Polluted Memories of Stage Fright

A friend sent me a link to a music and humor blog the other day thinking I would get a kick out of the references to days gone by, inside jokes that only us old people would find amusing. What they didn’t know was that the Janis Joplin  music that the blog was playing would remind me of Janis staring down on me from the wall of the Janis Room at Threadgill’s. Not a pleasant memory of my youth but of the location where we used to hold a weekly Libertarian Toastmasters (Politimasters) meetings and the terror I went through pretty much every week that I was expected to give a speech there. The kind of thing that should carry a trigger warning, if I believed in those kinds of things.

Anyone who’s ever tried to speak in front of a large group of people can probably 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 would describe the feeling, if only I could get a definition that wasn’t the (current) generic fear of certain places or situations. But stage fright might explain why Janis (and so many other performers) resorted to numbing herself before getting onstage. I know the politimasters meetings went better when alcohol 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? Heart racing, a feeling of the darkest dread, the desire to run away and never stop running? Is that entertainment?

Public speaking is one of the most common human fears, and this was confirmed by my own experiences within the Politimasters group. The group itself died from a lack of participation. We just couldn’t get enough people. Ten people were all we needed. Ten people, and you can run an effective Toastmasters training group. We couldn’t even get 10 people in the city of Austin interested in meeting every week to practice their speaking skills in front of an audience. That is how prevalent the fear is.

Toastmasters and stage fright in turn remind me of my high school speech class and the dreaded speech class project, another instance (and another trigger warning) of getting up in front of an audience and performing in front of other people. The teachers decided to do a mock version of The Gong Show (this was the 70’s after all) in front of the entire school body as well as guests. To make matters worse they decided we would determine in advance whether we were going to be gonged or not (I think they missed the point of audience participation a key feature of The Gong Show) A friend of mine convinced me that we should try and do Abbott & Costello’s routine Who’s on First, and we (she) decided that we didn’t want to be gonged. I went along with the plan lacking even the slightest idea what I could possibly do that an audience would find interesting. [I’ve written a piece more recently, Coping with Dysgraphia. It might shed light on why it was that I was convinced I couldn’t be interesting.]

Abbott & Costello – Who’s on First?

I memorized the routine. I read it every day for more than two weeks. I performed it in front of family a number of times. I could do it backward by the day of the show. All that practicing amounted to nothing. It didn’t matter because when that curtain rose, I couldn’t remember word one of the entire thing. I am, to put it bluntly, speechless, in front of the entire auditorium. Both of us end up reading the routine from cards that we carried on stage with us. There is no other way to describe what we were doing other than bad, and we should be gonged for it. 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) when I walked off that stage I swore I would never 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.


The website/blog that stimulated this trip down memory lane removed itself from public view a number of years ago. I searched for it using different text strings and even went to archive.org and looked for a record of the blog in the archive. Not even the URL was preserved. This gaping absence in the beginning of the story forced me to rewrite the opening paragraphs for this piece. Having then embarked on a major re-edit, I decided to do a few other wordsmithing edits while keeping the feeling of the piece that I had intended to communicate intact.

Well, that’s true as far as it goes. The real reason I’m editing today is because Chuck Barris died this week (March 2017) and as much as I hate to admit it he had a real impact on my life, as is partially related above. My family watched The Gong Show every day if my memory serves me right. The show was on in the hour after we got out of school and since we only had one TV and two channels back then, I cringed my way through most of the stupid on it. There were occasional gems to be found but I don’t think love or like are words I would apply to The Gong Show. The show was more like an inoculation for stupid than anything that I might remember with affection.

If you haven’t seen Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and you are a Chuck Barris or Gong Show fan, you might want to give it a chance. It is a very strange film about a very strange man. I personally would rate the film as meh. I know that is what I thought because it made so little impression on me that I barely recall it. The vast majority of films that I’ve seen rate a meh; so while that’s not a glowing endorsement, at least I didn’t gong it and send it back unwatched. There have been quite a few of those over the years. Too little time, too much to watch. The Wife and I wanted to see it because Sam Rockwell plays Chuck Barris, and he does a credible job of channeling​ the man and the madness that was the 70’s as seen through the rearview mirror. Personally, I’d rather look at the 70’s through the lens of Barris’ eyes than mine. He was always more charitable to the stupid than I could ever be. It was his saving grace.


September 3, 2019. The Texas Standard ran a segment on Texas’ Woodstock a few days ago, an event that featured a Saturday night set performed by Janis Joplin. The webpage and the audio on it are all worth listening to. It was apparently quite an event; an event that the Texas of the time was embarrassed about and tried to make us all forget. Janis got the last word. Good for her.

