Category: Smoking Sucks


“ … There is the theme of the amazing passion, vision, perseverance, and guts of various individuals who were determined to make wine as good as Europe and to turn Washington’s desolate sagebrush into world-class vineyards: Pretty brave and visionary.” – Historian, Department Chair and Wine Enthusiast Marji Morgan

My boss Marji made a mistake in her Sagebrush to Vineyards: Washington’s Route to the World Wine Map Central Washington University College of Arts and Humanities lecture that a few biology students noted.

She marveled out loud how Washington’s early winemakers had the vision thing to see past the desolate sagebrush landscape, infested with rattlesnakes. They cleared out the brush, exiled the rattlers and planted vitis vinifera grapes for a wide variety of varietals, all in the name of progress and good wine.

The biology students accused Marji of not respecting rattlesnakes.sweetwater1

These budding scientists may be environmentally correct in standing up for desert ecosystems and slithery reptiles, but very few are going to join them in jumping to the defense of rattlesnakes. Most would jump away from these lethal vipers.

Almost DailyBrett identifies a core presentation problem that comes with fangs, scales, pissed-off personalities and poison. All of these characteristics may work for American politics, but rattlesnakes will never be considered warm and fuzzy.

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has even suggested on its website that donors “symbolically adopt” rattlers. They’re serious.

Scientists have identified 36 separate species of these vipers, ranging from Alberta to Argentina, 13 of which reside in Arizona. Doesn’t sound like rattlesnakes are going extinct anytime soon. Reportedly they take out their aggressions on rats (another species with bad PR), birds and other small critters, which provides rattlers with their raison d’être.

Sea otters, deer, horses, seals, dolphins, puppies and kittens – mostly furry and/or cute — have much better public relations. Schlanges have issues that go back to the Book of Genesis. Back then, the serpent served as the first consultant in the Garden of Eden, and it has been downhill for business consultants ever since.

Swallows in Capistrano; Rattlers in Sweetwater

“The sound of rattling at these roundups is in fact a thousand snakes screaming.” — Melissa Amarello, cofounder of the Tucson-based Advocates for Snake Preservation.

Looking for something to do right around St. Patrick’s Day?

Well, you could check out the annual return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano along the Southern California coast or you could head to West Texas for the annual Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup.sweetwater

Every second weekend in March, the Sweetwater Jaycees hold the world’s largest rattlesnake roundup (not sure many towns want to beat them for this distinction) including a carnival, guided tours, a dance (tango with a rattler?) and the Miss Snake Charmer contest.

About 25,000 folks descend of Sweetwater to observe the netting of 3,780 pounds of snakes. Miss Texas even took her turn standing in the middle of what appears to be an above-ground swimming pool filled with rattlers, instead of water. Want to dive right in?

Almost DailyBrett usually comes down on the side of critters, not engaging in hunting (let’s give the Elk guns too, just to make it fair). Heading to Spain this summer with its bull fighting culture, which to this author seems like a waste of bovine testosterone. Sea World has its issues with killer whales. And Almost DailyBrett vividly remembers the “Coyote People” descending en masse on the Glendale, California City Council after an offending coyote killed a little girl.

Guess which side the “Coyote People” took?

If one was searching for an international public relations firm to take on rattlesnakes as a client, Burson-Marsteller may be a solid choice. Burson has represented Philip Morris (now Altria) for decades and made no apologies. According to the CDC, cigarettes kill 400,000 Americans each year. Only six Americans succumb to rattler bites each year.

Sounds like an easy client for Burson-Marsteller with favorable third-parties (e.g., The National Wildlife Federation) to call upon. You can just imagine the PowerPoint presentation. Maybe, Burson-Marsteller can convince WME/IMG to hold the Miss Universe contest next year in Sweetwater, Texas to coincide with the rattlesnake roundup … or maybe not?marji

Back to Marji Morgan, all she was doing was delivering an overall well-received address about the history and future of wonderful Washington wines. Simple until the ecologically correct spoke up.

Instead of sipping varietals, she figuratively stepped on a rattlesnake hiding in desolate sagebrush.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rattlesnake

http://www.desertusa.com/reptiles/rattlesnakes.html

https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Amphibians-Reptiles-and-Fish/Rattlesnakes.aspx

https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/livingwith/rattlesnakes

http://www.rattlesnakeroundup.net/

http://www.rattlesnakeroundup.net/roundup.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2016/03/12/how-to-kill-thousands-of-rattlesnakes-in-just-four-days/

 

 

 

 

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“Believe in the Power of the Run.” – Legendary University of Oregon and U.S. Olympic Team track coach Bill Bowerman

“Food is the enemy.” – Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

“Drive-throughs are killing more people than the drive-bys.” — LA Gangsta Community Gardener Ron Finley

Went to the big-box store looking for a men’s reversible belt. Supposedly, you are supposed to buy one size larger than your actual waistline.DSC02471

Let’s see: There is size 38, size 42, size 46, size 50 …

Where the heck is size 34? Do they still make size 34 belts, let alone anything smaller?

