Social Icons

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Vote for Ray Hall

My previous post about the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet party rocketed into second place of all time popular posts on this blog, with most of that traffic being referred from Google searches on the party name. When I hastily wrote the post, I had no idea who Ray Hall was or why he was running. I certainly did not expect the post to receive much attention. I was wrong, though. I am also pleased to report that my tongue-in-cheek assumption that "Crumpet" could refer to the slang usage for woman was indeed incorrect.

According to this article in the Eastleigh News, "Crumpet" is an acronym, although I'm unsure what that acronym actually is -- the article doesn't say and only mentions the letter T (for taxes).  If anybody knows the full meaning of the acronym, drop me a line in the comments and I'll update accordingly.

One thing I am very sure about is that if I lived in Eastleigh, I would definitely vote for Ray Hall. If any candidate understands the general public, the common folk as it were, then it's Ray Hall. He is not a career politician, and that fact alone endears me to him. More important, he understands that the pub trade in Britain has been decimated and wants to change that. He believes that smokers, who pay an enormous amount of tax, should be treated with respect, and he would like to see ventilated smoking rooms in pubs where it is practical to do so. A very reasonable compromise. Mr Hall, who is 73-years-old, also hopes to see the BB&C party go national for the 2015 general elections, and based on his common sense views, I would certainly like to see that happen, so if you need any help now or in the future, Ray, I'm sure we can find plenty of like-minded volunteers.

Anyway, do read the whole article linked above and be delighted.

If you live in Eastleigh, you might consider giving your vote to Ray Hall. Reportedly, the odds of him winning are 1000 to 1 (Hall has bet a fiver on himself to win and I say good luck, sir!). But really, who doesn't love an underdog?  There is no such thing as a wasted vote.

Thanks to Virginia, a stalwart defender of common sense and liberty on social media and author of the Hell Nanny blog, for posting the link to this article on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Beer, Baccy and Crumpets

In case you hadn't noticed, there is a candidate in the Eastleigh by-election named Ray Hall, who is running for the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet party. I don't know anything about Mr Hall, but I love the party name. One assumes, perhaps incorrectly, that "crumpet" refers not to the actual foodstuff but rather the older slang usage -- woman. £500 well spent, if you ask me. 

In honour of beer, baccy and women then, I give you this delightful photo album comprised of 21 glorious images, all of which are certain to enrage the nannies.  If you have a favourite, let me know in the comments.

Several images were stolen (with thanks!) from the Women Drinking Beer blog on Tumblr.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Return of the Professor of Prohibition and his AARB

Can you spot what is horribly wrong with the below children's jacket?  Take a moment. Go on. It'll be fun.

Click image to enlargify
Did you see what is so shockingly wrong?


Want a clue?  Look closely the clothing tag and the zipper.  Then read this this "shocking" article published by none other than Australia's favourite prohibition propaganda rag, the Sydney Morning Herald:
Jim Beam-branded clothing is being sold to children as young as four, in what public health experts have said is one of the most shocking examples of alcohol advertising they have seen.
OK, let's just analyse that once sentence and ask ourselves these questions:
  • Are there any four-year-olds in the world who buy their own jackets?
  • Do four-year-olds read clothing tags?   (Do adults, for that matter?)
  • Are clothing tags and zippers now considered advertising?
  • Would any four-year-old make a connection with alcohol and a clothing tag?
  • How many four-year-olds are considering drinking Jim Beam because of a clothing tag on a jacket?
  • How many four-year-olds drink whiskey or even want to?
  • What kind of dickhead would make an issue out of a clothing tag and boldly claim it's alcohol advertising targeting children?
The answer to that last question is Australia's very own Professor of Prohibition, Mike Daube. He is exactly the kind of dickhead who would claim a clothing tag and zipper is a shocking example of alcohol advertising. Let us have a look at his own words from his newest organisation's press release:
“This is the most shocking alcohol promotion I have seen. It would be hard to think of anything more cynical than children’s clothing advertising alcohol. This promotion turns children into mobile billboards for whisky, and encourages them to associate themselves with the Jim Beam brand.”
Oh, I can think of plenty of cynical promotions that use children, Daube.  Pretty much everything you have ever done in fact.  Why is it that you and others like you are allowed to use children to promote your beliefs? That is of course a direct violation of Jay's Law
Any person, group, organisation or government that uses children to promote and disseminate propaganda designed to encourage societal and/or legislative change for any agenda or cause, regardless of claimed benefits or their intent, shall be considered execrable, evil and tyrannical.
That is exactly what you do, Daube. You use kids to help promote your prohibitionist agenda with your McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth:
Young people

Do you want to help reduce harms from alcohol among other young people?

