Wednesday, July 07, 2004
(1) I couldn't identify earlier that musician who took an anti-smoking ban position in a debate in the Guardian on Saturday. (Delighted by the fact that I just found a link to the article, too; it's more detailed than the print version.) Turns out it is Joe Jackson, identified by the paper (no, not as the famous Chicago White Sox baseball player) as "a musician and writer who has been researching smoking-related issues for the last two years, and is also a member of the pro-smoking group Forest." Here is what he has to say about passive smoking:
We're also all constantly subjected to hundreds of dodgy statistics. To prove someone has died prematurely and specifically from smoking is much harder than we're led to believe; in the case of passive smoke, it's impossible. Of more than 120 studies to date, only 18 have shown any risk, and, as an epidemiologist, you must know that in such studies the risk factor has to be at least 200-300% to be considered significant. The best these often highly-flawed studies can manage is 20-30%. Do you deny either of those facts? [He's addressing his debate opponent, a physician.](2) A couple of days ago I quoted the Guardian (one of my addictions when I am in Europe) about the prominence of the island nation of Niue when it comes to hosting porn websites. Today I received an e-mail from a generous Vice Squad reader. He pointed out that the island of Niue isn't hosting these web pages in any physical sense. They are hosted by Niue's domain, .nu, and sites with an .nu domain can physically reside on servers anywhere, even in the good ol' USA. I guess that Niue's domain is prominent in the web porn world because of the obvious attractions of .nu to porn purveyors.
10,000 deaths a year? I've also heard 1,000, 700, and 12,000. There's not a shred of evidence that bar workers are dying every week. Sooner or later, scientists and journalists will start to "break ranks" and expose passive smoke as another Weapon of Mass Destruction which failed to turn up. Meanwhile this whole thing stinks more than a bit of tobacco smoke ever did.
(3) Though I suggested that a return to the US would cure me of expanding Vice Squad's mission to include things like statues of James Joyce holding a cigarette, well, I'm not back yet. So I feel driven yet again to mention that today, in Albert Einstein's old apartment in Bern, I purchased two picture postcards of Einstein, one in which he is holding a pipe and a second in which he is both holding and smoking a pipe. The good news is that I am off to Kiev soon, and will probably not have many opportunities to blog about tobacco in photos or art.