Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bits and Bites...

Not really sure where this one's going as I sit down to write, Nation, so don't mind the free-form blogging.

It occurs to me that I haven't been writing that much lately. I don't know whether I'm becoming desensitized, and therefore am less-often inspired to write, or whether I just haven't been moved to write as late because, frankly, I haven't felt I had anything to say about a particular issue that hadn't already been said by someone else, likely better than I could have. It's always been my most sincere hope that, through this medium, I could contribute to the conversation rather than just adding to the noise. Being the 431st person to blog about the headline of that day's paper doesn't strike me as the kind of "citizen journalism" of which I want to be a part.

I've noticed an increasing trend in the blogosphere for bloggers to attack their own. This "outing" of bloggers, or "exposing them", hearkens back to the "flame-wars" of the bad-old days of BBS systems and chat-boards, and stems from the same basic human deficiency: insecurity. Whether it's campaign politics, marketing or blogging, the simple reality is that attacking the other guy is something you do only when you're not comfortable selling yourself on your own merits. In this fickle world of internet journalism and new media, it is the readers who are going to decide who is a credible voice and who isn't. To go out of your way to attack the motives of other bloggers - or, for that matter, their grammar, intelligence, socio-economic standing, age, level of experience, lack of journalistic pedigree, their use of a nom de plume, or anything ELSE - doesn't make you more credible, in this one man's opinion. It makes you less credible.

The Alberta Government Caucus will be dealing with the public smoking issue in the next few days. As reported by Ken Chapman previously on his blog, there is some uncertainty on how things will go, however as a non-smoker I can tell you I'm hoping for a province-wide smoking ban sooner, rather than later.
Now, the Libertarian crowd will immediately jump on this and say "How can you call yourself a conservative? Government has no place legislating against habits and behaviours that hurt no one!" The irony is that many of these same "Libertarians" would likely support a ban on gay sex, if such a thing was possible and enforceable.
Let me ask you this, Nation: If a man gets into his car after having had 5 shots of Tequila in 30 minutes, on an empty stomach, and tries to drive the 5 blocks to his house, is he going to get pulled over? Of course he is - provided there are police nearby. WHY? He was just enjoying himself. He didn't hurt anybody. He PROBABLY wouldn't have hit anyone on the way home. And the people who are on the road at that time of night on a Friday KNOW they're sharing the road with drunks (1 in 3, they say), but they make the informed choice to drive anyway. So aren't they taking an informed risk? What right does the evil government have to pull Mr. Cuervo over, harass him, take his license away, and deny him his Charter Right to enjoy his Friday night?

If you actually agree with that example, I truly feel sorry for you.

Bottom line here, kids: Smoking causes cancer. Being AROUND cigarette smoke causes cancer, moreso for the people NOT doing the smoking than for the people who do. That's not opinion, or "anti-smoking lobby" rhetoric (who's bankrolling this vast anti-smoking conspiracy, by the way? "Big Chewing Gum"?), it's science. YOU have the right to smoke yourself into an early grave, just as you have the right to drink until your liver crawls out of your body and tries to smother you in your sleep. Your right to smoke, though, much like your right to drink, ends the second that your behaviour puts MY life in jeopardy. "If you don't want to be subjected to second-hand smoke in public spaces, stay out of those spaces" makes about as much sense if you turn it around for our drinking analogy, and say "If you don't want to share the road with drunk drivers, stay off the road on Friday nights". It's preposterous for the drinking argument, and no less so for the smoking argument.

You can drink next to me at a bar without me getting drunk. You can eat next to me at a restaurant without me getting fat(ter). Those activities, of and by themselves, harm no one but YOU, and so should be allowed. But if you smoke next to me, I AM going to breathe those fumes, and that could make me very sick, or very dead, because of something YOU did in a public space. Therefore, you need to smoke in a PRIVATE space.

You don't like it, because it limits where you can smoke. You want what you want, where and when you want it. It's an issue of self-interest, and I get that. But what *I* want is not to get sick. And my right to health supersedes your right to getting your nicotine fix in a public place. Smoke yourself to death - I really don't care. Smoking's not immoral, bad for the soul or for society. It's not a character flaw. It's a habit. Smoke away - I couldn't care less. Smoke until you need a stoma, and then smoke out of that. It's your right - just like masturbation. But you can't do that in public either, can you? Damned meddling government.

