Tuesday, January 31, 2006
The first time I heard the word 'Libertarian' was at the Texas State Capitol building, about ten days before the the Gulf War in '91. During an anti-war protest there, I got to talking to Terry Liberty Parker, and he mentioned that Libertarians were against the war, unlike the Dems. I have since fallen out of friendship with Mr. Parker (and, in fact, his behavior is at the core of why I've become inactive in the party both times it's happened) but I will always be in his debt for introducing me to the party.
I had said several times prior to that event, in discussions with 'the wife', if I was given a choice between socialism and fascism, I would choose socialism because you live longer (socialists just want your money, fascists want you to agree with them philosophically, or they shoot you. Or at least that's what I thought at the time) but I could not understand how the Democrats (the party of Jefferson, the party that cast itself as the opposition to the Vietnam war) would be in support of a war that was not in our own interest. I was all for getting involved with a group that wanted to end the military adventurism that we've been involved in since the end of WWII, so I started looking for libertarian meetings and talking to libertarians when I found them.
I was already an Objectivist, I had read most of Rand by that time and found her philosophical outlook to be very much like my own, so I was already 'in tune' with the core of Libertarian thought. At some point I took the "World's Smallest Political Quiz" and found that I was a dead center Libertarian (These days I'm nearly 100/100 on the chart) I spent a good bit of time in the old TCLP office on Middle Fiskville Rd. talking to Bruce Baechler, and I think he was the one who made me feel most comfortable with supporting Libertarians as more than just a protest vote.
Anyway, what follows was what I posted in response to a request for "Why I am a Libertarian" articles. The 'Republicans coming to power' was Reagan in '80. I thought Carter was a great president at the time. 'The wife' still does; don't hold it against her, though. She hates the current Democrats.
I am a libertarian because I believe, first and foremost, in the concept of limited government. Most people, when told this will exclaim "ah, you are a Republican". Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Before I discovered the Nolan chart (http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz.html) and through it the LP, I was a staunch yellow dog Democrat, like my parents and grandparents before them. I believed that government was there to help, and that social freedoms could be taken for granted under the Democrat's benign rule. But I was at a loss to explain why the drug war persisted, why the term PC was ever created and why taxes were increased, even in the face of Democrat dominated legislatures and presidents.
When the Republicans came to power, they talked of reducing the size and expense of government. My fellow Democrats cried over this, but I could not understand how reducing government, and the tax burdens on the people, was necessarily a 'bad' thing. Strangely, the cost of government never got smaller. The Republicans did reduce taxes, but the debt burden passed on to the next generation went through the roof. I started to think that the politicians were not being truthful with us; and if they were lying to us about their intentions, then what else were they lying to us about?
It took eight years of a Democrat president to convince me of the truth that I know today: If a politician has words coming out of his mouth, he's most likely lying. You well may laugh, but to an honest man, this was shocking. I discovered something else in the course of nearly 30 years of following politics: Government is a weapon. It is a loaded gun that you point at wrong doers to make them stop what they are doing. That is the only 'help' that government can give; and it doesn't even do that cheaply. If you want government to do something for you, then you are employing force to get it done.
Everything that government does can be done by private industry better, faster and cheaper. The fewer government run programs, the less force that is present in our system; less force means more freedom. Jefferson and those who started the ball rolling way back when understood this. They were Democrats. Because of this, I was a Democrat. What I did not realize was that the allegiances of the parties have shifted over the course of 200+ years, which brings us back to the Nolan chart, and the LP.
Chart the beliefs of the founders, and nearly to a man they will turn up Libertarian; Jefferson was solidly so. When I took the test, I too charted as solidly Libertarian. It has been more than 10 years since I took the test, lodging protest votes against the two major parties, discussing issues with fellow libertarians; and it's been only recently that I have come to the realization that I was indeed a Libertarian in belief, and not just a political misfit.
Ask any libertarian why they are what they are, and you will get a different story. Some are former Republicans and some, like me, are former Democrats. Most of them are of the younger generation, fresh out of college and worried about the future they face at the hands of an ever-expanding federal government. If there is a core libertarian belief, then that is a good portion of it; the requirement that government at least return to constitutional limits, and be responsive to the people who fund it. That force not be employed except in response to force. That we are all capable of governing ourselves, just as has been done throughout our history. We are the Libertarian Party, and we are here to stay.
Trite, but still true.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Yes, I put the dry cleaning into the washer again, so what?
Sunday, January 29, 2006
CATO's regulation seems to enjoy beating dead horses as much as I do. They have offered a rebuttal to the ACSH article that calls them to task for belittling the health threat posed by cigarette smoke.
Quoting from the article:
We started that article with this declaration: "Truth was an early victim in the battle against tobacco." We ended the article with this admonition: "When that goal [i.e., truth] yields to politics, tainting science in order to advance predetermined ends, we are all at risk. Sadly, that is exactly what has transpired as our public officials fabricate evidence to promote their crusade against big tobacco."OK, granted. They spin some pretty good arguments for the CDC's figures being exaggerated. But I think they are confused about who and what is motivating the witch hunt that the CDC is simply the public edifice for. It isn't the gov't that is after 'big tobacco', as referendum after referendum and ordinance after ordinance against public smoking is proposed and passes. It's the average person on the street who doesn't smoke himself (which is now the majority of the population, by the way) doesn't want to have to smell someone elses cigarette smoke, and figures "there outta be a law". Suddenly, there are laws. This is how 'democracy' works.
[Yes, I know, we're a Republic. The majority says we aren't any more, apparently they don't understand the meaning of the words in the pledge that they recited daily. I guess that's what happens when you let socialists write documents for free thinking people]
The fact that there are serious health consequences to smokers, and costs that get passed on to the government as the guy left holding the tab at the end of the night, simply buttresses the argument against allowing people to smoke, at all. Facts that the regulation article itself admits:
Second, we are wrongly censured for stating that "the hazards of smoking remain largely speculative. "What we actually said is quite different, indeed mostly contrary: "Evidence does suggest that cigarettes substantially increase the risk of lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema. The relationship between smoking and other diseases is not nearly so clear."Pretty much puts case closed on it for me. My point in bringing up the evidence against smoking was never to call attention to 'how many' deaths, and the obvious manipulation of statistics to 'awfulize' the outcome should be ridiculed; but the facts do show a connection between poorer health, shorter less healthy lives, and smoking tobacco. Since I have health problems already, it benefits me to choose non-smoking establishments when I do go out. Luckily for me Austin is a proper socialist paradise and has taken any need to think for myself, about where to go on a night out, out of my hands.
...Which is good, because if it was left to my anarchist/libertarian brethren I'd have no choice but to walk in and sniff the air before deciding if I wanted to actually 'stop' anywhere. Probably just stay home in that case (the recurring "what do you want to eat?" argument is hard enough on its own) which would be cheaper.
On the bright side, watched a segment on Beyond Tomorrow tonight dealing with an 'anti-smoking' injection. Clinical study results are positive (success rates approaching 60 percent) which is good. Most people who try to quit 'cold turkey' fail (3 percent success rate) The various forms of nicotine replacement therapies fair only slightly better (30 percent success rate) So the drug manufacturer is obviously quite pleased with the results. I myself quit cold turkey, after three tries. I was able to apply an REBT technique to the nicotine craving; I would think of the smell that an empty bar has in the morning when you show up to clean it, every time I wanted a cigarette. It took a while, but I was able to beat it. I actually feel ill when I think about smoking these days. (I'm applying the technique to craving french fries now. I don't know if that's going to work or not. Love them fries)
I hear you saying "what if I just want to smoke?" Fine by me. Go do it somewhere else, though. Here, you can have my old supply of 'coffin nails', I'm not going to need them anymore.
