Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Scare stories about the dangers of vaping don’t help raise awareness about the dangers

Surprising as it may seem to some, I don’t think any of the current nonsense being spouted in the media about the recent deaths of some who indulge in vaping are in any way helpful in raising the level of awareness of the ticking time bomb that is the REAL hazard of this habit. I’m not even going to venture into various myths being created, such as lists including claims that ‘Second-hand vape is as dangerous as second-hand tobacco smoke’. Um… vape is NOT smoke. As I said, nonsense is NOT helpful! These stupid lists and claims just obscure serious issues.

Most of the stories being spread by the media fail to address the key issue of those deaths, in that they tend NOT to involve over-the-counter products, but vaping with substances which are sourced and added by some users. Those substances are neither reliable in their source, content, or concentration, or have been subject to any proper evaluation as to their effects on the body, and the results are, sadly, all to evident.

The timing couldn’t be worse for real world, responsible research into this habit, which is still too new for anyone to know if it, or is not damaging to health.

Good old tobacco was around for decades, with the medical evidence suppressed and ignored for years, in days when doctors would happily endorse brands as being ‘healthy’ in return for sponsorship (money).

Nowadays, people are not so dumb, but are subject to bombardment by Conspiracy Theorists, free to peddle all sorts of nonsense as if it were true thanks to Freedom of Speech, yet with no research or facts behind them, just assertion – and, of course, claims that they are the only source of ‘The Truth, since it is being suppressed.

I’m afraid you don’t really have to think too hard to work out that vaping, especially in extreme, just isn’t going to be healthy.

I’ve never come across tales of people come out of ANY place filled with fumes and being fine.

But, vape appears to be magic, and not have any bad effects.

That’s remarkable – I wonder if it has anything to do with tobacco companies being behind many vaping systems and their materials, and of course, nicotine additives. The more of that they sell, the more their revenues rise.

Here’s MY conspiracy theory – ‘they’ are pushing the ‘No health issues’ now, so they can do the same as they did with tobacco, and keep the lawsuits etc at bay for as long as possible.

Or, to put it another way – how long do you think a company (like, say, Amazon or Apple) would be able to make its employees work in vape-filled factories before the workers, and their unions, would be submitting multi-billions dollar lawsuits against them for “Damaging and ruining their health”?

Here’s a few of the stories that have appeared recently.

The media favourites first…

Vaping deaths: 6 people have died from an unknown illness ‘linked to e-cigarettes’ – but no one is sure why

What’s behind a vaping illness outbreak in the US?

And now the ones that are probably serious, but were overshadowed by the more sensational ones above.

Convenient? A fan of Conspiracy Theories might think so 😉

Scientists still don’t know the full health risks of vaping

Menthol e-cigarettes ‘pose bigger health risk than previously thought’

Vaping could harm fertility and delay conception, study on mice finds

While these quote the deaths, its underlying message is a serious one.

UK criticised for policy on flavoured vaping that could recruit children to smoking

Vaping deaths: ‘A new generation of nicotine addicts’



17/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Watch out! Dark chocoloate could be set to see ANOTHER price hike

You may recall I alerted you to the price rise associated with the breaking news story of dark chocolate having potential health benefits.

Looks like it may be time to get ready for the next rise of opportunist profiteering, and lay on stocks of your favourite dark chocolate treat now, before the price of dark options goes up AGAIN.

Bournville dark fans rejoice – people who eat dark chocolate are less likely to be depressed, according to the first study of its kind.

Eating dark chocolate may positively affect mood and relieve depressive symptoms, finds a new UCL-led study looking at whether different types of chocolate are associated with mood disorders. The study, published in Depression and Anxiety, is the first to examine the association with depression according to the type of chocolate consumed.

More than 13,000 US adults were asked about their chocolate consumption, which was compared with their scores on a questionnaire that assesses depressive symptoms. Other factors including height, weight, marital status, ethnicity, education, household income, physical activity, smoking and chronic health problems were also taken into account to ensure the study only measured chocolate’s effect on depressive symptoms.

After adjusting for these factors, it was found that individuals who reported eating any dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had 70 per cent lower odds of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who reported not eating chocolate at all.

The 25 per cent of chocolate consumers who ate the most chocolate – of any kind, not just dark – were also less likely to report depressive symptoms than those who did not eat chocolate at all. However researchers found no significant link between any non‐dark chocolate consumption and clinically relevant depressive symptoms.