Your Almost DailyBrett author may be vertically challenged. There is no doubt he is follicly challenged. Damn it, he will not be horizontally challenged.

No convulations over my size 34 belt.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 34.9 percent of American adults or 78.6 million are obese. The added medical costs nationwide amount to $147 billion or about $1,429 in additional doctor visits for each obese adult.

Day-in, day-out millions of Americans are literally eating, smoking and/or drinking themselves into infirmary. Wheel chairs, scooters, canes and walkers are just waiting to be purchased (an unfortunate growth industry) and the kidney dialysis centers are popping up like Starbucks.

This trend has to stop.

When you think about people in wheelchairs you feel sorry and sad particularly for what they can’t do in their lives any longer. There world is literally getting smaller and more restricted with each and every day.

For some, this state of affairs was unavoidable and unfortunate. They deserve our sympathy and support.

For others …

And then, there are the 400,000 Americans who die each other because of smoking-related diseases. Can’t they read the warning labels? Ah, yes it is the nicotine talking; it is always the nicotine talking.

Without Limits

More than a few don’t want to hear anything about running. There is a commitment to a level of pain when it comes to getting into shape.

Some correctly believe that it’s near-insanity to wake up early in order to run in 16-degrees (ski cap, gloves, thermal undies); others may see this commitment as dedication.

And some may be concerned about running in 90+ degree heat; better make sure that plenty of water is available.

Why should we even consider running? How about because we want to not only live, but live well?

Literally hundreds of thousands of people outrun little ole me on a daily basis. They have the 13.1 or even better, 26.2 decals on the backs of their cars. These stickers are tributes to themselves and to Pheidippides, who according to myth immediately died after  running 26.2 miles to deliver the good news of “Victory” after the Battle of Marathon.marathon

In My Time of Dying

“I see the smiling faces; I know I must have left some traces; And I see them in the streets; And I see them in the field; And I hear them shouting under my feet … “– Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

At 11 minutes and 6 seconds, “In My Time of Dying” is the longest Led Zeppelin song ever recorded. For some reason, it seems to be an apt title for a run of almost two miles. There are times when you actually believe: This run is really In My Time of Dying.

The question that needs to be asked, besides the obvious bout against overweight/obesity, why take the time and effort (particularly in extreme temperatures) to make a commitment to fitness and staying in shape?

The answer is multi-fold, but one of them revolves around having clothes you wore 20 years ago still fitting. Another is the little extra bounce in your step that arises from increased stamina. And how about the prospect of living longer, doing more, being sharper and enjoying life to the fullest?

If one needs further stimulation consider a mobile device with Nike+ software. The little tyrant actually awards you video game-style “medals” just to make sure that you run more than 30 miles each month.stonescuba

When the author of Almost DailyBrett contemplates the Rolling Stones are still bringing it on the road, even visiting Cuba for the first time just last month, in their collective seventh or eighth decades (i.e., Ronnie Wood, 68; Keith Richards, 72; Mick Jagger, 72 and Charlie Watts, 74), one needs to rebel against a lethal sedentary lifestyle.

Watching Jagger dance and perform in his 70s for upwards of two hours with a reported waist line around 30 inches-or -so is simply awesome.

momsledPondering how my mumsy at 97-years young has kept her slender build, just renewed her driver’s license for FIVE MORE YEARS, and still goes to Curves three days a week is motivation enough for me, and maybe it should be inspirational for others as well.

Yes, I am a tad biased on this subject.

Her father, an avid fitness kind of guy, made it to 100-years-young with all of his personal transmission running just fine.

Happy Birthday mumsy. You are still ready to hit the sled and drive the nose guard off the ball.

Something tells me, she will see the century mark and then some.

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/prevalence-maps.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DUnOup4tVY

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Bowerman

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/split-an-entree-today-enjoy-a-free-lunch-for-two-tomorrow/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/life-in-your-years/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/plant-some-shit/

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/mar/26/rolling-stones-enjoy-historic-cuba-gig-havana-obama

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_My_Time_of_Dying

http://www.lakepowell.net/marathon.html

 

 

 

 

 

“Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” – Physicist Sir Isaac Newton

“Don’t tell me it can’t be done. Show me how it can.” – Plaque in the office of former House Speaker Jim Wright

Japan’s Hidekichi Miyazaki ran the 100 meters in 42.22 seconds, just a tad behind Jamaica’s Usain Bolt’s world-record time of 9.58 seconds.bolt

In fact, Miyazaki’s 42.22-second 100-meter time was also well short of Bolt’s world-record time of 19.9 seconds for the 200 meters.

Darn it, his 42.22 time did not even match Miyazaki’s 34.10 seconds’ personal best.

