Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Laws of Nature and Beyond

Bizarro is brought to you today by Better Living Through Force.

I haven't much to say about this GPS cartoon other than I hope everyone understood it. The idea was that the GPS led them to a cliff above their destination, then instructed them to drive off the edge. It seemed funny when I thought of it, but I'm not sure about the final result. I like GPSs but I don't like the voice. I prefer to just use the map part, like the one on my phone, and find my own way. I don't trust the robot voice to always know the best way.

At long last I am back in front of my computer where I belong. I went to Florida this past weekend with CHNW. I was hired to do a speech for a humanist group down there, the Center For Inquiry folks, and had a great time. Good people, smart questions, laughed a lot, took me to lunch after. What's not to like?

After the talk on Saturday, CHNW, her dad and I drove to an interesting little place called Ybor City where we hit some shops and had a beer. In old timey times there was a big cigar factory there where hundreds of people hand-rolled cigars all day. The tradition continues as there are cigar shops all over the place and a few people sitting in storefront windows rolling away. If you're into cigars, this is a real treat.

This pic at left was taken with my iPhone and I think it turned out pretty swell.

Even if you're not into cigars, it is strange to see so many smoke-friendly establishments within
the borders of our law-infested land. Smoking is so uniformly despised in the U.S., even outdoors, that walking down 7th Street in Ybor City feels more like Cuba than Florida. I often get chastised by friends and fans for smoking cigars, but I try to be considerate. I usually smoke at home and never smoke around crowds of any kind unless I'm walking quickly. I figure if my passing by with a cigar is enough to set someone off, they need more help than anti-smoking laws can give them.

Lots of things annoy me momentarily in public – bad music, mullets, cologne, confederate flags, cigarettes(they smell very different from cigars because they are crap tobacco and full of chemicals), people wearing fur, the smell of someone's fastfood, people who talk too loud on cell phones, defenders of Dick Cheney, the way everyone but me drives – but I just figure that's the price of leaving my house.

I cannot imagine a society in which we legislate against everything that briefly annoys someone. This encyclopedia of signs at a playground in Sarasota springs to mind. Looks like fun, doesn't it?

27 comments:

Yet Another Steve said...

Oh how I wish I had the exact quote to hand, but I don't. Andrew Vachss, in one of his dark crime novels, writes something like "I stepped into a doorway to light a cigarette. A woman gave me a dirty look and walked on by, trailing enough cologne to gag a coroner."

doug nicodemus said...

welcome back... it has been quiet in here

James said...

The confederate flag is not a racist symbol. Don't assume it to be so because some racist groups have co-opted it.

Also, got a little political question for you, Dan; what's your opinion of Ron Paul?

Peter Keller said...

After reading the playground rules sign, it kinda makes you loss your inclination to play, doesn't it? I'm envisoning a bunch of somber children just standing around, not being able to do much else.

KiltBear said...

BTW, now that I know what CHNW actually stands for (your recent posting on the shower in Times Square event) I smile extra big whenever I read it. Just WAY too funny and sweet in a very twisted way.

Dave Cunix said...

The great joy of golf courses - cigars are welcome even in anti-smoking Ohio.
Hope you picked up a couple of nice hand made cigars.

Brent said...

Apparently, this happens a lot. See the link below for several incidents involving people following GPS where they shouldn't.

http://blogs.computerworld.com/when_gps_goes_bad

I particularly like this cartoon, though, for the implication that the GPS knows that a fall off the cliff is part of the route it is prescribing, but it just doesn't care.

Plan 9 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Plan 9 said...

I have cautious respect for Ron Paul. His comments at the Republican debates in '08 that made his party squirm in their seats was incredibly respectable.

But then he says something about black people and how public schools should be eradicated and I kind of shut down.

greg said...

funny how something that was readily accepted as "par for the course" (pardon the golf),not long ago, becomes a social abomination.

ojeano said...

