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May 06, 2009

Re: Surely This Couldn’t Happen Here

Cigarette Dave,

Here's what comes to mind:

  1. On the one hand, we seem to be determined to follow Western Europe's lead, no matter how badly and obviously we see those cultures and states weaken before our eyes. Given the greater European appreciation for the cigarette, and given the current American governmental appetite for buying $timulu$ with taxpayer dollars, one could almost imagine something as hilariously pathetic as required cigarette consumption. "Drag deep, men, and silently thank Saint Keynes for giving us his Magic Multiplier."
  2. On the other hand, there's too much Clinton-era precedent for directing the full power of the state against Evil Big Tobacco. And you've got liberal Meddlers In Chief like Mayor Bloomberg who believe it their job to save the ignorant hoi polloi from their precious vices. So it's hard to see us going pro-cig in our policy.
  3. Then again, the anti-smoking lobby believed the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between Big Tobacco and the states' attorneys general constituted a perverse incentive for smoking. So ... maybe our policy precedent is a tad unclear.
  4. Last thought: For now, we thankfully lack China's coming population implosion. Math is the harshest of taskmasters, and it does not bode well for the retirement of China's older generations, given the comparatively tiny financial base upon which those retirees will rely. So ... you know ... maybe the Chinese government is trying to hook the older workers on devil tobaccy to, er, whittle away at those retiree numbers!

I humbly submit all of these decidedly subpar thoughts for your consideration.


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Jason Taylor

Actually the present Chinese rulers seem suspiciously like the clasic "last of the dynasty" Emperors that devote themselves to women and let their eunechs take over and rule unjustly. Thus causeing the mandate of heaven to fall from them. Could their be another warring states period in the works?

Chris Krycho

No disagreements save with your use of hoi polloi with a "the" in front of it. The Greek student in me revolts, since "hoi" is a plural definite article, making your statement "the ignorant the many" which makes me headdesk. Of course, if you flipped it around, you'd have good Greek grammar. But it should be "hoi polloi the ignorant" or "hoi/the ignorant polloi" - just please never "the ignorant hoi polloi," as that will make any Greek student's head explode. ;)

Gina Dalfonzo

Actually, it is considered correct.

"Since 'hoi' means 'the', the hoi in English is redundant. However, the hoi polloi is used sufficiently frequently in common parlance that it has become acceptable. The Chicago Manual of Style considers the usage 'the hoi polloi" to be the standard usage."


Dave the Swede


I think your number 4 point above is probably the answer. You know Roberto and I are big on following demographic trends.

Eliminating the excess older population through a "smoke 6 packs a day" campaign would be a lot less messy than another cultural revolution.


1. ...aaannnnd Jason once again demonstrates knowledge of Asia so far beyond that of my own that all I can do is think "hmmm ... interesting ... I wonder what Jason is talking about."

2. To Chris re "Greek students' exploding heads": I suddenly find myself tempted to launch a new website: www.thehoipolloi.com. How can it be wrong when it feels so right?

3. Gina, one would think that since you helped me struggle through Typepad idiosyncrasies with this post AND that since you defended my grammar, I should be grateful and loyal. But, come on, Chris took a *friendly* shot at me ... look at that smiley emoticon he used! And then you come in with that Dickensian wet-blanket grammar trooper routine ... I mean, come on, give the poor guy a break!

4. Dave: Precisely - it's an unfiltered slaughter. They've probably got Young Communists doing cig-checks on street corners. If you're older than 50 years old and you're caught smokeless out in public, then you get dragged before the local party officials. Oh, you need an arthritis relief prescription? Fine, just puff these three extra-tar Luckee Strykes down to the filter, and we'll hand the precious pills over.


We all have to have fun in our own way, Allen. :-)

Jason Taylor

Oh, well you see Allen, I sometimes forget my intellectual heights above lesser mortals.

But I was refering to the periodic cycles of order and disorder in Chinese history when a dynasty waxes and wanes. Really not all that different from the Ancient Near East, except in the Near East Babylonyians, Persians, etc each brought a different culture with them. Whereas Chinese culture was so resiliant that the new conqueror was always Chinese. Even when he was a barbarian, like the Tartars or the Manchus he always assimilated in the end. Thus every dynasty was Chinese.
Be that as it may, I was making an analogy to the various dynasties which collapsed leaving a period of warlordism in their wake.


Wouldn't it be nice if, along with outsourcing jobs, we could outsource our bad habits? "The Picture of Dorian Gray", globalized...

Chris Krycho

Allen - we have more than enough trouble as it is, getting people to recognize the merit of our weighty endeavor. There's just no sense of joy in learning hard things for their own sake anymore. :p

Gina - I believe that makes me officially hate the Chicago Manual of Style. (No, not really. Though if I ever find that page I might just rip it out and BURN it.) :p Seriously, though... people's laziness now codified as standard usage? GAH! Thanks for the info in any case - I'll have to pass it along as a point of amusement to my Greek and linguistics-minded friends. ;-)


1. Jason, I see. But - not to say this matters most to me - usually when you comment on Asian cultures, you at least reference people with excellent edged weapons. Gurkhas ... Samauri ... what did the ancient Chinese have?

