Buttheads Should Butt Out: Another reason I hate smokers

I’ve been accused in various places (not here) of hyperbole and overreaching in my comments about smoking.  Or been threatened and told to shut up.

Too many claim smoking is a “rights and freedumb” issue, not an environmental issue or a form of assault upon those being forced to breath it.  And little or no attention is paid to the rates of aggressive and violent behaviour amongst smokers compared to non-smokers.  Or if there is attention, it’s usually aggressive and threatening.  Thankfully there is a growing sentiment that all smoking around children should be treated as a form of child abuse.  that abuse isn’t just smokers stubbing out cigarettes on children’s bodies.  Smoking in front of anyone who objects should be illegal.


 

This week in Connecticut, a smoker named Paul Ferguson shot and murdered Della Jette and her brother Sterling Jette Jr. They were the teenage children of his girlfriend, Danielle Jette.  He had moved into the house only two weeks earlier.  After killing the two kids, he shot himself in the head and died.

Why did Ferguson murder them?  Because they complained about him smoking in the house.


Smokers are so addicted that they will ignore basic safety, believing “rules don’t apply to me”.

Belinda Coble of North Carolina died this week while smoking next to her oxygen tank.  She lit the cigarette, and an explosion tore through the room, killing her.  The fact that she needed pure oxygen to breathe didn’t stop her addiction, nor did explicit instructions not to smoke around pure oxygen.   This wasn’t due to forgetfulness or being half asleep in the morning or evening.  She didn’t care, she wanted that cigarette.

Misery Repeats: Meet the new rapists, same as the old rapists

New Republic published a staggering piece this week about the “Monkey House” near Camp Casey, South Korea. It seems that Syngman Rhee’s fascist regime and the US military said, “why spoil a good thing?” perpetrated the same crimes as the Imperial Japanese military: the organized forcible rape and captivity of South Korean women.  And it started in the 1950s, continuing until 1991, several years after South Korea had become a democracy.

The item begins (most original links preserved):

Locals call it the Monkey House. The decaying, three-story cement fortress sits among weeds in the wooded, hilly outskirts of Dongducheon, a Korean city of 96,000 that encircles Camp Casey, the closest U.S. military base to North Korea and home to key elements of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. The 2ID is “the only forward-based Army division integrated with Allied troops” in Korea, President Trump proudly declared to U.S. service members after his highly publicized crossing of the DMZ on June 30 to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

For those who live in Dongducheon, however, the base and surrounding town hold a mixed and painful legacy. Between the end of the Korean War and the early 1990s, more than one million Korean women were caught up in a state-controlled prostitution industry that was blessed at the highest levels by the U.S. military. They worked in special zones surrounding U.S. bases—areas licensed by the South Korean government, reserved exclusively for American troops, and monitored and policed by the U.S. Army. These camp towns were known to the Koreans as kichijong.

The system was designed to strengthen the U.S.-South Korean alliance, which was formalized in a 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty; its less formal mission was to boost morale for the thousands of U.S. military personnel stationed on the peninsula after the Korean War. It was the same for South Korea, where prostitution was encouraged as a woman’s patriotic duty to the state. Dongducheon, with some 7,000 registered prostitutes at its height, was the largest of the kichijong, and the strip of camp towns stretching from the DMZ down to Seoul was known as “GI Heaven.” For the Korean women in the camp towns, though, it was hell.

No matter how aware you are or try to be about such crimes, there always seems to be a new level of depravity uncovered.

Disaster Animated: “Le Mans 1955” is a brilliant short film

Le Mans 1955” is a beautiful and horrifying short animated film by Quentin Baillieux, depicting the worst disaster in motor sports history, Pierre Levegh’s crash during the 1955 24h du Mans.  More than eighty people were killed and 180 were injured when Levegh’s car crashed into the grandstands. It has won several awards already and has been nominated for the 2020 Academy Awards.

The film is not 100% historically accurate, but mercifully, it barely touches on the crash itself.  The dead are depicted with sheets over them, not the true horror of bodies torn apart and the horrific fire (see below the fold for newsreel footage).  This is a human film about emotions and decency when faced of disaster.  One important true point: it was John Fitch’s outrage that led Mercedes to withdraw from the race.

John Fitch’s story is a fascinating one.  He was a World War II american bomber and fighter escort pilot, one of three americans to shoot down a Messerschmitt Me262 (the first jet airplane).  He took up motorsports after the war and was fairly successful.  But it was his post-racing career as an inventor that made the biggest impression, developing Fitch barriers (barrels of sand) and many other safety devices that have saved thousands of lives.  He also found a way to improve fuel efficiency in gas-powered engines, reducing waste of gasoline and diesel.

