-broad-brush-ism, or perhaps may-as-well-give-up-ism. But I'll neatly sidestep such in-fighting, as is my (even if I say so myself) laissez-faire wont.

Of course, the natural term for libertarian thought used to be 'liberal' until some deeply anti-liberal types - who are historically accustomed to stealing things from others - decided they quite liked the positive connotations of the word, and shamelessly pinched it.

So I quite liked the suggestion from Jock Coats - a true liberal/libertarian who writes far too infrequently - of nicking something by way of retaliation.

Socialism. Because "socialism" is what we do, voluntarily and co-operatively, when there isn't a state to coerce us. We as-sociate freely to meet our ends. The state is the enemy of social power. Or as David Boaz says:

"The right term for the advocates of civil society and free markets is arguably socialist. Thomas Paine distinguished between society and government, and the libertarian writer Albert Jay Nock summed up all the things that people do voluntarily--for love or charity or profit--as "social power," which is always being threatened by the encroachment of State power. So we might say that those who advocate social power are socialists, while those who support State power are statists. But alas, the word socialist, like the word liberal, has been claimed by those who advocate neither civil society nor liberty."
Yeah, I really like that.

Unfortunately, it won't catch on. Not only have lefties convinced the public that it is only they who are able to protect the poor and disadvantaged - even though their policies routinely and spectacularly punish the less well off - they are also brilliant grifters. Able to con people into their 'liberal' and selfless nature, before the upper echelons get the foreman's job and the accompanying cash.

With such smoke and mirrors being employed, most seem unable to recognise that it is free markets (and yes, privatisation) which mean they can now buy any phone they like - including ones from Argos for less than a fiver - whereas the lefty-approved alternative was a choice of white or black fitted a month later once the GPO union had decided which worker was allowed to do the job. Or why they now have cheap tellies in every room, toasters for buttons and not just as wedding presents, clothes which don't need to be hand-me-down, and shoes which cost the same as 30 years ago. Whilst state-led institutions have given us passport fees, road tax, and local authority charges which increase far in excess of inflation. Year, upon year, upon, err, year.

So do go and try your hand at renaming libertarianism. There is a shiny prize on offer; it doesn't cost anything per minute; and you don't need to watch an hour of people you've vaguely heard of dancing before casting your vote.

If you write a blog, you may fancy getting your inadequate, pimpled, single backside up to London one week's hence, too, for the annual ASI bash.

Bring some cash though, last year's discussion got me very thirsty.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Buy A Round, Face The Judge

While regularly watching the civil liberties car crash which is California, it's sometimes easy to forget that righteous Australians are first class graduates from the university of health-obsessed dictatorial excellence as well.

New South Wales, for example, are now moving to make citizens legally liable for the free choices of others.

MATES who shout a round of beers to their drunk friends could end up in court under tough new drinking and intoxication laws.

[New South Wales Police Minister Mike Gallacher] said he was determined to crush the culture that made it acceptable to get irresponsibly drunk.

The former police officer said friends and family needed to shoulder some of the responsibility of curtailing a drunk's boozy night before the person became a menace.

He said mates could find themselves in court giving evidence about why their friend had been drunk and disorderly.
I suspect that Gallacher's definition of 'irresponsibly drunk' will differ greatly to that of an Australian majority, considering his vow to 'crush' something he calls a 'culture', thereby logically suggesting it to be accepted as not too burdensome a problem by most.

And while it's clear (at least, I think it is) that the guy is referring to consequent criminal or delinquent behaviour on the part of the inebriate at the moment, the installation of such a charge of failing as one's 'brother's keeper' - in an era where personal lifestyle choice is being routinely dismissed as a concept - doesn't take much moving of the goalposts to become more sinister, does it?

Especially since we know the kind of levels now considered to be hazardous by the bansturbulary (© Mark Wadsworth) in the UK, and probably in upside down land too. That is, more than two pints per day.

So, the social custom of buying rounds is under attack again, which isn't too much of a surprise from a conservative of any stripe. The eradication of rounds was, after all, a brilliant idea promoted by our own pretend free market Tory, David Cameron.