We’re looking for young people to help us raise awareness of harmful drinking and call for action to prevent harm from alcohol.
Of course the real issue here is whether alcohol companies should be allowed to advertise at all.  Indeed, having successfully banned all tobacco promotions and sponsorship, prohibitionists like Daube are earnestly seeking to do the same thing with alcohol. That domino effect or slippery slope that the anti-smokers ceaselessly claim doesn't exist because tobacco is a unique product ...?  Of course it exists! Alcohol and junk food are next on the hit list for the nannying tyrants. In the case of motor sport racing, tobacco companies can no longer sponsor racing teams. So alcohol companies, like Jim Beam, have stepped in to fill in the void, because for the moment, they can:

More importantly, alcohol companies can still advertise on radio, TV, and billboards. That is way too much freedom for the purveyors of the demon drink because children might see them. So something must be done to protect the children.  And that something is Mike Daube's laughable and pathetic Alcohol Advertising Review Board (AARB), whose stated mission is:
Our Mission:

To administer an independent alcohol advertising complaint review service to help protect the community from inappropriate alcohol advertising and encourage effective regulation of alcohol advertising.
Firstly, there is nothing independent about the AARB.  It was set up and staffed with members of Daube's McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth organisation (MCAAY), including the Chair of the AARB, Professor Fiona Stanley, who appears on the advisory board for MCAAY. The AARB web site was registered by MCAAY's Information and Research Officer, Hannah Pierce. This is nothing but a front organisation for MCAAY as another means of lobbying government. (Can we call this a sockpuppet org? I dunno.)

Secondly, the AARB is grossly misleading. It's not a government organisation and it has no power over advertisers. Daube et al set up the AARB to compete with the Australia Association of National Advertisers (AANA), because they are more or less self-regulated and Daube doesn't like that.  The AANA is not best pleased with Daube's efforts, that's for certain:
Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) today called for the disbandment of the Alcohol Advertising Review Board (AARB), which continues to mislead the public as to its purpose.
“There are already a number of regulatory protections in place in terms of messaging and placement of alcohol advertising. It is an effective system, underpinned by a transparent and robust complaints handling system that delivers responses to consumer complainants within 30 days,” said AANA Director of Codes, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Alina Bain.

“The AARB purported to provide an alternative complaints mechanism but has failed to deliver a consumer benefit. Professor Mike Daube’s own comments that AARB is “working to their own timelines” confirms that it was not designed to act as a genuine complaints handling system for the consumer,” said Ms Bain.

“The AARB system has set itself up as legislator, plaintiff, judge and jury. It has developed its own codes and is adjudicating complaints from within its own ranks. It flies in the face of established self-regulatory principles, which include independence of code making and adjudication. What’s more it has misled the public as to its purpose,” said Ms Bain.
Indeed, even I was misled for about three minutes (until I researched it), thinking that Daube's AARB was a legit government-sanctioned operation with powers to regulate advertisers. In truth, the AARB is nothing more than a paper tiger organisation, staffed with prohibitionists. It has absolutely no power and relies on its hyper-sensationalised press releases sent to the media to give it the appearance of legitimacy and to deceive the public.

You might be wondering if the AARB is having any success in "regulating" alcohol advertising (apart from easily duping the Health Editors in the media, particularly and in this instance Amy Corderoy of the Sydney Morning Herald -- see end of this post for a bonus article written by Amy today).  Well, no, it isn't.  Let us all have a hearty laugh at the AARB's pathetic and sad quarterly report (PDF 372kb), which indicates very clearly that alcohol advertisers are simply ignoring Daube, as well they should:

"No Advertiser chose to participate in the AARB process"

Do take the time to read some of the quarterly report.  It's hilarious and so very sad all the way through. "Ermagerd! Children might see these things and die!" But what about that shocking Jim Beam advertising on the kiddies' clothing -- what happened with that?  Let's have a look (emphasis added on the really important bit at the end):

Alcohol and motor racing
The AARB received a complaint regarding Jim Beam Racing Kids Team clothing, available to purchase from the V8 Supercars Official Online Store.

Advertisement: At the time of the complaint, five items were available to purchase from the Jim Beam Racing Kids Team clothing line: three different children’s t-shirts, a children’s jacket and a children’s cap. The children’s clothing featured Jim Beam colours and branding, with the words “Jim Beam” replaced by “The Team”.

Complaint: The complainant believed it was highly inappropriate for children to be wearing alcohol company-branded clothing. They noted that while the words “Jim Beam” had been replaced with “The Team”, the clothing still featured the recognisable Jim Beam branding, through colours, typography and patterns. The complainant believed the clothing was directed at children and young people, associated Jim Beam with youth and believed children would be highly exposed to the Jim Beam branding (ref 91/12).

Determination: Upheld in part.

Contravened section (3)(c) of the Content Code, on the basis that Jim Beam used its recognisable branding (design, style and colours) but displayed it in a slightly disguised form on the ‘Kid’s Team’ merchandise.

Contravened sections (4)(a)(i)(1) and (4)(a)(i)(2) of the Content Code and section (1)(i) of the Placement Code, on the basis that the merchandise directly targeted young people, associated Jim Beam with youth, and the placement of the alcohol advertisement on children’s clothing meant children would be exposed to it.

Action: The AARB requested the Jim Beam Racing Kids Team merchandise line be withdrawn immediately, and that the Advertiser, Beam Global, reconsider their sponsorship of V8 Supercars. As of 11 February 2013, the AARB had not been notified of any action by Beam Global in response to the determination.

