28 March 2009

What a dope.

If it was up to me, marijuana would be legal for this reason alone: humans always have and always will use something to "take the edge off" — but nobody ever sparked a doob then beat the shit out of his wife and kids. 
Everybody I personally know who's a regular cannabis user has good relationships, pays their taxes, votes, (otherwise) follows the law, lives in a lovely home, and wakes up every morning to go to a good job. They just prefer weed to booze. 
To me, that's the difference between preferring pie to ice cream. 
To the government, that's the difference between you preferring to commit an armed robbery rather than getting a job. 
No, I'm not exaggerating — if anything, I'm understating. As far as the government is concerned, you have a Constitutional right to have a cocktail, but smoking weed is worse than smoking crack or meth.
Of all the titanically stupid things our government has ever done, this has to be close to the top. 
It will surprise you none to learn some dick was behind this. Dick Nixon, specifically. The funny part is that Nixon himself appointed a commission to study the effect of marijuana. 
That commission's conclusions may surprise you:
Neither the marihuana user nor the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to the public safety...The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law...While the judiciary is the governmental institution most directly concerned with the protection of individual liberties, all policy-makers have a responsibility to consider our constitutional heritage when framing public policy. Regardless of whether or not the courts would overturn a prohibition of possession of marihuana for personal use in the home, we are necessarily influenced by the high place traditionally occupied by the value of privacy in our constitutional scheme.
- National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse Chairman Raymond Philip Shafer's testimony before Congress, 22 March 1972
To recap: marijuana is safe, its use should be decriminalized, and its present criminalization is likely unconstitutional
This from a Republican former governor
Thirty-seven years ago?
Nixon put the Shafer Commission's report in the back of the station wagon and drove it out to a nice farm in the country.
Liberated from the facts, the Nixon administration and Congress applied their preconceived notions to classify marijuana (natural, mildly euphoric, non-addictive, non-lethal(1), and pharmacologically useful)  among extremely dangerous, highly addictive, ultra-intoxicating synthetic drugs. 
Facts? Screw 'em — we've got beliefs!
At President Obama's recent "virtual town hall" meeting, the question with the most votes addressed the economic effectiveness of marijuana decriminalization. 
15 million Americans smoke pot regularly.
• In 2005, more than 34 thousand people were doing time in state prisons over marijuana.
• In 2006, 830,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, 88% for simple possession. Tens of thousands Americans can't get jobs or student loans, have lost child custody, have forfeited assets to the states, have lost housing or other benefits because they have pot convictions.
• In 2005, the feds alone spent $2.4 billion annually pursuing marijuana users and sellers, the states spent $5.3 billion annually doing the same.(2) 
American buy about $8.5 billion of marijuana from Mexican gangs — about 61% of the gang's income, which fuels some pretty horrific gang violence. 
• Marijuana is the #1 cash crop in 12 states.
Anyway, it's a legitimate issue — economic or otherwise. 
Obama mocked the question, then dismissed it.
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
(1) "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known...a smoker would theoretically have to consume...nearly 1500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response." In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling Petition, U.S. Dept. of Justice, DEA, Docket No. 86-22, Sept. 6, 1988 (Young, J.).
(2) The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, Dr. Jeffrey Miron, 2005 Costs of Marijuana Prohibition: Economic Analysis

27 March 2009

I'm not "the crustybastard" for nothing.

My tenderhearted Beloved forwarded me this email:

The Sack Lunches 

     I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read and perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

     Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me. 'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan.'

     After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for $5. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time. As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 

     'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks.  I'll wait till we get to base.' His friend agreed. I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. 

     I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a $50 bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.'  She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me.  'My son was a soldier in  Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.' Picking up 10 sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated.

     She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best — beef or chicken?' 'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. 'This is yours with thanks.' 

     After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me $25. 

     Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Aircraft Pilot coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane.  When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, an said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. 

     With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers. 

     Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine.  He left another $25 in my palm. 

    When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another $25! 

     Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base.  I walked over to them and handed them $75. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.' 

    Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little.

     A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to his country for an amount of 'up to and including my life.' That is Honor, and there are way too many people who no longer understand it.

Tugs the ol' heartstrings, doesn't it? 

Like to the point of...manipulation?  "Gosh, I was just so embarrassed by the other passenger's ovation regarding my boundless generosity — that I wrote a story about what a great guy I am." 

Aw hell, how jaded have I become? 

Just about the right amount, I guess. snopes.com: Sack Lunches. Ugh. That figures. In short: the tale originated in the July edition of Renewed & Ready; Adventist Living for Today magazine, and the writer was thrilled when the guys sat around him so he could proselytize. Meh. From the original:

I always look for an opportunity to share Jesus...Finally 10 soldiers filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. This is more like it! OK, Lord, which one will it be? Who needs to hear about you?

Ohferchrissakes — NOBODY, you douchewagon! We've all heard about Jesus already. Really. He's very famous. Just because you have a captive audience doesn't mean anybody needs to hear from you, ya self-centered prick. 

Amazing how the story is improved when the writer simply intended to quietly read his book or nap, then thoughtfully and discretely bought lunch for the GIs. It would be even better if the story omitted all the silly crap about his first-class meal, the captain's booming praise, the passenger's ovation, and people throwing cash at him. 

Coincidentally, that would also be a little more in line with Jesus' advice to perform charitable acts without drawing attention to oneself (Matthew 6:2-4). God forbid a Christian magazine promote that kind of crazy agenda.

I love fark.

House GOP unveils its budget of fiscally responsible unicorns and market-driven rainbows
This led to the most epic of epic threads. Please to enjoy:
thamike: 18 pages? Bush wouldn't even have bothered to read it.
Adjective Bird Whiskey: I don't trust white people or their budgets.
thomps: then you'll love the republican party. it's led by a black guy and an indian, and instead of a budget they have a crayon drawing of a bald eagle high-fiving jesus.
IXI Jim IXI: Being part Native American, I've learned to distrust such blanket statements.
DamnYankees: This is a real chart from the budget:
Rev. K: How about this one instead?
God's Hubris:

26 March 2009

Oh hell.

I was getting annoyed with the other layout because it kept doing weirdass spacing things — and in many regards I'm terribly anal. It was driving me crazy.  So I rearranged the furniture, and in the process, wiped out my bloglist.
I reconstructed it best I could remember, but I have a legendarily terrible memory. If you were there, and now you ain't — my apologies. Drop me a note.

25 March 2009

Does the census count my imaginary friends?