But how about this aspect of Gallacher's determined plan to restrict his grown-up infantilised charges from doing as they have done for many decades. The denial of due judicial process.

Mr Gallacher said he would also be working with Attorney-General Greg Smith to ensure those charged with being drunk and disorderly would not be able to escape punishment by appealing against the penalty through the court system.
Nope. No appeal allowed. Once charged, that's it. You're guilty, and how dare you even consider appealing against it.

The state is infallible, you see, and always knows best. You, however, merely exist to be managed as an inconvenient hindrance to their daily routine of spending your money.

Oh sorry, did you still believe the state existed to cater for you and your enjoyment of life? Don't be silly, there are far more important things to waste your taxes on.

H/T Menzies House via Crampton

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Goose-Stepping Into Poland

There are many who bristle when one mentions similarities between the current anti-smoking crusade and 1930s Nazi Germany, the modern root of such policies.

Not I, of course. In fact, in many cases it's a perfectly valid comparison.

Even more so now they're invading Poland.

WARWICKSHIRE’s drugs team is helping people in Poland to introduce a smoking ban.

The county’s drug and alcohol strategy team manager has been invited to support Poland in their introduction of smoke-free legislation.

Paul Hooper has been invited by the Polish equivalent of environmental health officers to help them implement the scheme.

He is travelling to Warsaw this week, where he will advise on the challenges faced in the UK since the smoking ban in public was implemented four years ago.

Mr Hooper, recently appointed by NHS Warwickshire and the county council, said: “It’s an honour to be asked to work with our Polish colleagues to contribute to the development of the country’s smoke-free policy."
I don't doubt that he feels it an honour to be regarded as a European grandmaster of prodnosery. Not so sure that Poles will be as enamoured with some dictatorial righteous goose-stepping in to restrict their liberties, though.

Of course, Hooper's salary is funded by us, the British taxpayer, so I really hope we're not having to pay for exporting such malodorous finger-wagging. It's worth asking the question, isn't it? You know, for clarity.

We wouldn't want to be in the position of giving even more of our taxes away to the Polish for free, now would we?

Monday 11 April 2011

Competitive Tendering Is Plundering Your Pocket

Since it's that time of year, I'd like to explain something about the council tax bill which landed on your doormat recently.

You see, I have been trawling through a public sector 'competitive tendering' opportunity today. I place the description in inverted commas because there is nothing very competitive about its 200 bloody pages.

To illustrate, I'll go back around a decade to when such things really did pit suppliers against each other in a cut-throat mechanism which drove down costs to provide value for the taxpayer buck. It was a time when large operators were capable of being usurped by a one-man-band offering a quality service at a homemade price. The more providers, the lower you had to pitch to be sure of getting the work.

Those days are long gone.

About five or six years ago, in our experience, the regulatory burden began increasing at an alarming rate. Health and safety was ramped up to quite absurd levels and quality thresholds were set which were impossible for small outfits in our industry to comply with. For example, a company like ours - with a tad more financial breathing space by virtue of our larger size - were able to implement all of the ridiculous (and not even mildly more protective) demands placed on the vehicles which would be acceptable to the authorities concerned. The little guy had no chance - unlike us - of throwing a load of cash at new, or adapted, vehicles to cope with the latest over-weening directive imagined by local authorities, none of which would have any effect on overall safety or provision of service.

We thrived as a result, while dozens of our competitors threw the towel in and went and did something else instead (that's if they did anything but sell their rig and roll up to the local social security office, of course). Happy days for Puddlecote Inc, but we were - as economics dictates - charging far more to the authority.

With competitors shorn from the market, and our costs increased by compulsory demands from the provider, we got paid more ... for doing the same job. We also did a lot more of those jobs, at a higher price, than before. Our proportion of the market increased, and the prices we charged for the larger percentage of that market, were necessarily higher solely due to the actions of the tenderer.

In just a couple of years, the reponses to competitive tendering exercises had been more than halved, with the pool of approved suppliers slashed by bureaucratic ideology.