Dark chocolate fans are less likely to be depressed, according to a new study

I suggest Poundland be your next stop, and the second one down be your purchase of choice.

Poundland Twin Peaks Chocolate updated

Poundland Twin Peaks Chocolate updated

Together with all the rest! It really all is very tasty – and needs to be approached with care.

If you saw my original post about this delicacy, you may have noticed that the original FOUR varieties at the top have been joined by two new options at the bottom, to become SIX!

Will there be more?

My apologies and commiserations to those who don’t share my genes and stack on the fat if they overindulge or binge on this stuff. I’m sorry – I don’t.

02/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Oh look – did Aldi make more of the beneficial dark chocolate ‘leak’ than Lidl?

I recently noted: Was dark chocolate brain benefits report leaked to Lidl?

This was after noting the sneaky way they gradually raised the price of their dark chocolate digestive biscuits just before this news was released, and even reduced the price of the less desirable milk chocolate variety (to maintain sales?).

I didn’t have a handy Aldi to visit frequently, so I couldn’t be watching the prices in the same way back then – we only got a local one recently.

I just noticed that while Lidl’s dark chocolate eventually crept up to 49 p per packet (milk chocolate being a mere 42 p)…

Aldi had been bolder, and their dark chocolate digestives are currently up at a whopping 51 p per packet.

Aldi chocolate digestive prices

Aldi chocolate digestive prices

I wonder if that is because someone knows that food faddists and health nuts are mugs who will happily cough up the cash for anything they are told is ‘better’ than something else (with or without evidence)?


19/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Was dark chocolate ‘Brain Benefits’ report leaked to Lidl?

I mentioned the report which found that “dark chocolate actually improved attention, processing speed, working memory and verbal fluency“.

So, it seems (dark) chocolate IS good for you

Thanks to various ‘health nuts’ and gurus, and their claims regarding ‘superfoods’ (such as blueberries), the prices of such foods have been seen to rise to stupid levels.

I wonder if anyone else watches the relative prices of dark and milk chocolate digestive biscuits, as offered by Lidl under their own Tower Gate branding?

Some time ago, the prices were similar, then the dark chocolate version began to rise. The pack size was also changed, from 400 g down to 300 g.

That wasn’t used to hide a price increase, and the price per gramme stayed the same despite the pack size change.

More recently, the milk chocolate version was dropped from 44 p to 42 p as a ‘Special Offer’.

Even more recently the ‘Special Offer’ was dropped, but the price remained at the lower figure of 42 p.

I stopped buying the dark version, so don’t know its price change history, but that version is now 49 p.

Interesting – the ‘healthy’ one is the one that costs more.

How did they know? 😉

Lidl Choclolate Digestive Prices

Lidl Choclolate Digestive Prices

03/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

First (dark) chocolate, now more good news as coffee joins the ‘Good’ list

Following rapidly on the news that DARK chocolate has beneficial effects, coffee has joined in, and it may be that something has to be horrible to be ‘good’.

A diet rich in coffee, fruit and vegetables may protect against breast cancer, research suggests.

According to a new study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, diets full of phenolic acids can protect against post-menopausal breast cancer.

Phenolic acids are found in coffee, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Rich sources include raspberries, blueberries, apples, citrus fruits, plums, onions, coffee, red wine, cocoa and wholewheat, rice, corn and oats.

Study suggests coffee and fruit may protect against cancer

What’s notable about these recent announcements is that they’re not the result of some fanciful claims by obvious crackpots, (or people interesting in increasing sales of whatever the ‘magic’ substance is), but name specific compounds that have known effects.

A cynic like me would probably simplify this still further and say “This must be correct, as there is no celebrity endorsing it, or selling prepackaged versions with their name or face plastered all over it!”.

Coffee Enough

03/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

So, it seems (dark) chocolate IS good for you

I’ve mentioned a few special ‘Days of the year’, and quite a number of them celebrate chocolate.

Now, it seems that not only does chocolate make you feel better, it seems that dark chocolate is actually good for you (provided you don’t overdo it).

No longer will reaching for a piece of chocolate at the end of a long day be filled with shame – turns out, it’s good for you.

A review from Italian University of L’Aquila has revealed that a small piece of dark chocolate each day can actually improve your day to day cognitive ability.

What does it help?

Valentina Socci and Michele Ferrara, authors of the review, say that dark chocolate actually improved attention, processing speed, working memory and verbal fluency.

