Re: Amethyst

1

You know, the drinking age used to be 18 in the past, and it's 18 or lower elsewhere, and what's the goddam big deal about car-centric colleges?

(a) you think they don't binge drink already?
(b) gosh, I guess if they don't want to drive drunk, they'll just have to work out some way of dealing with that. Lowering the drinking age is neither an invitation nor a commandment to get regularly trashed.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:06 AM
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Their shouldn't be a goddam "drinking age". People used to claim this was a free country.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:09 AM
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14.

I went into a country bar the other day, and the owner was busy in the back so he had his daughter serve me. She seemed to be about 12. Sobriety is not a traditional value around here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:09 AM
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It doesn't really matter if it's the right policy. Even if it weren't, it should still be done.


Posted by: JH | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:10 AM
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Yeah, I'd favor lowering the drinking age to 18 or lower. Is anyone around here in favor of the 21 age?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:13 AM
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Repeal the Volstead Act! Oh wait...
I seem to remember the line if you're old enough to enlist you are old enough to have a drink.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:14 AM
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Of the many ridiculous drinking-related laws in this country, I think the most ridiculous is how (in many places at least) you have to be 21 to serve alcohol. I mean, wtf?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:15 AM
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Surely in any estimation of relative impact, promoting responsible drinking greatly outweighs the "but they might drive drunk" factor. It's not like we don't have gigantic education and punishment systems in place against drunk driving by those 21+. Or, what Ben said.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:16 AM
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Old enough to fight in war, old enough to drink.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:17 AM
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I think the drinking age should be increased to 34 or decreased to 13.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:18 AM
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I don't see why it would be less appropriate for 18-year-olds who don't live in dorms to be allowed to drink legally. If anything, it seems more appropriate -- instead of being isolated in the weirdo hothouse that is on-campus living, they are integrated into the wider society that includes lots of grown-up people who both drink legally and drive their cars to work five days a week.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:19 AM
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To cite another comment from Ezra's blog:

The idea of saying "from 18 to 20 you are allowed to order alcohol from a server, but not at a liquor store" has a certain "split the difference" appeal.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:19 AM
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Volstead was defeated the next year. He wasn't even a strong Prohibitionist. His district was an important national center for moonshining, as reported in the book "Minnesota 13". (I just met the author of this book the other day in New Munich, where she was researching an old broken-down brewery and I was doing my bicycle bar hopping.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:19 AM
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7: I think that's a state thing, but I'm not certain. When I was in high school (donkeys' years ago, in NJ), you only had to be 18 to serve booze.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:20 AM
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The idea of saying "from 18 to 20 you are allowed to order alcohol from a server, but not at a liquor store" has a certain "split the difference" appeal lunacy.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:20 AM
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Men- I have come to save you from a drunken fate.


Posted by: Carrie Nation | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:21 AM
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Lower the drinking age to 18, and raise the driving age to 21.

Okay, not politically feasible. But think of the lives it would save.


Posted by: Tom Hilton | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:21 AM
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I think that's a state thing, but I'm not certain.

Yeah, I think it is. In NM you even have to be 21 to sell alcohol in a grocery store. You see signs on checkout lanes saying "no alcohol" when the checker is underage.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:23 AM
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12: More useless house-of-cards legislation? No thanks. Those kind of baby steps are OK for legalizing marijuana, but we had drinking ages of 18 in quite recent history, so we can damn well go back in one step.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:24 AM
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Hi! Sobriety is the next door down, if you really want that. Carrie over there is a real barrel of laughs. Otherwise, would you like a drink?


Posted by: Demon Rum | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:24 AM
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In Texas they passed a law recently that said something like, "Alcohol can only be on campus if it's served by a certified vendor, and charged a reasonable price per drink." So students can't hand out beers, and you can't have free drinks with a cover, or anything. Then the vendor is responsible for not serving people who are trashed.

Maybe there's a sensible compromise to work out around this, although it undermines the safest drinking, which is alone on your couch.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:27 AM
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Or what 12 and 15 said.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:29 AM
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I'm not sure why the issues of legal drinking age and drink-driving need to be interwoven quite so neatly. In all European countries the drinking and driving ages are various degrees below 21 and they have differing rates of drink-driving, drink-related violence, etc. These are largely cultural differences. The US has a dreadful road safety record, with or without changing the drinking age. Legislators and opinion-leaders should focus on creating more responsible drivers full-stop. As I see it, alcohol is a separate issue.

Sure, drink-driving is usually higher among young men but that's a consequence of generally irresponsible behaviour. And that behaviour doesn't really pay much attention to the law anyway. For example, here in the UK the legal drinking age is 18, driving age is 17, and I'm sure 17 year-olds still get caught drink-driving just as I'm sure under-21s in the US do...


Posted by: RobDP | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:31 AM
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Toga! Toga! Toga!


Posted by: Bluto Blutarsky | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:32 AM
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I am in favor of lowering the alcohol drinking age to 18 and raising the power drink/energy drink age to 80.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:33 AM
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In Taiwan you can send your kid to the store for a bottle of wine. Or could, in 1983.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:44 AM
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we had drinking ages of 18 in quite recent history

Indeed, the drinking age in Vermont went from 18 to 21 shortly after I turned 18, but I was living mostly in Oregon by then. Traffic fatalities dropped pretty dramatically, but it seems that focusing on drunk driving is more to the point than restricting drinking generally.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:45 AM
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the safest drinking, which is alone on your couch.

Boy, when Heebie mopes, she really brings it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:45 AM
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My recollection is that drunk-driving accidents went down in the 1980s across the board, not just among the 18-to-21 set, so that's due to cultural and/or enforcement differences. Someone with more free time should track down the relevant data.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:53 AM
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I might be the only one here who thinks lowering the legal drinking age is a bad idea, for a number of reasons.

As for the "old enough to fight in a war" argument, perhaps they should raise the legal war-waging age.


