Freedom of Speech
I have no difficulty identifying that freedom as the greatest protection our Founders provided us in the U.S. Constution.
Sure, many will readily point out how this freedom can be abused or misused. But I accept that as part of the privilege.
Let me guess that in no other country of the world is there any protection for freedom of speech remotely similar to ours. Let me guess how many other countries have laws so regulating speech that even a suggestion of criticism of the government will land you in court and probably jail.
So when we start reading about the Supreme Court case of Morse v. Frederick in the next few months let me suggest we take a serious and interested approach to watch how our system operates.
Here is how the case got there.
In January 2002 Joseph Frederick was a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School in Juneau, Alaska. The Olympic Torch Parade was to be passing through town, past the High School, and Joseph thought it would be fun to hold up a nonsensical sign to get the attention of the TV cameras. He unfurled a banner that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus". [Even after I looked up "bong" in the dictionary, it didnâ€™t make sense to me]. Joseph was standing, not on school property, but across the street. The banner was about 20 feet long and it took about a dozen students besides Joseph to hold it up. The High School principal, Deborah Moore, went across the street, tore down Josephâ€™s banner and suspended him for 10 days. She said it was because "bong" was a reference to marijuana and thus the sign violated the schoolâ€™s anti-drug policy. The School District Superintendant Peggy Cowan supported her claiming that to leave the sign up would be saying it was ok to promote the use of illegal drugs. The School District officials argue that the Torch Parade was co-sponsored by the School, and the School Band played as the parade passed by, school cheerleaders in uniform cheered and teachers supervised the event.
Now, five years later, this case represents a significant legal test of studentsâ€™ rights of free speech.
The case has at least one heavy hitter. Deborah Moore is represented by Kenneth Starr (remembered from the prosecution which led to the Clinton impeachment). The National School Boards Associatin has also joined the fray.
That is how Supreme Court cases are often spawned. A little local spat, easily avoided by persons exercising governmental authority, erupts into extended, costlyÂ litigation. And results in law that affects millions.
The case will be argued in March.
A typical bong is made of few components, as noted on the picture:
- A mouthpiece, where the users mouth is placed over, sealing out air through that hole. Thus the bong is airtight (providing there is also an airtight seal around the stem. If a carb is present, it must also be covered). When airtight it has but one small source of air, which comes into effect when the user inhales through the mouth piece. If all the smoke isnt removed from the bong in a single hit, the user can place their mouth again over the bong to again inhale, or hover their mouth closely over the bong to slowly inhale the smoke.
- A chamber, where smoke collects. When enough smoke has accumulated it is finally inhaled. This is accelerated by using a carb or by removing the bowl, which allows air to enter the chamber when inhalation takes place. The height and width of the chamber can vary, this changes the volume.
- A base, which holds the water, is usually wider than the chamber so it can stand-alone without tipping (see the consequences of a spillage.) The bottom of the stem sits in the water, on an angle. The opening at the bottom of the stem must be underwater to bubble the water. The water temperature will affect the temperature of the smoke inhaled (e.g. a bong with water and crushed ice as a filter will allow the user to inhale cooler smoke, providing a less harsh experience). Some bongs also have a removable, water-tight base, for easy changing of the bong water.
- A stem (a.k.a. female piece), sits in the base and pokes out of the chamber at a degree higher than the water level. It holds the conepiece/bowl and enables smoke to pass through the water when in use. The stem collects resin over time which can clog the stem, and reduce the air flow through the water.
- A bowl (sometimes called a conepiece or a male piece), is usually a removable cup or cone shaped container, where the cannabis is packed and ignited. In rare occasions the bowl is not removable. Made of metal, glass, or ceramic, a bowl can be joined to the stem, or can just sit in the stem. The bowl forms a seal around the stem so that the only inlet of air is through the bowl. Over time burnt residue will collect on parts of the bowl.
- A carb allows for an accelerated withdrawl of smoke from the chamber. It is often a simple hole in the wall of the chamber(covered by a finger or removable seal). When smoke is inhaled through the mouthpiece and the carb is uncovered, air enters through the carb and pushes the present smoke out through the mouthpiece. This extra hole is not usually present in a bong with a removable bowl, as removing the bowl also allows more air to flow in to displace the smoke, eliminating the need for a carb.
- A second (or more) chamber(s) can be attached to a bong to multiply the filtration, for a smoother intake of smoke. Such an apparatus may be referred to as a double bubbler.
