Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Nanny State never Quits

News Flash! April 22, 2011. AP news from Atlanta, Center for Disease Control: CDC hopefully announces it anticipates an effective 50 state ban on smoking in "public places" by 2020.

Personal Log, Stardate 2022.

I had not seen my friend Mike in 10 years, he has been working in Asia. Of course, he is visiting, he is welcome in my home.

When we get home from the airport, I told him, "grab a couple beers, I'll get the luggage, you've had a long flight."

I come in and Mike is in my kitchen SMOKING A CIGARETTE! I go into panic mode, fan the doors, try to get rid of the fumes, but the alarm goes off anyway. Mike is puzzled, asks "you got the smoke detectors set a bit low or what?"

I have to confess to being a "registered smoker". "say what", says Mike?

Yeah, well in '16 we had to register as smokers to be able to purchase tobacco; still legal, but only if I show my registration card at the store. That triggered a "home investigation" by Childrens' Protective Service. We 'fessed up, the grandkids visit here regularly. We promised not to smoke around them, but CPS' mission is to protect children above all.

We had to install tobacco detectors at our expense, real-time connected to a monitoring center. If the detectors sense active smoking in a house children might visit, the alarm sounds and we get a visit.

Mike, I know you didn't know this, but that alarm means the smoke cleaners will be calling shortly. I can select which, but they must be licensed, and it will tickle you; they will show up in "moonsuits" and act like they believe this crap, but Hell, it's their rice bowl.

They will come in, sniff the house electronically, and clean up any potential residue on walls and ceilings. No, Mike I can't do it, now that the smoke-nannies have been alerted, I gotta pay for a licensed cleaner to come make my house safe for children, or we can no longer allow anyone under 18 in the house.

Mike softly curses in the Mandarin he learned as a company rep in China, slows down and asks, "What the Hell happened to the free country I left in 2010"?

"Ah Mike my friend, you haven't been here", says I. "We are still free to say anything that offends no one; we can still fly commercial flights as long as we are willing to have our 5 year olds groped by strangers, and we are still free to smoke in a tiny corner of our backyards. Automobiles, only if we certify that no child will ever ride in it. Violate these rules once is a $500 fine. If the DA finds a "pattern of abuse" we are subject to felony charge of "Reckless Endangerment".

We finish a six-pack in my limited smoking area catching up on old times and Mike books a flight back to Taiwan, where they have better things to worry about. Mike wonders why he served two terms of enlistment, and chews me out for not doing a better job here preserving freedom on the homefront.

Obviously a future fiction, but tell me it won't go there. The Smoke/cholesterol/salt/ethanol nannies truly want to control our lives. It's in our best interest don't you know.

Pardon me, but my "best interests" are none of your freaking business. My insurer perhaps, but I expect to outlive another couple of agents half my age.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stephens Library

I made time this morning for my first tour of the new Library. Impressed is an understatement, it is beautiful! I saw 20 computer stations open, where the older library had had a waiting list. Lots of people using the terminals, but open ones too.

The Law Library on 2nd floor has two Westlaw terminals!

One carryover from the Ed Keyes Library; the new one still has the slowest elevators in Western Civilization. Upside of that I rode down with a kid, 12-14, he was bubbling over with excitement. Big advantage of the space available, kids have their own section downstairs, and it is a dream come true. The little reading cubbyholes are great. I remember my favorite reading space was the shelf of a bay window, curl up with a good book and the world goes away.

At my age, a Library is a research resource, and that is a good thing. For our youngsters, a Library is a window to the world. That is an investment in our future to be treasured.

One thing I would like to see is prominent recognition of Ralph Hoelscher's part in making this happen. The Stephens deserve the name, a huge contribution from them. My point is, Ralph brought City Council and County Commissioners together for a rare joint meeting and made the old building available. From there, the effort involved hundreds, really thousands of generous people, and they all rate a big "attaboy", but until Ralph kick-started it, the Hemphill-Wells Building was just a hole in the downtown landscape.

I leave the quibbling over windows and bricks to others. My opinion, this will be the jewel in the crown of downtown rebuilding, and the taxpayer portion is nearly zero. It doesn't get better than this.