The latest opportunities, received last week, are prefaced by a preamble which states that they are looking to make 20% savings in light of instructions given to them by their 'leader'. You'd be forgiven for thinking that he had told them to massively ramp up costs.

Reading through the documents today was a jaw-dropping insight into the dream world of public sector morons.

Method statements, framework agreements, key performance indicators, robust performance management systems, equality and diversity policies, performance evaluations, environmental advancement, partnership milestones, sustainable procurement narratives, race and gender statements, service quality monitoring, volume forecasting, operational delivery reviews, governance structure audits, outcomes recording methods, business continuity plans, and contingency planning systems.

All of the above must be installed before we are even allowed to see the work we may be able to bid for, if approved. And, of course, there is no guarantee - by their own admission - that it will be of any quality.

As far as we are able to ascertain from those fellow operators we are friendly with, the competition has just been halved once again. Like before, we are large enough to gamble on all this, but others have fallen by the regulatory wayside.

Of course, once again costs have no way to go but up, and with less competition, we are likely to get more of the proportion of work available. The taxpayer gets shafted while the public sector office fills its boots with council tax cash.

And the end result? Well, they can say that greedy private sector businesses are ripping off the taxpayer and that competitive tendering - introduced by Thatcher IIRC - just doesn't work.

Clever, huh?

Remember, our industry is just one small part of public sector outsourcing. Every supplier, in every field, is being put through this. Raising costs, and punishing your bank account with every monthly council tax instalment as a result.

It can't be avoided, either. You see, the whole process is run according to the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, which - as I'm sure will not in the least surprise you - is the UK enactment of European Directive 2004/18/EC.

Competitive tendering is supposed to act against monopolies and cartels, yet EU legislation is actively encouraging them in every town hall up and down the UK.

Seriously. We need a referendum, and quick.

Steer Well Clear Of Swansea, Then

Pop star Jessie J has said she was shocked to see many people so drunk they "could not even stand" at a university gig.

"I was just shocked at how intoxicated they were and I was genuinely worried for them. I'm not used to it."
Crikey! That level of surprise over the common phenomenon of pissed students at a university ball? And in Ireland, at that. I know pop stars are young by definition, but didn't realise that some really were only born yesterday.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Eureka! A Cure!

Yes, it's what our tortured world has been crying out for.

Anti-nicotine injection will be on the shelf by 2012

SMOKERS will be able to receive an anti-nicotine vaccination by 2012, according to a government-based group called Socidrogalcohol.

Its president, Julio Bobes, says clinical trials in the USA on 2,000 people led to at least 40 per cent giving up smoking for good.

The vaccination works using pleasure inhibitors by preventing the subject from getting any enjoyable sensation from his or her intake of nicotine.
Yay! A cure for enjoyable sensations. About time too, the pleasure derived from tobacco - or any other recreational nicotine product for that matter - has required clinical eradication for quite some time now.

Socidrogalcohol, of which Bobes is the leader, is an organisation that falls under the umbrella of the Spanish Ministry of Health, and is holding a series of information days in Madrid this weekend in a bid to prevent addiction, especially among the young.
Well that shouldn't be a problem anymore, should it? Simply initiate a program of injecting the little buggers at school. It'll be another jolly BCG-style coach outing to the local clinic for pubescent kids. Get in early and vaccinate them against unapproved personal choices, eh?

It's not like anti-smoking pharmaceutical products have ever caused any consternation before, now is it?

Friday 8 April 2011

Another Day, Another Lie

It seems like only yesterday that I was bemoaning the fact that the real life decline in alcohol consumption is continually being reported as a fantasy rise. Oh hold on, it was only yesterday.

Still, today is a new day, and just as the sun rises and sets, so does the same blatant lie go unchallenged again at the BBC.

Cancer Research UK director of health information Sara Hiom said that many people did not know that drinking alcohol could increase their cancer risk.

"In the last 10 years, mouth cancer has become much more common and one reason for this could be because of higher levels of drinking"

And again here.

"If people are drinking more - and rates have gone up in the last decade or so [...]"

