Mar 4 2009

Population Explosion

I remember back in the seventies (world population then was around 3.6 billion) everyone was talking about the urgent dangers of overpopulation.

Then, suddenly, the subject disappeared. For around 30 years. Looks like the discussion’s finally starting up again.

Estimated world population now: 6.7 billion.

Why does this happen all the time? What causes this cyclic collective amnesia?

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Jan 30 2009

Sniffed, not snorted!

As a child, I was obsessed with 19th century novels. This provided me with no end of wonderful reading, maddeningly combined with some seriously confusing mysteries. One of which was snuff. What was it? What did it look like? Where did it go after it was inhaled?

The whole enterprise remained a bit vague and I never got around to looking it up; but for whatever reason, the last question has really been preying on my mind lately. Sadly, bereft of a local library, I tottered off to the internet.

Who would have thought investigating snuff-taking could be so entertaining!

My favorite impassioned snuff-taker’s site was authored by a delightfully opinionated and dry-humoured Professor Phillips Griffith. Here are a couple quotations for you:

“Of medicated snuffs the most popular is menthol. I do not know if they have any medical value… I regard such adulteration as a breach of of the seventh commandment and an abomination in the face of the Lord, but à chacun son gout.”

On choosing the right-sized snuffbox :

“…Nor too small: nothing could be more frustrating than to find yourself running out of snuff in the middle of your planned one-hour speech in the House of Lords. “

And don’t miss the section on snuff and your health. I never dreamed a cancer warning could make me laugh!

I also found a very entertaining page listing everything you need to know about snuff etiquette: to sneeze or not to sneeze? which snuffbox for which occasion? and the eternal when sharing with the surrounding company, does the snuffbox travel clockwise or counter-clockwise?

One rule includes a bit of alarming trivia:

…in 1820 the double barrelled snuff pistol was invented; it was capable of packing a day’s worth of snuff into the nose using an explosive charge. This kind of behaviour would be considered vulgar by anyone’s standards.

Finally to answer the original question: “Where does it go?” The idea is not to suck the fine (or sometimes slightly coarser powdered tobacco) all the way back into the cranial cavity, but to give a short, sharp sniff with each nostril: “…snuff should only be SNIFFED into the nose, not snorted. The snuff needs to remain in front of your nose, it is not intended to go into your sinuses or throat.”

This, of course, leads inevitably to the yet another question: “Uh, then what?” Well, the rather unpleasant answer is: “It comes back out again.”

In the form of a brown mucus.

The authorities recommend using multi-coloured silk handkerchiefs — as opposed to white ones — to disguise this horrifying side effect, but somehow that just seems to make the whole thing worse.

Just in case you still think this sounds like a viable option for your next new addiction, be aware that snuff-sniffing has been associated with tongue, nasal and breast cancers.

Still, you’ve got to admit snuff was a wonderful excuse to carry around (and show off) some rather snazzy little boxes. Here’s just one of the multitude owned by Frederick The Great (see below).

Too bad about the brown mucus.

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Dec 7 2008

“The World as I See It” by Albert Einstein

“My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a ‘lone traveler’ and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude…”

Here’s a nice little abridged version to whet your appetite.

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Jan 31 2008

May I speak to God please?…Do you know when he’ll be back?

Why, oh why, is that Canada only makes international news with bizarro stories?

Our serial killers are… pig farmers, which is grisly yet efficient (if you don’t know, you don’t want to), albeit not very glamorous. Our departing prime ministers try to sell off the furnishings of the government-owned official residence.

… an attempt by the Mulroneys in 1993 to sell the furniture, decorations and drapery they had accumulated at 24 Sussex Drive … for about $150,000. [more Mulroney corruption here]

We also harbour “rogue elves” that impersonate Santa and write shocking letters to small children in his name.

Each Santa letter Canada Post delivers contains the same main message with a hand-written personal postscript.

[2-year-old child recipient] Maya’s personal “P.S.” said: “This letter is too long, you dumb s - - t. [full article]

And now the latest — just in case you were thinking of flying Air Canada:

… the co-pilot was carried into the cabin with his hands and ankles cuffed after he was restrained by cabin crew and a passenger.

“He was very, very distraught. He was yelling loudly,” Finucane told Canadian broadcaster CBC. “His voice was clear, he didn’t sound like he was drunk or anything, but he was swearing and asking for God. He specifically said he wants to talk to God.” [full article]

I read a few different articles and it sounds like the Air Canada co-pilot removed his shoes and was running about the airplane screaming. Not good for nervous fliers.

Why is it that small children and the insane love taking their shoes off?

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Dec 25 2007

Somebody stole the baby Jesus –

– so his replacement (?) will be fitted with a satellite tracking device to deter thieves.

Who’s going to buy a “hot” baby Jesus???

I think they should implant a little two-way communications device while they’re at it. Why hast thou stolen me? Thou art busted. The cops are on their way…

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