...then you pretty much have a picture of just how insane the War on Drugs really is.
The Administration is willing to kill this man simply to prove that they have the right to kill him by denying him his medicine.
Who voted for these nutjobs anyway?
Gonna crib some text from Knappster here:
- Steve Kubby update on Brad Spangler's blog
- Update from Michele Kubby on Hammer of Truth
Let's try to keep the focus where it belongs, folks: On saving Steve's life.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Like the smoking argument, the solution the the drinking and driving problem isn't less alcohol consumption, or more expensive drinks; just as the solution to problems with second hand smoke isn't keeping people from smoking. It's architectural; or in this case, a zoning issue. If it was possible to set up neighborhood pubs or sidewalk cafes as they do in other places, it wouldn't be necessary to drive down to the pub to get a pint, or to the cafe to get a taste. You could walk there.
De-stressing the forbidden nature of alcohol would go along way in stopping teenage drinking as well.
But I don't expect anyone will listen to this argument any more than they have to the other ones I've offered.
(although the pop-under that comes up with it is not)
Just checked the bank accounts. Not even going there.
The teenager is frustrated. Not going there.
The range is on the fritz. Not going there either.
Re-queue that song, quick...
I better finish quickly while I can.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Teenage question: "So why is the bar owner in trouble?"
Dad answer: "Because someone was stopped drunk, and he said he had been drinking at their bar."
Teenage question: "But isn't that what the customer went there for? Why should the bar owner care if his customers are drunk?"
Dad answer: "Well, the law says that the bar owner has to be responsible for not getting his customers drunk. If he thinks one of his customers is drunk, he has to stop serving him. It doesn't stop there, either. He can't let the drunk stay in the bar, because if the TABC comes in and checks the place out the bar can be cited just for having people in it that have drank too much alcohol. So he's caught in a very bad position if he mistakenly serves someone too much."
Teenage question: "Are they trying to make alcohol illegal?"
Dad answer: "No. They did that before and it didn't work out."
Teenage conclusion: "Well, they must be trying to make it impossible to drink without making it illegal then."
Sharp as a tack, let me tell you. I hadn't really thought about it that much, but it makes perfect sense. Smoking, as another example, is slowly trending that direction as well. Soon there will be alcohol and cigarettes available for purchase (if you can find them) but there won't be anywhere you can indulge in them, except maybe inside your own house.
Fireworks are already that way, if you live in the city. You can buy them, but don't even try to drive them back into town. It's always struck me as ironic that the celebration of independence can't be done in the traditional fashion anymore, because the state has laid down the law and excluded everyone but themselves from being able to indulge. I imagine they'll soon be keeping all the smokes and drinks for themselves as well. It'll be a regular animal farm then.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I've always had a weakness for Geena Davis, I can't help it. Ever since Earth Girls are Easy, I jump at the chance to see her in just about any role. When I heard she was going to play the President, I just had to watch. She's been quite convincing in the role (even if some of the story lines are a bit far fetched) Hard edged without being brutal, skating the thin line between a leader and a tyrant.
Yes I've heard the rumors concerning Commander in Chief's creators. That's why I'm not going to make an issue out of the obvious 'liberal' (more aptly labeled 'socialist') leanings of those involved with West Wing. I would like to say one thing on the subject, though. If indeed they are trying to prep us for a woman president, I think they got the wrong actress to play the part. Perhaps Nichelle Nichols would be better suited to the role; I think that Condi has a much better chance of ever being president than Hillary does.
Prediction? Not really. Let's call it an educated guess.
Then, lo and behold, I notice he's added comments to the blog entry itself.
Hello Mr. Bylund, I'm not ignoring you, I just think that achieving the anarchist ideal ranks somewhere behind science fiction fandom and humor (and living in the here and now) on the importance list. I establish my own values, just like I know and uphold my own rights; I don't look to gov't to maintain them for me, but to abstain from violating them in the process of doing it's 'legitimate' work.
I read your comments through several times. This is the paragraph which I feel the need to specifically address:
To minarchists, the anarchist position is utterly utopian, perhaps even idealistic, and they conclude it would not work. Such a society could quickly degenerate into chaos and misery since there is no final arbiter in conflicts and no power to leash or control the evils unavoidably existent in society. The reasoning is that there needs to be something larger, but external to the market, setting the basic rules and enforcing them. Without the enforcement of rights, there are no rights.The key phrase here is 'final arbiter'. Gov't is legitimate, in my estimation, when it:
- Violates no rights in maintaining it's existence.
- Acts only as the 'final arbiter' in a conflict.
When I point out to them that Anarchy is chaos, by definition; and that political Anarchy, to be true to its definition, would require that there is no structure (which I will always call government) in order for it to be called Anarchy,that the resultant society would be chaotic and prone to instability, which most likely would lead (and has lead in the past) to more repressive forms of gov't taking root, I'm told that I just don't 'get it'.
But I do 'get it'. The anarchists want to use the word anarchy to serve as a figurehead for something that isn't anarchy but will be different from the current government structure; a tactic which has and most likely will backfire when acted upon. Which is why I bother to argue about this in the first place.
Utopian and Idealist visions have lead to some of the worst hell holes on the planet. During the time of the Russian revolution, Anarchists and Socialists were brothers in the same cause; fighting to bring change to a Russian society that, without a doubt, desperately needed it. The idealist Anarchists of the time thought that if they could just get rid of the Czar the social utopia of Communism (which is a governmentless form of society, an anarchy; at least as Marx envisioned it) would soon follow. I think history will show it turned out differently.
(No, I'm not saying that Anarchists are Communists. The Wiki entry should plainly show, if nothing else, that Anarchists don't even know what Anarchists are. Which is fitting, considering the definition of the word)
Every time I find myself butting heads with someone politically, I discover that the someone in question has some 'ideal' vision in his head concerning what should be the way things work; a Utopia for which they just won't accept any substitutions. Unfortunately reality doesn't consult with us concerning it's inner workings. In an ideal world, there would be no idealists. That's my idea of utopia. You can thank your luck stars that I don't believe in Utopias.
If we want structures to serve the purposes we intend for them, then we have to look at the constraints that reality places on us and design them to fit. Self-funding support bodies for essential gov't functions (i.e. the cost of police and fire departments being funded by the insurance companies and land owners that profit from their existence) is just one vein of thought on the subject. Government structures that don't violate rights simply by existing in the first place.
Suffice it to say I've put some thought into this, and I doubt that there is much that can be said that will sway me from my opinion.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Yeah, them Gen-Xers are funny; and I tend to think of myself as a Gen-X rather than as a boomer (when I think about the meaningless labels that get affixed to indefinable groups of people that happen to have been born in particular years, that is) Having been born in the early sixties, I get the pick of which group I want to be in, since the 'generations' that they claim to represent overlap in those years.
My wife, on the other hand, thinks of herself as a Boomer. Her parents grew up in the depression and didn't have children until late in life; so she tends to see herself as being part of the post-war (that would be WWII for the knee biters out there) boom generation. It makes no difference when I explain that we were in grade school during the 'summer of love', she wants to be a Boomer.
Just so long as she doesn't ask me to give up my unearned 'X-er' angst, I won't point out to her that women's lib and tie-dye both had their time already (and it's over; the women won, OK?) and I guess we'll continue to agree to disagree on the subject.