Ooh... "reconsider their sponsorship of V8 Supercars" they "requested". So much for tobacco being a unique product. There is no doubt that Daube's intention is to remove all alcohol sponsorship from every sport, to protect children from being targeted by evil promotions and advertising. It worked against tobacco companies, so no reason in Daube's mind that it wouldn't work against alcohol companies. So far, the makers of Jim Beam have ignored Daube and his minions of prohibition. And may Beam Global long continue to do so. One can only hope that alcohol companies have learnt a lesson from what has happened to tobacco companies, who tried to appease the public health inquisitors and got severely burnt by it.

How parents dress their children is their business. It's not the business of government, and it's definitely not the business of nannying tyrants like Daube the Dickhead and his various prohibitionist organisations. There is no way a four-year-old will be harmed by a clothing tag. So dress your kids however you like and tell the nannies to go to hell. 

Bonus article by Amy Corderoy for your reading displeasure, "Profits before health, say experts":
ALCOHOL and processed food companies are employing the same tactics as Big Tobacco to increase their profits at the expense of people's lives, health experts say.

You don't say! No slippery slope there, then...

Monday, 11 February 2013

E-Cigarettes and the Evil BMA

I don't write about e-cigarettes very often for a variety of reasons, primarily because others (such as Carl Phillips, Dick Puddlecote, and Christopher Snowdon to name only a few) write a great deal about them. Today, though, I've decided to write about e-cigs because I believe that the British Medical Association (BMA) is outpacing ASH and other anti-smoking groups in becoming the most dangerous organisation in Britain.

Full and necessary disclosure: My personal experience with e-cigarettes was entirely negative.  In the summer of 2010, I decided to give them a go.  With the smoking ban utterly destroying my social life and an enormous tax increase on roll-your-own tobacco that hurt my wallet considerably, I was getting angrier and angrier.  E-cigarettes seemed to offer an opportunity to address both of these things. So I ordered a kit and some extras from a company that I will not name here.

To make a long story short, the quality of the e-cigarette kit and the accessories was rubbish -- one of the two supplied batteries simply died after a few weeks and the other had a marked decrease in performance a few weeks later; the company itself proved to be exceptionally rubbish as far as customer service goes;  thus my entire vaping experience was rubbish.

And while I now know a lot more about vaping and what makes for a better experience overall (thanks to those mentioned above), I am still extraordinarily reluctant to spend my money on e-cigarettes now for fear of being immensely disappointed (ripped off?) once again.  I am also extremely at odds -- nay, extremely livid at a large number of vaping companies using the same bullshit rhetoric and propaganda that the anti-smokers have used to denormalise tobacco use in order to sway potential customers.

All of that said, I recognise that a great many people have had overwhelmingly positive experiences with vaping. From what I understand, the technology and quality has improved a great deal over the last few years, with more reputable dealers selling them.  Despite my negative experience, I fully support the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping kits, particularly as means of harm reduction, but even for recreational use.  It's patently obvious that e-cigs are several orders of magnitude safer than conventional cigarettes -- vaping is quite possibly harmless. I would never stand in anyone's way and advise them not to vape, or tell them what they can and cannot do in respect of anything. So vape all you like, and enjoy.

But for me, I'm now firmly in the "try before you buy" camp when it comes to vaping, and I haven't seen any companies offering that. I'll just say that any vaping company that wants my business will have to work for it, and that company better not be spouting any anti-smoking propaganda because I will consider it my enemy if it does.

So, for all of the reasons above, I don't write about e-cigs very often. Perhaps some day that will change.

Today I saw this article on the BBC called "Electronic cigarettes - miracle or menace?" and it is possibly the most positive article about e-cigs the BBC has ever dared to print with even ASH saying people should switch to e-cigs. Yet as you can see from the title, the BBC couldn't resist a bit scaremongering courtesy of the incredibly evil Dr Vivienne Nathanson of BMA:

So are e-cigarettes safe?

"The simple answer is we don't know," says Dr Vivienne Nathanson from the British Medical Association (BMA).

"It's going to take some time before we do know because we need to see them in use and study very carefully what the effects of e-cigarettes are."

The BMA is just one of the bodies to respond to a consultation on e-cigarettes by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. The agency is deciding whether the e-cigarettes should be licensed as a medicine and more tightly regulated. The BMA thinks they should.

"I would either take them off the shelves or I would very heavily regulate them so that we know the contents of each e-cigarette were very fixed," says Dr Nathanson.

See, it's that last bit that is enormously worrying.  "I would either take them off the shelves or I would very heavily regulate them [...]."   She is basically saying, "I don't know squat about e-cigs, so they must be banned!"  But that's not the only reason, and dare I suggest that it is not the primary reason for her opinion?  Being the anti-smoker nannying tyrant she is, someone who is an ardent proponent of banning smoking in your car and homes, what really bothers her is that vaping looks like smoking.  From the BMA's web site:
"We are especially concerned that e-cigarettes might reinforce the smoking habit as they are designed to closely mimic smoking actions."

This sentiment against what "looks like smoking" so it should be banned is repeated by the BMA's Richard Jarvis, who said about e-cigarettes:
"These devices directly undermine the effects and intentions of existing legislation including the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces." 
Now wait a second.  Wasn't the public smoking ban sold as a measure to protect workers from second-hand smoke?  Why, yes, it was presented as such, but we know now that it was really about denormalising smoking by forcing smokers to stand outside and make us third-class citizens. The smoking ban had nothing to do with workers' health.