That cartoon made me laugh happily! Why? Because it is a funny cartoon! Why? Because it illustrates how reliance on technology threatens to obfuscate our common sense, that is, if we're stupid.

About the rules issue: a teacher friend of mine said the rule he uses in the classroom is "you can do anything as long as it doesn't bring harm to anyone else." He adopted it from a master teacher who previously had an increasing list of a hundred or so rules for his classroom, then one kid hit another one with a fish.

Allan Koay said...

i really seriously dislike smokers and smoking. can't say i hate smokers because i have a lot of friends who smoke. but like i always say, i love my friends, but i would love them even more if they quit smoking! :)

my grouse is with inconsiderate smokers, actually. i really don't mind if they go somewhere else (anywhere outside a radius of 5km from me) to indulge in their habit, but most times, smokers would just light up without a thought for the people around them. i've told off quite a few inconsiderate smokers, and one time even got close to a fistfight.

so, smokers, please please be considerate!

anyway, Mr Piraro, just curious as to what your talk was about. could you enlighten us on that?

Prospero said...

My sister lives about 20 minutes from Ybor City, and any time I go down to FL to visit, I ask her to take us there. We don't use GPS to get there, lest we end up in Tampa Bay.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "law-infested land," The problem is not that organizations (including the government) won't let you do things, the problem is that when stupid people do stupid things, they still get away with a lawsuit. Rather than worry about smokers' or skateboarders' rights, you should advocate for tort reform.

I'd say Shakespeare got it right.

patrick said...

Welcome back, Dan, and thanks for letting me know about the Center for Inquiry -- I hadn't known about it before and my beliefs are pretty much aligned with it.

Regarding the Confederate flag, it may not be racist, but it is treasonous, I am surprised the Union allowed it to be displayed after the Civil War. Similar situation to Germany banning swastikas.

I must say I am surprised that last photo of the playground rules didn't include a braille translation, too! Here in California, it probably would have.

jeff said...

If cigar and cigarette smoke were only a "minor annoyance," I'd be with you. But they're not (only) that. Even if every smoker is considerate, like yourself (many aren't), and walks by me quickly when I'm outside, I'm often going to be fairly regularly breathing second-hand smoke--you're not the only smoker out there. And that can give me lung cancer, among other things.

Cancer = minor annoyance? Nah.

Piraro said...

@James...I disagree about the confederate flag. In spite of what southern revisionists say, the Civil War was about slavery and 99% of people who display confederate flags today have race issues.

Ron Paul believes too much in free market capitalism. Left unregulated, capitalism will make a few percent rich and powerful and the rest of us imprisoned in squalor with no chance of escape, no matter how hard we work. It has never NOT happened that way when the rich and powerful are not forced to share.

@Allan Koay...my talk was about my path from devout Catholic to fundamentalist Christian to agnostic to atheist. I showed a lot of cartoons about those subjects and made people laugh along the way.

@jeff...cigarette smoking is dangerous, no doubt about it, but such a good job has been done vilifying it that most of us have a greatly exaggerated fear of it. What people don't realize is that while a smoker's chances of getting cancer are much higher than a non-smoker, MOST smokers never get lung cancer. And if casual exposure to second-hand smoke were dangerous, every American alive in the first half of the 20th century would have gotten lung cancer. But they didn't. The dangers of second-hand smoke, especially outdoors, are mythical. Far more people die each year from diet-related conditions than smoke, but there hasn't been a 40-year-long ad campaign about it.

Matt Silberstein said...

I thought the GPS was trying to kill them. Are you absolutely sure it wasn't?

James said...

Dan: Well, you have your views and there's no way I'll change them. Just let me add my own two cents, then, and say that in my opinion, 99% of PETA members are violent whackjobs, hypocrites, and insensitive pricks who don't care about human suffering.

http://www.petakillsanimals.com/

jeff said...

First of all: Just to be clear, I love, love, love your comics and artwork, and nothing crazy you can say about smoking or anything will stop me from reading 'em. That said...

