Smokers could be required to quit in exchange for NHS rights | Politics | The Guardian,,2233773,00.html

First Social Psychosis story of the year…

Smokers already subsidise the Health Service to the tune of just over 6 times what they cost it.

“Research by the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York has shown that the cost to the NHS of treating diseases caused by smoking is approximately 1.5 billion a year.” (Thorax 1998; 53 (Supplement 5, part 2): S1)

“The Treasury earned 8,055 million in revenue from tobacco duties for the financial year 2002-2003 (excluding VAT))” (Customs & Excise Annual Report 2002-03.) (The VAT would be about another 1 billion on top of that)

On what conceivable legal or moral grounds could anyone possibly justify withholding the benefits of the service they fund more than anyone else in the country???!!!

Indeed, without the smokers, we’d all have to be an extra couple of pence in the pound on our taxes, so someone please tell the imbeciles to act their age not their shoe size…

And if that wasn’t true, and someone can make a credible case for smokers true cost to society outweighing their contribution in taxes then you could only make a case for increasing their costs, not depriving them of benefits. That is straightforward theft.

But before we penalise smokers further still, (and I’m not a smoker by the way) perhaps it’s time we took a look at who really ought to be paying the bills – the true cause of the problem – the tobacco companies who make vast profits at the cost of the health of their customers. Shouldn’t the full “externalised cost” of the damage caused by their product be paid at source?

The polluter pays and all that? Happy New Year

Darts: Flights of fantasy – More Sports, Sport – The Independent

The annual rags to riches story…
Happy New Year!

Pearls Before Breakfast –

You have to be patient and read the whole thing through. What you’re left with is a profound insight into… what? I was inclined to say “modern America” but I have a nagging suspicion that he would have received the same level of attention in the centre of a London station…

Rumple sent me to this one. Great satire he said. He wasn’t wrong. But I’m bemused.

It was indeed good satire. Very hostile to precisely the interests you’d think AOL represents. What does that tell us? Either that they’re not the enemy we assumed they were, or, at least, they’d like us to think that way; or perhaps they’re so complacent that they think they can actually profit from satirising images of the society they’re helping to produce…

I’ll have to think about this. One question that I don’t think he’s addressed is the degree to which the foreign creditors cannot afford to watch the dollar plummet. They may be prepared, or even forced, to carry the pain of the bursting bubble in order to sustain the value of the loans they’ve made.

Case Against Meritocracy

This is my first serious attempt at explaining the fundamental errors in Meritocracy – the root fallacy of Platonism (the idea that some humans are fit to lead while the rest are only fit to follow). I will no doubt find better ways to explain it once I’ve had some feedback, so please – gimme some!

Faster Chips Are Leaving Programmers in Their Dust – New York Times

Problem and Opportunity. If we get this right we’ll power another couple of decades of Moore’s Law growth – probably enough to reach the Singularity. If we get it wrong, we may have to delay mind uploading a while…

Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms –

From the moment we succeed in creating a new dna based life form, the rules will have changed. Bacteria form the first generation. The second generation will be a multicellular being. We should reach Superhumans by about the 11th and each “generation” will take about half the time of the previous one to achieve.

So time how long it takes to get from single cell to multi cell and you’ll be able to calculate how long before we can create entirely new intelligent species capable of out-competing ourselves. I would guesstimate about 45 years from first successful single celled lifeform.

Watching the Watchers: Why Surveillance Is a Two-Way Street – Popular Mechanics

Trusted Surveillance is all about watching ourselves and watching the watchers in such a way that we can prove the negative (we were not at the scene of the crime) as easily as the positive (I did receive this instruction from my boss). It is probably the only way we will retrieve and protect the liberties and privacy we have already lost.

Move over, silicon: Advances pave way for powerful carbon-based electronics

The real significance of this development is that it provides for a few more “Moore’s Law” doublings…

Researchers Train The Immune System To Deliver Virus That Destroys Cancer In Lab Models

looks to me like a major breakthrough. Doesn’t need a new technology, just a new way of using existing techniques. Could be curing cancers – and preventing remission – within a few years.

AFP: Priests brawl at Bethlehem birthplace of Jesus

ah, the spirit of Christmas is alive – but not so well…

The Drug Story.

One of the classic “Corrupt Insider” stories of the 20th Century.

Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, organ


Atheists | My[confined]Space

The beauty of this is it’s elegant intelligence. No theist has rebuffed it in nearly two thousand years.