Random Musings

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OK,
OK, I know a “Random Musings” piece is a cheap trick a columnist
uses when he is at a loss for a coherent, full-length column. But
what, you want me to use expensive tricks? So, here goes:

The
Senate Addresses a Growing Concern

On
the radio this morning, I heard that there is now a Senate Commission
on America’s “obesity epidemic.”

If
there were one thing you’d think was people’s own business, it would
be how much they eat. If someone wants to blimp up like Jerry Nadler
on a fact-finding tour of all-you-can-eat buffets, why is it anyone
else’s concern? The United States just suffered a horrific terrorist
attack, the FBI director is telling us that he’s “certain” there
are more attacks coming, and the Senate is worrying about… Grandpa’s
waistline?

Furthermore,
the definition of who is fat seems to have an obesity problem of
its own. According to the new government guidelines, Michael
Jordan is overweight. Clearly, this trend must be halted before
the entire nation turns into a bunch of well-muscled, high-endurance,
fantastically athletic slouches.

And
what’s this about “epidemic”? Are people catching obesity
from others? Should fat people be quarantined? We’ll watch this
story as it develops.

More
Bad News on the Health Front

I
was outside in the designated smoking area at work when a colleague
stopped to chat. Although my cigarette was in my hand, I hadn’t
lit it yet. Since this fellow had mentioned to me that he was sensitive
to smoke, I refrained from lighting it while we talked. But after
about a minute, he coughed and waved his hand in front of his face.

“Rufus,”
I said to him, “it’s not lit.” I held up the cigarette for his inspection.

A
moment of panic crossed his face. He frantically looked around and
spotted a group of three smokers about forty feet away. “It must
be the smoke from them.”

I
looked over at the trio. Clearly, the wind was blowing their smoke
away from us.

A
moment later he said, “I can’t breathe here,” and walked away.

I
had seen the same kind of thing a few weeks before. I was in the
backyard having a smoke. (And no, my wife doesn’t kick me out of
the house to smoke! I prefer smoking outside. Really. Really
really.) A man came walking up the street, which is about 60 feet
from where I was standing. As he approached my front yard, he began
coughing. As soon as he passed, the house, he stopped.

Now,
I imagine that the amount of smoke reaching him from my cigarette
was something like a millionth or billionth of the amount of car
fumes he had inhaled on his walk.

There
is only one possible conclusion: Cigarettes are so dangerous that
the sight of them alone can cause respiratory difficulties.

The
Libertarian Mascot?

Speaking
of the backyard, I like to sit out there at night, contemplating
life, the universe, and everything. One great part of my habit is
the animals that come by. I find if I don’t tinkle the ice in my
cocktail too much, they generally don’t know I’m there. A week ago
I had a raccoon stop about five feet away from me and stare at me
in shock. I see opossums scurry furtively past, bats swoop through
the light from the windows above me, and hear deer trample noisily
through the brush. A few times I’ve heard coyotes baying in the
distance. (About two weeks ago a coyote killed one of our neighbor’s
chickens right under our bedroom window. Crikey but was that an
ungodly racket!)

However,
my favorite nighttime visitor is the skunk. I hear some thrashing
in the bushes, too low to the ground to be a deer. A moment later,
the black-and-white stripes appear. The little fellow moseys across
the lawn, completely unconcerned about who hears or sees him. Several
times, he has arrived at my feet before he notices me. He’ll stare
up at me for ten of fifteen seconds, then slowly waddle away.

I
think the skunk should be the libertarian mascot. He goes about
his own business and doesn’t bother anyone else – well, unless
you’re a grub, I guess – until they bother him. When he stops
at my feet, there is a complete lack of aggression in his demeanor.
Since I was just sitting there, he seems to figure that I’m just
minding my own business, like him. Even when someone does bother
him, his response doesn’t maim or kill the aggressor – it merely
makes sure that aggressor will never bother him again.

As
Alanus de Insulis wrote:

Omnis
mundi creatura
Quasi liber et pictura
Nobis est in speculum

May
22,
2002

Gene
Callahan [send him mail]
has just finished a book, Economics for Real People, due
out in a few weeks from the Ludwig
von Mises Institute
.

2002, Gene
Callahan

Gene
Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives

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