Monthly Archives: January 2016


Pain is a strange thing, especially when I can’t simply banish it. I have to choose how to react to it. I try to understand it. Even if I fail at understanding, the effort allows me to better tolerate it and to be more patient when I experience it. Pain, to me, is no longer an unwelcome companion, but a stern instructor that I can learn to respect and value.

16 January 2015, 7:20 AM

Age is relentless. Pains, aches, doubts, diseases: these are the wolves of time. They hunt us down in ever-increasing numbers as our days mount in number. Victory is not in banishing these things, but in not letting them destroy faith, hope, charity, and bravery. The day of our demise draws near. Blessed is the man that can greet that day without complaint or fear.

“Think of the Children!”

Just had a thought and the research backs me up: if we want to reduce the total number of senseless deaths in America, we should essentially ban tobacco and alcohol before we ban bullets and guns. While I deplore senseless killings done with firearms, I deplore even more the larger number of people killed via the greed of the tobacco and alcohol industries. Let me explain.

First, some facts for my arguments:
WHO: Mortality Attributable to Tobacco
WHO: Alcohol
CDC: Deaths and Mortality
UNODC: World Drug Report

With those in hand, it’s clear that tobacco and alcohol are major contributing factors to global mortality. Put it in the language of a wager: If I bet with a billionaire that I would pay him one dollar for every death of a person over 30 years of age not attributable to alcohol or tobacco and he were to pay me five for every death of a person over 30 that was, I’d make $2 per 10 deaths. That would be $500,000 for the USA, alone. I’d clear over $10,000,000 for the rest of the world. Sadly, that would be the only benefit from such tragedies.

If Americans understood science and math better, we would react with as much shock and horror to a person consuming alcohol or tobacco as we would to a person carrying an automatic firearm into an elementary school. The potential for damage is enormous, but is more certain and more pervasive in the case of alcohol and tobacco.

Consumption of those products is not strictly a personal choice, although conscientious users take steps to reduce overall risks to others by taking certain precautions when consuming them. Even so, alcohol use impairs judgment and can lead to accidental fatalities and assaults. Tobacco use can be sequestered so that others need not deal with exposure to the carcinogens in that product, but it is not so easy to isolate others from medical costs related to tobacco use for their loved ones. If one doesn’t have a completely self-funded medical expense account, one simply should not smoke or drink. Claiming the benefits of a health insurance scheme is no good, either, as that passes the cost on to other participants in that scheme or to the nation at large. Quite selfish to levy a tax on others, so that one could consume a given product.

And if this makes a reader angry, I’d retort that that’s the selfishness kicking in, fighting to keep the habit going. Look at the facts: smokers and drinkers can and will put others at hazard, either over time or instantly, and will pass costs of their consumption on to others, to a greater degree than killers with firearms or other weapons. Given that a goodly portion of manslaughters and murders are alcohol-related, one could even make an argument to reduce those by way of banning alcohol.

I’m not really calling for a government ban, either. I’m only calling for better education in math and science. Let those currently using quit or die on their own. It’s the new customers that we should be focusing on. How best to deter them from engaging in habits that will contribute to if not directly cause mayhem far out of proportion to their personal benefit? If we can get a generation to grow up without choosing to destroy the lives of themselves and others via tobacco and alcohol, then we can visit attention on other preventable leading causes of death.

Je Suis Margot Wallström

Margot Wallström criticized Saudi Arabia for its imprisonment of free speech advocates and its horrendously misogynistic laws, such as requiring female children to marry their rapists. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations howled and the West… told her to shut up. When the Swedish arms industry became scared that they might lose sales to the Saudis, she got pressured to actually *apologize* for telling the truth. Are we Charlie Hebdo only if it doesn’t impact the profits of the military-industrial complex?

Happy New Thingy

The completion of the annual revolution of the earth is marked with celebration and reflection. Our limited mortality prevents us from doing the same when our sun completes a trip around the galactic core or when our galaxy finishes its path around the central attractor of the local cluster… to say nothing of when the local cluster or its containing supercluster complete their cycles. And yet, nature has the biggest bash of all: after the heat death of the universe, quantum tunneling can lead to a release of baryonic matter and energy, in a new big bang event, starting another cycle on its way. Happy New Year, in perspective.