Posted by: stroll | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:56 AM
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RobDP at 23 omits that the national speed limit in the UK is 70, whereas I believe it's 65 in America. Another factor in the mix. Also, it's generally ignored - to drive safely on British motorways, you usually have to do 80+, or you create a line of tailgaters up your arse.

Surely there are stats you could use to find out whether the high age for buying booze in the US positively affects health, road safety, violent crime etc. by comparison with more civilisedother places. Do I want to spend time researching it? Nah.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:59 AM
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affects s/b correlates with


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:00 PM
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33

Anyway, as I've argued before, the best thing is to model good drinking habits at home, and ideally to turn your kids into wine snobs.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:00 PM
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The Puritans among us come up with all sorts of "good ideas" about how to save people from themselves. Alcohol has been part of human life since agriculture, if not before. Responsible behavior needs to be taught, the earlier the better.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:02 PM
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11: they are integrated into the wider society that includes lots of grown-up people who both drink legally and drive their cars to work five days a week.

I suggested this at my former institution, where students had to live on campus all four years. The reply was that letting students live in town is the quickest way to anger a lot of townies and in general make the university look really really bad.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:07 PM
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I was on this 10 years ago (unsigned editorial, but I voted in favor!).
18- At the NH liquor stores, if an adult goes in with a kid, and the kid touches the liquor while you're in the store, they will not sell it to the adult. They card everyone who touches a bottle. Must be some demon alcohol spirit superstition.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:08 PM
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I support a lower drinking age. I just find the arguments used in this case to be limited to a very small group and I'm surprised that the college presidents are suggesting it be changed because of circumstances relevant to such a minority.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:08 PM
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Funny, I just ran into my public safety director, who was very happy that our president didn't sign that, since she thinks raising the age would be a big problem. What's the extent and reliability of our evidence about what would happen, particularly but not limited to traffic fatalities, if the drinking age dropped?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:09 PM
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Yeah, I'd say that lowering the drinking age is just the right thing to do. Focusing on commuter-college kids and non-college people actually makes it an even smarter change, since they're generally working and functioning more like adults anyway. They should get the rights and privileges of adults.

I can't think of any good reason for the drinking age to be 21 instead of 18 that wouldn't be an equally good reason for raising the age to 25 (the age at which most rental companies and insurance companies consider you a solid driver) or just banning alcohol altogether (since it's the demon's drink, really).


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:10 PM
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33 is spot on.

My old man and I used to have a shandy together when I was around 17 or so. Enough alcohol to get a newbie slightly tipsy, but not enough to have any serious effect. Then there was the one time shortly before I left for college when we both got quite hammered at a friend's place and had to stagger home, both of us pretending we were sober. I was really keen on giving a the impression that I was a mature and serious young man and he was doing his level best to act the respectable elder, which is rather hard when you are both weaving and stumbling all over the place.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:10 PM
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and ideally to turn your kids into wine snobs.

Agreed. dsquared is a wonderful father.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:10 PM
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I say lower the age to 16, so parents get a chance to teach their kids responsible drinking habits while they are still in the house.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:13 PM
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Alcohol has been part of human life since agriculture

The chapter of The Botany of Desire about Johnny Appleseed was a revelation for me. If I'd ever stopped to think about it, I'd have known that those apples weren't for eating; he was giving frontier folk the gift of alcohol.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:14 PM
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RobDP at 23 omits that the national speed limit in the UK is 70, whereas I believe it's 65 in America. Another factor in the mix.

Our national speed limit was repealed in 1995. It's above 65 in most places now. Behold the patchwork of state-specific legislation. And of course most non-highways have speed limits a lot lower than that.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:14 PM
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42: In many (most?) states, parents can already serve alcohol to their underage children at home.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:15 PM
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Also, I'm in agreement with 30. Raise the age to join the military to 21. By that age, people should know better.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:15 PM
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Funny, I just ran into my public safety director, who was very happy that our president didn't sign that, since she thinks raising the age would be a big problem.

Raising?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:15 PM
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Lower the drinking age- but drop the hammer on drunken behavior on campus: date rape, dorm damage etc. just like one would if found drunk in town.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:15 PM
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And the solution to the drunk driving thing - more and better public transit.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:17 PM
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48 and 49 sound about right.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:21 PM
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LSU had (has?) late-night "drunk bus" service, which is a fantastic idea.

Also, legalize the mary jane. Smoking with your professors is also a bonding experience. Until they seduce your girlfriend, at least.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:22 PM
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And the solution to the drunk driving thing - more and better public transit peak oil.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:24 PM
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Let em drink while they're green
Lets make the drinking age 14
That when we first chocked down vodka
And puked up gasoline.

You can die from having such fun
But isn't it better than if the whole process starts out
at 21.

...

If they're to drunk to push a grocery cart
You can complain to your senator
The drunken old fart



Posted by: Eugene Chadbourne | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:25 PM
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So can anyone explain what the prevention of drowning has to do with this?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:26 PM
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Until they seduce your girlfriend, at least.

Only smoke up with gay profs.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:26 PM
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Sorry, I meant lowering, obviously.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:29 PM
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54: Drunk students have an amazing ability to find rivers and lakes, fall in them, and drown. Any school near a body of water larger than a bathtub has this problem. Actually, I bet a lot of student just drown in bathtubs, too.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:35 PM
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Oh. Amethysts for all!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:36 PM
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The reply was that letting students live in town is the quickest way to anger a lot of townies and in general make the university look really really bad.

Schools with a high percentage of commuters often draw more from the local community in the first place. In those cases, the students and the townies are one and the same. I don't think you can magically render a lot of out-of-town students into community-integrated commuters just by letting them live off campus (so, I agree with that reply). But I also think that the conditions that Becks mentions in her post often correlate with a different (townier) way of life altogether.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:40 PM
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33: My family did that, Jesus! I still drank a lot, though, but I was incapable of pounding everyone else's Carlo Rossi. Lucky for me my family would send me down cases of wine so that I didn't have to debase myself. (There was another woman's family who did this -- they were zillionaire Italian bankers. Mine is/was decidedly lower middle class. But Italian!)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:42 PM
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Becks, you're cheating if you say that more and better public transportation will solve the worry about DD fatalities. It's the public-policy equivalent of ponies.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:42 PM
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Labs, I saw your doppelganger at the Amidon/Muhly concert on Monday.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:46 PM
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Saying we should raise the military enlistment age is doubly cheating. That's just not going to happen.

