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The state is mother…

I’ve often wondered who our bodies really belong to. I mean, if you as an adult don’t get to decide its fate and what gets put into it or on it because the state has made the decision for you do you really own your body? Or, if it can set limits on what you may do with it beyond using it to inflict harm or loss on someone else, does the state have ultimate ownership? I’ve long lent towards the latter, and that states can often be fairly inconsistent about it – e.g. this drug is banned while that drug is legal, though quite possibly increasingly frowned upon, and women may earn as much money as they like with their arms or brains but nothing at all with their vaginas – doesn’t do much to change my opinion.

I’ve also wondered who are children belong to as well. Of course children begin being less ours with each day of their development and eventually will belong to themselves – or I ought to say they should belong to themselves because in practice the state will step in and exert ownership over them just as it does us, and I think in all likelihood to an even greater degree – so the question of whether our children are ours is more in the sense of a responsibility than a possession. But it’s still a question I ask every time the state steps in and takes a little bit of that responsibility away from parents and insists that children be raised its way. I began asking when one of the mother’s-milk-is-best brealots suggested, apparently in all seriousness, that formula milk should be banned, and I ask again because of a recent article from the UK and another from here in Oz (pics can be clicked for links).

The warning, from academics involved in an EC-funded project to make nurseries healthier, comes amid growing fears that too many children are overweight or obese when they start school.

EC? Is there still such a thing? I thought it was EU now. Or does it stand for something else?

The “ToyBox” survey found that obesity among European pre-schoolers is at record levels.
Nearly 40 per cent of pre-school girls in Spain are now classified as overweight or obese, it found.
In Britain, more than a fifth are overweight or obese by the time they start school, according to official figures.

And that may be so, though I do wonder if kids’ actual weight hasn’t changed that much and the definition of obese has changed. Not beyond the realms of possibility that the goalposts may have been widened, is it, if only because someone in power believes the fat kids don’t fit between them anymore? Still, I’m prepared to believe that pre-schoolers are, on the whole, a bit heavier at that age than my or my parents’ generations, and I wouldn’t be all that thrilled if I had a child at a pricey kinder (is there another kind?) and found out they were being parked in front of the idiot’s lantern all day.

Yannis Manios, assistant professor at Harokopio University, Athens, who is co-ordinating the project, said: “We need a new approach to prevent obesity.
“We found that many countries are lacking clear guidelines on healthy eating and active play.”

And if that ‘many countries’ bit bothers you a little it probably should, because the EC mystery is cleared up at the end of the article.

The brief of the project, which has a £2.4 million grant from the European Commission, is to “develop and test an innovative and evidence-based obesity prevention programme for children aged four to six years”.

Reagan was wrong. The most frightening sentence in the English language is not “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” It’s actually “I’ve been sent by the European Commission and I’m here to see that you are helped” and is usually translated into half a dozen languages. Anyway, back to Yannis Manios.

“… television watching in kindergartens should be replaced by more active, non-competitive, fun activities which will promote the participation of the whole class and help children to achieve optimal growth, health and well-being.”

Oh, how right-on can we get? Active and non-competitive? Participation of all? Optimal growth? Firstly, although I don’t have kids I’ve been one, remember what it was like, and have met various others (sometimes with considerable reluctance from me and apologetic whisperings of “He’s really not like this usually” from the parents). And the names of all the totally non-competitive kids I recall encountering could be written on the back of my ear. The rest just sounds like a mixture of the usual prizes-for-all that’s been going on for a good couple or three decades and the worrying Strength Through Joy stuff that’s been coming along lately.

“Parents should also remember that their role is not only to provide healthy food and drink options but to act as a role model themselves, since kids are copying their behaviours.”

And again, I’m not disagreeing as such but I do wonder why there’s this thought that this finger wagging and TV banning is necessary. Why, for instance, can’t there be a simple informative message that if your kid ends up being a fat fuck like you then you might have something to do with it, but if the kid’s not actually spherical and gasping for breath then just let things be? Why the desire to go running round all the kinders ripping their TVs out? And why are governments, remembering that the European Commission is a government too, so keen? Bearing in mind that they’re no more capable of feeling a parent’s love for a child than they are of procreating themselves (if anything the reverse; states are keener on making fewer states by absorbing other states and are highly reluctant to split themselves up so as to create more states) am I cynical to suspect that their concern is for their future tax base? They can crunch the numbers, they know that their predecessors promised too much and that they will eventually be unable to meet the bills. The thing they need most is able bodied workers to tax, and that pool is shrinking as it is. The problem is insoluble but it’s a can that can be kicked down the road a bit first, hopefully for someone else to deal with later on, and so the last thing they’d want is anyone contributing less than all the tax they can. A generation of fat kids might mean being having to pick that can up instead of being able to kick it one more time.

And if there’s anything in that at all then it’s only natural that it would extend from pre-school to pre-natal…

… though doubtless it’s also a chance for a bit of smoker-bashing, the last acceptable form of discrimination now that we can’t even take the piss out of gingers rangas the titian haired.

Pregnant women could be breath tested to see if they smoke so that health professionals can help them quit, a leading anti-tobacco crusader says.

Some readers will have already guessed who.

Director of Quit Victoria Fiona Sharkie said although pregnancy prompted many women to quit, research also suggested some chose not to discuss smoking with midwives and doctors because they felt guilty about continuing.

Orly, Fi? You don’t think it’s because they’re expecting to get given a lot of earache about it and would prefer to avoid that if possible? For Christ’s sake, if they felt guilty about it they’d be asking for help to quit, or more likely (I believe) quitting successfully on their own. No, of course not – all smokers must want to quit, especially if they are expecting a new taxpayer. Nobody ever carries on smoking simply because they enjoy it. Nobody ever weighs the risks and decides that the pleasure they get is greater. And no woman ever smokes for a few weeks without even realising that she’s pregnant. No, if you girls smoke then you light up as soon as you’ve finished the big O and don’t have another ciggie until a test stick’s given you the all clear, isn’t that right?

And it had damn well better, eh?

This is the view of the anti-smoking lobby and therefore it must be the correct one, and since some women who are guilty of, and therefore feeling guilty about, smoking are inexplicably reticent to admit it all must be breath tested to identify those who must be shamed need help. And sod the feelings of all those expectant mothers who go to their GP having either never smoked, given up ages ago or even given up the instant they found out.

Bollocks.

And it was at this point that I was about to concede a point to Pat Nurse, who regularly accuses Australia of nazism when it comes to tobacco, that maybe there’s something a little bit nazi-ish about this. I say ‘about to’ because of where Sharkie appears to have got this idea from.

For this reason, she said Australian health authorities could follow the UK and use breath tests for carbon monoxide so that all women are tested and prompted to discuss the issue during pregnancy.

It’s roughly the same everywhere. This country is first to introduce smoking bans, that country beats the rest to introduce plain packaging legislation, the other begins breath testing pregnant women. Healthism is the new ism, and it has to be if states are to continue to be able to, well, not afford their largesse but kick their cans along the roads a little while longer. And before long healthism will join the other political isms with something similar to the two cows model, but with one important difference.

Healthism: you have two kids, the government taxes you for money to give to you for their upkeep as long as it thinks you’re keeping them healthy. Otherwise it takes them into care. The few cows that survived the BSE scare have been shot to protect them from foot and mouth instead.

The single minded habit of neo-puritans

This blog post comes with a health warning. I don’t normally go in for such things beyond simple imparting of information, and not even then if the risks are patently obvious – standing on top of the helicopter while its engines are running may risk the user being cut in half, kind of thing – but I am going to refer to an article in The Age which is possibly one of the most infuriating things I’ve ever read. If you’re the kind of person who likes to live and let live and agree with Jefferson that the problems of too much liberty are vastly preferable to the problems of insufficient liberty, then you may prefer not to read beyond this point in case what you see makes you want to go and kick the cat.

For those that read on I’ll try to defuse the anger with a good fisking, and I apologise in advance because this won’t be brief.

Click for linky

And that’s just the opener. Here’s how Michael Jarosky, the author, begins the article.

I’m tired of obesity. I’m tired of the whinging and excuses. I’m tired of hearing about hospitals full of self-inflicted illnesses.

Somehow I don’t think he means people who’ve strained muscles at the gym or broken bones coming off their bikes and boards or spent so many long hours jogging in the sun that they’ve come down with wrecked knees and skin cancer. Well, if it’s a self inflicted illness when you get it (supposedly) from sun beds then surely it’s still self inflicted from pounding pavements under the Aussie sun. In any case it doesn’t matter because it’s not that kind of self inflicted illness we’re going to be talking spoken to about. It’s self inflicted illnesses from doing enjoyable things.

Yes, people who like riding bikes and surfing and indulging in all kinds of outdoor strenuous adrenality (my made up word for the day) are also doing things they find enjoyable, but that’s different.

Look, don’t ask bloody awkward questions. It just is, okay?

And it isn’t only the overweight that get me ranting and raving. I’m also tired of hearing about skinny model wannabe’s surviving on ciggies, energy drinks, and vodka-soda-fresh limes.

Fair enough, but nobody’s making him listen, are they? Yeah, okay, hearing [whiny voice] “Oh, I can’t give up smoking” or “I just can’t lose weight” [/whiny voice] from someone who’s not really trying to do it is a little tedious, but y’know, Jarosky, you can always leave the room. I mean, nobody’s nailed you to a chair and forced you to stay there all day and listen, right?

And while I’m asking you questions, Jarosky, let me ask you this: have you ever considered that perhaps deep down many of these people don’t want to give up smoking or lose weight. That maybe they enjoy smoking or eating bowls of chips in front of the TV or whatever, and that the only reason they’re even talking about how hard they find it to change is because of the vast number of self-righteous pricks in the world who are constantly trying to make the poor bastards feel guilty about it. Yes, of course many of them, perhaps most of them, are just making excuses, but are they doing so because you’ll give them a hard time for being honest enough to say that they just like the cigs or the grog or the food or whatever it is you don’t approve of? I ask because I can’t help but feel that if they weren’t being virtually judged – or with shows like The Biggest Loser, even literally judged – they wouldn’t feel the need to make excuses.

