Cancer Sticks: Big tobacco makes Union Carbide look like amateurs

Across the developed world, tobacco addiction is in heavy decline for a variety of reasons – facts about the risks of smoking, education, laws restricting where people can pollute the air, heavy fines for violators (both the addicts and the dealers), concern for people’s health, declining wages, etc. Even in countries that have been filth pits of cigarette smoke (e.g. Japan, South Korea, Russia, China, et al), the trend is the same.

Out of desperation to find new markets, the drug dealers are seeking new markets: Africa and Asia, Indonesia being one of the worst examples.  Which is exactly how the tobacco companies want it.  In the third link (a news item from 2012), the reporter says “There is no minimum age for buying cigarettes. […] Cigarettes are today the number two item of household expenditure, after rice.” [Read more…]

Type Or Write: Putting down words for 150 years

The venerable typewriter is now 150 years old, depending on what you consider its key moment of invention and development.  (Regarding the title, should that be putting up words, since some typewriters use upstrike?)  There are older typing machines than that, but it was the Sholes and Glidden design of 1867 which became the standard, first mass produced in 1868 (although many improvements came later, e.g. lower case text).

Typewriters changed the workplace, changed literature, changed education.  They produced writing that was more legible and faster to produce than handwriting could ever be, allowing writers to express themselves at speeds never before possible with less effort.  (The less laborious work is, the faster and more willing people are to do it – and do more of it.)

The typewriter has also had major impact on the change of language, not just what was written.  For alphabetic languages (Latin, Cyrillic, Hangeul, et al), a 1:1 keyboard assignment was feasible.  For character based languages like Chinese and Japanese, it posed a major problem.

Typewriter historians credit Lin Yutang not just as the inventor of the Mandarin typewriter but also the inventor of predictive text. He placed commonly used characters near each other to make phrases and combinations much easier. He also simplified the organization of Chinese language characters by number of strokes, making it easy for users to find them.

Sugimoto Kyota, inventor of the Japanese typewriter, had a major impact upon his language. Prior to the 20th century, Japanese students learnt upwards of 10,000 kanji (Chinese characters). He chose to limit his typewriter to 2,400 characters he deemed most important (for government, business and legal use). Today, Japanese students still learn about 10,000 kanji, but only about 2,000 are used in everyday life, most of those selected by Sugimoto.

South Koreans still learn thousands of hanja (Chinese characters) and read newspapers written with them.  But in everyday life, only the Hangeul script is needed for school, government or business.

Myself, I hate predictive text and never use it because (a) it rarely chooses the word I want and usually inserts the wrong one, and (b) it uses american spellings.  No thanks.

Is predictive text robbing us of our ability to write?

In China they call it character amnesia – being unable to recall how to write a phrase because you’re so used to autocomplete software. Now it is on four billion phones, and children type before they write, will we still be able to put pen to paper?

[Read more…]

Life Support Cut Off: Dr. Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, dead at 41

A month ago, I wrote a post about World No Tobacco Day.  I didn’t mention it at the time (though I’ve been following the story), but in Australia on May 30th, Doctor Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann was violently assaulted, left in a coma with severe brain damage.  On June 28th he was declared dead and taken off life support.

Why was Pritzwald-Stegmann assaulted by 22 year old Joseph Esmaili?

Because Pritzwald-Stegmann told Esmaili not to smoke in a hospital.

There are many such stories of smokers becoming aggressive, violent and committing criminal acts when told to obey the law or respect rules on people’s private property.

NIH: Cigarette smoking and intimate partner violence among men referred to substance abuse treatment.

This study examined differences between alcohol-dependent offenders of intimate partner violence (IPV) with and without current daily cigarette smoking. Eighty-five alcohol dependent men arrested for domestic and referred to substance abuse treatment were evaluated. A total of 71% of the participants reported current cigarette smoking.

NIH: Effects of cigarette smoking on human aggressive behavior.

Women attacked in Berlin cinema for asking men to stop smoking (June 2017)

Three women were physically attacked and threatened with a knife on Sunday evening when they asked two male cinema-goers to put out their cigarettes.

The two men, both 21 years of age, were sitting in the row in front of the women in a cinema in the Tiergarten neighbourhood when the incident occurred, police report.

But instead of stubbing out their cigarettes, they turned around, hit the women in the face, ripped at their clothes and then threatened them with a knife.

A man who smoked on an airplane and caused a fire midflight received a 9 1/2 years sentence.  He was seen smoking outside the courthouse after the trial.

A Council Bluffs man was arrested for assaulting a woman who did not give him a cigarette.

Passengers on a Pakistan International Airlines flight were blacklisted after smoking on a flight and “misbehaving” with the flight crew.

A passenger on a bus in Wuhan, China stabbed the bus driver after being told not to smoke on the bus.

Youtube: A woman in Israel starts a fire at a gas station after being refused a cigarette

Youtube: A man in Suzhou, China was arrested for assaulting a bus driver who told him not to smoke on the bus

Saitama train conductor assaulted after asking man to smoke in designated area

And the list goes on.  Laws banning cigarettes and private property owners banning smoking are not justification for violence, assault or destruction of property, no matter what smokers think.