It's not like the Beeb were unaware of the truth, because they reported the complete opposite only two months ago. Oh yes, they did.

They even provided a handy graph of official ONS statistics, you know, to make it clearer for public health idiots.

It's a sure sign that the alcohol denormalisation process is rapidly moving into top gear when blatant untruths are thrown out there without a care in the world. Time for the drinks industry to either cower in the corner, or pull out some heavy artillery.

Which is it to be, d'you reckon?

Thursday 7 April 2011

More Binge-Drinking Fiction

The excellent Straight Statistics team have calmly debunked the claim - screamed in this article at the Mail, amongst others - that the number of women exceeding government unitary alcohol guidelines has grown by a fifth in the past decade.

Regular readers here will not be surprised to find that such an assertion is exactly what we have come to expect of reporting on alcohol matters recently. Superlative crap.

This, according to statistical experts remember, is what really happened.

The source of the data is the General Lifestyle Survey, 2009. Table 2.2 is a time series for those drinking more than the recommended limits. I have extracted data for 1998 to 2009 (see Table).

This shows a slow decline from 1998 to 2006, followed by an abrupt increase which was caused by a change in methodology. The percentage of women exceeding the limit surged from 12 to 20 per cent when this new method for converting volumes of alcohol to units was applied. Since then the slow decline has resumed.

There is no evidence here that actual drinking habits have changed. It is possible the old method underestimated drinking before 2006, and the new one is better. But this data is not evidence of a rising trend: the surprise is that the author of the ONS report did not realise this.
Incompetence from a public sector organisation? Surely not.

Nor is it true, as the Daily Mail asserts, that recent figures have pointed to a surge in binge drinking among females, particularly young girls. The percentage of 16-24 year-olds who drank more than three units on any one day has declined since 1998 from 42 per cent to 37 per cent, and the percentage who drank more than six units on at least one day has barely increased, from 23 to 25 per cent.

This is before taking account of the change in methodology, which itself added five percentage points to the score. Not much evidence here of a surge in binge drinking among young women.
In short, there is not one jot of truth in the entire article, merely a load of scaremongering garbage under the hackneyed Mail "Booze Britain" tag. Oh, and accompanied by the obligatory drunk girl shot which so outrages the middle Englander psyche, natch.

It's rather tiresome to be continually pointing out the false nature of our fabled binge-drinking epidemic, when a combination of slack ONS analysis and inept journalism can convince huge sections of society that booze armageddon is just around the corner. Despite incontrovertible evidence showing quite clearly that alcohol use is consistently declining.

It was in the paper, Guv, so it must be true, innit.

Unfortunately, MPs are just as gullible as your average ex-pat Mail mouth-frother, and this particular story - and it is just that ... a fanciful fairy tale - will doubtless have them muttering that something must be done.

Oh well, I can but put these things out there in the forlorn hope that someone in power, somewhere within the ranks of our addled parliamentary funny farm, will someday wake up to hard facts and stop peddling ill-informed bullshit based on nonsense they read in the paper, or heard from the Westminster Village simpleton.

Or I could do something more productive like banging my head against the garage wall.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Happy Meal Slapping Is Catching

Quote of the day comes courtesy of McDonald's, and I'm definitely lovin' it.

“Our Happy Meals make it easier for families to choose the right foods in portions just for kids. We provide options for our customers and trust them to make the decisions that are right for their families. Politicians should too.”
Indeed they should. Always. Unfortunately, they increasingly don't.

This is by way of response to New York Councillor Leroy Commie Comrie, who has noticed dictatorial events being played out in the Soviet Republic of California, and thought it a brilliant idea to import the same to New York.

The state is father, the state is mother. You won't be needing that parental responsibility anymore. Why should you? Government will impose it for you.

The most revelatory aspect of this development, though, is Comrie's jaw-dropping justification.

Comrie has fought the battle of the bulge himself.

“As you know, and I’m an example, nearly one-third of all children in New York City and throughout the United States are either overweight or obese,” Comrie said.
Because, you see, it's not Comrie's fault that he can't pass a hot dog stall without picking the thing up and emptying it into his lardy gob. His obesity is not his parents' fault for not nipping his long journey to dangle-bellyhood in the bud when he was a spoilt little fat kid.