It is the dumb choices of unhealthy people that make me angry, and here are the eight that annoy me the most:

1. You say: “I’ll have a Diet Cola with that” as you order your lunch at the drive thru, thinking that gets you off the hook in the calorie stakes.

The addiction to junk food is one thing – but if you think adding diet cola will make a difference you’re kidding yourself.

Now I have to say that I can see his point with some of these. Ordering a diet coke and thinking it’ll magically make you into the shape you wish to be, or even the shape the the world’s Michael Jaroskys wish everyone to be, is stupid. But again, how many of these people are doing so more in the hope of a brief pause in the nagging or to assuage some of the guilt that’s continually heaped upon them for not being the mandated state approved shape than in the hope it’ll actually take a few pounds off for them? More than a few, I reckon.

And addiction to junk food? Christ, Mike, over egg that fucking pudding, eh (and pudding is bad for you, of course). Why is it so impossible to believe that often people eat what they do and smoke and drink because they like it? They. Just. Like. It. If doing something you like is all that qualifies as an addiction these days then nannying must itself be an addiction judging by the number of people who love telling others how to live. Go deal with your own addictions first, buddy.

2. You say things like: “But I hate broccoli”. Guess what? So do I. But I eat broccoli and other fresh veggies because they contain nutrients my body needs.

Oh, get down off your cross. Just because you force yourself to eat something you don’t like that means everyone else has to do the same? Here you are talking about other people whinging and it sounds like you haven’t even listened to yourself. Oh, woe is poor Michael, he has to eat broccoli and he doesn’t really like it. Look, I’ll have your broccoli if you don’t want it, as long as it shuts you up. Though somehow I doubt it would.

3. You turn into a robot. You’ve got your new tablet, computer, video games, and smartphone strapped to your belt like some kind of techno-sheriff. You’re obsessed with stuff, but you’ve let your body and your health go.

And how’s that hurting you? Their bodies, their choice. If they were forcing you to live as they do and sit in front of a computer all day with an iEverything and it made you miserable and fat I’d be 100% on your side here, but as far as I can see the situation is more or less the other way round and you’re the one demanding that others live your way (not that we can say there’s anything at all robotic about meekly hitting the gyms and eating correctly as we’re all so frequently exhorted to do these days, can we?).

Well, I don’t see any reason why they should. Fuck off.

Real value lies within a healthy body.

To you, perhaps, and I certainly wouldn’t say that that’s valueless. But surely there’s real value in a life lived with maximum enjoyment. If the enjoyment you get from your healthy body is greater than that lost from foregoing unhealthy things then good for you, but how dare you assume that that’s the only correct perspective. If someone else gets their enjoyment in life from burgers, scotch and cigarettes their choice is every bit as valid as that of any gym junkie, and arguably more so when so very few of them are ever found trying to persuade the gym junkies to give it all up and have a big plate of chips. Maybe they’ll change their mind and regret it in the future, maybe not. Either way, again it’s their body and their choice, nobody else’s.

4. You have an energy drink for breakfast.

Really?

How many people do you see walking around with a jumbo can of fizz thinking they are providing ‘energy’ for their morning?

Very approximately none. I’m sure there are some – and again that’s their choice – but personally I know of nobody who does not have either tea, coffee or fruit juice. But do go on.

These drinks are loaded with strange chemicals, sugar, and caffeine.

And then they came for the caffeine drinkers, as many of us always fucking knew they would, and which of course gets everyone drinking tea and coffee as well. Three sinners for the price of one very very mild stimulant served in titchy doses. Oh, and that well known deadly poison sugar as well. Yes, folks, switch to something nice like polonium sprinkled on your cornflakes – see how much weight you lose. Again, if people are doing this – drinking energy drinks for brekkie, I mean, not putting polonium on cereal – I have to wonder if they’re doing it just because they’ve been bullied into feeling bad about themselves and hope it’ll make it all stop for a bit.

And lets just read that sentence again.

These drinks are loaded with strange chemicals, sugar, and caffeine.

So there’s the chemophobic dog whistle of ‘chemicals’ – always chuckleworthy considering that absolutely everything you eat and even everyone you meet is made out of chemicals – followed immediately by sugar and caffeine so that they’re associated with the strange (i.e. scary) chemicals. This is an old trick: name a thing people are scared of (justifiably so or not, doesn’t matter), throw a comma down and then follow it with one or two things you want people to be scared of. The film industry makes hard core arse porn, Disney flicks and Adam Sandler movies. Every week the papers talk about people dying, football scores and crosswords. The Sound of Music is all about Nazis, nuns and singing. Those are deliberately ridiculous and exaggerated examples but even so I’d expect Adam Sandler and Disney would be a bit pissed off if that sentence made it into mainstream print because of the association. It’s clear that there is no association at all beyond the meaningless fact that it’s all still film making, but putting it that way makes it sound like there is. In the past it could have been criminals, Jews and gypsies or communists, pinkos and civil rights marchers. These days it could be terrorists, Muslims and arabs… or even strange chemicals, sugar and caffeine. Whether Jarosky is doing this deliberately or simply because he treats something as innocuous as small doses of caffeine, let alone substances like sugar that are actually required by the body, as being synonymous with ‘strange chemicals’ is something I’ll leave the reader to speculate on. Personally I’ll give the benefit of doubt and assume the latter.

5.

Oh, God, are we really only up to 5?

5. You dial 1800-Fitness. You think you’ve tried it all because you’ve ordered it from some infomercial. The low carb diets with shakes for meals. The Ab Dominators. The Shake Weight. The Detox Plans. And yet your body stays the same.

Ah, yes, the Shake Weight, a real product that I honestly believed was a joke when I first heard of it. And that was before I even saw the parody ads.


Gentlemen, did you shake your weight today? I did.

And I mention this with a serious point (Ooooh, Matron!) in mind: as with the diet Coke and the energy drinks I have to wonder how many milk shakes, fad diets, dumbbells, spring loaded pec stretchers and so on are sold to people who are perfectly happy being the shape they are apart from the fact they’re constantly being told how bad they are for being that way. In particular I find it hard to believe that they’re going to buy what looks like a wank training aid because they really want people to think they’re so weak and flabby they lack the strength to hold an average cock. No, I suspect that much of the demand is not ultimately driven by those Jarosky dismisses as whingers and excuse makers but by the people badgering the so-called whingers.

6. You let machines do all the work. The escalator is moving but you are not. You jump on the bus or in a taxi when you could walk. You drive to the store when you could jog or ride a bike.

And this is always because these people are lazy rather than just short of time? Or because it’s pissing rain? Or because it’s past dark and you’re female and on your own? Or because Christ alone knows where the architect told the builders to put the stairs but you can see four escalators, albeit with too many people on for you to jog up without rudely pushing past some of them? Am I alone in getting the feeling that on Planet Jarosky it’s only ever your fault if you’re not working up a sweat? Maybe we should all take our Shake Weights with us everywhere we go.

7. You take ciggie breaks throughout the day. If a cigarette takes eight minutes to smoke, and it takes you two minutes to get downstairs and two minutes to get back to your desk, then you are spending an hour for every five ciggies you smoke each day. That’s a big waste of time that you might have spent doing something productive.

Tobacco had to be mentioned eventually, didn’t it? I may be wrong here but this sounds like a tobacco time and motion study pulled straight from the arse of a non-smoker. Back in the day when I still partook of the weapon of mass destruction known as Benson & Hedges it took me about 5-6 minutes to smoke one, and less if it was a rollie I’d made myself (which of course I could make in advance on my own time). It didn’t take anything like two minutes to get downstairs and two more to get back to my desk because I never left it in the first place, and since I was smoking while working the effect on productivity was as close to zero as makes no odds. Even if I accept Jarosky’s numbers, and I think they’re arbitrary at best, it doesn’t alter the fact that the issue of lost productivity is entirely artificial in the first place.

At about this point baccyphobes occasionally like to talk about vague future productivity losses from those smokers who have the unspeakable temerity to die before finishing their allotted lifetime’s work, but there are two problems with that argument. First, companies don’t own their staff. Employment is exchanging one’s time for money, and since employees who permanently cease work through illness or dropping dead normally stop receiving wages the loss of productivity is irrelevant – someone else will be hired to take over the work or it’ll be split up among other employees. Secondly, as I mentioned near the beginning, this kind of argument is never brought up if Bob can’t come into work because he set his sciatica off doing leg presses in the gym last night.

Incidentally, along with all these ‘bad’ habits Jarosky identifies he also offers a solution to each. Predictably enough the one he suggests here is to join a quit smoking program or otherwise find a way to give up the – his words – ‘evil habit’. Naturally it’s not an option to return to the days of letting smokers smoke and doing what you could to amicably accommodate those who want to and those who don’t like the smell, even if that meant having a smoking room somewhere away from the main workspace (yes, they’ll be away from their desks for a bit but they’ll spend half their time talking shop anyway, which will probably be at least as productive as dragging someone, smoker or non-smoker, into some pointless time-stopping meeting, or even just leaving it up to the person who, y’know, owns the fucking building the work’s done in. No, Michael Jarosky and his fellow nannies couldn’t countenance that.

A healthy employee is a more productive employee.

And how very strength through joy of you to say so, Jarosky, even if it doesn’t consider how productive a miserable, joyless, defeated employee might be versus one who actually enjoys coming in to work.

And last but not least, Jarosky goes on to demonstrate what I’ve said here repeatedly: whatever you do it will never be enough.

