Links 5/1/12

Happy May Day! Let’s celebrate with some links. Science:

Human Beings Not As Impressive As You Think (I would add that in an uncertain environment, thought shouldn’t be ‘impressive’–it’s potentially maladaptive)
A brief guide to neuroscience
Pat Robertson explains which parts of science you’re allowed to believe
Dogs, But Not Wolves, Use Humans As Tools (my take here and here)


Let’s Just Say It: Thirty Years Late Is Not “Current” (must-read)
“Skilled Workmen in Demand Despite Vast Unemployment”
Top 10 Reasons Why Men Shouldn’t Be Ordained
Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!
Conservatives’ Deep-Set Fear of Women’s Rights
Apartment Dwellers Often Subjected to Neighbors’ Tobacco Smoke (this is why I’m on the fence about legalization of pot–it’s a quality of life issue too)
Cancer is bad but budget deficits are generally good
Terrorists? Titans Of Wall Street?
Holding Birth Control Hostage
Getting Richer And Getting Out of a Recession Are Not The Same Thing
Why YKK? The mysterious Japanese company behind the world’s best zippers.
Memo to Joe Nocera Re: your vanishing retirement nest egg
A Very Pricey Pineapple
When an artist copies a photograph, who gets the credit?

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9 Responses to Links 5/1/12

  1. Mike – did you even read the article on smoking? All it says is that a survey of apartment dwellers said a minority of them said they could smell tobacco smoke in their buildings.

    They then extrapolated that smell to “tobacco smoke exposure” which is completely unwarranted, IMO. They showed no statistical analysis that smelling smoke residue had any association with anything. There was no link to any study showing that the mere smell of second hand smoke has ever been shown to cause anything pathological.

    This was basically a shot across the bow to manufacture outrage that people are – gasp – allowed to smoke in their own apartments even tho – gasp – some people might actually smell that.

    I await the next study that tries to manufacture outrage over the terrible stress and health ramifications of having to smell the cooking odors of ethnic cuisines, the neurosis caused by the infliction of neighbor’s unwanted musical choices and how it parallels torture techniques used in Guantanamo, and the subconscious sexual stresses inflicted upon children forced to see their neighbors underwear on a wash line.

    Oh yeah – the fact that you are against marijuana legalization, because it means you might have to smell your neighbors joint being smoked is about the most selfish thing I have *eve*r heard. Millions of (mostly black) men in prison for this ‘crime’ – how can that possibly be as important as protecting you from an occasional odor!!

    • Roger,

      I’ve lived next door to cigarette smokers. It’s disgusting–did you read my linked post? As far as I’m concerned, when my clothing smells like I’ve been smoking, that’s too much smoke, and that’s not good for me (second hand smoke is bad for you).

      And I didn’t say I was against legalization. What I said is that smoking across the board needs to be controlled when other people are exposed to it. Until that happens, I don’t want my home–that I pay rent for–to smell like cigarettes, cigars, or pot. Do it outside the building. Because asthma, which can be triggered by smoking, is a major problem for inner-city children.

      If you’re interested in rehabilitating cities, where a disproportionate amount of poor people are forced to live due to suburban zoning laws, you have to deal with quality of life and health issues. Otherwise, those who can afford it–the middle class–will leave.

  2. johnV says:

    My current and previous apartment both had smoker neighbors. In both cases I can’t keep my windows open (or use my patio/balcony) because of the smell.

    Chalk up another victory for living in apartments I guess. Crappy parking, rent that’s higher than a mortgage+tax, smelling people’s cigarettes, hearing them stomp around, dealing with their pets.

  3. HCA says:

    I love how self-righteous people get about the basic idea that other people stinking up your apartment is bad. $20 says that these same people would scream bloody murder if I starting boiling the flesh of rotten dead things at home where they could smell it (rather than at work, where I can make use of the fume hood or beetle colony).

    News flash, you don’t have the right to stink up another person’s dwelling, whether with pot, tobacco, dead animals, or even excessive use of potpourri. Telling people to “get over it” just shows that you’re a douchebag with no respect for others.

  4. ” Mike said:

    …As far as I’m concerned, when my clothing smells like I’ve been smoking, that’s too much smoke, and that’s not good for me (second hand smoke is bad for you). “

    You jumped the gun, there, Mike. You can not – correct me if I am wrong – equate the smell leaching from a neighbor’s apartment with actual exposure to cigarette smoke, nor can you present any evidence that that smell is unhealthy in any way. That is *not* what the studies on second-hand smoke were intended to measure.

    It seems to me you are, much like the study you linked, trying to build a case for denying the privacy rights of people who live in apartments based on the inference of adverse health effects of the mere smell of cigarette smoke. You want them to smoke outside. Your poster johnV argues that that is not good enough for him. I presume that he would prefer that only people wealthy enough to own their own homes be allowed to smoke inside of them.

    Humans have been smoking communally for thousands of years, and it has been easily tolerated by most, if not embraced by a majority, for nearly all of that span. You need to make a much stronger case for acute and chronic effects of tobacco odor before you seek to take such exception to some smells your neighbors generate that you want to revoke their right to enjoy a legal practice in the privacy of their own homes.

    And while you are at it, you might want to focus on the health effects of exposure to auto and diesel exhaust, perfumes, restaurant brazier exhaust, research laboratory hood exhaust, sewer gases, pet wastes, wood stoves, and industrial solvents.

    Or, you could just try to work it out with your neighbors. Personally, if I had a neighbor who constantly cooked with acefetida while listening to rap music, I wouldn’t hesitate, I would just kill them, but I am not particularly patient.

    • HCA says:

      Way to miss the point. Even if there is zero health effect, that doesn’t make bad smells (of any source) any less annoying or infuriating. I pay for my apartment, and shouldn’t have my home invaded by my neighbor’s odors, loud music, thunderous footfalls, screaming rugrats, roach infestation, or leaking pipes.

      Smoke isn’t the only thing covered by this, but it’s particularly annoying because of how it clings to fabrics (clothes, furniture, etc) and can potentially have negative health effects. The former alone is sufficient justification even if the latter is absent – ask anyone who’s been unfortunate enough to have been downwind of a brushfire or leaf burning how long it took to get the odor out of their clothes and/or furniture.

      Your right to enjoy an activity does not include a right to force me to endure it or its byproducts, whether that’s loud music or smoking or collecting radioactive isotopes. Your right to swing your fists ends where my nose begins, as they say.

      The clear an obvious solution is for landlords to take this sort of stuff into account when designing new apartments and to retrofit existing ones as best they can to eliminate the issue, but in the meantime, try to actually be considerate of your neighbors.

  5. johnV says:

    No I just think its another thing that really sucks about living in apartments is all. In fact, its the opposite of what you’re attributing to me: basically if you want a “doesn’t smell like asshole smoke shit” life, you need to be wealthy enough and have a sufficiently stable career to live in a house.

    • HCA says:

      Well-constructed apartments don’t have this problem – I lived for 6 years in one where I know that several neighbors smoked and/or had loud parties, but I never experienced any effects of either in my apartment.

  6. johnV says:

    Well constructed? LIke if they built it without windows I wouldn’t be able to open my windows and smell the smoke :p

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