No. It's the fault of a business which offers food products for consumers to choose to consume, or not as the case may be. Obviously. There is no 'offer and acceptance' in Comrie's contracts, merely 'offer and I-can't-resist-cos-I'm-a-weak-willed-moron'.

And because he and his family are incapable of imposing a modicum of self-regulation, he insists that no-one else is entitled to exercise their own will either. As such, the hammer fist of legislation must be brought to bear, whether New Yorkers like it or not.

Lastly, as a measure of how very hideous this disgusting bansturbator is, check out the poll featured on the page. Here's how it looks at time of writing.

95% object to the very idea, yet you just know that it will be passed. If not this time, then in the very near future, this is health freak Bloomberg's New York, remember.

New Yorkers' opinion will be ignored for their own good, just as ours will be when the same idea is mooted in the UK, as it inevitably will. Health obsessives don't care whether a majority support their fundamentalism prior to legislation, or a tiny minority.

They know best, and you - who pay their wages - can go to hell.

Champix Strikes Again?

From the BBC.

A man suspected of killing his wife and two daughters may have been taking anti-smoking medication with possible anger side effects, an inquest heard.

Andrew Case, 33, was found dead along with wife Vicki, 31, and their two girls Nereya, one, and Phoebe, two, at their home in Fordingbridge, Hampshire.

The inquest heard Mr Case had been prescribed 28 anti-smoking Champix tablets before the deaths last year.

It was told they could have possible depression and anger side effects.

Mr Case was dispensed a further 56 tablets by a chemist on 23 July last year, the day the family had returned from a week-long holiday to Weymouth, Dorset.

The inquest heard the original prescription packet was found empty in the house and only 28 of the extra tablets were found.
Sadly, this kind of story isn't much of a surprise where Champix (Chantix in the USA) is concerned.

The smoking cessation drugs Chantix and Zyban must now carry a boxed warning — the strongest type possible — about the risk of serious mental health problems, including depression, behavior changes and suicidal thoughts, the Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.

For Chantix, the FDA has received 98 reports of suicides; for Zyban and bupropion, the drug's generic name, 14. There also were 188 reports of attempted suicides by Chantix users, 17 by smokers trying to quit with bupropion. Nicotine-replacement products haven't generated similar reports, Rosebraugh said. (from 2009)
Yet it's still doled out like candy by our tobacco-terrified NHS. In fact, ex-Policy Exchange idiot Henry Featherstone, in his heroically incompetent report Cough Up, last year advocated Champix (clinical name Varenicline) being given out in even more willy-nilly fashion!

Varenicline is the most cost-effective treatment option in the NHS Stop Smoking Service. Studies consistently demonstrate it to be superior to any other therapy, but it is only used in 20% of cases. Varenicline should be offered as first line drug treatment for all patients wishing to quit smoking
The hypocrisy and, yes, evil of these pharma-backed anti-smoking freaks never ceases to beggar belief. While on the one hand furrowing their brows in righteous concern about harmless e-cigs, they seem simultaneously able to completely ignore mounting evidence of the deeply harmful - and sometimes dangerously violent - effects from using Champix ... a drug they endorse wholeheartedly.

It would appear that the precautionary principle only applies when they feel like it, and never when it threatens pharmaceutical interests.

Sorry to bore you, but I must reiterate. It was never about health.

UPDATE: Tobacco control advocate Michael Siegel explains why Champix should be banned immediately.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Health Be Damned!

Unfortunately, I have more on my plate than Desperate Dan at present. One of the downsides of being in business is, of course, the financial year end, and you can probably see we're at that point of the year by the massive recent increase in bloody council roadwork activity. Add to this the fact that two potentially large suppliers have chosen this period to issue very lucrative invitations to tender, and that's the daylight hours gone. I'm also signed up for another few weeks of Tuesday evening sports club volunteering, so I've only just enough time to share a rather jolly spot e-mailed by a reader of this blog's tabloid scrawl.