Censuses were invented so the elite could get an inventory of how much the rabble was worth to them living (taxes), and dead (soldiers).
I was one of the lucky few that got that astonishingly intrusive 40-pager the census bureau produced in 2000. Beyond the reasonable name, age, gender, race, nationality and citizenship, it inquired about my income and how much money I derived how, the identity of my employer, how much time I took off work and why, whether I had mental conditions, what I thought my property was worth, how many bathrooms I had, whether I'd like a nice backrub right now, and whether I knew how deeply the US government loved me, and wanted to learn every little detail about me because we were destined to be happy together forever, and hey — no they're not leaving, why am I being like this? 
I exaggerate perhaps a tidge, but see http://www.census.gov/dmd/www/pdf/d02p.pdf, if you don't believe me. 
If there's anything statisticians and psychologists should understand, it's "garbage in, garbage out." if you want accurate information, ask relevant questions. If you don't want people to claim to be wealthy midwestern Inuits, stop acting like freaky Patty "the Millionaire Matchmaker."
Next year is a census year, and like it or not, in the last decade there have been some pretty relevant and profound societal changes. Three states have same-sex marriage, other states have I-can't-believe-it's-not-marriage civil unions, spontaneous post-Prop-8 demonstrations, um, demonstrate that a substantial number of gay people would marry if they could, and I recall but cannot cite an estimate that something like 30% of all lesbians (a figure that approaches 95% in my personal experience), plus I can't remember how many gay men, have children with their long-term partners. I have also variously read that the GLBT population represents anywhere from a piddling 1% to a substantial 10% of the population.
So how does the census bureau intend to count this emerging demographic?
"This is all about the numbers. This not about lifestyle or anything else," says U.S. Census spokeswoman Cynthia Endo.
With all due respect, Ms Endo — that's bullshit.
If the census isn't about lifestyle, why did the census ask me what kind of job I had, what time I left for work, and what mode of transportation I used, and how long my commute was? Why did they need to know whether I had a condition that limited me physically? Why did they want to know if I'd recently been on vacation, how many hours I work a week, how many bedrooms my home has, and how many vehicles I own? Those are ALL "lifestyle" questions.
However, I'm almost certain that by "lifestyle," Ms Endo meant, "icky sinful homo sex."
So when Patty & Marcie and their daughter Sally, residents of a marriage-prohibition state, get their census next year, they must try to remember that they're not a family. Patty will be counted as a single-parent of Sally, Marcie's best choice is "unrelated, unmarried partner." Marcie's relationship to Sally? Irrelevant.
When Adam & Steve, legally married, get a census form, they'll probably be inclined to check the box marked "married." BZZZZT! The Feds don't recognize that marriage, thanks to that legendary marriage defender Bill Clinton. And those little scamps decide "screw you" and tick that box anyway, the census bureau has already stated they will change the response of any same-sex legally married couple to read "unmarried, living together." Nice try, boys.
Therefore, I can confidently provide this advance data from 2010 census:
1. Number of married same-sex couples in the United States: 0
2. Number of children living in home with two same-sex parents: 0
3. Number of GLBT Americans: 0
This is soooo going to make Mahmoud Ahmadinejad jealous.
Here's the problem: a lot of the argument against marriage equality and two-parent adoption is that the issue affects a statistically negligible segment of society, and there are more pressing issues that profoundly affect more Americans — like our urgent need to pass a Flag Burning Amendment. 
Too crusty? Okay, I'll let a "Study Series Report" dated December 21, 2005, titled Report on Cognitive Testing of Cohabitation Questions by Jennifer Hunter of the Census Bureau's Statistical Research Division explain: 
Data on marital status are used to produce statistics on marriage and divorce, as well as to provide information on the characteristics of America’s families. [S]tatistical agencies face an increased need to gather data...to get a more complete picture of family structure. Statistics on unwed births often include cases where biological parents are unmarried, but cohabiting. Cohabiting couples...are often categorized as single parents in statistical analyses. Additionally, gay and lesbian...households may look like single parent families, with no indication that the child has two parents in the household. Many researchers are interested in the impact of cohabitation on children’s well-being. In order to study this, we must be able to identify cohabiting couples with children.
The data is useful because it serves the purpose of research? Good heavens, Ms Hunter — that sounds so rational that I simply must caution you to avoid your colleague Cynthia Endo at all costs. Seriously, I fear for your career.
Besides the execrable Defense of Marriage Act, other federal law confines census questions to issues where there are federally funded studies. There are no federally funded LGBT studies, so there is no demand for any census data. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So what might a civilly disobedient citizen — who feels like the government doesn't otherwise believe they count — possibly do?
Gosh, I have no idea. It's illegal to incite people to break the law, so I'd never suggest that anyone ignore the census*. After all, federal law provides a devastating $100 fine for refusal and a $500 fine for providing bogus information. Two people were prosecuted for violating that law as recently as 1960.
Hypothetically speaking, what would happen if a particular segment of society sat this census out? 
Our pals over at SCOTUS have held that only an actual head count can be used to apportion congressional seats — the census. This apportionment profoundly affects the political parties' balance of power at a federal, state, and local level, plus it stays that way for a decade. 
The possibility of a party's losing seats generally, or an individual official losing his own seat specifically, is one thing that reliably gets politician's attention. Whether a particular powerless American minority amount to 1% or 10% of the population, no politician of any denomination would be willing to risk that many uncounted heads in their district.
Of course, I'm sure all Americans would cheerfully cooperate with the census if their representatives decided to, y'know — actually represent them this year and get some bad laws rescinded and some good laws in place. 
Unlike election years, politicians would have to deliver on their pledges first. Hypothetically.
Too bad only six people read this blog.
*I emphasized that sentence for the sole purpose of being absolutely clear about what I'm not advising anybody to do, en masse.

