Three Quick Things

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I have three quick things on my mind that aren’t really worth a full blog post each:

Wall. DC insiders know not to use definite articles in front of agency names. It’s “CIA says,” not “the CIA says.” Now this bit of grammar policy has spread to Trump’s border wall. Josh Marshall explains:

For reasons that are not entirely clear to me the word has apparently come down from the White House that the wall, as in the wall to be built along the southern border, must now be called “wall”….Today in a congressional hearing, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told Rep. Tom Marino: “From Congress I would ask for wall. We need wall.”

Nicotine vaping. Writing yesterday about vaping, I said that although it’s better than tobacco smoking (no lung cancer = big win), nicotine addiction is still pretty bad. But is it? I’ll make two quick remarks about that. First, the effects of nicotine per se on health are fuzzy. It appears to have some harmful effects, but probably not terrible ones. This isn’t really why I think the Juul fad is potentially so bad.

So here’s remark #2: Nicotine is wildly addictive. Withdrawal symptoms are between those for heroin and cocaine, and the difficulty of quitting is higher than for any other common drug. This is what I mean when I say it’s “very bad.” Kids who start vaping as teens are likely to get addicted pretty quickly, and that means they’ll be spending $1-2,000 per year on their nicotine habit for the rest of their lives. Even if nicotine has no negative health effects at all, I still count that as “very bad.”

Syria withdrawal. I’ve gotten several responses about Syria explaining that our troops there basically act as a tripwire: Working with the Kurds, they’ve stabilized the northeast part of the country, and all other combatants stay away because they know that killing a significant number of American troops would result in a massive reprisal. I’m not entirely convinced of this, and in any case it prompts my usual question: how long? We’ve been there four years. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 17 years. The Middle East is obviously not going to stabilize anytime soon, so does that mean we stay there forever? Or what?

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