These links are a few years old, but bear with me. You see, there's this guy called Clive Bates, and he's extremely critical of the stance currently taken by the public health industry against smokeless tobacco.

Take this article from June 2006, for example (emphases mine).

What is absolutely amazing though is that there are forms of tobacco use about 10- 100+ times less hazardous than smoking (ie. chewing, sucking - anything non-combustible) - it's the smoke that really kills. Widespread use of these is why, for example, Sweden has the lowest rates of cancer and heart disease in the world. If the world tobacco market shifted to selling more of this and less cigarettes, millions of premature deaths could be avoided over the 21st Century. But true to form, the well paid and comfortably smug public health community refuses to accept this concept and adopts a counter-productive prohibitionist stance - hoping naively that if people have a choice between quitting and dying, they'll choose to quit. Inconveniently, tobacco is highly addictive, so many wont or can't choose to quit and will die. So instead of telling the truth about low risk options, there is a conspiracy to lie and mislead (for example, the US Surgeon General told a barefaced lie about it to Congress). In Europe, we even have a directive (2001/37/EC see article 8 and 2.4) that bans the much lower risk products than cigarettes. If there is a reason to be a Euro-sceptic, then this is one of the strongest - deliberate denial of access to products that are much lower risk to people that are addicted to nicotine.
Pretty strong stuff, I think you'll agree, and exactly the harm reduction drum that is still regularly banged over at Snowdon's place. Especially since the EU is now planning to go further by banning all smokeless tobacco, not just snus - already banned everywhere in the EU except Sweden - which is the product referred to above.

He had more to say on the subject in September 2007.

If you want to say something absolutely jaw-dropping in its idiocy, then you need to cloak it in lots of fake sophistication. And this is what ASH Scotland has done with its new position paper on smokeless tobacco.

No less than 266 references are used to support the truly stupid idea that smokeless tobacco, which can substitute for cigarettes and is far less hazardous, should be banned.

If you put that idea to any normal person they look at you as if you've lost your mind. Only in the insular world of 'tobacco control' do these ideas survive for longer than it takes to express them.
And expanded in the comments.

People like the fools at ASH Scotland and much of the tobacco control Taliban talk as if there is no evidence that smokeless tobacco is a harm reduction effect. Rubbish. Not only are there many studies on this now, but they somehow ignore dramatic proof of concept in Sweden where the smoking rate is the world's lowest and tobacco related disease is the world's lowest.
So just who is this Bates character? Well, if you haven't clocked it already, here's a clue.

Yes, that's right. It's the Clive Bates, former supremo of ASH.

Isn't it interesting how the anti-smoker view differs between those who have crawled out of the pharmaceutical pocket, and those who haven't?

Monday 4 April 2011

It's Not Poisonous When WE Profit From It

Following swiftly on from Saturday's article highlighting the effete lily-livers amongst us - for whom even the exhalation of e-cig water vapour is too much for their limp, soulless personalities to deal with - comes news which could finish the poor, self-centred, wheyfaced jellyfish off for good.

"We wanted to replicate the experience of smoking without incurring the dangers associated with cigarettes, and we wanted to do so more effectively than the nicotine replacement therapies currently on the market," said Jed Rose, Ph.D., director of the Duke Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research where the technology is being developed. He presented the data today at the Society for Nicotine and Tobacco Research (SRNT) in Baltimore, MD.

Duke's new technology employs a unique method to deliver nicotine to the lungs. In today's presentation, the researchers show the new lung delivery technology results in rapid absorption of nicotine that provides immediate relief of withdrawal symptoms and also re-creates some of the familiar sensations that are pleasurable to smokers.
Hmm, sounds very much like an e-cig to me.

Duke's new technology combines the vapor phase of pyruvic acid, which occurs naturally in the body, and nicotine. "When the two vapors combine, they form a salt called nicotine pyruvate," explains Rose. "This reaction transforms invisible gas vapors into a cloud of microscopic particles which is inhaled, just like a smoker inhales from a cigarette."
Semantics aside, very much like an e-cig, in fact.