Okay, let’s give him a break. Miyazaki or “Golden Bolt” achieved his 42.22-second time the day after his 105th birthday. He took up sprinting in his 90s.

Almost DailyBrett says: “You go dude.”

Don’t tell Hidekichi that he can’t, because obviously he can, and that includes his version of the Usain Bolt victory pose.goldenbolt

Which is Worse: Can’t or Won’t?

There are literally millions of people through no fault of their own, who simply can’t.

They are too young. They are too old. They are infirm. They don’t have the proper opportunity. They just can’t.

And there are millions more, who just won’t. They can, but they won’t. They are the external force … or should we say, “internal force” … that stops a personal state of motion dead in its tracks.

Think of these cup-always-half-empty souls this way: They are the concentric zone theory in reverse.

Instead of the suburbs and exurbs moving away from the inner core of the city, the exurbs and the suburbs are collapsing and the world is getting smaller-and-smaller for Mr. and Ms. Won’t.

They don’t like their job, but they won’t do anything about it.couchpotato

They are in a rotten relationship, and yet they suffer and won’t even contemplate dropping the hydrogen bomb.

There are few, if any opportunities in their locality, and yet they won’t leave a neighborhood in which Jerry Springer comes in search of guests.

They won’t consider moving elsewhere, even though a pot of gold may indeed exist at the end of the distant rainbow.

They won’t give up smoking. They won’t give up drinking. They won’t give up this bad habit or that bad habit.

They won’t take this trip. They won’t try this new technology. They won’t leave their boring civil service job. They won’t develop new relationships. They won’t try new foods. They won’t seek out a second career.

They won’t. They won’t. And they won’t.

What’s the Point?

“The doctors are all surprised. It’s all about being in good health” – 105-years-young Japanese sprinter Hidekichi Miyazaki

Miyazaki’s secret for a long-life: exercising daily, eating in moderation and chewing his food thoroughly.

How many do we know who won’t exercise at all, let alone daily? How many do we know who won’t eat in moderation and keep packing on the pounds? How many won’t even consider chewing food thoroughly or deliberately?

If anything and everything is they won’t do this or won’t do that, isn’t their world getting smaller and smaller?

Soon they won’t change. They won’t have any place to go. They won’t have anything to do. They won’t have any new horizons. They won’t have any friends. They will be alone in their won’t world.

And after years of a won’t world, they will be faced with the passage of time with a can’t world.

Then what is the point of life? Or is life a running-out-the-clock ordeal, just waiting for that inevitable fateful day.goldenbolt1

For Hidekichi Miyazaki as well as everyone else that day will come. Something tells Almost DailyBrett that before he meets his maker, Miyazaki will strike one more “Golden Bolt” pose with a huge smile on his face.

He is the ultimate can-do kind of guy.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/japans-hidekichi-miyazaki-sets-fresh-record-oldest-competitive-sprinter-n432736

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/24/us-japan-centenarian-idUSKCN0RO0IW20150924

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O88-concentriczonetheory.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/making-change-your-friend/

 

 

 

 

The University of Google is where I got my degree from.” – Anti-Vaccine Activist and Blonde Celebrity Jenny McCarthyjenny

“Even for scientists, the scientific method is a hard discipline. Like the rest of us, they’re vulnerable to what they call ‘confirmation bias’ – the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe.” – Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post, writing for National Geographic

There have been a lot of –isms in global history … most of them were/are not good, even though a few of them are more than okay (e.g., Buddhism).

It seems like there is a relatively new –ism that is building in intensity in the First World: Foodism.

And with Foodism come its adherents/zealots: The Foodinistas.

It’s not hard to find this rapidly replicating species as its high-rent habitat keeps expanding from shade-growing, free-trade coffee with soy stands to gluten-free bakeries to vegan & veggie restaurants to über-expensive, organic Whole Foods.gluten-freefallon

And the frenzy does not stop there. How about the continued ban toward adding natural mineral fluoride in the water of Portland, Oregon? How about those who adamantly refuse to vaccinate their children against whooping-cough, measles and other diseases? And let’s not forget what columnist Charles Krauthammer has labeled, the narcissistic pursuit of the home-birth “experience”?

Like the devotees of other –isms of history, the Foodinistas are almost religious in their devotion to their cause(s), even though they are usually secular in their orientation. They are armed with their increasingly wireless Google, Bing or Yahoo search engines. Literally in nano-seconds with their personal “filter bubbles” they can find what they are looking for and conveniently ignore all the rest.

If you care to spend time with them (if you must), you will find bright, highly educated, well-compensated Foodinistas, inhabiting aware enclaves such as San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and Alameda Counties (e.g., California examples), who are more than happy to proclaim the overwhelming virtues of their shade grown, gluten-free, pro-GMO labeling, anti-vaccination, pro home-birth, anti-vaccination, veggie/vegan existence.

First-World Starvation?