Happy Birthday to an American hero.

Today Dr. Norman Borlaug  turns 95.
He is credited with saving over one billion lives through his groundbreaking and revolutionary work in the field of agriculture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Borlaug
EXTRA! EXTRA! This just in.
Eva dropped by to say: 
I'm the editor of a site called IAmBiotech.org, and we're collecting Birthday Greetings to send to Dr. Borlaug. Please check out this post:http://iambiotech.org/?p=1366 and add a comment to wish Dr. Borlaug a happy birthday and thank him for his work! We'll be compiling all the messages into a card that we'll send to Dr. Borlaug next week. Thanks for spreading the word! 
My pleasure, Eva. Thanks for your good work as well.
I also want to add this extraordinary quote that I immediately committed to memory the first time I heard it — on the single best episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit!
"You can't build a peaceful world 
on empty stomachs and human misery." 
Norman Borlaug
The United Nations should scrap their insipid Madison-Avenue slogan, "It's your world" posthaste and adopt thatAnyway, here's the P&TB! episode, with bonus footage of Dr. Borlaug giving some stupid hippies a smackdown. 
Please to enjoy.
CAUTION: Video contains not-safe-for-work language because Penn uncorks a 10 megaton F-bomb at the very end. Clicking the link below will expose you to stupid hippies. Stupid hippies may promote superficial understanding, half-truths, patent falsehoods, and a complete lack of comprehension of the Law of Unexpected Consequences. You may experience a headache or vomiting caused by the stupid hippie's unjustifiable self-righteousness in the guise of compassion for others. Talk to your doctor if you think you might be a stupid hippie.

23 March 2009

Commenters comment.

Apropos my "Stupid hippies" post of last Friday:
Nick said...

Ya know, in between stints in SE Asia and Italy (I know, I know; hard duty)I was stationed at Flint Kaserne for 3 years. I got rather proficient at skiing and imbibing at Berchtesgaden down the road. I also meandered through Eagle's Nest several times, but I'm sad to say the damn lampshades made of human skin were already gone. Some other lucky G.I. got there before me, I suppose.

Well played, Nick. I laughed. 
I say that knowing that some people will think it's unspeakably loutish to make light of anything Holocaust-related — even if it wasn't actually related to the Holocaust.
This leads to something that's been gnawing at me since that day.
Why — given the constellations of substantiated and documented Nazi depravities — would anyone fixate on, or repeat tales of, the single atrocity that most likely never happened? 
If you read my previous post, you'll know that I had a mildly amusing snark about her lampshade nonsense. Here's what gnaws: because so many people think it's unspeakably loutish to make light of anything Holocaust-related — even if it wasn't actually related to the Holocaust — the reality is...I didn't actually speak it. I merely posted it.
That was wrong.
I should have called her out on that shiat for the same reason I fact-checked her ass when she made false and misleading comments about our soldiers. Spreading that kind of ignorance not benign — it fuels Holocaust Deniers and revisionists, who are very farking not funny.
As penance, I'm not going to let that shiat slide anymore. 

Who writes this crap?

From the Missouri Revised Statutes:
Recovery action--tenant served with summons--notice--penalty.

441.090. Every tenant on whom a summons in an action to recover the tenements held by him shall be served shall forthwith give notice thereof to the person, or the agent of the person, of whom such tenant holds, under the penalty of forfeiting to such person the value of three years' rent of the premises occupied by him.

Duh...who shall forthwith give notice thereof to whom holds what?

Holy shiat — are we outsourcing legislative drafting to the Chinese now? No — it's like some little scamp wrote a law, then ran it through an English to Chinese translator, then back again, just to see if anybody in the legislature was paying attention.