But if you really want to be wowed by how dangerous the BMA's stance on e-cigs is, then you need look no further than their updated briefing "BMA calls for stronger regulation of e-cigarettes" (PDF 112kb). Here is a small excerpt from the section titled E-cigarettes in workplaces and enclosed public places:
Stronger controls are needed on where e-cigarettes can be used in order to:

• protect others from being exposed to e-cigarette vapours. While the concentrations of the constituents of these vapours (propylene glycol, glycerine, flavouring substances, and nicotine) are lower than with smoked cigarettes, 'passive vaping' has been found to occur with the use of e-cigarettes.

• ensure their use does not undermine existing restrictions on smokefree public places and workplaces, by leading people to believe it is acceptable to smoke. Of particular concern to BMA members is their use by patients, visitors and staff in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Exposure to nicotine from e-cigarettes (either directly through their use by an individual or indirectly from the vapours they produce) may adversely impact on patients, such as those with heart or circulatory conditions, and their use may also become a source of conflict between staff and patients. Similar concerns exist in other settings, such as the use of e-cigarettes on airplanes.

• ensure their use does not undermine the success of conventional tobacco control measures by reinforcing the normalcy of smoking behaviour in a way that other nicotine containing products do not. This specifically relates to the way these devices commonly resemble tobacco cigarettes, in terms of appearance, nomenclature and the way they are used, as well as features such as flavouring and styling that are potentially highly attractive to children, and may include cigarette brand reinforcement.
The BMA worries about passive vaping and exposure to nicotine (and "The Children!" of course), but mainly they don't want anyone to think that smoking is normal, which it certainly is normal for over 20% of Britons. Still, does the BMA truly believe that trace exposure to nicotine is harmful?  If they do then that's absurd!  And if they truly believe that, then how can they in good conscience encourage the use of Big Pharma's nicotine inhalers?  Surely, those too must pose a risk! Yes?  I must point out that even chief chump of the board of ASH, John Britton (who should resign for being grossly negligent, by the way), says nicotine is not hazardous:
"Nicotine itself is not a particularly hazardous drug," says Professor John Britton, who leads the tobacco advisory group for the Royal College of Physicians.  "It's something on a par with the effects you get from caffeine. If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e-cigarettes we would save 5 million deaths in people who are alive today. It's a massive potential public health prize."

Yet the BMA insists in their briefing that doctors should only prescribe Big Pharma NRT such as gums, inhalers and patches, all of which have hugely crap efficacy rates in helping smokers quit, and to have doctors discourage smokers from using e-cigs unless the patient really wants to use e-cigs, then and only then admit there is a lower risk for e-cigs than tobacco cigarettes:
Advice for health professionals
In light of the lack of scientific evidence about the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes, coupled with the absence of a robust regulatory framework in the UK, health professionals should encourage their patients to use a regulated and licensed nicotine replacement therapy to help quit smoking. Where a patient is unable or unwilling to use or continue to use an approved and tested nicotine replacement therapy, health professionals may advise patients that while e-cigarettes are unregulated and their safety cannot be assured, they are likely to be a lower risk option than continuing to smoke.
This is enormously dangerous behaviour and advice by the BMA.  They are saying that since e-cigs are not Big Pharma licensed products, and since we didn't do any studies on them, then e-cigs should not be used -- they should banned and taken off the shelves. By this logic, we should all give up coffee and tea too, because Big Pharma doesn't have any licensed caffeine-replacement therapy products on the market.  Perhaps we should also give up breathing air unless Big Pharma has licensed it and supplied it to us via our health care professionals. The BMA needs to seriously reconsider its stance on e-cigs and vaping immediately.

But really, it's a cover. I doubt they really believe what they've said about the dangers of vaping. What the BMA hates about e-cigs the most is that it looks like smoking. Anything that mimics smoking behaviour must go. These Big Pharma puppets at the BMA are insane. I suspect they'll change their tune once they manage to regulate and monopolise the "clean nicotine" market, which is what ASH is currently attempting to do by embracing e-cigs. But until the BMA does retract their views on e-cigs, I'm going to say that they're evil and dangerous.

The Incredibly Evil Dr Vivienne Nathanson
"We are especially concerned that e-cigarettes might reinforce the smoking habit as they are designed to closely mimic smoking actions"

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Culture of Shame

It never ceases to amaze me just how shitty people can be to others about things that are none of their business. But as we all know, the "business of denormalisation" (and it is very much a business) is all about sticking your nose where it doesn't belong and being as shitty as you can to smokers.

If you already dropped by Dick Puddlecote's today and clicked the link "Pregnant women who smoke are easy targets for the morality police," then perhaps you know what topic I'm going to cover.  A pregnant woman smoked -- not just any pregnant woman, but Australian TV and radio personality, Chrissie Swan. What's missing from that opinion piece that DP linked to is the other side of Swan's story.  It's a story about shame and fear, the product of a decade or more of denormalisation and intolerance. It is, essentially, a modern-day witch hunt.