Foodinistas are hungry; they are always hungry, which means food is always top of mind. Is there any wonder why humor is not in great supply with this crowd? A growling stomach and a good time don’t typically go hand-in-hand.

Even though we live in the richest country on the planet, the one that has more than its fair share of food choices in its supermarkets and restaurants, there are ever-more that Foodinistas will not eat as opposed to what they will actually consume. And as time goes on and more pseudo-science articles are posted online, their acceptable food groups shrink even further as they grow more “mature.”chemicals

Some will chop veggies for two, three, four hours or longer in order to prepare a vegan feast (hold the honey, honey; it belongs to the bees). Guess what? The process is repeated for the next meal and the next and the next and …

In an extreme case, a Foodinista will break the vegan fast for a (gasp!) vegetarian meal on Fridays, only on Fridays. There is no alteration of this pattern permitted. The Swallows of Capistrano wish they could be this predictable.

A gluten-free prince or princess will challenge everything that is being served including white and red wine. What do grapes have to do with the gluten in grains?

And what are some of the places that require labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs)? How about China, Russia and Vermont? Maybe Vladimir Putin will next annex Ben and Jerry’s?

Is increasingly legal, taxed, regulated medicinal marijuana gluten free? Almost DailyBrett can see the coming Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) roll-out for gluten-free weed.

Pass the coconut oil

“The people who believe that vaccines cause autism, often well-educated and affluent — are undermining ‘herd immunity’ to such diseases as whooping-cough and measles.” — Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post, writing for National Geographic

Is it just Jimmy Fallon, little ole me and a few others who see that this Foodism religion taking on even more Kool-Aid drinking zealots?filterbubble

And what are the consequences of the behavior of Foodinistas? It ranges from forcing even more to listen to one more narcissistic epic tale of triumph over gluten and Porterhouses to the unnecessary spread of measles and other diseases. Have these folks ever weighed the impact of their behavior on their own personal brand and reputation? The most important public relations are personal public relations.

One would think that we have enough to worry about including the record $18 trillion+ and climbing federal deficit, ISIS atrocities, rampant obesity, whether the majority of Millennials will be able to buy a home anytime in their lifetimes, and if way too many Baby Boomers will live years/decades longer than their retirement funds. There are others who are obsessed with food: They live in the Third World.

Almost DailyBrett will humbly argue there are real issues that deserve our attention, not whether a scone is gluten free or not or whether it is safe to engage in have-a-blast vegetarianism on any day other than Friday.

Something tells me that fun and Foodism are two F-bombs that don’t go well together.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/science-doubters/barnes-photography

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1996-05-27/news/9605270029_1_midwife-first-child-childbirth

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/08/25/why-liberal-americans-are-turning-against-gmo-labeling/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filter_bubble

 

 

“I pledge allegiance to the Hemp Flag of the United States of Intoxication, and to the Reefer for which it stands, one Stoned Nation under Bong, Incomprehensible, with ‘Medicine’ and Cannabis for all.”

Forget July 4 as our national holiday. Let’s break out the extra-special brownies on April 20.

leaves instead of stars

 

Sorry Barack. If you don’t believe that you are already a lame duck … Elizabeth Warren is already measuring the White House drapes … just be reminded that The New York Times always sets the agenda for everything and anything that happens in the United States of Intoxication (USI) from the upper west side to the banks of the Hudson and every other place across the fruited plain.

And now that very same New York Times editorial Pharisees have called for nationalization, taxation, regulation and most of all legalization of the fledging big marijuana industry, once again preempting those 50 annoying states, each of which may have their own ideas on the pot question.

“We considered whether it would be best for Washington to hold back while the states continued experimenting with legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana, reducing penalties, or even simply legalizing all use. Nearly three-quarters of the states have done one of these.

“But that would leave their citizens vulnerable to the whims of whoever happens to be in the White House and chooses to enforce or not enforce the federal law.” — New York Times editorial, July 26, 2014

Herb in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah?

Ready to get stoned, Sweet Home Alabama?

It’s for “medicinal” purposes, South Dakota?

Hey Oregon, why should your voters even vote on the issue of legalized marijuana this November considering that the New York Times has already spoke ex-cathedra on this issue?

Why not just mail it in?

Replace the Stars with Pot Leaves

Guess Betsy Ross got it all wrong. Or maybe she was inhaling from a bong.

She included the seven red stripes (not the Jamaican beer) and the six white stripes. She knitted the navy blue field. And then she added the first 13 stars. And later came 37 more.

betsyross

Is it time for a redo?

Let’s see, Colorado and Washington have already legalized marijuana and bundles of “Benjamins” are being spent on kosher weed because the banks will not offer their debit/credit card services for fear of running afoul with national money laundering statutes. That means the new flag only has two marijuana leaves for now with certainly more to come.

The Gray Lady wants to cut to the federal chase. Screw the cumbersome state-by-state approach and impose Roe v. Wade style preemption. And maybe even include a national sales tax on legalized pot (logical extension).