These days I feel about as old as a Boomer should feel (at least in my estimation) Especially when visiting a site like "I Was Your Age Twice" (which I have been, for quite a few people out there; and the number grows, daily) and laughing my head off at a good bit of the content there.
Gen-X I may be, but I can still rant with the best of them 'older' farts.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Actually, the tendency toward 'forum addiction' can be traced back much earlier than that. If you remember the charge you got the first time you knew something somebody else didn't know, and you got to explain it to them, got to see their eyes light up with understanding, then you too are a potential forum addict. That's where it starts. And then you discover the Internet, and how easy it is to share information. You join your first forum and you start posting. Before you know it you are spending days at a time trying to shove a few facts into another idiot's brain, never realizing that you to are an idiot just for making the attempt.
Talk about a waste of effort.
At some point (if you are like me) you will probably also discover that you are in an adversarial relationship with everyone in your group (Personally I tend to agree with a friend who observed that "it's the nature of the medium". For some reason the impersonal nature of text communication seems to make people more prone to "misapprehend" the meaning of a statement. There's a multi-million dollar government funded study in there somewhere) ...and the one time that you can all pull together is when you are trying to single out some other agitator to get rid of.
More and more often these days, that agitator turns out to be me. It seems I have this disgusting habit of making people think about things they'd rather not. Call me weird, but it's kind of a point of pride with me. I figure if I don't make someone go "Hmmm?" with each post, then I might as well watch the boob cube with the rest of the couch potatoes. Therein lies the rub. If you can't impart a few simple facts to the unwilling, how on earth can you make them think?
Once again, can we say Waste of Effort? I knew that you could.
...This is why government schools don't teach, they indoctrinate. No one wants to sit in neat little rows and listen to someone else lecture; and rote learning is boring, to say the least. So we have schools full of the unwilling that can't be taught even simple facts, much less be made to think for themselves. If it was understood that thinking for oneself was a blessing, and that school was a place where this was facilitated, you might actually find children wanting to go to school just to learn, instead of going just to escape from their parents.
...And that is why the Montessori method of teaching will always be superior to the typical attempt at teaching found in government schools. It stimulates the natural desire within the child to learn and to understand. This is also why you won't find Montessori teaching in the 'public' (government) school system. Worse than getting children hooked on drugs, getting them to think.
Back to the task at hand...
The idiot that I am, got kicked off another forum the other day (you might notice that it disappeared from my sidebar) Miscued on a post by another, who miscued on a (poor) attempt at humor on my part. The peanut gallery pounced at that point, I'm sure; one can rack up a lot of negative feelings when he's trying to pound a little sense into the opposition. They offered to let me stay on if I would agree to be moderated, but I'm not interested in letting someone else second guess what I should post. So I'm outta there...
I've alienated friends and family members with this stupid forum addiction, this blind belief that I can somehow impart a little understanding to the (as someone else called them) "unwashed masses" by "getting the information out there". Silly, really. Or is it?
Over time I've progressed (?) from knowing everything, but understanding very little (typical teenager) to knowing nothing, but understanding a great deal (hello mid-life) more than I can express in a blog entry.
I wonder when I'll learn to think...? And will it be before I hit 'send' the next time?
Friday, January 20, 2006
So, what is the Liberty Dollar? This is the forum where we hope to answer those types of questions. If you are new to ALD, take some time and read the many pages of information that can be found on the Liberty Dollar site. I'd start with the Introductory Essay. Don't want to read about it? You might want to check out the History Channel special that is linked on the Libertydollar.org front page, or just click here.
Still too much information for you?
Short and sweet then. The Liberty dollar is money. Technically speaking, it is money based on one ounce of silver; a dollar value is attached to that ounce of silver that roughly equates to the FRN dollar value of 1 ounce silver numismatic items currently in circulation.
Huh? Too short? Sorry. Once upon a time...
There was a time in the not too distant past when the US dollar was based on an amount of real metal, and you could trade paper dollars and checkbook dollars for real silver dollars if you wanted. (If you really want to know more about that go here) Even before that time, US money was based on a quantity of metal. From the very beginning of the US as a nation, the dollar was represented as being worth a certain amount of silver (371 4/16 grains) and it remained that way through most of US history until the Federal Reserve was established to 'regulate money'. Since that time, the number of dollars in circulation has been increased to the point that what was once a dollar worth of silver is now (at this writing) nearly 10 dollars. The Liberty Dollar was created as a way to combat this growing problem. The Liberty Dollar is first and foremost based on a unit of silver weight (1 ounce .999 fine silver) The ounce of silver is then divided into the number of dollars that current market price for silver dictates, based on a formula that can be found here. What it amounts to is that the dollar value increases as the silver value increases, providing a 'store of value' as money ought to be.
Still have questions? Well, that is what we are here for. There are many other resources to tap at the liberty dollar site, including "The Mother Lode of Information". Look around there, browse here; or just post a note. We'll try to point you in the right direction.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Anyone who's ever tried to speak in front of a large group of people can commiserate with me here, if not completely understand what I'm talking about. It wasn't just fear that I felt, standing there trying to speak, and "Stage fright" is too dismissive to cover it. Perhaps Topophobia describes the feeling; and further might explain why Janis (and so many other performers) resorted to numbing herself before getting onstage. I know the meetings went better when alocohol was served beforehand (at least they seemed to) How can you be expected to be entertaining when you can't shake the feeling that you're going to melt (or explode) at any moment?
Public speaking is one of the most common fears, confirmed by my own experiences within the Politimasters group; it died from a lack of participation. We just couldn't get enough people (10 people is what you need. Couldn't even get 10 people!) interested in meeting every week to practice their speaking skills.
Toastmasters and "Stage fright" reminds me of my high school speech class and the dreaded speech class project, where you are required to get up and talk in front of other people. The teachers, in their infinite wisdom, decided to do a mock Gong Show (this was the 70's after all) In front of the entire school body, as well as any guests who wanted to attend. And they told us that we had to decide whether we were going to be gonged or not in advance (I think they missed the point of audience participation) A friend of mine convinced me that we should try and do the Abbot and Costello routine Who's on First, and we (she) decided that we didn't want to be gonged. I memorized the routine, read it every day for more than two weeks. I could do it backward by the day of the show.
Comes time for curtain rise, and I can't remember word one of the entire thing. We both end up reading the routine from cards that we carried on with us. The audience wants us gonged, and can't figure out why the judges don't go along. I remember the feeling of thousands of people in the audience wanting my blood (although I'm sure the auditorium in Stinnett didn't hold more than a few hundred; and 'wanting blood' is a bit of an exaggeration. Just a bit) I walked off the stage, swearing never to do anything like that again.
...And Janis is looking at me from across the room. "You had a speech prepared for Toastmasters tonight, right?" Pure terror.
[three guesses what set me off in the first place. Bet you don't need two of them]
The word you are struggling to find is 'philosophy'. Philosophy, even amongst the religious, is where morals come from. I say this as an Objectivist, Americans ignore the importance of establishing and maintaining a personal philosophy at their own peril.
It is the short-cutters, who turn to religion and superstition to answer their metaphysical questions, that are to blame for the degradation of the morals in our society; not a lack of 'faith' or 'prayer in schools' or whatever imagined slight the Christian Right wants to whine about today.
Contrary to popular opinion, the founders where not christians, they were Deists.