- A diffuser is a down pipe/tube or down stem that has a capped end with small holes in it. This makes the smoke bubbles coming out of the downpipe and into the water smaller, and as a result, the filtration is more effective.Â
Principles of operation
When using a bong, one inhales with his or her mouth sealed over an opening at the top. This reduces the air pressure in the chamber of the bong above the water level in the bottom of the bong. To equalize the pressure, the atmosphere pushes air through the combustible matter releasing smoke in the bowl travelling down the stem. The smoke then bubbles through the water, into the chamber and into the users mouth and lungs. This bubbling action leads to a characteristic noise. For example, if you bubble a glass of milk with a drinking straw, by placing the straw beneath the surface of the milk and blowing, you are demonstrating the same physics, except that you are assuming the role of the atmosphere and not the bong user.
Some bongs have a carburetor or carb, also called a shotty (from shotgun); choke; or rush (hole); a small hole or bleed valve that the user places his finger over when first inhaling allowing the chamber to fill up with smoke. When the user releases the carb while still inhaling, fresh air is allowed to rush in through the hole, clearing it of smoke. The fresh air forces the smoke into the users lungs more rapidly than just breathing will do. In other bongs, the bowl-piece is removable. This piece is then called a slide or pull, and is similar to the carb in function. When the slide is removed, fresh air instead of smoke bubbles through, and acts to clear the chamber. An audio recording of a bong with a slide style carb being used is available (see media help).
Motivations for operation
The characteristics of the bong enable the material to be smoked in ways not possible with a simple pipe or spliff. Because the chamber on most bongs can be up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter the speed of the air moving through the chamber is reduced and the chamber now acts as a large buffer of smoke. Depending on the length of the bong a considerable amount of smoke can be built up in this way. On the larger bongs, about 4 ft (1.2 m) tall, the operator must stop drawing on the bong when the smoke reaches their lips. At this point the operator must exhale deeply, open the carb, and use the entire contents of their lungs to clear the chamber of the charge of smoke. This high concentration of smoke in the lungs enables the operator to transfer much higher quantities of the chemicals in the smoke into their lungs but also tends to waste large amounts of the smoke. The longer the operator can hold the hit in, the more chemicals he will extract from it, but this becomes more difficult as the smoke gets more dense and the quantity increases. Individuals in the Cannabis culture who can hold in a monster hit are typically held in high regard.
Bubbling the smoke through water also serves to cool down the smoke, which is typically very hot, and to trap some of the heavier and more water-soluble particulate matter, keeping it from entering the smokers lungs. Most smokers believe that bongs are healthier than other smoking devices; however, a 2000 NORML-MAPS study found that waterpipes filter out more psychoactive THC than they do other tars, thereby requiring users to smoke more to reach their desired effect. The analysis used smoke from NIDA-supplied marijuana drawn through a smoking machine adjusted to mimic the puff length of marijuana smokers. The apparatus, comparing smoke from a standard bong, a small portable device with a folding pipestem, a battery-operated model with a motorized paddle to thoroughly mix the smoke in the water, and two different types of vaporizers, found that the unfiltered joint outperformed all devices except the vaporizers, with a ratio of about 1 part cannabinoids to 13 parts tar.
Used bong water is a notoriously disgusting fluid. In many movies and even in company of others stories are told of bong waters ability to stain anything and make it smell awful. Bong water ranges from clear when it is fresh, to a slightly used green, yellow or brown tint, which will get worse as the water is used more. A practice of some bong users is to turn the bowl around backwards and suck the remaining ash and unburned material down the stem into the water when the bowl is empty. While this is convenient it rapidly degrades the quality of the bong water. If this is done bong water can go from dark green or grey, to black, and will usually have chunks of dark unburned material floating around. As the quality of the water degrades so does the taste of the smoke. Over a long enough time the bong will develop a distinct unpleasant odor and the smoke drawn through it will acquire that taste as well. Bong water is extremely unpleasant to ingest. Drinking bong water will produce minimal psychoactive effect, since THC and other cannabinoids are minimally soluble in water. It is HIGHLY recommended that one does NOT use alcohol-based liquids as bong water, as THC and other cannabinoids are alcohol-soluble and will get soaked up in the bong water. This includes using mouthwash, liquor, beer and anything else with alcohol.
