Thursday, October 13, 2011

Boise is for smokers.

I recently became infatuated with the public debate here in Boise, Idaho over a proposed smoking ban that would effect businesses and some of our larger parks. According to the CDC, Idaho is ranked 15th in percentage of smokers with 16.9%; not as good as our obesity statistics, but you take what you can get.

Here's the thing, I've been on both sides of the issue. I used to smoke. A lot.

It's amazing how many friends you don't make singing karaoke on a weekday all alone

As a matter of fact, 85% of the pictures taken of me in my twenties have me smoking at a bar, either singing karaoke or at a comedy show.

I can really be self-obsessed sometimes.

I was infatuated with smoking. Two packs a day was normal and if I was working the door at a club, I could smoke twenty cigarettes in less than three hours. It didn't matter what I was doing, I wanted a cigarette.

Even when I'm sick on NYE and I've lost my voice and still have to perform.

We all know that smoking is more addictive than heroin, meth, and even bacon flavored meth, and you don't have to watch too many episodes of Intervention or attend more than a handful of AA meetings to see the lengths that your average addict will go to feed that addiction. I didn't quit smoking myself until I developed severe asthma, and I still steal cigarettes after six or seven beers despite the fact that it would be equally as healthy for me to enter a needle sharing competition in Garden City. Almost every smoker hates the fact that they smoke, and how many empty promises have you heard your smoking friends and family make to themselves about quitting but to no avail?

The simple fact is that your average smoker is completely screwed. Every single day that they keep inhaling poison into their lungs increases the odds that they will suffer before they die, and that day will come too early for everyone that knows them. For years we have been watching our fellow human beings getting addicted to a product that will almost certainly hasten their demise and it wasn't until fairly recently that the companies selling this product were forced to admit that they were killing us.

20,679 Physicians acquired a lot of negative karma

But we have science now, and a Surgeon General who wants us to quit that shit, surely logic, common sense, and a healthy sense of self-preservation would dictate that our society would rise up and destroy one of the most damaging things that even exists? Governments and activists have done what they can, we've suffered through ad-campaigns, warning labels, and countless hours of nagging from our loved ones, but it will never be enough. Never.

The current crop of smokers are already infected. Science tells us that humans have a really crappy ability to predict statistics as it applies to them, we all think that it's everyone else who gets laid-off or gets an STD, which is why it's so shocking when it happens to us. And brains inflicted with addiction will use every single trick at their disposal to continue feeding the monster that is controlling their actions. Smokers, and the businesses who profit off of their addiction, have resisted every single effort to restrict public exposure. It doesn't matter what statistics we show people or how many of them rot from the inside, these forces will not be convinced with logic or reason, because addiction doesn't operate that way.

And that is where the smoking ban comes in.

Smoking was once allowed in Airplanes and Restaurants, even in Hospitals. Slowly, and with much resistance, things have changed. Now some states don't allow you to smoke within 10 or 25 feet of a public building, some cities don't allow you to smoke in any public space at all. Smokers have hated it, mumbling to themselves about their "rights" while simultaneously showing off their inability to make healthy decisions for themselves. Even some non-smokers, afraid of the boogie man coming after their bottled water or something next, argue that businesses get to make up their own rules. Well they don't, businesses don't get to dump sludge into the river or pollute the airways with smog without regulation just because they want to, this ban is simply regulating pollution on a small scale for the greater good, one of the reasons government exists in the first place. Smokers also like to speak of their right to smoke, like it was god-given or something, but killing yourself is technically against the law (and religion) almost everywhere, just because the two haven't been connected yet doesn't put them in the right.

This is my final point: Boise is a small city, but it is a proud city. We are constantly on top ten lists of places to live, retire, or raise a family. The weather is nice, the people are friendly, and we even have a nice walkway called the Greenbelt that stretches alongside the Boise River for 22 miles because we are health conscious and like to ride our bicycles. A lot of people move here because of all the wonderful and healthy things that are accessible a short distance from town, these facts not only attract people but factor into the decisions of businesses to move here, something that has worked in our favor historically and has positively impacted our local economy. In 50 years smoking will not be a part of this city. Anywhere.

So will our city council decide to step up and make the healthy and inevitable decision to make this a better place to work and live, or will a future city council have to do it for them?

Let's just stare at each other quietly.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The one where Mikey defends Mormons.

The guy being interviewed on the Sunday news show just said, "Values are not specific to any one religion, as we've seen.".

Tom McClusky: Senior Vice President, FRCAction

I understand that it's this guy's job to lobby for the will of James Dobson and he's a professional spin doctor for the right, but to watch him defend Mitt Romney for being Mormon has been an interesting experience because I'm forced to agree with him.

For those of you who didn't get bored enough to stop reading before the third paragraph but still don't know what I'm talking about, Robert Jefferies is the senior pastor of a Baptist megachurch is Dallas, Tex. During a republican political event, Jefferies supported one candidate and took a shot at a different one, specifically because he wasn't a 'Real Christian'.

Real Christians, shortly before selling all that they own to feed the poor.

Having spent some time belonging to one of the most populated churches in the Boise area, I've experienced the energy that a large group of people worshiping at the same brings to a room, and it is very powerful. I really enjoyed my time in evangelical christian churches, they are a very active group of people and, if you belong to a big enough one, there is something going on every weekend. I've been to church camps, picnics, barbeques, river floats, Olympic style gaming events, car washes, and an entire host of other activities all underlining the importance of having a social gathering place for society to meet and to bond at, but almost none of it, aside from two summer mission trips I went on as a teenager, having much to do specifically with being a 'Real Christian'. Anybody could have been there and I wouldn't have known the difference.

The biggest rule for Christians is to love their god using all of their mind, will, and strength, and then to love their neighbors as themselves. This rule came directly from the mouth of the boss man himself. While he was busy not mentioning gays, abortion, or masturbation, he spent a lot of time on how you should treat each other. If you really want to go to heaven and hi-five Jesus, the best way to spend your time is getting your hands dirty helping the poor, sick, and imprisoned. Jesus didn't spend a lot of time giving two shits about someone's immigration status or ability to pay for health care, but the evangelical branch of politics sometimes seems to do almost nothing else. For Jesus it was about genuinely caring about your fellow man, even going so far as to get rid of your physical attachments so you would not be distracted away from the purity of that love. Jesus never asked for 10%, he didn't hoard gold like a pirate.

You know it's Holy because it's expensive.

As far as I'm concerned, every single major branch of Christianity that I have ever experienced in the solid third of a century that I've been around can shut their hypocritical mouths until they literally put their money where their mouth is and do something to prove that they deserve the title themselves before they start labeling other Christian sects.

And for the record? I have met thousands upon thousands of Christians in my life and hundreds of Mormons and, person to person, the average Mormon living here in Idaho is living closer to a life of faith than the average 'Real Christian'. Take it as you will, but go out on any Mardi Gras and you'll see a lot more Christian tits getting flashed around, and there's more Christian violent offenders in our prison system than everybody else put together, even after you adjust for population. And the number of Atheists in prison? Less than 1%.

So maybe what McClusky should have said was, "Values have nothing to do with religion, whatsoever".

Because they don't.