And as mentioned before in Almost DailyBrett, it will soon be time for publicly traded marijuana companies (e.g., NASDAQ: WEED) and even pot suppliers (e.g., NASDAQ: BONG), regulated by the Securities Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and others.

“Minor Problems”

“There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco.” – New York Times editorial, July 26, 2014

The editorial even claimed that moderate use (e.g., intoxication) “does not appear to pose a risk for healthy adults.” The Times also said that marijuana should be legalized nationally for those over 21-years of age.

Darn those pesky neurologists and their MRIs. They keep on letting their doctorates in medical science get in the way, even having the audacity to document long-term emotional and motivational issues for casual uses of marijuana.

“This (Society for Neuroscience) study suggests that even light-to-moderate recreational marijuana use can cause changes in brain anatomy,” said Carl Lupica, PhD, who studies drug addiction at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “These observations are particularly interesting because previous studies have focused primarily on the brains of heavy marijuana smokers, and have largely ignored the brains of casual users.”

neurologist

Guess this “interesting” study by scientific types is irrelevant because it contradicts the premise of the predictable New York Times editorial. And how clever to throw in comparisons with alcohol (potential intoxicant) and tobacco (fatal attraction).

It looks like we will all soon be living in the United States of Intoxication whether we like it or not.

Now let’s grab our bong (and munchies) as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the USI.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/27/opinion/sunday/high-time-marijuana-legalization.html?op-nav

http://www.sfn.org/Press-Room/News-Release-Archives/2014/Brain-Changes-Are-Associated-with-Casual-Marijuana-Use-in-Young-Adults

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/the-worlds-most-evil-product/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsy_Ross_flag

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/420_(cannabis_culture)

 

 

 

Terrie

terri

“My (11-year-old) grandson has never heard my real voice. I don’t even remember what my own voice sounds like.” – Terrie Hall of North Carolina.

Terrie was a former high-school cheerleader.

She has blonde hair, and was once very pretty.

She started smoking at 13 years of age.

Today, one can hardly stand looking at her or listening to her…even for a second. Her voice is reminiscent of fingernails on a chalk board.

And yet there she is night-after-night during the intermissions of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are running a series of absolutely graphic and brutal ads to shake people up.

Will they be able to overcome the controlling addictive power of nicotine?

I doubt it.

Walking up to the University of Oregon “Smoke and Tobacco Free Campus” each day, I literally run the second-hand smoke gauntlet. The policy has cleared the air on campus, but nicotine has simply pushed the smokers to the peripheries.

Have we accomplished anything?

Don’t get me wrong, I support this policy 100 percent even though I harbor a strong libertarian bent.

Some have commented that getting off nicotine is more difficult than going cold turkey with heroin. I wouldn’t know in either case, and I am not going to find out.

Whether or not this is an empirically and peer-reviewed scientific fact, there is little doubt in my mind about the addictive power of cigarettes.

Reportedly, Terrie was smoking right before her larynx removal surgery in 2001. She now breathes through a stoma and speaks through a “hands-free” device. Charming.

Wonder if the smokers on the edge of campus think about this prospect?

As many of my readers know, I am a widower because of smoking. I am neither neutral nor dispassionate about this subject.

All forms of encouragement from me, my daughter and her friends failed to convince my late-wife Robin to quit her death pins. There was always a reason, always a rationale, always an excuse. The nicotine was talking. It was always talking.

The days leading up to her death were horrific. I will spare you the details other than to say that one bodily function after another failed.

As Robin was mercifully sleeping as the clock was running out on her life, I remember walking out of the Pleasanton, CA hospital into early spring chill. There they were. Patients bracing the wind and rain in their hospital gowns clinging to their IV-poles…smoking.

Robin passed on July 10, 2005, officially ending her addiction to cigarettes. She would say now that I am blaming the victim. I say she was the self-inflicted victim of nicotine.

Terrie does not have the luxury of death…at least not yet. You know it’s coming earlier than it should. Her ads will be sad reminder of the end of her life…but does anyone really care?

As a public relations instructor and practitioner, I comprehend the power and reach of social marketing using both conventional and digital means. The CDC ads during the Stanley Cup Playoffs certainly grabbed my attention…but fortunately for me, I am not the “target” audience.

The smoking hockey fans may simply flip the remote switch. Instead of watching “Terrie,” let’s see what is happening in the NBA playoffs…

How long will it take for our society to do the right thing?

Ads and bans are well-intentioned half-way steps in the right direction, but they will ultimately fail. The nicotine enemy is too strong.

If Philip Morris came out with a Goebbels-brand of cyanide cigarettes, Bunker 45s, the government would immediately ban them just as they would step in to stop the sale of Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid.

The reason is simple cyanide cigarettes and Jamestown Kool-Aid are fast-and-lethal poisons.

