A Night Off

I’m a bit buggered. Having done what I have to do, I resumed the decorating at about 3pm and only finished at 11pm. So it is a case of having a sit down and a couple of glasses of wine. I hope to finish the job tomorrow.

In a few days time, it will be our 50th wedding anniversary. The family are taking us out. The girls have made all the decisions. All we have to do is tag along. Ain’t that nice? Of course, when it comes to payment, it will be a different matter. I am sure that it will be lovely.

One of the weird things that has always vaguely annoyed me has been the situation where a big deal is made of the fact that a couple have been married for X decades. I always find it a bit odd that anyone should be surprised that a couple of elderly people have been married for a long time. What is there to applaud? If they married in their mid-twenties, which most people do (or did), and have not divorced, all that is really being measured is their age and joint survival. Imagine the situation in some bar:

“Ladies and gentlemen. It has come to my attention that Sid and Freda have recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Let’s give them a HUGE round of applause!” CLAP, CLAP, CLAP.

OK. I guess that I am being a bit cynical. But I have always been inclined a bit that way. I tend to applaud achievements rather than dates. Having said that, ‘giving and receiving of gifts’ is a time-honoured process intended to show appreciation or admiration or simply to give pleasure. I suppose that birthdays and Christmas are natural occasions for these things. After all, both are ‘anniversaries’ of a sort. Ultimately, the object of the exercise is to give and receive pleasure.

But these things do show some truths about the human psyche. Perhaps they indicate why it seems to be so easy for the clever, advertising-trained Zealots to convince people that the slightest whiff of tobacco smoke will kill them or do them serious harm. The trick is to make it seem that ‘everyone agrees’. ‘Everyone agrees that Christmas Day is a date to be celebrated with gifts’; ‘everyone agrees that a birthday is a date to celebrate’; ‘everyone agrees that an anniversary is a date to be celebrated’. But it works the other way as well. Last year, we ‘celebrated’ the centenary of the start of WW1.

We Humans are a very strange species.  We can talk intelligently with words, but often the words are just expressions of emotion and not intelligence. The sort of thing that I have in mind is the recent quote from someone somewhere that ‘if X had not smoked, he/she would not have died (prematurely) from lung cancer at the age of 88’. Substitute ‘at the age of 98, or 108, or 118, or 128’, and you see the mixture of intellect and emotion.

Oddly enough, something has just appeared on BBC World News. It seems that a probe, which has been orbiting the planet Mercury for the last four years, has crashed into the planet. Someone involved in the ‘expedition’ was interviewed. The interviewer asked some sensible questions, like whether or not the crash showed that the expedition was a waste of money. The reply was that the orbiting of Mercury was expected to last only one year, but clever use of jets had held it in orbit for four years, and that the crash had only occurred because the probe had totally run out of any fuel at all which could be used to maintain its position. And then the interviewer totally and utterly fucked up. He asked if the crash of the probe would ‘pollute’ the planet Mercury.

It is hard to exaggerate the stupidity of that question. It is so stupid as to be akin to believing that electricity comes from the ghosts of dead people. No – it is worse than that because it exhibits total ignorance of science. The probe hitting Mercury is like a speck of dust hitting Mount Everest. In fact, it might well be even less of an incident. It might even be equivalent to a molecule of water hitting Mount Everest. OK – perhaps not that tiny. If you knew the mass of the probe and the mass of Mercury, perhaps you could work it out accurately.

It would be lovely to think of the effects of SHS in similar terms. Imagine that a person walks through a ‘cloud of tobacco smoke’ when entering a building. Question 1: What is the immediate affect of the smoke on the walking of that person? Question 2: What might be the later affect on the walking of that person? Question 3: Is there a cumulative affect on the walking of that person over a period of time by virtue of that momentary walking through a ‘cloud of tobacco smoke’? Question 4: Would walking through that ‘cloud of tobacco smoke’ at regular intervals (say daily) have a cumulative affect? Question 5: How many times and over what period of time, would it be necessary for that person to walk through ‘a cloud of tobacco smoke’ before there was any affect? Question 6: Is there any truth in the Surgeon General’s assertion that SHS could cause immediate death to person walking along a street where someone smoked a little time ago?