"The Founding Fathers, also, rarely practiced Christian orthodoxy. Although they supported the free exercise of any religion, they understood the dangers of religion. Most of them believed in deism and attended Freemasonry lodges. According to John J. Robinson, "Freemasonry had been a powerful force for religious freedom." Freemasons took seriously the principle that men should worship according to their own conscious. Masonry welcomed anyone from any religion or non-religion, as long as they believed in a Supreme Being. Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Hamilton, Lafayette, and many others accepted Freemasonry."
One of the most religious men in the continental congress was John Adams, and he was a Unitarian.
This is my answer to the question you posed. I only wish I could have called in to set you right in your confusion. Religion is a curse that will betray America to ruin; and that very soon. Philosophy needs to be taught to children as a part of their school curriculum. It is every bit as important as the 3 "R's". (so does economics need to be taught, but that is a different subject) Only with the mental tools for judging and abiding by morals of their own, will our children be able to stop the moral decline that this country is in.
I too had to turn off the program today. One more holier than thou phone caller trying to tell me how I needed to go to church would have sent me over the edge.
These days I just point people who ask these types of questions to the study published in the Journal of Religion and Society titled Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies, that shows the impact of fervent religious belief on society as a whole is negative. Don't know what else needs to be said on the subject.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
So much for that mid-life crisis, at least so far. 'The wife' on the other hand is deep into hers. She's been wanting a mini so bad that she's already designed hers at the site.
(She insists that the recent purchase of a 'Kia' proves that I'm not being truthful. We'll see)
I wonder if it's contagious?
Monday, January 16, 2006
I know what I like, and why I like it. Conversely, I know what I don't like and why that is as well. For example, Sin City is not a good film no matter how many tickets it sold. There is no discernible theme. There is no apparent rhyme or reason for the use of color in the film (which is done in nouveau black and white for those who haven't seen it. Can anybody explain the Ferengi in the final segments of the film? I just don't get that bit at all) it is an excellent representation of a graphic novel who's pictures move, but it is a very poor film. Are we clear? Good.
Having made that point clear, I'd like to respond to two points brought up here:
(non-SciFi fans will be forgiven if they run screaming...)
Gedeon wrote:What I was saying is that Fire Walk with Me was a failure in every way that Serenity was not; and yet it was acclaimed as a great film. I've never cared, one way or the other, for David Lynch's work. I consider his version of Dune to be one of the worst adaptations of a movie from a novel that I have ever seen. They didn't get one thing right except casting and makeup for the Harkonens. I'll have to beg off judgment on anything else he's done, since I haven't seen it.
So are you saying Joss will lose his thunder like David Lynche did?
I'm still a browncoat, still love the characters, but they should stop whoring the story for new fans next time around. You know, not have Simon save River thus destroying what he did in the series. Not have Jayne take River for a nice Shuttle ride... It makes the story clearer, but you and I didn't need it.
I personally think that Joss took the wise course in attempting to create a film that would not alienate the new viewer by catering to the fans of the TV show. I've said this before and it bears repeating:
"I'm not in charge of making the movies; I daresay that (whoever you are reading this) you don't make films either. Since they don't pay me to make decisions about what I want to see in a film and, in fact, pay someone else to do it, I don't expect people in positions of authority on any particular film will care much if I have a complaint about a particular scene."
The scenes in question make sense from a plot standpoint (even if they don't in series continuity) and so can be forgiven, at least in my opinion (I especially love the 'beaning' that Jayne gets. Nice pun Joss) they do not, in fact, conflict with established facts from the series.
So, no aspersions on Joss whatsoever, kudos to Joss for getting Serenity in the air at all.
Gedeon wrote:The worst of the ST films was the last one. That they (Paramount) have apparently given Berman and Braga (the Nemesis of Trek) the reins of the next film as well pretty much spells the complete end of the franchise for me. If Berman is given control of this film, it will be the first Star Trek film that I won't bother to see in theatres. Nemesis was so far removed from Gene Roddenberry's vision of Trek that I just couldn't sit through it more than once. That and the fact that they rehash the death of Spock with the death and re-birth of Data; they inexplicably find yet another 'brother' for Data, while traveling on a dune buggy, the only vehicle with wheels ever seen in Trek. Need I go on?
To me, in years to come, we will consider Serenity like trekkies consider the first Star Trek movie. It's the right characters, but the costumes were all wrong. The other six are much better.
In contrast, the first film (despite it's meandering pacing and far too simplistic plot) clearly has a lot of Gene in it. The machine trying to become human (a la Data from Next Generation) for example. The first Star Trek film is something I cherish. It got the ball rolling again.
If that is what Serenity ends up being (the film that gets the ball rolling again) then I will look back on it just as fondly.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
[it's like an argument concert. Life around here can be quite different, really; especially when you realize that she's the truly 'technical' one. I'm just her one and only flunky]
...and what they pay these days. Most of the places that advertise computer assistance/repair services pay no better than the places where the sum total of knowledge required to do the job is "do you want fries with that?" We've gotten most of our business from people who have first called a number they heard advertised; and then after *insert business name here* made the problem worse, they did some searching and found us. We'd love to be the first ones that get called; but we just don't work that cheaply, and shouldn't be expected to.
What's out of sync is that we don't charge any more than *insert business name here* (less in fact) it's just that as sole proprietors we pocket the full hourly charge for ourselves, like any real professional would.
And then I started off on a tangent. Specialized knowledge. That's what makes a profession what it is. Imagine what it was like back when houses first started getting electricity. You already had plumbing, most likely; but this electrical stuff was all new. Someone who understood electricity and its rules would be highly valued. What followed would be decades of hard learning for all involved, with more and more poeple getting experience in the field. At some point, common knowledge of the basic rules of electricity made it seam like any old idiot could go out and wire a house and fiddle with electrical current. But that isn't the case. Electricians still exist, and some of us still rely on them. Idiots get fried every year because they think they know about electricity.
While you might not kill yourself trying to do some of the more technical jobs for yourself, when you realize that you've just created a very expensive paper weight, you might wish you were dead.
...and the answer is 'no', by the way. No, I don't think we need the gov't to step in now and start setting standards for a computer 'profession'. I haven't noticed that it's done anything for any of the other professions out there (including my own, architecture) I just think it's a shame that you'd pay a plumber an hourly wage that an attorney might charge, to handle the mystical plumbing problem you're having; but computer problems are a different matter? You want fries with that?
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Firefly was canceled due to the infinite wisdom of Fox television. All television executives are omniscient, just ask the guys at NBC who canceled Star Trek in the 60's. They knew it was junk and was never going to make any money. Don't let the fact that Paramount has milked millions out of the franchise (and founded the 5th broadcast network with not much more than Star Trek to carry it) since that point fool you, Star Trek needed canceling. In much the same way, the red-headed (browncoated) stepchild that was Firefly needed canceling, because Fox only agreed to let Joss Whedon do it so that they could keep him for another season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You don't promote and fund a 'gimme' long term. And they didn't. 13 episodes filmed. 10 episodes aired. No promotion to speak of. You're outta here!
But Firefly wouldn't die, I'm sure the old guard Star Trek fans out there understand why that is. Writing. Talking. Promoting. And lo and behold the show that needed canceling is resurrected as a feature length film. Some said "that doesn't happen" (Trekkies know better, but we let them have their moment. Kids are so cute) and marveled at the feat. And, really it was a feat. An excellent film that preserved the atmosphere of the original show, and completed the main story arc left unfinished by Fox needing to cancel the show. It was on screens all too briefly, and passed onto disk (a copy of which is already in my library) within a few short months.