Okay, let’s state categorically and unequivocally that cigarettes are slow-and-lethal poisons. The key words are “lethal” and “poisons.” If the primary purpose of government is to protect the health and safety of its citizens, shouldn’t the government do the right thing and wipe this nicotine scourge off the planet?

How many tobacco farmers will lose their jobs? How many support workers lost their jobs when Dachau closed down?

How much public revenue will be lost if cigarettes are banned? The higher cost ($6 a pack) has not dented smoking. Addicted smokers will pay anything and even sacrifice the well-being of their loved ones for their lethal fix. Are tax revenues coming at the expense of dead-and-dying smokers, blood money?

Consider the dynamic effect on government expenditures if smoking related illnesses dropped dramatically, thus reducing public health-care costs.

My call for banning slow-poison cigarettes will be dismissed as impractical at best and radical at worst.

I have never been labeled as “radical” in my life. Heck, I voted for Mitt Romney…does that put me into the fondly remembering the excesses of Woodstock crowd?

Some will say that I am still suffering from the loss of my smoking wife, Robin. That criticism is valid, but how many people in this country and on this planet have endured the same fate…and for what purpose?

Well-conceived and intended half-way measures will ultimately fail with all due respect to the CDC’s Terrie. Even if cigarettes are banned…and I pray that someday we will have the courage to do so…there will always be a black market for smokes.

So what?

At least, we won’t have to watch the next generation’s Terrie in the middle of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/resources/videos/terrie-videos.html#terrie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyVLKHEqTu0

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/28/cdc-anti-smoking-ads/2018121/

http://www.cdc.gov/

http://healthyoregon.uoregon.edu/Tobacco.aspx?q=TobaccoFree

How much intellectual heavy lifting does it take to raise a tax?

Prioritizing and carefully reducing expenditures requires mental gymnastics, but one doesn’t need an Ivy League degree to increase taxes…even though most of these collegiate thoroughbreds advocate doing just that.

Once you have decided to hike taxes to fund even bigger government, more spending (and borrowing), the obvious question is whom should you tax? The answer is oh-so-easy, those who have the worst public relations.

Let’s put on our social justice hats and indulge in a little Schadenfreude and/or sadism.

Who do we most want to suffer? Here are some predictable candidates and potential targets…all in desperate need of better brand management.

Tax the Rich: This is obviously not a new subject (e.g., class warfare) or a new target for increased taxation. Congress recently passed and the president signed the latest tax increase on the rich. Last November, Californians approved Proposition 30 with its “temporary” tax increases on the wealthy, prompting the second best golfer on the planet, Phil Mickelson, to complain (and later to apologize for daring to question taxation in the Land of the Free).

philmickelson

Maybe we should be apologizing to him for imposing a 39.6 percent federal rate, a 13.3 percent (California) state rate; 1 percent state mental health surcharge; 3.8 percent state Medicare surcharge; San Diego County property taxes on his $15 million home; 8 percent sales tax and 20 percent on any capital gains. Essentially, Phil works from January 1 to at least August 31 to pay all of the governments with their hands out.

In the 1970s, the Rolling Stones fled England to escape its punitive 98 percent tax rate (e.g., working from January 1 until December 15 every year to pay the government). Should Mickelson at least move out of California to no-income tax Texas or Florida to reduce his personal tax bite by at least a third? Sounds like a good idea.

Some mocked Phil for complaining about his taxes, insinuating that he had not achieved or earned his income. Let’s see: he won four of the PGA’s grand slam events and 40 tournaments. That fits my definition of achievement. Let’s celebrate it…Oh…Sorry I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings…

Tax the Endomorphs: Isn’t it fun to snicker at those who can’t push themselves away from the dinner table? “Do I look fat in my outfit?” “Do you have to ask?” “Why do you live to eat as opposed to eating to live?”

There is no doubt that obesity is a major societal problem, so do we “solve” it by making the government obese? Some have suggested a “fat tax.” My first question is what constitutes “fat?” Is this restricted to people who are overweight or obese according to the Body Mass Index (BMI)? That would be one fat tax.

Denmark recently rescinded its fat tax because the heavy dynamic types were going across the border to Sweden and Germany to satisfy their caloric fix. The tiny Scandinavian country was also inadvertently punishing its fine cheese and meat industries, making them uncompetitive in the face of foreign competition.

Tax the Smokers: This dwindling group (for more reasons than one) is probably the most unsympathetic in the eyes of the general public. For example, they are permanently illiterate when it comes to the warnings on the side of each pack.

John Daly

There is little public relations can do to save them from themselves and/or the nicotine. How much further can the government extract from these addicted people? It seems the government is just as hooked on nicotine-stimulated revenues even in the face of more smokers biting the dust.

Just four years ago, Congress passed and the president signed the sweet sounding, “The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009.” The key was a tax increase on smoking, increasing the federal tax on a pack of smokes from $0.39 to $1.01. This tax is levied on top of the myriad of state taxes on cigarettes, such as $0.87 per pack in California; $1.18 in Oregon; $3.02 in Washington and a whopping $4.35 in New York.