——

We in the UK have noticed that, in recent years, as a result of the Jimmy Savile witch hunt, many old men have been dragged before the courts and accused of taking sexual advantage of young, impressionable girls decades ago who who were under the age of consent at the time. We note that all of them are white and fairly well-off. No blacks or any other colour or ethnicity have been accused or prosecuted. It is clear ‘beyond doubt’, or at least ‘on the balance of probabilities’, that these people were sacrificial lambs intended to negate the emotional impression that the authorities are useless. The authorities ARE useless. Why? Because they could have taken the bull by the horns at the very beginning and asked the accusers for evidence. Any evidence at all, but evidence. Imagine that I accused my neighbour that he/she (can’t be sure which) threw slugs from his garden into mine. And that he did so ten years ago. Imagine that he ‘proves’ that he did not move into the property before seven years ago. Imagine also that the police believe the ‘victim’ despite the time-scale error and the lack of evidence. Imagine then that another neighbour joins in and says that he too believes that the neighbour threw slugs into his garden. And then another neighbour, not directly connected garden-wise, says that he too experienced an increase in slugs, and that the neighbour responsible often walked past his house. Compensation is demanded by the ‘victims’. Judges declare that they are entitled to compensation. But, sadly, the lawyers have first bite of the cherry, so that there is nothing left for the ‘victims’.

‘Poetic Justice’ is the phrase. What does it matter if Jimmy Savile’s bloated charities get nothing? What does it matter if his ill-gotten gains are gobbled up by lawyers? These things are of no more importance than the probe crashing into Mercury.

On the other hand, the earthquake in Nepal is serious. But I still shall not donate a penny to any relief ‘charity’. I donate enough via my taxes, especially the tobacco and alcohol taxes. Get the money from non-smokers and teetotallers.

 

 

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13 Responses to “A Night Off”

  1. michaeljmcfadden Says:

    Junican, you ask, “It would be lovely to think of the effects of SHS in similar terms. Imagine that a person walks through a ‘cloud of tobacco smoke’ when entering a building. Question 1: What is the immediate affect of the smoke on the walking of that person? Question 2: What might be the later affect on the walking of that person? Question 3: Is there a cumulative affect on the walking of that person over a period of time by virtue of that momentary walking through a ‘cloud of tobacco smoke’? Question 4: Would walking through that ‘cloud of tobacco smoke’ at regular intervals (say daily) have a cumulative affect? Question 5: How many times and over what period of time, would it be necessary for that person to walk through ‘a cloud of tobacco smoke’ before there was any affect? Question 6: Is there any truth in the Surgeon General’s assertion that SHS could cause immediate death to person walking along a street where someone smoked a little time ago?”

    Heh, well, aside from #6 — which I doubt even the SG would have ever said — I *do* happen to have the rest of it all done up in my little bag o’ tricks! From pgs 217/218 of TobakkoNacht:

    ===

    For this model, let’s assume that all the smokers on a particular campus are rather inconsiderate and congregate within ten feet or so of doorways to smoke between classes. If our innocent, nonsmoking, cancer-fearing student has to pass through such “clouds” of smokers ten times a day, every day during their school year, just how serious would their risk be? Can we find a way to take at least a reasonable guess?

    Yes, we can. Walking through such a cluster of smokers might take about three seconds. Walking through such doorway clusters of smokers ten times a day while attending classes in five different buildings would give a student a total of about thirty seconds of diluted outdoor exposure. As we saw earlier in Stratistics, even if we accept on faith the EPA’s risk evaluation arising from the fairly smoky confines of smoking workplaces in the 1950s and ‘60s, it would take an exposure of about 40,000 worker years to produce, on average, a single lung cancer. But a “worker-year” consists of about fifty weeks, with each week giving forty hours of exposure. That’s 2,000 hours per year, i.e., 120,000 minutes of exposure in a single worker-year. For our single average lung cancer, we would thus need to multiply those 40,000 worker-years x 120,000 minutes/year = 4.8 billion minutes. For the purpose of the current calculation for our students, that would be 9.6 billion half-minutes of exposure over the course of 9.6 billion days.

    But the smoke that our student would be walking through outdoors is generally not really of the same smoke density as you’d find indoors in those old smoking workplaces. With breezes blowing in an outdoor environment, it’s likely that, even around doorways, it would seem reasonable to say the average exposure would be about 10% what it was in those old smoky offices. So, to be equivalent to that worker exposure, the students would have to work on their degrees for 96 billion days.

    To actually get a single lung cancer from such exposure, our poor perpetual grad student would have to hit the books on the average for roughly 260 million years. …

    If our grad student only walked through one crowd of smokers a day, and then finally graduated after only five or ten billion years of coursework, he’d have lucked out on his fifty percent chance of surviving the Deadly Doom Of Smoke and finally be allowed to take a night off to go see his girlfriend. Now that would take dedication! And a very patient girlfriend.

    It’s also worth remembering: even that extraordinarily low level of risk would only hold true if we accepted the EPA figures – with their juggling of statistical goalposts and stretching of confidence intervals – as actual fact. If we used normal statistical standards we might see those billions of years turning into billions of centuries.

    ===

    That cover it reasonably well?

    🙂
    MJM

    • garyk30 Says:

      ” Imagine that a person walks through a ‘cloud of tobacco smoke’ when entering a building.”