8. You comfort exercise at the gym.

Seriously, Jarosky? Seriously? You’ve got these poor bastards drinking diet cola to try to glean a nanosecond’s approval from you, and it’s not enough. You’ve got them on isotonic drinks instead of the coffee they’d prefer, and you still want more. You’ve got them putting down their cigarettes and picking up their hundred dollar Mastor-bator Bicep Gainer machines, and it’s too small a sacrifice for you. And now, even at the point you’ve got them coming into the gym and, since I note from your by-line that you’re a personal trainer, paying your salary, it’s still not good enough for you. Jesus H. Christ on a fucking exercise bike, Jarosky, what will it take to please you? What do these poor sods have to become to meet your standards? Other than Michael bloody Jarosky, of course?

Bad food and low energy turns into a 30 minute stroll on the treadmill or cross trainer while you mime old Hanson videos on the screen. You think ‘something is better than nothing, right?’ Well, not when it distances yourself from your goal.

What? How does that distance someone from their goal? Do you put on weight if you get on the treadmill the wrong way round and walk backwards or something? Look, I do understand that exercise regimes are regimes and that if you rock up to the gym without any kind of plan and expect magic results simply by turning up then you’ll be disappointed, and equally that eating a huge dessert at lunchtime and working it off in the gym later isn’t going to turn anyone into Adonis. But Jarosky, has it not occurred to you that for some that isn’t the goal? That for some the goal might be no more than being able to eat a huge dessert at lunchtime and the gym sesh is as much a part of the payment as paying the extra ten bucks was after they ate it?

On the whole I think the answer to that is ‘probably not’, because Jarosky finishes his piece by talking about how we can all change our lifestyles. So that ours become more like his, presumably.

Some of these are tough solutions that will require big commitments, but I really do want Australians to change for the better.

[...]

I know it is possible to make lifestyle changes, because I’ve done it myself. How did I do it? I wrote down three bad habits that I needed to change. Then I wrote down three healthy habits I needed to commit to. And I stuck that piece of paper on my bathroom mirror and committed to turning my lifestyle around day by day.

Bully for you, Jarosky, and I don’t say that sarcastically. I mean it sincerely and honestly. If doing so has made you happier then good on you for getting rid of unhealthy habits and adopting healthier ones in their place. Really. No, really really. But I feel it’s a great shame that you didn’t identify a fourth bad habit, one that wowsers, nannies and healthists universally slip into: holding the vicarious desire, well intentioned though it may be, for other people to live according to the values, standards and, sorry to say so, the rules they set for themselves. Look, I’m a little guilty of it too – Jeez, I make no secret that I wish the world was full of minarchist libertarians who’ll approve or disapprove as each sees fit but will live and let live and harm no one who harms no one, but I feel there’s a big difference in that I don’t demand it of others and ask that laws change to achieve it by coercion. To be fair to him Michael Jarosky doesn’t either, but the overall tone of his article is that of someone who supports coercive measures such as smoking bans and so on – and I’ll happily eat those words if he doesn’t.

And as well as that bad habit there’s something else I think he could have written on that piece of paper. Something on the plus side, though not something that could be called a good habit per se. I forget who it was but someone once said that the hardest thing to become is what someone else wants you to become, which is why I’ll never demand that Michael Jarosky or anyone else be libertarian, or ask for more from them than to leave me free to live as I choose providing I harm no other by it. I may say I think things would be better if they were libertarians, just as they can say they think the world would be better if nobody inhaled or ingested anything that wasn’t a proven nutrient and we all took it in turns to jump up and down and shout at each other on treadmills, but don’t think they should be made to if they don’t want to.

I just wish I could believe they feel the same way.

And then they came for the tanned people, but I did not speak out because of my correction fluid like complexion

The nannies, killjoys, bansturbators and wowsers really are feeling confident. It’s only been a few days since the war on things anyone likes – which I hope we all now realise started with the ‘war’ on smoking, scare quotes because it was never a war but just the opening salvo of something much, much bigger – attacked sugar for being as evil as alcohol or tobacco, and already they’ve shifted fire onto another target on the list. These things:

Half inched from The Daily Mail - click for linky

No, not women in the nip, though give it enough time and I’m sure someone will come up with a vaguely plausible reason. No, the target is sunbeds, and although they’ve had the odd potshot such as age restrictions and talk of tanning taxes sent their way before, this phase of the war on everything that someone somewhere might be enjoying has gone nuclear in a hurry.

Commercial tanning beds will be banned in NSW under radical new laws to be announced by the government today.

NSW will be the only place in the world besides Brazil to institute a total ban on ultraviolet solariums tanning units when the laws come into place from December 31, 2014, and cancer groups hope other states and countries will follow.

Jesus, I can feel the self righteousness from here, the pride in being the only place in the world (besides Brazil – damn Brazilians thinking up this stuff first) to treat sunbeds as another thing reasoning adults can’t be allowed to make up their own minds about. No, New South Welshies, because some people get skin cancer and because some of them spend enough time on a sunbed to look like an overdone chip your state government has decided you can’t be trusted to weigh up the risks yourselves and has decided for you. This, in case anyone outside Australia is wondering, is a right of centre Liberal (In Name Only) government, and being as how the Liberal party here is often pretty illiberal and appears to have no interest in individual freedom how the fuck they get away with calling themselves the Liberal Party without every dictionary in Australia bursting into flame is beyond me. A party whose name references the concept of freedom taking freedom away from people, shredding and pulping it, and then pressing it into rolls to be hung up in the toilets of Parliament House.

And of course being a right of centre party you’d think, or I’m sure they’d very much like you to think, that they’re the friends of the entrepreneur and small businesses. Like shit are they. A unilateral ban on a whole fucking industry? Seriously?

The ban is likely to save lives but could put some NSW solariums – which pay about $30,000 for new tanning beds – out of business.

You think? What else does a tanning salon do apart from offer people the facility to get tanned? As far as I can see the idea is you find a site, fill it with a decent number of these machines at thirty grand a pop, and open the doors. Yes, they could diversify, but when the state government is banning the bloody machines on which the whole enterprise effectively rests then diversifying seems to mean not actually being a tanning salon anymore. I suppose the spray on tan is an option for the time being, but just as they’ve come for the smokers, the drinkers, the salad dodgers, the sweet toothed and the strangely bronze they will eventually come for the Oompa Loompas, and they’ll no more care that you’re taller than the average Oompa Loompa than they did that most wine drinkers manage not to drink themselves insensible every night. And with the anti-sugar assault raging you’ll probably be accused of war crimes for working in that chocolate factory.

Even if that doesn’t happen right away a ban on commercial tanning machines is going to affect the trade like a ban on professional woodworking tools would affect furniture making, except for the fact that you can’t just walk outside and sit in the park for an hour to get a free nest of tables. And even something as catastrophically dim as a politician seems able to understand this.

The Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, chose World Cancer Day to make her announcement, saying sun beds were carcinogenic and the International Agency for Research on Cancer had placed them in the same category of risk as asbestos. “Sadly, Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and this ban is long overdue,” she said.

There are about 100 businesses with 254 commercial tanning units registered in NSW, and about 10 per cent offer UV tanning exclusively. That group would be offered help through the Department of Trade and Investment’s business advisory services, Ms Parker said.

Lucky NSW taxpayers. Your government has just made more than $7,500,000 of equipment next to worthless unless shipped interstate and kicked a hundred tax paying businesses, not a single one of which will have dragged people off the street and forced them onto the sunbeds, in the teeth. But the government is going to ‘help’ them, which I suspect will mean giving them money..

Oh, but it’ll save lives so it’ll be worth it, right? Aaaaaaand cue the cancer victim:

Jay Allen, a melanoma survivor who led the campaign for the ban, said he was “over the moon”.

“This is for all the people who have lost their life to melanoma, all the people living with melanoma,” he said. “It’s going to save many, many lives.”

No, Jay, it won’t. I understand why you want to believe that, but it won’t and here’s why.

Like almost every risky activity you can think of the dangers involved are either patently obvious or so regularly rammed down everyone’s throats via PSAs in print and broadcast media that to be unaware you’d have to have spent the last two or three decades in either a cave or a coma. Christ, I heard of ‘Slip Slop Slap’ twenty years before I even came here. It’s a very safe assumption that those who still want a tan have heard about the risks and have decided they’re prepared to chance it, and if they’re adults nobody else should have a problem with that. And having decided the risk is worth it do you think they’ll just accept being pale when you take away all the tanning machines? Or do you think that they’ll just go and get a free tan under an infinitly more powerful UV source outside?

The point of tanning machines – and I’m assuming because I’ve never used one and don’t plan to – is that people pay money to cook themselves under power as alternative to the free, but supposedly even more dangerous, alternative of cooking themselves under the harsh Aussie sun instead. Are tanning beds safe? I have absolutely no idea but I don’t expect so, but if they’re likely to do less harm than a natural suntan then banning them seems the height of idiocy. And if you can prove they do more harm than a natural suntan then banning is unnecessary – just publicise it so tan-wannabes will go outside and tanning machines will go the way of the dinosaur. Even is some people carry on using them that’s their choice, no one else’s.

[Chief Exec of Cancer Council Australia, Ian Olver] said governments paid for cancers caused by sunbeds so they had a right to ban them.

No they don’t. They can stop paying for cancers caused by sunbeds and tell the strangely brown to buy health insurance, but I don’t see that they have any right to involve themselves in the business of consenting adults, doubly so when they physically can’t stop people tanning simply because someone who wants a tan will do what it takes to get one. There’s simply no way you can stop them without introducing a daytime curfew, and I don’t think I need to explain what that would do to the NSW economy. The tourist trade alone would be wrecked – come to sunny Sydney (viewing available only by night).

So the long and short of it is that this will likely wreck businesses and cost taxpayers’ money for close to bugger all benefit, but Jeez the New South Wales Righteous will have the biggest warm fuzzy about it.

