in defense of smoking
Please give the guy a break. Anyone drinking coffee everyday, raise your hand. You’re an addict as addict does.
My only concern with Noynoy smoking is that he might leave a lighted cigarette and burn down the whole of Malacanang. As long as he uses a secure ashtray, I will leave him to his favorite carcinogen.
Leave the guy alone. Must his lungs be national property too? I strongly suggest you focus on his unsightly hairdo instead. Semikal (semi-bald) would be fine.
Brain cells work differently than previously thought:
NICOTINE HELPS TO SPARK CREATIVITY
University of California – Irvine
Scientists know that information travels between brain cells along hairlike extensions called axons. For the first time, researchers have found that axons don’t just transmit information – they can turn the signal up or down with the right stimulation.
This finding may help scientists develop treatments for psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia in which it is thought that different parts of the brain do not communicate correctly with each other.
“Until now, scientists have thought that in the brain’s cortex — where most cognitive processes occur — information was only processed in the cell body,” said Raju Metherate, author of the study, associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, and director of the Center for Hearing Research at UC Irvine. “The result of our study suggests that we must consider the axons as sites of information processing – and of potential problems when things go wrong.”
This study appears online Aug. 19 in Nature Neuroscience.
Increasingly, studies are beginning to show that complex information processing, and perhaps consciousness itself, may result from coordinated activity among many parts of the brain connected by bundles of long axons. Cognitive problems may occur when these areas don’t communicate properly with each other.
Cognitive function occurs when millions of brain cells communicate with each other at the same time. A brain cell has a network of branches called dendrites through which it receives and processes information from other cells. The body of the cell then relays the processed information along an axon to a terminal that links to another cell’s dendrites. At the terminal, chemicals called neurotransmitters are released, allowing the information to enter the receiving cell. Until now, scientists believed axons were just the wires between point A and point B.
“Axons, we thought, were like wires in a radio conveying signals, but we found that if you stimulate the axon, the signal can be altered, like turning the volume knob on the radio,” Metherate said.
Originally, Metherate and his colleagues had hoped to confirm the idea that the drug nicotine alters information that is processed in the cell body or terminal. Puzzled by several negative tests, they developed an experiment in which they could study the intervening axon.
In their experiment, they examined a section of mouse brain associated with hearing that contained a brain cell with an axon connecting to the cortex. Using nicotine, they stimulated the axon to determine how it would affect a signal the brain cell sent to the cortex. Without applying nicotine, about 35 percent of the messages sent by the brain cell reached the cortex. But when nicotine was applied to the axon, the success rate nearly doubled to about 70 percent.
“We looked for more conventional reasons why the response was enhanced, but the evidence just kept pointing to the axon. Nicotine activated the proteins that we think are on the axon,” Metherate said. “This is a completely new idea about how the brain works.”
Nicotine. Good for Creativity?
Roger Yaspen in “How to Boost Your Brain Power” – published by Rodale Press in 1987 writes…
“Although nicotine is a poisonous substance that has long been used as an insecticide and rat poison, the small doses taken by smokers can cause temporary improvements in mental performance, including alertness, capacity to carry out repetitive tasks, and both accuracy and speed in an information processing test. Smoking is used by workers as an aid in tasks requiring thinking and concentration, and cigarettes can perk people up in much the same way as a cup of coffee.
At low doses, nicotine stimulates the release of beta-endorphin, an opiate made by the body. Consequently, smokers fell calmer. In contrast, a high dose apparently prompts the release of noradrenaline, adrenaline and dopamine. Smokers may experience a lift, or find themselves in the paradoxical state of being more alert and more relaxed. Nicotine has also been credited with improvements in mental performance through an increased release of two neurotransmitters involved with memory function, acetylcholine and vasopressin. These effects don’t last for long – from 15 minutes to half an hour.
In defense of smoking
I’m reading a book called In Defense of Sin. It is a compilation of essays from different authors defending one or another practices usually considered sinful. For example, Friedrich Nietzsche in defense of blasphemy, Oscar Wilde in defense of lying, Sigmond Freud in defense of breaking the golden rule, etc. It’s always fascinating and illuminating to read counter-intuitive essays from such great minds.
I wouldn’t presume to write at a level comparable to those greats, but I would like to suggest that smoking did, in fact, have some beneficial effects. There’s an ease that settles over someone as they smoke – an opportunity to stop, forget everything, and be mesmerized by the swirls of smoke as it rises. In short, a brief reprise from the world to a meditative state. And that’s a place that fewer and fewer of us are spending time these days. I believe it is one of the major causes of the steep rise in mental disorders – a virtually complete elimination of opportunities for reflection, repose and meditation. There’s just no time!
There’s no doubt that the dramatic shift in our culture away from cigarettes has been good for the body. But perhaps what benefits the body has damaged the soul…
The anti-smoking bigots should butt out
There are a lot of people who don’t like smoke or smoking but there are a lot of people who do. Tobacco is a great calmer, it relieves stress, it can put you in a contemplative mood. Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, Clement Attlee and Stanley Baldwin, with their pipes, don’t look too stressed. I used to hitchhike in my youth with a pipe, counting on a pipe smoker picking up a fellow contemplator. It worked many times. If tobacco is taken away, something else moves in to replace it. We can now see in the US what this is. Television there is saturated with drug advertising painkillers and antidepressants and allsorts of other things, all on prescription. Just tell your doctor you need whatever the product is and you’ll be fine. It’s hardly an improvement.
In defense of liberty sticks
…all these smoking bans strike me as totalitarian and un-American. Hilter banned cigarettes in Nazi Germany. Do we want a government like Hitler’s?