Heh. If that's the case, kudos

If I'm the first to notice, what do I win?

20 March 2009

Stupid hippies.

I picked the wrong week to start stalking Senator Jolie Justus.
Every week I forget to drop in on her weekly kaffeeklatsch. This week I remembered! But it seems she took this week off, which I would have discovered had I checked her blog before departure. 
Sometimes I am a dumbass. I assure you, it's part of my charm.
Anyway, as I vainly waited for the good senator at the coffee shop, I struck up a conversation with some others who likewise didn't get the message. The conversation took various twists, then Queen Hippie started soapboxing on politics. "I was reading President Roosevelt's inaugural address the other night, and it could apply today. It's the same situation in the world right now."
Not a particularly original observation, but I say, "Well, the Germans and Japanese are a lot more relaxed now. And that's nice."
That quip didn't have quite the effect I intended, because she took that an invitation to give us the benefit of her facile take on the historical roots of modern geopolitics, while I took the opportunity to mostly check out of her lecture and into a newspaper. Her conclusion was that Japan remains righteously angry at the US over our criminal use of nuclear weapons, and the way the US military prosecuted WWII was just as bad as Japan and Germany. 
Oh, Jesus, not this shit again. I glanced over my newspaper as the assembled gravely nodded in credulous concurrence. 
I once got into a fight with a boss who said similar crap once.  It's inaccurate, it's dishonest, and it's insulting to people who deserve better. If I'll take on my boss, you better believe I'm not going to give a bunch of ignorant "America-sucks" hippies a free pass. (And not 10 minutes before they were bemoaning the state of the educational system. Sheesh.)
So I say, "Woah, hold on a second..." and gave a very brief compare-and-contrast, then conclude with something along the lines of, "...therefore, to end a war they started, the alternative to our using those bombs on Japan was a full-scale ground invasion. Is it somehow preferable to kill a bunch of our guys too? More German civilians died from conventional weapons than Japanese civilians died in from nuclear weapons. Is killing people with conventional weapons somehow nobler? I doubt anybody cared which kind of bomb killed them."
She replies "But the way the Americans treated prisoners — we committed atrocities that were just as bad..."
"What? No, we didn't! Rape of Nanking? Networks of Korean prisoner sex slaves? Summary executions of POWs? Death marches? 'Medical experiments'? I shouldn't have to tell you about the way Nazis treated prisoners, but the Imperial Japanese were, in many ways, worse than Nazis."
So she tries a different tack: "I'm a military brat, and I grew up in Germany, and I've studied WWII..."
Um — you...WHAT? 
The devil on my left insisted that I retort: "Oh well, please accept my apologies. Clearly Germany is the appropriate venue to learn accurate, unbiased information about America's involvement in WWII. You must be right. I stand corrected."
The angel on my right told me to say, "Well, please don't pretend that other people haven't studied it as well." 
Stupid angel. You're not nearly as fun.
She went on to buttress her WWII scholar credentials by telling us how she had visited various Nazi sites including Hitler's Eagle's Nest where she saw with her own eyes the lampshades made of human skin.
Well, she got that much right...if by "Hitler" she meant "Ilse Koch," and by "Eagle's Nest" she meant "Buchenwald," and by "human skin" she meant "goat hide."
At this point I realized exactly why Senator Justus didn't show.

05 March 2009

The comfort of religion.

According to the beeb (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7926694.stm), "A Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church."
The little girl is 9. She was impregnated with twins by her step-father, who had been raping her since she was 6. He also raped her handicapped sister.
Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho won't excommunicate the girl, because of her age. But her mother and the doctors will be excommunicated, even though the abortion was legal under Brazilian law due to the horrifying circumstances. The medical team determined the little girl was physically incapable of carrying one child to term, much less two. 
This is not a relevant to the archbishop. "The law of God is above any human law."
Ah, yes. Well then, archbishop, why not excommunicate the child-raping father too? Had he not been violating the laws of man, nobody else would have had to violate the law of God.