The hypocrisy that bugs me most is that an 18 year old is allowed to dance at a strip club, but not buy a drink there.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:47 PM
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49

"And the solution to the drunk driving thing - more and better public transit."

Catering to drunks does not make public transit more attractive.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:48 PM
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Does to the drunks, whether habitual or occasional.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:49 PM
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the safest drinking, which is alone on your couch.

So long as you have access to phones and/or the internet, even drinking alone on your couch poses some risk...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:49 PM
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66: that doesn't mean it's not the safest way to drink.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:51 PM
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23: The US has a dreadful road safety record, with or without changing the drinking age

This is quite wrong. The Us ranks fairly well against most of the world and is about even with Britain in the states with population densities and terrain similar to Great Britain. The guy in the article uses the overall statistic misleadingly so he can position himself as a contrarian fuckwad. (Some of his point are quite valid, of course but his rationale is flawed.) The US sucks in many, many things, but this one is pretty much BS.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:51 PM
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Saying we should raise the military enlistment age is doubly cheating. That's just not going to happen.

Neither is lowering the drinking age for that matter!


Posted by: stroll | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:52 PM
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Catering to drunks does not make public transit more attractive.

It does to drunks.

Also, I don't think that "people who currently use the non-existent public transport that would be used by drunk people if it existed" is a very large constituency.


Posted by: voyou | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:53 PM
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49: Catering to drunks does not make public transit more attractive.

Yeah, better that they are off in their own cars where they cannot bother anyone.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:53 PM
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And yeah, "better mass transit" is definitely a cheater's dodge to the DD question. You might as well suggest neighborhood bars.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:53 PM
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A Fresh Salt on every corner. That's my platform.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 12:56 PM
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Catering to drunks does not make public transit more attractive.
No one is suggesting public buses serve sliders, James.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:01 PM
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73: Doubling down on elitism. Maybe that's what Barack should do, just lay it out there—argula in every salad, a stand mixer in every kitchen.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:01 PM
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Neighborhood bars is a fine idea. You shouldn't have to drive to a strip mall to get to a bar. More bars in walking distance would be a great service.

What they need to do is license churches to act as bars. Those buildings are everywhere, and are pretty much empty six days of the week. Give 'em a liquor license, and make better use of the space.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:02 PM
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Around here you could damn near do that. They already have gambling (bingo).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:05 PM
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76. Make sure the priest is off duty. Don't want any wine turned into Jesus' blood by accident.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:05 PM
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On Sundays you could consecrate the Bloody Marys, toast the Host, scramble some eggs to go with and call it brunch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:06 PM
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Of course neighborhood bars are a fine idea. So is better mass transportation. So are ponies. What's your point?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:08 PM
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Around here you could damn near do that

Most small towns around here already have as many bars as churches or close to it anyway. And everything is in walking distance since the towns tend to be about 12 blocks long.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:08 PM
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The high school graduates who go into the work force are a) more adult than the average private residential college student and b) probably already drinking anyway, just like everyone else that age. I guess the main benefit for the private colleges is less legal liability.

As far as drunk driving goes, I'm pretty sure the decline in the acceptability/rates of drunk driving doesn't track changes in the drinking age at all. My sister (who is 19) has parties with friends where alcohol is served, and they're all smart enough to have a designated driver.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:09 PM
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I have to come to Becks' defense. Public transit isn't going to solve the drunk driving problem, but it can be part of the solution. The transpo system here is free New Year's Eve, for example; they promote that heavily, and loads of people use it. (We also have a nonprofit organization you can call to have someone drive you home in your own car for ten bucks.) And I seriously doubt that people are going to be turned off public transportation because of drunks. The Tokyo subway system would be empty if that were the case.

Plus, neighborhood bars should be mandated and subsidized where they don't exist.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:09 PM
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79 teeters dangerously close to sacrilege.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:09 PM
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79. LB proves she is High Church Episcopalian.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:11 PM
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79 teeters dangerously close to sacrilege scrumptious.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:11 PM
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you could consecrate the Bloody Marys

And make them with jalapeƱo-infused vodka, for a taste of the Holy Spirit.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:12 PM
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80: I think the point of talking about 'neighborhood bars' is that if you want to reduce drunk driving, better to look at policies that control or discourage driving than those that discourage drinking. If, e.g., zoning regs are keeping bars out of neighborhoods and in strip malls, that's a risk factor for drinking and driving. OTOH, maybe in areas with some, even if not enough, public transportation, zoning regs barring bars from areas more than 1/2 mile from a bus or train stop might be an idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:13 PM
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84: 79 teeters dangerously close to sacrilege.

LB looking for some of that Bill Donohue love.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:16 PM
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How do you subsidize a nonexistent bar?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:16 PM
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83

"... And I seriously doubt that people are going to be turned off public transportation because of drunks. ..."

Lots of people avoid public transportation because they don't feel safe and drunks contribute to this.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:16 PM
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88: yes, but my point is that all this is an absurdly fanciful answer to the question of "won't decreasing the drinking age lead to increased drunk driving?", which Labs wanted to discuss.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:17 PM
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92: So if Labs told you to discuss "jumping off a bridge" would you just go along and do it? Huh?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:19 PM
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Lots of people avoid public transportation because they don't feel safe

Where is this true anymore?

In most of America, lots of people avoid public transportation because it's not there, not because they don't feel safe.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:19 PM
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Better public transportation would help, but honestly, I think just pushing the norm 'don't drive home drunk' helps just as much.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:20 PM
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Are you nuts? Do you want the drunks pissing in your front lawn?


