Rubbish people

What with the relative preponderance of Rubbish People anon, it is of little surprise that I encounter them with intolerable frequency as, I’m sure, do you. My most recent experience with the crud at the bottom of the dredgepit was on a Thameslink train home last night. A plump young woman with scraped-back hair and piss-yellow plastic earrings was gabbling voluminously with her equally sans-elegance friend. Accompanying them was the former’s scrapenhaired and bepainted daughter, of about eight years.

Because they were Rubbish People, of course, their conversation was broadcast to all and sundry. I am well aware that when arguing with, say, a Coxall, my train-party can be a vocal lot too. Even so, for every tut of a Daily Mail reader, we’ve also received interested comments or amused raised-eyebrows from our involuntary court. And when one is with Coxall, make no mistake, one is holding court, be the venue a Eurostar First Class Carriage or the Brixton KFC (wherein he loudly, and without due consciousness, recounted the original name of the swarthy dog in Dambusters. A terrifying moment, as you might imagine).

But this Thameslink group was no court. They were not discussing old films, the finer points of predicate logic, nor the failure of Third Person Shoot-em-ups. Instead, the horrible estuary that sloshed into our unwilling ears contained an unedifying semantic sludge which testified to no less than the mother’s approval of and connivance with a schoolyard bullying in which her daughter was the primary effector:
“You were righ’ to kick that stupi’ li’lle cah! She was askin’ for it! I don’t care if ‘er dad died – she shouldav ‘ellped ya wif your ‘omework when you asked, snotty bitch!”
“Yeah, she was so fat and I kicked her in the stomach an’ nobody likes ‘er stupid fuckin’ slut!”
“Too righ’! Tell your teachuh’ that if she ‘as a problem wif’at, I’ll kick your fuckin’ teachuh’ in the gob an all!”

The mother, of course, then lit up in the non-smoking carriage. No, she didn’t self-combust, sadly, nor become illuminated with a sudden-found divinity, but lit up a particularly nasty filterless cigarette, and with her exhaust jet, took particular care to ensure her child had the best chance at lung cancer a mother can give without shoving asbestos down their darling’s throat. Everyone else on the train pretended to be in a parallel universe of stasis, except for another Rubbisher, an Adidas tracksuited fool who was yabbering on his mobile phone about just how very drunk he had been recently; clearly he had the deep need to communicate how inherently entertaining the mere acknowledgement of same must be. Ooh. Alcohol. I think he mentioned that he’d been sick on a doorstep. Classy! A real man, to be sure, whose very sinews are masculated by ethanol.

At moments like these, I have to admit to a certain eugenic tendency; but nothing nasty and Nazi – all I ask is a plusperfect-ontology machine, so that I can flick a switch, and such people would never have had come into existence in the first place. It could be dangerous, though – my itchy finger would be flicking the switch at every annoying sneeze and unconvincing drawl, possibly disrupting delicate social ecosystems in ways I can’t imagine. After all, the abolition of wasps would probably similarly cause all sorts of calamities in the more acceptable links on the Golden Chain of Being. In the world of my switch, the Nice might simply become swathed in Rubbishness; social darwinism, I’m sure, adhering to some equivalent of Le Chatelier’s Principle. Still, one can imagine.

Another switch-worthy occasion happened on another recent train-journey, this time to Hastings to watch some incendiaries. At one of the London stops, a group of physically and mentally disabled people (spazzes and mongs in old parlance) were wheeled onto the train by their minders. They sat near us. One could feel the tense bristling of every member of the carriage on their entry. The care-ed had clearly been out for an exciting day in London, and were still keyed up. One of their number could only express his excitement by the frequent exclamations, at the top of his voice, of “gayyyy!”, intermingled with “harrry??!!” (possibly reflecting the name, if not the proclivity, of one of his minders). The timbre was that so fluidly mocked by any school-child and, I have to admit, I began to find it funny. I’m sorry, but I did. I enjoyed each outburst for the fact that it was clearly an expression of some sort of exuberant pleasure, and that it was so deliciously disrupting the social norms of the train carriage, but in a refreshingly harmless way that a bunch of, say, boozy football fans isn’t. The increasing frequency of the outbursts was proportional to the number of displacement activities performed by the other members of the carriage: conspicuous newspaper ruffling, loud snack engorgement and, my particular favourite, an increasingly urgent discussion between two elderly passengers about rose-cuttings, supinely “unaware” of the hail of “harrryyy!” and “gayyyyyy!”s that fell through their horticultural safety net.

