Butt Out: May 31st is World No Tobacco Day

Wednesday, May 31st is World No Tobacco Day.  The World Health Organization, the US’s Centre for Disease Control, the American Cancer Society and many other groups interested in public health are promoting the day.

Cigarettes and tobacco are a public health issue.

It goes without saying that cigarette companies know and have always known that their product is toxic and unethical to sell.  It is only through the cowardice and malleability of politicians for tax dollars and bribes that cigarettes have not been banned worldwide.

Tobacco is directly related to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clotting, emphysema, high blood pressure and many other conditions.  If the republicans in the US were so concerned about health care, why didn’t they just label smoking a “pre-existing condition” and not any of the other things they named?  It would have deprived many of the same people of healthy care that they targeted with all their other exemptions.

“E-cigarettes” are no safer than boxed cancer sticks, just as likely to cause cancer.  The fluid in “e-cigarettes” is toxic and has killed at least one young child.  The product is marketed with “flavours” which young children recognize without comprehending the risks of touching nicotine with their skin.

The CDC, the National Institute of Health, the American Cancer Society and many other reputable agencies and organizations all agree on the facts: second hand smoke causes harm to non-smokers forced to breath the pollution.  Smoking in the presence of children is and should be classified as a form of child abuse.

In 2015 during the holi festival celebrations in Taiwan, a fire broke out, killing one young woman and injuring nearly 500 people.  The public and the media have blamed the organizers of the event for using flammable powder, but the fire, the injuries and death would likely not have happened if a smoker had not selfishly lit a cigarette.

Cigarettes and tobacco are a social issue.

Children are the primary targets of tobacco advertising.  It has always been that way, is even moreso with “e-cigarettes” being directly targeted at teens.  The drug peddlars know that if someone isn’t addicted by age twenty, chances are they will likely never start.

The poor have always been targets of tobacco companies, lured into use with lies of “social acceptance”, as if something which steals money from you will make you richer.  That’s on par with the “prosperity gospel” in its inanity.

Cigarettes and tobacco are an political issue.

As industrialized countries ban smoking , tobacco companies are seeking out new markets to peddle their filth.  India large population and Africa’s burgeoning economy are being targeted with the burden of tobacco addiction, just at the point where they are trying to end poverty.   This is going on despite a worldwide treaty banning it, likely because of “political donations” (read: bribes) and the lack of concern by G20 countries for the poorest people. Even Russia and China, which have long been heavy consumers of tobacco, are taking an enlightened stance on this issue.

Cigarettes and tobacco are an environmental issue.

It is estimated that 30% of litter in the US is cigarette butts, making it the single largest form of litter in the country.  Combine that with an estimated 30% of human-made garbage in US waterways(I read unconfirmed claims of 20% of ocean garbage including cigarette butts.  It’s unproven, but very likely.)  It is estimated that 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts are discarded worldwide each year.

The filters in cigarettes are not cotton, as many mistakenly believe.  95% of a cigarette filter is cellulose acetate (plastic), combined with paper and rayon.    It does not degrade and, discarded butts will remain in the environment as long as a styrofoam cup.


Smoking is not a right, it is a drug addiction.  It is a major source of environmental pollution, a health hazard, and another trap aimed at the poorest in society.  It is contradictory to claim one stands for social justice and environmentalism while excusing the use of tobacco.

Let’s Drink: Taiwan’s court endorses marriage equality

Breathtaking humanity.  That is how I would describe the decision by Taiwan’s Constitutional Court in approving same-sex marriage in Taiwan.  To no surprise, the bigots are crying foul, but they were equating LGBTQIA people to pedophiles.  The only thing foul is their ignorance and hate.

Constitutional Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage

Taipei, May 24 (CNA) In a landmark ruling, Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices stated on Wednesday that the Civil Code provisions that does not ensure same-sex marriage rights is unconstitutional and asked the Legislature to amend relevant laws within two years to protect the interests of gay couples.

The historic constitutional interpretation makes Taiwan the first country in Asia to effectively legalize same-sex marriage. While the ruling was hailed by those in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, protesters voiced their discontent outside the court.

The council made the ruling after it received two requests for a constitutional interpretation on the issue.

One of those requests was filed by veteran gay rights advocate Chi Chia-wei in 2015 after his attempt to register his marriage with his male partner was rejected by the household registration office in Wanhua District in Taipei in 2013 and subsequent court appeals failed.

The other request was filed by Taipei City government’s Department of Civil Affairs in 2015 after three same-sex couples filed an administrative lawsuit against the government after their marriage registrations were rejected by the department.

Taiwan’s court deemed this so important for Asia, not just Taiwan, that the decision was published both in Mandarin and English.  People who follow legal issues tell me publication in English is exceedingly rare.

Full text of Constitutional Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage

I would say more, but I got home from work just now.  I’m changing and going out to the most popular LGBTQIA club in Taipei to dance until 4AM and get drunk.  They’re offering free shots for same sex kisses. I’ll worry about work and the hangover in the morning.

Intentionally Deliberate: Marriage equality in Taiwan

On Wendesday, May 24, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court will rule on the legality of marriage equality in Taiwan.  There have been no rumours about which way they will rule, but given the arguments (pro: the benefits, anti: “think of the children!”) and the Taiwanese public’s acceptance of LGBTQIA people, it’s very likely to pass.

In the event that it doesn’t, it is not a total defeat.  Putting the decision in the hands of the court was political manoeuvring by President Tsai Ing-Wen, rather than requiring the DPP passing new legislation themselves.  A bill has been written and could be pushed through if necessary.

I expect within a year some of my friends will start getting married.  I will seriously have to start shopping for formal dresses.