Posted by: Carrie Nation | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:21 PM
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92: I think we got off onto "Even if it does increase the number of people who might drive drunk, we can solve the drunk driving problem without the high drinking age."

91: First, 'too drunk to drive' includes a lot of people who are unobjectionable to share public spaces with -- after three drinks, I, for example, wouldn't get behind the wheel of a car, but am unlikely to either start a fight or vomit on your shoes. Second, drinkers tend to be using public transportation at different times of day than commuters; midnight, rather than rush hour. Unless you have some argument you haven't expressed, your point doesn't have much to it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:24 PM
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Do what you will, but I'll be the strongest man at last.


Posted by: John Barleycorn | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:27 PM
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Around here you could damn near do that. They already have gambling (bingo).

If you could only bring back temple prostitution, you'd have a trifecta.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:28 PM
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At least one person who's lost his driver's license drives to bars around here.

During my Wobegon bike expeditions I've had to ask myself whether certain towns really exist. It's obviously a town if it has a school or a post office; otherwise it needs two of the following three: a.) at least 50 people living in a cluster, b.) a church, or c.) a bar.

If there were any teetotalling atheist communities around here, I'd have to change the rule I suppose. A grain elevator or a store might be substitutable for the bar or the church, but in my experience you always have the bar and the church first.

By that standard I have visited at least 10 non-existent towns during my travels.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:28 PM
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How do you subsidize a nonexistent bar?

That's why you have to mandate its existence first, ben.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:29 PM
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Interesting. View my opinion on this topic at: http://slashbe.com/a-lower-drinking-age/


Posted by: Trey Anderson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:31 PM
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My small community has a church, but no bar. Hence my frustration.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:32 PM
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Sobriety check points work well, but the sober are inconvenienced and cops hate doing them. A factor in whether more people would drive while drunk is to ask how many 18-20 year-olds don't drink because it's against the law. I suspect it's insignificant which then frames to question of whether illegal drinking encourages more drunk driving than legal drinking. I think it probably does.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:32 PM
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rides his bicycle to bars here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:32 PM
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97: okay, but in that case yes obviously better mass transit and neighborhood bars and ponies would help reduce drunk driving. This is too obvious to be worth stating. If you say "lowering the drinking age does increase the number of people who might drive drunk" (which I'm not ready to concede, but fine), then the question becomes not "can we solve the drunk driving problem without the high drinking age?" but rather "should we go ahead and lower the drinking age now, before we have good mass transit and neighborhood bars and ponies in place?"


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:33 PM
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106 is presuming mass transit et al/ are your proffered solutions to the drunk driving problem. Another approach is to propose different, more realistic short-term solutions.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:35 PM
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When I was waiting tables at a country club 15 years ago the rule was that one had to be 21 to tend bar but could be 18 and be waitstaff. We routinely broke the law by having me tend bar and let me assure you that little old rich ladies love having a 19yo bartender who is willing to glance casually in the direction of cranberry while pouring a big glass of vodka because he doesn't know any better.

That said, I don't think it's a great idea to encourage drinking among 18 year olds but I also know that my kneejerk concern there is mostly a reaction to my own 18-21 abuse of alcohol so I negate it before it even escapes my lips most times. After all, it's not like anything successfully discourages underage drinking and (after reading LizardBreath's discussion of this in the past) I think laws that are commonly ignored are stupid and encourage people to ignore all laws, not just useless ones, so what the hell. If they can fuck each other and die for their country there are worse they could do than get drunk.

In some ways I could be really, firmly sold on lowering the drinking age (not that I have an especially strong feeling one way or the other once my kneejerk reactions and my attempts at rational thought obliterate one another) by an argument that it erases another form of class-based privilege. My experience working in the service industry was that rich people get their kids liquored up all the time or at least are much more casual about experimentation because they believe their kids have huge, invisible safety barriers made of money around them at all times. I have had people shout at me for refusing to serve liquor to a child who was clearly 14 years old at most. If letting everyone drink at 18 took away Chet, Jr.'s claim to fame as the 19 year old with the key to the liquor cabinet, all the better.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:37 PM
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Lower the drinking age and then pretend it never had been raised. From that point, deal with drunk driving as you see fit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:38 PM
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A factor in whether more people would drive while drunk is to ask how many 18-20 year-olds don't drink because it's against the law.

Another factor is where they do their drinking, and where drunk drivers do their drinking. My sense was that 18-20 year olds tended to drink at parties at friends' houses or frat houses, where they were in stumbling distance of home or had a network of friends who could get them home. It wouldn't surprise me if lowering the drinking age lead to more 18-year-olds in bars, and if bar patrons comprise the majority of drunk drivers, the rate of drunk 18-year-old drivers could go up even if the rate of drinking stays relatively flat.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:38 PM
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75: I resent the implication that Fresh Salt is an elitist establishment. It is a working person's bar frequented by financial analysts, attorneys, advertising executives, and the commentariat of eclectic web magazines. They serve Miller High Life.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:40 PM
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A factor in whether more people would drive while drunk is to ask how many 18-20 year-olds don't drink because it's against the law. I suspect it's insignificant which then frames to question of whether illegal drinking encourages more drunk driving than legal drinking. I think it probably does.

Hard to tell. I think illegal underage drinkers probably do drink less frequently than they would if it were legal, but are more likely to get really drunk on each occasion on which they drink. That is, there's not much point to going to the trouble of illegally acquiring alcohol just so you can have a beer with dinner; you're going to go out and get hammered if you bother drinking at all. (This isn't true for everyone, but I think the high drinking age pulls in that direction.)