And, tanlovers, with your healthy (for a given value of healthy) bronzed and toned bodies, I can only add that you were warned. You were told again and again and again and again – do not believe the anti-smoking campaigners when they say it’s just smoking they want to control. But you did, just as so many non-smokers who drink or whose waistlines or diets or levels of physical activity don’t meet proscribed norms, and as they’re all finding out it was a fucking lie. It was not just smoking, smoking was just the start. And it isn’t just that the tactics and propaganda are the same but with smoking changed to read alcohol, fat, sugar, caffeine or tanning – quite often the same bloody people are involved as well. For example, from Velvet Glove, Iron Fist on Jan 28th.

The Guardian recently kicked off the campaign for plain packaging this week with an interview with that sad old sociologist Simon Chapman who seems to think that the tobacco industry finds him fascinating:

“They dislike me intensely because of my prominence and persistence. But I also confuse them because I’m very against the censorship and rating of films because of their tobacco content.”

“Hey, look at me—I’m only half-mad!”

[...]

Chapman is very proud that the Australian supernanny state has banned e-cigarettes and snus, for example—these people should be in a smokefree prison cell.

And from Dick Puddlecote just a couple of days ago:

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

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

Simon Chapman and Simon Chapman. Hmmm, familiar sounding name… where’ve I heard it before? Oh, yes, of course! It was right there in the article about New South Wales banning commercial tanning machines.

A professor of public health at the University of Sydney, Simon Chapman, said: “Solaria are cancer incubators and we have known that for a good while”.

Do you see? Do you understand? Is the penny or your local equivalent dropping yet? These people are absolutely obsessed and they will never, ever, ever be satisfied. It doesn’t matter if you don’t smoke, it doesn’t matter if you drink only very moderately or even not at all, it doesn’t matter if you eat the way they want you to eat and exercise as much as they want you to exercise, and it doesn’t matter if you put on factor 30+ with a four inch brush and stay indoors until the sun’s nearly set. None of it matters because like every other human on the planet you will do something that you enjoy, and even if it doesn’t harm another living soul I guarantee you this: someone somewhere disapproves and wants you to stop, and they’re invariably prepared to use force if you fail to obey.

It’s them and us, folks. If you can live and let live then you’re one of us, and it’s time you woke up and realised that the choice is to hang together or hang separately. And if you see something that annoys you and think to yourself, “Oooh, there ought to be a law against people doing that”, then you’re one of them, and it’s time you were told:

Fuck you all. Fuck you right in the lungs.

And then they came for the… Jesus Christ, popcorn eaters? Is this right? – UPDATED

Okay, this is just specific subset of ‘And then they came for the salad dodgers’ really, but Jesus fucking Christ on a state approved dietary regime, popcorn? Seriously? Well, since Velvet Glove, Iron Fist is taking a look at a comment piece in the Independent entitled ‘Filling your face with popcorn is not a human right‘ one has to assume that it is serious. And so insanely authoritarian that even the normally restrained Chris Snowdon has seen red.

…it’s clear that many people find it hard to resist fatty food and cheap alcohol, which leaves government intervention the only serious option.

Well, let’s not be so hasty. Are we sure that all the other possibilities have been exhausted? Have you, for example, considered the option of fucking off and leaving us alone?

Quite. It’s a thorough fisking and not wishing to steal his thunder I recommend you go read the whole thing there. There’s little I can add except for two points. First, and I’m getting a bit personal here, if one person cannot be free to smoke or drink or eat popcorn then why should another be free to walk around with a face like a dropped pie? That’s not personal abuse aimed at Joan Smith – well, okay, actually it is really, but it’s not just personal abuse. The point is that if it’s okay to be so judgemental about certain people’s harmless habits then why not others? Why not be as judgemental about who they play hide the sausage with as you are about how many sausages they eat? And why not other aspects, even physical imperfections? It’s not like it hasn’t all been done before by various other bunches of mad left-wing authoritarians with hard ons both for improving health and for the cost to the public purse. You can sound the Godwin alarm all you like, I don’t give a rip. Because it’s fucking true, d’you see?

“This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmarks
during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too.” – Wikipedia.

Secondly I’d expand on something else Chris Snowdon says:

Once we have accepted the healthist world view, no principled and logically consistent objection can be made against photos of rotten teeth on soft drinks. Those who welcomed the 85% sales tax on cigarettes are in no position to oppose an 85% sales tax on bacon. They can only wriggle and squirm and hope the puritans tackle their pleasures last.

And so, in a sense, I welcome the likes of Joan Smith and Jonathan Waxman for finally coming clean and alerting us all about what is afoot.

Yes, but I think they should also be welcomed simply for reaching these insane levels of wanting to regulate popcorn intake and put health warnings on bangers and mash (also a wank fantasy of another a revolting authoritarian cunt – the aforementioned Waxman – and also fisked at VG,IF). If something is going to derail their plans, if something is going to halt the marching of those nasty little boots, then it could well be when the owners of those boots strap them onto a surfboard before going and jumping a shark.

UPDATE – Oh, Jesus, this is just so fucking depressing. How can people understand liberty when it comes to people inclined to bump uglies with someone of the same gender but be unable to grasp the concept when it comes to everyone deciding what food to insert in the other end of their bodies?

Could it be simply that they’re not supporting gay marriage for reasons of liberty but because they’ve been they’ve been made to think they should, just as they’ve been made to think that the government should be doing all their thinking for them?

Baaaa. Baaaaa.

Your five a day is going to kill you

This was only a matter of time, wasn’t it?

AN APPLE a day is supposed to keep the doctor away, but a small but passionate group of Melbourne medics believes apples and other fresh fruit are in part to blame for the extra kilos some of us are carrying.

And if you’re a bit of a fatty then you’re a salad dodging couch potato who’s already under a deferred sentence of self inflicted death, aren’t you? The Institute of Stands To Reason Dunnit (among others) has told us so.

It is a controversial concept that riles nutritionists, but anaesthetist Rod Tayler’s theory that restricting fresh fruit in the diet can result in weight loss has been borne out by the participants in a trial he is running at the Epworth Hospital.
Dr Tayler believes the biggest driver behind the rapid rise in the nation’s girth is sugar, not fat.

Actually I’m not sure this is all that new. Sugar is a carbohydrate and there are lots of low carb diets, Atkins being probably the most well known, and plenty of people who find that they lose weight that way. And it is, or should be, pretty common knowledge that fruits, berries and vegetables contain lots of sugars. It’s why they taste so good. Sweetcorn? Yes?

Mary McPherson, 60, was astounded to learn how much sugar she was consuming as part of what she thought was a healthy vegetarian diet that included four to five pieces of fruit a day. By reducing that to two pieces – ”some berries and a banana” – Ms McPherson watched excess weight fall off.
”It was a slow loss of weight but in six to eight months I dropped about 10 kilograms and I have kept it off,” says Ms McPherson, who now weighs 60.5 kilograms.
Instead of snacking on fruit, she ate dry roasted almonds. Occasional sweet cravings were satisfied with a single piece of dark chocolate. She also followed Dr Tayler’s advice to reduce refined carbohydrates such as white rice and pasta, replacing them with brown rice and sweet potatoes. But she struggled with his recommendation to cut back on alcohol and continued to enjoy two glasses of wine with dinner

Oooh, they’ll get you for that, Mary. Probably should have kept shtum about it or at least said you’d cut down like Katrina.

Katrina John, 26, a nurse who subscribes to Dr Tayler’s recommendations, says that by cutting out the two to three pieces of fresh fruit she used to eat each working day she not only lost one kilogram in a fortnight, she started thinking more carefully about everything she ate.
”Then I removed the dried fruit from the nut mix I used to have every day and I stopped drinking orange juice on the weekend and I think it all made a big difference,” Ms John says, adding she lost seven kilograms in seven months as she also reduced her alcohol and white carbohydrate intake.

Needless to say not everyone is thrilled to hear this.

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton rejects the argument, saying there is no evidence for it, pointing out that Dr Tayler’s sweet study has not been published in a medical journal. ”I think what they are doing is mixing up fruit and fruit juice,” Dr Stanton says.
[...]
Dr Stanton says that overall fruit consumption in Australia is low and it is a struggle to get most people to eat the recommended two pieces a day.

Two? I thought it was five? And am I right in thinking that ‘nutritionist’, unlike ‘dietitian’, is not a legally protected term here? Not saying that Dr Stanton is unqualified or anything, and what she’s said there doesn’t seem unreasonable to me (and of course Dr Taylor being an anaesthetist is away from his normal field of expertise here anyway), but my point is that all this advice we get on what to eat and what not to eat is hardly clear. One week butter is good for you, the next it’ll murder you in your sleep. We must eat five pieces of fruit and veg per day, then we get fat if we do and anyway it was really only two per day all along.

What’s the right advice? Don’t ask me, I’m as unqualified to give advice on eating as they come. But what I can tell you is that moderation in all things seems like the most sensible approach as well as the most pleasant (the idea of an all sprout diet doesn’t bear thinking about), but I know it’s not an ideal I live up to in reality. And yes, I could stand to drop a few kilos – I did say I was as unqualified as they come. The point is that there’s no magic food and no magic maximum or minimum number for what’s ‘good’ for you. For many things too much is bad, and invariably too little isn’t a goo idea either. If you’re not happy or not well then probably you need to change something. Otherwise the only thing I’d really suggest is not to read the newspapers too much, because consuming more than five articles on health per week is incredibly dangerous and is likely to send you to an early grave.*

* Research pending. ;-)

Another Gordon Brown chicken comes home to roost

And to no great surprise rather than being the kind that maybe provides a few eggs it’s a chicken of the shitting everywhere and possibly giving everyone bird ‘flu variety. Well, what else could we expect when it’s enjoyed Brown’s faecal Midas touch.