And then the rumblings started from naysayers, TV executive lakeys, and Hollywood insider wannabes concerning whether Serenity the movie was a success or failure, and whether or not this should "shut the fans up".
Personally, I don't feel like shutting up, and I don't count the shows short time on screen as a failure. Why you say? Because in comparison it's just not.
I'd like to point out a show (no, not Star Trek) that had a similar fate, not so long ago. A critically acclaimed series with a very short life was resurrected as a movie (that was also critically acclaimed) that went out of theaters nearly as fast. What was the show? Twin Peaks. The movie was Fire Walk With Me. My point is this, even with the media circus that surrounded the show and the subsequent movie, if you look at the numbers here or here, you will see that the show did not in fact do an impressive amount of business. A recoup of about half of the 10 million dollar budget spent on it. But the critics loved it...
In comparison, Serenity's numbers are just rosy here and here. All told, Serenity has made back the money spent on it, and we aren't even done with the video sales yet. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. And still, I hear the "What if's" and the "If only's". What's done is done. The movie came out when it did, competed with the films that were out then, and left the theaters when new films crowded into the fall schedule showed up to push it out. Gotta have all the good films out right before Oscar time. Don't ask me why, it must be that same omniscience that the TV execs have.
So why should we wear long faces and walk silently? Because the film wasn't as popular as Lord of the Rings? Didn't make the kind of money Titanic did? The film didn't have the history of Lord of the Rings to promote it to every adult in the world, or the potential 200+ million dollar hickey that motivated the blitzkrieg of media exposure which ensured Titanic's (undeserved, in my opinion) box office sales. Serenity was good enough on it's own merits to pay back it's investors, and good enough on it's own merits to inspire loyal fans of the series. I say we crow to the moon and demand a second film! Who's with me?
There was a proposal a few years back by a nearby school district to require drug testing for all children engaged in extra-curricular activities. As a free thinker and a libertarian, I had a problem with this (as you can imagine) I don't know if the proposal was ever adopted; I do know, however, that my mind remains unchanged on the subject.
Let me frame this correctly:
I am the guardian of my children's rights. To submit children to drug testing without probable cause violates the 1st, 4th and 5th amendments to the constitution, just on the face of it, no matter what the Supremes say.
I find it offensive that the school has decided to exclude my children from extra-curricular activity over this issue; I say this because I will not allow my child's rights to be violated, and they will not be allowed to participate without 'testing'.
If I feel that the evidence warrants testing, rest assured I will see that they are tested. But the state has no business getting involved in this issue. My children will not be involved in extra curricular activities if testing is required. My children will not be in school if testing is required of the entire student body.
Further, anyone who submits to a drug test for ANY REASON when not under arrest is abdicating their rights under the constitution; is admitting to guilt until proven innocent.
There comes a point where you can yield no further ground on an issue. That point has been reached. If you want to end the threat of drugs in the school REMOVE THE PROFIT, LEGALIZE THEM.
It really is that simple. Prohibition does not work, we proved that nearly a century ago...
Some one argued, at the time, "are you willing to open that can of worms [children's rights] for the liberals?"
It's not a can of worms, because you are mis-construing my post.
The child has no rights directly (again, in spite of what the supremes say) They are not adults, they do not comprehend actions and consequences as a general rule, and they do not think at an adult level. However, as the parent, I am charged with guarding the rights of my children. It falls to me, and to no one else, to do this.
If someone fails in their duty as parent, the child should be free to seek whatever shelter can be found; be it private charity or gov't action. If the child can prove that he/she is able to function as an adult, then he/she is no longer a child and should have the ability to seek redress for harm done like any adult.
The child does not stay a child, they become adults. Parents who fail to realize this natural order of things (and I know a few who fall in this category) deserve whatever comes to them when the adult who was their child takes offense at the liberties taken by negligent, or even over-protective, parents.
Religion is no excuse for mistreatment of a child; there is, in fact, no excuse.
The CPS and the payments their agents get for stealing children is another story all together.
Further argument was offered:The government has no rights, only individuals have rights. Some will tell you that the gov't is an illusion like the spoon in 'the Matrix'. But I digress.
"...as far as I read it you were stating it's a violation of the children's rights to be drug tested. But as you just stated the children do not have many rights by law. So you're saying its ok for a parent to violate a child's rights but not the government's right [to do so]?"
I'm always amazed at the confusion most people exhibit when the subject of rights comes up. Amazed because the first document of a free America proclaims the existence of 'inalienable rights'; and amazed because the concept is so clear to me.
To put it simply: Children are potential adults; if they succeed in reaching maturity, then they *are* adults. All adults have rights, they are the same rights no matter where you live (despite what the Chinese premier thinks) because they come from what makes us living, thinking individuals. Children have potential rights, and these are vested in the guardian or parent whose job it is to ensure that the child matures into a responsible adult.
A parent can violate a child's rights. Negligence, abuse, or some other failure of guidance should be seen as a breaking of the trust that is parenthood.
In demanding drug testing, the gov't and the school have determined that all the children are guilty until proven innocent. Any parent who yields to the pressure and allows their child to be tested in this fashion allows their children's rights to be violated, and in so doing, abdicates their right to be called 'parent'.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I'm pretty sure they came across the border in a banana shipment (or something like that) and that they come from at least three different regions. I'm pretty sure the place is called "Slobovnia" (what else would it be called?) The ones from Lower Slobovnia leave clutter in the floor areas. The ones from Upper Slobovnia leave clutter in the empty spaces above the floor.
Then there are the ones from Central Slobovnia, the most common kind (at least around here) because there is clutter all over the !@#$%^&*! place.
How do I know there are bugs responsible for the clutter? Well, I know it isn't me, and when I ask the rest of the family "who made this mess?" No one did it.
It's gotta be the bugs.
Now I just need to find a good exterminator that doesn't laugh when I describe the problem...
Monday, January 09, 2006
This is one of those arguments that I've had so many times with so many people that I could convincingly argue both sides in a continuous monologue that looked like a dialogue. I don't think I'll do that. It would go on as long as the so-called 'debate' (if two sides engaged in endless name calling could be labeled a debate) has gone on already, and none of you would read it.
This is a faith based issue with the devout believing or being instructed to believe in a particular fashion on both sides of the argument. The Fascist Right (what I fondly refer to as the Religious Reich; what is generally mislabeled 'conservative') believes that it is the correct stance of the state to confirm their loathing of "a waste of potential" and to require women to carry pregnancies to term, no matter what. For those on the right, "correct thinking" is paramount, the resultant unpleasant reality is punishment for incorrect thought. The Socialist Left (Tree huggers if you like, I don't have a cutesy name of my own for them) believes that it is the correct stance for the state to confirm a woman's right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, with funding as necessary. For those on the left, correct actions are paramount. We should always feel good about what we are doing, even if forced to.
What the two sides have in common is the desire to wield force in the form of law, and require others to bow to the whims that they worship. This is, in truth, the common thread of all the political footballs that come into play with each and every election and decision. What the players on the field (or the pawns on the chessboard, take your pick) never seem to understand is that the leaders on either side of the 'issue' don't have any core disagreements. They are all willing to force others through law to behave or believe whatever they deem correct at any given minute. The 'issues' are simply how they maintain control and distract attention.
"But wait" you say, "The Republicans are poised to reverse Roe v. Wade! How can you be so cavalier about this?" It's easy. The Republicans have no intention of reversing Roe v. Wade. They would be fools if they did. The reason is constitutional...
