Bleats

Now We Know That Vaping Could Kill Us All, Can You Leave Your Lame Vape Cloud At Home?

Keep it to yourself, marshmallow-breath.

For a long time, it seemed like we were making good progress. Smokers were ashamed to be puffing out cancer on strangers. Then along came vaping to change people’s behaviour and attitudes, and make my commute a living hell in the process.

Exposing others to regular cigarette smoke became taboo once doctors realised that it’s dangerous regardless of which side of the ciggy you’re on. Obviously, it’s also just plain rude, and it shouldn’t take a health scare to make people act like adults, but here we are.

And now, what was supposed to be the ‘safe’ alternative to cigarettes is now hospitalising people in the US, breathing new life into the debate. With all the bad press, vapers really need to be more careful about where they blow.

People are being diagnosed with crazy lung diseases and infections, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention puts the number of vape-related incidents at 215 cases. A lot of the questions about the sudden ‘epidemic’ remain unanswered for now, which is one of the many reasons to stop treating vaping like a hilarious meme – especially if it involves puffing on other people.

So many iconic Vines that have to be cancelled now. 😔

For real, if a cigarette smoker acted like some of you fools, they would have their ass handed to them. Your juul might have a vaguely pleasant scent, but that’s about the only thing you’ve got going for you – it’s still super gross to have someone’s nasty hot air blasting over you at 7am in the morning. And it’s definitely not a good time to introduce the sickly sweetness of artificial marshmallow into the lives of your fellow commuters.

Besides, we don’t really know much about how the vapour can affect bystanders. The hospital cases are mostly linked to inhalation of solvent oil, and most studies have found the emission of nicotine to be minimal. However, less risk is not no risk, as this study proved. And with unregulated DIY pens and liquids going around, you shouldn’t subject others to unknown side effects.

Me waiting for the train.

It must be noted at this point that, for the time being, vaping without a prescription is very much illegal in Australia if the liquid contains nicotine or CBD. And no-smoking area laws still apply – another obvious reason to avoid huffing it in public. Yes, that includes train stations, you nasty individuals.

The concerns about an emerging ‘black market’ have prompted a legalisation movement, which reckons that if vaping is legalised then it can be regulated better – as well as giving cigarette smokers a pathway out. And I guess that makes sense, but is no one considering the greater implications here? The public interest for those of us who don’t feel like being shrouded in strangers’ mouth-clouds all day?

Well, this could get very foggy indeed.

We’re Not Far Away From Using Pig Organs In People, For Real

When pigs fly.

Science has come so far. One might even say it’s come too far. A British surgeon has revealed that he’s found a way to Macgyver a solution to heart and kidney disease using pig organs, and he’s about three years from making it happen.

Apparently, pig hearts and kidneys are similar enough to those of humans for scientists to not only use them to guinea pig (pun intended) possible treatments, but to just straight up chuck them inside us. In fact, the first ever pig-to-human kidney transplant is due to happen later this year – fitting that 2019 is the Year of the Pig.

I can’t really say I’m too comfy with the idea of having a pig organ inside me, even if it would save my life. It just reminds me way too much of the whole pig slave thing from Doctor Who. The ethics of these sorts of chimera-like experiments are a little murky, but at least this one doesn’t involve gene-editing embryos.

There are some pretty solid arguments for making porcine xenotransplantation happen, once you get over the yuck factor. For a start, it would definitely help resolve the organ donation shortage crisis. Sorry vegans, but if it makes you feel any better, at least we’d be using up parts that are usually wasted to save people’s lives. I’d say that’s a win-win.

Current experimental treatment involves a genetic material called microRNA-199 being delivered into a pig heart to help the cells regenerate, and if it proves effective, it’ll have a direct application in humans. Heart disease is the single biggest killer in Australia, so any solution is a good solution, and there’s definitely some bonus points for creativity to be awarded with this one.

Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? I read enough Animorphs books as a kid to be totally unafraid of hybrid freaks. I, for one, welcome our new Pigperson overlords.

If Weird YouTube Videos Help You Sleep At Night, You're Not Alone

Catch some Zs.

It’s not just insomniacs who are suffering from sleeplessness, as recent research has revealed that nearly a third of us aren’t getting the recommended 7 hours. In honour of Sleep Awareness Week I though it would be appropriate to give a shout out to the real MVP of the bedtime ritual – YouTube.

Being on YouTube at night is the ultimate catch-22. It’s either going to keep you up to 3am as you rabbit hole into your fourteenth ‘RIP Vine’ compilation or it’s going to lull you to sleep like a gentle lullaby, as is the case for an increasing number of us.

The most common type of video for people to fall asleep to are ones that feature ‘white noise’, where the focus is on the soothing sounds of rainstorms and waterfalls, or gently whirring motors. There are some weirder entries in this genre though. Some folks are a fan of, well, fans, and a friend of mine said that clothes driers are her guilty pleasure.

I think I’m even worse, though, when it comes to weird YouTube habits. Most of the time, I find it easy to catch my Zs, but when I was doing my HSC my brain was on overdrive. And I found solace in the most bizarre type of video – planespotting. In my defense, it’s the engine hum is really relaxing, I swear!

Science is also in my corner here, because white (and pink, blue, and brown) noise occupies frequencies that block out all other sound – the problem with most ambient sound is that it changes intensity so much that it’ll jolt you awake. Silence would be great of course, if it wasn’t so stressful.

As long as you’re able to keep the image of a stranger standing over your bed out of your head, videos with people’s voices can be helpful when you hit the hay. The spine-tingling phenomenon of ASMR is well documented, and plenty of folks stand by its power to send them to sleep, but I can’t stand it. I relate more to my friend Lizzy, who is lulled by John Oliver’s dulcet tones on Last Week Tonight, or this Reddit user who cites Bob Ross’ painting videos as a source of inner peace (except when he beats the devil out of his paintbrush).

Love a bit of rustling in the sheets.

Tricking yourself into falling asleep is all about training your brain to associate certain sounds and images with rest, so really it doesn’t matter what weird YouTube videos you use. And hey, it’s not the worst kind of night-time habit. Just don’t blame me for your next oil paint-induced nightmare.

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