Tax the Lawyers: What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.

Whenever a group has earned being the butt of bad jokes with impunity, you know they need help from a public relations standpoint. But do they really need help? Those most inclined to raise taxes on them are the ones that are the political allies of the powerful trial lawyers. Don’t plan on reading about a lawyer’s tax anytime soon, particularly when Democrats control at least one house of Congress and the White House as well.

Tax the Pale Males: There are no greater symbols of white privilege than the pale male (e.g., 43 of America’s 44 presidents). Can you imagine being a rich pale smoking male endomorph attorney?

How many times can you tax this bastard? Ah heck, let’s just confiscate all of his income in the name of “the public good.”

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/California_Proposition_30,_Sales_and_Income_Tax_Increase_%282012%29

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/28/opinion/navarrette-mickelson-freedom/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewcampione/2013/01/25/phil-mickelson-is-moving-from-california-a-mistake-actually-he-should-have-moved-sooner/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Mickelson

http://economist.com/news/europe/21566664-danish-government-rescinds-its-unwieldy-fat-tax-fat-chance

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigarette_taxes_in_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Master_Settlement_Agreement

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

The World’s Most Evil Product

The setting was serene, a cool morning with the sun rays starting to win their way through a resolute coastal fog.

There were pine cones littering the ground having fallen from shade trees not long before.

cambriacemetery

Most of all there was a granite marker telling the story of a “mother,” a “wife,” an “artist” and a “writer.” Robin was born on January 24, 1955 and she passed away on July 10, 2005…about three decades short of what should have been her expected lifetime.

Even though I can’t prove it conclusively and never will, I am nonetheless certain that cigarettes robbed 30 years or more of her life. These highly addictive and inexplicably still legal killers deprived my daughter, Allison, of her mother and me of my dear wife of more than two decades.

Both Allison and I repeatedly encouraged Robin to quit, to find another way, to say goodbye to smoking, but there was always another rationale, another excuse, another reason…it was the nicotine talking, the same nicotine that took control of her life…until the end. The official diagnosis was stomach cancer, but I am convinced it was cigarettes.

As I sat beside the grave marker last week in the Cambria Central Cemetery in Central California, a ritual that I undertake two-or-three times each year, I became incensed. The reason was the realization that this repeated pilgrimage didn’t have to be, at least not this early in her life or this early in my life. How many others are going through a similar exercise and coming to the very same conclusion?

Let me ask right here and now: Why aren’t cigarettes banned outright? They kill. They are poisonous. We know this as an empirically proven, peer-reviewed scientific fact. Why don’t the federal and state authorities just say no to cigarettes?

Are we worried about losing jobs in North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia? Are we concerned about electoral votes from these very same tobacco-growing states? Do you smell smoke, the kind that wafts in a backroom when a deal is being struck?

In November 1998, 46 state attorneys general reached agreement with Big Tobacco on a Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) calling for the tobacco companies to cough up (appropriate verb) $206 billion during the next 25 years. The end result is the government gets bigger (the government always gets bigger), the tobacco companies are free from liability for their murderous actions, cigarettes are sold and people keep on dying.

Just three years ago, Congress passed and the president signed the sweet sounding, “The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009.” The key was a tax increase on smoking, increasing the federal tax on a pack of smokes from $0.39 to $1.01. This tax is levied on top of the myriad of state taxes on cigarettes, such as $0.80 per pack in Nevada; $0.87 per pack in California; $1.18 in Oregon; $2.00 in Arizona and $3.02 in Washington.

The question is who is really addicted to cigarettes? The poor, clinically addicted people who keep puffing away until they rob themselves of decades of their lives and leaving behind family members way too early? Or the federal and state governments that have tied themselves forever to cigarette tax revenues in order to continue their own addictive spending patterns? Or how about both the addicted smokers and the cigarette-tax revenue dependent governments?

smoking

Think of the irony, we as a nation are providing health programs benefitting children based upon people paying taxes on a product that we know leads to disease and death? How in good conscience can anyone support such a cruel policy?

But if you suggested to cash-strapped states and the federal government finance types that they get off the cigarette tax revenue gravy train, the static scorers in their green eye-shades would come in with some huge frightening number about lost revenues. How about the broken and lost lives that subsidize your revenues and thus your out-of-control spending?

What if we looked at this equation using dynamic scoring instead? What if cigarettes were outright banned? Would the most addicted of the hardened smokers seek their fix from the black market? Yes, they would. Would jobs be lost in tobacco states? Sure, but is tobacco the only cash crop in North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. I don’t think so.

