Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cancer sticks and coffin nails

Canada tobacco warnings now considered modern art

Oct 7, 2005 — OTTAWA (Reuters) - Gruesome Canadian images of tobacco-damaged gums, lungs and hearts will form part of an exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Canada's health ministry said on Friday.

The graphic images appear as health warnings on Canadian cigarette packs, and they will now be part of a MoMA exhibition on objects designed to protect the mind and body from dangerous or stressful influences.

"I am very proud that these labels have been recognized as being among some of the most innovative contemporary designs in the world," Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said in a statement.

Canada was the first country in the world to add pictures to its health warnings on cigarette packs, which also tell smokers that tobacco can cause impotence, or that second-hand smoke can harm children and babies.


Some of the labels (click for larger image):

Trivia: Singapore and Brazil are the only other countries in the world, besides Canada, that mandate pictures accompanying health warnings on cigarette packs.

Tobacco smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death and disability in Australia. It kills more than 19,000 people a year and costs the Australian community around $21 billion in social costs per year.


Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Each year, more than 400,000 Americans die from cigarette smoking. In fact, one in every five deaths in the United States is smoking related. Every year, smoking kills more than 276,000 men and 142,000 women.

Men who smoke increase their risk of death from lung cancer by more than 22 times and from bronchitis and emphysema by nearly 10 times. Women who smoke increase their risk of dying from lung cancer by nearly 12 times and the risk of dying from bronchitis and emphysema by more than 10 times. Smoking triples the risk of dying from heart disease among middle-aged men and women.

Annually, exposure to secondhand smoke (or environmental tobacco smoke) causes an estimated 3,000 deaths from lung cancer among American adults. Scientific studies also link secondhand smoke with heart disease.


Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 430,000 deaths each year, or one in every five deaths. Paralleling this enormous health toll is the economic burden of tobacco use:  between $50 billion and $73 billion in medical expenditures and another $50 billion in indirect costs.


A study conducted by the Tufts' School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Massachusetts revealed that a cat living with a smoker is two times more likely to get feline lymphoma than one that's not. After five years living with a smoker, that rate increases to three times as likely. And, when there are two smokers in the home, the chances of getting feline lymphoma increases to four times as likely.

This indicates that the risk of developing cancer from second-hand smoke may be greater for cats than for humans, including children. One possible reason is that the cat receives the cancer-causing agents both by inhaling and by grooming.

A study by Colorado State University found that a dog that that has exposure to a smoker in the home is 1.6 times more likely to develop lung cancer than a dog that is not exposed to a smoker. The study also found that skull shape had an effect on the estimated risk of lung cancer in dogs. Dogs with long noses (like German shepherds) have a higher risk for nasal cancer and dogs with short noses (like pugs) have a higher risk for lung cancer. This is because, in theory, a dog with a long nose has an extra filtering system in its nose, so it is more likely to develop nasal cancers, but because of this extra filtering system, tobacco smoke is less likely to reach its lungs and cause cancer there.


Don't get me wrong, I am not a fascist. I am all for freedom of choice. Hey, if you want to die a slow, expensive, painful and agonizing death, it's your choice. BUT you should not be allowed to exercise this choice in a location where other people and animals may be harmed (i.e. your secondhand smoke). Furthermore, when you smoke, you should be disqualified from subsidized health care (if you reside in a country with a socialized health system). Why should other people pay for the consequences of your drug habit?

Yes, I consider smokers drug addicts.
Well, that's the truth.
So sue me.
You better do it fast though. Before your name ends up here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sweet singletrack video

This is a great video of a singletrack on top of a ridge by scottay.
He spliced in scenes from the rear-facing cam after showing the forward view.

Click on picture to download the video (36 MB QuickTime):

Check out how steeply the ground drops off the trail on either side. In some sections, there isn't space to "dab" (i.e. put one's foot down) at all.

Tandem writing

An English professor from the University of Phoenix told his class one day: "Today we will experiment with a new form called the tandem story. The process is simple. Each person will pair off with the person sitting to his or her immediate right. As homework tonight, one of you will write the first paragraph of a short story. You will e-mail your partner that paragraph and send another copy to me. The partner will read the first paragraph and then add another paragraph to the story and send it back, also sending another copy to me. The first person will then add a third paragraph, and so on back-and-forth. Remember to re-read what has been written each time in order to keep the story coherent. There is to be absolutely NO talking outside of the e-mails and anything you wish to say must be written in the e-mail. The story is over when both agree a conclusion has been reached."

The following was actually turned in by two of his English students: Rebecca and Gary.


(first paragraph by Rebecca):
At first, Laurie couldn't decide which kind of tea she wanted.The chamomile, which used to be her favorite for lazy evenings at home, now reminded her too much of Carl, who once said, in happier times, that he liked chamomile. But she felt she must now, at all costs, keep her mind off Carl. His possessiveness was suffocating, and if she thought about him too much her asthma started acting up again. So chamomile was out of the question.