[Health Secretary] Andrew Lansley says he has been contacted by 22 health service trusts which claim their “clinical and financial stability” is being undermined by the costs of the contracts, which the Labour government used extensively to fund public sector projects.
[...]
Under the PFI deals, a private contractor builds a hospital or school. It owns the building for up to 35 years, and during this period the public sector must pay interest and repay the cost of construction, as well as paying the contractor to maintain the building.
However, the total cost of the deals is often far more than the value of the assets. As a result, Mr Lansley says, the 22 trusts “cannot afford” to pay for their schemes, which in total are worth more than £5.4billion, because the required payments have risen sharply in the wake of the recession.

Well done, Labour, and well done, Gordon, you shower of epically incompetent cunts. It worked well as an idea to help you spunk money into things so you got nice headlines along the lines of ‘Government announces new £X million hospital for Anytown’ while also being a way for you to be less than open about the full scale of the debts you were running up in the country’s name. But it was a bad deal and I struggle to believe you didn’t know it, because if the papers can work it out surely someone in the Treasury spotted it as well.

Earlier in the year, The Daily Telegraph disclosed the extremely poor value offered by many PFI schemes. Taxpayers are having to pay more than £200billion for schools, hospitals and other projects whose capital value is little more than £50 billion.

And this leaves the Cobbleition with having to find ways to make payments. They don’t want to make cuts, which is just as well since contrary to popular belief among the hard of thinking they haven’t made any, and I get the feeling they don’t have a clue how to. My bet is they’ll borrow because the mandarins who run things don’t know any other way and today’s politicians don’t have the balls to stop it or the vision to privatise or charity-ise (if there’s such a word) almost everything the British state does and let the whole fucking lot stand or fall on its individual merits. Christ, they’re barely getting to grips with trimming some of Labour’s fat.

It also emerged last night that the Coalition was expected to announce it is abandoning Labour’s calamitous £12billion NHS computer scheme. Ministers will dismantle the National Programme for IT, a “one size fits all” project started in 2002 which has never worked, and relace it with regional schemes.

You’ve been in office for 16 fucking months, you feckless cunts. Is this all you’ve got to show for almost a fucking year and a half’s work? You’ve worked out that scrapping one of Labour’s hare-brained, over priced vanity projects – one that should have been killed before that fucking Labour drone and, judging by the fresh-from-a-come look he sometimes wore, possible rohypnol victim Andy Burnham had even left the fucking building – will save you a few quid.

Well, that’s a relief. I thought for a moment Britain might have been in trouble.

‘Kinell!

Welcome to The Asylum

In So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, the late Douglas Adams introduced us to a minor character by the name of John Watson or, as he preferred to be called, Wonko the Sane. Those who’ve read it will probably recall Wonko’s unusual house and the reason for it being that way, but for those who don’t know the story this is how the book put it.

His house was certainly peculiar, and since this was the first thing that Fenchurch and Arthur had encountered it would help to know what it was like. It was like this:

It was inside out.

Actually inside out, to the extent that they had had to park on the carpet.

All along what one would normally call the outer wall, which was decorated in a tasteful interior-deisgned pink, were bookshelves, also a couple of those odd three-legged tables with semicircular tops which stand in such a way as to suggest that someone just dropped the wall straight through them, and pictures which were clearly designed to soothe.

Where it got really odd was the roof.

It folded back on itself like something that M. C. Escher, had he been given to hard nights on the town, which it is no part of this narrative’s purpose to suggest was the case, though it is sometimes hard, looking at his pictures, particularly the one with all the awkward steps, not to wonder, might have dreamed up after having been on one, for the little chandeliers which should have been hanging inside were on the outside pointing up.

[...]

The sign above the front door read “Come Outside,” and so, nervously, they had.

Inside, of course, was where the Outside was. Rough brickwork, nicely done pointing, gutters in good repair, a garden path, a couple of small trees, some rooms leading off.

And the inner walls stretched down, folded curiously, and opened at the end as if, by and optical illusion which would have had M. C. Escher frowning and wondering how it was done, to enclose the Pacific Ocean itself.

[...]

“Your wife,” said Arthur, looking around, “mentioned some toothpicks.” He said it with a hunted look, as if he was worried that she might suddenly leap out from behind a door and mention them again.

Wonko the Sane laughed. It was a light easy laugh, and sounded like one he had used a lot before and was happy with.

“Ah yes,” he said, “that’s to do with the day I finally realized that the world had gone totally mad and built the Asylum to put it in, poor thing, and hoped it would get better.”

This was the point at which Arthur began to feel a little nervous again.

“Here,” said Wonko the Sane, “we are outside the Asylum.” He pointed again at the rough brickwork, the pointing, and the gutters. “Go through that door” — he pointed at the first door through which they had originally entered — “and you go into the Asylum. I’ve tried to decorate it nicely to keep the inmates happy, but there’s very little one can do. I never go in there myself. If I ever am tempted, which these days I rarely am, I simply look at the sign written over the door and I shy away.”

“That one?” said Fenchurch, pointing, rather puzzled, at a blue plaque with some instructions written on it.

“Yes. They are the words that finally turned me into the hermit I have now become. It was quite sudden. I saw them, and I knew what I had to do.”

The sign read:

“Hold stick near center of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.”

“It seemed to me,” said Wonko the Sane, “that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a package of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.”

And it’s Wonko the Sane and his house that immediately spring to mind when I read, via Watts Up With That, that fat people are the latest cause of warble gloaming …

Researchers at the Robert Gordon University have completed a study that addresses the link between climate change and obesity.
The academics suggest that global weight loss would result in a drop in the production of the major greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO(2)).
The study was carried out by a trio of researchers within the university’s Centre for Obesity Research and Epidemiology (CORE). It suggests that if every obese and overweight person in the world lost 10 kilograms (or 1.58 stone), the resulting drop in greenhouse emissions would be the equivalent of 0.2% of the CO(2) emitted globally in 2007 (49.560Mt).

… and via this PR that watching TV is as bad for you as smoking.

Every hour spent watching television shortens your life by a little over 20 minutes – on a par with smoking a cigarette, Australian researchers claim.
And the worst couch potatoes – watching more than six hours of TV a day – can expect to die almost five years earlier than people who watch no TV at all, researchers calculated.
Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (online), the Brisbane-led group say Australia’s love of TV poses a significant threat to the health of the population.

Click for linky, and also to increase your risk of developing a need for lithium carbonate

We’ve known for some time that Niemöller’s warning is as relevant today as it ever was, that as victories are won over the smokers and drinkers the rest of us would come in for our turn, and that the salad dodgers would be among the first. And now I think the next couple of phases are becoming clear. Your weight isn’t just your problem anymore and it’s not just for your own good that the swivel-eyed are exhorting you to lose weight. No, it’s also essential to help stop warble gloaming. Yes, folks, we have identified passive obesity, and since we’re also going to be told that TV is as bad as smoking – no qualification, no consideration to the obvious differences between, say, an hour’s telly time after a hard afternoon’s slob and an hour’s telly time after a daily 10km cycle followed by a warm down and a shower – we can expect passive TV watching to be only around the corner. Christ’s sake! I’d intended to sit down with Mrs Exile this evening and watch Sons of Anarchy together over some delicious take-away food from Urban Burger* just up the road in Balaclava.** Actually I still do intend to, but I’m wondering how much longer we’ll be allowed to get away with it if we’re going to be told it’s bad for us and accused of raping polar bears to death with our wanton secondary televisioning.

Wonko the Sane was very nearly correct: the world, or at least quite a lot of people who have a disproportionate say in its running, is completely mad. Where Wonko was wrong is the nature of the insanity. It’s not the harmless*** and almost genteel lunacy of Adams’ H2G2 universe, but a vicious psychosis that increasingly seems determined to stamp out anything it does not approve of – freedom, mostly – and isn’t at all reticent in coming up with all kinds of reasons why having your liberty reduced and removed is A Good Thing. Why you must be nudged into it if you don’t want to and punished if you refuse is rarely far behind.

And so I find Wonko the Sane’s take on house design increasingly appealing. So appealing, in fact, that I might have applied for planning permission if it wasn’t for the problem that there isn’t the faintest hope of the inmates of The Asylum granting it. But I’ve also spotted a critical flaw in the design. Remember that door that Wonko pointed out to Arthur and Fenchurch, the door they had just opened and walked through minutes before to come in from The Asylum?

I reckon it needs a big fucking lock on it.

* Which incidentally serves delicious burgers and chips, and preempts the possibility of food packaging legislation in the future by putting them in plain brown paper bags. I’m absolutely not making that up, and even if it is just coincidental I wouldn’t bet against it one day coming in handy for them.

** Yes, I’m still in Melbourne, not the Crimea, and no, I have no idea why a landlocked local suburb is called Balaclava. After the battle, I think, but why exactly and why that battle I can’t imagine.

*** Okay, mostly harmless.

Take it back and start again

Men who smoke the longest have the lowest risk of needing a total joint replacement, researchers found.

Wait, what?

After accounting for potential confounders, those who had smoked for 48 years or more had a 42% to 51% lower risk of total knee or hip replacement than men who had never smoked, depending on age, according to George Mnatzaganian, a doctoral student at the University of Adelaide in Australia, and colleagues.

Ah, well, that’s probably because they cark it before their joints wear out, right? Eh? What do you mean ‘no’?

Accounting for the competing risk of death, which was higher in the heavier smokers, did not change the association, the researchers reported online in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Nope, not good enough. Haven’t you been keeping up? Nanny’s instructions are perfectly clear on this matter: there is to be no positive effect even tenuously associated with smoking. And if there is, which there isn’t, then it’s certainly not to be spoken of in public. Policy based evidence, that’s what we’re looking for these days, understood?

Good. Now go back and do it again until you get the answer right. Your target is a finding that smoking smashes knees and shatters hips of both the smoker and everyone he’s ever met or will meet, including those he’s first introduced to years after he quits.

Unintended consequences

Victoria is one of those places that have decided that people conceived through sperm donation have a greater right to know their biological parents than that biological parent has to anonymity, and predictably enough it’s creating problems with supply because there is also a ban on importing, er, gentlemanly fluid. Not into the country, just into the state.

