Why I’m voting to Leave the EU

Greetings, fellow humans!  I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve something to get off my chest.  What follows is the result of some considerable pondering.  I’ll try and be succinct.

I’m an internationalist.  Or at least, I’ve always thought of myself as one.  It’s my opinion that humans are at their best when they’re working together to achieve some mutually pleasing end – whether it’s trade, collaboration, or simply resisting the urge to maim one another.

I’m also a democrat.  Democracies are superior to autocracies.  They’re morally superior, for the simple reason that power is better than powerlessness.  But they also produce favourable results.  They’re more prosperous.  Their citizens are happier.  They don’t war with one another – though quite a few wars have been fought in order to establish and defend them.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a referendum approaching on our membership of the European Union.  I thought I’d make a point of researching the topic a little before deciding how to cast my vote.  I don’t expend much thought towards the EU, really.  It’s not something I’m often consulted on.

And that, it turns out, is precisely the point. This fledgling superstate is structured in order to minimise democracy.  Its mechanisms are as shielded from public scrutiny as it’s possible to be.  Look at this Wikipedia article on the European Commission and ask yourself whether you seriously think this is a good way of doing things.  The twenty-eight heads of state vote for a president.  This president helps to select a commission (usually comprising a handful of politicians who are tired of having to appease voters, and happy to appease other politicians).  This commission then wields legislative and executive power over five-hundred million people.

I’ve read Dan Hannan’s book, ‘Why Vote Leave’ recently, which makes this case far more eloquently, and in far greater detail than I ever could.  I also read Hugo Dixon’s ‘The In/Out Question’, which makes the case for a reformed EU, and, as you might have gathered, wasn’t anywhere near as persuasive.  At first my suspicion was that Hannan is simply a better writer than Dixon – but really he had the easier job.  The case isn’t a difficult one to make.  It’s not a left/right issue.  It doesn’t matter where you sit on the political spectrum.  Democracy is good; the EU is not designed with democracy in mind.

At the rear of Hannan’s book is a collection of quotes from prominent Eurocrats.  And this section is revealing indeed.  Anyone who thinks this organisation is about mutual co-operation between like-minded nations and not empire-building should examine the sort of people it promotes to high office.

“What is driving us is not to be re-elected,” reveals Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commissioner in charge of fucking up the migrant crisis and creating an enormous fucking mess.  “That’s why for us the political cost means nothing.”

Well, good for you, Dimitris.  Or should I say Emperor Palpatine.  “We need a political federation with the Commission as government,” says Vivianne Reding, another high-ranking sith. Well, maybe you should make that case to your electorate, Vivianne.

Are these the sorts of people we’d like to represent the interests of the continent? Darth Junker puts it in the plainest possible terms, “when it becomes serious you have to lie.”

Right you are then.  You might think that, in context, these quotes (and there are a lot of them) aren’t so bad.  You’re wrong.  They’re worse.  But they’re not a source of outrage for some.  Bizarrely, the sorts people who regard Westminster with hawkish suspicion seem to regard Brussels (and Strasbourg) with a sort of passive acceptance – or even reverence.  Lord knows why this is – perhaps it’s a sort of masochism which assumes that everything foreign must be benevolent.  Perhaps its idealism.  Or perhaps it’s because they perceive the Brussels to be more closely in tune with their personal politics than the current elected government in Westminster, and therefore likely to take the edge off the latter.

If you’re the sort of person who gets angry at the thought of the House of Lords being appointed, or who can’t contemplate the unfairness of a FPTP voting system without seeing spots, then I can’t imagine the moral and logical contortions you’d have to perform in order to defend this unholy freak show.  Even the most cursory examination reveals that it is predicated upon a contempt for democratic process.  Necessarily so, really; if the EU paused for a moment to consider what the people of Europe thought of it, it would probably collapse like a manatee stricken by existential doubt.  This organisation is immune to popular opinion, and is accountable to no-one.  Is it any real surprise that it behaves as it does?

In this interview, Yannis Varafakis describes the loan agreement he wouldn’t sign, which obliged the elected Greek government to agree to whatever the EU might in future impose upon it, and forbade them from passing any legislation without the EU’s permission.  I suppose I should take Greek willingness to remain within the EU as evidence of Stockholm syndrome.

Anyway, the campaign’s officially underway now.  So we can look forward to the procession of career politicians and EU-funded NGOs, all offering their entirely impartial endorsement of the EU. Soon even the President of the United States will pay these shores a visit, and – doubtless without a hint of irony – warn against any future declaration of independence.

That’s my best guess, anyway.  Don’t forget to vote.



Happy New Year, Fatty!

