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I’m not sure exactly when I first encountered vaping. I was leading an editing workshop. I explained the house rules, which included “No Smoking.” One participant pulled out an e-cigarette. “Is this okay?” he asked.
He said he was trying to quit smoking.
After some discussion, the group let him vape. We were wrong.
It took 500 years for western civilization to recognize the risks of tobacco smoking. The hazards of vaping have become all too evident in one decade.
I can accept that the Spanish explorers who brought tobacco from America to Europe had no idea of its harmful effects. They had no ill intentions. Smoking was simply a novelty.
I cannot accept that their successors, the tobacco companies who aggressively marketed cigarettes through the 20thcentury, did not know that their product caused harm. The medical evidence was overwhelming. Smoking made almost every ailment worse, from cancer to heart disease.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: vaping, e-cigarettes, Juul, smoking
Who is the most despicable person you can think of? The kind of person you would least like to spend any time with? The kind of person who makes your skin crawl?
Back in biblical times, you’d probably be thinking of a eunuch.
Eunuchs had three strikes against them.
A eunuch was almost always a slave.
And probably a foreigner captured in battle, a former enemy
And strike three, a eunuch wasn’t a man anymore. He had been castrated. Although castration of an adult male wouldn’t necessarily prevent him getting an erection, he couldn’t perform that most essential function of manhood – fathering children to continue his family line.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: church, Ethiopia, eunuchs, harem, Pentecost
Today is Thanksgiving Sunday. It’s also just nine days away from a federal election. One of the things I’m thankful for is that Canada is not mired in the political lunacy in the U.S.
So far, about the only thing the various Canadian parties and candidates have been able to agree about is that the other side has more flaws than they do.
I suspect that if our ballots had a “None of the above” box, we’d elect a non-government with a huge majority, made up of members who didn’t get elected.
In today’s elections, traditional labels don’t work. A conservative is not necessarily a Conservative, let alone a Progressive Conservative. And a Liberal is not necessarily liberal, especially out here in B.C.
Tags: politics, parties, labels, election
I enjoy good discussions. On almost any topic. Although my aging body no longer allows some physical activities I once enjoyed, I haven’t lost my love of a lively discussion. Yet.
Along the way, though, I’ve learned that there are many ways of destroying a discussion -- from saying too much to saying too little.
Still, in my experience, the most pernicious fault is dragging in an external authority. Perhaps a quotation from a famous writer. A statement from a scientist, ripped out of context. A dictionary definition.
Or selected verses from the Bible.
Especially, perhaps, from the Bible. Because the Bible can be used to support almost any stance, from slavery to prostitution, from genocide to a flat earth. The same is probably true for the Qur’an, the Hindu Upanishads, and the Analects of Confucius. They were never written as reasoned arguments for a unified worldview.
Tags: rules, discussion
No, I don’t need a holiday. No, I don’t particularly deserve a day off. But on Thursday, the managing editor of the newspaper that gets the first lick at my Sharp Edges columns sent an email: “Take this weekend off. I need your space for election coverage.”
I had a column partly complete. Mostly complete. But I wasn’t happy with it. It was about the federal election, of course. More specifically, about the candidates in my local riding. About which, I daresay, no one outside this riding cares a whit.
(A “whit” -- in case you’re wondering, is a literary or archaic term meaning “the least possible amount.”)
So I accepted my weekend off.
All I can give you, this weekend, is your own letters about last week’s column, in which I excoriated (there’s another word worth looking up) a leadership conference here in Kelowna that involved two former prime ministers.
On the last day of summer, before all the kids went back to school, I walked along our beach, watching families having a final day of fun.
A young girl offered a salted potato chip to a duck swimming near the shore.
Nervously, the duck paddled towards her. It snatched the chip. Then it retreated to deeper waters.
A second girl came down to the water. She kicked water out over the duck. Again and again.
It was -- pardon the cliché -- like water off a duck’s back.
And I did nothing.
What should I have said? What could I have done?
And how would the girls’ parents react, if a total stranger had lectured their daughters on right and wrong? The parents themselves apparently saw no reason to intervene.
Because both girls were doing something I objected to.
Tags: ducks, decisions, Ogden Nash, sins