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L’enfant Terrible Tire: tuerie de l’École polytechnique, 6 décembre 1989

Marc Lépine entered a classroom at l’École polytechnique on December 6, 1989.  Despite Lépine being visibly armed, male students followed his instructions, separating themselves from women and leaving the room after he told them.  Not one of them made any effort to confront or stop Lépine.  How do they live with themselves?  To quote Mark Steyn writing in Maclean’s magazine in 2009:

As I [Steyn] wrote in this space three years ago:

“The defining image of contemporary Canadian maleness is not M Lépine/Gharbi but the professors and the men in that classroom, who, ordered to leave by the lone gunman, meekly did so, and abandoned their female classmates to their fate—an act of abdication that would have been unthinkable in almost any other culture throughout human history. The ‘men’ stood outside in the corridor and, even as they heard the first shots, they did nothing. And, when it was over and Gharbi walked out of the room and past them, they still did nothing. Whatever its other defects, Canadian manhood does not suffer from an excess of testosterone.”

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Justice Still Denied: The Bhopal Disaster continues, thirty five years later

The Bhopal Disaster happened on December 3, 1984, thirty five years ago this week. Capitalist greed by Union Carbide led to poor safety standards and maintenance. Toxic methyl isocyanate was released into the environment, affecting over 550,000 people.  The “official” death toll is nearly 3800 and roughly 40000 temporary or permanently debilitating injuries. Independent estimates claim 16000 dead, and many more may have been affected, poisoned and disabled by exposure.

Union Carbide fought for years to avoid legal and financial responsibility, such as saying Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) was a “separate entity”. Even after India’s courts assessed a US$470million judgement and a US court upheld it, Union Carbide continued to drag their heels on making payments until 1991.

Some UCIL employees have finally been held accountable in court in the 2010s, thirty years later (with fines, prison sentences) but those most directly to blame have been allowed to escape responsibility. Indian courts issues warrants for Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson but the US refused to extradite him. He would have faced ten years in an Indian prison for his crimes.

The Indian government has also been guilty of not distributing compensation to the victims directly, and have refused to test evidence from 35 years ago.

In 2018, The Atlantic covered the Bhopal Disaster’s lingering effects:

The World’s Worst Industrial Disaster Is Still Unfolding

In Bhopal, residents who survived the massive gas leak and those who arrived later continue to deal with the consequences.

In old Bhopal, not far from the small Indian city’s glitzy new shops and gorgeous lakes, is the abandoned Union Carbide factory. Here, in one ramshackle building, are hundreds of broken brown bottles crusted with the white residue of unknown chemicals. Below the corroding skeleton of another, drops of mercury glitter in the sun. In the far corner of the site is the company’s toxic-waste dump, shrouded in a sickly green moss. Not 15 feet away, a scrawny boy of about 6 tries to join a game of cricket. A few skinny cows graze next to a large, murky puddle. Strewn on the ground are torn plastic bags, yellowed newspapers, stained paper cups. And in the air, the pungent fumes of chlorinated hydrocarbons.

India Today has a small gallery of photos from 1984.  The first is the hardest to look at.

Fascistbook Sucks: Another day, another reason to hate it

A short rant that some may interpret as a whine:

I’d quit fascistbook if it weren’t for the fact that nearly all my friends used it and it’s one of the easiest ways to contact other people (i.e. nobody has geocities pages and email addresses anymore).  No, don’t “suggest” alternatives”.

For the third time, I have been locked out of my account and “warned” for “violating community standards”.  My first two violations were for saying “white trash” and for saying “white men”, which fascistbook deems “protected groups”.  How long before I’m in fascistbook jail or permanently locked out?

My third “warning” came tonight.  I linked to a video (filmed in sprint 2019) showing the Israeli Terrorist Force throwing tear gas grenades into a tent where Palestinians were praying.  Apparently, factually depicting the Israeli military’s actions isn’t allowed.  Or maybe it was because I said,

Remember, folks: reporting the Israeli Terrorist Force’s actions is “anti-semitism”.

The really galling part: The link I posted was not the youtube linked below.  It was this video on fascistbook’s own site.  The video was posted without consequences, and a friend of mine who linked to the video had no problems either.

The Medicine Goes Down: And in the US, it will cost $150 per day

On World AIDS Day, December 1st, 2019:

Cipla is an Indian pharmaceutical company that manufactures generic drugs.  They don’t develop drugs, they make drugs which are out of copyright or can be made cheaply because copyrights don’t apply to certain markets.  As a result, they produce a lot of drugs that save lives in developing countries, but still make a huge profit.

The most common anti-HIV drug used in Africa is a syrup that must be given to infants daily.  It contains 40% alcohol and has a metallic taste, and children either don’t want to take it or vomit if they do.  Without it, the death rate amongst children with HIV would skyrocket.

Cipla has reformulated the medicine into granules the size of sugar and taste like strawberries, making it much easier (and more willing) for children to digest.  It can be mixed with milk or food.  The new drug will cost $1 per day, the same as the unpalatable drug.  In a developing country, that’s still a lot of money, but it gives the children a fighting chance.

And that $1 per day is a money loser.  Cipla’s chairman, Dr. Yusuf K. Hamied, said in 2001 the company was losing money on each child the break even point being $600 per year.  He plans to continue selling it cheaply to save lives.