Here's the story in brief:  A paparazzi photographer snapped photos of pregnant Chrissie Swan smoking a cigarette.  Swan tried to buy the photos to prevent them from being published.  Woman's Day magazine reportedly outbid her for the rights to the photos, purchasing them for $55,000 -- Swan had bid $53,000.  Why did Swan do this?  The children.
Chrissie Swan says she was trying to "protect" her children when she offered $53,000 to buy damning photos showing her smoking. Swan's manager David Wilson issued a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming he "bid aggressively for the photographs" however ultimately "had to withdraw".

"We always understood the story itself would become public, that was a given. Our motivation to buy the pictures was to try and protect Chrissie’s children from ever having to see a photo of their mother smoking. Chrissie has never smoked in front of her children or in her home."
Think about all of this for just a moment. Think about the absurdity of it, at every level. This smoking "scandal" even merited an entry on Swan's Wikipedia page.

While I have no doubt that Swan felt ashamed -- indeed shaming smokers is what denormalisation is all about -- I don't buy the "protect the children" excuse, certainly not as her sole motivation for trying to keep the photos from being published.  I believe this goes much deeper than wanting to prevent her children (one is five, the other is a year-old) from seeing that she smoked a cigarette.  This is partly about how society views and treats women, particularly pregnant women. This is partly about Swan's celebrity and that she works in the media, an industry that thrives on scandal and tearing down celebrities, and I suspect she and her manager were very worried about her reputation and career, as well as her image as a parent ... a mother. And this mostly about the hate and contempt against anyone who smokes because they failed to conform to the tenets of Public Health's religion, something that Swan is evidently well aware of (emphases added):

"Well, two days ago a photographer followed me in my car after work and took a photo of me having that sneaky cigarette - it was my first for the week. I begged for the photographers not to run the story because I know how bad it looks - it is bad - and I told them it was a deeply shameful secret, that no one knew I was having these five cigarettes a week. Not my mum, not my best friend, not my partner...because it’s so the secret that is the most shameful - is the hardest to ask for help about."

Holding back the tears, Swan did not hold back on her shame, saying: ‘‘Here’s the truth. Obviously I know it's wrong I’m not an idiot, no smoker wants to smoke - especially when they are pregnant - but it is clearly an addiction and a very serious one - because it can cloud your judgment and make the unthinkable somehow okay.

‘‘As a listener to this show, you know I’m devoted to my children. I would never do anything to harm them and yet, here I am having five cigarettes and justifying it. It’s madness, I cannot explain it.

‘‘I knew it was wrong that there is so much terrible judgment that only awful people and bad parents and idiots and bogans smoke during pregnancy - and I didn’t feel like I belonged in any of those categories - so I kept it all under wraps and dealt with it how I could."

Those are her words.  "I know how bad it looks - it is bad," and "Obviously I know it's wrong," and "only awful people and bad parents smoke during pregnancy" and "It's madness."

And that's what the New Inquisition has created. A culture of shame.

Some of you might think that I have some sympathy for Chrissie Swan. You would be wrong.  Because there is more to this story, and this is not the first time that Swan has been accused of being a bad parent.  You see, Swan is also a large lady (size 22) and last year she was attacked both for her size and for her chubby children. But she didn't stand for it, and she came out swinging and defended herself. For instance, have a look at this article titled "Chrissie Swan: I'm not ashamed of my size":
Yet now, after almost 30 years, Chrissie says she has come to terms with her size and is happy.

It may have caused her unhappiness in the past, but she has never let it hold her back or define her as a person.

"To me, it was always just weight," she says. "It's quite popular now, television shows like The Biggest Loser and all that stuff. They weep and say how ashamed they are and they are terrible people [for being overweight]. Why can't it just be kilos?

"It's shaming fat people into thinking their heart's about to explode, their legs are about to be cut off due to diabetes. They'll never conceive a child, they'll never get married, they'll never find love, they'll never get the job they want."


"We can't say fat people are bad, we can't have them crawl through mud pits on national television and have skinny people yelling at them, saying, 'How does it feel?' Because kids see that and they go, 'Okay, it's cool to scream abuse and belittle a fat person. I'll do that next time I see Billy in the playground.'"
That's interesting. She's not ashamed of being fat, despite that Public Health is also demonising chubby folk. She'll fight against the bigotry there. Indeed, in another article about Swan being attacked, the author wrote: "Her message is a simple one: I shouldn’t have to apologise for who I am, and how much I weigh."  So it occurs to me that Swan could have just as easily defended her five-per-week cigarette habit. She shouldn't have to apologise for being a smoker, either.  But she didn't defend herself. Instead she tried to hide her "shameful" habit by attempting to buy the photos of her smoking in her car. And while I accept that Swan's situation is complex (being a pregnant woman and a celeb and having to worry about her public image), I have to say that her failure to stand up for herself in this instance bothers me. Breaking down and crying on television because she got caught sneaking a crafty fag doesn't impress. And I despise her for pulling out the "protect the children" card out of the deck as an excuse for her actions. This is why I have no sympathy for her. She should have told everyone to fuck off and mind their own business as she did when they attacked her for being fat.

But I do understand why Swan did it, and why she feels the way she does. It is because of all of the anti-smoking propaganda and sentiment that has built up over the last 40 to 50 years as part of the New Inquisition's crusade, but most recently ramped up to epic proportions in Australia.  We are told that we are bad people for smoking. We are told that we are helpless addicts.  We are told that we are baby killers and the cause of every possible disease or ailment that children and adults might get. We are told that we stink. We are told that we do not belong in society unless we quit smoking, and if we do not then we are forced to stand outside, separated from our friends and family.