Well, Christmas is certainly fucking over, isn’t it?

I’m not sure about yours, but my Facebook feed is already replete with people announcing their dietary intentions.  Who the fuck decided that January should be The Diet Month?  It was only last week we were all stuffing mince pies into our pie-holes.  Now we’re supposed to be ashamed we even have pie holes?  The speed at which the nation’s gastronomic mood turns from excess to thrift is quite dizzying.  Give me some room to breathe, fitness industry!  That concern aside, there’s a far more practical one to consider: the half-eaten Christmas cake sitting on the kitchen table.  It won’t eat itself.

Yeah.  I get it.  We’re all too fat.  Even people in the third world are too fat.  Not only are we too fat, we’re getting fatter.  And not only are we getting fatter, six-month old children are getting fatter.  One-second old children are getting fatter.  Birth weights are on the rise!  I’m serious!  I was going to present you all with a series of sobering line graphs, plotting a bunch of terrifying upward trends in all sorts of things.  Why bother?  You already know all this shit.

The popular response to this is, of course, dieting.  There’s a new take on dieting every year.  A brief perusal of the newspaper rack reveals that the popular one this year is the ‘three day diet’, whose premise is that on every alternate day the participant (or victim) restricts their caloric intake by seventy five percent.  The downside of this plan is that by mid-afternoon on the fast days you will have transformed into an insufferable rage-beast whose company could only be tolerated by the insane and the comatose.

Yes, starving yourself, albeit intermittently, is officially back in vogue.  Hey, I’m not going to judge.  Everyone needs a hobby.  I wonder what it’s going to be next year? “I’m not going to take a dump for the whole of January!” you might gleefully proclaim.  “Defacation is the enemy!”  You’ll reconsider that a few days later, when you shit yourself mid-coitus and are forced to re-activate your account on match.com and to adopt a new diet of humble pie.

Of course, we all know the real solution.  It’s the carbs.  No, wait; it’s the fats.  No, it’s the lack of fibre.  No, actually it is the fats.  But it’s more the trans-fats.  The saturated trans-fats.  The polyunsaturated trans-fat express.   No, wait; it’s sugar!  Of course!  But wait, isn’t’ a sugar a form of carb?  Really, it’s only certain sorts of sugar, anyway.  NO!  ITS EVERYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD!  JUST EAT 2000 CALORIES A DAY OF WHATEVER YOU LIKE!  CARDBOARD!  CHICKEN EYES!  URANIUM!  IT’S ALL JUST CALORIES!!!!

Oh dear.  I think I see the problem:  This is one area of medicine where everyone feels qualified to comment, regardless of their knowledge of what they are talking about.  God, the whole thing is disorietating.  All these competing voices, babbling contradictory claims with seemingly equal authority.  It’s as though I’ve wandered into 13th century York and asked how best to identify a witch.  Even the people that come up with the diets are loath to find common ground with one another.  I suppose that’s understandable; they’re all in competition with one another, and so they all just bellow their mantras.  Mantras composed of pseudoscience, empty promises, and outright deception of the sort that tempts me to employ the word “capitalism” in the pejorative.  Obviously, I blame Thatcher for this sort of thing.

Not wishing to make a hypocrite of myself, I shall therefore attach a proviso before proceeding:  I am not a scientist, nor am I a doctor.  I am not even especially well-read on this subject.  I invite you therefore to delve into the wealth of qualified opinion on the subject.  I mean, I’ll give you the real basics, but if you really wanted any sort of explanation, you wouldn’t be reading this would you?  You’d be reading The Fast Diet or whatever.

If you eat something, and don’t burn it, you will store it in the form of fat.  This much is obvious.  To differ from this is to differ from the third law of thermodynamics.  So clearly, fat people are doing it wrong.  Every diet begins with this tacit acknowledgement of your own failure.  It seems to me that this is the founding principle of dieting.  The dieter must come to see their fatness as some sort of failure of will (or, weirder still, one of morals).  Consequently the issue is always framed as one of personal responsibility rather than one of public health.  “Willpower” is the highest virtue.   This sort of thinking ensures a healthy market for books targeting those eager to wage futile wars against their own biochemistry.

Well, spoiler alert:  You’re all slaves to biochemistry.  There’s no such thing as choice.  There’s no such thing as free will.  All of your choices are the inevitable result of a chain of physical causation that began at the beginning of this entirely mechanistic universe.  Puny, foolish humans!

Ahem.  Yes.  At the risk of grossly oversimplifying things:  Certain substances, such as sugar, are resistant to this sort of logic.  Because they are addictive.  To command someone with a sugar addiction to stop eating is like commanding a veteran smackhead to desist from injecting glorious smack.  Given a certain level of willpower, such a person could theoretically obey such a command.  But it would require a great deal more willpower from them than it would for someone who’d never injected smack in the first place.

