Quote of the Weekend

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The Hungarian Consul to Los Angeles, upon being sent back indoors after attempting to exit an AFI party with his cocktail in hand:

In the United States, you have the best democracy. Ah, but in Europe, we have freedom.

NEXT: Fallujah

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  1. Tell that to the Irish who cannot smoke in their pubs anymore.

  2. “We wanna be free…we wanna be free to ride. We wanna be free to ride without getting hassled by the Man.

    Right on!

    And we wanna get loaded!

    YEAH!!”

  3. Hah, this is one of the things my friend who moved to Argentina bragged about! That, and being able smoke anywhere, walk a dog without a leash…. The Europe braggadaccio is probably out of line, for reasons such as what Dan cited, but I think it’s interesting how such things as not being able to drink whereever one pleases is something that never even occurs to most of us, but to some it’s an essential freedom!

  4. “Tell that to the Irish who cannot smoke in their pubs anymore.”

    Smoking and drinking are two different things. When you smoke (in a closed area), people around you are harmed (second-hand smoking effects). everyone around. That is not necessarily the case with drinking. Smoking is more like DUI.

  5. a: That’s not going to be a winning argument around here. Bars should free to declare themselves nonsmoking if that’s what their customers demand. If enough people are bothered by second-hand smoke, they can have their own bars. Your argument certainly can’t justify an outright ban on smoking in all pubs.

  6. I’m actually inclined to disbelieve some of the fears about second-hand smoke. A couple of years ago, I was checking out some particle counting instruments with a co-worker. These instruments are designed to detect the size, and count the number of, particulate matter in a liquid or gas stream. In a somewhat unscientific test, my co-worker took a puff on his cigarette and breathed through the particle counter. Normal breaths without smoke registered low numbers of particles. Puffing on the cigarette and blowing smoke into the instrument without inhaling sent the instrument to the max scale. Blowing through the counter after inhaling a breath of smoke indicated far lower numbers of particulates in the breath than in the “raw” smoke. There were significantly higher particles in those breaths than in the non-smoke breaths.

    I have a feeling that second-hand smoke (at least in terms of particulates like condensed tar and ash) is less of a problem when inhaled by a smoker, as opposed to having a cigarette just burning in an ashtray. Also, it appears to depend greatly on how long the breath is held, how many particles are retained in the lungs.

  7. “I’m actually inclined to disbelieve some of the fears about second-hand smoke.”

    With good cause. WHO prepared a report on second-hand smoke and then destroyed it when it was revealed that second-hand smoke isn’t all that bad.

  8. Xavier:

    “Bars should free to declare themselves nonsmoking if that’s what their customers demand.”

    That is not the point of my post. My point is that comparing smoking, with its second-hand effects, to drinking, with no second-hand effects, is a bad analogy.

  9. “drinking, with no second-hand effects”

    Hah. Come to Seattle, and head up to the University District on any Saturday night, and tell me how drinking has no second-hand effects. Or anywhere in State College, PA while Penn State is in session.

    I would suggest that second-hand smoke is, in fact, *less* dangerous than drinking. At least second-hand smoke doesn’t cause you to fall off balconies, overturn cars, and light bonfires in the middle of the street.

  10. Isildur,

    I think you meant to say that PEOPLE have second-hand affects.

  11. a,

    As isildur’s response demonstrates, second-hand effect is in the eye of the beholder! Though I suppose one difference still is that it is those who don’t like smoking are the ones claiming to be “harmed” (setting aside whether the harm is real or not), whereas isildur doesn’t want others to be harmed by the effects of seeing people drinking. But no matter, one can always find the justifications one is looking for to stop people from doing what they want.

  12. Dan,

    Ireland is not Europe. And yes, there are a heck of a lot of personal freedoms one can exercise – like buying absinthe – that one cannot in the USA (and vice versa). Anyway, the Hungarian’s mocking comment – however inaccurate it might be – does rightly point to an area where we lack freedom in the USA.

  13. isildur,

    –At least second-hand smoke doesn’t cause you to fall off balconies, overturn cars, and light bonfires in the middle of the street.–

    So? Neither does any other substance. The fact that *some* people do these things while under the influence does not mean that they were turned into mindless zombies by alcohol. They are assholes, period, and should be treated as such.

  14. isildur,

    If you’re serious and not just making a philosophical counterpoint, is there any evidence that alcohol abuse is worse where there are less prohibitions on where one can drink? I doubt it.

  15. What I find interesting, is that this consul is lamenting exactly what is becoming more European about this country: The constant oddball restrictions on every little behavior in the land.

    Paul

  16. Paul,

    Those oddball restrictions have always been part of the American cultural/political fabric. What the heck do you think “blue laws” are, or “dry” counties, or laws banning consensual sodomy, etc. are?

