Minnesota Smoking Ban Very Likely

The Minnesota House of Representatives today passed a statewide smoking ban, including in bars and restaurants (see MPR). The Minnesota Senate passed its own version last month; the two will now have to be reconciled. (The primary difference is that the House version allows for a ventilated smoking room but the Senate allows for a smoking patio. In both cases, local governments would have to grant a license, and in both cases, employees are not allowed to serve in those areas.) Though Democrats tended to favor the ban and Republicans opposed it, there was more division between less-populated areas opposing and populated areas supporting. Governor Pawlenty (R) has indicated he will sign the bill.

I’m quite pleased to say that my representative (Tina Liebling, D) and senator (Ann Lynch, D), both of whom I voted for in the last election, both voted for these bills. In fact, Representative Liebling was a co-author on the House version. My county, Olmsted County, passed a smoking ban earlier this year. Assuming this passes, Minnesota will be the nineteenth state prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants.

Pray for me?

An IM acquaintance had “Please pray for me, I really need it” as his away message. This strikes me as a very odd request.

Why should it matter if someone else prays for you? Is God more likely to grant a request if more people pray for it? Alice only got her boyfriend to pray that she gets accepted into her first-choice college, but Bob got half his soccer team to pray that he passes the history midterm, so Bob gets his request granted? Oh, wait, Claire’s whole congregation prayed that her cancer doesn’t recur, so Bob and Alice will both have to lose out. What about poor Damien who didn’t get a single other person to pray that he gets his promotion? Surely it’s not some sort of celestial popularity contest?

Of course, it could be a way ask for emotional support, sort of a “wish me luck!” But surely if one is religious, one shouldn’t misuse prayer (or ask others to) in this manner? Shouldn’t those people be praying for important things like decreased crime, an end to war, salvation, that sort of thing? Not matters that affect just one person?

Minimalist carnivorism

So today was day 2 of my “minimalist carnivorism” trial–thanks for the suggestion, Jux2p0ze. I suppose that’s better than using the term “vegetarian” anywhere in it since those who truly are vegetarians might be offended at my sloppy use of the term. I still haven’t decided if this is going to be a long-term thing for me; I may get tired of it soon. I’m also leaning more to the “loose” side of it; I think that if I’m in a situation where it’s not convenient to avoid meat (say at a friend’s house, or at home barbecuing or something), I’ll just eat whatever they have. Who knows, by the time such a situation arises, perhaps I’ll already have resumed eating meat.

I want this to be unobtrusive; ideally, people won’t even know that I’m doing this. You know, select meatless options when they’re available, but take meat if I’m in a situation where it’s the only or primary item, so as to not cause any commotion or anything. Except I failed that miserably today. Today at conference, I took some rice and corn but none of the turkey. My sub-I saw my plate when I sat down next to her and remarked “Oh, are you vegetarian?” I guess it was more obvious than I thought it would be, that the lack of meat was conspicuous (I also didn’t take any of the dessert, so there wasn’t that much variety on my plate). She probably also remembered me eating meat earlier this month.

Anyway I tried to quietly explain that I was trying to reduce the meat in my diet, but then my other friend sitting behind me overheard and demanded to know why I would do such a thing, so I had to explain the reasons to him, and then the other guy further down the row wanted to know how eating meat was connected to global warming, and my other friend across the aisle expressed shock that such a self-centered guy such as myself would “try to be a good person” and so all in all, I ended up making a minor scene. The problem with the program is that even though it’s relatively big, everyone knows everyone and everyone wants to know all the gossip about everyone else. Anyway, if I helped bring awareness of global warming to one or two people, then I’m happy, even if they all think I’m (more of) a freak now.

I must have been eating really unhealthfully before. Yesterday was day 1, and I also started working out yesterday. Today my weight was x + 8.6 pounds; I’m not sure why it dropped so much from the day before (x + 11.6 pounds). Probably because I ate an enormous dinner Sunday night. Tomorrow I’m on call; that’ll be a bit of a challenge.

Vegetarianism

I’ve been mulling adopting a loose vegetarianism. I’d still consume dairy products and eggs, and possibly some seafood, but I’m mulling trying to eliminate much/most of the meat from my diet.

There are several disadvantages. One is, I like meat. I had a pepperoni pizza for dinner today. It might be hard to give it up.

Two is, I don’t wish to create awkward social situations. Restaurants should be fine, but if someone is inviting me over for dinner, I don’t want to have to inform them of dietary restrictions. I also would want to take care to avoid the appearance of any sort of “holier-than-thou” attitude.

However, there are several advantages as well. A major reason is health. While one can of course eat a healthful diet incorporating meat, it is certainly easier if the meat is eliminated. While I’m in pretty good shape right now, I’d expect eliminating meat to promote even better health. As it is, my diet is naturally largely vegetarian, for health and cultural reasons. Those veggie burgers in the cafeteria are a lot more healthful than even the turkey burgers!

A second reason is animal rights. I realize that it is part of the natural order of things for predators, including humans, to consume animals. But I am also aware of many aspects of our biological and cultural heritage we no longer follow—through culture and civilization we transcend many of our evolutionary characteristics. Given today’s technology as well as the increasing availability and diversity of vegetarian food, it becomes hard for me to justify the continued consumption of animals.

A third reason is the environment. The meat industry generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than the transportation industry; switching to vegetarianism would cut carbon dioxide more than switching to a hybrid car (see TIME article). If I’m serious in my efforts to combat global warming, then I must at least consider this.

If I do this, it wouldn’t be absolute. I don’t mind, of course, if there is beef flavoring in my french fries, and if someone has invited me over for a dinner with a meat dish, that’d be all right.

But I haven’t decided yet. Do you guys have any comments?