[If there really were a "Litmus Test" it ought to be the constitution that forms it. The test (as is fitting) should be in the form of a single question and answer. "What is the meaning of the ninth and tenth amendments to the constitution?" Unenumerated rights. Limited powers. Any potential judge that does not concede the existence of a "right to privacy", of a limit to state power, does not have a place on the bench within the US court system. Good luck getting a straight answer there.]
...Roe v. Wade establishes a right to privacy. To reverse that is to make us all wards of the state (some would say we already are) and to make all claims to privacy by persons, including the "multi-national corporations" null and void. I'm sorry, but I just can't see the Warren Buffetts and Bill Gates of the world signing up for that type of punishment. So excuse me if I don't take this 'threat' seriously. The 'Right to Privacy' will continue to exist (as it did 'unenumerated' before Roe v. Wade) and with it the availability of 'unpopular' medical procedures, including Abortion. Sorry folks, them's the breaks.
In libertarian circles there has been an uneasy truce on the 'issue' of abortion for quite some time. Don't get me wrong, we have 'believers' on both sides of the 'issue' here too. It just doesn't get contentious (generally) because we don't acknowledge that the state has the authority to force someone to bear children, on the one hand; or the authority to steal money (generally referred to as 'taxes') to pay for abortions on the other. We're more than happy to let the individuals involved make decisions for themselves. It's what tends to work best.
I hear you saying "what about protecting life, dammit?" That's all fine and good. First prove that there is a life, a life with a conscious mind, a will to live (not just autonomic responses) the presence of brainwaves, preferably; and then show how you will preserve that life without harming the life (and by harm I mean economic as well as physical harm) of the mother-to-be, and you might have a telling argument. Otherwise we are still back at individual choice.
The short version is "If you don't like abortion, don't have one." That should limit the decisions to the individuals with a real stake in it. The women.
His misfortune to have been on record being honest in his opinions (misguided or not) Bush's misfortune to have (apparently) been elected in the first place. He'd have been better off if he'd never ventured into politics.
...So would most of the rest of us.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
I used to listen to the Clark Howard show on a regular basis. I gave it up when his forum hitmen banned me for posting some of the following to www.clarkhoward.com. I still don't listen to him, although the mere sound of his voice no longer sends my blood pressure over the red-line.
I'll take the silver coins over green paper any day; but there are some people who seem to think the words "Federal Reserve Note" actually equate to some kind of guaranteed value...
Attention Clark Howard Listeners:
The Silver Liberties are not "paperweights". They are made of .999 fine silver. They are stamped with a value of $10 (that's FRN value) and can be exchanged for same if you desire green paper instead of real silver.
You can go here: http://www.norfed.org for more information.
For local Austin Retailers who accept Liberty Dollars, go here:
For local silver info:
The caller to the show that complained about receiving silver instead of FRN's highlights the predicament that the monetary system is in. Something with actual value is worthless in her mind, while the worthless green paper has value.
The banks OF COURSE will not take private money. The private money is a liability for them, whereas the Federal Reserve has been a cash cow that generates unprecedented returns for member banks. The last thing they want is for the inflationary reserve notes to be replaced.
For local Austin retailers who take cash (FRN as you call it) look here:
Yep. There's one of those born every minute, as Barnum used to say.
There's a Yellow Pages born every minute? I'm confused. Or were you referring to yourself? You might want to go get some foil and make yourself a nice shiny hat now.
No, I was referring to the 'suckers' who think green pieces of paper have an intrinsic value. I can print green pieces of paper all day for them, in that case. An ounce of silver will always be an ounce of silver; a green back could be worth as much as a Continental tomorrow. Who knows? Perhaps you should read The Creature from Jekyll Island before casting aspersions on others.
You might want to put on your foil hat first. Don't want those "weirdo free thinker" rays to penetrate, do we?
Actually, the foil hats are most often used to keep the gubbament and alien mind control rays out. ( The mind control rays from the combined gubbament and alien conspiracies are particularly damaging.)
Excellent and entertaining website you linked.
Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie
An Effective, Low-Cost Solution To Combating Mind-Control
It contains many technical details and ideas not easily found just anywhere. It and its many links to other technical information are just as much--or more--useful as your links about gubbament conspiracies.
The calculator for computing required thickness of the foil is especially useful--and I rank its value right up there with your conspiracy theories, too.
The website is quite comprehensive, so the only technical detail I might add it that there are aluminum foil tapes used to seal ductwork, which might be more effective than scotch tape in constructing a foil beanie.
Hope this helps.
I'll grant that what occurred with the establishment of the fed was a conspiracy; but to refer to it as a theory is to discount the exhaustive research that went into not only The Creature from Jekyll Island, but the 4 or more works that were written previously on the subject, and that are referenced in the book.
It would be equivalent to saying that gravity is a theory, or that sunlight is a theory. Doesn't wash, sorry.
The FED was a sucker ploy, and the U.S. fell for it. We live now in the world Jefferson warned us about.
"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
Pretend otherwise all you like.
And a green piece of paper will still be a green piece of paper tomorrow, unless I destroy it. Similarly, your ounce of silver will always be an ounce of silver, unless you destroy it. Silver has no more intrinsic value than paper. Both have the value that they have because people will trade goods and services for them. If that changes, either one could be worthless when trying to acquire goods and services. For example, in a case of a major earthquake, you might have trouble buying clean water and food with paper or silver, but you could use cigarettes. In that case, the "money" is worthless, because the food and water others have are much more valuable. The cigarettes are something people value, though.
"Silver has no more intrinsic value than paper"
...and, in fact, I think I'll let that statement stand by itself.
For those who doubt the veracity of the above, you might want to check into a concept known as "investing", and the materials known as "precious metals". Just a thought.
... from someone who posted a note like yours. Maybe you can join some fellow simpletons in the tax protest movement?
Be sure to ask "how high?" the next time you're in for an audit. After all, once you've waived your fifth amendment rights and sent in that 1040, you are an admitted criminal waiting to be found.
Just a thought. http://www.anti-irs.com
I've learned not to use the word 'intrinsic' since this exchange took place. Tangible is what most people would equate to intrinsic in meaning; but to the philosophically edjumakated types it means something else.
At the time I posted this stuff I wasn't a 'LA' (Liberty Associate) I was simply attempting to enlighten the public concerning money and value; I've since signed up with the Liberty Dollar. If the average American can't figure out why Silver money has value and paper money does not... Then things are much worse than I had originally thought, and the time to get behind precious metals is now (well actually, two years ago, but I don't want to pick nits here)
But then I'm sure most of you reading this already have heard that rant.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
First round: Just Say NO! to Compromise
[The city of Austin proposed a smoking ordinance in 2003 that would have banned smoking in public places. It passed. They then went on to offer to sell "smoking permits" to businesses that wanted to allow smoking (pay to get a permit to do something that you should be able to do anyway, but have to pay for because the city government felt pressured to act by all the do-gooders out there, and then realized they'd created a massive cash cow that they could suck funds out of. It's a beautiful world, isn't it?) There was a chance that other alternatives to the original ban might be entertained alongside the permits idea, so...]
[Rock Howard proposed the following in response to the suggestion that any form of compromise would be an abandonment of our principles as libertarians (I reprint it because I agreed with it completely at the time; and in fact still do) as an example of how a compromise on a smoking ordinance would simply clarify business practices that already exist, allowing the customer to then make an informed choice]
To me an example of a workable compromise would be:
- If they wish, an establishment can sign up on a city maintained smoking registry, but doing so is not necessary if the owner puts up a sign near the entrance(s) of the establishment detailing their smoking policy. (Minimal signage would be: "Smoking Permitted".)