Constitutional Court to rule on gay marriage case Wednesday

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) Taiwan’s Council of Grand Justices is set to release its interpretation on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage on May 24.

The council will make the ruling after it received two requests for a constitutional interpretation on the issue.

[…]

Taiwan was the first Asian country to allow a constitutional interpretation on the issue.

If the judges rule that Taiwan’s current ban is constitutional, same-sex marriage will not have legal protection. If it rules that the ban is unconstitutional, then the Legislative Yuan will be forced to amend the law to legalize same-sex marriage.

Desperate Measures: The new back alley abortion

In Colorado, James Pennington has been arrested for “assault” upon Jane Doe.  Pennington is a former army medic, not a doctor, and surgically removed Ms. Doe’s testicles.

Pennington performed the equivalent of a back alley abortion. 

Transgender people constantly endure roadblocks to transition – denied changes in documentation, denied recognition, denied medical care.  If Ms. Doe had been able to attain all those things, she would not have resorted to having surgery done in her apartment, bleeding and risking death.

How does Ms. Doe feel about James Pennington?  She wrote a lengthy letter in his defence, pleading for him not to be charged or treated leniently.  She criticizes the bigoted medical industry, policitians and society that drove her to this decision.

I am not in her position, not desperate as she was, but I understand and empathize.

Transgender woman pens letter about testicle removal case

DENVER – A transgender woman has penned a letter explaining why she chose to ask an unlicensed Colorado man to remove her testicles in what she called a “back-alley” procedure.

James Lowell Pennington, 57, is accused of operating on the transgender woman and is now in a Denver jail facing charges of aggravated assault.

[Read more…]

Music Rules: What’s new, Pussycat

It’s not a question.  Pussycat is Juliana Hatfield’s latest album, released this month (May 2017).  It was written after the farcical election of Annoying Orange and recorded in less than two weeks.  It is her first overtly political album full of songs like “Short Fingered Man” and “KellyAnne”.

I have been a fan of Hatfield since 1992, primarily because of her consistency in song quality, and the fact that she plays much of it herself.  I haven’t heard the new album yet, but for me this could be her defining statement.

Yes, she is a descendant of the Hatfield and McCoy feud.

Cars Kill: Traffic terrorism needs to end

Nicky Hayden, the “Kentucky Kid”, was the 2006 MotoGP World Champion.  He died Monday at age 35. He was hit by a car five days ago while he was riding a bicycle during training for the 2017 World Superbikes season.  Hayden was hit by a careless driver five days ago, suffered massive internal and brain injuries, and succumbed to them on Monday, May 22.

Already the victim blaming and factless speculation has started, spewing tripe like “maybe he ran a stop sign”.  Photos from the accident scene show it was a long, straight road, no corners or traffic signs in sight.  And no skid marks from the car tires, either.  Unfortunately, as with most cyclist deaths, the assumption is that the cyclist is at fault.  The tone is very similar to the way women are blamed for being raped (i.e. “how was he riding?” = “what was she wearing?”).

It shouldn’t require the death of someone famous for people to realize that drivers do not respect cyclists and do not obey the law.  Cyclists have as much a legal right to the road as car drivers do, and drivers are legally required to leave space for cyclists to ride safely.  If you don’t want cyclists in car lanes, petition for one car lane to be blocked off with concrete Jersey barriers to provide a cycling lane.  Cars and drivers are the problem and danger, not cyclists.

The behaviour and actions of car drivers towards cyclists and pedestrians is Traffic Terrorism, and it needs to end.

Criticism of how cyclists ride is not relevant, unwanted and will be silenced.

Wrong Headed: Ignorance from the past

Outdated “thinking” never goes away, it just changes the target of its ignorance.

I recently ran across three items from the past in separate places on uninformed attitudes about and biases against left handedness.  Dressing up opinions and labelling them “facts” happened as often 150 years ago as it does today.

In 1850, a poorly written story called Left-Handed Billy was published in a children’s book called “Robert Merry’s Museum”.  It made farcical claims of left handedness, equating it with ineptitude, and stupidity.  The last paragraph of the story reads:

Thus he grew up, and, when he was a man, he received the title of Left-handed Billy. If he drove a team of cattle, he was sure to be on the wrong side, as you see him in the picture at the head of this article. He never succeeded in anything, but became what is called an unlucky fellow. The people used to say, if there was a wrong side, Bill was sure to take it. Such were the evils of growing up in habits of carelessness.

Publishing Andrew Wakefield wasn’t the only time The Lancet screwed up and published pseudo-science gobbledygook.  In 1924, a questionable “paper” entitled The Mental Sorrows of Left-Handedness (William. S. Inman) was published.  It made risible claims about the causes of left-handedness, stammers, and squinting based on no facts whatsoever, only biases of the time and the author’s.  The “conclusion” was that emotional stress from “too severe parenting” caused them, that left-handed was “an unconscious revolt against authority”.

In 1935, J.W. Conway wrote (and I use that word loosely) a horrendously awful pamphlet entitled The Prevention And Correction of Left-Handedness In Children.  His pamphlet was the “homosexual aversion therapy” of its day, advocating physical and mental abuse upon children to “correct” them out of something perfectly natural.

Strangers Estrange: Happy Freedom Day, to some

For those reading who love their mothers and grew up in a great home, call her and tell her you love her if you haven’t already.  Time is short.  For those who had a great mom who died, my condolences to you.  I have a couple of friends who lost their moms this year and I wish I could have done more than be supportive and a friend.

But the day is not a celebration for everyone.  “Mother’s day” can be as hurtful a reminder to some as “valentine’s day”, “christmas” or other commercialized events.  The world tells us only one form of expression is allowed that those who don’t share it must be silent.

That’s unacceptable. [Read more…]