The disabled entourage eventually alighted at Tonbridge (poor them), and I was mildly disappointed to see them go. I certainly would not have flipped my ontology switch on any of them, who seemed to be enjoying life despite their hindrances, and committed none of the wilful Wrongness so abundant in the truly Rubbish. A stop later did, however, reveal candidates prone for a finger-flipping nothingness. A group of scratter-teens slunk on to the train, stinking of cheap fags and cheaper meths. More than one of them had about them that bad-skinned, peculiarly eyelidded, protruding-front-tooth gawpy idiocy that gives visible testimony to the last time his family’s DNA had adequately been refreshed – probably during the Norman invasion. They had about them not just the normal teen abundance of listlessness, but some deeper existential mire, as if each one of them had constantly to contend with the fullsome disappointment that shall be their summation unto death. Poor souls. My switch would be a mercy.

The practicality of an ontological button, sadly, is forked by the two prongs of immoderacy and impossibility. Something marginally more attainable has been suggested by my friend Verdurin. In his Grand Plan, the scratterish and unentertaining, the dully bovine and the fecklessly nasty proleish shall be deported. Here’s the genius: rather than banish them to some barren island on which they have no desire to live, let their exile be on a barren island which they’ll enjoy – Tennerife. True, there’ll be some negotiation necessary with Spain. Perhaps we could swap for the silly rock about which they’re so obsessed. Once ensconced by their Canary Paradise, each Rubbisher could enjoy a charmed life, even subsidised by the non-Rubbish People. They could live lives of simple Shaz and unencumbered Trev. Utilitarianism never tasted so sweet. But what to do with all the Rubbish people who don’t happen to people the Underclass? Mustique, perhaps?

9 thoughts on “Rubbish people

  1. Good heavens, John. It’s not like you to have the wool pulled over your eyes by the FORESTs of this world. Of *course* Passive Smoking leads to a highly increased risk of lung cancer. But then, why ever shouldn’t it? Do you believe that smoke travelling towards the inhaler is magically transformed merely by flowing in the other direction?

    http://www.who.int/inf-pr-1998/en/pr98-29.html

  2. But what happens when we take a closer look at their maths? It surprises me that you of all people would not want to investigate.

    Their mysterious figures of approx. 16% come from some extremely dubious mathematics that even a GCSE student should identify as entirely nonsensical.

    First of all, if you’d actually read the WHO study you refer to, rather than their tantrum, you’d have seen that it states:

    “Our results indicate no association between childhood exposure to ETS [environmental tobacco smoke] and lung cancer risk.”

    Which does somewhat ruin your argument. But let’s not stop there.

    It goes on to say that there is only “weak evidence” for a risk of lung cancer from spousal or workplace ETS, which makes their tantrum even more peculiar.

    And here’s their Special Maths:

    The 1993 study announced a 25% increase of risk of developing lung cancer when exposed to ETS. Let’s be generous and give them that figure, rather than their more modest revisions.

    This comes from the finding that someone with no exposure to ETS has a 1 in 100,000 chance of developing lung cancer. Someone with exposure, 1 in 80,000. Stealing from Penn & Teller’s excellent programme ‘Bullshit’, they point out that this is a change from 10 out of a million to 12.5 out of a million. Or as statisticians might like to put it, especially considering the WHO’s boasted “small sample size”, negligible.

    I take the same position as Penn & Teller on this matter. Smoking is foul, spiteful and extremely dangerous. Exposing others to passive smoke increases their risk of very many very serious conditions, and should be loudly condemned. It is deadly. But it does NOT increase risk of lung cancer – that is simply a lie. And when people start lying to win this argument, they destroy the argument entirely.

    Note how the WHO are very reluctant to link to their own study from their own tantrum, and indeed don’t even include any figures to back up their percentages.

    No, this is not an argument concocted by the tabacco industry to rubbish the findings. It is merely the findings themselves.

  3. I should have added, the source of their magic 25%. 12.5 is 25% bigger than 10. Yeah. Not quite so impressive when you don’t accidentally forget to include the “out of 1,000,000” part. The geniuses.

    According to the 1993 WHO findings, you go from a 0.00001% chance to a 0.0000125% chance. Indeed, a 25% increase!

  4. Absolutely superb article here:

    http://www.acsh.org/healthissues/newsID.248/healthissue_detail.asp

    “What we have here is a good cause—smoke-free living—threatened by hyperbole about the likely effects of ETS… ETS causes irritation and respiratory problems, particularly in children. Indeed, the findings that ETS causes or aggravates respiratory illness is undisputed, scientifically… By exaggerating, the Coalition only serves to give ammunition to those who are both generally skeptical of public health “meddling,” and to those who maintain that health advocates, motivated by “the end justifies the means” philosophy, frequently play quick and dirty with the facts in an attempt to justify the interventions they want.”

  5. Good point Victoria! If only I’d said something like, “Exposing others to passive smoke increases their risk of very many very serious conditions, and should be loudly condemned.”