On the first day, Sam and Dave and B.B. King got the crowd moving despite the heat. Chicago played. They were still called Chicago Transit Authority back then. But the act that got the crowd’s biggest ovation was one of their own: Janis Joplin. She closed out Saturday’s show with a set Hayner remembers as electric.

“Texas had been pretty hard on her and so what I remember her saying is that she had really felt kind of nervous about being there but we really made her feel like she was welcome and part of us,” he says.

And she was part of them. Janis Joplin had to leave Texas to become the Janis Joplin everyone now knows. For most of her career, she stayed away from her home state. Texas was a place where she was bullied, ostracized for who she was. That experience left her, like so many in the crowd, caught between worlds that were often at odds with each other. But now here she was – an icon of the counterculture. The crowd clapped her and the Kozmic Blues Band back on for two encores. And then, as concertgoer Billy Kirby remembers it, she had something to say.

“Her band was walking off the stage, she was walking off the stage. The lighters were up, people were screaming ‘Janis, Janis, encore, encore.’ Well she comes out and everybody goes crazy again and she just kind of quiets the crowd down a little bit with her hand movements,” he says. “And she leaned to the microphone and said ‘Thank you very much. But what I want to know is where the fuck were you motherfuckers when I needed you a few years ago?’ And left.”

Texas Standard

It’s called ‘Philosophy’

This was an open letter to a local Talk Show that was being guest hosted by a local State Rep. (whose opinions I generally agree with, but not that day) who kept wondering, on air, how anyone could get by without religion to shape their moral fibre; and what a shame it was that the importance of religion in American society was failing, since we are a ‘Christian nation’ after all.

[three guesses what set me off in the first place. Bet you don’t need two of them]


Dear XXXXXXX,

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.

From EarlyAmerica.com:

“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.

Mid life crisis? Not Yet.

Stated flatly at lunch today: Not jumping out of Perfectly Good Airplanes, No Bungee Jumping, Not letting someone cut on my eyes and reshape them with lasers (“Lasik”) just so I can ‘look cool’ without glasses. After lunch one of my buddies jumped on a motorcycle and tooled out of the parking lot. Make that item number four: distinct preference for four wheels and a solid cage of steel around my personal space, thank you so much.

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?

Professions

Started ranting with the wife about technical jobs…

[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?

The Clutter Bug

There has to be such a creature. I can’t think of any other explanation.

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…

Abort Alito

Has a nice ring to it, don’t it? Unfortunately, taking the “Shoot down Alito at any cost” tack feels too much like Schadenfreude, Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

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.

Clark Howard’s War on ALD

Someone has been “cuttin’ a rusty” (as the local colloquialism would go. “pitchin’ a fit” also works) over at the ALD forum under the subject heading “Customer No Service” and it just reminded me of the whole Clark Howard ‘thing’ I went through a few years back; “Customer No Service” being a trademark Clark Howard phrase.

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:

http://www.austinlibertymerchants.org/

For local silver info:

http://www.austinsilver.com/

—————

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.


ratbert2k wrote:For local Austin retailers who take cash (FRN as you call it) look here:
http://yp.com/

Yep. There’s one of those born every minute, as Barnum used to say.

-RAnthony


ratbert2k wrote:
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?

-RAnthony


jimb wrote:
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.” (historical revision. Jefferson never said this)

Pretend otherwise all you like.

-RAnthony


ratbert2k wrote:
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.

-RAnthony


rs-two wrote:
… 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 (Historical Revision; none of the sites that make claims concerning the validity of the IRS should be taken seriously unless you are wanting to adopt the teachings of White Supremacists.  Fair Warning)


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. (Historical Revision; I was trying to distinguish between the natural limits on a commodity as opposed to the near unlimited supply of paper currency which could be created. As opposed to the truly uncounted electronic dollars that currently reside in most bank accounts across the world. The problem with all of these distinctions is that they are subjective in nature. Paper has no more or less value in relation to minted silver unless you look at the subject through human eyes. They both simply exist. More than could be said for electronic currency.  Working on an entry about the EPHN called money, but that one is not much more than a concept at present (2015) would not recommend holding your breath til that one is published)

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.

Smokin’, smokin’; I feel alright, mamma, I’m not jokin’

Another historical argument from the file. Austin passed several smoking bans. Passed and overturned and passed again. Anyway, it lead to some interesting thoughts on mine and other’s parts. This is some of it. The rest may still be in the archive over at the Liberty List and TCLPactive.


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”.)