(second paragraph by Gary):
Meanwhile, Advance Sergeant Carl Harris, leader of the attack squadron now in orbit over Skylon 4, had more important things to think about than the neuroses of an air-headed asthmatic bimbo named Laurie with whom he had spent one sweaty night over a year ago. "A.S. Harris to Geostation 17," he said into his transgalactic communicator. "Polar orbit established. No sign of resistance so far..." But before he could sign off a bluish particle beam flashed out of nowhere and blasted a hole through his ship's cargo bay. The jolt from the direct hit sent him flying out of his seat and across the cockpit.

He bumped his head and died almost immediately, but not before he felt one last pang of regret for psychically brutalizing the one woman who had ever had feelings for him. Soon afterwards, Earth stopped its pointless hostilities towards the peaceful farmers of Skylon 4. "Congress Passes Law Permanently Abolishing War and Space Travel," Laurie read in her newspaper one morning. The news simultaneously excited her and bored her. She stared out the window, dreaming of her youth, when the days had passed unhurriedly and carefree, with no newspaper to read, no television to distract her from her sense of innocent wonder at all the beautiful things around her. "Why must one lose one's innocence to become a woman?" she pondered wistfully.

Little did she know, but she had less than 10 seconds to live. Thousands of miles above the city, the Anu'udrian mothership launched the first of its lithium fusion missiles. The dimwitted wimpy peaceniks who pushed the Unilateral Aerospace disarmament Treaty through the congress had left Earth a defenseless target for the hostile alien empires who were determined to destroy the human race. Within two hours after the passage of the treaty the Anu'udrian ships were on course for Earth, carrying enough firepower to pulverize the entire planet. With no one to stop them, they swiftly initiated their diabolical plan. The lithium fusion missile entered the atmosphere unimpeded. The President, in his top-secret mobile submarine headquarters on the ocean floor off the coast of Guam, felt the inconceivably massive explosion, which vaporized poor, stupid Laurie.

This is absurd. I refuse to continue this mockery of literature. My writing partner is a violent, chauvinistic semi-literate adolescent.

Yeah? Well, my writing partner is a self-centered tedious neurotic whose attempts at writing are the literary equivalent of Valium. "Oh, shall I have chamomile tea? Or shall I have some other sort of F--KING TEA??? Oh no, what am I to do? I'm such an air headed bimbo who reads too many Danielle Steele novels!"

(Rebecca): Asshole.

(Gary): Bitch.


Go drink some tea - whore.

A+ - I really liked this one.

Submitted by Gary S.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Customer service

The chain tool on my Topeak Alien Multi-tool broke. I was about to head out to purchase a replacement when I thought, "Why not check out the reviews to see if there are better ones out there?" Whilst browsing, I noticed the entry for the Topeak Alien Multi-tool, and, out of sheer curiosity to find out what other riders thought of my faithful old tool, decided to peruse it. It turned out that many riders had their worn or broken tools replaced by Topeak. Thinking it can't hurt, I decided to give it a try.

After sending an email to Topeak, they directed me to a support site with a novel method of serving customers: an online version of "tickets," which determines who gets served first, and where the requests are directed. It also serves as a repository of the correspondence between customer and service staff.

It took less than 3 minutes to create an account and submit a ticket with a description of my problem:

Subject: Broken Chain Tool

Dear Topeak staff,

Thank you for designing such a great tool. I purchase your original Alien tool a long time ago. Since then, it has helped me out of many sticky situations. It has accompanied me on a 3 week, 1000 mile cycling tour around Java, Indonesia. It is indeed equivalent to having a bike tool shop with you when you ride.

Last night, the chain tool finally gave up the ghost. The threads on both the "pusher" and the silver body of the tool seized up. I used a long rachet to separate the pieces but the chain tool no longer works.

I feel nervous riding around without a chain tool. Is there a program where I can purchase the chain tool sub-assembly? It doesn't look too difficult to swap out.

Thank you and have a nice day.

The ticket was submitted on 2005 Oct 1st Sunday 2230hrs.

The next afternoon, I received a reply, both in my account and my mailbox:

Subject: Replacement mailed


We are placing a replacement part in the mail.

Happy riding!
Juan C. Agudelo

Todson, Inc.
8 Spring Brook Road
PO Box 637
Foxborough, MA 02037
Tel: 800-213-2802x356

No need to fax a copy of my receipt. No mention of limited warranty. No request for me to send in the broken part. No proof of ownership required. No questions. Just speedy service.

BTW, this is not the new Alien II Multi-tool, but the original Alien Multi-tool, which I bought back in 1991 in Singapore. This is Oct 2005.

Is that customer service or what?

Oct 11th 2005: the chain tool sub-assembly replacement for the Alien has arrived.

Run, Ripley! Run!