Wednesday, December 31

Ok, everyone, sing along with me: This year, I resolve to trade in my SUV for two hybrid gas-electrics which I could drive simultaneously and twice as much and still get better fuel economy, and the money I save on gas I will give to a charity that is attempting to reduce the imbalance of power and resource use between the “first” and “third” worlds; I resolve not to shop at Wal-Mart (which is also responsible for contributing to the disparity between the “first” and “third” worlds), and to convince someone else to do the same, even though nobody ever listens to anybody anymore; I resolve to stop watching reality television, and in fact to watch less television in general, except of course for reruns of the classic 1980s action hit Riptide; I resolve to drive less and walk more, and to kick the headlights out of any car who encroaches on my crosswalk space; I resolve not to talk on my cell phone in restaurants; I resolve not to chew loudly or with my mouth open; I resolve never to buy a house at the end of a cul-de-sac, or to sell the one I own, or if that last statement confuses me to read books on planning and urban economics so that I can learn why cul-de-sacs are generally less than ideal when it comes to neighborhood and community; I resolve not to be afraid of the bus as a method of public transportation, even though there may or may not be persons aboard who are outside of my socioeconomic stratum; I resolve not to make fun of people with mullets anymore, because they are people too; I resolve that if I need to purchase a book, I’ll first try to find it at my cool (or not cool) local bookstore, even if it is $1.63 cheaper via Amazon; I resolve to get to know my neighbors better; I resolve to try to listen to people; I resolve to remember that there will always be more to learn than I can possibly know.

Wednesday, December 24

So this is what it's coming to? Are we going to tax the "bad" foods? If the American Public Health Association wants to tax our naughty foods, we just might get it.
A few years ago this idea would have been shocking, but now it simply seems likely. After all, we've made smoking nearly ilegal, and alcohol prohibition is slowly creeping back, too (big PDF link).
Really, this lunacy is just an extension of the idiotic ideas about substances we have as a culture - that a "thing" can be good or bad, when in fact, the thing itself does nothing, but the use and the user are what are good or bad. Land of the taxed, home of those not even responsible for their own waistlines.

Monday, December 22

Saturday, December 20

Friday, December 19

Weird to think that on the previous post, I linked to Alternet, the National Review, and the Cato Institute. The resistance to the insane drugwar stretches across some interesting divides. Maybe the war on drugs can unite freedom lovers of all stripes in opposition to the stealing of our freedoms.
Interesting ruling by the 9th circuit this week... the feds can't prosecute medical pot users who use it on the advice of a physician and obtain the drug at no charge. Not just a decision for patients, also a decision that recognizes that the constitution does actually limit the Federal Government's power to control your life by taking away your ability to buy what you want or need. The feds had been relying on the infamously expanded Interstate Commerce clause to make what a local doctor was prescribing as medicine illegal. In this case, "the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and not for exchange or distribution is not properly characterized as commercial or economic activity" and therefore not in the scope of Congress's power to regulate.
Link to ruling in PDF format.

Thursday, December 18

You mean the president can't do ANYTHING he wants? But he got more, well, almost as many votes as the other guy...
Seriously, it's about time the courts stopped this.
Let's not forget something very important: We caught the wrong guy.

Monday, December 15

After decades of blight, large swathes of Detroit are being reclaimed by nature. Roughly a third of this 139-square-mile city consists of weed-choked lots and dilapidated buildings. Satellite images show an urban core giving way to an urban prairie.

As the world changes around our cities, and their urban form becomes irrelevant to current social needs and behaviors, perhaps allowing unused and under-used tracts to return to nature is not such a bad idea. This, combined with brownfield infill development, could help us rethink and rebuild our cities, making their forms more relevant to life in this century, and promoting wiser use of land.

Friday, December 12

I am shocked, simply shcocked, to hear allegations of overcharging for oil in Iraq by Halliburton.

Daniel Steiner, who owns a five-car limousine business in Tampa, is fighting the arbitrary dictates of local transportation regulators... (T)he government's demand: It wants him to raise his prices.

Wednesday, December 10

Now here's something, quite honestly, I did not know: Latin America already provides more oil to the United States than the Middle East does. Seeking Balance: Growth vs. Culture in Amazon (NYT)

Saturday, December 6

Still more follow up- on Jason's follow up to Rosie's: "(The) woman reported "trampled" last Friday by Wal-Mart shoppers desperate for $29.87 DVD players has a long history of claiming injuries from Wal-Marts and other businesses where she worked or shopped."
"... spokeswoman Karen Burk said from the massive retailer's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. 'We will investigate this claim as thoroughly as we have the other 10 claims that this customer and her sister have brought against our stores in the past.' "
Following up Rosie's post about the woman who was trampled at Wal-Mart in the rush for a $29 DVD player... These two articles at Alternet: Tear Down That Wal-Mart and Shop Till You Stop about Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping. And while we're on the topic of stopping did Buy Nothing Day do this year? It seems that each year the stories of manic consumption get worse, and each year we need Reverend Billy and BND even more.

Of course, certain members of certain political parties would tell you that encouraging consumers to slow down their shopping is unpatriotic; that it will prevent our economy from recovering; that it's economic suicide for god's sake! Please, everyone, for the sake of the country, go deeper into credit card debt. Buy it now, pay for it later. Shop till you, or your credit rating, or your kids' college tuition, or that person you just trampled, drops.

Friday, December 5

More of the same: "A student expelled from Parkway High for a year for having Advil, an over-the-counter pain reliever, will not be allowed to return to the school."
So, remind me, what's the good effect of this policy? Does this help the student? Does it help other students avoid becoming junkies? Maybe it teaches some kids a lesson about authority, idiotic policy, and the perversion of justice and rights in the name of a holy crusade to rid unfavored substances from our land. Hopefully experiences like these will grow a new crop of civil-libertarians in the current generation of school kids and not allientate them all into permanent disaffection.

Thursday, December 4

The trend of turning schools into prisions continues - in one Chicago school, everyone is a suspect.

Wednesday, December 3

Follow up: Reason's Ronald Bailey on the retracted Ecstasy study:
"The lesson here is not that Ecstasy is safe, though evidence that it is particularly harmful is certainly lacking. The lesson is that scientific peer review, like all human institutions, is an imperfect process, sometimes subject to political pressures. When it goes wrong, as it clearly has here, how it went wrong needs to be thoroughly investigated and fixed. That's the minimum the public and the scientific community should expect from Science in this case."
More on the discredited Ecstasy research - you know, the one by Dr. George A. Ricaurte, where the monkeys weren't actually given Ecstasy but methamphetamine instead. (nytimes login:opensewer; password:iswatching)
Politics also play a significant role in drug research.
"It's hard to trust George," said Dr. Julie Holland, a professor of psychiatry at New York University who has edited a book on Ecstasy and wants to test it in psychotherapy. She accused him of "playing games with his data' to win more federal grants by making the drugs look bad."
For or against the war on drugs - shouldn't we all be in favor of transparent and honest science?

Tuesday, December 2

Images from the protests in Miami. Agree or disagree with the views of the protestors - more important questions are: does the government have to respond this way? Aren't those pics of the wall of riot cops a little scary for a democratic republic?
After nearly a year of sharp warnings about the dangers of prescription drugs from Canada, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials cannot produce a single U.S. consumer who was killed or injured by inferior medications from Canada.

Monday, December 1

American voters (are) increasingly split along religious lines.
Open mouth, insert foot. Rumsfeld, usually renowned for his uncompromising tough talking, was awarded the "Foot in Mouth" award for a confusing message which probably left his audience in the dark as to its meaning, Britain's Plain English Campaign said.