VICTORIA is so short of sperm donors that some women are flying interstate for IVF treatment, prompting calls to ease restrictions on importing sperm.
Fertility doctors say demand for sperm has surged since laws giving single women and lesbians access to IVF were brought in last year, with some patients waiting up to nine months.
The removal of anonymity has also made some men reluctant to donate, and restrictions that mean they can only give sperm to 10 families have also increased the need for more donors.

Now I’m quite sure that these rules and laws were well intended. I’m sure that public health issues were in the thoughts of those who banned imports, and that human kindness was considered when anonymity was scrapped (though considered only for one party), and that simple fairness and possibly even a touch of liberty was the motivation for allowing single women and lesbians to have IVF. But surely, surely someone involved could have noted that the combination of the three was going to push demand up and reduce supply and lead to what can best be described as a black market for wanking, with all the problems that implies.

With just 184 registered sperm donors left in Victoria, fertility doctors say some patients are resorting to DIY inseminations using unscreened sperm, which carries the risk of infection.

Melbourne IVF director John McBain said the regulator was being too strict with the rules.
”The shortage is as bad as it’s ever been and when the wait is so long to get access to a donor it just pushes it underground again and people seek their own remedy using uncounselled, unconsented donors and unquarantined sperm,” he said.
”The worrying risk of that is chronic viral illness infection with either hepatitis B or HIV because a lot of single women tend to source gay men as their donors.

So the combined effect of controlling supply on health grounds is forcing desperate women to unhealthy sources. Oh, great. Give yourselves a fucking pat on the back, you idiots.

Federal laws prohibit paying donors for sperm, although reimbursing costs is allowed.

But payments will be made for sperm and it’s naive to think otherwise. There’s already a black market for breast milk as I blogged last September. Can anyone seriously think it isn’t going to happen with sperm? If there’s a demand someone will supply it, legally or illegally. That’s just how people are.

Fortunately we have the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority on hand to solve the problem. Oh, wait, no. They’re just explaining why we have to have the bloody problem and put up with it rather than go back to anonymous donations or import sperm from elsewhere in the country or even, such as a clinic in Brisbane, from the USA.

”The guiding principles of the act are that the welfare of persons born as a result of treatment is paramount, and they have a right to information about their genetic parents.
”There would be no regulatory body in the US ensuring that their donor’s details are kept up to date because there is no central register like there is in Victoria.
”There’s a growing body of evidence that young people want to have the choice to obtain information about their donor when they become adults, so it not just the matter of supply.”

Oh, well, fine. It’s not going to solve a damn thing unless a lot more men answer the predictable request for more sperm donors at the end of the article, but I’m sure knowing why it has to be this way will make everyone feel a lot better.

Wankers.

Shock news: something that isn’t smoking causes cancer too – UPDATED

Unfortunately it turns out to be oral sex, so presumably the public health killjoys will see Steak And A Blow Job day ruined forever and the ladies will never see Fur Burger At The Y Day happen at all. It always has to be something pleasurable that gives you cancer, doesn’t it? It’s never paying your taxes on time or using a parking meter, is it?

UPDATE – apparently it’s Cake and Cunnilingus Day for the ladies, which just shows how sadly out of touch with reality women can be sometimes. It’s not so much the arriving on his tongue aspect that’s wildly optimistic as the expectation that he’s going to be good at baking cakes as well. Except for the lucky few a supermarket eclair is likely to be as good as it gets, and depending on how it’s being held I’d suggest checking carefully before biting into the end.

UPDATE 2 – via The Filthy Engineer, it turns out that that’s not the only thing you can eat that’s supposed to give you cancer. The thought occurs that about the only thing all these experts have categorically said is good for us is breast milk, and somehow I can’t see that working out too well.

I want bitty!

Attention Salad Dodgers

And I mean stand at attention suck that gut in you fat waste of space don’t you eyeball me sunshine everybody down right now and give me fifty how dare you be that fucking shape! You have absolutely no excuse since your caring food gauleiters, through the auspices of the equally caring Department for Health and its minister, Andrew Lansley, are making sure you can’t even get it wrong if you eat out a lot. In fact fuck it, fatsos, give me another fifty!

Restaurants and work canteens will put calorie counts on menus and food manufacturers will promise to cut down on salt and artificial fats under a set of agreements to be announced today.

That one doesn’t count. ALL the way down, tubs.

The three voluntary “responsibility deals” agreed with the food industry are aimed at helping the public to eat more healthily, in a drive to tackle the growing problem of obesity among both adults and children.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, believes that firms will be more likely to set ambitious targets for themselves if they are negotiated on a voluntary basis.

If firms break their promises, the Government will however consider taking compulsory measures.

Remember the kind of voluntary arrangement suggested by The Portman Group for alcohol, which is that they volunteer or get made to do what they should have volunteered to do? Exactly, my flabby friends, so you won’t be able to claim you didn’t know how many calories the cake was once we get daily intake limits in too.

Rather than a “nanny state” approach, he is keen to arm the public with the tools they need to cope in an “obesogenic environment,” where people are bombarded with adverts for unhealthy food.

See, you’re not being nannied. We just know you can’t help yourselves so we’re doing it for your own good.

In parts of the United States, restaurants are obliged by law to provide diners with the calorie content of their meals.

See? We’re not being nasty authoritarian cunts at all. That’s the land of the free over there. It must be, ’cause they sing about it. So do as you’re fucking told or else it’s the trucks, right?

Now then, have we all finished? Alright, you lot at table 19 can just carry on and we’ll get round to you in a minute. The rest of you may now have your allotted lunch. Would you like to see the menu or the specials board?

Kraft durch Freude!

When the cat’s taken away…

So government gets a stupid idea that it has a right to dictate what people put in their own bodies and ban a potentially harmful substance that’s been taken in vast amounts but linked only to a small number of deaths (not terribly conclusively in some cases), and thinks that having removed this risk everyone who would have taken it will party down safely and while wearing flat shoes. And then it acts all surprised when clubbers decide that they still want the effect and either carry on anyway or start looking for something else.

The report, the key findings of which are to be published this week and is the first authoritative survey of mephedrone users since the government added the drug to the list of banned substances in April 2010, reveals that more than half of those questioned had noticed no change in the availability of the drug in their area.
It also shows that 44 per cent of those who have used mephedrone said the ban made them more likely to use the Class A party drug ecstasy instead.

Not that E is the killer the government and tabloids beat it up to be either, but Jesus Christ on a speedball, are these people so fucking dense that they can’t see this coming? Are their memories so poor that they forget this happens every single time they ban something? Is it so far beyond their comprehension that from point of view of a clubber wanting to get high you might as well be hung for a cat as a kitten? You ban opium and laudanum and people begin injecting heroin instead. You crack down on heroin and they break into clinics and pharmacies for morphine and methadone. You crack down on cocaine too and they start taking crystal meth. You notice party drugs and ban Ecstasy, only to find later that they’re on GBL and Miaow-miaow now. You ban those too and then sit wondering why it is that people are either still taking them or going back to E.

I’ll tell you, shall i?

It’s because they’re waiting for the next legal high to come out. And when you ban that too you’ve gone full circle and it starts all over again.

Twats.

Pork flu returns to kill us all.

Click for brain damage linky

We’re DOOOOOOOOOOMED! Doooomed, I say! Run, run for the hills. Run for your li… oh wait, no.
What’s that last bit again?

… and other winter viruses.

Ah, so should we run around screaming, “PORK FLU” at the top of our lungs before rounding up absolutely everything that looks a bit piggy?

Kill it! Kill it with fire!

Or should we calm the fuck down a bit first and look at what viruses we’re talking about that are all being lumped together with pork flu by The Daily Jellygraph?

Yeah, I’m going for the second one (my bold).

Scores of hospital wards closed due to norovirus, the winter vomiting bug, which put more than 1,200 beds out of use in one week as nurses attempted to isolate the disease.

Norovirus. Okay. Although my medical expertise doesn’t extend beyond A level biology I’m reasonably confident in saying without bothering to check that norovirus, while it may be unpleasant, possibly deadly and apt to make you able to shit through the eye of a needle or puke your own sphincter across the room (not sure which, possibly both), is not actually swine flu. But just in case I’m wrong I will go and check. Bear with me.

Okay, I’ve checked and it isn’t. I won’t bother to reference it since anyone with internet access can confirm it in seconds unless they are either lobotomised, retarded or, just possibly, a journalist.

And, er, that’s it. The only illnesses mentioned are norovirus, flu and swine flu, and it’s not made clear how much flu is swine flu or whether the writer intends flu to mean non-swine flu versions of flu. Beyond that we’ve got mention of a couple of deaths from swine flu and a list of areas where hospitals have cancelled routine surgery, slightly spoiled by the admission that many hospitals do that at this time of year anyway. Again, the article fails to say how many have cancelled routine surgery who would otherwise have carried on, though presumably Southampton General was one.

Southampton General Hospital spent more than three weeks on “black alert”, closing 10 wards as norovirus swept through the centre. It was forced to stop all non-emergency surgery and cancel most appointments for outpatients during the period. The crisis warning was finally lifted on Thursday.

Three points. One, it’s norovirus again, not swine flu. Two, they seem to be over it now. And three, it’s fucking norovirus for fuck’s sake.

Okay, maybe it’s just that one and all the others are … oh, who am I kidding?

Because of the same bug, four wards were closed at Royal Cornwall Hospital last week and cancer and surgery wards in Poole, Dorset, were closed to new admissions. Three wards were closed at West Suffolk hospital.

Again, norovirus in the case of the first two for sure and by implication the third as well, though since the article says no more than that they were closed it could have been for fucking redecorating for all we know.