This is called being a decent human being.

If it were sold in the US, pharmaceutical companies would gouge hundreds of dollars out of people, just as they did with PrEP.

New Strawberry-Flavored H.I.V. Drugs for Babies Are Offered at $1 a Day

About 80,000 babies and toddlers die of AIDS each year, mostly in Africa, in part because their medicines come in hard pills or bitter syrups that are very difficult for small children to swallow or keep down.

But on Friday, the Indian generic drug manufacturer Cipla announced a new, more palatable pediatric formulation. The new drug, called Quadrimune, comes in strawberry-flavored granules the size of grains of sugar that can be mixed with milk or sprinkled on baby cereal. Experts said it could save the lives of thousands of children each year.

“This is excellent news for all children living with H.I.V.,” said Winnie Byanyima, the new executive director of UNAIDS, the United Nations agency in charge of the fight against the disease. “We have been eagerly waiting for child-friendly medicines that are easy to use and good to taste.”

Cipla revolutionized the provision of AIDS drugs for adults almost two decades ago, pricing them at $1 a day. The new pediatric formulation will likewise be priced at $1 a day. The announcement by Cipla and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, an offshoot of Doctors Without Borders that supported the development of the drug, was timed to coincide with World AIDS Day, which is Sunday [December 1].

[…]

Cipla, founded in 1935, was the first generic drug company to offer H.I.V. drugs in Africa. In 2001, its chairman, Yusuf K. Hamied, upended the global pharmaceutical industry by offering to supply a three-drug cocktail to Doctors Without Borders for $1 a day.

At the time, multinational drug companies were charging up to $15,000 for their regimens and refusing to lower prices except in secret negotiations with a few countries and were working to block generic competitors from the market. An estimated 25 million Africans were then infected and thousands were dying every day. (The industry was also suing South Africa’s president, Nelson Mandela, over a law he had signed authorizing the government to cancel drug patents and award them to generic makers.)

Old School: Producing 8-bit and 16-bit audio in DOS

There are many operating systems available nowadays, and not just the usually suspect OSes (windows, mac, linux, android).  Popularity does not determine usability; many functional operating systems remain in development (*) and are used as everyday operating systems.  There may be limitations (e.g. no multitasking) but there are also strengths (e.g. less risk of malware operating in the background).

As an everyday OS, DOS lacks nothing: web browsers, text editors and word processors, programming language interpreters and compilers, multimedia programs, and of course, games.  Since around 2000, the biggest downside and limitation to using DOS has been the lack of audio drivers. Since VIA’s AC’97 “soundbridges” came along, few or no chip makers have made DOS compatible drivers.  People have been limited to scouring second hand stores, recyclers and resellers for old Adlib, Roland, Soundblaster and Gravis sound cards.  Older cards may have worn out from wear or humidity, and unscrupulous people have been known to sell broken cards.

In recent years, several DOS compatible sound devices have appeared, both 8bit and 16bit, which are compatible with both old and modern PCs.  There are only two limitations: (a) some require a built in parallel port, which is becoming rarer, and (b) most replicas use an ISA slot, which few companies place on motherboards anymore (ISA daughterboards are still available).

Below the fold are starting points on where to find OSes and sound cards.  There are no links to “wares” sites, though some are named. There are also links to commercial sites, which I hope is allowed.

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Die, Boomers, Die: The more, the sooner, the better

Business Insider (and other capitalist trash media) are making specious arguments about the housing market as baby boomers finally start to die. They’re trying to justify keeping the inflated housing market inflated and ownership in the hands of the wealthy rather than deal with reality and solve problems.

First lie: “younger people won’t want these homes”. Seriously? The Tiny House movement is primarily driven by capitalist greed pushing wages down and making home ownership impossible, not because younger people are obsessed with tiny things. Young people are environmentally aware, unlike boomers, and know that the most environmentally friendly house is one that’s already built.

Second, so what if these homes are in retirement communities? They are not isolated and in the middle of nowhere, they are suburbs. Create affordable public transit to cities, and people can travel to work and shop. Plus, you can always build businesses where people live.

Third, what is this “debt” they speak of? Baby boomers OWE women, Black people, People of Colour and all post-boomer generations who have been ripped off and cheated for decades. Boomers owe society for their decades of racism, redlining, unfair and underpaid wages.

When it comes to dying baby boomers and the hundreds of thousands of unoccupied homes and apartments, the best solution is redistribution. Confiscate all those empty houses and apartments and give them away. Allow people apply to win debt-free homes and give them away by random draws.

Giving millions of “boomer” houses to Black people, mortgage free will help (though not fully) pay reparations for 70 / 400 years of racism, gentrification, redlining and unfair business practices. Give the millions of empty apartments to Millennials, GenYs and GenXers who want a small place to live.

The boomers can’t take their wealth with them when they die. Give it to people who need it and can make better use of it.