It's by-election season, and things are looking very interesting in Calgary Elbow. Talk to a Liberal, and they'll tell you that they've got it all but won at this point. Elbow is going to be an example, as it has been for years, of how the representative democratic system should work. People in Calgary Elbow don't vote for parties, they vote for MLA's. Which, if your MLA happens to cross the floor at some point, makes you a little less likely to want to lynch them. Ralph Klein held onto this riding not because he was the Premier, or because he was a Progressive Conservative, but because the people there simply liked having Ralph as their MLA better than they suspected they would have liked any of his challengers. Therefore, the 2 qualities that will best serve whoever the winning candidate is in this riding are going to be likeability, and professionalism.

Brian Heninger, by all accounts, is a very professional guy. He runs one of Calgary's largest and most successful businesses. You could see him holding a cabinet spot and not making his constituents look like fools. Craig Cheffins, likewise, comes across as someone who knows what he's doing. You could see him sitting in opposition and not jumping up and down, screaming about how his constituents are freezing in the street because the government won't cap rent increases (Calgary Elbow is a rather affluent part of town). Sadly, you can't say the same for George Read, the leader of the Green Party, who is running in Calgary Elbow. The Green movement is a good thing, and Calgary has shown it's more than willing to listen to what they have to say, but to spend time with Read it becomes quite clear that his strengths lie more on the activist side of the spectrum than on the "sitting in governance over the hopes and dreams of Martha and Henry". The Alberta Alliance candidate, Jane Greydanus, is a non-factor. The Alliance captured less than 4% of the vote in Elbow last time around, they won't break 10% this time around. Calgary Elbow just isn't the right kind of riding for the Alliance - the only thing the Alliance has to offer Elbow's voters is a "tough on crime" stance, which the other parties will all adopt as their own (at least, on the hustings), leaving the Alliance with nothing. This isn't to say the Alliance has a bad platform - far from it. In fact, I'd encourage everyone to take a look at the Alliance platform, here - but I don't think that many of these issues resonate with the voters of Calgary Elbow at this point. And the reality is, many still see the Alliance as a protest movement, or too far to the right to trust with Alberta's social infrastructure. Also, let's recall that this is a riding that embraced Ralph Klein, and the Alliance is the same party that in 2004 ran the "I Blame Ralph" campaign. No, this is a 2 horse race. And, since both the PC candidate and the Liberal seem capable of doing the job, the winner on June 12th will be the one who paints himself as the most likeable. If I were a gambling man, and the by-election were held today... I'd bet on a colour change for this riding. But there are still 2 weeks to go, and 2 weeks is a long time to win or lose a close election - ask Mr. "Beer and Popcorn".

My last topic is of a personal nature... as some of you know, there will soon be a "Mrs. Savage". We have been debating the pros and cons of getting married locally versus travelling to an exotic locale and strapping on the ball-and-chain on a beach somewhere. As I know many of my readers are no doubt hopeless romantics (Albertans politics being the most romantic language of all), I was wondering what YOU, the devoted members of the E.S. Nation, had to say on the issue. Feel free to reply here, or email me at amishbuggyracing (at) gmail (dot) com.

Have I given you enough to talk about?

- E.S.


Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud when I read this line:

"...who's bankrolling this vast anti-smoking conspiracy, by the way? "Big Chewing Gum"?)"

Considering that I was at my desk at work when I read it, I did receive a few stares. Nobody laughs that early in the morning around here (before 1st coffee).

Anonymous said...

Ok, I was bored, and re-read the post when I had more time. I was thinking that, in order to help the Alberta Alliance - who are sort of a Libertarian-esque party (unless you are gay) - that you could send them this idea from your post, to be inserted as a policy plank. A helping "hand" of sorts:

"Smoke until you need a stoma, and then smoke out of that. It's your right - just like masturbation. But you can't do that in public either, can you? Damned meddling government."

Damn meddling government indeed. Let the "right" hands of the world unite! I'm sure CanWest columnist Lorne Gunter could make a case for less government intervention on anything.

Too far? Maybe. But I thought it was funny.

Allie Wojtaszek said...

I can't wait for a smoking ban in public places. I am sick of having to breathe other peoples smoke and really tired of the disgusting mess they leave littered all over the ground, especially in the playground!

But on another note... we were married locally and we enjoyed it, and friends of ours married in Vegas and we enjoyed that too. I think if I learnt anything from my wedding experiences it would be this: Consider very carefully what you want as a COUPLE and not what your family insists you should want. Try to encorporate stuff that will make it meaningful for the two of you, something unique to the life you will share together. And most importantly - don't spend a fortune. Save the money for a down deposit on a house, a spiffy hybrid car, or a great trip together (or a destination wedding). But that's just my humble opinion of course. :)