I am quite sure that more than a few fat-assed blimp people live like this.  They lie awake at night, eyes wide as they listen to the incessant call of The Sugar.  Like the call of the smack-needle, or of great Cthulhu from his house in R’lyeh, or of the football management game I foolishly purchased during the Steam Christmas sale.  They hate themselves for being unable to resist it as Gillian McKeith has commanded them to.

If you are reading this thinking “Woe!  I am one of those fat-assed blimps!”, then I’d suggest posing yourself a number of questions, the first being “I am eating too much sugar?” I suspect you probably are.  Shit, we all are.  It’s hard not to.  The stuff is now in everything.

You may have heard of that big news that happened this week.  The EU, those assholes, not content with loosing literally dozens of transylvanians onto the British countryside – they’ve penned a diabolical commission regulation.  I’m talking about the commission regulation 536/2013, which came into effect on the second of January.  Yeah, me neither.  In fact, the media attention is so sparse that I’m worried the whole thing never came into effect.  The paucity of coverage has drawn this blog perilously close to (eugh) investigative journalism.

So you should all brace yourselves; you’re about to be bombarded with dubious health claims.   You’ll be told that that fructose is healthier than sucrose or glucose, by virtue of the fact that it has a lower glycaemic index, and that fructose leads to lower blood glucose than ingesting glucose.

If there’s ever an argument against the EU, or Big Government in general, it’s here.  The most blatant case of big-business tampering since the US congress declared tomato sauce to be a vegetable.  This paves the way for a European invasion of High Fructose Corn Syrup, that notorious substance created by the Japanese in the ‘50s, as some long-winded revenge for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Allow me to defer to someone with some authority on the subject.  Here’s neuroendocrynologist and notorious sugar-despiser Robert Lustig in the Guardian from last October:

Yes, fructose has a low glycaemic index of 19, because it doesn’t increase blood glucose. It’s fructose, for goodness sake. It increases blood fructose, which is way worse. Fructose causes seven times as much cell damage as does glucose, because it binds to cellular proteins seven times faster; and it releases 100 times the number of oxygen radicals (such as hydrogen peroxide, which kills everything in sight).

Hydrogen per-what now?  Oh dear.  Now I’m scared.  Are you scared?  Let’s backtrack a little.  Perhaps we should rattle off some definitions, just so we know what the fuck we’re talking about (and so I can continue to claim this blog is educational.)  A carbohydrate is a sort of long molecule formed from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  A sugar is like a small version of that shit.  Like one molecule (a monosaccharide), or two of them stuck together (a disaccharide).  Are you still paying attention?

This is table sugar, or sucrose.  It’s a disaccharide.  It’s two monosaccharaides stuck together with an oxygen atom:

The one on the left is glucose – you’ve heard of this one.  It’s the nectar of life, used by every organ in the body.  The one on the right, conversely, is the spawn of the antichrist.

Let’s be clear:  Fructose is a poison.  Its consumption is linked with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, insulin resistance, cancer and dementia.  And when I say ‘poison’, I don’t mean it in the hyperbolic sense that the music of N-Dubz is a poison, or the face of Piers Morgan is a posion.  I mean in the sense that the body cannot metabolise it using any organ except the liver, the organ whole sole remit is the removal of poison.  It is literally literally poisonous.  I’d go so far as to say that the evidence supporting this substance’s toxicity is more compelling than that supporting man-made climate change.

So if you’re going to cut back on anything, here’s my suggestion.  Don’t drink anything with sugar in it.  Except milk, since the sugar in milk is obviously obviously galactose (being a solution of glucose and lactose) rather than sucrose (being one of glucose and fructose.)  But obviously obviously obviously don’t drink flavoured milk, which is worse than Hitler and Pol Pot’s bastard lovechild.  Basically, no soft drinks or fruit juice.  While you’re at it, don’t eat ketchup, HP or any sort of dipping sauce.  Don’t eat the buns they have in any fast food place.  In fact, don’t eat fast food at all.  Don’t eat microwave meals either, they’re absolutely riddled with sugar; same goes for those fruity yogurt-pot things.  Breakfast cereal?  ARE YOU MAD!?  YOU GAVE YOUR CHILD A BOWL OF FROSTIES!?  WHY NOT GIVE HIM JACK DANIELS WITH IT YOU MONSTER!!!!?

I’m done with this topic.  I hope next week you’ll all have shut up about dieting.

Until then.

PS.  If you’re really concerned about this sort of thing, I recommend watching this.