Since the bong is such a simple device it can be constructed out of nearly anything that is at least semi-rigid and can be made airtight. This includes, but is not limited to bamboo, plastic bottles, soda-pop cans, buckets, vases, beer bottles, hollow plastic and ceramic statues, chemistry beakers, snorkels, and many other common items. A clever bubbler can be constructed out of fruit such as apples and potatoes. The simplicity of bong construction has led people to consider constructing bongs with materials as outlandish as Pykrete. Most bongs purchased will be made out of glass (either hand blown or cast in molds) or clear acrylic tubing. Most of these bongs will include or otherwise utilize glass stems and bowls. However, cheaper bongs (nearly all made out of acrylic) may be designed with metal stems and bowls.
A common home-built bong is made from a bowl and stem purchased either from a head shop or fabricated from supplies around the house or from a hardware store; this could be out of tinfoil and a short length of garden hose for instance. The rest of the design needs nothing more than a knife or scissors, a 20 oz to 1 liter empty plastic bottle, and some duct tape. Just because a bong can be constructed this way does not indicate it is a good idea; to avoid dangerous fumes and chemicals all bowls and stems should be made of glass or metal.
Using materials such as PVC, plastic, rubber or garden hoses will emit toxic chemicals when heated. Aluminum foil releases toxic chemicals while heated, and its use should be avoided as high aluminum levels have been found in the brains of some patients with neurological diseases. Plastic can release fumes which may induce asthma. Little has been documented on the inhalation of these fumes but the practice should be avoided. Soda cans are widely used, but release aluminum fumes along with paint fumes when heated, which have been shown to cause brain damage. While duct tape may release rubber, metal and aluminum fumes, apples are toxin free.
Offshoots from the simple bong concept do exist. The bucket and waterfall bongs offer the same benefit of delivering a concentrated charge of smoke to the user but are much more effective at making the smoke denser, thence more chemicals can be absorbed. In fact these devices are known for inducing huge coughing fits in their users and can be very unpleasant to use. Regardless, their use is common, especially at parties, as they are extremely effective and can induce fear in people who have never seen them before. Interestingly both the bucket bong and the waterfall bong can be known as gravity bongs and some people using that term may only be familiar with one design.
A bubbler is a small bong that can be operated with only one hand (aside from having to provide an ignition source). In these devices the stem is internal and the bowl is at the very top. A majority of the bong is enclosed with only a hole in the side to act as the carb and the hole the smoke will exit on its way to the operator. These operate very much like a pipe since their internal chamber is so small but they have identical parts to a common bong. Some find them more pleasant to smoke out of than a regular pipe.
Bucket bong (gravity bong)
A bucket bong (or bucket ripper - a bucket rip is a bong hit from this device) is constructed out of a medium sized bucket filled with water, a two-liter bottle, a bowl, and stem. Anything that can be filled with water and is slightly taller than a two liter bottle can replace the bucket. The device is built by first cutting the bottom off the two-liter bottle (leave as much length as possible). This forms a large dome, with nearly a two-liter capacity.
Next a hole is cut in the bottle cap and the stem is fed through. The bottle cap is left off for now. The plastic bottle is placed in the bucket with the large hole going in first, then submerged until the water is nearly level with the hole at the top of the bottle. This reduces the gas content of the chamber to nearly zero.
Next the user screws the cap with the bowl onto the plastic bottle, inserts the desired smoking material, lights their lighter, holds the flame to the bowl, and slowly lifts up on the plastic bottle. The user is now creating a large vacuum in the chamber and atmosphere is entering through the bowl and stem. This pulls the heat of the flame with it and ignites the material.
As the user lifts up extremely dense smoke will fill the chamber; the slower the user lifts the denser the smoke will be (punching a small hole in the bottom Ã la waterfall bong rather than removing the whole bottom will also ensure slow draining of water). This smoke can become so dense that it becomes dark yellow. The user must stop lifting before the bottom of the bottle comes out of the water. Once the height is sufficient the user is ready to inhale the smoke.
The operator unscrews the cap, places their mouth over the opening on top and pushes down on the bottle. The available area is once again decreased, the smoke is forced out the hole at the top, and the user inhales the smoke into their lungs.\
This can also be referred to as a gravity bong. See differences and clarifications.