But that still doesn't pin down whether there's more or less drunk driving due to the illegality of under 21 drinking. Although surely there should be good statistics from the transition, particularly since not all the states did it simultaneously.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:41 PM
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I imagine all the Brits reading this post are chuckling.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:44 PM
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The question of mass-transit effects on alcohol-related behavior is an interesting one for DC as relatively recently (within past 10 years?) extended the subway to past 2 am on the weekends. I wonder about the comparison for driving fatalities. Just as interesting question is how much more likely is it for a drunk be victimized by crime using mass-transit (including walking to) in such a crime-ridden city.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:48 PM
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I imagine all the Brits at the pub reading this post are chuckling.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:53 PM
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Also, people, bear in mind that we've already pushed policies that increased the amount of drunk driving. There's good evidence that localized smoking bans has caused a substantial increase in car accidents and DUIs because dumbasses are willing to cross county lines while drunk driving rather than drink without smoking or bring a designated driver. Yet still, I bet most people probably consider the increased casualties to be a second-order effect of the smoking bans, not really worth addressing in a first-cut analysis of their correctness.

I'd say it's similar in the question of allowing 18-21 year olds to drink. The first-order considerations are more about whether they should be considered adults with full rights and privileges (which they are in virtually every other way), and a possible blip in an already illegal activity should be second-order.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:54 PM
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There's really alot of creative proposed solutions to drunk driving which just haven't been tried. An old Yglesias post threw out (or copped) the idea of revocable drinking privileges, which, while fairly unrealistic, establishes drinking as the right of the mature much more effectively than a higher age. And, just last night, I learned that in Ohio (or maybe just parts of Ohio), they award "party plates" to repeat offenders—neon yellow-and-red plates which allow cops to stop the driver without probable cause.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:58 PM
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The first-order considerations are more about whether they should be considered adults with full rights and privileges (which they are in virtually every other way), and a possible blip in an already illegal activity should be second-order.

Yep.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 1:59 PM
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revocable drinking privileges

Our national experiment in revoking the drinking privileges of 18- to 20-year-olds hasn't really shown a great deal of efficacy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:16 PM
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Our national experiment in revoking the drinking privileges of 18- to 20-year-olds hasn't really shown a great deal of efficacy.

I'd imagine a significantly smaller program limited to repeat criminals might show a bit more.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:22 PM
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94

"Where is this true anymore?"

Portland .

From the comments:

"I haven't let my wife ride the max by herself for the past 3 years. I encourage her to drive our SUV into town."


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:28 PM
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Atrios suggests giving people under 21 either a drinking license or a driver's license.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:32 PM
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I imagine all the Brits reading this post are chuckling.

Likely, as you Europeans are ever so wont to mock... The thing is, though, while it seems all well and good to embrace European approaches to drinking age and driving age, it seems to me the driving culture in America is very different what with urban sprawl and comparatively limited public transportation options such that a policy that works in Europe is not necessarily one that will work in much of the U.S.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:33 PM
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Atrios suggests giving people under 21 either a drinking license or a driver's license.

That won't work. In most of the country, a driver's license is virtually a necessity, so most under-21-year-olds would have to keep drinking illegally.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:38 PM
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James, are you really contending that we shouldn't offer more public transportation because the added convenience would lead to more drunks using it, decreasing the sober ridership? Really?

OT: For Emerson


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:38 PM
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I relied on the Portland buses for 20 years without any such problem.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:38 PM
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112

"But that still doesn't pin down whether there's more or less drunk driving due to the illegality of under 21 drinking. Although surely there should be good statistics from the transition, particularly since not all the states did it simultaneously."

According to the NTSB :

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that, since 1975, nearly 25,000 teen traffic deaths have been prevented by age 21 laws; however, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers and alcohol remains the leading drug of choice for youth. "Studies have shown that lowering the legal drinking age will increase the consumption of alcohol and alcohol-related accidents by young drivers," Rosenker said. "Why would we repeal or weaken laws that save lives?" "


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:39 PM
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125

"James, are you really contending that we shouldn't offer more public transportation because the added convenience would lead to more drunks using it, decreasing the sober ridership? Really?"

No, I am contending that encouraging drunks to use public transportation is bad for the image of public transportation.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:42 PM
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Doesn't that also apply to 55 mph speed limits, which were repealed? Mostly because everyone was breaking them anyway and we don't want to encourage routine lawbreaking?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:42 PM
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117: Really? Is this very recent? CA (in OH) had two or three (yes) students killed (and one permanently maimed) last year by a 11x repeat drunk driving offender (who rolled with a police radio in his car as to avoid The Man). Dude plowed into a car full of CA's students while fleeing the cops. But despite his multiple prior convictions (which would have rid him of his license in my home state), he was a valid licensed driver.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:44 PM
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In the context of total ridership, the numbers of people in Portland who don't take public transportation out of safety concerns is infinitesimal. Not "lots."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:45 PM
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I agree with minneapolitan. Oh, agreed on thentransit business too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:48 PM
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124- Did you just take Atrios seriously?


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:48 PM
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I took SP seriously. I won't let it happen again.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:50 PM
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126

The story was about light rail not busses. The rail system (unlike busses) relied on the honor system to collect fares which encourages joyriding by troublemakers. See here.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:54 PM
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More comments from Shearer's link:

Say NO! to a MAX Line in Vancouver. It will be a rat tunnel for thugs, drug dealers and burglars from Portland.
a whole army wouldnt be safe on that piece of crap
MAX is, in my opinion, a government funded sewer system that makes it easy for bums, drug addicts, and thugs to move easily around the metro area.
Maybe not the best source for thoughtful opinions.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:54 PM
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Better public transportation would help, but honestly, I think just pushing the norm 'don't drive home drunk' helps just as much.

Man, in Austin I've waited for cabs for hours (at a house party, not downtown) until I was so fed up and sober-ish enough to just drive home. I really think the lack of public transportation can sometimes move people to drive drunk.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 2:59 PM
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...


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:00 PM
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136: That sounds like the comments from the white South Siders when Chicago was planning on extending the Orange line from the Loop to Midway Airport. Lots of raving about how "they" will be able to come to their neighborhood.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:03 PM
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128: Do you derive any conclusions from that statement? Magnitudes of the effects on ridership, drunk driving accidents, etc, or is this simply a potentially true ("drunks stigmatize public transport") but probably insignificant statement.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:06 PM
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JBS's newly qualified position, that public transit will become a haven for drunks and shady characters if it costs no money to ride public transit, is a lot more sensible.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:07 PM
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136

Some more thoughtful opinions .