What if fewer people were getting smoking-related diseases, leading to less Medicare and Medicaid expenditures? Instead of dying early, (e.g. 50-years-old) what if these people continued to live? What if they continued to be productive and thus contributed revenues through existing tax rates for the betterment of society? Wonder if we still would have a reduction in revenues that would exacerbate the deficit? Maybe this ethical policy would be an actual revenue enhancer.

The bottom line is that cigarettes are evil. We know they are addictive. We know they cause a litany of diseases for those who smoke and for those exposed to second-hand smoke. And we know they kill. How can anyone justify making this product in the face of conclusive scientific evidence? And how can our governments rationalize drawing revenues directly from a product that deprives a daughter of her mother and a husband of his wife?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigarette_taxes_in_the_United_States

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Master_Settlement_Agreement

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotine

Move over Gordon Moore, there is a new law in town: Digital is Eternal.

Intel Corporation co-founder Moore is famous for his 1965 “law,” stating that every 18-24 months the amount of capability/complexity that can be incorporated into a silicon piece of real estate doubles. The law is still applicable nearly two generations later and it explains how we can have ever-smaller devices (e.g. fourth generation cell phones with tons of apps) that are faster, quicker, more powerful and burn less power in doing so. It all adds up to the serendipity of the semiconductor business.

moore

A net effect of Moore’s law is the proliferation of the ones-and-zeroes that make digital possible. And with the global spread of digital technology comes the undeniable and inescapable fact that anything and everything that is rendered digital is there forever…and can come back to bite you. Digital is eternal.

Back in my analog days working in the California governor’s office in the 1980s, a frequent refrain heard in the corridors of the capitol was, “If you don’t want to read about it in the Sacramento Bee, don’t write it down.” The big fear at the time was copy machines, lots of copy machines. Members of the Capital Press Corps would soon be receiving white envelopes with no return addresses and inside of these envelopes were photocopied “good dirt.” This practice almost sounds quaint compared to today’s digital TMZ, Deadspin, National Enquirer world

Fast forward to the digital days of the Internet Bubble in which stocks rode the roller coaster up and the same thrill ride to the bottom, we heard another refrain, “Everything digital is discoverable.” Translated: A plaintiff attorney firm filing a strike suit against your company could, and most likely would, demand in the discovery process all corporation e-mails, notes, transcripts, documents, anything and everything even remotely relevant to the matter being litigated. And there was no excuse for digital data being routinely purged after an appropriate period of time; a judge would simply order a company to digitally comply regardless of the IT data recovery costs involved. No wonder so many cases were settled out of court to the delight of the strike suit firm.

Today, we live in the age of Google. The company’s name is no longer just a proper noun, but a verb as in “Google this” and “Google that.” What is being Googled in many cases is a person’s reputation and personal brand.

If you are Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian (you get the digital picture), money and attention is the draw; reputation is clearly secondary, if not tertiary. So a supposedly private sex tape or commando raid becomes public or pubic…or lack of pubic. Will they ever regret that their sexual escapades are permanently captured and literally viewed by millions all by means of digital ones and zeroes? Wonder if Brett Favre and/or Anthony Weiner have any regrets about digitally transmitting images of their respective junk?

Go ahead and “Google” Olympic Gold medal swimmer, “Michael Phelps bong” and 505,000 pages including the infamous stoned photos (first item) come rushing at you. Will the public remember his 16-gold medals or his famous bong pipe escapade? What is really sad is the bong pipe photo, which reportedly cost him millions in endorsements, will not only follow him to his grave, but actually will be a permanently black mark on his reputation beyond his grave.

phelps

“Some day that party picture is going to bite them when they seek a senior corporate job or public office,” said Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital. “I think they should wake up now, and become aware of the extent to which they’re sharing parts of themselves that one day they may wish they had kept private.”

More than one person has labeled college as “Life’s last playground.” And as a teaching assistant, I run into students who are having plain old fun and enjoying their college years to the max. They should also keep in mind, whether they like it or not, that they are also in the midst of making a transition from being student to becoming a professional.

If a student is neck-and-neck with another student for an entry-level job and the employer Google’s both and finds a bong pipe, a drunken stupor or an inappropriate display for body parts that should be private on one student and none of the above on the other, who are they going to be inclined to hire?

And this cautionary note goes beyond the prospective work place and also includes a potential lover. In this era of Internet dating, it is routine for a partner-to-be to surf your reputation to determine if there any game-changing, unpleasant sides to your personal brand. What may be playful and fun to you, may be interpreted as showing a total lack of judgment.

In this era of smaller and smaller cameras and more powerful microphones, all for reasonable prices, it is better to think twice and to exert caution. My intent here is to not be an old-fashioned party pooper. Instead, I would like to ensure that student careers do not come crashing to earth, before they even have a chance to get launched into the professional stratosphere. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Moore

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_Law

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Phelps

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=4&oq=Michael+Phelps+&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS373US374&q=michael+phelps+bong&gs_upl=0l0l0l13120lllllllllll0&aqi=g4s1

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