The Italian researchers reviewed the effects of dark chocolate on elderly people who eat it on a regular basis.

The review found that, over the course of three months, the chocolate helped slow down a decline in memory.

How does it help?

The ‘magic’ of chocolate all comes down to the presence of something called cocoa flavanols.

They are a type of compound found in dark chocolate and also in fruits including apples, grapes and pears.

“If you look at the underlying mechanism, the cocoa flavanols have beneficial effects for cardiovascular health,” said the researchers.

The chemical compounds are reported to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Chocolate is good for your brain – according to scientists

Sounds good to me.

And, I’ve discovered Poundland has these on offer, including a pure Dark Chocolate option 🙂

However, they ALL pretty good, and a brilliant play on a certain ‘other’ triangular chocolate offering (which was in the news recently, for creative thinking involving a quiet little price increase, which the media made a meal of), which costs a lot more just for its brand name or label – and you know I think anyone who pays for a brand name or label is just a mug.

As you can see, I keep a stock of these on hand, just in case of emergencies!

Poundland Twin Peaks Chocolate

Poundland Twin Peaks Chocolate

This article also deserves a Gold Star for the writer

I’d also like to draw attention to these lines from the article:

People should stick to a small amount of dark chocolate, but it can be enjoyed every day.

As the report says, “Dark chocolate is a rich source of flavanols. So we always eat some dark chocolate. Every day.”

I can’t remember when I last came across correct use of the words ‘every day’.

Lazy and sloppy writers, and lazy and sloppy editors and reviewers now happily just join the separate words ‘every’ and ‘day’ to form the word ‘everyday’, as if it means the same as ‘every day’.


‘Everyday’ means ordinary or commonplace.

Specifically: The adjective everyday, meaning ‘happening or used every day’ or ‘commonplace’ (everyday chores), is written as one word, whereas the adverb meaning ‘each day, daily’ (I get up at six every day) is written as two.

It’s not hard.

But almost everybody writing in the media gets it wrong nowadays, and just runs the two words together almost every time.

The same is also now true of most signs in shops as well. Look for proclamations such as ‘Great Bargains Everdyay’.

Just try replacing ‘everyday’ with ‘ordinary’, or ‘commonplace’, and you’ll see how stupid what they have written is.

And, don’t forget, they got PAID for writing that rubbish!

01/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Looks like ‘Start of life’ is just as short as ‘End of life’ in Glasgow – I’m doomed

I mentioned the re-appearance of one of the media’s favourite subjects after an apparent period of absence.


I belong to Glasgow – Oh well

Now, it seems that not only will you not last very long if you live in Glasgow, you’re probably not going to do too well if you’re born there either.

More babies are dying within a year of being born in Glasgow, with data revealing the infant and neonatal mortality rates are rising.

Across Scotland, the neonatal mortality rate worsened, after decades of improvement, which baby charity Bliss said was “deeply concerning”.

In Glasgow, 40 infants died within a year a being born in 2017, compared with 29 the year previously, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.

This means the infant mortality rate, a key indicator of early years care, increased from 4.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016 to 5.8 in 2017.

The neonatal mortality rate, measuring babies dying within a month of being born, also increased.

In Glasgow, in 2017, there were 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 2.2 in 2016.

The ONS says the infant and neonatal mortality rates can fluctuate between years in local authorities due to the small number of deaths.

More babies dying within a year of birth in Glasgow, figures show

Oh well.

BORN in Glasgow.

LIVE in Glasgow.

I guess the third line need not be added.

Well, the hospital I was born is dead.

They tried to inject some life into the facade by converting it onto flats, but they’re long empty, and the place is sealed, empty, and abandoned today, with demolition sure to be its next ‘feature’.

I actually saw a demolition notice a few years ago, but it’s still there.

Duke St Hospital Flats From West

Duke St Hospital Flats From West

15/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , | Leave a comment

I belong to Glasgow – Oh well

‘I belong to Glasgow’ is the title of a very old Glasgow song, which I haven’t heard for years, or even heard mentioned now that I come to think of it.

I once had an old tape recording, but that, and the recorder, seem to have vanished from my possession. No idea how, I went to look for them one day, years ago, and they were gone, along with other similar goodies I thought were at the back of a cupboard.

The title came to mind as I noted a couple of nice stories about Glasgow, which makes me really glad ‘I belong to Glasgow’.