  17. I won’t pretend to interpret the Hungarian consul’s comment.

    If _I_’d made the comment, though, I would have been thinking about how pushy and holier-than-thou so many Americans can seem.

    Take dope. Not only do you keep it illegal within your borders, you try to pressure other countries to do as you do.

    Take Janet Jackson, and that embarrassing kerfuffle.

    I was in Gatwick airport, in an out-of-the-way smoking area. I was smoking. (Tobacco.) Along came an American family, who plopped themselves down at the table next to mine. Dirty looks from the matron. “He’s smoking. Has he no consideration for the rights of others? No education.” And so on. And on.

    Dogs in restaurants.

    So many of you are so insufferably _moral_.

  18. When I was in Ecuador, I was amazed at the freedoms the citizenry had. Government there may have been less democratic, but government was less intrusive, too. Government didn’t have its tentacles into every part of the citizenry’s lives.

    America still clings to an image of freedom, while in actual practice the central government regulates the amount of water my toilet can flush, handicapped access to my business, and who I can sell my house to.

  19. The guy should have gone to Louisiansa, the home of the “Go Cup”. For you squares who have never been to Mardi Gras, there are tables of plastic cups by the door as you leave dump your drink in one and head on out into the street! You can also smoke in bars and, they have drive through daquari huts.

  20. Just to belabor the obvious — It was intended as a good-natured joke, albeit one with a hair of truth in it.

  21. In Louisiana the cops target potential pot-possessors so they can confiscate their cars.

  22. Maybe they just didn’t want him to steal the glass.

  23. “Dogs in restaurants.”

    As guests or as entrees?

  24. “I have a feeling that second-hand smoke (at least in terms of particulates like condensed tar and ash) is less of a problem when inhaled by a smoker, as opposed to having a cigarette just burning in an ashtray. Also, it appears to depend greatly on how long the breath is held, how many particles are retained in the lungs.”

    I wouldn’t want to rely on someone else’s lungs to do the filtering job!

    This is an interesting website with info:

    ORNL study of second-hand smoke in bars and restaurants

    Some key paragraphs, with comments:

    “Subjects, who were non-smokers, wore pumps that sampled the air they were breathing while at work for a minimum of four hours. Researchers recorded a maximum RSP level of 768 micrograms per cubic meter. The OSHA standard for RSP is 5,000 micrograms per cubic meter over eight hours.”

    Comment: This simply means that the OSHA 8-hour allowable level is ridiculously high! I certainly would not want to spend even a few hours at an average level of 768 micrograms per cubic meter!

    “Other constituents of environmental tobacco smoke, sometimes called second-hand smoke, also were not present in the levels previously thought, Jenkins said. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1993 concluded that average RSP levels were 117 and 348 micrograms per cubic meter for bars and restaurants, respectively, while the ORNL study found those levels to be 67 and 135, respectively.”

    Comment: Yes, the 67 to 135 micrograms per cubic meter isn’t bad at all. (Unless one is allergic to tobacco smoke.)

    “While the higher estimates in earlier studies may be explained by the choice of the establishments in which the studies were conducted, another reason for the difference could be that today’s ventilation systems are more efficient, Jenkins said.”

    Comment: Yes, any establishment (bar, resturant, bowling alley) that is seriously interested in reducing the exposure of non-smokers to tobacco smoke can do so. And the expense needn’t be prohibitive, if the ventilation system designer knows what he’s doing.

    Mark Bahner (environmental engineer)

    P.S. I’ve also worked with a variety of optical particle counters, measuring indoor particulate levels in residential and industrial settings. Personally, I never thought about air quite the same, after I first saw the counter spinning upward at 10s of thousands of particles per second. Even a fairly decent home or office has a particle level of about 100,000 particles per cubic foot. And I’ve also been amazed by the performance of HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. 99.97 percent efficient with 0.3 micrometer diameter particles. Pretty danged impressive!

    P.P.S. Any bar/resturant/bowling alley owners who want to contact me for free advice can email me at mark.bahner@sbcglobal.net.

  25. Democracy is not freedom. Limited government is freedom. An elected dictator is still a dictator.

  26. Everyone seems so concerned about the particulate count from second hand smoke. In my opinion the worst part of smoking is the horrible terrible smell. It’s nauseating, it clings to your hair and clothing. I have been in bars with friends who smoke, and I can still smell the smoke in my hair days later, even after washing my hair several times.

  27. Anyway, bitching about Ireland’s ban seems a bit hypocritical given smoking bans going up all over the U.S.

  28. Tracy

    Like the guy who broke his leg in two places, you need to stay out of those places.

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