Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I was thinking about the car's effects on other people--breathing the fumes of passing cars being like passive smoking.  I just cycled fifteen miles down roads with cars zooming and lorries roaring; one car or one lorry would have been a small dose compared to my time in the fresh air;  the thousand or so were a much higher dose, but it's true I also ran a risk of being hit--

You know, I am genuinely intrigued by your sensitivity to smoke but not car emissions.  I can stand outside a pub, the cars just keep coming and coming and it's like a blanket in my nose--a smog blanket shoved up there, I think it's a bogie reaction--incoming smog, create bogies!  As it is constant in the centre of a town, there's always a car coming or going, I think of it as just a constant smog layer in the air.  Whereas I think of tobacco smoke as there and then gone, it hits you or it doesn't.  But I'm thinking about smoke outside or in ventilated rooms, not closed rooms.

Sensitivity--another poster here wrote that she was allergic to cigarette smoke.  In cases of extreme sensitivity I think there is always an extra element which is the lack of this sensitivity in others...reminds me of In Wales's discussions about being deaf.  Those who aren't don't see the problems of those who are...

Generally, sensitivity is not prized in society, but also sensitivity can mean lack of resistance--those with thick heads don't break them when they fall out of trees.  Those with thick skins don't feel the stings of the wasps...

yack yack!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 11:10:15 AM EST
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I've missed your voice around here.
by Nomad on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 03:39:09 PM EST
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Heh!  I'm hoping to continue the second volume of music diaries in the new year, with a solstice special beforehand so I'll be around a bit more soon.

(They say snow is coming this weekend.  That must be why I suddenly got the urge to write this diary.  A prequel!)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 07:24:44 PM EST
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Cars are certainly obnoxious, but no one who goes out for the night comes home stinking of diesel fumes in the way they would have before smoking was banned in pubs and clubs.

The damage done by cars is different and more subtle.

It's probably greater in the longer term - but I don't think anyone on ET is a fan of Jeremy Clarkson and SUVs.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 04:47:04 PM EST
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My question is: are they drivers?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 07:25:46 PM EST
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Some are, some aren't.

Some of those are aren't necessarily drivers through choice.

I avoided having a car for fifteen years until it became an unavoidable necessity. If it stops being an unavoidable necessity I won't think twice about getting rid of it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 07:38:35 PM EST
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I think - and not just the smoke: the noise is just as invasive, if not more.

But two wrongs do not make a right.

And you point to the main thing that's wrong with smoking: smoking stinks - I personally don't worry about cancer (neither for me: the imapct of occasional second hand smoking is as remote as can be, nor for the smokers: they all know it's dangerous; not for the "economy": overall, smokers die around the time they'd go on pensions, so their early deaths are a loss to family, friends  and society, but not an economic one) but smoking is just filthy.

And the thing that annoys me the most is the absolute intolerance of (the majority of) smokers to even punctual requests to not smoke, and their total lack of consideration for everybody else: smoking is just something that they should be able to do when they want and where they want. It's profoundly obnoxious.

Not smoking for 10 minutes or an hour does not turn you into a non-smoker; being with smokers more than a few seconds makes one filthy and stinky and digusted. Smokers do not seem to get that assymetry, and the rape of our well-being they conduct.

Smoking stinks.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 05:53:43 PM EST
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But two wrongs do not make a right.

They certainly don't, but as I stand outside to smoke so as not to create bad smells for those inside such as your goodself, I watch the cars whizzing past and I think...hmmm...globally....the cars are the bigger wrong here.  And hey!  I'm outside!  I've done my bit for social harmony today.  Jerome is inside enjoying the smoke free air, but those cars....good job he came on his bicycle!

I'd like to see the venom against smokers pushed onto the more noble target, save the smokers for after we've dealt with the important structural issues, though yes they go together, the public and the individual--but maybe a person could say, "Yeah, those smokers are stinky and selfish, but those car drivers!  Wow!  They'll fuck up the whole planet to get from A to B!"--now that is a higher order of selfish!

Or maybe it isn't?  It's where the puritan aims his or her focus--and where he or she doesn't--that concerns me.

(I also agree about the noise!)


On a personal level, the thing about stink is, it's...personal.  I have a friend who loves the smell of petrol.  Another who loves the smell of those things they put in urinals.  I know people who can't bear the smell of the countryside when manuring is in progress.  Me, I don't mind any of them, but I prefer certain particular smells, one of which was the smell of a smoky boozy pub.  A non-smoker friend of mine said that was what he'd miss when the ban came into effect.  I did read that there was a bar that pumped in the fake smell of smoke because the customers preferred it to the smell of toilets and sweat that wafted around in the absence of the stinky smoke.

But yeah, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as you say.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Nov 21st, 2008 at 07:21:04 PM EST
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to my arguments about the smokers' sense of entitlement, their lack of courtesy towards non-smokers, and their overuse of the argument of "intolerance" of the non-smokers?

Again, not smoking for an hour does not make you a non-smoker. Being in the presence of a smoker for just a short bit makes you an unwilling smoker. On one side, you have a temporary inconvenience, on the other, an irrevsersible alienation.

And bringing in cars here just does not respond to that. Cigarette smoke is by many orders of magnitude more invasive and intrusive than car fumes.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 12:09:58 PM EST
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Yes, my answer is that your issues are not with smoking per se but only how it affects YOU (or other non smokers, but really I think it's about how it affects YOU.)  That is fair enough but irrelevant to the point of the diary, which is about how smoking affects smokers and what some people want to do about that.  Although maybe not.

My sense of most puritans is that, if you scratch 'em you get a lot of discontent about how the outside world is disturbing them...without the concommitant sense of how their behaviours [my example is car driving] affect others.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 02:02:35 PM EST
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and I agree with you on that point: I don't really care what smokers do to themselves, and I think there is weak societal argument to prevent them from smoking as long as non-smokers are reasonably protected.

There is a stronger argument to protect young people from starting up smoking, though, as the consequences to them of a decision which, at that point, can be uninformed, are rather large and worth preventing.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 02:08:31 PM EST
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If you were to write a list of what young people should be protected from, how high up the list would smoking come?  I'm thinking (and I'm thinking globally):

Random violence
Dispossession (maybe I'd put this at the top when thinking globally)

My simple point is that a youngster who smokes but doesn't beat up on, say, women, is to my mind a more noble human being than a non-smoking woman beater.  Smoking to excess (or at all, if you like) will shorten your life.  Okay.  There are a lot more important things for the global human community to worry about than whether we all reach 97.

In fact, the world might be a happier place if we all pegged it at seventy, but spent our seventy years enjoying ourselves and working for the social good rather than to gain a second over the next person.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Nov 23rd, 2008 at 06:29:44 PM EST
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It's an interesting list and it touches on an angle that struck me when I was working in one of the poorer townships.

South Africa has banned smoking in most public places - this officially includes bars (I think), but you would be hard pressed to find a bar without smokers. I do mind, but then we come back to the list. Making enforcement of the smoking ban in South Africa a priority would be foolery - there are too many bigger fish to fry here: education, housing, employment, crime reduction, public safety, roads, public transport, etc.

The (wealthier) nations of Europe have already ticked off most of these and it has become a matter of upholding or improving the system that's in place - so the priorities shift to "lesser" but therefore no less real public concerns. Probably also a reason why the debate on this is more ferocious in Europe - we can bitch all we want about the lack of service in, say, hospitals, but at least there are hospitals with well-educated specialists and top-notch equipment.

Probably a reason why I was/am so frustrated with the political discourse in the Netherlands; for the most part it's so... trivial.

by Nomad on Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 04:54:14 AM EST
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