Similar in design to the bucket bong is the waterfall bong. A waterfall bong usually consists of a plastic bottle with a hole punched at the bottom and a removable bottle cap with a bowl in it. The bottle cap is removed, the hole is covered by a finger, the vessel is filled with water, then while holding a flame to the bowl, the finger is removed. Gravity causes the water to flow out creating a vacuum inside the chamber and smoke begins to flow into the chamber; see the section on the bucket bong for a more detailed description of this process. When all the water has run out the user removes the bottle cap, places their mouth over the opening at the top of the bottle, and inhales the contents.the smoke isnt cooled at all making this bong not one for people who like to savour their weed.
The waterfall bong is sometimes referred to as a sobe bong, since the notch near the bottom of a glass SoBe drink bottle can easily be punched out to make a waterfall bong.
A lung is similar to a bucket bong, but is slightly modified. The main chamber is still made out of a two litre pop bottle with its bottom cut off, but in this case a standard-sized plastic grocery bag is taped on to to the end. The bowl itself is created by removing one from any screw-on pipe and screwing it into the plastic cap of a 2 litre bottle. This creates a structure similar to a real lung and diaphragm - when the plastic bag is shoved in the bottle, theres no air, and when its expanded and slowly pulled out of the bottle, air is drawn in through the bowl, located on the cap piece, filling the chamber with smoke. Since this method has no cooling system, it can be a harsh hit which often sends the user into a coughing fit. The lung can be placed in the freezer for a few seconds to cool the smoke, but you sacrifice smoothness, as standing marijuana smoke tends to become progressively foul-tasting the longer it sits. This bong is most useful in getting more stoned in less time, and should not be used by someone merely seeking a relaxing mellow.
Also called a shotty. A Shottie bottle is similar to a bong, but lacks the bowl. It is generally made from readily available resources, such as a plastic drinking bottle (500ml). The bottle should be firm and rigid, so as not to buckle from the force of shooting the shottie. A good example is a soft drinks bottle or bottle that used to contain carbonated drinks, as these have to be stronger than water bottles to mantain their shape under pressure. A small hole is burnt in the bottle about one quarter of the way up, and a pipe is pushed into this hole at a downward angle while still warm, ensuring an airtight fit as the molten plastic cools around the pipe. The pipe used can be made from materials such as metal wind chimes, tubular arials and bong pipes with the bowl unscrewed. A Popper is performed in much the same way as a bong, except a rush-hole is not required, as when it is shot the mixture in the pipe falls into the water, allowing air to enter quickly. One way people do this is by cutting a cm off a cigarette and putting it in sideways into the piece then packing cannabis on top by stamping the piece into a cnnabis covered flat surface. When the user smokes a Popper they light the cannabis and breathe slowly then when the cigarette underneath begins to burn they pull as hard as they can creating a pop. This gives the user a quick couple minute head rush and gets them high faster with less cannabis. However the water requires cleaning often because the waste materials fall directly into it.
Differences and clarifications
- Gravity bong and waterfall bong can refer to bongs where theres a flow of smoke induced by a change in air pressure which is caused by the lowering of the level of the surface of the water held within the device.
- Gravity bong can also refer to a bucket bong even though the water level does not change, rather, if a user so chooses they can drop the bottle (and let gravity take over) to force the smoke into their lungs at a faster pace.
- When the airflow is caused not by the flux of the water level but by the inhalation of the smokers lungs, the device is referred to as a hookah, bong, bubbler, or more generally waterpipe.
- A waterfall or bucket bong, unlike a common bong, does not necessarily filter the smoke through the water or cool it significantly (although they can be constructed to do so). It is simply a device whose main design feature is a large chamber in which the flow of smoke can be condensed, making it easier to inhale a large amount of smoke quite quickly.
- The erroneously named apple bong is not a bong at all as it does not use a water chamber; rather, it is an improvised device used in lieu of more proper smoking utensils.Also known as a rat tail.
Cleaning a Bong
Bongs become quite dirty and stink after use. Depending on what material your bong is made from you may be able to quite easily clean without use of bong cleaning kits. While one shouldnt put a plastic bong in a dishwasher many other techniques, such as simply scrubbing the interior with a brush will get good results. For strong resin stains in the chamber Epsom salts and rubbing alcohol mixed can be used as a soak and should remove buildup without much trouble. A laboratory glassware cleaning brush works wonders for scrubbing out resin and tar on the inside chamber of your bong. Be aware however, any soft glass bong can be scratched by these brushes.
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