    And no, it’s not rubbish, is it? It’s the facts your study offers. See, shouting at the figures published in the paper that you’re using as your evidence is, well, weird.

  6. Smoking is, of course, a delightful passtime which not only soothes all who wander through its magical grey cloud (created by the smoker who – in a way that should appeal to someone aligned with the open source movement – shares his output freely and without restriction) and pays, via taxation, for the nation’s apple trees, research into new sweet meats and supports the banning of kitten mutilation.

    But I didn’t come here to talk about that.

    I notice that the Government wants to make train journeys even more unbearable by banning me from drinking my usual 3 to 6 cans of lager any time I journey out of the bounds of London by rail. Drinking usually allows me to shut down and ignore homo rubbishus. Obviously I will just be driven underground. But that’s public transport too and hence would fall under the proposed prohibition. So I will be driven either back above ground (perhaps even into the sky) or further underground. Or maybe I’ll oscillate rapidly between the two at such a high frequency that officials will not be able to keep up and confiscate my booze.

  7. I believe that anti-smoking authorities have been lying to us about the dangers of secondhand smoke. I have formed a group to fight smoking bans called KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE! We defeated a smoking ban in St. Louis by challenging the notion that secondhand smoke kills people. Check out the real science of secondhand smoke and see how NYC hates its ban: http://www.nycclash.com If you want help fighting a smoking ban in your city, contact me at hanneganlounge@safeplace.net

    Read this estimate of ETS danger by researcher David Kuneman taken from a STLtoday.com blog “No Smoking in Illinois?” and decide for yourself if anyone’s liberty needs to be taken away.

    Ok, lets go to all the so-called studies which “prove” ETS is a hazard. There are two kinds of ETS studies… sloppy ones and well executed ones. The sloppy ones are those which are case-controlled. This means, the researcher asks a nonsmoking lung cancer patient what airborne carcinogens he/she was exposed to. If 30% more patients respond to being exposed to lots of smoke, the researcher concludes ETS increases Lung Cancer risk 30%. These studies usually involve a few hundred patients. This is where you get your data from. Trouble is, patients are not experts and do not know if they were exposed to asbestos, lived in a home with a radon problem, etc. The patients have all heard ETS causes LC, so they blame that. Please go to http://kuneman.smokersclub.com/ for a more complete explanation.

    The well executed studies are called cohort studies. These rarely conclude ETS causes Lung cancer and Heart Disease. In cohort studies, thousands of persons are enrolled and all are healthy. They are divided among those exposed to smoke..or not. After about 30 years, the researcher contacts as many as he can locate, and determines the health of the study subjects. These are more expensive to run. The most well known of the cohort studies is the UCLA study which found no risk. These kinds of studies are less subject to bias.

    The EPA report combined the results of 13 studies, and all but one were case controlled. They could Have used all 58 studies completed at the time, but did not simply becasue if they had, they would have been forced to conclude ETS is safe. According to the EPA report, even using those 13 studies, without the Frontham study, they would have concluded ETS is not dangerous. Trouble with the Frontham study is she refuses to let anyone see her raw data. I have a copy of the complete EPA report—that’s what it says.

    In summary, we have the EPA claiming ETS is dangerous, and the Dept of Health and Human Services which only cites studies conducted by antismoking groups, and has never actually done a study of thier own claims ETS is dangerous. We have OSHA, the Congressional research service of the Library of Congress, and OakRidge Nat Labs claiming ETS is not dangerous.

    Now, lets move on to population studies. All good epidemiology text books teach than when a weak risk such as a 30% excess risk is determined from epidemiology studies, then the researcher has to conduct population studies to either confirm, or reject the 30% result. If the researcher checks the prevalence of the disease indentified, as being more common in populations, more exposed, then the risk is confirmed. The trouble is, Europeans only get about half as much Lung Cancer as we do, and they are exposed to more ETS and always were. This according to WHO. And euros smoke about 1/3 more than us, and always did and euros live about 2 years longer than we do. Another population study is that in the US, age-adjusted rates of heart disease, nonsmoker’s lung cancer, asthma, COPD, and days missed from work are higher now than than in the 1970s when we were exposed to about 9 times more smoke. There is also a higher rate of childhood cancer, birth defects, middle ear infections, asthma, and most other diseases blamed on smoke today, than in the 1970s. early cases of smoking related cancer among young adults are increasing.. Again see http://kuneman.smokersclub.com/ for more detailed info. Population studies fail to confirm the 30% increased risk these case-controlled studies claim exist. And it’s more than just a litle odd no matter which disease you’re referring to, the elevated risk caused by ETS is always claimed to be the same- 30%- not double, as Dean claims.

    I think the fact that we have removed 90% of all ETS, and nothing good happened, speaks volumes as to what we can expect if we remove the last 10% of ETS exposure. Dave Kuneman

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