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:08 PM
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Jeez, Shearer, did you read that stuff you're linking to?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:10 PM
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Shearer, if there was a point to 142, I honestly haven't the vaguest idea what it might have been.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:12 PM
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142: Comments in the Baltimore Sun by someone who calls Owings Mills "formerly safe" are not thoughtful. More like the opposite, really.

What's interesting in re: 139, is that you got the exact same kind of comments about Maryland's Inter-County Connector highway, and it's not even public transport.

I'd even say that the first comment Shearer quoted, with the dude talking about "not letting" his wife ride public transport, apart from the obvious misogyny, was a pretty good clue that this is basically about racist crazypants.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:15 PM
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Me and my friends in college skipped a step, and started brewing our own. All the ingredients are easy to procure (water, yeast, and honey => delicious mead), it's a fun hobby, and it's actually cheaper than getting it in the store. We had quite a production line going, and that was before we built the still (we were able to produce high quality, tasty moonshine for about $2/liter, without even buying the sugar in bulk). Granted, most students don't go that far, but it's nigh impossible to actually keep people of any age from drinking if they want to drink.

I put the 21 year old drinking age in the same category as every other stupid and totally unenforceable policy that "sends a message."


Posted by: bbass | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:17 PM
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you got the exact same kind of comments about Maryland's Inter-County Connector highway

Same thing when Portland put in bike lanes. My favorite letter to the editor was from someone who feared that they would attract "transients, like Reed College students" to the neighborhood.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:21 PM
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147- Better on the sidewalk than on a bike.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:25 PM
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Laboratory glassware is increasingly restricted in sales to non-scientists- I think Texas is the worst offender, you can't buy simple flasks. Mostly to prevent home drug cooking like meth, but it inhibits brewing as well:

It is illegal in Texas, for example, to buy such basic labware as Erlenmeyer flasks or three-necked beakers without first registering with the state's Department of Public Safety to declare that they will not be used to make drugs. Among the chemicals the Portland, Oregon, police department lists online as "commonly associated with meth labs" are such scientifically useful compounds as liquid iodine, isopropyl alcohol, sulfuric acid, and hydrogen peroxide, along with chemistry glassware and pH strips.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:28 PM
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In the UK, it's legal for anyone over the age of 16 to have a glass of wine, beer, or cider with their meal, providing there's at least one person over the age of 18 at the table who is actually buying the wine, etc.

I don't know whether restaurants police it more severely these days, but certainly 10 years ago if it was for a kid eating out with their parents, I never knew a restaurant actually demand proof of age before they'd permit the parents to pour their kid a glass.

I think the US is the only country where it isn't even legal for parents to let their children learn to drink at home. Which is odd, when you consider that the US is also the country famous for home-schooling. How are children supposed to learn how to drink responsibly if they don't begin by finding out under adult supervision in moderate amounts?


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:29 PM
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144

The point is public transportation has an image problem. People like those in the comments are not an insignificant minority that can be safely ignored. Not only do they rarely use public transportation they oppose (often sucessfully) public transportation expansion and funding.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:32 PM
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How are children supposed to learn how to drink responsibly if they don't begin by finding out under adult supervision in moderate amounts?
Having binge experiences where they wake up in a puddle of puke and realize it was a bad idea?
Oh, was that a rhetorical question?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:33 PM
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I say again, just throw the book at the lawbreakers for the laws already on the books, and leave the intoxicants out of the picture. Same goes for other non prescription drugs. (Proscription on prescription). If a crime is committed while drunk or high, prosecute the server as an accomplice.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:33 PM
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151: But they're ignorant lunatics. That doesn't necessarily mean they should be ignored, but trying to cater to their beliefs about the dangers of public transportation when those beliefs already have no resemblance to reality isn't a useful way of dealing with them. (For things like several of the commenters in your last link were saying, I'd say public shaming is the way to go.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:36 PM
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People from Wesley Allen Dodd-ville shouldn't whine about undesirables coming into their pesthole.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:37 PM
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I wouldn't mind raising the age you could go to war to 21. The 21 year-old voting requirement doesn't sound so bad either, but I definitely support lowering the drinking age to 18.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:37 PM
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150 - varies by state. Some states do permit parents to serve their minor children (Virginia's law always weirded me out by including that husbands could serve their minor wife).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:38 PM
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157 - No wonder Virginia has the worst laws in the US against same-sex marriage.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:40 PM
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The "oh no the blacks thugs will get here on public transit and cause trouble" line of attack always seemed like one that had to be insincere. Thugs don't have cars?
(This was one of many factors that led to the MBTA Red Line not being extended through Arlington and Lexington. Arlington clearly regrets that now.)


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:40 PM
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If a crime is committed while drunk or high, prosecute the server as an accomplice.

If there is unambiguous evidence that the server was grossly negligent, maybe they should be prosecuted. Other than that, going after anyone but the perp is just wrong.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:41 PM
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I wouldn't mind raising the age you could go to war to 21

But then how would we get our boy soldiers, and who would wear our fabulous dresses?


Posted by: Lord's Resistance Army | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:41 PM
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Other than that, going after anyone but the perp is just wrong.

I am trying to negate the "But I was drunk, so my judgment was impaired" defense. But I see your point.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:44 PM
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Man, I wish that the red line went to Arlington. I also want a circle line.

(OT: I was fuming that top management gave itself a 9% pay raise during a time of deficits despite a recent fare increase. Cutting it to 3% seems reasonable to me.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:46 PM
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The point is public transportation has an image problem

Among certain people, all public projects have an image problem. When light rail was introduced here about 20 years ago, those people howled as if it were the end of the world. Two months ago, the system achieved a record of 764,000 weekly rides, and mirabile dictu, the world is still here. So I think we should treat the lunatic fringe with all the consideration they're due, which is not much.

On preview, pwned by LB, but wevs.



Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:46 PM
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Not everyone needs alcohol to get fucked up. Some get fucked up naturally, because they have the right brain chemistry. But elite liberals want them medicated!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:47 PM
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(Virginia's law always weirded me out by including that husbands could serve their minor wife).

You have to change the jumper from its factory default, though.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:47 PM
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161- Sexist, but colorful.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:48 PM
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I am trying to negate the "But I was drunk, so my judgment was impaired" defense. But I see your point.

I definitely see your point but a lot of people I've known who were fond of drinking to the point of getting cut off by responsible servers would simply go home or to a friend's or to the gas station or whatever, wherever, and keep drinking and get progressively more stupid. I think rolling up the server in the same wrap will create more problems than it will solve.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:49 PM
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In the UK, it's legal for anyone over the age of 16 to have a glass of wine, beer, or cider with their meal, providing there's at least one person over the age of 18 at the table who is actually buying the wine, etc.

In Germany, kids 16 and up can buy their own beer and wine. It was the most bizarre thing for me, as an American, to walk into a pub at night and be greeted by a group of the 10th graders I was teaching during the day.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:50 PM
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People from Wesley Allen Dodd-ville shouldn't whine about undesirables coming into their pesthole.

Maybe they're just upset about the prospect of a better class of undesirables flooding in and classing up the place.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:51 PM
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Germans in the US were adamantly opposed to Prohibition. Alcohol is forbidden by many Protestant sects and tolerated by some, but the German Catholics thought of drinking beer and whiskey as meritorious and necessary, the way Italians thought of wine. A little reading convinced me that Prohibition was, among other things, fundamentally anti-Catholic.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 3:57 PM
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154

"But they're ignorant lunatics. That doesn't necessarily mean they should be ignored, but trying to cater to their beliefs about the dangers of public transportation when those beliefs already have no resemblance to reality isn't a useful way of dealing with them. (For things like several of the commenters in your last link were saying, I'd say public shaming is the way to go.)"

A more thoughtful analysis.

"Police officials should not underestimate this challenge. The unique elements of a mass transit environment tend to amplify security concerns among potential riders. In a recent Canadian study, women were asked to identify areas of their lives where they felt unsafe. Re-spondents ranked riding public transit at night as the third most unsafe city environment. As a consequence, the women polled tended to avoid riding mass transit in the evening whenever possible.2 Such sentiments could be generalized to the rider population as a whole."

Maybe women have rational reasons for being reluctant to ride public transportation at night and encountering drunken guys.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:01 PM
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I'd rather be on public transportation at night in Boston than trying to navigate the area's drivers after dark. Depending on the area, I might not want to be alone, though I've felt perfectly safe on teh green line fairly late at night. I try to avoid travelling alone late at night, but that doesn't have anything to do with public transportation.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:09 PM
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A lot of the bad feeling about public transportation is bad feeling about cities. It's not completely lacking in content, but it's not limited just to public transportation.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:12 PM
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re: 123

I don't get why restricting just the 18-21 age group is supposed to be key. The reasoning -- urban sprawl plus a driver's culture plus what sound like loony zoning laws == drunk driving -- applies across the board.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:15 PM
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It's a bad feeling about being alone in cities. Either walking down the street, or being in a subway car. Both of these situations go from feeling scary to feeling safe if you can see a couple of dozen people nearby who would notice and disapprove of any crime being committed against you.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:17 PM
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176: Yes, exactly. Doesn't matter what time of night it is or the demographics of the people in sight, if there's a reasonable number of people around (that aren't all one group), you're safe. And most people who walk around cities or use public transportation figure this out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:22 PM
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While attending a dry (xian) college, i brewed my own cider. It seemed less risky than getting a fake and buying in a store; you never know who else is in the grocery.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:36 PM
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175: Because 16-21 year olds have remarkably poor judgment and impulse control. Most of us get at least a little better as we get older and the hormones (sort of) even out.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:40 PM
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How was the cider, yoyo?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:46 PM
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Same thing when Portland put in bike lanes.

Same thing when my high school sold part of the property to a developer who put in an ice rink. Those damn city kids from East Liberty are going to come out here and apparently bust a cap in suburbia's ass! But for the hockey rink, the kingdom would be secure! Or something. (Crime rates since 1990: still negligible!)

I have never had a problem on public transportation in any city, and I suspect 90% of 'it's not safe' is 'I might see someone who isn't middle-class.' Bus crime is pretty rare.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:46 PM
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We need a Carrie Nation for the gas stations!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:50 PM
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I am frustrated that I'm having such a packed day and am unable to read this thread in full. So I apologize in advance if someone already linked the NYT blog post on a study showing college attendance appears to be a risk factor for certain kinds of crime.

Sociologists at Bowling Green State University in Ohio examined data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which tracks education, crime levels, substance abuse and socializing among adolescents and young adults.[...]
During adolescence, the prospect of attending college was positive. The researchers found that college-bound youth were less likely to be involved in criminal activity and substance use during adolescence than kids who weren't headed for college.
But college attendance appears to trigger some surprising changes. When male students enrolled in four-year universities, levels of drinking, property theft and unstructured socializing with friends increased and surpassed rates for their less-educated male peers.

I wonder if the sociologists were actually surprised, or if that's just the reporter's interpretation.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:57 PM
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184

One thing that bothers a lot of people is that you see a lot of disheveled, poorly dressed, socially inept, obese, blind, handicapped, retarded, or otherwise unattractive people on buses. If you're a smart, well-dressed person, it doesn't complement your ensemble, and you feel that you might be decline.

I don't want to totally minimize the possibility of occasional actual problems on the bus, but the factor I just named is almost always there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:58 PM
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185

"in decline"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:58 PM
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(I also think it's funny that "unstructured socializing with friends" is classed in there with crimes.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 4:58 PM
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unstructured socializing with friends

Well, yeah.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 5:01 PM
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unstructured socializing with friends is a euphemism for buttsecks.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 5:06 PM
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lot of disheveled, poorly dressed, socially inept, obese, blind, handicapped, retarded, or otherwise unattractive people

Quit stalking me Emerson.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 6:15 PM
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I've never said you were obese, Bob.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 6:20 PM
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re: 179

I'd argue that they actually don't necessarily have particularly poor impulse control and that wrapping them up in legal prohibitions isn't the way to build maturity or responsible drinking.