2. Lee, that's true. I'd love to outsource my Avoid Checking Voice Mail habit. And I'm not sure the world would be all that badly off if Gina outsourced her Nitpicking habit to some far-flung and overly serious aboriginal tribe or whathaveyou.

3. ...speaking of which, Chris, I see our dear Gina has gotten to you. "BURN"ing horrifically boring grammar texts ... in all CAPS at that ... my goodness, man; she's pushed you over the edge.


Jason Taylor

The problem with that Lee is that I have no bad habits.

Jason Taylor

Allen: The Chinese were an imperial power and fought bureaucratic wars with armies not unlike modern style. They had a number of imaginative weapons but as it happens none come to mind. However I think I am boring some of my readers. I would be glad to talk on Facebook.

Jason Taylor

Of course if I am NOT boring people here, I would be glad to drone on even if it is off topic.
For the record I also have interest in a number of Asiatic peoples, not all of whom have cool blades. As a side note the Ghurkas are not a people in themselves. Rather they are Himalayans who have joined a subsidiary organization funded by the British government for the purpose of helping to solve the problem of overpopulation.


I could read threads with Jason Taylor and LeeQuod discussing things in it all day, it's like watching a very skillful ping pong match where there's multiple ping pong balls and some of them are juggled in the air before they are hit back and forth.

FWIW, Chris, I hate CMS, MLA, AND APA, because the constant "tweaking" of the grammatical standard costs students and universities tons of money as English and Composition books become "outdated" because somebody switched the rules about how to cite a URL. I am looking at you, Modern Language Association. Put down that committee meeting, I don't think they were meant to be used as bludgeons to beat English into submission.

Jason Taylor

Thanks, Kari.


Jason Taylor wrote (with tongue in cheek, I think): "The problem with that Lee is that I have no bad habits."

This is true Jason you never forget to add commas. ;-)

But let's outsource smoking to China, eating fatty foods to Africa, drinking too much to Russia (whoops, too late), and become the slender, healthy Americans God expects us to be. Oh, let's also send Pride to France. (Check.)

(Aside to Kari: some days it's just too tempting to grab one of the ping pong balls and stomp on it, merely to surprise everyone. But thanks for the props.)

Jason Taylor

LeeQuod, my dear old friend. Are you sure France needs any more Pride?

viking mother

Mass socialism seemsto be where nations drift if they are not modified by outside, strong ideals concerning human nature and human worth. (Surprise surprise).

The nobles who made the old British English?) king sign off on a few rights...helped us reach the "pinnacle" of human worth in the Constitition, etc.

but as we drift back downstream, watch for more king types to exercise MORE preemptive ruling. Our one party national government may well do some good things...but I am a skeptic of mostly one party governments. I live near Chicago.



As a side side note, the Gurkhas are more than just generic "Himalayans." They come from a specific ethnic group in a specific region of Nepal. Their mercenary history is only tied with the British empire, I believe, but they are their own "people."

Jason Taylor

Yaknyeti, I am aware of that, but the term "Gurkhas" is a specifically millitary one.

Jason Taylor

For the record mr. Yakineti Gurkkhas traditionally have in the past been predominatatly Magars, Limbus, Rais, and Gurangs. Very few have been Sherpas for some obscure reason, even though Sherpas are the best known tribe in the area.

Interestingly only one regiment was made up predominately from the warrior caste and most from the peasant caste despite the paradox.

Be that as it may, I called them Himalayans because that is easier for mortals to recognise. If I had wished to call them Nepali I could have.

Jason Taylor

Oh, and Mr Yaketi, after the Independance some Gurkha regiments are in the Indian Army and some in the British because of one of the many rather awkward details in the arrangement. They have done service against the Chinese and Pakistanis and probably are quite useful watching the frontier right now.

Have I displayed enough pendentry yet?


And now how about getting back on topic? :-)

Jason Taylor

Actually, Viking Mother, I think freedom was a product of culture rather then the reverse and is to some degree fortuituous. The Constitution was built to defend a state of affairs that already existed.

In any case, the default seems to me to be not mass socialism as such, but either rule by overweening tribalism(in wilderness areas)or rule by exagerrated hierarchy(in fertile areas). Some places have both to some degree like Gina's old country.

The necessity for freedom seems to me to be a middle class which possesses a large degree of control over the keys to a societies military and economic capability. Which is one reason why I think the internet a good thing despite the insufferablility of bloggers: it gives power to the people.

In any case we would do well to remember that much of our freedom is a function of the Atlantic Ocean and if many Europeans have less of it, arguably they could never afford it with other Europeans nearby.

Jason Taylor

One analogy to the tobacco thing was in England where mandatory fast days were kept long after the Reformation, simply to keep the fishing fleet prosperous.

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