Thursday, June 19, 2003

There is no Tuesday Too

1. A lot of hubbub has been going on the last two days over remarks Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) made regarding the desire to break personal computers to protect copyrights. We're all copyright holders here -- indeed, it would be exceedingly difficult to not go through life in America without issuing at least one de facto copyright -- and since we're all uniformly qualified to discuss this issue, I'd like to know how important is your right of copyright is to you.

"Lord Thring asked me what I thought would be a fair and just copyright limit. I said a million years - that is, copyright in perpetuity. The answer seemed to outrage him; it quite plainly irritated him" (Mark Twain [1906], The Autobiography of Mark Twain). I agree with Mark Twain! I wrote a little more about copyright (and a bunch of other things, most not related) here.

2. Several posts ago, I commented that I had driven on the beach at Ocean Shores. Where is the oddest/most surreal place you've driven or parked a car? In that particular case, it was one of those things that struck me as, "Of all the things I would expect to find on a beach, a big white van isn't one of them". It could be along those lines for you, or on some other odd/surreal definition of your own.

Well, driving in itself is pretty surreal for me, since I don't routinely drive. But as a passenger, two things come to mind. Most recently it would be two years ago, waiting to make a left turn and hearing, from a good, long distance behind someone's brakes screetching, and those lingering moments of anticipation before bang! The truck was rear-ended. Then several years ago, coming back from Saratoga on the northway (a highway that is always somewhat surreal) at night, seeing a strange car, surrounded by some sort of cloud, that appeared suddenly, and vanished. Like a ghost car. Yes, we were tired and yes that ride is tiresome. But I doubt we would both imagine the same thing unprompted...

3. Have you seen anyone, or have you yourselves used smokeless (& ashless) cigarettes yet? More importantly, do you think that smokers with smokeless cigs should be allowed back in public places they've been banned from?

I'm not sure. This is the first time I've heard of them. Sounds like a good idea, but I think the research focus should be on making less toxic cigarettes generally. All the anti-smoking, anti-couch potato, anti-etc. health nut obsession strikes me as both good and bad. Sure, I'm all for it, we should avoid fat, stretch, walk, not smoke, not drink, you name it, of course fast food and watching TV all day are bad. But at the same time, some of it seems to promote an uptight intolerance and plastic way of living, a-la scary science fiction.

I've been happy about, but also have mixed feelings on the recent smoking ban (also surprised it passed). In terms of offices and schools, it has been so long since people could smoke inside them that I don't even remember what it was like, and I think the ban has been a good thing. The people clustered at the doors chaining away never bothered me, as long as the butts stayed in an ashtray.

In recent years, my experience (and I eat out quite a bit) has been that the majority of restaurants had divided up the sections appropriately or bought enough ventilation so that the smoke wasn't really a problem anyway. OK, that's restaurants; honestly, I rarely go to bars anymore. Last time I was in a true bar was after the Blue Room, we stopped at a nice little place called Savannah's. It was definitely too smoky for my liking, and we didn't stay long, but I'm not sure how much people who frequent bars care, or I guess what I mean is smokefree may wind up driving away business.

Somehow, it reminds me of prohibition, and that is regarded as a public policy disaster, if rather romanticized. One thing for sure, making bars smokefree isn't going to get me out of my house and into a "ginmill!" So although for their own good, I wish everyone would quit, and I do prefer smokefree places, I think it should be a bar owner's decision, and patrons can vote with their feet.

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