Now I’m not saying the NHS is struggling to cope or that the restrictions on routine surgery are a non-issue. This is not a dig about health so much as journalism, and in particular the use of this headline

Swine flu: hospitals ‘gridlocked’

to describe events that the article itself ascribes largely to other illness such as norovirus, which pops into my head for no obvious reason whatsoever, and standard fucking procedure for this time of year.

All of which leads me to wonder whether the Jellygraph is after the crown of another newspaper.

PS – looks like they might be gunning for The Express as well.

Denormalisation and the march of hatred.

Over at Leg-iron’s there’s a post on discrimination in which he says:

“You cannot, so far, tell who we are unless we’re actually smoking but that’s going to change. We will be made identifiable. Third hand smoke will be the excuse.”

Which prompted me to write in the comments,

Perhaps some sort of yellow star motif? It’ll make aiming easier when the time comes…

I don’t say that lightly since I have Jewish neighbours that I like and respect, and obviously what’s going on has yet to reach Shoah proportions (and we should all very much hope that it never does) but all the same the parallels are disturbing. While some may be prepared to live and let live those who believe they are in the right – the Righteous, to use Leg-iron’s expression – make no room, sometimes literally no room, for those who disagree.

Not “Smoking is not allowed”. It’s actual smokers who are not allowed

And it doesn’t stop there either. Smokers can be discriminated against when it comes to employment etc. too (see here, here, here and, from the US, this), all of which, it has been decided, is perfectly legal. Note again that like the sign above it is not merely the activity which is banned but the people who do it. Look at the sign again. Now look at this one.

See? Unwanted activities are being prohibited, but the implication is that the people who skateboard, ride bicycles or go rollerblading are okay to be there as long as they don’t do those activities. The first sign says no smokers, full stop, end of discussion. No credit is given for being a smoker who is currently not smoking and for all anyone knows will refrain from lighting up until they’re elsewhere. The message is aimed at the people, not their pastime. Smoker? Sod off.

Now it might be suggested that in fact this is just exercising property rights and that property owners are entitled not only to prohibit smoking – as I do in my home, being an ex-smoker* – but also to make smokers themselves unwelcome. It might also be suggested that an employer should be able to hire whoever the hell they like without being under any obligation to justify that decision. And since I’m all for the freedom to make personal choices I’d tend to agree with both, except for two sticking points. First, the reverse does not apply – you are not allowed to discriminate in favour of smokers and you have no say in this, property rights notwithstanding. You may own your business premises lock, stock and barrel but you may not encourage all the smokers driven from other establishments to come to your place to smoke and spend to their hearts’ content. You have no choice and no rights over your property in regards to smoking. None at all. If you don’t want smokers you may think you’re free to choose but this is just an illusion brought about by the fact that your wishes and those of the Righteous are aligned on this point. Just wait, they’ll get around to something you do do or are in favour of sooner or later.

Second, any other kind of discrimination against a group probably would be illegal. Remember the No Blacks, No Irish signs? I don’t. They went in my infancy, if not before. And before anyone suggests that smoking is a choice whereas you can’t help your skin colour or nation of birth please bear in mind that religion is also a choice and you can’t discriminate against that either. Don’t believe me? Go put a job ad up and include something saying Muslims, Jews and Hindus need not apply and see what happens. Go on, I’ll wait while you get a pen ….. oh, you’ll be fined, will you? Breaking the law, is it? But you might conceivably want to put something like that if the position was for a slaughterman and you didn’t want anyone who might refuse to deal with pigs or cows on religious grounds (though my advice would be simply to state “must be willing to slaughter and butcher all kinds of livestock”), and the fact is you can’t. Smoking though, well, it seems you can put “Smokers Need Not Apply” and that’s just fine, even though religion and how seriously to take it is as much a personal choice as smoking. Any way you choose to look at it smokers are a special case in that they, and not simply the activity of smoking, can be targets for discrimination that is largely unacceptable if not illegal in most other areas of life.

And it’s not just the legal treatment that sets them aside. Look at the hate and bile being spat at smokers these days. Dick Puddlecote has a nice collection going, and here are a few examples (spelling left as the DP found it):

…let’s have free loaded pistols for use by these smokers there too so that they can end their pathetic lives…

[Smokers] have the right to die. That’s it.

Pubs … can certainly survive without smokers. I hope the cold winter kills a few more off in fact

Smokers need to have the words, STUPID IDIOT across their foreheads!

Yellow star! Yellow star! You just need to cross out “Jude” first.

SMOKERS, PLEASE die from diseases from cigarettes sooner rather than later, so there will be less of you around, stinking up every place you go.

You are second-class citizens. If you don’t like it, move. I don’t want you here anyway.

We should do them a favor and give them a quick clean bullet through the head.

I want all smoker dead, but especially morning smokers and any one who smokes on campus. DIE!!

Smokers scum of the Earth, a cull next.

They deserve to be robbed.

I have always looked down at the “filth” or brown fingered,brown teethed lower classes that smoke.

I’ve hated smokers for many years and I am almost positive that one day, I will successfully kill someone who smokes. I encourage any non-smokers who are reading this to go out and kick the shit out of smokers.

If a person is caught smoking, he or she should be shot on sight. The world would be a better place!

Doesn’t this sound at all familiar? A few decades ago in Germany certain groups, Jewish people amongst them, were first denormalised and demonised, then ultimately dehumanised. Untermenschen, they were called – subhumans – and what was said about them fits in so well with the comments quoted above (and incidentally, Dick Puddlecote has links to all of these comments – they’re quite real).

Early 1938 sign. Translation: “Jews not wanted
in Behringersdorf.” Sound at all familiar? 

Get out of here! Go away! Leave! Leave us!

You are second-class citizens. If you don’t like it, move. I don’t want you here anyway.

You’re filthy! You’re scum! You disgust us!

I have always looked down at the “filth” or brown fingered,brown teethed lower classes that smoke.

They deserve to be robbed.



We hate you! Go and die, will you? Why can’t you go away and just die?! 

SMOKERS, PLEASE die … sooner rather than later, so there will be less of you around, stinking up every place you go.

… I hope the cold winter kills a few more off in fact

[Smokers] have the right to die. That’s it.

Just die! Die! DIE!!

… a cull next….. shot on sight….. a quick clean bullet …..want all smoker dead…..
one day, I will successfully kill someone who smokes… 

It’s not just legislative attacks specifically targeting them that they need to worry about, but also this foaming hatred whipped up by the constant process of denormalising, demonising and dehumanising smokers. What should give all of us pause for thought is that if you change just the last word of that sentence to Slavs or Jews or Poles it could have come from a history book on the 1930s, and if those times are any guide we haven’t seen the end of this. Wikipedia notes that “The Holocaust was accomplished in stages. Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II.” Follow that link and you see what kind of legislation we’re talking about. A ban on Jews marrying non-Jews, for example. Not a million miles off the ban on smokers being foster parents that I linked to in the fourth paragraph, I’d suggest. Even if you accept the passive smoking argument – and let’s not even get into the lunacy of 2+Nth hand smoke – the ban is once again not on the activity but on the person. Smokers, not smoking. There were laws on the employment of Jews – they were banned from the Civil Service, for example – and Jews employing non-Jews, just in case it rubbed off and sullied a Nazi or something, and in the same para I linked to an article on legal EU approved discrimination of smokers, again the people rather than the act of smoking. And why, given that smoking is already banned in the workplace, and indeed could always have been banned by business owners if they chose? Because, according to the firm concerned, not only might they take a smoke break (seems prejudicial) but even if they don’t they will smell and get ill, and they must be stupid – no more evidence being required for that last half-formed thought than that they chose to continue smoking.

“I would consider smoking as interfering with standards. I’m talking about smoking breaks but not only that – their smell, their intelligence, their illnesses are all factors. That’s why the line was there. Smokers will not be employed, so there is no point in coming for an interview.”

Interviewed on an Irish radio station, Tobin added that anyone who could continue to smoke despite health warnings was obviously not intelligent enough to work for his company. But smokers’ groups have reacted angrily, accusing him of “health fascism”.

I’d certainly call it fascism when even ASH – ASH, for Christ’s sake – thought that was going a bit far.

Ian Willmore, a spokesman for anti-smoking group Ash, believes refusing to employ smokers is “thoroughly bad public policy”.

He said: “We are not interested in discriminating against people because they are smokers. We are interested in helping them quit. Our advice to employers would be not to do that unless there is a clear occupational reason why smoking is not possible.

“We are not an organisation that exists to persecute smokers. We are an organisation that exists to reduce the amount of harm that smoking does.” But he added that encouraging employees to quit could cut days lost to sickness and boost productivity.

It’s sort of nice to know you’ve got limits, Ian, but you or people like you let the djinni out of the bottle. Don’t expect me not to tar you with the fascist brush – or should it be fASHist? – as well just because someone even more hate-filled has appeared. Especially not after that little apologia at the end.

And fascism really does seem the appropriate word when anti-smokers have their Nuremburg laws to bash smokers with and show every sign of continuing to add to them. It’s progressed to special treatment of tobacco as a good so as to further inconvenience smokers – in some places (at least one state in Australia, and no doubt others before long) tobacco must be kept behind closed doors or hidden out of sight under the counter, and plain packaging has been mooted. This makes no difference at all to non-smokers. Why should I care what colour the packet is or whether I can see it? But it makes the smoker’s life just a little bit more difficult since he’s unable to glance at the shelves and see if his preferred brand is in stock. Now he must queue up and ask, wasting his time if they’re not in stock. But fuck him, he’s just a stinking smoker, right, eh, ASH? His time isn’t important to any real people. Why not just beat him up, smash his windows and take his property? Why not round them all up and keep them away from decent people? Who honestly gives a rip?

I’ll tell you who: me. I care. Even though I stopped smoking a while ago now I care, and I oppose the continued official harassment, legalised bullying and discrimination, and the anonymous threats that they suffer.

Not. In. My. Name. Mother-fuckers.