      Such SHS must contain nicotine.

      We all know that nicotine is the ‘most’ addictive substance on the planet.

      Why don’t non-smokers become addicted to that nicotine?
      It has never been claimed or noted that such addiction occurs and you never see non-smokers searching frantically for SHS to inhale.

      There are only two alternatives:

      1. Nicotine is not addictive

      2. The amount of nicotine, and other chemicals, in SHS is so very small as to be virtually non-existent and incapable of producing measurable effect.

    • junican Says:

      Absolutely, but there is a problem. The average person cannot imagine such big numbers and the negligible consequences thereof, and so he accepts the much simpler version contained in the propaganda. “All tobacco smoke contains carcinogens, therefore everyone who inhales tobacco smoke inhales carcinogens, therefore anyone and everyone could get a ‘smoking related’ disease. (Note the get-out in the word ‘could’)

      Thus, compared with the conditional ‘could’, the reality does not get a look in. The answer, if it were possible to ask a Zealot the question, would be, “For how long would the inhaler of the SHS have to do so in order to possibly suffer a ‘smoking disease’, and which disease would he most likely suffer from? The ‘possibly’ in that sentence negates the ‘could’ in the in the claim.

      But the Zealots are protected from such questions, which is one of the reasons that their statements are mere propaganda.

      • michaeljmcfadden Says:

        Actually, I believe Formaldehyde is a Class A carcinogen and it’s produced by our metabolisms and excreted in our breath. Sooo….. the only way to really be safe from it (aside from other natural sources of course) would be to simply GET RID of all the other BREATHERS!

        Problem solved!

        🙂
        MJM

  2. cherie79 Says:

    The whole witch hunt has turned justice on its head, a fact that seems to escape the gullible press and public. Just wait until the same methods are used against them but it will be too late then. Even proof that the original allegations appear to have been shown to be untrue is not considered. I loathed Jimmy Savile but I simply don’t believe all the stories and would love to see just one or two provan charges.

    • junican Says:

      What I have found astonishing about the Jimmy S affair is the pointlessness of it all. The guy is dead. There is another factor which astonishes me, which is that he left most of his wealth to various charities – why has it not already been given to those charities? Why was the Bank, as executor of his estate, still holding on to that money? Could it be that the family were disputing the gifts to charities? If so, then it serves them right that they have lost everything.
      What seems obvious to me, in all the blather, is that no one can prove a thing.

      • cherie79 Says:

        As I understand it the bequests to the charities was held up as a woman came forward claiming to be jimmys daughter and although this was later disproved by dna evidence by then the claims had started. Had it not been for this delay the money would have been paid out and it would have been too late. The only winners in all this are the lawyers.

  3. garyk30 Says:

    50 years of marriage!
    Sincere congratulations

    The wife must be some sort of superwoman to have put up with your ranting and raving for 50 years. 🙂

    • junican Says:

      Thank you, dear Sir, although it may be that the word ‘commiserations’ might be more appropriate.
      It is a bit weird about her attitude to my rantings. Somehow or other, she always seems to be able to produce an appropriate phrase to ‘pull me down’. It is uncanny how she does it. Mostly, there are ‘non-sequiturs’ involved. For example, “Whatever he says, he will do nothing about it. He’ll just go to the pub and get drunk”. Daughters fall about laughing. I’m sure that I have told you about the classic.
      You know that she has MS and cannot walk. We were on holiday and she was in bed. She cannot get out of bed on her own.
      Something I did annoyed her, and she said, “If you don’t stop it, we’ll come to blows”. Somehow, she imagined that she could jump out of bed and attack me. The funny thing is that I think that she was serious.
      Married life is like that, is it not?
      There is not doubt about it. A MAN’s saving phrase is, “YES DEAR”!

  4. garyk30 Says:

    posted yesterday:
    The ‘Daily Safe Level With No Harm’ is 2 mg/kg of body weight.

    The average adult weighs about 70 Kg and would need to absorb about 140 mg of formaldehyde per day.
    That is 140,000 mcg/ug or about 22,800 cigs smoked per day.
    ………………………………

    2mg/ kg should be 0.2mg/ kg

    As far as formaldehyde exposure goes, you could safely smoke 2,280 cigs per day.

    • junican Says:

      I haven’t changed the original. What is the point? 2,000 cigs a day is what the Zealots think that smokers smoke. They must do, if they are genuine.

  5. cherie79 Says:

    Meant to add congratulations on your golden wedding. Wish I had made mine but my husband died after 34 years and I miss him every day.

    • junican Says:

      Thanks for the good wishes.
      Sadness is part of living. It cannot be avoided. I suppose that 34 years of happy marriage is a blessing in itself.

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