Every day we are relentlessly assaulted with anti-smoking rhetoric and propaganda, all designed to stigmatise and ostracise smokers, to make us hate ourselves and to shame us into quitting.  So it is any wonder why so many smokers feel exactly like Chrissie Swan? Well how about instead of being ashamed we fight back and tell these Public Health fuckpuppets and our oppressive governments to go to hell?  What we do is our business. Nobody else's. Indeed, have a look at the end of the "morality police" article at the poll:

That is somewhat encouraging.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Making It Easy For You

In a blog post last November, I suggested that you should write to your MPs with your views on plain packaging. I have no idea how many have done so or even if any of you did.  I do know and understand that a great many of us are utterly disenfranchised from the ruling class in government that we feel it would be a waste of time and effort to contact our MPs, who increasingly seem to be representing their own self-interests.  But as I said before, we continually lose our freedoms because we don't bother to fight for them. Far too many of us expect other people to do the fighting.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that a letter-writing campaign alone will result in a favourable outcome with a majority of MPs opposing plain packaging, because it won't. We all know that.  We all know how politics work, and we all know that the Public Health community are masters of deception and propaganda and that MPs are easily deceived and influenced by the "protect the children" argument as a matter of political survival. We also know that the government and the Department of Health do not have an "open mind" about plain packaging due to the WHO's FCTC, which forces governments to oppress a significant portion of their populations and to destroy cultures and traditions. Call me a cynic (or perhaps a realist), but I believe that the public's wishes will be ignored and the government will proceed on its present course of denormalisation regardless.

But all of that said, I believe it is still worth it to make our opinions known to our elected ministers at the very least.  It certainly won't hurt anything; it might even help (I'm a cynical optimist at heart, you see). And to paraphrase that classic, overused Public Health argument: "If it convinces just one MP to oppose plain packaging, then it's worth it."

I know many of you do not have a lot of free time. So the Hands Off Our Packs campaign has made it easy for you to register your dissent against the nannying tyrants with your local MP.   Just follow this link, type in your postcode, and it will generate a letter for you.  Put in your name and address and you're done in no time at all. There is even an option to add personal comments, which I would recommend doing.  Please share the link with your friends and family.

If you have a web site or a blog, here are some images you can use for your sidebar if you'd like:

Link to image:

Link to image:

So I guess we'll see what happens.  Do feel free to let me know if your MP indicates that he or she will or will not support plain packaging.  They can ignore us at their peril come next general election.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The Criminal Scum Who Supports Plain Packs

Whilst we are all not reeling from the not-at-all-shocking revelation that Chris Huhne is a lying, cheating, criminal scumbag, I feel it's worth reminding you that Huhne was also an ardent supporter of plain packs.

Lynne Denham posing with Eastleigh's disgraced ex-MP and criminal scum, Chris Huhne.
I'd bet Denham is very proud.
Naturally, Huhne's web site has been taken down, but for the time being, Google's cache of his site will let you see what he said:
"I wholeheartedly support The answer is plain campaign and I’ll be taking up this vitally important issue with the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley MP."
Despite yesterday's resignation, Huhne's photo and comments will remain on my Sheep Minions page forever. Of course, Huhne is exactly the type of person that CRUK would gladly use to further their deceitful hate campaign against smokers, so can we expect that CRUK will offer him a job?

Anyway, my Sheep Minions page lists all MPs who have come out in support of plain packaging, but it is in dire need of an update, which I will be doing over the next few days.

For an incomplete list of MPs who oppose plain packaging, you might wish to see this page, also in need of an update.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Hey, Sheila! Here's the Evidence!

The next time that Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland opens her gob to claim that there is no evidence that the smoking ban in Scotland has had any effect on pub closures, do remember to point her to this article in the Edinburgh Evening News (via
Pub closure blamed on rising prices and smoking ban
The once-thriving social hub has fallen victim to the recession with a dwindling customer base being blamed on rising brewery prices and the smoking ban.
“I think the nail in the coffin for us has been the smoking ban. It’s ok if you’re a place downtown with a fancy smoking shelter but we can’t have that here.”
“The traditional pubs in particular have never really recovered after the smoking ban. Almost 80 per cent of their three to five days a week drinkers would smoke.

“When they told us the pub would be full of non-smokers it was nonsense then and it still is.”

I think that's pretty clear evidence, coming directly from the pub's owner and its customers.  Yes, the duty escalator has increased the cost of a pint, but losing 80% of your customers to the smoking ban is the real culprit here. Not that Sheila Duffy would admit it.  Back in 2010, Duffy said:
[T]here was no evidence that the smoking ban was responsible for an increase in the closure of pubs in Scotland, but said there was plenty of evidence that Scotland was a healthier nation for having introduced smoke-free public places.
There is of course plenty of evidence that the smoking ban has destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of pub owners (as well as restaurateurs) and the social lives of millions throughout Britain.  It's affected my life greatly. I used to go out at least once per week, often up to three times in a week.  Now, since the smoking ban in England, I go out only a few times per year.  Because, yes, I'd rather stay home where I can smoke than to be forced to stand outside in shite weather. 