Dan, you logic is pretty wacky, and I'm not sure where you're getting your facts about casual second-hand smoke. The quote/link at the bottom of this comment has all kinds of links to, y'know, science and stuff, instead of just professed beliefs about what is mythical.

It's pretty clear from the science that second-hand smoke is dangerous (again, see linky goodness below). Even though 100% of people don't get cancer from second-hand smoke, that doesn't entail that it isn't dangerous, or that you ought to get to decide if I am taking that risk or not by smoking around me.

I think it's likely that more people die from how they eat than from how you smoke (but I'd love to see some evidence on that). People should change the way they eat, in general. That doesn't mean you *shouldn't* change the way you smoke (i.e. never smoke around other people, or pets).

# Does exposure to secondhand smoke cause cancer? Yes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), the U.S. Surgeon General, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have classified secondhand smoke as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) (1, 3, 5). Inhaling secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in nonsmoking adults (4). Approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year among adult nonsmokers in the United States as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke (2). The Surgeon General estimates that living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent (4). Some research suggests that secondhand smoke may increase the risk of breast cancer, nasal sinus cavity cancer, and nasopharyngeal cancer in adults, and leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors in children (4). Additional research is needed to learn whether a link exists between secondhand smoke exposure and these cancers.

Eileen said...

Love the photo of CHNW. She looks ready for a duet w/Lady Gaga.

Piraro said...

@James...I know hundreds of PETA members and employees, including its founders, and none of them are violent or whackjobs and all of them care as much about human rights as animal rights. The mistake people make is assuming that someone who doesn't think that humans are inherently worth far more than any other species, are violent wackjobs who don't care about people.

PETA has made its name on zany publicity stunts, but has never condoned or propagated violence of any kind. The people that Penn shows protesting on his famous episode of "Bullshit" and identifies as PETA members are not from PETA, they are from a radical group in LA that are trying to shut down the city shelters. I could easily do a "Bullshit" episode on Penn and Teller's Bullshit episode on PETA. I admire much about P & T, but that episode is dead wrong about PETA. Penn is a showman first, after all, not a journalist.

Piraro said...

@Jeff...You're right about all of this, of course, I have no doubt that extensive exposure to second-hand smoke is more dangerous than no exposure at all. But I don't see that as a reason to worry about a waft of smoke passing you by outdoors. If that were enough to make anyone sick, our species would have died out centuries ago. I once saw a woman wheel her baby stroller out into the street to avoid passing me with my cigar. Is a second's exposure to smoke more dangerous to a baby in a stroller than traffic?
The only person who lives with second-hand smoke in my life is my wife and she does so voluntarily and doesn't care about the risk. I have nothing against your dislike of smokers or smoke, it makes perfect sense. I just think our society goes overboard by passing laws about smoking outdoors or treating people with disdain if they pass by with a cigar or cigarette. (I don't object to laws against smoking in public buildings, by the way.)

James said...

Piraro: Well, now you see how foolish it is to stereotype every member of a certain group simply because of a minority of extremists. Not everyone who has a confederate flag or defends it is racist, and not every PETA member supports or participates in violent activities.

Mike said...

I can't believe you came to Florida and didn't announce it aforehand! Hope you enjoyed our perfect weather.

Buck naked swordfish

Crazy Vegan Mom said...

The issue of smoking is tough, I admit. I am a former smoker who was always considerate of others. I never lit up without asking others around me if it bothered them, made sure not to stand in doorways, etc.
Now, I do feel bad for smokers and their not being able to smoke most places, but I am a mother to 2 asthmatic children I am one of those people who can't stand smoking in public. It affects my children badly.
One time I had to take my 5 yr old daughter to the ER for an massive asthma attack. Upon leaving at 4 a.m., some guy walked into the hospital door and blew out a big puff of smoke right next to her (the hospital has a no smoking on the premises policy -lot of good that did!)

Anonymous said...

The GPS is done with helping people. So yeah, final destination.