Friday, March 19, 2010

Put This In Your Park And Smoke It

Because the state of California legislature has solved all of the problems with the budget, it's seemingly inevitable bankruptcy, illegal immigration and unemployment, a bill has been introduced to ban smoking at all state parks. Seriously? Maybe when they're done with that, they can get to work on their long awaited book "How to Piss Away Time and Money While Feigning to Serve the Public."

The author of this ridiculousness and waste of everyone's time is a one Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-umbass), Long Beach. According to what appears to be called The San Diego Daily Transcript Ms. Oropeza explains that "It is very clear that the garbage that is created as a result of smoking on beaches -- butts and wrappers -- are polluting our water. In terms of the state park system, we have a major fire hazard when cigarettes are smoked in parks." Uh-huh.

While I'm not going to disagree that part of garbage on the beaches is composed of cigarette butts and wrappers, I am going to point out that it's hardly the main component of the garbage itself. I'm not justifying anything here or anything like that, but all of that sand in one place (ie, the beach) is just like one of those public ashtrays that you see outside of downtown buildings. Perhaps those dumb enough to be smoking in the first place are merely confused. (And who in their right mind would WANT to be smoking on the beach anyway? It's so freaking beautiful there. And you want to whip out a cigarette and start puffing away? Are you kidding me? Why?)

But back to the state parks. It's not a "major fire hazard when cigarettes are smoked in parks." That makes it sound like people are walking around the state parks with the equivalent of a blazing tiki torch hanging out of their mouth. Sure, if the thing is still lit and it goes flying into some pile of dried debris, there's going be a problem. But how many forest fires in California are actually started by a cigarette? I have no idea because I can't find any data on it. (I did find a reference to a 2002 fire in Lake Tahoe started by a cigarette tossed from a gondola, but that's about it. I'm not saying there aren't more, I'm just saying they're not spreading like wildfire or anything. Pun totally intended.)

According to the article (and obvious to folks who have ever heard anything about the ridiculous legislation that California passes) "The move would not be surprising in a state with a long history of cracking down on smoking as a way to eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke." In a state park?! How much second-hand smoke is there actually exposure to in a state park? Have you visited a state park? Anywhere? They're quite roomy. I think that exposure to second-hand smoke is the least of your concerns. Unless you're a bear, perhaps. Is this for bears?

That same article reminded me that "A California law that took effect in 2008 slaps motorists with a $100 fine if they are smoking in a car that contains a minor under the age of 18." Are you kidding? Don't get me wrong. I'm not in favor of smoking in a car with children. But I'm also not in favor of smoking in a home with children. I'm kind of guessing that the same folks that smoke in the car with their kids are smoking in their home with their kids. Why aren't we regulating that as well? Because that would be silly, that is correct. Why it's OK to regulate it in the car is beyond me.

Look, I don't smoke. I am thrilled that there is no longer smoking in restaurants and in a lot of public indoor areas. I could not be happier. But we're talking people who are outside here. And they're not going to be around many other people. Yes, there is the danger of wildfires when there is smoking, but that's going to be your argument, you're really going to have to explain to me why campfires would be fine, but cigarette smoking would be a ticket to hell.

But, wait! There's more! "Oropeza said the legislation could save the financially strapped state millions in fighting wildfires started by someone tossing a lit cigarette in a state park." Aww. Look. There's my favorite word when any politician is explaining why their hare-brained idea is legitimate. "Could". It could happen. It could do this. It could do that. (It won't, but it could.) And what else could happen? Monkeys could fly out of my butt, that is correct. (They won't, but they could. Could they?)

However, "Oropeza excluded campsites from the ban to accommodate state park officials, who said prohibiting smoking at campsites would be difficult to enforce." Soooo...let me get this straight. You're not prohibiting smoking in state parks at campsites. That's OK. So the places where people are most likely to be congregated and exposed to second-hand smoke will not be effected by this. Got it. will be enforced where? Right, on the hiking trails, that is correct. Because if there's one thing that is a frequent occurrence everywhere, it's hikers who smoke a lot.

Why isn't this idea covered under the "no littering" provision of whatever law that is under? I can't imagine that it isn't. Then again, for some reason, driving while talking on your cell phone isn't covered under the "distracted driving" provisions and needs its very own, special law. Go figure. We are so over-regulated in this state. And what is this thing going to cost? Well, don't you worry! "Any state park that does not have the money to buy no-smoking signs alerting visitors to the rules also would be exempt." This state has no money! Didn't they just make huge cuts to the parks budget this last time around? I'm pretty sure that they did, but that's only because they made huge cuts everywhere! So if you don't have a sign, you don't have to follow the rule. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

This is nothing more than a feel good law for softheads. It's a waste of time to even be considering something that, in it's own language, does virtually nothing. Yet state senators continue to waste their time and taxpayer dollars composing bills such as this one that are useless. This state is so screwed. And we're so doomed. That's right. We're scroomed.