More research is needed to examine the safety and effectiveness of prolonged use of the inhalation system, and to assess its role in helping people quit smoking. But, Rose says if all goes well, he anticipates the product could become commercially available within three to five years.
And this is a really good thing, apparently.

Strangely, current consensus amongst the batty ranks of sociopathic anti-tobacco crackpots is that e-cigs are dangerous, and useless as an alternative to smoking.

• Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, research suggests even more so than cocaine or heroin.
• Nicotine raises blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.
• Exposure to high doses of nicotine can be fatal for adults; the lethal dose for children is just 10mg.
• Nicotine promotes insulin resistance, also called prediabetes, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

• There is no legitimate scientific evidence that e-cigarettes will help smokers quit or reduce their use of any tobacco product.
Yet the same concept, employing the same principle, is mooted by someone in the smoking cessation industry (otherwise known as the pharma R&D department) and all of a sudden it's promoted as a potential silver bullet in the war on tobacco.

These people get more absurd and delusional by the day.

It's the wrong suppliers syndrome again, you see. All one needs do to understand the motives behind manufactured tobacco control hysteria is to follow the money. It was never about health.

Unfortunately for wimpy, addicted finger-waggers, this new development could signal a future of bars and restaurants generously populated by people happily vaping away to their heart's content with full state approval. That's going to cause a right rumpus with the terminally anti-social, and no mistake - there will be tantrums galore!

Can't have people avoiding self-righteous smoker hatred, now can we?


(Far From) Free Porn

In December, I wrote a short piece on scamsters using the legal system to earn a few bucks out of porn fans unwilling to be identified**.

It looks like it has been noticed and, in a variation of the same concept, the porn industry itself is getting in on the act.

On March 7, Camelot Distribution Group, an obscure film company in Los Angeles, unveiled its latest and potentially most profitable release: a federal lawsuit against BitTorrent users who allegedly downloaded the company’s 2010 B-movie revenge flick Nude Nuns With Big Guns between January and March of this year. The single lawsuit targets 5,865 downloaders, making it theoretically worth as much as $879,750,000 — more money than the U.S. box-office gross for Avatar.

It’s the first step in a process that could lead to each defendant getting a personalized letter in the mail from Camelot’s attorneys suggesting they settle the case, lest they wind up named in a public lawsuit as having downloaded Nude Nuns With Big Guns.

In contrast to the the RIAA’s much-criticized and now-abandoned war against music pirates — which targeted 20,000 downloaders in six years — the movie lawsuits appear to have been designed from the start as for-profit endeavor, not a as a deterrent to piracy.
Hardly surprising, really. The porn industry - which once viewed the internet as a huge opportunity - has been suffering badly under pressure from free sites eroding their copyrights, and illegal file-sharing. They're not getting much help from the courts either, so this really does look to be a conscious business approach. An assessment of the current market environment, with a consequential reaction to it.

Of course, this was all predicted by my Kiwi libertarian economist friend last year.

An alternative litigation strategy that could work would be use of copyright infringing honeypot sites whose viewers would then be threatened with copyright lawsuits for downloading pirated content, with threat of public disclosure of everything the viewer had been watching. I suspect a lot of viewers would pay up rather than have notice served to them at work and the whole list of viewed videos read aloud, for example.
Or, as the original linked piece described it.

“This is a mass copyright litigation machine,” says Lory Lybeck, a Seattle attorney representing dozens of the defendants. “Most people don’t want to have a public lawsuit against them for Teen Anal Nightmare 2, so they settle.”
A bit sneaky? Well, yeah, I suppose. But as a reaction to financial threats to the business interests of porn producers, you've got to admire the ingenuity.

Ain't markets great? No matter the burdens placed on them, one way or another they adapt and realign as long as demand is still there to be satisfied. Governments should take good note. Skiploads of state resources could be saved by freeing up markets rather than wasting resources on ever more desperate tweaks which will inevitably either be woefully unsuccessful, or will push the problem they were trying to 'solve' elsewhere.

** A smattering of visitors per month still reach here via that headline for some reason. I can't for the life of me think why.