The cost of a pint is not really an issue for me.  I truly don't mind spending a little extra in order to socialise with mates in a pub or a restaurant.  If British pubs simply disregarded the smoking ban during opening hours, like businesses do in so many other European countries, then spending a few extra pence for a beer in the name of freedom and liberty for adults would be more than worth it.

Of course I know it's really not as a simple as that for pub owners.  There's the anti-smoking Nazi enforcers to contend with, all of them part of the New Inquisition. It matters not at all if you are smoker -- they'll target anyone who fails to conform.  So we would need a workable plan to deal with those enforcers, which ultimately means simultaneously dealing with our governments, both local and national.  I like the idea of Frank Davis's army.  I don't think we need 10 million.  A few hundred-thousand will do fine, but even just 10,000 could make a real difference initially.  But that's a tale for another day...

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland
Will someone please tell this woman to shut the fuck up?

H/T: J Johnson

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Goodbye to the Evil Queen of Plain Packs

Lately I've been avoiding Twitter much in the same way that public health advocates avoid being honest or facing the truth about the harm their policies cause.  I know Twitter exists; I simply choose to ignore it.  When I have used Twitter this past month, it has been only for the amount of time it takes me to post up a link to this blog.  I haven't been reading anyone's tweets -- I just post up my blog link and then shut it down.  Yesterday, however, I figured I'd catch up a bit on what people were tweeting, and that's when I saw Alex Deane's semi-ambiguous tweet that read:
UK followers, please forgive a tweet that won't mean anything to you. *ahem* Nicola Roxon BYEEE BYEEEEE *ahem* that is all.
In this case, Alex was wrong to assume this wouldn't mean anything to UK folk.  I am very much aware of the evil queen of plain packs, Nicola Roxon.  And I suspect that most or perhaps all of my regular readers in the UK are aware of Nanny State Nicci, too.  She is, in my opinion, a despicable human being. With the obvious exception of those crusading in public health (also despicable people, mostly) who adore Roxon, you do not have to search the Internet for very long to discover that a great number of Australians truly dislike most everything about her for countless reasons.

But anyway, Alex's tweet left me wanting to find out what happened to Roxon. I grinned, wickedly, as my mind raced with all sorts of horrific possibilities and scenarios in that all-too-brief moment before I searched on Google for an answer. Did she get hit by a bus? Caught in a raging flood and swept away into oblivion?  Perhaps struck by a small meteor?  Alas, Google disappointingly confirmed that none of these things had happened. It turned out that the Australian news sites were reporting on rumours that Roxon was going to resign from her Attorney General role and ultimately from politics at some point later in the day. 

Roxon's resignation did happen.  She cites wanting to spend more time with her family as her reason. Personally, I don't buy it.  When politicians suddenly resign and say they are doing so in order to spend more time with family, it's almost always a cover story designed to hide something most unsavoury, some kind of political scandal. "Resign now and we won't leak the story to the press" blackmail kind of thing. There's no evidence of a scandal involving Roxon, I admit. But I do wonder... it is possible. Or could it be Roxon knows that there is little chance of Julia Gillard's evil, misandrous, nannying government obtaining a majority at the next general election? Get out now while you still can.

Whatever the real reason is for her departure, Australia will be much better off without the likes of Nanny State Nicci bullying them into submission at every opportunity.  Oz still has to contend with Roxon's ideological clone Tanya Plibersek, the other third of Gillard's now-shattered triumvirate in power. For the time being anyway.

It's obvious that I am no fan of Roxon. I believe she epitomises almost everything that is wrong with our increasingly risk-averse society.  I certainly don't like anyone* who teaches any child to say "front bottom" instead of the word vagina, as evidenced by this Q&A in July of last year:
TONY JONES: But what is it about the word "vagina" that people find offensive?

NICOLA ROXON: I don’t know. I do admit, because I have a seven-year-old, that "front bottom" is slightly more popular in our house.
She goes on to explain that she believes children should be taught the correct terms for their genitalia, but "not at a ridiculously young age."  What is a ridiculously young age in her view? I don't know, but considering the trend towards the infantilisation of adults in Australia (and elsewhere), I'd have to guess any age under 35-years-old is probably considered ridiculously young to Roxon.  This idea that we need to hide everything from children is misguided. The right age to tell children the correct names for their genitalia is the very first time they ask about it, and maybe a bit sooner depending on circumstances. Boys have penises, and girls have vaginas (cue clip from the film Kindergarten Cop). It really is that simple. There is no reason to hide it from children. There is nothing offensive about these words.

Roxon's arguably dubious parenting skills aside, it was her zealous crusade against smokers and for plain packaging of tobacco products as Health Minister that will be her everlasting legacy.  She is a True Believer, a zealot of the worst kind, a grand inquisitor of the New Inquisition against smokers (and drinkers).  I sometimes wonder what makes the prohibitionists tick, why they aggressively lobby and campaign for policies of the denormalisation of smokers under the guise of protecting the public's health. Increasingly, I find it's one of two things: Somebody in their family died from cancer, or they are devout religious extremists incapable of tolerating those who do not believe as they do. In Nanny State Nicci's case (as it is with many of the nannying tyrants I've blogged about), it's the former -- her father died from cancer.  This alone does not explain why some people feel obligated to control other people's lives through excessive and harmful legislation, but a death in the family most often seems to be their initial motivation towards activism.