I had begun to think the media had given up on one of its favourite storylines (Live in Glasgow and Die!) since most of these stories seemed to be published with ‘Scotland’ replacing ‘Glasgow’ in the headline, meaning I couldn’t include them as ‘local’ gems, but it looks as if the tired old hacks and their equally old and tired editors have found the subject worthy once again.

Glasgow Necrpolis

Glasgow Necropolis

Glasgow has the lowest life expectancy in Scotland, an official report reveals.

Overall, life expectancy for men in Scotland’s most deprived areas is 13 years lower than in the least deprived parts, an official report outlines.

The difference for women is 9.6 years, according to National Records of Scotland statistics.

New figures show average life expectancy for Scots born from 2015 to 2017 has fallen slightly, with men now expected to live until 77 and women until they are 81.1 years old.

Compared with the UK as a whole, men in Scotland are expected to live 2.2 years fewer than average and woman 1.8 years.

Glasgow city was revealed to have the lowest life expectancy for both men and women, at 73.3 and 78.7 respectively, while it was highest in East Renfrewshire, where males can expect to live for 80.5 years and females for 83.7 years.

Glaswegians still have lowest life expectancy in Scotland

And one that doesn’t really matter to me.

More than half of the alcohol related deaths reported throughout NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in 2017 were recorded in the city.

Of the 310 fatalities registered last year, 186 were living in Glasgow which means the problem is still higher than the Scottish average.

Despite these shocking figures, reports suggest there has been a slight decline of alcohol induced incidents between 2016 and 2017.

In 2017, 34.9 people per 100,000 in Glasgow died from an alcohol related illness compared to the Scottish average of 20.2 people per 100,000.

In 2016, 41.1 people per 100,000 in Glasgow and 23.8 people in Scotland per 100,000 died as a result of a drinking problem.

People in Scotland drink more than those living in other parts of the UK.

Alcohol related deaths in Glasgow still higher than Scottish average

There was a third, which cynics like me would suggest relate to the above.

If we’re so ready to run to hospital, how come we’re all dying?

Probably because all these healthy people are diverting staff from those who are REALLY ill, and they’re dropping dead as a result.

Top ten time-wasting A&E complaints, according to NHS staff

· Cold symptoms, Nasal congestion or a simple sore throat

· Skin complaints such as Acne, Eczema or Athlete’s foot

· Cold sores, Warts or verrucae

· Period pain

· Earache

· Haemorrhoids (piles)

· Hay fever or mild allergies

· Head lice / scabies

· Mouth ulcers/Dental pain

· Thrush

Top 10 time-wasting A&E complaints according to NHS Glasgow staff

12/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , | Leave a comment

Lil Bub has a problem



I wasn’t sure if this item would embed as I sometimes get a surprise when I find WordPress refuses all my efforts to add some fairly common and popular sources, while others slot in without any complaints.

This one looks OK.

We don’t see much of the Internet cats these days, at least I don’t, in the places where they used to feature often online, although it looks as if they’re still wandering around helping others.

I first read about one of the real originals, Lil Bub, having a problem a few days ago, then found the story was true, and had been announced/detailed on her Tumblr (something I never normally go near).

Fingers crossed that this is as much of a non-event as they suggest, and she’s not at risk.

So, we all know Bub’s a little girl, just go with the thought.

King Of The Internet

King Of The Internet

11/09/2018 Posted by | Appeal | , , , | Leave a comment

Surprise! (NOT). Disgusting e-cigarettes are probably causing lung damage

I never cease to be impressed by the way people will convince themselves that something it true simply because they (want to) believe, regardless of the absence of any objective evidence, or even objective evidence to the contrary.

I don’t know if flat-earthers actually believe their claims (which are impossible), or just want to be contrary, and there’s always the ‘NASA Lies’ club, who claim the Moon landings were hoaxes, and that NASA is suppressing evidence of extra-terrestrial life, and ‘flying saucers’.

Another lot I’ve found interesting are those who claim vaping and e-cigarettes are safe and harmless, although such things have not been around long enough to establish that as a fact, rather than a belief.

However, if we listen to the environmental activists (sadly, also mired in beliefs rather than evidence based claims), then anything we breathe in that is not good, clean air, is bad for us, and air pollution is killing thousands every year.

I get the feeling these contrasting claims – vape is harmless vs pollution is dangerous – means at least one of them is wrong.

