"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Westchester Sequestered

I'm headed up to hang with Pete for a day, maybe two.

In the meantime, enjoy this re-run from last year:

January 29th 2002: The Troubles

The troubles are with me strong. An abortive day. I made it all the way to Grand Central, eventual destination White Plains, when I got the call that the whole show is postponed until tomorrow. Then waiting around for the bike shop to open (need a new derailer) and it never does. Sitting in a trendy Williamsburg cafe, wanting not to look the part that I'm looking. Like a fucking hipster. In retaliation, I composed a list of ways to fight back:

  • Smile Lots (don't pout, whine, complain, bitch)
  • Love to Sweat (work, exercise, exert yourself)
  • Embody Raging Lumberjack Masculinity
  • Take a Western (as in west-coast) Attitude
  • Maintain Unbridled Optomism in the face of total narcissistic cynicism

Also, reading "Sometimes a Great Notion" by good old dead Ken Keasy. He's from my neck of the woods, and his writing makes me miss Oregon something powerful.

Sorry, I couldn't resist the idea of doing a "re-run." Hope everyone is safe and sane. FYI: Big party at my place on Saturday! Details? Email me.

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April Fool

Happy April everyone. I'm feeling foolish as ever. Last night I went with Sasha and saw this great band, Cover Me Badd, who play rockin' covers with a trombone instead of vocals. Some of it is just smart-kid irony kicks, but some of it was deep and soulful. Cult of Personality and a Christina Agulara tune were the faves. Drinking Pabst and talking with some of her friends, it was nice and real. I took my bike, so I raced her cab back to Brooklyn, arriving sweaty and getting blissfully sweatier into the night. The trust is growing.

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No Smoking

Well, Capodice made a comment, and so I figure I'd better register my opinion for everyone. Last night the smoking ban officially went into effect in NYC bars. People are pissed about this, and while I think the ban is of debatable ethical value, I have to admit I enjoy not smelling like an ash tray when I come home. For me the issue is one of aesthetics and not one of health, and on that level I'm pleased at what I've got.

So here's the deal. The legal rationale for this bit of legislation centers around workplace environment laws. It's an accepted medical fact that second-hand smoke is not good for you. There's some debate as to exactly how bad it is, but the round consensus is that there are negative health effects. As such, since people make a living working in bars, it's argued that they need to be smoke-free environments to protect worker safety.

This is kind of a bullshit rationalization. Not because "people who don't want to have second-hand smoke shoulnd't work in bars" -- if you buy that then you'd also have to buy that people who don't want to be sexually harassed shouldn't work for Clarance Thomas -- but because there are other ways of protecting workers from second-hand smoke. Theoretically, they could also issue resporatory protection devices to bar workers, but that doesn't serve the broader social agenda of deterring smoking.

And I suppose that's the crux of the issue: the legal part is a bit of a hack. I tend to support the broader social agenda to curtail smoking, mainly because it annoys me aesthetically and has contributed to the deaths of people I've loved, but I dislike the big-brotherish overtones. So I'm conflicted. On the one hand, people should have the right to smoke. On the other hand, I don't want to have to deal with their smoking when I go to a bar.

The whole "if there were a market for non-smoking bars, then there'd be non-smoking bars" is a red herring. See, because of the extremely addictive nature of nicotine (update: Luke sends me a study backing this up) and the inherant social dynamics of groups, there would never be a market for non-smoking bars in spite of the fact that the a good portion of the bar-going population doesn't smoke. Nicotine addicts are tenacious about their habit -- it's the most addictive drug known to man; look it up -- and are spread fairly thoroughly throughout the population. People tend to go to bars with other people, and more likely than not there will be at least one smoker in many of the groups that make up a bar's clientele on any given evening. So it becomes a question of exclusion. Non-smokers will willingly go to smoking establishments to appease their nicotine-addicted friends. Smokers are notoriously crabby when asked to make the same gesture in return. As such, there will never be a strong market for non-smoking bars.

The whole thing is complex because it's tied up in addiction and emotions and people wanting to be able to hang out with their friends. It's not a simple matter of law. Heretofore non-smokers have been forced to make a sacrifice, and not an inconsiderate one, to to go a bar with their friends. Starting today the tables are turned, and while it's not justice by and stretch of the imagination, it is also not unpleasent to be on the empowered side of the equation.

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Great Vengence and Furious Anger

Apparently, a dead Marine was being paraded around in Southern Iraq. Nasty business, but not unexpected in a time of war. What's very interesting is this conversation thread on this military discussion board. People are understandably pissed:

I can honestly say... that I have never been so pissed off in my life. I am on the verge of sh1ting nails right about now. I can't even see straight right now, damn them all to hell.

And of course there's the obligatory bigotry:

This is what the muslim faith is all about as for me ALL muslims are the enemy! there are no good ones! DEATH To ISLAM!

And finally, the desire to pull the nuclear trigger:

This is an outrage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We should make Iraq glow in the fu****G Dark!!!!!!!!!!


Tell bleeding heart, liberal, peace loving Americans to suck it the F**K UP!!!!

We are no longer using ROE's. PERIOD!! If it anit American or British it's dead!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I highlight this now not to mock anyones anger or outrage, but to point out how quickly war gets out of control. You can bet the actual Marines on the ground are at lest as angry -- if not more so -- as the people posting the comments. You can also bet that your average Iraqi has about the same reaction when we blow up his/her loved ones by accident. For every American who's typing "DEATH TO ISLAM" on the web, there's a corrisponding Iraqi (or Syrian, or Iranian, or Saudi, or Egyptian, or Turk, or...) who's thinking "DEATH TO AMERICA" and getting ready to make trouble. This is how things escalate. Angry Marines get trigger-happy, make mistakes, mistakes mint more guerilla fighters, guerilla fighters pick off and futher infuriate the Marines, who retaliate in kind, and the world stands aghast as we sink into the horrible cycle of quagmirish violence. Why are we doing this again? Stop the train, I want to get off.

So that's depressing. But here's something that'll chase anyone's blues away: the Donald Rumsfeld Soundbyte Archive. BBC radio has apparently been airing a "Donald Rumsfeld Soundbyte of the Week" for some time. I suggest starting with the "Donald Rumsfeld soundbite competition" link. It gives you 10 of the best.

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