- If they wish, an establishment can sign up on a city maintained "smoke free" registry, but doing so is not necessary if the owner puts up a sign near the entrance(s) of the establishment to the effect detailing their smoking policy. (Minimal signage would be: "No Smoking" or "Smoke Free".)
This "compromise" would hopefully placate those who consider cigarette smoke as an assault on their personages. (For some people it actually is.) As far as abridging rights goes, it is simply coupling the right of the property owner to the equal and legitimate responsibility to make their smoking policy clear to prospective patrons either through signage or by the public process of signing up on a registry.
As far as the "permit" idea goes, let's see if we can dig up actual examples where a permitting process for smoking turned into a ban. If we can do that, then that would be helpful as it might give the business owners more intestinal fortitude about defending their rights. At this point many are seeing this as a life and death issue for their businesses and that makes more susceptible to a slippery slope compromise.
[When further objections were offered, he then posted the following:]
It is possible to stay with our principle but also get involved with the current process too. If we refuse to get involved for the sake of principle, then we abandon our constituents to their fate (which likely entails a slippery slope compromise that dooms them in the future.) The only other avenue is the courts, but we have no friends or power their either.
I have seen this fight in other cities and with the current political mindset of the voters, as long as it remains a political battle, we are doomed. If we can be smart and lucky we might be able to help craft a compromise that staves off the rights-snatchers for a while and, more importantly, helps preserve the livelihoods of our core constituents for the time being. If we do, then we will have bought ourselves some time as well as additional support for the long term project of opening up the minds of the people to the larger issue (i.e., the critical importance of personal property rights.) This will take time and money and, without it, we are just kidding ourselves about our ability to win this battle.
The only reason that I used the word "compromise" in the first place is that there are only two possibilities right now: 1) no compromise happens and the current harsh Smoking Ordinance goes into effect; or 2) a compromise occurs to stave off the most harsh effects of the ordinance for some time. I do not accept that there is a third option (as much as we would all prefer it) in the near future. I suggest that to get to the preferred outcome that we all want, it makes sense to be involved in the current process as the outcome of "no compromise" will simply kill off many of the small businesses that we are supposedly trying to support.
In point of fact, if the local [LP] works against some sort of compromise, then we are, in effect, working to enact the Smoking Ordinance. Go ahead and do so if that is what you want, but in my considered opinion that approach is counterproductive in the short, medium and long run.
A Smoker wrote:What about the rights of the non-smokers to do business in a smoke-free environment? What about the (real) health issues involved in breathing smoky air? I assure you that the solid majority of Austinites are 4-square behind an outright ban based on those two arguments alone.
If we try to mediate a compromise in this case, we are saying that government taking away just some of our rights is ok verses taking all of them. If we need to take this to court to fight this injustice we should, it would really make a name for ourselves. We should stand up for what's right, not for what we feel is acceptable for the moment.
I don't agree with them, but they are our audience.
A requirement to sign the exterior of your business is no different than putting ingredients on the outside of packages, or spelling out the details of a contract in advance. It's not a compromise, it's collaboration; an acknowledgement that there are telling arguments for those who support a ban, but that a ban is not necessary or even desirable.
IMO, signing the exterior of your business IS what is right. Some of us would prefer to do without the smoke. Thank you, Rock, for the level headed suggestion.
[The outcome of the vote on the smoking permits ? Landslide in favor of it, the council couldn't resist that cash cow. The local LP candidates (except for the exceptional Rock Howard) opposed all compromises and sunk any chance of sidestepping what happened then, and what happened next.]
[at the suggestion of the moderator at TCLPactive, I moved the discussion to my Liberty List]
Second round: Smoke lies are 50
[Can't find a link for the original article that this references, ACSH reformatted the site recently, and a good portion of the old articles were lost. The copy in the Archive at LL is representative of it, however]
A Smoker wrote:It has nothing to do with the number of trips. I can get in my car right now and drive, and while I stand a statistical chance of harm, the mere act of driving the car does not increase the chance in and of itself.
Getting in your car and driving will lead to serious health consequences, to the same degree that lighting a single cigarette will lead to serious health consequences.
My wife and I were test car drivers for quite awhile. She has driven more than a million miles. She's still breathing.
A relative of mine has smoked 3 packs of filterless cigarettes a day for 30 years. He's had cancer twice, (thankfully not lung cancer) cancer that is statistically related to smoking, and he still insists that the smoking isn't the problem, all the while smoking like a chimney. He may still be breathing now, the latest radiation treatments won't start for a few more weeks. The man could have lived in good health to the age of 100 or more, without the cigarettes. I personally don't think he'll see 70 because of them.
There are three kinds of men.
The one that learns by reading.
The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
--Will Rogers, The Wisdom of Will Rogers
A Smoker wrote:When I am engaged in commerce, dining out for instance, I and the parties I am doing business with have entered into an informal contract. Part of that contract involves a smoke-free environment if you are doing business with me. During the process of commerce, while I'm eating for example, someone decides to engage in their particular form of self-destruction and lights a cigarette.
Your rights are not being transgressed when someone smokes in your presence, because you are free to leave, or not to breathe the smoke, or to wear a mask. Your rights are being transgressed when someone forces you to do something that harms you or others, or when they harm you directly.
How am I 'free to leave'? I daresay that the owner of the establishment would take exception to my departure before contracts are satisfied, before I paid in this example. As someone who is known to demand a smoke-free environment, why should I be 'expected' to leave? Since non-smoking is something that I demand up front, should not the smoker be ejected if he refuses to leave?
The truth is, when someone lights up in my presence, they are in fact forcing me to engage in their habits. It's a cop-out for libertarians to say "you're free to leave" or "it's a (property) rights issue", because that is just the surface. The reality is much more complex than that.
A Smoker wrote:
Your usage of "informal" is as a euphemism for implied. A contract not discussed and not agreed to is a contract which does not exist.
Informal does not equal implied. The words have different meanings. Walk on a check at a restaurant and see if the restaurateur doesn't think you have a contract. That you are expected to pay for services rendered and food consumed is an informal contract; informal because you did not agree to the contract in writing, in advance.
A Smoker wrote:I have the right to object to harm; and I will exercise that right vehemently.
When people complain about an aspect of free-wheeling liberty (such as people lighting up whenever they please whenever the owner of the property they're standing on doesn't mind), it is my reflexive assumption that the person making the argument would turn a blind eye toward government force should it be stamping down on that aspect of liberty...
OTOH, do you put tags on your car, carry a drivers license, pay income taxes? If you answer 'yes' to any of those questions, then by your definition you can apply the label to yourself, because gov't force is used to mandate things which are infringements on our liberty.
Austin banned smoking recently, and no, I'm not going to spend time fighting that battle now. The alternative wording (signage in lieu of a ban; I would have liked to expand it to allow air quality controls and multiple uses - essentially the status quo prior to the first smoking ordinance, with a nod toward the health issues of accumulated smoke in a confined space) that I agreed with was deemed a compromise by the local activists, and they decided to 'stand on principle' and go down with the ship. Well, the property rights ship sank, and smoking is banned here now, unless the business owner agrees to pay the city for the 'privilege' of allowing smoking. As Austin is "the liberal island in the conservative sea of Texas", this is probably the way it's going to be for awhile.