(Knowing the city, they would probably require Spanish language too.)

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:
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.

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.

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:
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.

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.

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:
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.

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.

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?

  • “wear a mask”. Why doesn’t the reverse apply? Since smoking carries no negative impacts, let the smokers wear a mask and not waste a single breath of their precious nicotine.
  • “not to breathe the smoke”. Not breathing as a choice. No, I don’t think so.
  • 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:
    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…

    I have the right to object to harm; and I will exercise that right vehemently.

    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:
    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

    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.


    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. 🙂

    or…

    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.”
    -Ayn Rand


    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.

    Discrimination

    Having ranted on English not being the language of the US, you might find it weird that I would have a problem with non-English speakers in retail positions that require you to converse with the public.

    But I do.

    While I don’t think that people should be forced to learn English, I think it’s stupid to hire people who can’t speak the common language of an area for a job that requires speaking to the average customer; nor do I buy that this is ‘discrimination’ in a way that is prosecutable.

    I walked into an unnamed fast food joint the other day and found myself arguing with the manager (who happened to be what those who take notice of race would call ‘Black’) about his crew’s inability to speak English sufficiently well to get a simple burger order right. He stated that “we aren’t allowed to discriminate in our hiring practices.” He couldn’t figure out why I found that funny.

    Discrimination
    is selecting ‘something’ from a larger group of ‘something’, based on chosen attributes. That’s it. If a business picks one person to work for them, from a group larger than one person, then they are practicing ‘discrimination’ in making that selection. They practice discrimination against the smelly, the ugly, the untrustworthy, etc. I would like to suggest that they add ‘ability to converse clearly’ to the list of important requirements for hiring.

    Having been fired from my only stint at a fast food restaurant for necking with my girlfriend in the mop room when I was 17, hormonal and stupid (and would sooner work on a hog farm than work in fast food again) I can understand how hard it is to get even average people to do the work at one of these places. But I don’t do business with people I can’t converse with, and there are other places that know how to make a Texas burger properly without my having to explain it to them.

    …in whatever language they speak.

    Christmas, day Two

    I keep getting comments on the “Lists” post, and I also get comments in my e-mail from people too bashful to comment publicly…

    [I’m apparently breaking some rule or other by letting the little voices in my head out; they’re supposed to be my secret or something]

    …Links directing me to sites detailing the “History of Christmas” and the like. Good natured people trying to make sure I understand the Christian intent of the holiday. I seem to have opened a can of worms here.

    So I guess I’ll offer further explanation. For What It’s Worth, I’m a purist on the subject of religion…

    [and not much else. I figure religion is one of those types of things where you can afford to be a purist or idealist. After all, if your own beliefs can’t be your own beliefs, what’s the point of claiming anything as being your own]

    …either I agree with the main tenets of the faith, philosophy, whatever, or I don’t. If I don’t, then I don’t claim to agree just to put myself in the ‘right’ group. It’s one of the reasons I’m no longer a (practicing or otherwise) Christian. In my experience, most people who call themselves Christian do so because it’s expected of them, and go to church for ‘fellowship’ (What those of us in SF circles get from a good convention) not because they have a ‘belief’ in god. Few of the remainder read the bible, or attempt to find out what it really means to be Christian.

    At one point in the past, I was one of ‘the few’. I took the teachings of the church to heart and tried to make sense of what was expected of me as a Christian. I have read a majority of the Bible (can’t say I’ve read it cover to cover) and I’ve read the scriptures of other religions as well. I was one of those ‘born agains’ once; I consider myself fortunate to have fallen off of that wagon.

    So, please harbor no illusions about ‘saving’ me (I’ve got a GOOHF card for that) or thinking that perhaps I just don’t get it.

    As I pointed out before; Christmas, as a religious holiday, is a Catholic creation. I’ll defer to them as to what that means within a religious context (I ran across an interesting site discussing the twelve days of Christmas while looking around for that site) Yule is also a religious holiday, with it’s own customs.

    I celebrate the secularized solstice holiday referred to in the US as ‘Christmas’, which involves a jolly fat guy who delivers presents dressed in a red suit. We spend the holiday with family and friends, giving gifts and trying to brighten the ‘Winter’ (Winter in central Texas is a frame of mind more than anything else; it certainly doesn’t have much to do with the weather) I also spend time reflecting on what the passing of this year means to me, and preparing to celebrate the New Year.

    I guess, in a way, I still hearken back to the original ‘holiday’, the classic 12 days. But mine is more like 7 days (or 10 days, from the actual solstice to the end of the year) Maybe I’ll have to make up my own mnemonic song…