I don’t like the smoke anymore but if it’s blowing in my face it’s not hard to take a step or two to avoid it. And even that’s indoors only. Outside the smoke disperses so quickly in all but the lightest breeze that it’s a non-issue, and in the lightest breezes or very still air it tends to go straight up. I can only get hit with smoke outdoors if someone actually blows it in my face, and this has never happened even once since I quit. Nor did I ever do it to anyone in the years I smoked. Yes, you can still get the smell, and like a lot of non-smokers I don’t like it much either, but for Christ’s sake it’s just a smell. I’ve smelt worse farts. I’ve smelt worse BO. I’ve smelt more overpowering perfume. I will not take part in or condone the persecution others because of an odour, and I will carry on speaking up for those who wish to smoke. And there’s a reason for that, a very simple one.

The march of hatred is moving on, and it’s only a matter of time before they come to me. I ducked their hatred once when I quit smoking (for reasons of my own) but by then attention had already turned to drink. As it happened I barely drank anyway and have gradually become a non-drinker too, so I’ve ducked it again a second time. However, I cannot keep this up. I am not politically correct by nature; I could do with losing a few kilos; I’m for shooters’ rights and would support gun ownership for defence; I like to put lots of salt on my food; I eat meat and I’m prepared to catch it and kill it myself if push came to shove; I don’t believe in global warming; I’m in favour of individual liberty (subject to the Non-Aggression Principle), including the freedom to say something I find utterly vile and repulsive, such as many of the quotes in this post. I could go on but the bottom line is this – the bastards will find something about me to hate sooner or later. The Nazis had been obsessed with Jews for many years, arguably decades if you count the anti-semitism of the Völkisch movement from which the Nazis took many ideas, but we all know it didn’t stop there. Niemöller had it dead right, because by the end – long before the end, in fact – the Nazis were gunning for absolutely anyone who didn’t fit their ideals. That meant Communists, homosexuals, Freemasons, gypsies, Slavs and many eastern Europeans, a whole lot of Soviet POWs, and many physically and mentally disabled people (to say nothing of anyone who simply opposed any of this). Their march of hatred carried on until finally they were stopped, but the price was bitterly high. The twenty-first century march of hatred has not been stopped, and if moves to further restrict the liberty of smokers even outdoors is any guide I’d say that if anything it seems to be gathering pace.** I mean, go read that. Just go have a quick read. We’re lucky to have the climate for a café culture at least part of the year here, though not so much this year with all the rain we’ve had, and having driven the smokers outside many places began putting tables and chairs out for them. Not all were able to do this – pavements have to be wide enough, for example, pubs might need a beer garden – but I think most of those who could did so. I’m sure some made it non-smoking outdoors too but that was their choice, and the smokers would be able to find other places. Not any more. They must now be driven away altogether, even though groups of smokers outside are a big part of the reason some places have an outdoor area in the first place. As one Melbourne smoker from Carlton by the name of Yooblues put it:

ENOUGH ALREADY!
I stand outside in freezing conditions or in the rain
I cross the street when I see a mother with a pram
I stand downwind from any group
I go outside at the footy
I don’t smoke in my car
I put up with the little “cough cough” innuendos and disparaging looks from the health nutters
I keep every butt and dispose of it thoughtfully
I pick the downwind table outside restaurants
I don’t charge you for second hand smoke that cost me a fortune to imbibe first hand
Now RACK OFF and leave me alone!

First offence? You’ll probably
get away with crucifixion

Poor bastard.

I don’t know what the bansturbators will eventually come and get me for, but I know they will come and I can even see some of them already. Being a bit fat is already in the spot searchlights and gun bannery has been going on for a century, but there’s my proud climate heresy as well. If I’m lucky I might only be executed by controlled explosion for that, but since my heresy goes back a way it could mean some people will seize my property and either leave me in a desert or throw me into bear infested freezing Arctic waters, all the while torturing me with their cheerful brand of amateur close harmony singing. Thanks, but I’d rather be over-enthusiastically resuscitated by a sixty a day smoker of re-made rollies.

The time has come for reasonable people to stop taking in the bullshit about twenty-third hand smoke, draw a line on the ground behind themselves and tell the Righteous in a firm voice that this is where it stops and now is when it ends – we stand with the smokers, and we stand with the drinkers, and we stand with the salad dodgers, and we stand with the gun owners, and the ones who like a spliff and the ones who like a bet and the ones who who like to play shoot-’em-up video games, even though we ourselves might not do any of those things. In fact, we must say, we stand with all who do not meet your ideals or accept your dogma, because eventually that group includes more or less everybody.

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Benjamin Franklin

I stand with the smokers even though I don’t smoke because they do me no harm and I enjoy the company of several smokers. But I should stand with the smokers anyway out of pure self-interest because, as Niemöller pointed out, if I don’t there will be nobody to stand with me when it’s my turn.

* I may be an ex-smoker but I am certainly not a reformed smoker, and if someone came here and suggested I am I shall push them down the stairs. “Reformed” implies I feel guilt for smoking in the past and I don’t. Not a bit of it. It was something I used to do but eventually stopped, that’s all. If only those absolutely addicted to bansturbation would do the same.

**Oh yes, that’s our wonderful new Liberal In Name Only Victorian state government for you – I knew the bastards wouldn’t take long before showing how ilLiberal they really are. Hey, that makes “LINOs”. That’s a keeper for the blog tag collection. It’s just a shame you have to be loaded before you can walk on them.

No more Nanny State? In our dreams.

Not for the first time I’m experiencing the depressing feeling that NuLabour and its nasty, intrusive, bossy little ways never really left, and it’s the fault of whoever was pulling the talk-cord on the Health Secretary Sockpuppet, Andrew Lansley, when he came out with this weapons grade cuntwaftery.

Click to article

For fuck’s sake, this is Brownian level cognitive dissonance here. No more Nanny Statism but instead there will be nudges in the right direction, said direction decided by none other than the fucking Nanny State. And what kind of nudging are we going to see from BlueLabour’s Health Sockpuppet? Well, let’s have a look-see.

Government will be less ‘intrusive’ in people’s lives and not tell them what to do, minsters said as they published the new public health white paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People.
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said Jamie Oliver’s approach in schools had been a good example of encouraging healthier living but then had been taken too far with dictates laid down about what could and could not be in lunch boxes.

Okay so far apart from the bit about schools encouraging healthier living. Schools are there to fucking educate, and some people might feel they’d do so more effectively if they restricted their focus on health matters to not letting the kids eat anything from the chemistry lab’s jars and sticking plasters on grazed knees.* Other than that not bad, but I have a feeling that it can’t last. Oh, and sure enough (my bold)…

He said: “I think what Jamie Oliver did was brilliant but telling people what should be in lunch boxes all the time was a mistake. We want people to have changed their behaviour not just be told what their diet should be.”

In other words what Jamie Oliver did wrong wasn’t that he came across as a hectoring, nosey, self-important, nannying know-all but that he was ultimately unsuccessful in making the proles do what they’re told.

Tactics will be switched from nannying and legislation to nudges and persuasion. This will include vouchers for healthy living, walk-to-school incentives.

Which is fucking nannying and will fucking require legislation, making the qualitative difference between Labour and Cobbleition as near to zero as makes no fucking difference.

“People’s health and wellbeing will be at the heart of everything local councils do…”

Oh, Christ. As if the government and councils weren’t already overly concerned with the minutiae of citizens’ lives, now we can look forward to even more. Some day a council will eventually employ gauleiter type solely to make sure everybody has had a shit today, probably known as a Constipation Avoidance Officer or Regularity Regulator.

Or a Bottom Inspector.

In addition there will be five Public Health Responsibility Deal networks, involving charities and industry on food, alcohol, physical activity, health at work and behaviour change, to formulate ideas.

Translation: five more fucking quangos associated with a bunch of fake charities and corporatist fuckbaskets lobbying government to nag the poor cunts paying for all of this to stop living how they want to and start living how they’re told to. Fuck me dead, they’re already well under way with elf’n’safety at work as well as the food and drink – and clearly Andrew fucking Lansley has no intention of putting a stop to it – and now they’re going to start on physical activity and behaviour change. The first smacks of good old Kraft durch Freude, which is nasty enough, but the Orwellian sounding “behaviour change”? Am I the only one who finds that term just a bit fucking disturbing?

And this is all supposed to be a reduction, nay, an end to Nanny Statism? Do me a fucking lemon, will you. Look at what else we have coming out of the Health Sockpuppet’s department lately:

Jesus, if this is a retreat from nannying I’d hate to see what he’d consider an increase. Interfering in the decisions of individuals, interfering in how private companies run their business and encouraging council busybodies and prodnoses to take yet more interest in both, all on the taxpayer, natch. Well fuck you, Lansley, fuck you right in the lungs – this is nothing but bloody nannying, and if you can’t see that you’re a bigger bellend than is normal even for Westminster. Did I say cognitive dissonance earlier? I was wrong about that. Cognitive dissonance implies that someone is aware of the contradiction in what they say and in the positions they hold, and far from Lansley recognising that I suspect he honestly believes all of what he’s said. There’s a much better term for what Lansley is doing here.

Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs with air. His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them…

Doublethink and other IngSoc-like habits were often characteristic of NuLabour (“Peace is War” and “Knowledge is Ignorance” both seem pretty apt examples of doublethink for the Blair and Brown years), and to find the new Health Sockpuppet at it as well just shows once again how similar the main parties have become. The policies themselves are not altogether a surprise because the Tories were always a bunch of paternalistic bastards who assumed they knew what was best for everyone, though no less unwelcome for all that, but Lansley’s claim that this is somehow an end to the Nanny State is really pissing into the wound.

Bastards!

* Not that they’re allowed to stick plasters on knees or teach chemistry anymore in case pupils might turn out to be allergic to plasters or have a fit from trying to remember Avogadro’s number.

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