In what appears to be the first study that looks at what happens to vapour once it has acted within the lungs, as opposed to merely evaluating vape liquid, the finding are NOT good, as the reactions within the lung tissue may be doing as much damage as smoke.

Be clear this is not a cancer scare, but a reaction to the inhaled material by the lungs.

Vaping seems to be as much an addiction as smoking for some people – when I was in court recently, I spotted one (female) juror who desperately had to find a corner in the building where she could suck on her ‘dummy’ at every break provided in the proceedings, despite the chance of being found by security.

But most research has focused on the chemical composition of e-cigarette liquid before it is vaped. In this latest small experimental study, published online in the journal Thorax, researchers devised a mechanical procedure to mimic vaping and produce condensate from the vapour.

They extracted alveolar macrophages from lung tissue samples provided by eight non-smokers who had never had asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A third of the cells were exposed to plain e-cigarette fluid, a third to different strengths of the artificially vaped condensate with and without nicotine and a third to nothing for 24 hours. The condensate was found to be more harmful to the cells than plain e-cigarette fluid.

The effects worsened as the “dose” was increased.

Professor David Thickett, lead author from the University of Birmingham, said: “In terms of cancer causing molecules in cigarette smoke, as opposed to cigarette vapour, there are certainly reduced numbers of carcinogens.

“They are safer in terms of cancer risk, but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause COPD, then that’s something we need to know about.

“I don’t believe e-cigarettes are more harmful than ordinary cigarettes. But we should have a cautious scepticism that they are as safe as we are being led to believe.”

In an accompanying podcast, Professor Thickett said the tobacco giants, who have bought up many of the e-cigarette companies, have an agenda to portray e-cigarettes as safe.

E-cigarettes may be causing similar lung damage to regular smoking, study finds

As I said, ‘Surprise! (NOT).

And, oh dear, surprise (NOT) again…

The tobacco giants are apparently fostering misinformation.

So, expect to see denials issued, and rubbishing of this finding.

My First Vape

My First Vape


Well, there’s ANOTHER surprise (not).

A few days after a study suggesting vaping may be causing a different form of lung damage, some (English) MPs stick their heads up and suggest:

E-cigarettes can be key weapon against smoking, say MPs

Frankly, after a quick read, it seems that their rationale is very much one of cherry-picking the good side of vaping, and using carefully selected words that avoid referring to any of the potential disadvantages.

The key phrase would seem to be: “Vaping is much less harmful than normal cigarettes”.

By using the term ‘Much less harmful’ they carefully protect themselves from future findings which reveal or confirm negative effects arising from e-cigarettes, and the option to say “We never said they were safe”.

I smell big tobacco money and lobbying, putting into place the ‘best practice’ learned in the years of denying, suppressing, and downright lying about the effects of cigarettes on health, and fostering the idea that cigarettes and smoking were actually healthy.



15/08/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Barr’s must be loving the panic buying triggered by the loonies

Barr’s revealed an expected 7.5% jump in group revenues for the year to 27 January.

I wonder if any of that can be attributed to the nut-jobs who were out panic-buying ‘old’ Irn Bru loaded with sugar before the new low-sugar potion displaces it?

There are some funny things I can understand, but the thought that there was any real point in buying a few bottles of fizzy water before an almost insignificantly different bottle of fizzy water replaced it… is just a bit outside even my offbeat sense of reality.

Then there were the claims that the new recipe contained non-sugar sweeteners that were little more than poisons, and responsible for almost 100 various illnesses.

With ever-restrictive regulations and what seems like ever reducing levels of permitted constituents in food products, that one seems bound for the nearest skip as well.

Irn Bru maker AG Barr has reported an “encouraging” response by consumers to the fizzy drink’s new low-sugar recipe.

The Scottish firm stopped making the original full-sugar version early last month ahead of the introduction of a new soft drinks sugar tax in April.

The move prompted a backlash, with fans stockpiling Irn Bru ahead of the recipe change.

But AG Barr said “extensive research and testing” had given it confidence that it had “an excellent taste match”.

The Cumbernauld-based firm added that while the response to its new formula had been encouraging, it acknowledged that it was still “early days”.

Via AG Barr: Response to new Irn Bru recipe ‘encouraging’

We’ll see for ourselves at the end of the year, as I bought my one annual bottle of ‘Bru’ before the original story broke, so it was ‘original.

The next one won’t arrive until I’m stocking up for Hogmanay… 2018!

Frozen Irn Bru

Chilly Irn Bru

02/02/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

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