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Mark said...

Garbage from smoking is polluting your water. Hmmm. I wonder if garbage from smoking pollutes the water more than, say, millions of human swimmers, what with their dirt, and oil, and sweat, and hair falling off all willy nilly, and whatever else might be clinging to said swimmers being sloughed off into the pristine California oceans. Not to mention the warm spots some swimmers might create rather than trudge all the way back to the, uh, facilities. I'm thinking it doesn't. Banning swimming would almost certainly help the water more than banning smoking.

Politicians have to "do something." It's their nature. Doing hard things is hard. Doing the right thing is often hard. Doing stupid, content-less, grandstanding things is easy.

Hell, sometimes -- often... usually... almost always -- the right thing is to do nothing, but doing nothing is like kryptonite to politicians who are so much, much smarter and good intention-y than everyone else.

Lord knows we need more statesmen.

Mare said...


Yes. The California legislature does two things really well. Nothing and overreact. Oh, but if they banned people from being in the water, that would take away from their revenue, of which they have none. That's why they continue to spend what we don't have to pass ridiculous, do-nothing legislation such as this and make it appear as if they're doing...something. I think.

(By the way, apparently the vote was yesterday and it did not pass. Their explanation as to why it didn't pass? People who were supposed to vote 'yes' on it didn't show up for the vote. That's right. People whose job it is to vote didn't show up to do their job and vote. Scroomed, I tell you. We're scroomed.)

If you're interested in reading about another way that our elected officials in this fine, fine state are spending their time, you can click here and read about their blueberry antics. Blueberries. The state has no money and they're worried about blueberries.

~ Mary

Mark said...

Yeah, I read that one a couple of days ago. The beauty part of the Texas legislature is that it meets (barring special sessions) in 140 calendar day sessions every other year. The odd years, though I don't know if they recognize the humor in that.

As of about 45 minutes ago I completed the Mocking Words World Tour 2010, having read every posting that shows up in the contents thing on the right. I'm not ready for a pop quiz or anything, but I've read them.

I think the only two things on which I disagreed with you out of all that were that there are too many cowboys in Texas (it does get really, really hot here but the State Fair can be undiluted awesome) and that the tiger enclosure in that story about the tiger-taunting retards was by definition not high enough because a tiger got out. Well, and your unfortunate 49er affiliation. And that I think Matt Lauer can just keep his shirt on. The last two don't really count.

Still, that's a remarkable thing considering the differences in perspective and geography and that I just randomly found the blog on someone's blog roll. I guess now I'm limited to one or two articles a day like the rest of the world.


Mare said...


I am fascinated by the Texas legislature. That they don't seem to be in the financial poo-hole that California is in and they're not constantly in meetings definitely says something about the folks who are trying to run the show over here. Granted, they only have about two-thirds of the population of California, but still. They meet every other year and still manage to get things done and done fairly well. (Now, I'm far from thrilled with their textbook overhaul, but at least they can afford textbooks.) I also really enjoy that they execute people right and left over there. California has over 600 folks on death row and we've executed a whopping 14 of them since 1978. Put me in charge of the state budget and the first thing I'll be doing is filling up a bunch of rusty needles and working my way through Death Row with them. No need for gurneys! Just have 'em stick their arm through the bars!

I cannot tell you how flattered I am that you took the complete Mocking Words tour. That is impressive. Thank you very much. And if those are our only two points of minor disagreement (mind you, I don't have a problem that the tiger ate that guy, but having any sort of wild beast on the honor system in a zoo is probably not a good idea), then that is a truly amazing feat indeed.

(By the way, I don't know what's more unfortunate, my affiliation with the 49ers or the 49ers themselves. We just traded away our most winningest quarterback over the past decade. I'm not yet ready to embrace the Alex Smith era. I have a bad feeling about it.)

I can totally relate to the disappointment of having a seemingly unlimited supply of something abruptly come to an end. I've done it with TV shows that I never had watched much of and then found some (likely) unauthorized stash available online and worked my way through the entire series in a few months. And after it's over, it's like "Now what?"

Thanks, Mark. Very awesome of you. Tell a friend!

~ Mary