So, let's cheerily wave a two-fingered goodbye to Roxon, the evil queen of plain packs. One does wonder, though, what will she do next? Is her reign of terror truly coming to end? What sort of organisation outside of government would welcome her with open arms and embrace her intolerance?  Perhaps the answer to those questions is best left to the Root of All Evil's pal, the aptly-surnamed Dr Rimmer, who tweeted:

Me thinks he's on to something there.

*(If you believe that calling a vagina a "front bottom" is acceptable, if you use this term yourself or teach your children to use it or some other stupid euphemism for their genitalia like "hoo-hah," please kill yourself. You are everything that is wrong with the world we live in.)

Friday, 1 February 2013

That Old Intellectual Bubble Chestnut

A few nights ago I watched an episode of Stephen Sackur's HARDtalk on BBC News.  The programme concerned some twat named Mark Lynas, who once was an anti-GM food activist but changed his mind some years later after he converted to the global warming religion.  There is a three-minute hilarious and informative clip on the BBC's HARDtalk page, a small part of which I will cover below. Fortunately, somebody captured the entire programme and uploaded it to YouTube in two parts, so I've embedded those videos at the end of this post.  It really is worth watching the entire programme, but if you are pressed for time then please watch the first five minutes.

The reason I write about this particular programme is because it illustrates perfectly that the fanatics of any cause are intellectually lazy and ultimately dishonest.  They don't do research. If somebody merely tells them something is bad, they believe it wholesale and subsequently rally around this false propaganda and cause great damage to industries and organisations without a single shred of evidence. While I watched the programme the other night, I couldn't help but draw numerous parallels to the anti-smoker nutjobs working for the Department of Health or any anti-smoking NGO out there. I have no doubt that they operate the same way.

Here is an illuminating exchange between Sackur and Lynas at the 2:45 mark in the first video, in which Lynas describes how he came to believe that genetically-modified foods were dangerous:
Sackur:  Yes, but you can't have seen it that way just because other people have told you it was so. You must have done some research.

Lynas: (laughs) Believe me, I didn't. Nor did anyone else, to my knowledge.  I mean, you gotta understand how this works.  When you are a campaigner or an activist, you spend a lot of time with other activists, and you live kind of within a sort of intellectual bubble. And I have written already -- and this on the record -- that I hadn't read a single peer-reviewed scientific paper about biotech or biology or plant science in general until at least five or six years after we started doing this campaigning. So my information came from Greenpeace and the green NGOs.

There you have it in a nutshell.  Activism and campaigning come first. In other words: "something must be done!" Evidence does not matter.  The only thing that matters is who has the better propaganda, or in the case of Lynas and so many other activists out there, whose propaganda best suits your ideology.  It is perfectly acceptable to these people to destroy industries and livelihoods based on nothing more than hearsay.

But it's that "intellectual bubble" bit that I'd like to point out, because it rings true for not just the green and global warming movements, but for any cause. 

For instance, the anti-smoking lobby is an incestuous, closed shop.  Any person or group not in their little clique is disregarded and/or labelled as a stooge for Big Tobacco. Any opinion that dissents from the gospel of their religious convictions is labelled as heresy, perhaps paid for by Big Tobacco.  Their peer-review process is likely nothing more than ensuring that a paper conforms to the tenets of their denormalisation programme, that the funding for their so-called research came from "approved sources" (see this tweet from the Root of All Evil, for example) and perhaps a basic spelling and grammar check.  Indeed, if the queen of junk science, Anna Gilmore, ever had to go through a proper and rigorous evaluation of the methodology used in any of her papers, it's doubtful that anything she has done in respect of tobacco control would be published. Yes, in many cases the peer-review system really is that bad, particularly within tobacco control, but fortunately for Gilmore she's also the European editor for the tobacco control journal that often publishes her inventions.

Anti-smokers live in their own little [un]intellectual bubble.  Their sole goal is the destruction of the tobacco industry, by any and every means, including distorting facts and evidence to suit their agenda. But the truth is that most of the people who support the New Inquisition (including the media and its health correspondents) have never read any of the studies produced. Instead they tirelessly cite propaganda from carefully-worded press releases and sound bites designed to produce an emotive response, which is a far cry from an intellectual, objective and reasoned viewpoint.  These people then rally in support of their cause based on nothing more than propaganda and in turn lobby government ministers, who also never have read a single study but instead rely on these "learned experts" who work for anti-smoking NGOs and the government's own anti-smoker groups like ASH, FRESH, Smokefree South West and of course the Department of Health's tobacco programme group. There is nothing intellectual about any of these people. It's only a bubble of misinformation and propaganda designed to further their agenda of hatred against tobacco companies and smokers.

Anyway, you know all of this already.  I feel like I'm preaching to the choir.  So back to the HARDtalk programme then, which confirmed my belief that far too many activists for any cause are generally misinformed halfwits hell bent on destroying industries without a shred of  real evidence to support their opinions.  Again, just watch the first five minutes of it if you're short on time.

If the above videos stop working, please let me know in the comments.  Ta!