I always argue this in these threads, though: that giving people responsibility is the route to making them responsible, not taking it away.

Eighteen year olds aren't kids and the way to make them act like kids is to treat them like kids.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 6:28 PM
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Not being able to drink at bars, restaurants, venues, etc. also makes getting massively drunk -- massively drunk because you don't want to sober up before getting to the event -- before leaving one's place, friend's place, etc. very attractive.

I suspect that lowering the drinking age would increase a certain kind of drinking -- drinking casually on weekdays, afternoons, while hanging around with friends, playing video games, whatever -- but not binge drinking or "out on the town" drinking or "get wasted at the party" drinking. Now that I'm 21, I'll have a drink after work and at other times when I wouldn't have before, because before alcohol was artificially scarce, only to be consumed in significant quantities at certain times. But even before I was 21 it was inconceivable that anything (even the law!) would stop me from drinking on Friday or Saturday night.

All things considered and compared to what else is out there, alcohol is a pretty lame drug. People should be given the opportunity to discover this as quickly as possible, I say.


Posted by: Currence | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 7:15 PM
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All things considered and compared to what else is out there, alcohol is a pretty lame drug. People should be given the opportunity to discover this as quickly as possible, I say.

People who have nothing to fear from being caught using illegal drugs, that is.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 7:20 PM
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Hey, If you're old enough to kill or be killed for your country then surely you're old enough to drink a beer!


Posted by: knowdoubt | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 7:38 PM
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One is old enough to be killed for one's country as soon as one is born, and to kill for one's country as soon as one has the necessary motor skills.


Posted by: Wilfred Owen | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 7:41 PM
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It turned out to make it ferment in a reasonable amount of time, i had to add sugar. It tasted way too sweet. Kind of a grungy alcopop.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 8:29 PM
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191: I thought it was pretty scientifically established that teenagers don't have great impulse control -- but perhaps that's more 13-15? Or just propaganda that they teach you ins high school health class that I lapped up. "I think I once read somewhere" isn't going to buy me many credibility points.

Mostly, I agree with you on giving freedom if you want to encourage responsibility. I will probably need to be reminded of this in another 8-10 years when the urge to be overprotective will likely be all but irresistible...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:11 PM
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Di, guys just told you that in order to get into your pants.

"Come on, baby, we're teenagers, we have no impulse control".

Elvis laid the foundation and it went from there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:13 PM
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The email add in 195 is very good.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:17 PM
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Sadly, John, from 13 to 18 every guy I knew had ridiculously good impulse control.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:18 PM
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Yeah, my impulse control didn't get really bad until grad school.


Posted by: x. trapnel | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:37 PM
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Hm, Elvis must have been annulled by history.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:49 PM
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I don't get 200.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:52 PM
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I know, right?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:55 PM
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203: When I was a teenager, Peter, the boys were not trying to get into my pants. I am attributing this to their remarkable impulse control, as there couldn't conceivably have been any other explanation for it. The comment was in response to John in 198 suggesting that teenage boys may have convinced me that boys that age have no impulse control as a pretext for unleashing their uninhibited passion. As noted, supra, their passion vis-a-vis me was plenty inhibited and leashed.

There is a certain ennui to the reminiscence.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 9:58 PM
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They were probably all gay. What other explanation could there be?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 10:00 PM
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Oh! It could also have been that they were all frightfully intimidated by my overwhelming awesomeness. Yes, I think that was probably it.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 10:02 PM
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207: That was my approach to almost every girl at that time, so, quite likely. I wasn't aware that it was what most of us were doing though.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 10:04 PM
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i read the post and experience the dissonance
like what amethyst and drinking age have in common


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 08-20-08 11:29 PM
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Which is odd, when you consider that the US is also the country famous for home-schooling.

Jes, I suspect the people who are most vociferous about home schooling in the US also think the country went to hell in a handcart when they repealed the Volstead Act.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08-21-08 12:45 AM
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209: amethyst is superstitiously held to prevent drunkenness (and drowning) in some quarters.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-21-08 12:48 AM
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OneFatEnglishman: Although often-theocratic reactionaries are the single largest bloc of homeschoolers, they're by no means the only ones. There are a lot of leftists and apolitical hippies, for instance, who don't want their kids subjected to messages of conformity and tolerance for bigotry and violence of the approved sorts. A lot of pacifists all along the political spectrum home-school to get away from cheerleading for war and conquest. Parents of kids with a variety of immune and other medical disorders do it. And so on. The mix varies depending on where you are - unsurprisingly, the Seattle home schooling scene and the one in Santa Barbara are both more left-wing than the ones in Oklahoma...but then left-wing Oklahomans also homeschool, for similar reasons.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 08-21-08 1:47 AM
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212. True, but the other groups to be less noisily aggressive about it and just get on with the job of educating their kids and supporting each other, no? Which was my point. It's the theocrats who make America famous/notorious for homeschooling.

209. Hi, read, are you refreshed from your hiatus?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08-21-08 2:05 AM
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I think the point that people are missing about this Initiative is that the current law ingnores the reality that college students under-21 will drink regardless and keeping it illegal for them forces it underground. This leads to what we are seeing in college campuses across the country - binge drinking or pounding shots of tequila before a night out at a campus party where you know you will not be served. This is a huge liability issue for college presidents. One famous liberal arts college closed its health center during nights and weekend evenings (where drunk-ass freshmen end up) b/c they could not find a doctor who would agree to take on the liability. Now students have to pay $500 for an ambulance and get their parents involved. This means they are less likely to call 911. Ergo, forthwith, hereunto: they are more likely to die from alcohol poisoning. Its a huge problem.


Posted by: Take That | Link to this comment | 08-21-08 2:16 PM
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