The net effect is positive for me personally, since health issues are deemed too touchy-feely to be taken seriously by hard-core types. My choices were reduced to either choke on the smoke of the free-wheeling, or breath the socialist air. So my fellow libertarians (who love to talk about choice) forced me to pick the lesser of two weevils. Not a position I relish, I assure you.
[When pressed for evidence on the subject of the harmfulness of second hand smoke, I suggested this publication http://www.acsh.org/publications/booklets/ets.html ]
A Smoker wrote:Back at the beginning I endorsed Rock Howards proposal, so I think we've come full circle here. As another aside, The CATO Regulation article that is being alluded to was addressed in the ACSH article located here: http://www.acsh.org/publications/pubID.498/pub_detail.asp Needless to say that I think the scientists at ACSH are pretty sure of their numbers.
That's also an assertion. I don't know what study it's based on but I've enough smoking and second hand smoking studies demolished by examining their statistical methods that I don't put any stock in them. Cato has plenty of these. The claim that 400,000 Americans die every year from tobacco is an outright fabrication from the American Cancer Society, for example.
Back to the original question, the only acceptable smoking ordinance IMO is having establishments clearly post their smoking policy at the entrance so you can make your decision before entering, as was suggested by Rock Howard previously
Third round: A non-smoker clears the air on smokers' rights
[Can't find a link for the original article that this references either, the site that it was on has either pulled it down or it doesn't exist anymore. The copy in the Archive at LL is representative of it, however]
About the only thing that the writer got right was that it's not an issue of 'smoker's rights'.
What most of the 'average Joe's' who aren't in the architecture field don't realize is just how controlled building standards are in EVERY OTHER AREA except indoor air quality. The establishment of building codes that spell out minimum standards would go a long way toward addressing the problems of smoking vs. non-smoking; giving more choice to people in the long run rather than a strict smoking/smoke-free establishment.
Back in the 'good ol' days' the upper class spent the money to have 'smoking rooms', because it was ill-mannered to smoke in front of the ladies. Now we're all slaving in a socialist paradise, chucking the niceties of proper etiquette and the class structure, dragging the unwilling along with us kicking and screaming in whichever direction the whim of the majority takes us. Soon we will all be trailer trash (what in math is referred to as a Lowest Common Denominator) and not even the trailer trash will be allowed to smoke. Ah, democracy.
Business owners want one thing over all others: profit. I say fine; but let's get to the real 'cost' and benefit of the systems that we create. restaurateur's and Club Owner's will not take a hard stand for property rights. It doesn't sell food and drink; oh, they'll cheer us on, but they'll toe whatever line that a) causes the least trouble, and b) makes them the most cash in the system. ...and the system does not take long-term health effects into account.
So, you had business owners who were more than happy to crowd everyone together with sub-standard ventilation, breathing each others exhaust fumes, because it was cheap and the majority of the population smoked. Now the majority are non-smokers, don't want to smell smoke, and are willing to subvert property rights (Just as it's been done since the beginning of time) in order not to have to. Guess what? The business owners will make the just-enough-to-prove-a-point noise about it, and then roll over and comply. That's how they 'work the system' to their advantage. They get to appear sympathetic to the 'poor smoker', but they can follow the majority and their dollars into a non-smoking paradise; best of all they get to keep their poorly ventilated, overly crowded buildings just the way they are, and look good in the process.
Best bang for the buck that there is.
This has been my point all along. Ya'll can stay on the high horse of property rights, and loose; and you will loose, mark my words. If it's a choice of defending this myth that business ownership is some kind of grandiose last stand for property, or defending my desire to breath
cleaner air, then I'm going to breath easier. :-)
We could establish that the 'system' should take account of air quality, just as it does minimum structural standards, minimum exiting standards, minimum bathroom sizes, etc, etc, ad infinitum; call it signage, call it minimum codes, call it defending my property, my body, from the negative health effects of your bad habits; even when I'm not physically on land that I own. I don't care what you call it, but it's better than establishing smoking bans all over the nation, which is where we are headed right now. Then we can add Tobacco to the list of black market drugs; how about 'smoke-easy' establishments? Probably already exist in New York.
Do you know what I would love to see? Smokers wearing 'space helmets' to smoke in. With a HEPA filtration system on the helmet, no smoke would escape to annoy the non-smokers. Can you arrest him for smoking in his own private space? Would anyone bother? That would be an argument involving the rights of the smoker, and no one else. Do you think we'd find a volunteer to test the theory? Or does even the most devout smoker balk at being cooped up in small space with too much smoke in it? If you really believe that it's not a health hazard to smoke, then why would you not be willing to?
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
I'm sure some of you out there dismissed my 'solution' out of hand "Bah, more minimum standards. Just another there-oughta-be-a-law solution for problems that are none of the gov'ts business."
Now, if I were talking about 'law', then I would agree with you.
However, that wasn't the subject. Building codes are not laws. Yes, I know, in most places they are adopted and enforced as laws; but they start out as guidelines drawn up by groups concerned about public safety. They are 'minimum standards' for safe building, and are as necessary in the scheme of things as any written manual. Anyone interested in limiting their liability (and most businesses are) will attempt to follow some acceptable standard of practice; so the creation of minimum standards for building was inevitable and actually desirable.
The problem with building codes is that they become bound up in the bureaucracy of gov't. Wander down to the building dept. in nearly any city in the U.S., and you will see the stellar results we get from this approach. In Austin, the indecipherable rat's maze of overlapping authorities has lead to the need to create an office - the 'Development Assistance Center' - just to tell the newcomers where they should start in the maze. One size fits all - and you will comply with the standards.
Tying the codes to gov't has several other undesirable side effects. I want to focus on one of them: The negative effects that rigid standards imposes on innovation. Many of the new technologies face impediments placed in their way by codes that were drawn up before they existed. IMHO, minimum standards for indoor air quality is one of the areas that has been affected by this; which has lead to the panic over the negative effects of second hand smoke.
The solution to making the codes more responsive is to divorce the creation and enforcement of building codes from the gov't altogether. Much like the independent UL (Underwriters Laboratories) creates minimum standards and tests assemblies and devices based on those standards, building codes should be based on logical, definable standards that can be tested, inspected and approved by any sufficiently educated third party. Allow the property owners and the professionals who design the facilities to decide what standards they wish to meet; and then hold them accountable for failures in design.
...and the solution to the smoking issue in the built environment is to create a minimum standard for indoor air quality that addresses the publics concern.
"It is not the strongest of the species that survive,
nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change."
- Charles Darwin
There were arguments along the way that suggested something to the effect that "the average person doesn't care about smoking, and so the smoking ban will never pass if put to a vote". Not too long after the Round 3 discussion, a referendom on banning smoking indoors in Austin was put before the voters, and it passed by a slim majority. Essentially putting "Case Closed" on the subject of smoking here, and reversing the council's transparent attempt to milk cash out of business owners who wanted to cater to smoking clientele.
The battle goes on in court over the new ban, but it doesn't look good. Personally, I don't think the courts want to reverse a ban instituted by referendum, there is such a fear of the will of the majority these days that minority rights (those of individuals and groups comprising 10 percent of the population or less) are totally ignored when the majority deems it 'necessary'.
So the dust up over the 'property rights' of business owners comes to naught, except for those business owners who see a serious dent in their profit margin in complying with the new ordinance. Which is pretty much how I saw it shaping up in the beginning. I'm still waiting for the 'smoke easys' to appear. For all I know they already have.